Transitory nature of
Twelve Facets of
GURU SHREE CHITRABHANU
The Changeless Beneath the
In this course we are going to
meditate and reflect on twelve different facets of reality. Reflecting on
these aspects, we will come closer to seeing life as it really is. When our
mind does not see life as it is, it acts and reacts according to its
preconceived concepts of what should be. It then uses all its energy to make
these concepts concrete.
When concepts become concrete,
then life becomes rigid, like a crystal. Whenever life becomes crystallized,
there is no flow. Because of rigidity, we take stands. We go to the extent of
fighting in order to maintain our bias. As a result, we become either
temporarily happy or temporarily unhappy. If we watch ourselves at such times,
we can see that we have lost pliability. In this way, we lose touch with the
flow of life.
The twelve facets upon which we
will meditate are twelve steps leading to the experience of reality. They are
meant to awaken our inner awareness. In ancient days, they were called
bhavanas, or reflections. Originally, they were given as meditation subjects
to the Jain monks, to the initiates who had just left the worldly life with
which they were familiar and whose taste was still upon their lips. They were
to steep themselves in these meditations in order to remove this taste from
their consciousness and come out from inertia, anxiety, distraction, moods,
and desires. Absorbing and ruminating the meaning, they would come to
penetrate the depths of their own reality.
Now these same bhavanas are
offered to you, the serious students, the genuine seekers, to help you
overcome the coverings and delusions which prevent you from seeing life as it
is. The first and greatest stumbling block to confront and examine is trushna,
or craving. Craving arises in your unawareness when you do not see an object
as a thought crystal but, rather, as a means to gratify your desire. Then you
put all your energy into getting it. Sometimes you never get it, and sometimes
you do. But in any case, the time comes when you have to leave it. If you are
aware when you have it in your palm, you look at it and smile at yourself,
saying, "Is this the thing I have used so much effort to get? For this I have
spent my energy?
What attracts and allures you
from a distance does not look the same at close range. When you go nearer, you
wonder, "Is this the same as what I saw from a distance?" You might have
noticed at some time that when you are far from a mountain, it appears mellow,
round, and soft. Covered in mist, it looks like wax. When you are right next
to it, though, you see the sharp stones and rocks.
That is why, in order to
understand the nature of reality, we have to see what is real without
distorting or hiding it. We have to remove all the outside wrappings which are
created by our mind. The mind creates many beautiful phrases and mirages. It
likes to hide reality with glossy coverings. Like the deer who runs toward a
mirage of water when it is thirsty, we too are in a frenzy to get that which
is merely an illusion.
If you want to feel the
refreshing touch of a lake in summer, you have to remove your clothes.
Otherwise, you will not get direct contact with the cool water. In the same
way, if you want to enjoy the freshness of life, you must shed your coverings.
Words, concepts, beliefs, crystallized thoughts act as coverings. Puncture
them and you will see how hollow and insubstantial they are. Remove them and
you will see yourself.
So the initiates are taught
that they are deluded by outside things. They are given symbolic things to
watch. For example, at dusk, the master and student may go out and sit and
meditate. When it is monsoon season, there are clouds in many colors.
Sometimes there is a rainbow. The master might tell the student, "See the
beauty. Experience these colors. Notice in each cloud a shape. Be in tune with
nature. Forget everything else. Then close your eyes."
The student becomes attuned to
the colors and the shapes of the clouds at dusk. Then he closes his eyes and
brings the picture of this to his mental eye. Over and over, he opens his
eyes, watches the changing scene of nature, closes his eyes, and meditates.
After two hours, everything
becomes dark. Then the teacher asks, "What do you see?"
The student answers, "I see
nothing. Everything has gone."
Then the teacher asks, "Where
have they gone--the beauty, the shapes, the clouds, the colors?"
The student remains in silence,
pondering. And yet there is an answer. The beauty, the rainbow, have gone and
yet they have not gone. They are there in a way. This is the point of
meditation: everything is still there in the universe.
The teacher tells the student,
"Nothing has gone. Everything is there. But because of the rotation of the
earth, you see changes. Your physical eye sees that something has gone.
"Now use your inner perception.
