An on line satsang with Swami Sitaramananda 03/30/2020


Today we will introduce you to a new way of thinking that will help you to feel strong in the time of fears and anxieties due to epidemic Covid 19.  We are facing an unknown “enemy” and our daily life is being put to a halt. We feel that our health and wellbeing are being threatened.

We are faced with uncertainty. Existential questions long time not dealt with, come to a surface. Now is a great opportunity to think deeply and find peace and strength through a new understanding of “who am I”. This new understanding of ourselves and our environment shed light to our problems of fears and anxieties and makes us feel stronger.

The practice of Self enquiry:

Asking the question “Who am I?” and breaking the habit to be yourself.

Vedanta philosophy is a powerful philosophy coming from the ancient Vedas. It gives us new insights and solutions to our problems.

  • It says that we need to solve our problems from a different level of consciousness than the one we are familiar with.
  • It is about seeing our own self and our environment differently.
  • To do so, we need to think deeply and endeavor to distinguish between what is unchanging and what is changing.
  • Something unchanging is real. Something changing is illusory.
  • To get to the unchanging, we need to question what we believe about ourselves and our perception of the universe we see around us to be true.
  • The whole meditation exercise is about asking ourselves “who am I?”
  • And breakdown the false identifications- You do not know who you are, but you know who you are not.
  • What remain is the “I”
  • By doing so we recover the Self and feel stronger and happier.
  • We free ourselves from sufferings and fears resulting from our attachment to the false Self.
  • We realize it is a habit we carry for a long time
  • Therefore the meditation needs to continue over time
  • We become more and more detached
  • It takes strength and sharp intellect to do so.

Our habitual mind keeps reproducing the past illusions

Things are not the way we think them to be. The reality we see is the reality of our mind projections. The classical story of “snake and rope” illustrates well our situation. In the darkness , this person saw a snake and jump in fright. Someone who is not afraid of snake brought the light to shine upon the snake. Under the light, It turns out that it is a simple and innocent rope. The rope looks like the snake but is not the snake. The rope did not become a snake, and the snake did not become a rope. All what is happening is in the mind. The mind has already the fears of snakes, therefore projected “snake”. One’s thought and memory is being superimposed upon the truth. In the same manner, in the darkness of our spiritual ignorance, We keep seeing scary and stressful things. And reacted in fears.

When we dare to enquire, the knowledge sets us free. As we see things as they are and not what we imagine it to be.

Why do we keep seeing the same thing?

In order to really be free,
we have to revisit the past illusions
Personal and collective
In order to wake up.
Revisiting our scares and fears
And see them for what they are.
Not real,
In our mind.
Become familiar with our mind patterns
Help us to recognize them.
We keep seeing the snake
But also become stronger with time
As the memory of rope becomes more and more
and we can transcend the vision of “snake”
to see the “rope”
Our fears resulting from our weakness become more and more
And we become more and more stronger.
Self enquiry helps us to do so.

How to unveil the Self and be free of the habit to be ourselves?

First, you are not the body:
Upon asking the first question “Who am I”
The first answer is  I am the body
The body is made of the 5 gross elements
Earth, water , fire, air and ether.
It is made of food
We are born with our constitution There are 3 types according to Ayurveda, the ancient science of medicine
You can be solid , earthy , supportive and steady , made of Earth and water
You can be fiery , sharp , active , inquisitive, made of Fire
You can be quick, sensitive and moving like air in space
The body constitution gives the predisposition
To think and be this way or that.
We are not seeing the same thing.
As our constitution veils us.

However whatever constitution or body type we are,
The body is born, grows, decays and dies
At due time
It is not meant to be forever,
It is not ourselves
As it keeps changing.
If we line up different photos of ourselves
At different times of our lives,
From being a baby toddler to an adolescent, a grown up, an adult, and photos of ourselves in our thirties, fourties, sixties
The body looks totally different in size, shape, weight
And yet we pointed out to each photo and recognized the same “me” exclaiming  “ this is me!” , “this is me” !
Think about this, there is a “me” that is not the body .
The body is our instrument
In our journey,
Not ourselves.
Mistaken identity with the body gives fears and anxieties
Specially the fear of death.
The body journey is a chapter in the book of our lives
Not the whole story.

I am not my gender, male nor female
I am not my race, black, white, yellow
I am not my age, young, old, older
I am not my physical beauty or appearance
I am the driver of this body vehicle.
I am not the color or shape of the vehicle
I am not my muscles, my bones, my lungs, my heart
My arms and legs
My nose, tongue, eyes, skin, ears
I am the driver of this body vehicle
And these organs and limbs are my instruments
I am the subject and these are the objects.
I am consciousness and not the sum of body parts.
Detachment towards the body
Not overly worry about it as yourself
But as the caretaker of the instrument
Gives you strength and health.
Free you from the fear of death
Which is paralyzing
In this time of virus threat.

The second identification is with the prana – life force

The prana energizes the body and gives it life
Prana is changing, sometimes low, sometimes high
Balanced and unbalanced
Prana comes with the air we breathe
The earth, water, fire, and etheric space.
We can identify with what we feel,
Energetic or tired
Strong or sick
Blocked or flowing
Acting and enjoying
Moving here and there
Or staying still and shelter in place
But we are not our prana, life force.
So be aware, take care of your prana
Do pranayama to purify and regulate
your prana and emotions,
but we are not the prana.
Therefore stay detached from it.

The third identification is with our mind and emotions.

Who am I?
I am worried, angry, fearful, joyful, sad, grieving.
Our states of mind and emotions
Kidnapped our identity
We lose ourselves in our emotions.
And become what we feel.
The senses are connected to what we feel
And keep us revolving between pleasures and pains
They set the stage for the mind and emotions to play
Its comedies or dramas
But comedy turns to drama and drama turns to comedy
Snake turns to rope and rope turns to snake
Nevertheless, the sense of I is lost, drown in the emotions
Of all our relationships
Which make us feel ups and downs,
Happy and unhappy
Loved and separated
Stay still, turn within,
Happiness is within
Love is already there
Calm down, detach
I am not the mind and the emotions.

Fourth, I am not my ego and intellect:

I can tell the story of my life
Over and over again
To one person, hundreds people, thousands
To my children, grandchildren,
Yet I am not my story
Even though I might be attached to it.
My story even well rehearsed
From life times to life times
Generations to generations
Keeps changing
As my lessons keep changing.
I keep acting out what I think myself to be.
My level of consciousness
My level of self awareness
My level of being the silent witness
To myself.
My understanding of who am I 
Separated or connected
Isolated or together
Alone or involved
Unstable or stable
Worthy or unworthy
Proud of accomplishments
Better or worst

Achiever, intelligent or a failure,
My level of self knowledge is changing
Therefore it is not me, the unchanging.
Truly, there is something beyond the ego stories
That can not be described
This is who I am, the background of things,
The movie screen
On which the movies, stories play
And yet unaffected
Detached Witness I am .
The calming of the mind and the ego,
The realization of the silent witness
The observer of my thoughts
The consciousness awareness itself
Makes I feel strong
I found myself and not losing myself
When I detach myself from my stories
And stop justifying
I am not my ego.

My fifth level of identification is more subtle

As it speaks about my purpose.
As my question becomes deeper,
I realize that I have been there, done that
For a long long time.
The purpose of this birth
And its lessons
Is revealed.
As far as the “I” is
Conditioned, attached
My sense of purpose is distorted.
Now I realize the purpose of this birth
My journey is
From karma to dharma
And I am blissful and happy
No more fear
No more separation
No more doubt
No more agenda
I am consciousness and bliss.
I am free

Meditation is thinning out the veils:

Seeing through the illusions of self and others.
Turn within and solve our problems from
A different level of consciousness.
It can only get better
We are not loosing anything
Only gaining in strength and courage
To face our lives
By being ourselves.
This meditation and Self enquiry are forced upon ourselves
In this time of crisis when all established habits are being questioned,
And reinvented.
The more the veils are thin,
The happier and steadier we become.
The more this world will come to peace
As we understand that myself and yourself are one.
Unity in diversity.
Celebrate our interdependence
And let go of our fears
Clinging to the past
Projecting in the future

There is only one Truth

There is not your truth and my truth
Because both are only reflections.
There is only one sun
Reflected in many surfaces
Reflected in rock surface, the light shines little
Reflected on water, it becomes distorted with the waves
Reflected on wood surface, the light is dim and stable
Reflected on shiny mirror, the light is bright and the image sharp.
There is only one consciousness
The same in all beings
Whether mineral, animal , human , superhuman,
We are one
The differences are external
But the essence is one.

We do not know the truth and act out of ignorance

Forgetting the big picture,
Forgetting to do self enquiry
Forgetting the search of truth
Forgetting our purpose
We become greedy, senseless, abusive towards animals, nature
Not thinking, not respecting
Constantly Creating pains to others
For our own pleasures.
This time is the time,
We need to wake up and turn inwards,
Question our ways
Cease to blame,
But taking responsibility
Stop the killing
Of innocent animals
Their abuse and torture
Become vegetarian
Stop the wasting of resources
And the appropriation
Of planet earth
Stay still and Meditate
Everything you want is right
Here and now.

There is only one truth

We are waves of the same ocean
We are clay becoming different ugly pots and beautiful vases
We are gold turning into different shapes and forms of ornaments
We are spirit and consciousness in the guise of different classes of man
Corona virus is equalizer
Can affect rich, poor, statesman and beggar the same,
What ever you are and where ever you are.
Start our self enquiry
Listen to the teachings of the scriptures
And the wise of all times
Even if you can not understand completely
This is the time for us to practice this meditation
wake up and Learn what you can
To Remember ourselves
Stay away from past and future
Be in the moment present
See the essence and not the manifestations
Respect the differences as it is in essence one.
Come back to unconditional love
Of Self and Others
The Love and the Truth will set you free!

Om tat sat
Swami Sitaramananda