Shanti Sadan and Self-Knowledge name
Vol.68 No.3 Summer 2017

SHARING THE SAME BOAT

In this changing world
We are all travellers in the same boat.
Let us treat each other with love.

Tulsidas

Is universal peace possible? Only when we realise that our Self is not confined to our personal body and mind, but is one with the Self of all. Then we will know that none is outside or other—that the realm of the infinite Self includes and embraces all.

To those who have realised this unity, the ideal of universal peace is ever-achieved in their direct experience, which sees beyond the phenomenal world and with a superior faculty of understanding—prajna, spiritual wisdom. This is the ultimate evolution of our knowing faculties, which at present seem restricted to sense-perception and thought, convincing us of the reality, authority and potential menace of the world we see about us.

To become aware that there are illumined ones who have realised that their Self is the Self of all, is the greatest good-fortune.

Receptive to their teachings, we too can learn how to free our mind from the tyranny of prejudices and the errors they breed.

Any form of partisanship mars our appreciation of those whom we regard as ‘other’, and also of those who stay neutral and impartial. A sports writer recalls how a cricket match between two great teams, traditionally ancient enemies, was attended by a man who warmly applauded the playing of both teams, to the puzzlement and animosity of the polarised groups around him. When challenged, he explained that he was from neither of the rival territories, and was simply enjoying the game impartially. ‘Then you had better keep quiet’, he was advised. ‘This match has nothing to do with you!’

We can see that in matters both trivial and tragic, it is the nurturing of bad associations that is the psychological cause of our forgetting that ‘we are all travellers in the same boat’ and our inability to see clearly and benevolently what is before our eyes. We may be told by parents, mentors, colleagues, the press or politicians, that a certain class, creed or community should be viewed in a dim light, so to say. We hear this so many times, that when the thought of that person or group arises, so does the thought of censure. The negative quality is ascribed indiscriminately to all members of that group, and the bane of discrimination is established.

An impartial and even-minded approach, lit by empathy and understanding, is closer to wisdom and truth than a made-up mind rooted in prejudice. It is a step towards the conviction of ‘one-Self-in-all’, the liberating idea that will lead us into the deeper consciousness that transcends change. In time, the sense of the underlying unity becomes integral to our way of thought, speech and action.

To be truly effective in our quest to awaken the higher wisdom in ourselves, we need to become familiar with the workings of our mind, and determine what makes it function in a right or wrong way. Here we come to the roots of thought, for the mind is made up of thoughts. And from this introspection we can unmask the prejudices which colour and sometimes dominate our outlook.

The yogic approach is to detect such associations in our own mind and to liberate our thinking from their influence. These are thought-links that are not wanted, and we can calmly dismiss them with some such formula as: ‘OM. You are unreal phantoms. I banish you as undesired images. OM’

To sweep aside the sense that there are outsiders and others alienated from our selfhood, is no easy task, but it is a major part of the inner transformation, and one of the most effective ways to make spiritual progress. It is based on the higher wisdom of the knowers of truth, who encourage us to meditate on the fact that all life is one, and that the same Self, or underlying spiritual essence, abides in all beings, and all beings abide in that Self. There is no higher or more far-reaching mental association than this.