Don't Die With Your Mistakes


by Jai Maha Dev 


There is scarcely a human being alive who has not made a least one serious mistake in his or her life.  In fact, it is probably fair to say that few people have committed only one serious mistake.  Human beings are fallible by nature—there is no person who can claim to be perfect.  Yet, our intrinsic nature is perfection.  That is, the very core of our being (ATMAN) is ever-pure and perfect.  That soul-consciousness is the basis of our conscience: it is that soul-consciousness (ATMAN) that makes us know when we have done something wrong, and makes us feel sorry for what we have done.  Here we are not talking about the ordinary feelings of dejection or rejection one might feel as a result of emotional attachment to one’s images and unfulfilled expectations.  These feelings are born out of false ego, out of the false identification of the mind with the body and body-associations.  On the other hand, the feeling of genuine regret for violating the law of one’s own being is born in the mind as a result of the natural identification of the soul with the mind. That is, AHANKAR (ego), a natural evolute of the union of PURUSH (spirit) with PRAKRITI (matter), feels sorrow or remorse for the wrong deeds carried out through the mind and body. 


Some persons will find it very difficult to reconcile the simultaneous existence (presence) of the ever-pure, immortal soul with the sometimes impure, immoral, and sinful mind. There are billions of people on this planet Earth, and within each and every one of them is an immortal, ever-pure, soul  (ATMAN).  Without the presence of that soul, they would have no existence. How is it then that with so many beautiful souls on this planet, we still have so many murders, so much torture, treachery, deceitfulness, lies, unhappiness, misery, and sorrow?  If these crimes are not being committed by the soul, then by whom or what are they being created? How can we blame the mind & ego when we know that these are simply instruments of the soul? Furthermore, even if we could place the blame on the mind and ego, isn’t the soul ever-present, ever-aware?  And what to say of our own soul. . . . surely the Supreme Soul (GOD) is present everywhere, all the time.  At the very least, this would make both the soul and God accessories to the crime before the fact and after the fact, and during the commission of the act—which of course makes them participants too.


Some people try to solve this dilemma by saying that God created the souls and therefore the souls cannot be blamed for what they do. They go on to say that all of this killing, raping, and torturing, etc., is just a play or dream created by God (what kind of God is that who has nightmares like this!?).  They say it’s not really happening, it just seems to be happening, that it is all God’s MAYA or illusion. (Are we to believe that God practices black magic? At least if He were a magician, surely He would create good illusions and not ugly, perverted ones.)


The fact is God has never created any soul, because every soul is eternal:  uncreated, beginingless, birthless, deathless, immortal. The primordial matter (PRAKRITI) from which the universe (and everything in it) evolves is also eternal.  According to the Sankhya philosophy, PRAKRITI remains in an unmanifested state until it is joined with PURUSH (spirit). It is this union of matter and anti-matter that brings the universe that we know (or rather, that we are learning about) into existence.  


Generally, people think of PURUSH or spirit as the same thing as ATMAN or soul, but this is not necessarily correct.    Spirit refers to PRANA (the life force, or primordial energy of the soul).  MAHAPURUSH is the spirit of the Absolute (PARABRAHMA). [1]   On the macrocosmic level, the Supreme Creator (PARABRAMHA) sets in motion the evolution of the cosmos at the dawn of the Cosmic Day by infusing Prakriti with His Life Force (cosmic PRANA).  On the microcosmic level, Purush is again and again united with Prakriti as the multitude of souls, impelled by their own nature take birth (are manifested) in various forms according to the natures they formed (created) in previous creations. As the Cosmic Night sets in, the Creator withdraws His Energy from PRAKRITI, and the universe begins to shrink until it eventually completely disappears.  This is called the MAHAPRALAYA, or grand dissolution of the cosmos. After some time, PURUSH is again united with PRAKRITI, and so begins another Cosmic Day (Big Bang and the expansion of the Universe).


The life of Man is similar to that of the Universe.  As man is the microcosm and the universe the macrocosm, the two function almost identically. Man comes into being (at the beginning of the Creation) when Purush (individual soul embodied in PRANA) is joined with Prakriti, and so begins the ‘descent of man’ into AHANKAR (ego), BHUDHI (intellect), MANAS (mind), senses, the body, and his involvement with the objects of this world.   During the Cosmic Day, the life force (PRANA) of the soul remains joined with PRAKRITI, and this state of being is generally referred to as JIVA, or JIVATMA (or living soul).  On the worldly level, JIVATMA refers to the embodied soul, or the soul with human form (or any other living form).  But JIVATMA really means PURUSH joined with PRAKRITI, that is, the ‘soul’ [2] embodied in ego, intellect, mind, and senses.  When the ‘soul’ takes birth in human form it simply means the sense organs (Gyanindryas: eyes, ears, nose, etc.) and organs of action (Karmindryas: feet, arms, legs, etc.) are formed as the ‘soul’ devolves further into gross matter (according to what it ‘has in mind’).  As the ‘embodied soul’, i.e., the living man or woman, passes through life it undergoes changes similar to those occurring on the cosmic level.  That is, just as the universe expands and contracts, similarly, as we age our prana begins to naturally withdraw from the body, and we actually begin to shrink.  Eventually, the prana withdraws completely from the body and this is the state we call DEATH. 


