Deepavali, or Diwali as commonly known, will be celebrated on the 12th of November this year. What is the inner, or spiritual, significance of Diwali in Sanatan Dharma? An excerpt from Partho's latest book.
Every individual soul is sustained by Divine presence, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda —Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss Absolute. The thrill of experiencing the grandeur of this Divine presence is beyond imagination, yet such experience is the goal of your existence.
As an individual personality you are like a wave, but if you dive deeper and deeper into your being you will discover that you are the Ocean itself. As you gradually move towards that realization through the practice of meditation and enquiry, you experience the manifestation of Sat-Chit-Ananda in your personality day by day.
Sat (Existence Absolute) manifests as indomitable will. Through the power of Sat you move on undeterred along the spiritual path, in spite of adversity, in spite of difficult situations.
You see the manifestation of Sat in the universal desire to survive, despite all obstacles. No one wishes to become non-existent; everyone wants to live forever. This feeling arises because essentially you are pure existence, not the physical body.
Identified with Sat, you are immortal and eternal. It is only when you believe yourself to be the physical body that you feel confined to a short duration of life in this world of time and space. From the worldly perspective, no matter how much you may achieve, all your attainments are but a trifle. After all, in the vastness of this universe, what is the physical existence of one human being?
Everyone has an inner sense of perpetual existence. This innate sense is a manifestation of Sat, and unconsciously one is always trying to realize that Sat aspect within.
The manifestation of Chit (Knowledge Absolute) is experienced in the form of an inner grasp of the subtle truths of the Self. It is also experienced when your intellect becomes bright and sharp about matters of this relative world and guides you correctly in the projects you undertake.
No matter how dull a person may be, he or she still has the urge to know more and more. No one will accept being called a dull-wit, since essentially we are all Knowledge. It is for the revelation of that innate Knowledge that we all strive.
Everyone is always striving for happiness without realizing that true happiness is his very essence. You experience the manifestation of Ananda (Bliss Absolute) as inner joy begins to unfold more and more with increasing purity of heart. Such joy radiates to all living beings around you, and creates an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
Sat Chit Ananda Is Always There!
At every moment, Sat-Chit-Ananda surges like the ocean. It towers over you like the sky. You cannot get away from Sat-Chit-Ananda, for you are always rooted in God. Yet it requires a sensitive mind to understand that point.
Think of the intricate body that you possess. Think of the mysterious way in which the senses function. Think of the mystery of the mind as it operates through the brain and nervous system, and think of the mystery of the intellect. Then ask yourself, “Who is organizing all this? Who has created it all? Who is behind it all?”
The Upanishads ask, “Who is the mind of the mind, the eye of the eye?” If, through enquiry, you were to develop a profound awareness of that Reality underlying your personality, you would be awed.
When you are in deep sleep, who is caring for you? Think back to when you were a child with little in the way of worldly wisdom. Who cared for you then? Between death and rebirth, what travel agency allows you to know which way to go? How do you gravitate to the exact type of parents and the environment in which your talents and abilities can unfold? How are you led to the situations that are best suited for your evolution? Ponder over the mystery behind all this.
Sat-Chit-Ananda is your essential nature. Sat-Chit-Ananda towers over you and interpenetrates your existence. But due to ignorance, you are unaware of this. Thus the task before every aspirant is to remove ignorance so that the all-pervading presence of the Self is realized.
Channelizing Divine Energy
During the rainy season, lightning sometimes crashes with such intensity that it lights up the entire sky in just one moment. If all that energy could be channelized, a whole city could be illumined for an entire year. Similarly, immense Divine energy—the energy of Sat-Chit-Ananda —exists everywhere and in everything. It is there in every individual, waiting to be channelized.
But how does one channelize that energy? How does one draw from the inner source that immutability of Sat, that all-knowingness of Chit, and that immense joy of Ananda?
Consider all the troubles and tensions people face because they lack the awareness of Sat-Chit-Ananda. God created the intricate process of the human body so people could use the body to become Divine, yet what the ego does with it is quite to the contrary. Eyes could shower nectar, yet they often shower fumes. Tongues could give flowers, jewels and diamonds, yet they often give forth frogs and toads. The mind that could encompass the joy of eternity becomes instead a storehouse of garbage.
However, the energy of Sat-Chit-Ananda is so immense that even a little touch of it can totally change your life. Learning to draw upon that immense Divine energy in your daily life is accomplished through sadhana or spiritual discipline. Through sadhana, you can bring about a total transformation in your personality. Therefore, each and every moment of your life try to receive the touch of the Divine within you.
Touching the Feet of the Lord
In the Ramayana, Lord Rama, his brother Lakshmana, and Sita were banished from the kingdom because of a conspiracy by Rama’s stepmother. When they attempted to cross the river by boat to get to the forest, the boatman said to Rama, “I will not have you enter my boat unless you let me wash your feet—for your feet have a special power. When you allowed your feet to touch Ahalya, the saint’s wife who had become frozen into a statue, the statue came to life. If my boat were to become alive like Ahalya, I would lose my business.” Rama then looked at Sita and Lakshmana, smiled, and put his feet forward for the boatman to wash. As the boatman did so, his boat turned to gold.
There is an interesting popular story about the ancient events that led to this episode in the Ramayana :
Once, in the heavenly world of Vaikuntha, Lord Vishnu lay resting upon the thousand-headed Shesha serpent, with Lakshmi Devi, the Goddess of Prosperity, fanning Him. Just then, in the milky ocean, a little turtle swam towards Lord Vishnu with the idea of touching his feet. But when the turtle came closer, Lakshmi Devi brushed it aside with her fan, smacking it’s nose. When the turtle ignored her and continued to come, Shesha breathed venom on it—and so the turtle could not touch the feet of Lord Vishnu.
