Where is the world to begin with? (Laughs) So, that is a relativistic framework. Enlightenment means the world disappears. There is only Truth. There is no world, the world in terms of relativistic mechanism. That is seen for what it is, and hence it disappears. There is only Truth. There is only the Absolute. That having been said, the world is a relative reality. And there is nothing limiting us from not performing in that reality. The fundamental principle is always in front of us. It is all this. And anyhow you are trained in whatever you are trained and that helps you perform your regular work, your swadharma, as it is said in the Indic tradition. That is how Bhagavan Krishna, Rama, everyone worked. So Krishna was practically enlightened. But he operated in the world, for the benefit of everybody. That is called dharma. He lived for dharma. So that means all his actions were oriented towards dharma. For that you use your instruments. The antahkarana, the bahyakarana. The antahkarana – manas, chitta, buddhi, ahamkara. Bahyakarana – the body, you use it towards dharma. Towards performing whatever highest principle that you know of. But this is no way, limits you from the vision of Truth. The vision of Truth is there, all the time. And you act. And that you clearly will recognize that, it is not action. You are not acting it. Where are you? You are not there. It is inaction in action. Which you can clearly see. So, this is what Bhagavan Krishna taught Arjuna. Arjuna was bound up in action. And hence, when you are bound, that is when you find it difficult to relate to the world. (Laughter) In fact, if you are enlightened, it is not at all difficult to relate to the world. Because where is the world? So it is not at all difficult. So, only for people who are bound, by karma, they find it difficult to relate to the world. So in Yoga Vasishta, Vasishta beautifully explains to Sri Rama, if you look at it absolutely, Rama, there is no gain or loss. Gain or loss is evaluated only within a narrow, relative framework. If you expand it, then there is no absolute gain or loss. And hence be firm in your swadharma. Be devoted to your swadharma. This is what the crux of Yoga Vasishta is this. That is really sound. So, and that is simple yet profound. We generally find relating to the world an issue, because we always operate on the basis of gain or loss. “What is in it for me? Gain or loss?” Now, when it is completely expanded, the fundamental principle is such, there is no gain, there is no loss, it does not work in these relativistic frameworks. And hence you can actually, work towards dharma. Without a single scar on you because you simply know the Truth. You are the Truth. And that empowers you tremendously in action. And there is no misery or suffering. You are not bound in karma. You are not bound. You are simply free.
The Story of Raja Janaka: Exceprts from Swami Venkatesananda’s Vashishta’s Yoga
In the Yoga Vasishta, Vasishta narrates the story of Janaka’s enlightenment to Rama –
“There is a great monarch whose vision is unlimited, who rules over the Videha territory: he is known as Janaka. To those who seek his aid, he is a cornucopia (horn of plenty). In his very presence, the heart-lotus of his friends blossoms, he is like a sun for them. He is a great benefactor to all good people.One day he went to a pleasure garden where he roamed freely. While he was thus roaming, he heard the inspiring words uttered by certain holy, perfected rishis –
“We contemplate that reality in which everything exists, to which everything belongs, from which everything has emerged, which is the cause of everything and which is everything. Alas, people run after other objects, foolishly giving up the Lord who dwells in the cave of one’s own heart. The man whose mind is well-controlled is firmly established in peace. When the heart is thus established in peace, there arises the pure bliss of the self without delay.”
Having heard the words of the rishis, King Janaka became terribly depressed. With the utmost expedition, he retraced his steps to the palace. Quickly dismissing all his attendants, he sought the seclusion of his own chamber. In a mood of intense anguish, Janaka said to himself – “Alas! Alas! I am helplessly swinging like a stone in this world of misery. What is the duration of a lifespan in eternity, yet I have developed a love for it! Fie on the mind. This lifespan of mine is but a trivial moment, eternity stretches before and after it. How shall I cherish it now?
Day after day, month after month, year after year, I see happiness comes to me bearing sorrow, and sorrow comes to me again and again!
