What is the purpose of life?
It is to find out who we really are; the realization of our True Self or Atman.
That is the main purpose of every human being. All other purposes have a secondary place in our life. Self-realization, self-knowledge, God-realization, liberation, enlightenment, are synonymous terms. They point to the same goal. The realization of our real Self whose nature is pure awareness.
'The highest goal of man is to enquire, "Who am I?" and realize the Self. If a human being
does not try to realize this, he lives in vain.' ~ Ramana Maharshi
What is illusion?
Illusion is the imagination that you are a body-mind entity, an illusory image, separate from God and the universe. Because of ignorance (maya), and the impurities of mind (the qualities of rajas and tamas), you cannot discriminate the eternal Self or awareness that you really are from the impermanent vehicles (body-mind) that are objects in awareness.
‘Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure bliss. This ignorance consists in
wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge consists in the false identification of the Self
with the body, the mind, etc. This false identity must go and there remains the Self.’
~ Ramana Maharshi
Nobody can really explain when this illusion started or why. This is the game of life.
This illusion can be destroyed, if you are sincere and do rigorous sadhana (spiritual discipline or practices).
In the course of time, it will flash through you that you are awareness itself and not the body-mind entity.
‘There must be untiring effort to go inward all the time until the Self is realized.’
~ Ramana Maharshi
What is the Self?
The Self or consciousness is the eternal, timeless, formless, causeless, essence of life. It is the one without a second (nondual) reality beyond this perceptual universe. It is a h***genous mass of consciousness, without parts, without attributes, without birth and death.
It is the substratum of all gross and subtle experiences. It is the centerless center in every creature. It is within and without, above and below, it permeates and fulfils everything.
The Self in you is the Self of all. Bodies are many, minds are many but the Self is only One. The One Self appears as many owing to the illusory appearance of bodies and minds. As the one sun in the sky appears as many owing to its reflection in the water of many different vessels, the one without a second (nondual) Self appears as many owing to its reflection in different minds.
This immortal Self shines in the chambers of your heart as your own Self. It is your real identity, your origin and your final destination.
How can the desire to find my true nature arise within me?
Consciousness (the Soul from within) impels you to find out the truth because awareness itself wants to be awakened in you. But you, the person, have to do the sadhana. We are all instruments of the divine will but we become conscious of it only after awakening.
How is possible to get liberation or enlightenment?
Even to win a lottery you have to do something, at least to buy the ticket! Similarly, Self-realization is not going to happen accidentally, except in some very rare cases in which it seems to happen so.
The scriptures and the sages declare that instant realization and liberation can only happen to those who did intense sadhana in their previous births. This is the case of Sri Ramana Maharshi, but this is unknown to the majority. So you have to do sadhana or spiritual practices to prepare yourself for the dawn of jnana (knowledge).
'Without spiritual practice (upasana), there cannot be attainment. This is certain.‘
~ Ramana Maharshi
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