|XVIII - Page 180||Home | Index | Previous | Next|
A Wise Man never forgets the Atma
It is only when you keep the atma constantly in view, in everything you do, that you will be able to reach the stage of true wisdom. A wise man is sometimes thought of as having something to do with worldly people. This confusion comes about because it has been said that, 'When everyone is awake, the wise man is asleep, and when he is awake all the other people are sleeping.' According to such a definition, you would conclude that those who work nightshifts, such as the night watchman and the station master, who are awake at night when others are sleeping and asleep during the day when others are awake, are all wise men. But, obviously, this is not the correct meaning of the word.
All those people who base their lives on this impermanent world, will be fully awake to this world and its objects. The wise man on the other hand, will be asleep and indifferent to worldly objects. Ordinary people will not be alive to the beauty of the atma; they will be sleeping through that. But when it comes to this world and its sense objects they will be fully alert and awake. Therefore, a wise man is one who is asleep to the principle of the world and who is fully awake to the principle of the atma. A wise man is not one who has renounced the world and gone to the forest. Krishna said, "Do your work in the world. Live in the midst of the things which are necessary for your daily life. But keep your attention and concentration constantly on the atma. That way you will gain abiding wisdom."
Here, a doubt may arise. Why does such a wise person need to work at all? He will have no interest in work nor have any ambitions regarding work. And yet for the good of mankind he will take up work. If a wise man had the attitude that he did not need to work, then he would not be able to inspire others to work. The sage has to set an example for ordinary people so that they will be able to follow him. "Therefore, Arjuna," said Krishna, "Become an ideal human being. You are very close to Krishna. You are his relative and you are very dear to him. Keep the inner significance of all these teachings in your heart. I want to raise you as an example to the world. I will use you as my instrument. You will be my instrument in doing many great things in the world."
Whatever Krishna has said is for the welfare of the entire world and for setting an ideal example for mankind. All avatars undertake activities which are absolutely sacred, but ordinary people will not be able to recognize these activities as divine activities. In this context, Krishna told Arjuna, "Arjuna, I have not accepted the job of being the driver of your chariot because I like this task and want it so much. It is not for the sake of my love of horses either that I'm doing this. Don't you think that I have chariots and horses of my own? Do I need to drive your chariot and your horses? This body-consciousness that you have saturates your whole being. It is in your blood. I am enacting the entire play and I have taken on this task of driving your chariot in order to see to it that you become permanently cured of this disease of body-consciousness."