Paramartha is a subject not easily understood, and yet it is of vital importance to everyone. It is best comprehended by trying to see what ‘I’ am not, rather than to see what ‘I’ am. If we are walking along a foot-track which is not for our destination, then we may miss all the landmarks. If in solving an example, we make a mistake at any point, the answer will evidently be wide off the mark. Similarly, if one fails to comprehend correctly the basic qualities and failings of human nature, paramartha, which is based on them, will also not be fruitful. The first of these features is the universal desire to be continuously happy, or at least to have a promise of happiness. Death or extinction nobody wants; we all desire to live forever. God is eternal, and ever blissful; and since He is in the make-up of us all, we too desire to be likewise. But we miss the right way from the very start, and consequently everything goes amiss. If a tree in our yard is uprooted in a storm, we say’ our tree has fallen;’ but if a person dies, we say ‘he is dead, not as a matter of fact, ‘his body’ is dead. The fundamental error, therefore, is that we consider ourselves identical with the body, not with the spirit or soul. We love the body more than the soul, and cater to the needs and pleasures of the body with the utmost care. Nay; instead of controlling and regulating them, we allow ourselves to be completely mastered and led by them, at times even disregarding the better judgement of the conscience. We thus go on piling one mistake on another, thus completely misusing the special assets of human birth.
If we want to fell a tree, we first cut off the branches, and then attack the trunk. To observe the moral code of conduct corresponds to cutting the branches of the tree of passions. The second attack is devotion to the saguna form of God. If this devotion is intense, a man forgets himself at least momentarily, and has the feeling that he belongs to God. True constant awareness of God comes by nama alone; nama will thereby mitigate the ‘body-am-I’ delusion and also attachment to material things; the person will then see God in everything.
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