Lecture-XII, Quistion and answers, Lecture delivered on February 26, 1903.
What is it that says, “I am not this body, I am the Atman, I am the Self? “
Ans: In the Real Atman there are no words. From the stand-point of the Real Self there is no possibility of making a statement of this kind “I am Brahma, I am this or I am that”; no words can reach the true Atman, the Atman stands above all words. Thus the statement “I am Brahma, I am the Atman, I am Divinity “cannot be made by the Atman, because the Atman transcends all words. This statement is made by the intellect (Sukshma Sarira) or any other name you may give it. The question is if the mind makes the statement “I am Brahma, I am Divinity,” the mind and intellect are not Brahma and therefore are not justified in making the statement. Vedanta says, from one point of view, mind and intellect are not Brahma; but on the other hand, the mind and intellect are nothing else but Brahma, even the body is nothing else but Brahma, and Everything in the world is nothing else but Brahma. Just as when we say that the black snake is a rope, the attribute ‘rope‘ does not belong to the snake in the same way as the attribute ‘black‘ belongs to the snake. The snake is black. Here the attribute ‘black‘ belongs to the snake, but when the statement is made that the snake is a rope, the rope is not an attribute of the snake. Similarly, when we say that the mind, body or intellect is Brahma or Atman, then Brahma or Atman is not an attribute of the mind, intellect, or body. The one meaning is that the mind, the intellect, or the body denies its apparent self, and finds Divinity or God. So when we say “I am God, I am Divinity”, it does not mean that God is an attribute of mine, as when we say “I am king,” for king is an attribute, but God is no attribute of mine. This statement “I am God” is not such a statement as “The snake is black.” If the statement “I am God” were a statement which made God your attribute, then it would have been an irreligious statement, but as it is, the statement “I am God” means that the apparent Self is to be realized as an illusion only, and the true Divinity is to be manifested in its full growth. O Divinity I am.
O people of the world, if you call me Swami or Rama, if you call me this or that, you are mistaken. Divinity I am; this body I am not.
A man was asleep, and in his sleep he found himself detected as a thief; he found himself a beggar; he was in a wretched condition. He prayed in his dream to all sorts of gods to help him, he went to this and that court, he went to this and that lawyer, he went to all his friends and sought their help, but there was no help. He was put in jail and cried bitterly, for there was no help for him. There came a snake which bit him and he felt excruciating pain, and this pain was so great that it woke him up. He ought to have thanked the snake which bit him in his sleep. Whenever we dream sad and horrible things, whenever we have the nightmare, we are awakened. So the snake in the dream woke him up, and he found himself sitting in bed all right, he found himself surrounded by his family, and he was happy. Now, we say in the dream he was bound, and lie sought release and in the dream the snake came and bit him and this snake was the same as the other objects in the dream with this difference that this snake woke him up, it startled him. It ate him up. We do not mean that the snake ate the man but that it ate the dreaming ego of the man; the dreaming ego of the man was as the other objects in the dream, and this snake not only destroyed the dreaming ego of the man but it destroyed all the other objects in the dream, viz. —the jail, the jailor, the monkey, the soldiers, and all, the rest. But this serpent was a strange serpent, it did something very extraordinary, it ate up itself because when the man woke up, he no longer saw this strange snake.
According to Vedanta, all this world that you see is but a mere dream, Maya, and what about yourself who sees the dream. You are the dreaming ego, the dreaming culprit, or the thief etc, and all your friends and other people are the companions in prison, from whom you seek help and invoke aid, you invoke aid from all gods in heaven and hell and they cannot release you. You go to your friend to seek aid but there is no peace, no true aid; no true or real joy comes to you until the time comes when you find yourself bitten by a snake. Now what snake is that? The snake of Renunciation. Renunciation appears to be serpent like, and it bites you. The word Renunciation seems awful to you, it stings you as it were. True Renunciation means Knowledge, it means Vedanta.
When this true Renunciation comes, what we call Jnana follows. The great saying u I am Brahma, I am Divinity, I am the Lord of lords” is realised. Here this statement “I am Brahma, Atman” seems to be a hissing statement to the ears of the Americans and Europeans, it is the hissing snake that will bite you, and you say, “O well, how can I entertain such a preposterous idea, how dare I make such a preposterous statement? “
O people, let the snake bite you; its stings and bites are welcome; they will release you, they will free you of all anxiety and trouble. This Truth does not instil into you venom but it instils nectar into your being, and you wake up and the dreaming ego is gone and the world is gone also.
This is no speculation of which Rama is talking but a truth or fact which you can verify from your own experience. All pain, trouble, anguish are immediately gone.
The statement “I am not the body” is made by the thief in the dream, because you have stolen God, you have stolen the Truth, you have concealed your real Self, so you are a thief in the dream, and this thief in the dream is stung by the serpent Truth, “I am the Atman.”Thus it is the thief in the dream that receives the life-giving sling of “I am Atman “and the result is that you wake up, and the true Atman shines in its full glory, and this Atman is unapproachable. It surpasses all description. Language cannot reach it.