Upon the death of the body, that is, when the prana leaves the body, the senses and mind follow.  Whatever we have in mind at the time of death, that state of mind accompanies us into the next life. (The mind is the substratum of the senses.  The sense experiences acquired through the senses via the sense organs are impressed upon the mind.  The nature of these sense experiences [cat-like, dog-like, man-like, etc.] retained in the mind become the ‘blueprint’ by which the mind forms new sense organs in a future life.)  In other words, there is no escape from our mind.  Therefore, we have no alternative but to face our own mind and challenge it.  We can and must develop the skill to change our own mind, to make up our own mind, otherwise we will remain caught up in the endless cycle of birth and death. 


Everything that lives must die one day—it is inevitable.  Death is the price we pay for living, but Liberation (from the cycle of Birth & Death) is attained if we live life courageously—confronting our own mind and ego.  So, the question is not why do we die, the question is:  why are we living?  Are we living just to die?  NO, certainly NOT.  We live to attain the highest state of freedom (MOKSHA).  Until we have completely freed ourselves from our own mind and ego we will have to keep dying again and again.


Who is in bondage? The living self, the jiva is in bondage, and when this jiva becomes  free it becomes JIVAMUKTA (a liberated embodied ‘soul’).  Again, we need to clarify what is meant by embodied ‘soul’.  Italics have been used to distinguish Soul (ATMAN) from the ‘soul’ embodied in PRANA (thus the word soul, as it commonly used, refers to PURUSH).  As living souls, we interact with PRAKRITI (matter).  This interaction is called KARMA, and the results of this karma are recorded in the mind-stuff  (CHITTA). Liberation and bondage are both states of mind.  If the mind is ignorant, the life is a living hell. If the mind is enlightened, there is liberation from all suffering. 


When we suffer, we suffer in our mind only.  The only way to put a stop to all suffering is to make up our own mind.  In other words, the soul must intercept the ego and break the connection of the mind with the image of itself (ego).  The self-involved mind is the result of the false identification (ego) of the mind with the body.  To remove the false identity we need to identify with that which is greater than our small self.  This is accomplished with wisdom.  Wisdom teaches us about our real (eternal) nature, and enables us to discern between our real nature and our temporal nature. 


Our Essence is ever-free, untouched by anything on the gross material plane of existence. Our Real Self (ATMAN) is eternally pure.  If our mind is contaminated with bad memories, impressions, attitudes, and tendencies, it is not (strictly speaking) the doing of ATMAN, but of JIVATMAN. [3] All of us embodied beings are intrinsically pure souls, but we appear (are manifested) to be embodied, possessing a mind and body.  We are all acting on the stage of life, the stage of Creation.  The Supreme Creator has set the stage (made the Creation), and we are now acting out the drama of life.  This present Creation is only one episode in the beginingless and endless play of Eternity.  We have always been acting (performing actions), hence, there is no beginning to our karma.  When the curtain goes down at the close of the Creation (at the end of one Cosmic Day), there is an intermission during which all of us are absorbed in our Essence to pass the Cosmic Night. [4]


What we do in a dream affects us very much in the dream.  Within the dream it is very, very real.  If we are tortured in the dream, we are tortured (in the dream), if we fall from a cliff in the dream we will feel all the fear and pain of falling to our death (in the dream).  Of course, when we awaken from the dream we find that we are okay and we feel happy, we feel ourselves again.  But we also know that we will have to sleep again and dream again, and we certainly do not want to have anymore nightmares, we would rather have only very good dreams.  In the same way, our life is like a dream.  When we are enlightened, we awaken from this dream-like state and realize that we have always been the Pure Self and that we are forever untouched by the gross material world.  But while living in this dream-world, we certainly do not want to make our life a nightmare.    


Each and every embodied soul is 100% responsible for what they do.  Each of us is a creator of actions, that is why we can affirmatively say “AHAM BRAMH ASMI – I am the creator.”  But none can proclaim to be PARABRAMHA—the Supreme Creator, for He is One Without a Second.  As embodied souls we can experience pain, suffering, delight, and liberation—we are simply the sum total of the choices we make.  But our Essence remains unchangeable, eternally the same, untouched by PRAKRITI, matter.


