Edited by Marco Ferrini
From the Book: Karma and Reincarnation
A wise man does not deny impulses, emotions or passions, but he tries to study and measure them as phenomena. In order to do this he must remain detached, because if he allows himself to be swept away, he becomes trapped into them and part of them.
The ontological nature of the self is not phenomenal: the self, the atman, is the immortal hero of the drama and only after knowing him we discover the greatest treasure and we become safe from any fear, loneliness and misfortune. In fact, the self transcends everything that happens to the body, it is never annihilated and is present in all the states of consciousness: wake, dream and deep sleep.
Unfortunately an ordinary person is never able to see it clearly in all its splendor, but only as obscured and veiled by the ego. Our relationship with our self is complicated and made difficult by the identification with the psychic products that are floating in the mind. The empirical, phenomenal ego carries the conditioned consciousness resulting from badly directed and badly performed acts, because when the individual enters a false identification he loses his direction and falls into the illusion of believing he has become the thing he identifies with. Thus the identity we use every day as mother, father, son, employee, manager, artist, student, white, black, male, female, and so on, is merely the result of bodily identification.
The great traditions speak of a state of salvation, enlightenment, and freedom from conditionings, but in the meantime the vast majority of the people remains firmly under the influence of conditionings. What to do? It is nice to hear about a state of bliss, joy, light, hope and satisfaction, but in practice we need to act in reality, on the facts we face daily. People have a conditioned psychic structure, contaminated by a series of superimpositions, starting from the prejudices created by family, school, Church and State. A government likes to have conditioned people because it wants to make profits and consume. The best consumers are those who buy many clothes, who eat at all times, who go on vacations often, who buy gifts for those they want to impress. This social context rarely rewards virtues such as abstinence, loyalty, solidarity, truthfulness, but such qualities reside in the deepest and most real part of ourselves and have the greatest value. We must try to develop them without waiting for someone to ask us to.
Today the vast majority of people does not live with the purpose of pursuing higher values, but with the intention of conforming themselves to the society (becoming “conformists”) and do what everybody else does. Maybe trying to have a little fewer headaches, live a few years more, postponing wrinkles for a few years. The general rule is the identification with the body, even if any deep and careful observation will demonstrate that we do not have much in common with the body where we live.
Should we then disrespect our physical instruments? Absolutely not: our physical body is essential to make the evolutionary journey and attain higher levels of consciousness. Without the vehicle of the body we would be unable to complete our journey to perfection, so we must consider it a valuable instrument and utilize it for the purpose it was destined for: True Self-Realization.