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The House of Mirrors on the Isle of White in the south of England is a well known tourist attraction. Those who have been there or to a similar place will appreciate what incredible distortions these mirrors cause. Mirrors of different sizes and curvatures are seen mounted on all walls of the mansion. In front of one mirror we see our image with a large head, small belly and ‘matchstick’ legs. Another mirror may show a large rounded belly, ‘daddy longlegs’ and small ‘peanut’ head. As we move on among the mirrors we see various contortions - twisted faces, disproportionate limbs, monstrous looking faces and so on. The same individual, but distorted in a multitude of ways according to the curvature of each mirror.

Hall of MirrorsJagadguru Adi Shankara, the founder of the doctrine of Advaita or non-dualism, has said that the entire manifest Universe, Prakrithi, is like a mirror and that is the purpose it serves. Everything perceived by the senses are merely reflections of the ‘One’ that became many. Swami has this interesting example to illustrate this point. A dog sees itself in a mirror. Thinking it is seeing another dog it starts barking. When the ‘other dog’ starts barking, ‘this dog’ becomes furious and begins to attack the ‘other dog’ in the mirror and breaks the mirror in the process. As it sees several ‘other dogs’, one in each of the broken pieces it starts behaving like a mad dog. Swami also gives another example where a dog bites its own tongue causing it to bleed while chewing a dog bone and continues to chew furiously thinking that all the juicy blood is oozing out from the bone!

In His own words Bhagavan Baba says, “I separated Myself from Myself so that I can love Myself.” He declares, “Everything is a Reaction, Reflection and Resound.” Many enlightened Masters compare the human mind to a mirror. The mind of each individual is so unique and inimitable. Like the ‘House of Mirrors’ the mind also causes untrue or distorted impressions of our sensory input. Nisargadata Maharaj says: “Knowledge and ignorance are in the areas known externally and therefore not Truth. Truth is in the realm of the unknown, not in the externally known, but known deep within after withdrawing the senses (mind) and intellect.”

The outer five sense organs - eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin - receive the signals from the outer world of objects, people and events, and transmit them to the mind, which is the inner instrument of cognition. The cognitive aspect of the mind will process the signals received from the outer five sense organs according to its inherent conditioning. This conditioning influences the cognitive process and interprets the signals received accordingly. Thus what we see, hear, feel, think and do is the result of our own distorted perception. Perceptions differ from one individual to another in spite of the fact that the original – the same object, person or event – remains common to all. Hence, it is quite obvious that such false impressions or perversions are taking place entirely at the level of the mind. We therefore have to see ourselves as walking mirrors encasing the Divine Essence, Love.

Therefore the fault lies within us and we need to acknowledge this basic fact to begin with – that our individual interpretations and reactions are erroneous. Due to delusion and ignorance our ego will not admit or acknowledge this fundamental flaw. No amount of reasoning will be of avail. Swami says, “We are seeing through coloured glasses (mind) and when we point a finger at another, three fingers are pointing at us!” Jesus also said, “Don’t look at the mote in another’s eye when there is a beam across your own.” The mind is therefore at the centre stage and needs to be looked at dispassionately and in depth. Why does it cause such distortions? The answer is simple. Impurities in the mind are like the dust on the surface of the mirror, which make the reflection hazy. The deep-seated impressions (vasanas) brought forward from past lives and childhood are like the curvatures on the mirror, causing distortions or perversions. In addition the desires and dreams for a better future lure the mind into further deception.

Like any phenomenal object or entity, the human body also has no independent existence, autonomy and choice of action. However, through ignorance and delusion (Maya) a sense of separate identity or individuality is caused and wrongly believed to be functioning independently. Our attachment to the body as a separate entity is entirely due to the conditioning received from our parents, elders and environment. From the earliest moments of understanding we are told that we are a particular body with a particular name. It is so easy to comprehend this delusion if we realise that the body is merely a vehicle, a ‘body-car,’ to carry the Jivatma (individual soul) through its sojourn on earth. Even the names we carry are comparable to the registration numbers on motor vehicles, merely to identify us as separate entities. What we think of ourselves and how others perceive us are subject to infinitely complex and latent attributes within each individual. Further, these perceptions are themselves so transient and unreliable. The drama of life verily hinges on such warped mental aberrations in this aspect of the mind.

God, who is the brilliant producer, director and actor of this entire ‘dream-show’, plays all roles in this great ‘dream-drama.’ Each individual is acting the assigned role ‘unconsciously,’ without being aware of this truth, but wrongly identifying with the body that is merely a vesture or costume. Swami has often reminded us that death is a dress of life. We leave behind our heavy overcoat of flesh and bone and move on to play another role, in another dimension in time and space.

Many a time Swami has reminded us that contrary to our belief we do not have free will. Swami also has said that we are not all that helpless and trapped in an iron cage, and that we are endowed with awesome resources within, if tapped and utilised for our ascent. Paradoxical as these two statements may seem, given the proper understanding, they are contextual. By believing that we are the doers we attract a sense of responsibility, guilt, fear, blame and suffering, including praise and blame, which becomes the ‘iron cage’ that binds us to past repetitive tendencies - hence we have no free will. Shakespeare too has said, “The world is a stage and each one is an actor, with entrance and exit, and playing many roles in one life.” Bhagavan Baba says, “Life is a game, play it; life is a dream, realise it.” Only through Constant Integrated Awareness, CIA, of our True Nature and remaining detached from the role this body of ours is playing can we experience true freedom.

Just as the eye cannot see itself while seeing everything outside itself, the mind can only see the outer ‘appearances’, but not its own nature and faults. Limited by the veil of ‘Maya’ we are limiting our capacity to use our full resources to no more than 10%, like an iceberg that hides 90% of itself below the surface. Our life too begins like a grand appearance but ends up like the sinking of the Titanic! We have to wake up to this basic fact, an all important truth about the hidden part of our ‘iceberg’ – not merely the vasanas and karmas but also the awesome spiritual potential inherent in us. Bhagavan Baba is like a perfect and pure mirror and He reflects the faults that are deeply hidden in our mind. When we are in His proximity, meaning our inner proximity, our hidden potential begins to manifest. Thus we have the best opportunity to recognise our own defects and take the corrective steps. By His grace and our determination we will have the opportunity and the right circumstances to achieve the impossible. Just as changing our ‘coloured glasses’ to plain glasses, we need to see things in the light of true awareness and apply fundamental discrimination for a collective gain.

Due to a divided mind that is under the influence of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ our opinions are limited to an individual viewpoint, not a collective or integral perception. Our discrimination is flawed for the same reason and we become selfish and self-centred. Swami also tells us that ‘individual discrimination’ is fragmented and serves a selfish purpose, as opposed to ‘Fundamental Discrimination’, which sees things in its entirety. We see and hear through a divided a mind, which is the cause of our narrow outlook, disunity and conflict. The attachment to the body as a separate entity, as already mentioned, is due to the conditioning that one is a particular body with a particular name. Thus one becomes convinced beyond doubt of the identity with the body that is endowed with life-force and breath, and functions as a separate individual with a unique personality.

Ego gets cultivated from infancy. While every person is divine, the personality is the result of ego that believes itself as a separate body-entity - a kind of superimposition on the ‘Divine Person’, which is the underlying Reality. Divinity is immanent in every manifestation but the divine essence is not apparent. Divinity is like pure rain water. When the rain water falls on the soil it will naturally take the colour and smell of the soil and flow as streams. Nevertheless, it is still the same rain water but now mixed with earthly contaminants. When the sun shines and the clouds arise from the streams it becomes pure once again, back to its pristine state - clear and uncontaminated. Likewise, Sadhana is refinement towards our true nature and it is a process of ‘self-distillation’ to bring out the pure essence, the true ‘Self’, or the divinity that we are.

Thus, the removal of perversion of the mind is true Sadhana. Only then will we become the pure and divine ‘moving mirrors,’ and reflect the true light of Pure Consciousness, the Divine Essence within. Bhagavan Baba’s advent is for this ultimate purpose. May we be worthy recipients of His grace, so vital to release ourselves from bondage and realise our ultimate divine destiny.

Jai Sai Ram.

Dr. Sara Pavan,
Prashanti Nilayam.

[Dr. Sara Pavan is an Anaesthesiologist from Australia, residing in Prashanti Nilayam since 1993 and serving at the Super Speciality Hospital.]