Too often people confuse the qualities of GOD (and Soul) with Matter, and this mistake leads to more misconceptions, doubt, and confusion.  For example, when we say that GOD is Omnipresent, we seem to think of His omnipresence in physical terms.  But GOD (and Soul) is not in the least bit physical.  He is not a physical (material) being.  In that case, there is no question of His being physically present within us.  He cannot be physically present, because He does not have a physical (material) nature.  Then how can we blame Him by saying that because He is present everywhere  He must be present when someone is killing another person, or hurting someone, or doing some hideous crime?  If He is not physically present, how can He be blamed for not physically intervening?  Furthermore, neither is He (or the Soul) a mental being.  When we say that He is Omniscient (all-knowing), we are not referring to a ‘knowing of the mind.’ When we think of knowing something we mean we know about it in our mind.  But GOD has no mind, just as He has no body.  When we say that GOD is all-knowing it means that He is All-Wise; it certainly does not mean that He knows all about your mundane thoughts, your doctor’s appointments, the amount you owe on your credit cards, etc.  GOD is not watching you while you are sharing intimate moments with your spouse in bed, He has no knowledge about that and no concern about it either.  Likewise, when someone is stealing from another, or hurting someone, GOD is not there (mentally or physically) watching and yet doing nothing. 


All of us are spiritual beings (in essence).  GOD is the Highest Spiritual Being. Like GOD, we are eternally existent and eternally conscious beings.  But only GOD is SAT CHIT ANAND.  We experience ANAND (bliss, indescribable ecstasy) only when we are enlightened (during the Cosmic Day) and during the dreamless slumber of the Cosmic Night (which we need not even consider, because it can only be postulated, occurring as it does during the state of non-creation, or non-existence).


So, we have to live this life—we cannot escape from it.  Whatever mistakes we have made in the past, we cannot change them (but we can change our mind, by changing our habits and lifestyle). The record of our mistakes remains in the mind until the death.  Then, by God’s grace, when we take rebirth, we get to start with a clean slate, so to speak.  If we make up our mind now to go all the way to GOD (to live in the Absolute Reality) we can destroy all the negatives in our mind now.  The bad samskaras (bad impressions) are like the negatives from a roll of film.  In this life, we have to carry the memories (which can be compared to the photographs developed from the negatives).  But if we wipe out the negatives in this life, we will not bring those negative impressions into the next life.  In other words, we have to live with our mistakes but we don’t have to die with them. This is how we really become free from our mistakes—by learning from them and moving forward with positivity and firm resolve.  This is the way of the wise.

[1] More correctly, Purush refers to the Self (and the Supreme Self) embodied in PRANA (life force). The word ENERGY doesn’t really convey the same meaning as PRANA, and the term PRANA may not accurately convey what is meant by the ‘the Life Force associated with ATMAN (and PARAMATMAN)’, because the PRANA referred to here does not so much embody the SOUL as it does emanate from soul, i.e., it is an intrinsic aspect of ATMAN.  SHAKTI is the term  usually used, which conveys the idea of  ‘energy emanating from a conscious being’ as compared to just inanimate energy.   This SHAKTI is distinguished from the ‘energy field’ that each object in the universe possesses  (the universe itself also has its own energy field).  The field of energy, or energy field, associated with a conscious being is also called its spirit.  Our own energy field (or spirit) is in turn enveloped in the cosmic field of energy.  BRAMHA (PARABRAMHA—the Absolute) channels (by way of His own inherent energy—SHAKTI) the Cosmic PRANA (cosmic field of energy) to set in motion the creation of the COSMOS (the multitude of universes).  This channeled energy is the power by which the universe is created, sustained, and dissolved.  Similarly, by way of its own inherent SHAKTI, the individual soul channels its PRANA or life force (invested in it by the Creator) to interact in the world of PRAKRITI (matter).  This channeled energy of the individual soul becomes ‘seeing power’, ‘hearing power’, ‘thinking power’, etc. Our powers are enhanced or diminished according to how well we are able channel our energy.  Our own energy is increased or decreased based on how our own ‘field of energy’ interacts with the cosmic field of energy.    

[2] The term ‘soul’ used here in single quotation marks refers to PURUSH, i.e., ATMAN manifested with PRANA.  Generally people do not distinguish between ATMAN and PURUSH, or soul and spirit, so we have used the term ‘soul’ as it is generally understood.  Likewise, jivatman and ‘embodied soul’ are used to refer to any being that is perceptible to our senses.

[3] It is a quality of Atman to become Jivatman (however, it is not the nature of PARAMATMAN to become jivaparamatman –there is no such thing).

[4] We have a similar experience every night during dreamless sleep.

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