I have understood that the witness is pure consciousness, unaffected by the body and mind it takes temporary residence in. So, first: how do personality and conditioning persist from one life to another? And second: does not that which makes us unique individuals have a continuum?
Maneesha, first you have to understand that you have not only this body of flesh and bones and blood, not only this brain which is part of the body. Behind the brain you have a mind — that mind is abstract — and behind the body you have an astral body. The word `astral’ comes from stars; it means a light…. Instead of flesh or bones, only a body made of light. This body of light, the astral body, has the mind in it.
When you die, your physical body and your physical mind are left behind. But the astral body travels with you, with the mind, with all the remembrances of the past life and the body, remembering all the scars and the wounds that have happened to the physical body. This abstract phenomenon travels with you; hiding within it is your ultimate, existential center.
Until you know the center, you will have to travel continuously from one body to another body. You have been traveling already for thousands of lives, gathering more and more memories in your astral mind, more and more memories in your astral body. Although your center is unaffected, it is surrounded by the astral body, and the astral body goes on from womb to womb, from grave to grave. That is your individuality; it has a continuum.
But the continuum comes to an end when you become a buddha.
When you penetrate deeply to the center, you are also cutting the astral body apart, making a way through the mind, beyond the mind, through the astral body and beyond the astral body, to the center of your being. Once you have reached to the center of your being, the continuum of your individuality stops. Now begins the universal existence.
You will not enter into another womb again, and you will not be burnt on another funeral pyre again. Now you will be one with the whole.
Of course, everything has a cost. You will have to drop your long-cherished love of individuality. Millions of years you have loved your individuality, but your individuality at the final stage is a hindrance.
Now take a jump out of the continuum and become one with the whole. You will disappear just like a dewdrop in the ocean. But it is the ultimate bliss; it is the most profound ecstasy to become the oceanic, to become the cosmic. You will never repent that you have lost your individuality.
What was in your individuality?
Have you ever thought?
Your individuality was a light prison, which carried you from one womb, passing through the grave, to another womb, and repeating the same things again and again and again.
That’s why in the East they call it the life and death cycle. To jump out of this cycle is the whole purpose of meditation — to come out of this continuum, which has been just a deep anguish, anxiety and angst, and to disappear into the blue sky.
This disappearance is not your death. This disappearance makes you one with the whole.
And to be one with the whole is the greatest joy, the greatest blissfulness. Nothing is more significant, more full of splendor, more majestic. Here all the buddhas have disappeared in the ultimate eternity of existence. It is freedom from individuality, freedom from yourself.
You have known freedom from others, but you don’t recognize that you are still a slave of your own individuality. It is a cage… it may be golden.
Open the cage and fly across the sun into the blue sky and disappear, without leaving any footprints, any trace behind.
This Gautam the Buddha used to call anatta, no self, no mind, no you, no I. This in fact can be said in another way….
I have told you about Kabir, one of the great mystics of India. When he was young he became enlightened, and he wrote a small poem, in which comes the line: The drop has disappeared in the ocean.
When he was dying, he called his son Kamaal and told him to change that line. Kamaal said, “It is so beautiful — the dewdrop has disappeared in the ocean. Why are you changing it? And what is the substitute?”
Kabir said, “These are my last breaths; don’t argue, simply do what I am saying. You write instead: The ocean has disappeared in the dewdrop. That was my first impression, this is my last impression.” And he closed his eyes.
But both the impressions are beautiful. In the beginning, of course, you will see the dewdrop is disappearing in the ocean. But finally you will realize the ocean has disappeared in the dewdrop.