Immortality

“If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live after he’s died, then maybe he was a great man. Immortality is the only true success.”

There is a story about Alexander the Great, that he was in search to find something which can make him immortal. Everybody is in search of something like that, and when Alexander is in search, he will find it – he was such a powerful man. He searched and searched, and once he reached to the cave where some wise man has told him that, “If you drink the water of that cave -there is a stream in the cave – you will become immortal.” Alexander must have been foolish. All Alexanders are foolish, otherwise he should have asked the wise man whether he had drunk from that stream or not. He didn’t ask; he was in such a hurry. And who knows? – he may not be able to reach the cave, and before he dies… so he rushed. Jesus is talking from the heart and you are learning from the head and the difference is vast. The difference is almost unbridgeable, it is so vast. Knowledge is cheap, easily available. One can just go on sitting in a library and go on collecting knowledge. Man has so great a memory that it is said a single man’s memory system can contain all the libraries of the world. No computer has been yet evolved which can really compete with man’s memory system. It is almost unlimited and it can create such a great illusion of being wise. Wisdom is a totally different phenomenon. It comes through love, it grows in the heart, it is a heart flower. And the ways of the heart are totally different from the ways of the head. Immortals Adore

The Pure One, whom immortal Gods adore, Whom, even they, that daily stand beside, know not, Him I seek, praise, and meditate. “Hear, all ye children of immortal bliss, also ye gods who dwell in the high heavens: Follow only in the footsteps of the illumined ones, and by continuous meditation merge both mind and intellect in the eternal Brahman. The glorious Lord will be revealed to you.” -Shvetashvatara Upanishad

“Children of Immortal Bliss , what a sweet, what a hopeful name. Allow me to call you, brethren, by that sweet name, heirs of immortal bliss. The Hindu refuses to call you sinners. You are the children of God, holy and perfect beings. Sinners? It is a sin to call a person so. It is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep. You are souls immortal, spirits free, blessed and eternal.” –Swami Vivekananda “Lead me from death to immortality” is part of a prayer at the beginning of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. In this final part of the Katha Upanishad we are given practical understanding of the way in which immortality is gained. “The mortal in whose heart desire is dead becomes immortal. The mortal in whose heart the knots of ignorance are untied becomes immortal. These are the highest truths taught in the scriptures” (Katha Upanishad 2:3:14, 15) When desire dies, when ignorance drops away, immortality is revealed. Practically speaking, we become immortal, but in reality we have always been immortal. Yet, like a millionaire who thinks he is a pauper, our immortality is of little meaning to us until we come to realize and experience it. Furthermore, the upanishad tells us that in essence this truth is the only spiritual teaching there is–not just “the highest truths” as Prabhavananda renders it. Shankara says that this is the only teaching in all the upanishads, however varying the approaches may be. The aspirant must not lose himself in philosophical byways, including those set forth in mountains of books on Yoga and Vedanta. He must keep his vision clear and focused by understanding that liberation is the only point the upanishads ever make. Attaining immortality It is easy to tell ourselves to rid ourselves of desire and ignorance, but how is that to be done, especially since we have been in the grip of these two ogres for creation cycles? The upanishad gives us the yogic key to rising above desire and ignorance into immortality: “Radiating from the lotus of the heart there are a hundred and one nerves. One of these ascends toward the thousand-petaled lotus in the brain. If, when a man comes to die, his vital force passes upward and out through this nerve, he attains immortality; but if his vital force passes out through another nerve, he goes to one or another plane of mortal existence and remains subject to birth and death” (Katha Upanishad 2:3:16) It is noteworthy that this comes at the very end of the upanishad. Yogananda used to say: “Yoga is the beginning of the end.” So it is appropriate that after all the philosophical exposition the yoga teaching should be given. By “heart” is meant the hub–located in the midst of the upper trunk of the body–of subtle passages known as nadis (here translated “nerves”) through which the life force (prana) circulates throughout the gross and subtle bodies, just as the blood circulates from the heart through the veins of the physical body. One hundred of these nadis direct the life force to the life processes of the bodies and are the forces of embodiment. One unique nadi, however, rises directly upward from the heart-hub into the head. (This nadi rises from the heart directly into the head–it is not the passage in the midst of the spine.) If at the time of death the departing spirit leaves through that channel, he gains immortality. But if his consciousness attaches itself to any of the hundred other nadis he will be impelled into the subtle worlds that lead inexorably back to incarnation in relativity. In every meditation we activate this channel, causing the life force to spontaneously and effortlessly, flow upward into the thousand-petalled lotus in the head toward the divine radiance that shines above and upon the upper levels of the brain-lotus. Then at the end of life, having prepared himself by this practice, sitting in meditation the yogi ascends upward from the body into the realm of immortality.

