How To Find Peace Within Yourself
You have many identities. They arise from your name, physique, birth, relationships, ownership, and actions. The world does not understand you other than how you make yourself visible to them or known to them. You can safely hide many things from the world and pretend to be a different person. As long as your secrets are safe, you are safe. However, you know from experience that you are not the same person to everyone, and you are not treated alike by everyone. It is because there are many layers to your visible personality and consciousness which are further filtered by people according to their nature.
For the world you are always someone in a relationship or a context. You are identified by your associations, profession, looks, relationships, status, wealth, actions, behavior, and so on. Take them away, you are no body. People are afraid of change because they do not want to lose their image in the eyes of the world. They do not readily accept the idea of renunciation, because it can expose them to numerous problems. The world grows into you and takes roots. It is extremely difficult for a worldly person to clear the forest it builds in you and know who you truly are.
Most of your identities in the world arise from your mind and body. They are not permanent, because neither of them are permanent. If you are actively involved with the world, it is very difficult to find yourself or rest in your deeper awareness. It will be very difficult for you to find peace and stability in the midst of the commotion the world creates in you. To find your deeper self, you need to withdraw from the world and look into yourself. If you have led a very active and busy life, it is not going to be easy.
Scriptures are a great help to understand the deeper aspects of your personality. They let you know who you are in the depths of your own being. The Yogasutras states that your soul is special or different from your surface personality. It is untouched by the obstacles such as karma and habits of the mind. In him is the seed of omniscience. His name is Aum, and by contemplating upon it one comes to the realization of its distinct character and consciousness and achieves freedom from all obstacles.
You can either contemplate upon the meaning and significance of Aum as you meditate upon your inner Self (Isvara), or you can focus upon the qualities and descriptions that are attributed to him in the scriptures. The scriptures offer verbal testimony. They are as good as the knowledge you gain from direct experience. Therefore, you can use them for your spiritual practice. By focusing upon the qualities such as the following ones1, which are mentioned in the scriptures, and manifesting them in your consciousness you can open the doors to inner peace. By concentrating upon them and practicing virtues, you can internalize them and become stabilized in the consciousness of your pure soul, which leads to freedom from pain and suffering.
In your wakeful state, you are the witness to many things that happen to you. Nothing escapes from your perception and judgment as you interact with the world. In your dreams also you remain a witness. However, in deep sleep and in unconsciousness states you do not know what happens. It is not the same with your true Self. It is always awake, whether you are asleep or awake and whether you are conscious or unconscious. Meditate upon the state of passive witness. Become a pure observer, without judgment, attitude, opinion, or involvement.
All pervading, vibhu
You pervade your whole body and your whole mind. You go as far as your mind and thoughts. However, you cannot go beyond the boundaries of your gross and subtle bodies. You cannot also enter other people's consciousness or subjectively experience anything other than yourself. However, since your true self is not bound to anything or limited by attachments, it can pervade the whole space. It can find itself in any object, person, or field and find oneness with it. It makes it omniscient. Meditate upon yourself as pure space. Extend yourself beyond your mind and body into the world around you. Try to feel the things and objects you use for concentration. Imagine being part of everything in your field of observation.
Purna means complete or perfect. Perfection in our world is a relative term. You may be perfect or complete in some aspects but not in everything. There are also limitations to how much perfection you can achieve in any aspect of your life. Perfection is a problem for you because you are subject to many influences, desires, attachments, expectations and modifications. There are no limitations to the Self because it is untouched by anything and complete in itself. The Self is pure even when it is caught in the cycle of births and deaths. Perfection or completeness does not arise from having things but by cultivating detachment and renouncing your need, desire, or dependence upon them. You can have everything in the world, without becoming enslaved to them. Focus upon the idea of perfection and how you can cultivate contentment and freedom from dependence, want, and desire.
You are an aggregation of things. Your mind is different from body. Each of them is again made up of numerous parts. You also have numerous identities, which undergo change with time and circumstances. Although you are an individual, you are subject to numerous states and forms. You cannot say you are the same person you used to be several years ago. With the Self there is no such problem. It is unchangeable, indivisible, and free from modification. It is therefore one and only. Meditate upon your fragmented personality and your numerous identities. See whether you can find anything common to all of them.
In this world your freedom is relative to your desires, compulsions, and expectations. You can be free only in a limited sense. Your duties, obligations, and responsibilities from which you cannot escape limit your freedom to be. You also form attachments which bind you to things and relationships. Therefore, although you may enjoy freedom under some circumstances, you are not truly free. The same is not the case with your true self. It is not bound to anything like the space around you and in you. True freedom arises from within. If you are free within, you will be free without. Meditate upon the idea of freedom and how you can be free both from within and without.
