What is Self or Atma?
The concept of SELF
Though I am not competent enough to talk about such sublime Truths, yet, I feel that I can share whatever I have read on the above subject and terms. Almost all religions accept the concept of spirit within the body. But the term "Atma" is widely dealt in Hindu scriptures. It may be noted that Self and Atma are one and the same thing. Sometimes we vaguely term it as God. But God is the term generally attributed to form, the SELF and ATMA explain the formless attribute of the Divine.Also it is an accepted philosophy in Hinduism that the Self or Atma pervades the entire Cosmic Universe as well as transcends it. We consider space as an empty entity. But this empty entity really contain all the seen universe and myriads of beings living in it. Hence emptiness really contain every thing. Once Saibaba asked a devotee "what is inside? showing his closed fist. The devotee said, "Nothing Baba". When Saibaba opened his palm, there was a locust feeding on a little leaf!. Again Saibaba closed the palm and the locust with the leaf vanished. A great lesson was taught to the devotee on that day. 1. This empty hand contains everything 2. Creation, sustenance and annihilation are the powers of God. Though this incident may be a small act, yet it contains profound Truths. When Saibaba was a young lad of around 16 years, he used to take all the assembled devotees to Riverbed Chitravathi. He has performed mind boggling miracles in the riverbed. All the incidents were chronicled by a devotee sincerely and she has published a beautiful book, "Anyatha Charanam Nasti". Roughly translated, it reads, "There is no other refuge other than you". Because of her zeal and sincerity, we are able to access such beautiful experiences there in the riverbed. The biographer of the famous "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram (Truth, Auspiciousness and Beauty) which is the name given to the book on the life of Sathya Saibaba, was very eager to see many such miracles and hence he pleaded Saibaba to take them to the river bed. But "Sathyam" was walking up and down without replying Kasthuri. Saibaba asked him "Why the river bed? Do you mean that I can not perform miracle here? Kasthuri affirmed and said "Baba! we can sit here itself. Again Saibaba didn't reply. He was walking to and fro and Kasthuri was following him in the same fashion. Suddenly Baba told him, Why do you want miracle? "You are all my miracles". Kasthuri was dumbfounded by the announcement of Baba. He thought over this and realized the Truth behind the statement. It was a profound statement that can be made only by an Avatar and not a human being.
There are many who consider the miracles as cheap magic or trick or mesmerism. Saibaba has clarified this point to a devotee. "Mine is not a magic, It is the inherent power of God which is manifested in the Avatar. I know NO spiritual practice nor I have meditated. When there is no body else other than Me, what is spiritual practices. It is meant only for you, who have yet to realize your identity with God. I know that I am God, But you do not know that you are God". This is the reply Saibaba used to give to the devotees. He wants every one should realize his identity with the SELF or ATMA and not with the perishable body and evanescent mind! Now reverting to the subject matter, The Self is ever existing, and not created by any. In fact, the SELF is all that we see in the external world but veiled by diverse forms created by illusions of Maya just like a magician creates a dove or rabbit from his empty hat. Bodies are like water bubbles that will burst at any time. Mind has the power to delude any who are attached to the sense organs and rely on the sensory inputs. Mind is powerless in front of a Self realized soul like Bagawan Ramana Maharishi who lived in the Self and was oblivious of the body. The monism philosophy states that there is no second thing other than ATMA or SELF. If you perceive two, then Maya or delusion is in action. For ordinary worldly minded, the concept of ATMA is not conceivable since he rely only on sensory outputs. The SELF is indestructible, it can not be burnt by fire, nor water can wet it. It can not be cut by weapons since it is the subtlest one, subtler than the ether. Hence the Self pervades and there is no place where it is not. The only Truth and basis for the seen is the SELF which is also termed as 'seer'. All else is seen. Rest in next hub.