According to the story, as the ages passed, the spirit of that turtle became the boatman carrying travellers across the river; Sheshanaga, the serpent, became Lakshmana, the brother of Rama; Lord Vishnu incarnated as Rama; and Lakshmi Devi became Sita.
The profound meaning behind this story is that in the ocean of the world process, every soul is moving like a turtle, wanting to touch that Sat-Chit-Ananda within—wanting to touch Lord Vishnu, Who is there sleeping within one’s very heart.
There are obstructions though. Whenever you become deluded by the vanity of wealth, Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity) is smacking your nose so you cannot move onward. The glittering material values of the world devour the mind. One becomes obsessed with material objects, with winning the lottery, and with other illusions that just serve to keep the mind agitated. Each time this happens, Lakshmi is sidetracking you from your deeper goal.
If, in spite of such obstructions, you begin practicing concentration and meditation, and, as a result, attain a certain degree of willpower over the temptations of wealth, then another obstruction comes to frustrate your spiritual movement: egoistic pride and vanity develop. You succumb to the temptation of psychic powers or other types of fame and glory. This is because Sheshanaga, the gigantic serpent who symbolizes the cosmic mind and all psychic powers, is breathing venom upon you.
However, when you spiritually advance to an even greater extent, you become a boatman—a servant of God, helping people in misery to cross the waters of the world process. Although you once were a turtle, through Yoga you have become transformed into a bhakta or devotee of God; and as such, even though the world may present you with obstacles, you approach God resolutely and cling to his feet! And the moment you touch the Divine Self, your mind—symbolized by the boat—becomes full of sattwa or purity. Thus you are transformed.
Touching the feet of God implies that you are drawing from the vast resource of Sat-Chit-Ananda within your personality. Touched by the Divine within you, every action becomes karma yoga or selfless service; every feeling becomes an elevated sentiment of bhakti yoga, the path of devotion; every reflective process becomes an aspect of jnana yoga, the path -of wisdom; and every form of concentration in your mind becomes a ray of raja yoga. Thus, touched by the Divine within you, you become an integral yogi—and this attainment should be the goal of every individual.
Promote Relaxed Simplicity in Your Life
Always remember that it is possible for you to draw inexhaustible energy from your inner source—the Divine within you, that Sat-Chit-Ananda whose majesty is beyond normal imagination. To do so, however, your mind must not be cluttered. You must live a life of simplicity that is conducive to relaxing the mind. Otherwise you will always be stressed and tense. Attaining true success in life implies that you have allowed your mind to relax.
It is important to understand that when you are tense and unhappy, your dealings with others become abrupt and you tend to make mountains out of molehills. When you are happy, however, it becomes easy for you to convert mountains into molehills. Happiness overcomes many problems.
To promote such a relaxed simplicity in your life, you must take recourse to satsanga (good association), develop faith in God within you, do japa (repetition of mantra), and meditate daily. In order for inner transformation to occur in your personality, you must incorporate the important aspects of the different yogas into your daily life.
See God in Others
Another point to consider in the process of reducing stress is your relationship with others. Understand that God abides in all living beings and acts through them. It is recognizing the Divine in people that enables you to really communicate with them.
Every individual is like a house that is closed. In order to get into that house you have to get through the door; you cannot go through the wall. The implication here is that when trying to work with someone, don’t address the negative aspect within that person or you will only build a wall and inhibit communication. Don’t say to someone, “You’re a dull-wit, but I can make you wise.” No matter how much wisdom you may have, if you take that approach, immediately a wall is put up. On the other hand, if you take a positive approach and tell that person that he or she is very bright and could be even brighter, then the door will be opened.
So, develop the awareness that God is within all people. Be careful never to think that God is in you—but the devil lies in others! The Divine dwells in every individual personality. In order to be a yogi, you must learn how to live with diverse personalities in the world in such a way that you maintain sensitivity in your communications and enhance your good karmas by compassionate and intelligent interactions with others.
Harmonize Your Life
Accordingly, plan your life in a harmonized way. Do not go to extremes. Remember, moderation is the key to success. For example, do not think that because meditation is valuable you should do it for six hours a day. Everything that is important should be brought into your daily life, but slowly and a little at a time. Actually, it is practicing with a sustained movement over a long period of time that brings success. That sustained movement creates a habit that consequently becomes part of your personality.
If you are harmonized, in a joyous way you become a greater yogi. If you are not harmonized, then even though you may do intense austerity, you remain a lesser yogi.
Never Lose Sight of your Goal
Wherever you are, the goal of your life is to attain Self-realization. That is not just the privilege of those who live in the mountains or in caves. The entire world has been fashioned by God specifically to lead you to Self-realization; it doesn’t matter where you are.
Thus, reflect on Sat-Chit-Ananda , the immensity of energy within you, and learn to channelize that energy in a harmonized way. As you do so, dharma megha (the cloud of virtue) gathers in your unconscious, and the lightning of intuition flashes. Hence ignorance is destroyed and your personality is allowed to become a receptacle of cosmic energy.
This channelization of the power of Sat-Chit-Ananda has been happening all throughout your life in degrees, but when you become highly advanced—when you become a sage—then cosmic energy flows through you in the most dynamic way.
No scientist can easily explain what made Jesus, Buddha, or any great saint so great. What allows them to be loved, to be worshipped and to become a source of inspiration for thousands of years? It is the power of cosmic energy, the power of the Divine within. And that power must be adored by you until you too attain Liberation, and Divine energy flows through your personality without any impediment.
With permission from Swami Jyotirmayananda