Your consciousness is filled with many impurities, limitations, and imperfections. You cannot rely upon it to know everything. It is sustained mostly by your senses. Purely at the mental or physical level, you are also not pure consciousness. You have a gross body that is part of your identity. You have a mind that remains mostly disturbed. Your Self, on the other hand, has no parts. It is pure consciousness, free from all imitations, imperfections and impurities. It exists in you as your deepest core, and true identity. You cannot become absorbed in it, until you silence all the modifications of your mind. Meditate upon pure consciousness that is free from impurities of desires, modifications, disturbances, duality, and egoism. Think how you can manifest it in yourself.
Without actions, akriya
In life you are always actively and consciously engaged with the external world. Whatever inactivity or inertia that you may experience is because of circumstances or lack of ability. Even when you seem to be outwardly inactive, your mind is still active. Your true self, however, remains untouched by all these. Since it is a passive witness and absolutely free from all involvement and engagement, it is not tainted by your actions or inactions. As long as you are alive, you cannot be free actions. However, you can cultivate detachment and perform actions without expectations and desire. Then, your actions will not touch you.
You are bound to the world by your desires and attachments. Hence, you are never free. You are like a tree with your roots firmly entrenched in the soil of the mortal world. Time and karma make your escape from this world very difficult. You true self has its roots in the immortal world of Brahman. Hence, it is always free, even though it is embodied in the field of Nature. Meditate upon the idea of detachment and how can you manifest in your thoughts and actions.
Free from desires, nisprha
Your life and destiny are shaped by your desires. As the Bhagavadgita declares, your senses are responsible for your desires. Their constant interaction with the sense objects results in attachments. From attachment arise attraction and aversion to things. From them arise bondage and delusion. You seek things because through fulfillment you want to make yourself complete, perfect. Your self is complete and perfect. Hence, it desires nothing. Meditate upon how desires influence your life, and what you can do to become free from them.
For you peace means freedom from stress, problems and worries. It is a very limited kind of peace, which is neither perfect nor complete. Since you live in a transient world, you cannot also remain peaceful forever. Your true self is not disturbed by the waves of life. It is forever peaceful, without effort. Hence, for you true peace is possible only when your mind is free from modifications and afflictions, and when you are fully absorbed in your inner Self. Learn to silence your mind at will and establish inner calm when you are engaged in worldly actions.
You have a strange relationship with the world. You are never free from its influence. If you let it, it would grow in you and condition you according to the standards it sets. When you become involved with the world, it will bind you not only to the cycle of births and deaths but also to myriad other things, which makes your escape from this world very difficult. You must have a healthy and respectful relationship with the world, but you cannot let it control your life forever.
To be free in the world, you must be free from the world. To be your true self, you must discover the center of your calm and remain stabilized in it. You can always find this calm, the deeper silence, which is the door to your freedom and everlasting life. You can open that door by withdrawing from the commotion of the material world and meditating upon your true self and the qualities that we have discussed above. These qualities of the Self are taken from a verse (1.12) from the Ashtavakra Gita. You can find many such qualities from the descriptions of the Self (atman) mentioned in other scriptures and use them in your meditation.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Ascetic Traditions and Practices in Hinduism
- Aspects, Emanations, Incarnations and Forms of God Vishnu
- Caste System and the Varnasrama Dharma in Hinduism
- Shedding Light on Atman, the True Self
- Om, Aum, Pranava or Nada in Mantra and Yoga Traditions
- Brahman According to Advaita and Dvaita in Hinduism
- Can Downloading Mind Into a Computer Help Humans to Reconnect to Their Past Lives?
- Do You Have Any Plans For Your Rebirth or Reincarnation?
- Human Worship in Hinduism
- Jivanmukti, the state of Liberation
- Kaivalya, the State of Aloneness
- The Symbolism of Time or Kala and Death in Hinduism
- Lessons from the Dance of Kali, the Mother Nature
- Letting your God live in You - The True Essence of the Hindu Way of Life
- Prajnanam brahma - Brahman is Intelligence
- Who are You? Tat Tvamasi
- Maya in the Bhagavadgita
- The Nature of Consciousness
- Panca Darsana - A New Theory of Knowledge
- Sadhana Chatushtayam - Way to Salvation
- The Amazing Power of Manasa Puja or Mental Worship
- The Origin and Significance of the Epic Mahabharata
- Ashtavakra Gita on Tattvajna - Liberated Person
- Transcending All Barriers of Individuality
- The Basis of Morality in Hinduism
- What is the Color of God?
- What is Your Notion of God?
- Why You Matter in God's Infinite Universe