The Blocks and The Barriers

The  Upanishads are popularly known as the Vedanta, the last part of the Vedas. However, the Vedanta excels even the Vedas and marks the culmination of human spiritual understanding. Scientists initially believed that water was an element but later they discovered that it was a compound with two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen. Just as physical sciences evolve with growing understanding, spiritual sciences evolve with new discoveries. The Vedanta or the Upanishads written after the Vedas are an “evolved

version of the Vedas.”

Swami Vivekananda ignited spiritual renaissance in India by propagating the teachings of the Vedanta. Nothing in world literature is more uplifting, sublimating and ennobling and a better reminder of man’s greatness than the Vedanta. Those who want to test the truth and explore more can read Swami Vivekananda and Max Muller, a great German scholar on the Vedanta. Here, what I want to emphasize is that it’s the Upanishads that have provided the greatest affirmations about human potential. They remind man that that he is potentially equal to God. Some affirmations are given below:

i.    So-Ham (I am He, that is, Brahma or cosmic consciousness)

ii.    Ahama Brahmashmi (I am Brahma)

The Blocks and The Barriers


iii.    Tattwamashi (I am the ultimate reality, that is, imperishable, absolute Brahma)

Why does man, “made in the image of God” suffer helplessly through life? According to all great scriptures and enlightened souls, it’s only the ignorance of man’s true divine status that causes trouble. Men fail to realize their divinity because of the following reasons:

a. physical and mental orientation

b.    ignorance

c.    self-sufficiency

d.    environmental influence and conditioning

a. Physical and Mental Orientation: Human beings are genetically programmed to look outside for fulfillment. The story of the beggar, in the previous lesson, substantiates this truth. Man’s mind and senses are outward-oriented. He, therefore, fails to realize innate divinity. The following verse beautifully encapsulates my thoughts:


God has directed our life-energy and consciousness to flow outside. Our senses, therefore, are outward-bent. Ordinary men, therefore, look outside for fulfillment. But a few fortunate ones, desiring immortality, God, or divinity turn their gaze inward to find immortality, God and His all- conquering strength and omniscience within.

– Katha Upanishad

There is a soul-stirring verse in Bhagavad Gita. It conjures up the image of “a beggar’s cart.” A beggar’s cart is one where the driver controls the cart and the beggar from behind like weak patients on wheelchairs
 

Awaken the Superman Within …


in hospitals. The beggar is placed in the front and the driver takes him wherever he likes and the beggar is helplessly forced to beg. As long as an ignorant man indulges selfishly in material activities for self-gratification, ignoring the divinity within, he wanders to and fro endlessly seeking peace and prosperity. God takes him to various places to reap the harvest of his karma, both good and bad. Lord Krishna, therefore, advises Arjuna to seek shelter and security in Him first to avoid futile wanderings in endless alleys of egoistic activities.


God is seated in the hearts of all living beings and directs them to various places and situations according to their karma like a driver mounted on a cart. O descendant of Bharat, (Arjuna), take shelter in Him with all the sincerity of your heart. By His grace, you will gain the utmost peace and eternal shelter and security.

– Bhagavad Gita XVIII: 61, 62

Man cannot end his beggary and realize his true potential and self-reliance till he turns around and looks back at the driver. Here, the driver is the Divine within. Our miseries will not cease until we look within and tune in to the cosmic source of abundance and strength and energy.

Those who overlook soul-powers, the life of physical and mental powers, seeking power and prosperity in outward material sources are like ignorant pearl divers who surf on the surface of the ocean for pearls ignoring its depth.

The Blocks and The Barriers


b.    Ignorance: On an average, mankind is sandwiched

between two categories of people: the highly intelligent ones and the highly ignorant ones. The rest live on an animal plane. They take birth, learn to earn, eat, sleep, multiply and finally die. They never encounter men, material, or company that would help them see a higher vision of life. Our ancient saints and philosophers defined knowledge as “that which liberates man from all sufferings, be it physical, mental or spiritual.” Most human beings lack knowledge that leads them towards health and happiness.

c.    Self-Sufficiency: The study of human civilization shows that only a few have changed the course of history. Only a handful of scholars, scientists and thinkers have given a better shape to the world. Among millions, it was the explorative spirit of Vasco da Gama and Columbus that led to the discovery of India and America. It was Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s vision of a better life for women that led to the abolition of the

Sati system. Slavery would have continued to this day had Abraham Lincoln not thought about it and fought for it. Caught in the rut of mundane life, most of us never venture out of our comfort zones for further explorations.

d.    Environmental Influence and Conditioning: If a child born in a highly advanced civilization is kept in a tribal area, he will adopt the mannerisms and behaviors of the tribal people. The environmental influence overpowers even hereditary traits and talents. Living among people who have physical, mental and spiritual weaknesses and face suffering, men accept it as an unavoidable part of their lives and fail to see the immense possibilities beyond their current realities.

Awaken the Superman Within …


Human beings, though gifted with immense strength, suffer like elephants because of their mental conditioning. It has been observed that when a baby elephant is tied to a small stake, it tries only once or twice to break free; when it fails, it accepts that the stake is more powerful. Yet, everyone knows that an elephant can destroy sturdy trees if it sets out to do so. We create invisible walls of weakness around us and suffocate our inherent faculties. I once read a caption on an image showing a horse tied to an empty chair with a quote “Slavery is Mental.” We build and break our own mental blocks.