Beach 2: First steps in the Ascent to the Divine

Wave 2: The three Fundamental Urges of Man

To exist, to know and to enjoy – these are the three fundamental urges of man. In fact, all of man’s desires, ambitions, aspirations and efforts are based on one or more of these fundamental motives. Certainly the most fundamental urge or instinct is, to be, to survive, to persist (as a being), to perpetuate oneself, to be ever present. It is not relevant to say that not everybody succeeds in this. The fact of this universal urge cannot be gainsaid. It is the urge that is systematically and meticulously sustained by the mother or the mother symbol. The second urge is to enquire, to understand, to investigate, to know and be all-knowing. No one can escape this urge though it may not manifest itself with the same intensity in all people. This urge is sustained, monitored and nurtured by the father (or the father symbol) who introduces one to the external world. The third urge is to enjoy, to be happy, to relax, to experience a satisfactory state. This is common to all human beings; in fact, in some of us it may go even to the extent of expressing itself as an urge to be perfect. Unlike the other two urges one does not find a motivator for this until one discovers one’s spouse. It is the spouse who, in the long run, nurtures and monitors the urge to be happy and to enjoy. It is the spouse who shares all the happiness and thereby doubles it and who shares also all the unhappiness and thereby halves it.

Each of these has an infinite expression. The first one expresses itself as the Truth which is the Ultimate. It is the One which survives everything else. It is imperishable. It is the immutable anvil that remains the same whatever happens around, on, in, over, or beyond. It is the spark of everything that is animate or inanimate. It may be called, technically, the Spark of Immanence, because it is the Life of all Life, the Soul of all Souls. The infinite expression of the urge to know is Consciousness itself, infinite Intelligence. It is called cit. It is neither Knowledge alone, nor the Knower alone, nor the Known alone. It is all three in one. It is an indivisible triad. It is the ultimate Truth which lies beyond all knowledge as the Knower and beside whom everything else becomes the Object. It is always the Subject, which cannot be ‘known’ in the ordinary sense of the word. The infinite expression of the third urge, namely to be happy and to be perfect is Ananda , the eternal bliss. It is the eternal truth from which every spark of enjoyment and experience emanates.

These three urges form the fountainhead for every aspiration of man and its expression in terms of his behaviour and action. Whatever he does in this world is a consequence, direct or indirect, of one or more of these urges. He goes to school because he wants to know, he wants to earn a living by which he can live and, in due time, relax. He marries because he wants to lead a happy life with all its enjoyments. And so on. But all these three urges are just a finite limited version of their corresponding infinite versions, which are called the sat, cit and Ananda. This sat-cid-Ananda is the ultimate in any experience. It is called the Absolute Reality or the Transcendental Ultimate by Hindu Vedanta. Religion calls it God and gives it several familiar names. Almost right in the beginning of the Gita, the Lord refers to this as the indweller of the body ( SarIrI) and gives it three connotations of Infinity: namely, nitya (eternal), anASI (endless) and aprameya (immeasurable). This is how it differs from the Finite which is familiar to our experience. It is eternal whereas anything that is finite is not; it is endless whereas the finite has always an end; and, finally, the infinite is immeasurable or uncountable whereas everything that is finite is either measurable or countable. And the Lord when referring to this Infinite Transcendental Absolute, indicates its sat, chit, Ananda facets in three different contexts. The first comes out almost right at the beginning of the exposition. What is not can never be; What is can never not be (II – 16).

na asato vidyate bhAvo na abhAvo vidyate sataH

He confirms it again in X –20: I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

aham AdiSca madhyam ca bhUtAnAm anta eva ca

He hints at the cit aspect of His Personality in II – 46: The One who has known brahman, to him all these vedas and other knowledge are just like a cupful of water before an ocean.

yAvan artha udapAne sarvatas-samplutodake /

tAvAn sarveshu vedeshu brAhmaNasya vijAnataH //

The Ananda aspect comes out in His declaration: Arjuna, I have nothing to do or get done in the three worlds in this life; I have nothing to obtain which I have not obtained … (III – 22)

na me pArtha asti kartavyam trishu lokeshu kimca na /

na anavAptam avAptavyam … //

thereby implying that his bliss or satisfaction is full.