levels of the brain-lotus. Then at the end of life, having prepared himself by this practice, sitting in meditation the yogi ascends upward from the body into the realm of immortality. The Supreme Person Who is liberated in this manner? In conclusion to his teaching, Yama tells Nachiketa: “The Supreme Person, of the size of a thumb, the innermost Self, dwells forever in the heart of all beings. As one draws the pith from a reed, so must the aspirant after truth, with great perseverance, separate the Self from the body. Know the Self to be pure and immortal–yea, pure and immortal!” (Katha Upanishad 2:3:17) If the Self is seen, immaterial as it is, it will appear as an oval light, in the shape of a human thumb. (The shape is also that of a Shiva Linga, which is a symbol of the Self.) Those who have seen this are unanimous in describing it in the manner of the upanishad. In my early teens I met a Christian minister who described the death of his twin brother. He said that at the moment of death his brother’s mouth opened, and as he exhaled for the final time, a white light shaped like a thumb emerged from his mouth and passed from the room. It is through meditation, as I have described it, that we daily work on the separation of the Self from the body which will finally occur at the time of death. Not that we leave our body in meditation, but we begin conditioning all our bodies so they will not hold on to us at the final moments. As the fully ripened kernel of a nut pulls away from the shell so that when it is cracked the kernel comes out in full separation, so will it be with our Self in relation to the body. Sri Ramakrishna described it as being like the release of a fish back into the river. May these final words of Yama echo within us: “Know the Self to be pure and immortal–yea, pure and immortal!” Now the upanishadic sage gives us a final assurance: “Nachiketa, having learned from the god this knowledge and the whole process of yoga, was freed from impurities and from death, and was united with Brahman. Thus will it be with another also if he know the innermost Self” (Katha Upanishad 2:3:18). IGNORANT people identify themselves with the body, mind, Prana and the senses on account of nescience or Avidya. They mistake these false perishable limiting adjuncts or vehicles for the pure immortal Atman and so they are caught in the round of births and deaths. But some wise people abandon this false identification, separate themselves from these limiting adjuncts through enquiry, discrimination, Anvayavyatireka Yukti and practice of ‘Neti-Neti’ doctrine (I am not this body, I am not this Prana, I am not this mind, I am not the senses), identify themselves with the all-pervading, immortal, pure Brahman, obtain knowledge of Brahman and attain immortality. One becomes immortal by renouncing all desires. In this world man always talks of ‘my son’, ‘my wife’, ‘my house’, etc. The wise abandon all such worldly talks and worldly desires and attain immortality by meditation on Brahman who is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, etc. The Sruti says, Not by works, not by offspring, not by wealth, but by renunciation alone is immortality attained. When all desires are abandoned here they attain the Brahman. Having turned his senses inward for desire of immorality, the wise man attains Brahman. Just as water in a cup borrows it heat from sun or fire, so also the mind, Prana and senses borrow their light and power from Atman. Atman is the source for all these organs. The ear hears through the light of the Atman, the tongue speaks through the power of Atman, the mind thinks through the intelligence of Atman and Prana performs its function through the power of Atman only. Mind and these organs are inert and non-intelligent. They appear to be intelligent thought the light and power of the Atman. Brahman or the Atman gives to the ear the power of hearing, the mind the power of thinking, the tongue the power of speaking, the eye the power of seeing and the power of life to the Prana. It is therefore said that it is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, etc. There is a director for the ears, eyes, tongue, mind and life-force who is distinct from the ear, mind and Prana. The ears, eyes, mind and Prana exist for his use just as the house exists for the use of the owner. The director is Brahman or Atman. The eye and the organs cannot go to the Brahman. They cannot approach Him for one cannot go to one’s own Self. How can the eyes see the seer of sight? The eye is an object of perception for the mind and Atman. However clever and acrobat may be, he cannot jump on his own shoulders. So is the case with the senses. The eye can only see the external objects of the universe. That is its only function. How can it know or reach its source which is extremely subtle? It is not possible to go to one’s own self. Similarly, speech cannot go there. When you utter the word cow, that word enlightens the object ‘cow’ denotes by it. Then it is said that the word goes to the object. The source or support or abode or resting place for the word and the organ that utters it is Brahman. Therefore the word or the speech or the mouth does not go there, i.e., approach Brahman. The mind also cannot go there. How can it know the knower? Just as fire that burns and enlightens other objects cannot either burn or enlighten itself, so the mind which knows the external objects through the avenues of the senses, cannot know the Atman or Brahman, because Brahman is the source for the mind also, and the mind is gross, inert and finite. How can the finite know the Infinite? The gross impure mind cannot approach Brahman. But the subtle, pure mind only can go there, for pure mind is Brahman itself. Speech cannot reveal or illumine Brahman. Brahman is beyond the organs of speech. The tongue speaks through the power or light of Brahman. Speech is infinite. How can the finite speech reveal the infinite Brahman. Brahman only illumines speech and its organ Vak which is presided over by fire (Agni); so Brahman is speech of speech, tongue of tongue. The Vajasaneyaka says, Brahma is within speech and directs speech. This Atman is Brahman or Bhuma (infinite or the unconditioned). Brahman is unsurpassable, big, great, highest of all, all-pervading. So He is called Brahman. The mind is connected with all organs. It is the commander or the chief. The Srutis say, Desire, volition, deliberation, faith, negligence, courage, timidity, shame, intelligence, fear, etc., are mind.