See that the whole galaxy is moving in an unbroken rhythm. The same sun we
think of as vanishing here is being seen across the globe as rising. And yet
it is the same sun. Lift yourself above the level of earth to the height of
the sun. You will always see the sun. Be conscious of that sun in you, there
is changeless life in you."
Behind the continuous changes
is the continuity of the changeless. Changes themselves indicate the
ever-presence of the changeless.
As soon as a dry leaf drops, a
new green leaf is already sprouting. If we are aware, we realize that behind
the tiny new leaf there is changeless, vibrant life. Because of that life, one
form is dropped and another emerges. And the soul of the old leaf has already
gone on to a new form, one with more sensory equipment with which to perceive
the world in a new, more sensitive way.
We begin to see that all life
longs to move to higher realms of awareness. For that, change is inevitable.
Change is what allows the changeless to reveal itself as ever fresh. Without
it, there is no growth, no renewal.
When we become convinced that
change is for growth and growth is for becoming aware of our inner divinity,
we will be inspired to be free, free from the tendency to cling to familiar
things. We will become eager to unshackle ourselves from the fear of change.
When this truth sinks into our
consciousness, it opens a new door. We stop seeing in a rigid way. The words
"gone," "disappear," "vanish," "death" are seen for what they are - as empty
or misleading words, based purely on our visual perception, not on our inner
insight. So what appears as "death" to one is "birth" to another both are two
waves of the same ocean: life.
So the teacher explains to the
student, "Changes are causing us to be aware of the changeless, and the
changeless is causing all the changes to take place. Until we reach the
'best,' we pass through 'good' and 'better.' All the forms change in order to
bring out a better and better form. Ultimately, we become so refined as to be
able to experience the radiance of our inner reality, the permanent bliss of
our being. So, as you grow, cultivate this awareness that in the sunset dawn
is hidden, in the dawn sunset is hidden. Appearing and disappearing are the
play of life. Both are manifestations of the changeless.
The reflection on this first
point of meditation is called anitya--meaning transient, ever-changing--and
nitya--meaning permanent, changeless. For the mind to know the ever-moving
nature of anitya is frightening. Why? Because the mind tends to take that
which is temporary and believe that it is going to last forever. The mind
clings to whatever it has created-- things, objects, ideas, relationships,
positions. That is why it is not ready to give them up when the time comes.
Such a mind says, "It is going to remain with me. It is mine now." But the
nature of nature replies, "Nothing is thine and nothing is mine."
If it becomes yours, it is
going to lose its nature. It will lose its capacity to change. If it loses its
nature of change, it will lose its freshness of life. It will become stagnant.
If it always remains summertime, you long for winter. If heat remains
permanently high, you cannot bear it. In the same way, when winter becomes too
prolonged, you dream of summer. Changes make everything new and fresh.
We have to reeducate our mind.
Otherwise it tends toward attachment, thereby creating sadness. When things or
people depart from us, our mind is not ready to accept it. Grasping, the mind
kills the spirit of the relationship. People accept this truth more readily
for others than for themselves.
Observe what happens when the
mind is not attached. Once an employee in a factory received a telegram
telling him that his mother had died. He wanted to take a week's leave to go
to his hometown to console his relatives and to be consoled by them. When he
went to the factory owner to ask permission for the leave, the owner was out
to lunch. So the employee left his telegram on the owner's desk, went back to
his work, and waited.
It happened that the factory
owner's mother was ill, and when he returned to his desk, without reading the
name on the telegram, he saw only the words, "Your mother expired."
Immediately he became sad and depressed. He put his head down on his desk and
When the employee came back, he
saw right away that his telegram had caused a misunderstanding. He wanted to
clear it up, so he explained, "Sir, please, I came to ask for leave because my
mother expired." The owner looked up and said, "Your mother has also expired?"
"No, sir," the employee explained, "I put that telegram on your desk when you
were not here. It is my mother who has expired, not yours."
"It is your mother, not mine?"
The owner jumped up, and in a matter of seconds he had become light and happy
again. His whole attitude changed.
"Yes, sir," the employee
continued. "Please grant me leave to see my relatives."
Now all of a sudden the owner
began to preach and moralize because it was not his mother. He said, "Why do
you want to waste your time going there? She is gone, and everything in the
world leaves us sooner or later. Why make yourself so unhappy?"
