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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-21

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)

Translation & explanation of Verse-21
Endearment is one kind; this is dear to me;
Your preference is for something else;
Thus, many objects of endearment are differentiated and confusion comes;
What is dear to you is dear to another also; this should be known.

(“Priyamoru jaathiyithen priyam twadeeya-
Priyamapara priyamennanekamaayi;
Priyavishayam prathi vannitum bramam thann-
Priyamapara priyamennarinjitenam”):

Key message-
This verse has to be read with the next one (22) which together complete the plus and minus aspects of the same unitive thought. In this verse, it is the negative aspect of complication which is touched upon, while in verse-22 the positively dialectical resolution is brought into evidence.

Life expresses itself through attractions and repulsions, likes or dislikes, preferences or rejections, strong or weak. When we come to examine the different kinds of interests or value-appreciations that human beings generally are capable of having, we can think of them in four different kinds of combinations as stated below:-

[1] the self that relates itself to outside objects,
[2] to a certain specific quality outside itself, “I like a rose” or “I like beauty”
[3] self-directed kind of interest; i.e. when we say “this is my preference”, we have a personal and subjectively directed movement of interest.
[4] interests which have their accent on the opposite pole of the non-self.

In all four cases, we have the field or seeds of confusion, puzzlement or discontent. All mental troubles may be said to have their origin in such possible confusions.

In the context of Bhagavat Gita, sameness (saamya) that the yogi should see with all beings because of their being analogous to the Self that is within each of us. Modern phenomenology, the science of values and the science of well-being adopt the same method of putting together subjective and objective value factors to harmonize inner and outside life. Equating somehow the self with the non-self so as to arrive at unitive or non-conflicting interests, is the method that underlies this way of solving the question of morals.

“Endearment is one kind; this is dear to me;
Your preference is for something else;”
(“Priyamoru jaathiyithen priyam twadeeya-
Priyamapara priyamennanekamaayi”):

In this verse, Narayana Guru tells us to look again at the light within us, which were presented in the first 20 verses. The light is always shining forth with the same kind of brilliance, but it passes through a kind of mechanism of different gears. The gears can make the light seem brighter or darker. It can even be turned off for a time. When that happens, you are in state of ‘tamas’. Light is still within you, but it is as if you are in the dark. You are helpless. Then it can be turned on a little. It is your own little light. And it can be turned up to its fullness also.

When you turn your light on, it illuminates your world of experience, whether inside or outside, as if through a shielding glass. The glass is your mind. It is not a very faithful devise for giving you a transparent vision. It is clouded in various ways. It is already colored with your interests, which have come to you because of previous conditionings. And the conditionings need not necessarily be previous ones. Someone can put into your mind a prospective expectation, which also colors the mind. All these bring about differentiation.

Reality has three unifying aspects. One is called ‘sath’, existence. I exist, you exist, this cough exists, the house exists, the sky exists, the world exists. All these can be brought under one common heading of existence. All that exists is a genuine existence which implies the existence of all. It is called ‘sath’.
I am aware of my existence, of the existence of the world. Thus I have an all-embracing awareness that includes everything. What is not in it, I will never know. This awareness, which includes in it good and bad, far and near, one and many, big and small, irrespective of all variations, is just one knowledge ‘chith’. So we have one all-inclusive existence and one all-inclusive knowledge.

I value my beingness and you value your beingness. Everything tends to become valuable in one way or another. All these values are measured by our own happiness. This is called ‘ananda’.

So we have ‘sath’, existence, ‘chith’, knowledge and ‘ananda’, the primordial value. Taken all together, the whole of reality is therefore called ‘sachidaananda’.

One can be permeated with the consciousness of ‘sachidaananda’. It can be blissful if it is not differentiated, but instead of this generic sense of existence, subsistence and value, we tend to see things individually. When they are broken into bits, we have instead ‘asthi’ - this is, ‘bhaathi’- I know it, and ‘priyam’- I love it. In western terms, these correspond to cognition, connation and affection. In the fragmentary notions of ‘asthi’, ‘bhaathi’ and ‘priyam’, there is scope for a great deal of confusion. We can have “This is, I know it, I dislike it”; or even “This is, I do not know what it is, therefore I do not know if I like it or not”. Only when we cultivate an ever-prevailing sense of unity are we out of this confusion. When we identify with the egoistic self, we see only through this fragmentation and do not experience ‘sachidaananda’.

If we can approach life from the point of view of the all-seeing witness, which is not tainted with incipient memories or proliferating interests, then we will see the good of all, the general good, in which what pleases me is also included. This is not attained, as some mistakenly think, by summarily dismissing what pleases me as an individual.
Thus, many objects of endearment are differentiated and confusion comes;
What is dear to you is dear to another also; this should be known.

(“Priyavishayam prathi vannitum bramam thann-
Priyamapara priyamennarinjitenam”):
Often there arises a tendency for us to become self-critical, if what we like is not liked by others. Yet if we are all human beings, there should be an underlying happiness regarding what we like. If one likes vegetarian dishes, and some of his friends like non-vegetarian dishes, should he give-up his vegetarian diet in deference to the others’ non-vegetarian tastes for the sake of unity? Certainly not. We have to think more generically about what we like. Vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food are both essentially food. I love to have food, and my friends also love to have food. At this level, we are not different. So I can go with the friends to a restaurant and I will have what I like and they can have what they like. We are all partaking of food. Basically, our need is the same and our fulfillment is the same. The differences are only in the particular details. When I am hungry and you are hungry, I cannot just say that as both of us are one, I will eat for you also. You have to take care of your side of the business. We have to distinguish how we cater to the general happiness, and what implications it has in its particular aspects. When we shift our focus from particular objects back to the Self, we will stop getting so confused on this issue.

Four elements are involved from this perspective. The Self, the ego, objects and our interest in them. An interest usually comes between the ego and the object; actually it is in the interest lying buried behind the ego that directs it to the objects. All this happens in the light of the Self. Unfortunately, the light is the part we completely forget. It is in this light of the existence of the Self that we derive the ideas of the existence of the object. It is from the knowledge of the Self that we derive the notion of what we know. And it is from the value of the Self that we derive the enjoyability of the object. These three basic facts we forget, when we are concerned only with the objects themselves.

Even after we learn this wisdom, when we go out in the world, our life is again governed by preferences. ‘My’ comes instead of ‘our’. This may even result in fighting. The combat is in the ego field. From there, if you can get into the spirit field, it is very wide; there is enough room for everything. We have to reorganize our lives and make our visions wide. The more interests that are there, the more wonderful it is. You paint and I sing and another person dance: it will only enrich our lives the more. Everyone need not do the same thing.

In summary, if we know the essential value that is lived out differently by different people, and if we glorify that, it is one. Let us cultivate that insight by which the oneness is immortalized.

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