“’Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God’s Beauty.” – Kabir

“There are innumerable pathways leading to the Ocean of Immortality”, explains Sri Ramakrishna, “the essential thing is to reach the Ocean. It doesn’t matter which path you follow. Imagine that there is a reservoir containing the Elixir of Immortality. You will be immortal if a few drops of the Elixir somehow get into your mouth. You may get into the reservoir either by jumping into it, or by being pushed into it from behind, or by slowly walking down the steps. The effect is one and the same. You will become immortal by tasting a drop of that Elixir.” [1]

There are different ways for us to reach God. Sometimes, we gradually make our way towards God, moving step by step towards Him. We begin by questioning the purpose of life. Then we look for higher meaning with, perhaps, a little meditation and a few classes in spiritual wisdom. Next, we commit ourselves to daily practice and self-analysis. And finally we reach the stage where we make the spiritual life the focus of our existence and become fully immersed in the ‘Divine waters’.

There are times, when we do not really want to enter into the water at all, but are suddenly thrust in by the events of our life. We may experience a terrible tragedy that forces us to search inward, or we may have a powerful spiritual experience that transforms our perception of reality, or we may find a teacher that gets behind us and through their spiritual power pushes us straight in.

And sometimes, we come to realize that the only way forward is for us to jump into the water, to plunge so deep into the “Ocean of Consciousness” that all our pain, fear and doubt are washed away. In this manner, we can reach beyond our personality difficulties and subconscious struggles, past the desires and the mental tendencies that have built up over lifetimes, and dissolve our consciousness in God’s Infinite Oneness.

The Hasidic text, Or Haganuz, teaches:

“A person must remove himself from physicality by so clinging to God that he appears to be nothing (ayin) – not a thing of substance at all. In this way, he will be transformed into a ‘new creation’: – something [created] from nothing.”

There is a lot of movement on the surface of an Ocean: great waves rising up and down, fishes swimming about, and boats of all sizes gliding along in the water. On the surface all is noise, turbulence and movement. But if we dive into the ocean and sink down into its depths, there we will find stillness, quiet and calm.

The physical reality of this world is like the surface of the Ocean of Consciousness. If we plunge deep into the Self, then the turmoil of the external world will not disturb us. We will be immersed in a great stillness where no outside activities can intrude. The surface noise will reach us as only a soft whisper. The surface waves will no longer stir the waters of our heart.

In that great stillness we will experience God’s infinite Peace. Peace as absence of thought, peace as complete silence, peace where there is neither desire nor aversion – peace that vibrates with the pure consciousness of the Self.

One day, Sri Ramakrishna said to Swami Vivekananda:

“God is the Ocean of Bliss. Tell me if you want to plunge into It. Just imagine there is some syrup in a cup and that you have become a fly. Now tell me, where you will sit to sip the syrup?”

Swami Vivekananda replied:

“I will sit on the edge of the cup and stretch out my neck to drink, because I am sure to die if I go far into the cup.”

Sri Ramakrishna then said to him:

“But my child, this is the Ocean of Satchidananada [Existence-Consciousness-Bliss]. There is no fear of death in It. This is the Ocean of Immortality.” [2]

Letting go of our little self is not dying. When we nullify our ego, we lift ourselves out of the realm of physical consciousness. We break down the walls between God and ourselves. We reach into the very core of our being and are spiritually reborn.

The Hasidic Master, Rebbe Yisrael of Karlin teaches:

“A person must bind himself to God until his separate existence is nullified and his body remains silent like a person who is mute.”

Rebbe Yisrael is not telling us to become mindless automations; he has something quite different in mind. What Rebbe Yisrael is trying to say is beautifully illustrated by a story from the Indian saint Ram Tirtha.

“There was once a man who was a little mad lived in a small village with his wife. His friends liked to tease him and make fun of him because they thought he was stupid.

“One day, one of them said, ‘We have some bad news for you. Your wife has become a widow.’

“He believed them and started crying out in grief, ‘My wife had become a widow! My wife has become a widow!’

“Some of the people he passed on the street laughed at him and said, ‘Why are you mourning? You are very much alive. How can your wife be a widow if you yourself are alive to complain about it?’

“‘My closest friends have told me this’, he replied, ‘and I trust them. They are very reliable people. If they are saying that my wife has become a widow, it must be true.’ [3]

Like the man in the story, we are fooled by the words of our supposed friends ‘the physical senses’. The senses constantly tell us that we are the body and that this material world is the only reality that exists. Even though all the great holy men and women down the ages have revealed to us that we are the eternal soul and not the body, we still stubbornly cling to the material notion of reality that our physical senses convey to us, insisting that they are good and reliable friends that have always ‘told us the truth’.

This is what the Hasidic Master Yisrael of Karlin is referring to when he says:

“A person must bind himself to God until his separate existence is nullified and his body remains silent like a person who is mute.”

If we want to know God, if we want to find peace, then we need to reach the point where we no longer allow our senses to fool us – where our body becomes silent and it is our true Self that speaks.

Few of us are ready to take this deep plunge, but if we want to achieve this lofty state of consciousness, then we need to make our way towards “the Ocean”. The first step in this process is to recognize the body for what it is. As it is says in the Dhammapada:

“A house of bones is this body, bones covered with flesh and with blood. Pride and hypocrisy dwell in this house and also old age and death.” [4]

Once we have understood the truth of the body and this material existence, then we need start walking ‘along the path’. It does not matter if we go step-by-step or dive in or are pushed from behind; the key is to keep walking until we enter into the water – to continue on with our journey until we reach the mighty Ocean of the Self.

 

Copyright © 2013, by Yoel Glick

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)
  1. ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, as translated by Swami Nikhilananda
  2.  ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, as translated by Swami Nikhilananda
  3. Annamalai Swami, Final Talks
  4. Dhammapada, as translated by Juan Mascaro

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