See how the mind can teach
beautiful truths to others when it is not bound by attachment. When you weave
a thread around something, you are caught by it. This is the way the mind
acts. Even the smallest thing which breaks, changes, or goes away can make you
lose your balanced mood. Why? Because on that thing you have placed a seal and
labeled it "mine."
Now, if you don't weave a
thread around things that are not related to you, and if you know how to be
wise for others, why do you not train your own mind not to cling and be
possessive? Why do you not take a loss in your life as lightly as you would
have others take it when it happens to them? Why are there two laws--one for
you and one for others?
When you have a toothache, you
feel as if there were an earthquake in your head. But when a real earthquake
occurs, you merely comment, "This is the law of nature." Why do you feel no
effect? Because of your emphasis on "I" and "my," you have lost connection
with life at large. You have put all your energy into your own need, greed,
and attachment. You have placed importance only on preserving the cocoon you
have built around yourself.
Because of the cocoon, you
become sad, depressed, angry. The slightest word, gesture, or insult can upset
your whole day. Yet in your callousness, you can insult others and not
remember. Why? Because there is no connection with the universal. All is
centered selfishly in the mind, and that mind is not permanent. It is
So the master tells the monk,
"Meditate on nitya and anitya. Find out what is permanent and what is
impermanent. Separate the grain from the chaff. Now they are mixed together.
You must winnow. Learn how to fan out the husk from the genuine kernel. Then
you are able to know what is everlasting and what is temporary."
This process of winnowing is an
inside process. For that you have to come to the center of yourself. First
realize and accept the transitory nature of forms. Then you will experience
the nature of nature, the changeless behind the ever-changing.
This winnowing makes you
selective in your word, in your expression, in your relations. The phoniness
goes away. You will not exclaim, "I will die for you!" It is easy to use such
words, and yet nobody dies for anyone. It is only make-believe. People die for
their own attachment, not for another person.
Before you use a word, feel the
word. Taste the word. Just as a person who hears the word "mango" gets a taste
and desire for mango in his mind, you get the real feeling of the word in your
being. When you really experience the truth of this, then every word comes
directly from your experience. You are not in a hurry to be clever with words
There have been great poets and
writers who did not write a lot, but when they did write they experienced deep
feeling. They felt what they were bringing out. Whatever they wrote emerged
from the depths. And what comes from the depths becomes immortal. Such words
carry the touch of immortality.
Now we move deeper into
self-investigation. By winnowing the chaff from the grain, by revealing the
authenticity of our feeling with each word, we come to what we call "I." Who
is this "I"? Is it a temporary "I" which is there for some eighty to ninety
years? When the body ceases to function, where does it go? Has it gone into
darkness or does it have some deeper significance of immortality?
Most people don't know what
this "I" is even though they put it in capital letters. When we say, "I want
to see you and talk to you," who do we mean? Do we mean "I" the body, the
senses? Are we saying, "My senses want to see you"?
Is there only the body? Or is
there something beyond? After all, when the doctor declares that a person is
dead, the body is still there, the sense organs are still there. But the
conscious, sentient energy that was able to sense is no longer dwelling in
that body. Everything you might have thought of as "I" is still there. So what
has gone? One minute ago, there was hope. Now the doctor says, "There is no
hope." What has changed? Is there another "I" other than the "I" of body and
senses which has gone from the body?
Go directly to yourself and
ask, "What is that which has gone? What do I mean by 'I love you'--is it the
If so, then why do we put it
into a casket? Why do we not keep it? With chemicals we can preserve the body,
but we don't want to keep it. Why do we not have the same feeling of
communication and aesthetic outlook, the same feeling of love and ecstasy
toward a body that is missing the real "I"?
What is missing and where has
it gone? That "something" has not ceased to exist. If it has, then the world
becomes nothing but constant change, impermanence.
But there is the changeless;
essence remains. Only in a particular moment, for a particular person, does it
seem no longer to exist. It only appears as though dusk with its beauty and
glow has disappeared. And yet we know it has not gone permanently. Dusk is
somewhere, in some new form.
If you take a plane which
travels at two thousand miles per hour, you can catch the glow of the sun. You
can keep up with it and see that it has not gone anywhere. Catching up to it,
you will be able to go farther than dusk, farther even than the sun.
