You hear some good news which delights you. You also hear some sad news, as well as some harsh abusive words. You hear words of praise and blame. All the words were heard by the ears. But when happy news was heard the heart felt elated. When sad news was heard, the heart shrunk in sorrow. The heart got enraged when the ears heard harsh words about you. You were filled with joy when you heard words of praise. What is responsible for these varied responses, though all the words were heard by the same ears? The ears are inconscient by themselves and incapable of any reactions. The responses of joy or sorrow are related to the contents of the messages conveyed by the ears. Thus, the senses are by themselves Jada (inconscient). How can the operations of these senses be deemed as Satya (Truth or Reality)? How can the experiences resulting from these negative senses be considered as Truth? When the senses are unreliable, the reactions produced by them are equally unreliable. It is enquiring along these lines that man can overcome sorrow.
The basic cause for the occurrence of feelings like hatred, jealousy and anger is the body constituted by the five elements. As long as the body remains, it will be subject to these types of feelings. For instance, all experiences derived through the senses and the mind, occur during the waking state. How long do they last? When you go to sleep none of these experiences are present. Even the mind is absent, as it were. There is no consciousness even of breathing. In the dream state you are not aware of the life process. However, there is a kind of perception in that state. Is that perception by the physical eyes? You are lying in bed with closed eyes. Which are the eyes that perceive in that state? What is the body that moves about in that state? What is it that receives impressions from outside or experiences grief? It is clear that the experiences in that state are different from the experiences in the waking state. The experiences in the dream state are real as long as the dream lasts. The experiences in the waking state are real in that state. There are no dreams in the waking state and there are no perceptions of the waking state in the dream state. But you are present in both the states.
In both the states the ‘I’ is one. The experiences in both the waking and dream states are of the same ‘I’, only the states are different. Hence, the Reality or truth is that which remains in all the states. The ‘I’ was present in the dream state. It is now present in the waking state. This continuity in the past and the present characterizes the Atma. It is wrong to identify the ‘I’ with the body.
Over the ages, by identifying the ‘I’ with the body, its true nature has been grossly underrated because of ignorance, perversion and false attachments. The Truth is this ‘I’ is subtle and incomparable. It is beyond change. This is the characteristic of Divinity. Men have to recognise their inherent Divinity.
Source: Shreyas and Preyas, Discourse 11, My Dear Students Volume 2, Discourse given at the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Auditorium, SSSIHL on March 5, 1995