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Self-Realization and Freedom

(Friday, 20 August 2004, New York City)

Shantipada opens the satsangha with a reading of Sananda’s article, “Karma Yoga—The Secret of Work.” His voice projects strong conviction. Sitting in the front row is Swami Ramananda from Integral Yoga Institute. Although he has visited Shri Mahayogi privately at The Cave*, he has not attended a public satsangha in quite some time. Feeling overwhelmed by the company of Shri Mahayogi, and the seekers around him, tears roll down his cheeks.
As the reading ends, the space is filled with a soft, sacred stillness that lasts several minutes.


The Realized State of Freedom
and Supreme Bliss

Anjali: Shri Mahayogi, could you speak more about Enlightenment and freedom as the aim of practice? For it seems that without meeting an enlightened being, one does not get a taste of how great the goal is, nor receive inspiration for the practice. Could you speak about what freedom and Enlightenment are, so that it can motivate people?

(After a moment of silence...Shri Mahayogi answers.)
Everyone wants freedom. Everyone wants happiness. From the day a person is born until the day a person dies, she or he exerts effort to gain both. Can they be gained by wealth? or by fame? or beauty? or knowledge? Even if you had all of these available to you, because of death, disease and aging, all of them will turn into suffering in an instant. Even if you think you have gained freedom and happiness through these things, the mind is never satisfied by them, for the world is not everlasting. Neither is the world pure, nor perfect. And, by identifying yourself with possessions you think you have gained, you get lost from your True Self.

Why, then, are people destined to seek for freedom and happiness again and again, lifetime after lifetime? If you consider this from a broader perspective, there must be something that nature is teaching us. Thousands of years ago, yogis in India unraveled the secret. But it is not just in India; the search for freedom and happiness is universal, independent of religion or nationality.

The conclusion is that freedom and happiness are not outside of the mind, but within the mind. Freedom does not mean that you get whatever the mind desires. Freedom is the state of not being bound by anything. “Not bound” means not dependent on anything. It is the state of true independence. And in that state, there is bliss—the ultimate happiness. Bliss is the state of no suffering and no pain. Yes, this must be what everyone yearns for. Through simply correcting wrong viewpoints, you will be able to realize this.

In Yoga, the conclusion is this: human suffering is caused by ignorance. One kind of ignorance is seeing permanence in impermanence. Indeed, our bodies, nature, all of the material world, have limits. Perfect satisfaction cannot be found in any of them. But by seeking bliss within, you can eliminate wrong viewpoints and realize the Truth.

[Another kind of] ignorance is mistaking the Self for what is not the Self; the mistake of thinking your ego is your Self. The True Self is inward, farther beyond the ego; that is, the ego is witnessed by the True Consciousness. Isn’t it so, that you can in fact know your mind? Yes, the knowing Consciousness is further within the mind. It cannot be moved; it is always Absolute Consciousness. However, a mistake unfortunately arises—that of identifying yourself as the mind. You then think that it is you who are happy or unhappy, and this way you struggle. Throughout your lifetime it is very difficult to emancipate yourself from this mistake and this struggle. But if you try again and again, throughout lifetimes, you are destined to arrive closer to the Truth. Yoga speeds the journey. Paramahansa Yogananda once said that when you leave the journey of your soul up to the nature of reincarnation, it’s like walking, but in Yoga, it’s like taking an airplane to the goal. (Attendees nod and laugh. Shri Mahayogi laughs.) Back in those days, the propeller airplane may have been the fastest thing available. Nowadays with the  advancements of science, it is possible to go even faster. Of course, this swiftness only occurs if you practice Yoga seriously and earnestly.

Also, please remember that the state of Enlightenment, which is [perfect] freedom and bliss, is expressed by the word “Nirvana*.” This is the ultimate state realized by the Lord Buddha.

The literal translation of Nirvana is “the state in which the flame has been extinguished.” The flame refers to our life and mind—restless in nature’s realm. It flickers and is gone. The mind is likened to a flame. The extinction of the unrest caused by desires arising from ignorance is the state of perfect tranquility called Nirvana. In modern days, Nirvana may be understood in Yoga as Nirvikalpa Samadhi*. It is the state of Truth beyond duality, our essence, and the Truth of each one of us. It is here that freedom and bliss reside.

We must wake up to That—like oneself awakening to one’s Self. It cannot be realized through the intellect. The intellect can take you only so far, but passion is more indispensable. You definitely need the passion that makes you stake your life on It [Satori]. Then, you will realize Immortality. You must “die” in order to reach the Immortal (smiling). Therefore, remove the fear of death in meditation. All arises from the mind.

Truth exists as it is, alone. It does not depend upon intellect or words. Realize That.


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