We say that the sun rises and
sets, but we know that the sun does neither. The movement of the earth is what
gives us the illusion of the sun's rising and setting. The words we use are
not precise. In the same way, in reality, we cannot say that the "I"
disappears. As soon as it seems to be gone, it has already taken another
shape, another glow, another color. When someone is crying over the loss of
somebody, already that somebody is making someone else happy! In some house,
happiness is bubbling, and someone is realizing, "Oh, I am pregnant! "
What has gone? What has come?
Only the forms, the garbs, the houses. Not this "I." This "I" is moving
eternally from beginningless time, becoming more and more aware of its reality
through the evolution of form. The whole universe is a means to reach ultimate
When someone goes from your
sight, remember the relation, the communication you had. To accept with
solemnity and understanding is different from resisting with depression and
sadness. To accept with calmness and deep feeling is not the same as crying,
falling into deep mourning, and losing interest in life. People cry and sink
to the bottom because of dependency. There was a crutch to lean on, and now
that crutch has gone. People mourn not the person but the crutch. Where can
they lean now?
It is not so easy to change
thinking patterns. We live in a world of concepts, beliefs, and taboos. These
are the walls and coverings preventing us from seeing and experiencing the
real "I" of ourselves and others.
There is a beautiful example of
a young monk named Upagupta. It was nighttime during the rainy season, and the
path in the forest was covered with a blanket of darkness. Upagupta found his
way to a certain tree and sat down to meditate.
It happened at that time that a
famous dancer was going through the same forest to meet her beloved. The
darkness was so thick that she could not see where she was going. She was
still trying to feel the track underfoot when she bumped into Upagupta.
Oh!" she exclaimed. "Who is
this human being?"
Just then there was a flash of
lightning. In that flash she saw the person she had accidentally come up
"Such a beautiful person is
sitting there," she thought. "So calm and serene he is. His lovely face and
body look as though they were carved out of pure marble. Oh, if I get this
man, this will be heaven on earth!"
She was proud of her beauty.
She was the most famous dancer of her time and men would flock to her feet.
She said, "You are so calm. You have such a radiance. Please come with me."
When he did not respond, she
shook him and said, "You are meditating on what? See who I am!" Upagupta
recognized the dancer. "I know who you are. But this is not the time, though I
know that you love me. You go on your way. I will see you one day."
The dancer thought, "He knows I
love him, he says. Then why delay?"
So she spoke to him again.
"What is the reason for postponing? It will be too late. This is the right
He answered, "I know it, but
the right time has not come in the right way. I promise you I will meet you.
And remember, as you love, I too love. When it is the right time, I will
The dancer thought he was not
in his right mind. And she went on.
Youth is like lightning, like a
shadow, like the flow of water, ever-moving, so swift. Ten years passed. The
dancer had overused her energy of youth and was now exhausted. She had not
taken care of her body and was now suffering from a skin disease. She was
trembling with fever and there were blisters on her skin. Nobody would even
look at her, and the king drove her from the town. She was compelled to go out
to a deserted village and live in a tiny hovel. There she was wasting away,
crying and alone.
The time was right and a man
came to see her there. He took her head in his lap. She was shivering with
fever as he applied medicine to her sores, mouth, and head.
"Who are you?" she mumbled.
"I am Upagupta. Do you
remember? I promised you. I love you. I have come to take care of you."
"Now I don't have anything to
offer you," she moaned.
"No," he told her, "at that
time you had something to offer which was transient, something which you
yourself could not keep. Now you have something real to offer. I love that
which is not going to go. Our relation is for that. It is the relation of
"In the glamour and ego of the
past years, you did not realize the changing nature of all that--of your body,
beauty, wealth, and your circle of partying friends. They were all there
because there was that need. They were feeding it and now that need is over.
My need is not that. Mine is the need of the soul."
Tears started rolling down the
dancer's cheeks. She began sobbing. All ignorance was washed away by her
tears. Upagupta took great care of her.
"Now," he told her, "let us
transcend the small "I" and help others become aware of the real "I."
Soon the dancer recovered, and
when she became healthy and strong, she renounced her old life and became a
student of Upagupta. She spent the rest of her days peacefully meditating and
sharing her insights with others .
When we are not aware of the
real "I" in us, we are continually engaged in trying to keep the unreal "I"
intact. The artificial "I" is the one created by society, emotions, and needs.