The advaita Vedanta has this to say on sat-cidAnanda. When a man wakes from deep sleep it is natural for him to exclaim: I slept happily. Who is this ‘I’ that slept happily? It is not the mind, because it was not active at the time when the ‘I’ was sleeping. It is not the one that recalls the happiness of the sleep, because it did not experience the happiness. Only the experiencer can recall the experience. The experiencer is the ‘I’ . Actually the experiencer is the lower ‘I’, the false ‘I’. The real ‘I’, i.e., the higher ‘I’, simply watches the experience of the lower ‘I’. The real ‘I’ is the Immutable Reality. It does not go through any change or experience. But it always ‘watches’. It is the ‘sAkSi’ . It is the sat-cidAnanda Reality. The lower ‘I’ goes and ‘touches’ it, as it were, during deep sleep and this is an everyday experience for the lower ‘I’. That is why it is able to say ‘I slept happily’, after every awakening from deep sleep. Here there are three assertions made, all rolled into one. The word ‘happily’ indicates there is an Ananda (pleasure, happiness, joy) which was experienced during sleep; it is actually a recall of the association with the Ananda of the real ‘I’. The word ‘I’ indicates the continuity of existence between the state of sleep and the state of waking. The word ‘slept’ indicates an awareness or the knowledge ( = cit) of sleep, the awareness belonging to the witness to the sleep, namely, the real ‘I’. In dreamless sleep were we conscious or not.? We feel we were not conscious. But that is a feeling we have after waking from sleep. We do not do so in sleep itself. That in us which now feels that in sleep we were not conscious is our mind. It was not present in our sleep and so it is natural for it to be ignorant of the consciousness there was in sleep. Not having experienced sleep it is unable to remember what it was like and makes mistakes about it. The state of deep sleep is beyond the mind. Consciousness was present then as consciousness. It is because of that consciousness we are able to say that we were not aware of anything then. In a dark room we are not able to see anything but still we have the awareness that we are not able to see anything; for this awareness no external light is necessary.

This three-fold presentation of Reality, as sat, cit and Ananda is also reflected in the most important mantra of Hinduism, namely, the gAyatrI. The three lines of the gAyatrI mean, literally:

That – of the Originator – Most excellent;

Light – of God – Let us meditate;

Intellects – He who – Our – May prompt.

 The use of the word savituh ( = of the Originator) in the first line indicates that He is the Origin of everything in this world. This suggestion of Creation is symbolic of the sat face of the Reality. This line is a glorification of the Absolute. The use of the words dhiyah ( = intellects) and pracodayAt ( = may prompt or guide) in the third line show that this line is indicative of the cit facet of Reality. This line is the prayer imbedded in the gAyatri. The second line asks us to meditate as if it is the be-all and end-all of life. Yes, because the meditation itself gives the bliss, immanent in the Absolute Reality. Meditation on the Absolute is communion with or worship of, the Divine. So this line stands for the Ananda of the Reality. The three lines together, of the gAyatrI incorporate, in a sense, the three-fold universal practice of all Religion, namely, Glorification of the super-natural, Worship of the Supra-mental and Prayer to The All-mighty.

(Also see: The Queen of all mantras )

Can the Finite reach the Infinite? Vedanta says it can. The Infinite which is sat-cidAnanda can be reached by the finite human being if proper efforts are made by him. To reach the Infinite is the goal of all beings according to the scriptures. This is the goal referred to as moksha. Once the finite reaches the Infinite, there is no coming back to the finite state. In other words, there is no more birth and death. This reaching the Infinite has to be effected through a proper discipline of the mind. That which IS, by its very nature, is beyond time. Thinking by the mind by its very nature involves a sequence of points in time. Therefore thinking is finite and awareness sparked by this thinking is only of finite objects. It means therefore that in order to contact the infinite , one must go beyond the thought process. That which is, has then to be taken hold of only by the non-action of the thinking function. The mind must be emptied of all its contents in order that its true nature – awareness – may be revealed. At present it is always entangled with some thought so that awareness by itself is lost in that thought. The self disappears in that ego-thought and the outer ‘I’ mistakes the object for the subject – irrespective of whether the object be the world outside or the thought inside. Thus the mind is the villain within oneself. The most villainous part of the mind is however, the ego. This is the source of all problems. In every one of our actions and thoughts, we have to watch this ego. We have to fight it to minimise its influence. In fact we have to carry on this internal struggle endlessly. This is the Way. The vast majority of people may think of another way or in a variety of other ways. But history has shown us again and again that the mass mind is very amenable to suggestion and regimentation, and can be influenced by appeals to lower instincts, narrow prejudices and baser instincts. It is this mass mind that has made religion a formal affair, a matter of routine and elaborate paraphernalia. Instead of experience, spirituality and love, the mass mind is blinded by dogmatic belief, scholastic learning and charitable work, respectively and mistakes the latter for the former. Our material uplift and the scientific and socio-economic efforts to improve it further is only making us more and more outward looking, superficial and cut off from the only source of strength, peace and wisdom which exists in every one of us. These limitations and illusions of the mind have to be cast off. Only in the innermost depths of our consciousness can we realise the whole Truth in all its Perfection, Immanence and Transcendence. (Go to TIP of the Iceberg) The real life of man begins only when he transcends all his animal attributes and capacities, desires, emotions, concrete thoughts and physical needs and starts living in this (his own) higher level of being. (Also see: Meditation)

There is no other Way, declare the scriptures. ‘na anyah panthA ayanAya vidyate’ -- meaning, to reach salvation there is no other way. Constant chanting of the gAyatrI, in the manner of a disciplined japa and continuous meditation on its meaning will clear the way for us by consuming the accumulated dirt in our minds. This cleansing of the mind will result in a crystal-clear mind, by the Grace of God, and in that mind one can see the spotless reflection of the Almighty Supreme, say the Seers. This is the way the Finite may reach the Infinite and then there exists only the Infinite; never more the Finite.

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April 16, '99 Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy