Whenever I feel helpless, I feel inadequate because I cannot change what I do not want. I cannot get rid of what I do not want, and I cannot get what I want. Whenever I feel dependent, unsuccessful, or rejected, then I feel inadequate. Therefore, if I look at any moment when I am unhappy or sorrowful, I find that the cause of the sorrow is this sense of incompleteness or inadequacy centered upon myself. That I am inadequate, incomplete, limited, dependent, helpless all these are different names for the same thing-is the only cause of sorrow. Nothing else whatsoever is needed to make me unhappy.
It is this sense of inadequacy that is the cause of sorrow, and inadequacy is not the true nature of myself. If I were inadequate or incomplete by nature, then I would have no problem with inadequacy or incompleteness. Nothing has a problem with its true nature. Fire has no problem being hot; it is comfortable being hot. Ice is comfortable being cold. Night is comfortable being dark. Day is comfortable being bright. Everything is comfortable when it is with its own nature. The discomfort arises only when there is deviation or separation from the true nature.
If I am uncomfortable with the sense of inadequacy or incompleteness, that itself shows that incompleteness or inadequacy cannot be my nature. If it were my nature, I would be comfortable with it. There is never a complaint about that which conform with its true nature. There is complaint only when something is different from its nature.
Once a physician came where we were studying, and all the students lined up to see him. The doctor asked one fellow, “What is your problem? The fellow responded, “I feel hungry.” The doctor replied, “That is good. That is not a problem. There is no medication for that.” To be hungry is natural. In fact, nobody should complain to a doctor about being hungry. I would complain if I did not feel hungry, if I did not have a good appetite. Then this fellow said, I sleep. Again the doctor replied, “That is also not a problem. There is no medication for that, either. If you do not sleep, then we can do something for you.” The idea is that there cannot be a complaint or discomfort with what is my nature. Discomfort is there only when I am in some way separated or deviated from or denied my nature. And this is the problem with the human being, who is always suffering from an inner discomfort.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says
न हि कश्िचत्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् (3.5)
na hi kaschitkshanamapi jaatu tishthatyakarmakrita |
a person is not able to sit quietly or inactively, even for a moment. Why is it so? Helplessly, he is made to do something because of the discomfort existing in his mind. We are born with this discomfort. Children are lucky because they have not yet grown to feel this discomfort. All living beings other than human beings are also lucky, if you want to call them lucky, because they have not evolved sufficiently to become aware of this discomfort. Not that animals are free or happy, but the point is that they are spared this thing that creates sorrow, this discomfort centered on the self. Apparently to be unhappy with my own self, to be dissatisfied with myself, requires a great amount of sensitivity and evolution, and other creatures are not evolved to the extent that they become sensitive about their own selves.
On the one hand, sensitivity is the name of the game. On the other hand, sensitivity is what makes me unhappy. If I do not know much about music, for example, then you can sing however you want, everything is fine. The more I know, however, then the more I become sensitive and tuned in to every little deviation in pitch or rhythm. Similarly, if you do not know Sanskrit grammar, or any grammar for that matter, then it is all fine, there is no problem. But once you know, then you start noticing grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and so on.
The human being is the most evolved and sensitive creature because a human is sensitive about his own self. I am a self-conscious being, meaning that I am sensitive about myself, and sensitive about the fact that I am incomplete or inadequate. Along with that awareness comes the non-acceptance of myself because of inadequacy or incompleteness. I am not comfortable with myself, I am not happy with myself because I am incomplete, inadequate. This conclusion or opinion about myself that I am inadequate or incomplete arises on account of my failure to separate the self from the non-self. What I am uncomfortable about is really not the self; what I am uncomfortable about are the notions arising from the combination, or lumping together, of self and non-self.
At some point, there must be some awareness that I am limitless because there is a natural love for limitlessness. There must be some awareness that I am free because there is a natural love for freedom. Somewhere I should know that happiness is my nature because there is a natural love for happiness.
So also, in the state of deep sleep we do experience freedom and unconditional happiness. We are not aware at that time that we are experiencing it, but the experience is there nevertheless. And that experience of happiness or freedom becomes the frame of reference with which I constantly keep on judging and evaluating myself. Finding myself always inadequate with regard to that reference point 18 the reason why I am constantly seeking to be free from unhappiness and constantly seeking to be happy.
Sukha~prapti, attainment of happiness, and duhkha-nivrtti, avoidance of unhappiness, is natural for all living beings. Avoiding death and seeking immortality is natural. Avoiding ignorance and seeking knowledge is natural. Avoiding unhappiness or sorrow and seeking happiness is natural. And thus, life consists of a constant search for happiness, knowledge, freedom, immortality, thinking that all of these things are somewhere else, in a location other than myself.
This is a very sad situation. It is like an animal, such as a deer, running toward water in the distance when it is thirsty. In fact, it is only mirage water, but thinking that it is real, the deer runs toward it. As it runs toward the mirage, the water seems to recede farther and farther, and the poor deer can never reach it. Ultimately, it collapses along the way.
Similarly, the poor human being is running toward happiness, freedom, immortality, wisdom, knowledge, and never seems to find it. That is the situation – I am searching, not knowing that what I am searching for is, in fact, my own nature. You can also call it the nature of brahman, the absolute, or the nature of imam, the Lord.
Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati