Isha Upanishad - Super school - Auroville - Isha Upanishad 1001

Date - 10.02.2003

We have come to a very, very important point in our investigation.  What is the nature of ignorance? From the example that you have taken, you will see that ignorance is basically self-ignorance. Ignorance is the knowledge of that point, which makes you forgetful of the origin of that point. We were taking the example of an actor, who identifies himself with the character of the drama; he can be effective only if he becomes aware intensely of that character in such a way that he forgets his original self. If I'm acting the role of Hamlet in a drama, I become aware of that point of Hamlet, so that I forget myself altogether. I don't know that I am Kireet and I become Hamlet. So, ignorance is basically self-ignorance, you become aware intensely of one point, or a small field. And I become so much acutely aware of that and all the rest is put at the back. It's not abolished, when I become aware of Hamlet myself, as Hamlet I don't cease to be what I am. I remain everything that I am, but in my consciousness. I am aware only of Hamlet of that moment that too not the whole of Hamlet only of that particular moment. ‘To be or not to be’, when I play this aspect of the drama, I'm aware only of that moment, all the rest is in the background, is not abolished that's very important, other things are not abolished, not annulled. They are ignored that is why it is called ignorance. They are ignored; ignorance is an act of ignoring everything except the small field in which I am engaged.

Question: To be able to concentrate so much on one point must also be tough otherwise it's not possible to concentrate so much.

Answer: But this is true only of relative small fields. Actually you take also the opposite plunge, you forget your present moment altogether and you become aware of all the rest, then you forget altogether. Many yogis when they become aware of the Reality by an opposite plunge, you become aware only of that and you forget your present small little thing but even that is the kind of ignorance. You should be aware of the totality. Therefore, the goal is not only knowledge but integral knowledge, − totality, you should be aware of all. When the integrality of knowledge is put back and you're aware of only a small portion, of a small field, in that small field there are many ways of concentrating. As you rightly said that the concentration comes strongest at a given point if you are aware also of the other parts. True that is true only of the normal, ordinary, small field of psychology but not of the total psychology.

You will see in this case that ignorance is basically self-ignorance. If you analyse and ask yourself of what we are ignorant, what is it that is ignored in the state of ignorance? Then you may note the following things, first, the self in the totality is all that we are ignorant of, you are aware only of a small field in which we go round and round. In which there are of course, hundred points actually. There is no concentration even in that, we fly from one point to the other, in a distracted mind and no concentration either even of the small field.  We go round and round, even in distraction, the field is limited and we are bound only to the small field. We are aware at present only of a few beings and few becomings. Secondly, we are aware only of our small egoistic consciousness, our small ego. Thirdly, we are aware only of the present moment very largely, a little bit of our past moment and a little bit of the prospect of what is to happen in a limited time field of which we are aware. The limited space field of which we are aware, most of our past we forget. Actually at a present moment we have to recollect, if somebody says, what happened to you at the age of eight or nine? You're not concerned with that, it is at the back, you are ignorant. Only if I ask you the question, you have to draw your mind to recollect and say wait a minute, I'll try to find out. Who knows this happened, when I was 8 or 10 years old, you have to make an effort.

Your time and space field is very limited. You are not aware of your subconscious, you are not aware of your subliminal self, you are not aware of your superconscience self. You are aware of only a small field of conscious being. So even in that little moment that you're aware of, you are not aware of your whole self, you are aware of only a small portion of your conscious being. Then you do not know, even in that small field, what is the relationship. There are many aspects of your being; you have got a body aspect, vital and the mental aspect. And you do not know what is the relationship between them. Whether the body is the ruler of your life, vital desire is your life or mental desire is your life, it's all pell-mell. You do not know the real constitution of your being, how you are constituted. Constitution means interrelationship in which what is superior and what is inferior. That is called a constitutional development of any individual. To be aware of your constitution is to be aware as to what is prior and what is less prior. What is more important and what is less important, what is the governor and what is governed. And then you have a further ignorance in which when things are presented to you for doing this or doing that, we do not know how to give the right reaction to anything and constantly we ask the question, is it right, is it wrong. Because of the limitation of our consciousness, we do not know either ourselves or the world and when you put into contact with the outside world or even with our own little world, we don't know how to connect ourselves with it. How very often you are asked to meet XYZ and immediately you say, “Oh! I don't like this person; he is not such a wonderful person”. And therefore, you relate yourself in a different manner. So our relationships are all sometimes right and sometimes wrong and we're not sure whether we're really right, we think we're right. Sometimes we do not know whether exactly it is really right or not.