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Fruit from the Garden of Wisdom
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 10: Asti, Bhati, Priya

There are said to be five characters in all existence nama, rupa, asti, bhati and priya. Nama and rupa are name and form. Asti, bhati and priya mean existence, illumination and the character of pleasurableness. Existence, illumination and satisfaction seem to be permeating nama and rupa, whatever be the place or the time of the nama and the rupa. We are all constituted of nama and rupa, name and form. Everyone has a name and a form. There is name-form complex and, therefore, the world is called nama-rupa-prapanca, the network of names and forms. But, notwithstanding the fact that we are in a position to perceive only names and forms, and nothing beyond, we are impelled by the urge of something else beyond name and form, which fact comes into relief in our hectic activities of day-to-day life, wherein we express a desire not merely for name and form but for something more than name and form. Why do you act, why do you think, why do you engage yourself in any kind of work? There seems to be a purpose behind all these endeavours, and the purpose is not merely a contact with a name or form, but a utilization of name and form for a different aim altogether. All our activities hinge upon a single objective, that is, relationship with externals, contact with objects, but for a purpose higher than the objects themselves, the putting into use or harnessing the object, including persons, for brining about an effect which we regard as beneficial to ourselves. This effect is the final objective, and not nama and rupa. You pursue in this world not some persons and things, but certain effects, consequences, which you want to follow by your contact with persons and things. If these consequences do not follow, you reject the persons and things. It is not that you want persons or things; you want certain consequences to follow from the contact with persons and things. If they do not follow, you do not want them. Your friends become enemies or at least things of indifference when the consequences desired from them do not follow, and your desires become aversions when the required consequences do not materialise. So, it is not name and form or objects as such that we long for, but a desired consequence. What is that consequence?

The ultimate longing of all aspiring centres is to bring about a release of some tension. The release of tension of any kind is equal to pleasure. You are unhappy when you are in a state of tension, and you are happy when tensions are released. There are various kinds of tensions in life which place one in a state of anxiety and agony. The release of tension brings satisfaction and one works for that satisfaction. There are inner tensions which are of greater consequence than the outer ones – the psychological tensions caused by a variety of circumstances. These circumstances in the psychic set-up of our personality form a network called the hridaya-granthi, in the words of the Upanishads. This is the granthi of avidya, kama and karma – ignorance, desire and action; this is the tension of vasanas or samskaras; this is the tension of the sub-conscious or unconscious mind; this is the tension of unfulfilled desires and frustrated feelings. This is 'personality' in its essential nature. We are a network of these tensions. This is jivatva. It is made up of a group of tensions. That is why no jiva can be happy. We are always in a state of anxiety and eagerness to find the first opportunity to release the tensions. The jiva tries to work out a method of release of tensions by what is called fulfillment of desires, because, ultimately these tensions can be boiled down to unfulfilled desires. It appears on the surface that by a fulfillment of the desires the tensions can be released and we can enter into asti-bhati-priya by corning in contact with nama and rupa. It is true that desires have to be fulfilled, and unless they are fulfilled there cannot be release of tension. But we adopt a very wrong method: therefore, we never fulfil our desires completely, at any time, in all the births that we take. The desires cannot be fulfilled by contact with objects, because a contact excites as further desire for a repetition of the contact which, again, in turn, excites an additional desire, and this cycle goes on endlessly – desire for things and things exciting desires. This cycle is the wheel of Samsara. By contact with things, desires are not fulfilled. On the other hand, desires are ignited, as it were, into a state of conflageration by such contact. Desires arise on account of an ignorance of the structure of things. Unless this ignorance is removed, the tension is not going to be released. And, what is this ignorance? The ignorance in the form of the notion that multiplicity is a reality, and that by an aggregate of all the finite things constituting the multiplicity, we can have the infinite satisfaction that we long for. A total of the finites is not the infinite, and therefore contact with finite things cannot bring infinite satisfaction. Nama-rupa-prapanca is, therefore, not the way to the realisation of asti-bhati-priya, which is what beckons us every day in our activities.

We want perpetual existence. We do not want to die. This is the sense of astitva, being, in us. We want to be called intelligent at least. We do not want to be regarded as stupid. This is the urge of bhatitva or chit, consciousness, in us. And we want happiness and not pain. This is the urge of priya, bliss, in us. The urge for perpetual existence, if possible immortal existence, is the urge of asti or sat – existence. The urge for knowledge, wisdom, illumination, understanding, information, is the urge of bhati or chit – consciousness. The urge for delight, satisfaction, pleasure is the urge of that infinite delight of existence-consciousness, priya or ananda – bliss. It is this threefold blend of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss that reveals itself even through nama and rupa, and it is not the nama and the rupa or the name and the form that we really want in our life. In our contact with things, or names and forms, we seek asti, bhati and priya. We seek satchidananda through nama-rupa; we seek Reality in appearance; we seek the Absolute in the relative; we seek Brahman in all creation; we seek Ishvara in the world. That is what we seek. In all our activities, whatever be the work that we do, the purpose behind is the seeking for a final release of all internal tension and an acquisition of unlimited satisfaction.