Seeking Permanence in an Impermanent World

by M. Govindan Satchidananda

The horrific destruction of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 has created a dramatic world-wide crisis. Surveys have indicated that even weeks after the event more than 50 percent of Americans are very depressed or disturbed. Most feel insecure, fearing that terrorists within America may unleash a wave of attacks which involve biological agents, public transportation or recreational or work related facilities. People are asking: where can I be safe? People continue to see the destruction of the WTC over and over again in daily replays on the televsion. The newspapers have fanned the flames of fear with headlines which speculate about where the next attack will occur, and photographs of crowds of Muslims burning American flags. The President of the USA has declared war on terrorism, but cannot identify targets, and the American military appears unsuited to deal with a nearly invisible enemy, who may be lurking anywhere. So, most have cancelled their travel plans and have become obsessed with watching CNN for the next report which will either stimulate or appease our fears of terrorism.

So it is not business, or even life as usual. Our most basic assumptions, involving our security and maintenance of a materialistic culture are greatly in doubt. Our technological civilization can no longer be relied upon to support us. We have in short, become fearful.

But what is fear? It is essentially imagination of suffering, without evaluating the probability of its occurrence. Our ability to evaluate the probability of another terrorist attack makes it all that more difficult to control such feelings. So that leaves us with having to deal with the control of our imagination. As students of Yoga we have, more than most, an appreciation of our power to create our world. We must now use that power, not only for ourselves but for the millions of persons around us who fear the worst. We must not only detach from the fears which invade us from the minds of our neighbors, but, we must create positive thought forms which will calm and reassure them. Our words and actions must also follow reflection, and not be reactions to old habits. It is a time for us to bring our Yoga into all those situations of daily life where we find ourselves and others getting "edgy." It is time for us to cultivate inner and outer Peace and to radiate it. It is time for us to call down a great power of light, consciousness, stillness and love into this troubled world. It is time for us to reach out to others, to share our love, and not a time to hide away.

We would also be wise to remember the words of Patanjali, who tells us in Sutra II.3 that "Ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to life are the five afflictions" which cause us to suffer. He goes on to tell us in II.4 that "Ignorance is the field from which the other afflictions arise," in Sutras II.5 that "Ignorance is seeing the impermanent as permanent, the painful as pleasurable and the non-Self as the Self." This ignorance is the root cause of the fear and suffering which now plagues so many in the wake of the event of September 11, 2001. As long as we continue believe that all of the objects which make up our world are somehow going to last, and ignore the existence of That, the essential being which we all are, we are bound to suffer. The recent events are a wake-up call for everyone, to realize this. To the extent that we can get beyond the drama of change or destruction, and see the ONE SHINING ABSOLUTE REALITY, the LIGHT OF CONSCIOUSNESS, ETERNALLY PRESENT, such events will have served us well. Patanjali has reassured us that "the Seen exists only for the sake of the Self" in verse II.21. The Seen includes everything which can be experienced by us. It is Nature, both actual and potential. The Self, or the Seer is consciousness, the Witness. Nature (which includes human nature, our bodies, mind and emotions) provides us with experiences and ultimately liberates our consciousness from its bondage of false identification: the confusion that we are the Seen, not the Seer. Until then, the Seen gives experience and by such experience we gradually wake up from the dream that we are the Seen. Eventually, we feel we have had enough suffering in the hands of Nature and seek a way out of egoistic confusion ("I am the body-mind," etc). With detachment and discernment we learn to go beyond it.

So, if you find yourself turning on CNN or reaching for the newspaper, do discern what is permanent, the eternal Witness of your own Self-consciousness, and do not allow the drama of Nature to absorb your consciousness in ephemeral fear and fantasy. Change the channel, and tune into that Divine Broadcasting Station, "Kriya Babaji Nagaraj." Do own your Divinity, and help create a new world, where fear and want will no longer exist.

Copyright 2001 by M.Govindan. All rights reserved.


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