Question: Sir, the very fact that the Rishi said, “Naham Kalasya”, probably, he could also have had an occasion where Koham started. When he started asking Koham, only then this process of negation started. So, how to explain this process?
Speaker: How did the Rishi come to that? That’s what you are asking?
Speaker: It’s hurt, nothing else. It’s hurt. Life hurts all of us, does it not? Anybody here who has not been hurt? Anybody here who is not carrying wounds?
Listener: Several times.
Speaker: Several times. Right? In fact, every day, daily. The ego is a wound, a wound that doesn’t heal. A festering sore. Is it not? Is it not? Most of us learn to live with the perpetual sense of hurt. Most of us become numb towards our hurt. We say, “This is life, this has to be accepted.” And that’s what we also teach to our children. The Rishi is one who says, “No, life was not meant to be suffering.” He says, “No, I do not believe that I was born to face hurt, to bleed, to tremble in fear, to be suspicious, to be struggling in doubt.” He says, “No! No! No! I do not like this!” Like kids who stamp their feet. “I do not like this candy.” Seen kids like that? The Rishi resembles those kids so much. “No! No! No! No! No! This is not my nature! This cannot be life! This cannot be life!” And then he says, “What else is there? Only this is there? I must know, why is it the way it appears to be. Why does it hurt? More importantly, who is it that gets hurt all the time?” He asks him out, he dares him to show his face. He says, “You are always hurt, you are always feeling bad, who are you? Show your face! Reveal your identity.” And that is Koham. That is Koham. Without being a little disassociated from Aham, you cannot ask Koham.
He’s asking, “Who is this?” and because this ‘this’ is so proximate to ‘I‘, he’s asking, “Koham?” Again, again, again he asks, “Again you are hurt, again mistaken, again defeated, another error, another humiliation, more tears; why? why? Who are you? Who am I?”
That which sparks the process in the Rishi, which can be called ‘process’ only as long as you are the hurt entity, later on you surely say, “No, it was not a process.” But that which sparks the ‘process’ is available to all of us. It is life itself.
Life with all its movements, excitements, ups and downs – something brushes you, and then goes past you; you are attracted to somebody, somebody appears pleasant, somebody insults you, there are achievements, there are failures. The Rishi says, “What is all this happening? I trust somebody and nobody appears to be worthy of trust. He hurts me and the one who hurts me is himself hurt.” He is asking, “Is there is something that is truly trustworthy, is there something which is not a cause of pain?”
That is spirituality – that is so intimately intermeshed with life.
To live life honestly is to be Spiritual. Nothing else is Spirituality. Rituals, traditions, reading of scriptures – no, not all this. To be sensitive to yourself, to really go into the stuff of your own mind, that is what it means to be Spiritual.
Listener: Sir, it seems that something has taken the Rishi there, to the place where he can enquire and wonder about what he is really supposed to do. What is the reason behind this?
Speaker: Has something really taken him there? We compared the Rishi to a child, now is that example not a revealing one? Has the child been ‘taken’ somewhere or have we been taken somewhere? And if the Rishi is similar to the child, then has the Rishi been taken to some ‘special position’ or are we the ones who have been taken somewhere?
The Rishi has not been taken somewhere, he is where he is – in the childlike stage, he is innocent. If he sees X, he says, “X”, if he sees Y, he says, “Y”, Z is Z for him. For us, X is not X. For us, X is gulab jamun, Y is not Y, Y is sweetheart, yes? And what is Z? Z is God.
So he has not been taken anywhere, he is standing where we were, at least as a child. We have been taken somewhere. We have covered a lot of distance, we have covered a lot of distance from our center. We have covered a lot of distance from our nature. And because we have covered a lot of distance, let this distance itself become the tool. See, how far you have come, and see that you do not really like this distance.
Let us please drop the notion that the Rishi is special. He is not. We are special. Can we please drop our extraordinary specialities? Somebody likes to put a ‘Dr.’ in front of his name. Aha! Somebody is so proud of his knowledge – special. Somebody looks pretty – special. Somebody has a fit body. Somebody is so smart. Somebody is entitled because of a relationship – special. The Rishi is not special; ordinary, very ordinary. Very-very ordinary, like the child.
Excerpts from the session at Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi. Edited for Clarity.
Watch the session at: On Upanishad: The secret of the Rishi
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