Alas, I am bound without a cord; I am tainted without impurity; I am fallen, though remaining at the top. O my self, what a mystery! Even as the ever brilliant sun suddenly faces a cloud floating in front of him, I find this strange delusion mysteriously floating towards me. Who are these friends and relatives? What are these pleasures? Even as a boy seeing a ghost is frightened, I am deluded by these fanciful relatives. Knowing all such relatives as cords that bind me to this old age and death, I still cling to them. Let these relations continue or perish : what is it to me? Great events and great men have come and gone, leaving just a memory behind: on what shall one place reliance even now? Even the devas and trimurtis have come and gone a million times: what is permanent in this universe? It is vain hope that binds one to this nightmare known as world-appearance. Fie on this wretched condition.
I am like an ignorant fool deluded by the goblin known as the ego sense, which creates the feeling, “I am so-and-so”.Knowing full well that Time has trampled under foot countless devas and trimurtis, I still entertain love for life. Days and nights are spent in vain cravings, but not in the experience of the bliss of infinite consciousness. I have gone from sorrow to greater sorrow, but dispassion does not arise in me. What shall I regard as excellent or cherishable, seeing that whatever one has cherished in this world has passed away, leaving one miserable. Day by day people in this world grow in sin and violence, hence day by day they experience greater sorrow. Childhood is wasted in ignorance, youth is wasted in lusting after pleasures, and the rest of one’s life is spent in family worries : what does a stupid person achieve in this life?
Desire is the seed for this world appearance. I shall dry up this desire! I have enjoyed and suffered all kinds of experiences : now I shall rest. I shall not grieve anymore. I have been awakened : I shall slay this thief who has stolen my wisdom, which is the mind. It is the mind that gives rise to the false sense of “I” and “mine”. I have been well-instructed by the rishis. Now I shall seek self-knowledge.”
Seeing the king thus seated engrossed in deep contemplation, his bodyguard respectfully approached him and said,”Lord, it is time to consider your royal duties. Your majesty’s handmaiden has prepared your perfumed bath. The holy priests await your arrival in the chamber, to commence the chanting of the appropriate hymns. Lord, arise and let what has to be done be done, for noble men are never unpunctual or negligent.”
Janaka began to muse,”What shall I do with this court and royal duties, when I know that all these are ephemeral? They are useless to me. I shall renounce all activities and duties and I shall remain immersed in the bliss of the self.
What shall I seek to gain in this universe, on what eternal truth in this universe shall I rest my confidence? What difference does it make if I am engaged in ceaseless activity or if I remain idle? Nothing in this world is truly enduring in any case. Whether active or idle, this body is impermanent and ever-changing : when the intelligence is rooted in equanimity, what is lost and how?
When the mind is thus established in desirelessness, when it does not seek pleasure, when the body and its limbs perform their natural functions, action and inaction are of equal meaning. Hence, let the body engage itself in its natural functions; without such activity, the body will disintegrate. When the mind ceases to entertain the notions “I do this”, “I enjoy this”, in regard to the actions thus performed, action becomes non-action.”
Reflecting thus, King Janaka rose from his seat as the sun rises on the horizon, and began to engage himself in his royal duties, without any attachment to them. Having reached the understanding already described, Janaka functioned as the king and did all that was necessary, without getting befuddled and with a great strength of mind and spirit. His mind was not distracted by royal pleasures. In fact, he moved about as if he were continually in a state of deep sleep.
From then on, he was interested neither in accumulating nor in rejecting anything : without any doubt or confusion, he lived in the present. The light of self-knowledge arose in his heart, free from the least taint of impurity and sorrow, even as the sun rises on the horizon. He beheld everything in the universe as existing in cosmic power, chit shakti : endowed with self-knowledge, he saw all things in the self which is infinite. Knowing that all that happens, happens naturally, he neither experienced elation, nor suffered depression and remained in unbroken equanimity. Janaka had become a jivanmukta, liberated one while still living.
Janaka continued to rule the kingdom, without his self-knowledge setting or rising again on account of the evil or good prevalent around him. Remaining forever in the consciousness of the infinite, he experienced the state of non-action, even though he appeared to others to be ever busy in diverse actions.
He did not brood over the past, nor did he worry about the future : he lived in the present moment, smiling happily all the time. Janaka attained whatever he did by dint of his own enquiry. Similarly one should pursue enquiry into the nature of truth till one reaches the very limits of such enquiry. “