My master and teacher, Maheshwar Nath Babaji, told me once: “The first step is to understand yourself–your strengths, weaknesses, what you actually are. Do not start with superimposing the idea that I am great, I am blissful, I am this and I am that.”
Let us find out who we are. Let’s ask these questions: Where do I stand? What is the position I start from?
It is important to understand one’s position to initiate a course of action. If we are standing on a platform and we want to get down from there, we have to first judge the height and decide on a mode of descending. If we were to not consider these points, there is a risk we might put ourselves in danger by alighting in a hurry.
Another example: Suppose, we were in a dark room and wanted to find the door. We would have to first ascertain our position and then find the switch so as to turn it on and find the door.
So, before we embark on the edifying exploration of truth, consider this: We must carefully and vigilantly watch ourselves. A great deal of attention is required here for this self-examination. Otherwise, we are in great danger of being distracted by thoughts such as, ‘I am this, I am that.’ The big question here is can we look at ourselves as we are–without prejudice, without being judgmental, and without condemning ourselves?
The important thing to note while self-examining ourselves: This is possible only in the midst of society. Now this is interesting–we thought isolation was prerequisite for such self-enquiry. I say, we can’t really study our mind, or know ourselves sitting in a cave.
Even though we have our mind and its thoughts to witness, there is nothing that results in progress because we are in isolation. There is nobody in the cave to interact with, to get angry with, to get jealous of when we are alone. We can’t get angry at the walls of the cave.
The remarkable thing is this: When we come out of that cave and get into a bus, if someone were to step on our toes unintentionally, we will instantaneously know who we really are, where we are and what our reaction is. What is the real content of our mind here? Nine times out of ten, we want to dig our elbow into someone’s stomach (the one responsible for our pain) or verbally abuse him or her out of our maddening pain. I don’t mean to generalise that we will only do this, but see where I am going with this.
So, the only way to study ourselves, the only way to know ourselves, the only way to ‘self-realise’and understand ourselves as we are, and not as we imagine we are is by being in the midst of society.
Communicate, interact, so on and so forth. If one looks without prejudice, without condemning, without justifying into one’s own mind while also being aware that the one who is looking is also part of the mind, then what does one see?
One sees for the first time that one is face-to-face with a tremendous flux of desires, conflicts, thoughts and confusion. The whole band, let’s say, playing with all its instruments in full force. Then, it’s only then, one will begin to have a glimmer of understanding of how to sort it out.