The other is the deeper Reality which most of us do not see most of the time. The deeper Reality is imperishable and constant. Thus the rishi has a sort of double awareness. He is aware of what is generally considered real; but behind, within, above and beyond this reality he is aware of a deeper Reality. Thus, the rishi’s consciousness is much wider, higher and deeper than the ordinary consciousness. In simple terms, what the rishi sees is the all-pervasive presence of the Creator in all its creation, animate and inanimate.
The first casualty of this deeper vision is the ego that creates the ‘me-versus-the-rest divide’. Therefore, when the rishi organizes his life around this vision, his life becomes full of universal love and compassion. The rishi does not just know the Truth at the mental level, but has experienced it. That is why it is said that the rishi has attained realization; or in other words, the Truth has become real to him. Only what we have experienced becomes real to us. What we have just understood at the mental level does not come anywhere near what we have experienced.
Realized souls in the Hindu tradition are called rishis, but realized souls are not confined to the Hindu tradition. Seekers across geographical and religious boundaries have realized the same Truth through similar methods. There have been several realized souls among the mystics of the Judaic and Christian traditions, and the Sufis of the Islamic tradition. That they have all experienced the same Truth is suggested by the remarkable similarity in the way they have described their experiences. Several comparable descriptions from different traditions have been brought together at one place by Aldous Huxley in his book, The Perennial Philosophy.
Sri Aurobindo reached Pondicherry (now Puducherry) on 4 April 1910. Here are a few lines on the rishi’s consciousness from his epic, Savitri:
A Voice profound in the ecstasy and the hush
They heard, beheld an all-revealing Light.
All time-made difference they overcame;
The world was fibred with their own heart-strings;
Close-drawn to the heart that beats in every breast,
They reached the one self in all through boundless love.
(Savitri, Book 4, Canto 4, p. 381)
By: Ramesh Bijlani