It is what we call the body "I,'' the name "I," the form "I." Whenever we
sense some danger to this superficial "I," we become upset, angry, and
depressed. We have a sense of fear. We are ready to do anything to protect
this "I" which cannot be protected.
The intrinsic nature of the
superficial "I" is to change. That is why there is fear. Something in us knows
that this "I" does not have the quality of permanence. If we identify totally
with the ever-changing "I," we don't have that fearlessness which comes from
knowing that in us which is changeless.
What we need is that
fearlessness. It can only unfold in us when we know the real "I" and its
permanence, when we know the difference between nitya and anitya. By knowing
the "I" which is real, we are sure it is going to remain. Once we know it is
not going to go anywhere, we don't make any effort to keep it.
It is like the difference
between a candle and an electric lamp when you stand by the window. Near the
window the candle is always flickering in the wind, so you put a protective
covering over it. That is like the unreal "I" which we are constantly trying
to protect, though it can-not be preserved permanently. But if you have an
electric lamp, you have no need to protect it. You are not afraid that it will
go out. The wind cannot extinguish it. The real "I" is like this, secure in
From where does this
superficial "I" come? It is created, built by karmas, customs, creed. It is a
social "I." Because of different geographical, physiological, and emotional
programming, it creates barriers among people. Your unreal "I" is not the same
as someone else's because what is important for your nation, race, or society
is not important for his. So our mental structures and emotional needs are
relative. And what is relative cannot become permanent.
That is why wise people don't
try to impose their values on others. They see things as they are. They know
the difference between the social "I" and the real "I." They are aware that
the temporary "I" is a product of their conditioning and their society's
values. Going further, they see something transcending. The transcending "I"
has no local or geographical limitations. It has no fear of losing. That "I"
is nitya, ever-remaining, immortal. That "I" is in you. That "I" is in me.
That "I" is in everyone.
Your relationships must begin
with yourself. First you know that "I" in you, then you will see it in
everybody. If you cannot see the real "I" in you, you won't be able to see it
Taking time to know it does not
mean you are selfish. It means that you are experimenting with truth on
yourself first. Then you will be able to share it with others. Before you give
something hot to someone, don't you first test it on your own skin? In the
same way, before you give this truth to someone, first experience it yourself.
So in the light of this
meditation, see your own reality. Throw off the outside coverings and see the
inside substance. Observe that until now you have made a box around yourself.
Now you want to know what is really inside. If you don't go to your reality,
your whole life will be nothing but pretense and fantasy. Living in
make-believe, you will not be able to take the last step of evolution. So if
you want to go further, be genuine. Go beyond words and come to the truth of
See that although "I" appears
to change with the change, in reality it is changeless. When people depart
from you or you depart from them, see with the knowledge that something in you
both will stay, something in you will meet again. As understanding deepens,
relationships become profound. They are not only of the body, but they are
perfumed with essence.
Otherwise, life is filled with
so much fear and anxiety that it is unbearable. But if you know that essence
is never lost, though you feel sadness at a dear one's departure, still you
can come back to your work, continue your routine, and experience living
fully. Though there is seeming disappearance, this disappearance is in order
to appear somewhere else. In order to go there, you have to leave here. In
pure relationship one companion goes ahead of the other. The other follows
later. The parting is temporary. They meet again. The changeless indicates
that which cannot die, for it was never born; it is the very life of life.
Meditating in this way, we
develop a sense of discrimination and a vast vision. Small things which used
to trigger our addictions no longer bother us. There will be no need to use so
much energy on temporary things. We become generous toward the shortcomings of
others. We start to experience a deep feeling of oneness with all life, and we
will not cry over the spilt milk of transitoriness. With our inner vision, we
see that which is continuously pulsating in all, and rejoice.
SEED THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
If I accept rather than deny
the transitory nature of all forms, then I can go deeper and realize that
there is changeless life behind the ever-changing:
Change is for growth, and
growth is for change. Both are for helping us become aware of our inner
divinity and for inspiring us to move into higher life.
Let me stop trying to preserve
the temporary cocoon I have built around myself so that I can connect to life
Something in us will stay. That
I love. It is the relation of soul to soul.
Appearing and disappearing are
the play of life. Both are two waves of the same ocean. Both are there to
reveal reality in a new and fresh way.