An ancient Sanskrit verse, often called the Shanti mantra or the peace mantra:
असतो मा सद्गमय:
Lead me from the un-true to the true [sath or satya]
We’re walking this world with eyes open to what they can sense, but sight closed to what the mind does not accept; with ears that can hear some sounds but not others, and brain that listens only to some of those heard sounds; tongues insensitive to many stimuli, and our own partiality for certain tastes; noses that are variously sensitive and minds that are selective, skin that is covered by fabric, limiting the sense of touch to what our wonderful hands touch, but which we do not pay adequate attention to. In short, our physical senses begin the process of filtering out the physical world we live in, the brain filters in the strongest stimuli, the mind chooses to attend to that which matches our personality’s predilection for positive or negative outcomes.
Our own body co-creates this world of ‘asat’ : unreal, untrue, illusionary. The miracle of the human body, that can create a little cocoon for the soul to play its game of caterpillar birthing butterfly.
There is nothing ‘wrong’ with the unreal, as long as we are not lost in the delusion that the illusion is all there is. Since it is illusion, the solidity of this make-believe world is like the make-up that wears off at the slightest touch, revealing the real beauty. A little knowledge and we know that the dog hears sounds we cannot; that the owl chases a movement that we do not see, that the fox smelled your approach even before you knew it was there. We know that no living being can sense even the entirety of this physical, natural world.
In this awareness, there is peace. The mind surrenders to the enormity of this divine game, smiles at the possibilities of this divine play. In these moments, with time stilling in its immensity, and space expanding, we are face to face with what it is. We merge. The unreal disappears if only for a millisecond of clock-time. In the pause between each in-breath and out-breath we are in the real.
The Upanishads offer two ways of knowing the real.
One way is to take it ALL as the truth; not piece-mail, but everything. Everything that you hear, all inconsistencies together, all paradoxes together, this and that- ALL of it together is true, for truth is all there is, and once you realize that, you see ‘heaven in a grain of sand’ as Blake described it.
Another way is to take it ALL as untrue, unreal. Discard what you see in front of you, and your focus shifts to what you are seeing from the corner of your eye. Discard that, and you sense what’s going on behind you. Discard that, and you begin to see with your inner eye….
Do the same with each sense, and you’ll be surprised at how deep you can go until in a moment of awakening….
FROM the unreal, move to the real, for the real is here; it is ALL there is.
In Western psychology we learn this as the steps of sensation- attention -perception- cognition.
The greatest illusion is to lose ourselves in our roles that can identify us but not define us – to feel that ‘someone out there’ determines our life, and not to know it is our own soul.
So for now, let us bring our awareness to the one who is reading this, and to the one whose senses are beyond the reach of our physical senses, but who can sense all.
Breathe in love, breathe out love
Breathe in light, breathe out light
Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out.
The unreal dissolves. The real is.
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
1: Om, Lead us from Unreality (of Transitory Existence) to the Reality (of the Eternal Self),
2: Lead us from the Darkness (of Ignorance) to the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
3: Lead us from the Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortality.
4: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
In loving light
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