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 Blooming Stars

Siddhashram

            Siddhashram (Setting for Realization) is the final stage. A question that naturally rises in the mind is: What is realization or self-realization? Self-realization in general is attaining the ultimate end or the final goal. In Hinduism it is moksha (liberation from the chain of births and rebirths) or kaivalya (pure consciousness). It is ultimately atmajnana: the true knowledge that one’s atman (soul) is identical with Brahman (the Supreme Reality). In Christianity it is heaven or eternal life with God in beatific vision, that is viewing the very essence of God with perfect joy in endless happiness. In Islam it is paradise (firdaus) that is the ultimate pleasurable place after death. In Buddhism it is nirvana or full enlightenment. For our purpose it is understood as becoming all that one is capable of. It is living fully and actualizing one’s God-given or nature-placed potentials through conscious decisions made in complete freedom and in accordance with one’s conscience.

            All the previous ashrams or stages are geared to the final stage of Siddhashram. Sathyashram – the initial training stage characterized by a search for truth – prepares the person for righteous living in this world, a gainful occupation, meeting obligations to family and community. In Sevashram –a stage guided by service to family and society - one puts into practice one has learned in Sathyashram even as further training and learning go on. From 55 to 60 years of age one starts Paramarthashram – the penultimate stage where the focus is entirely on the final end – wherein one takes stock of everything and evaluates all that has happened in one’s life, retires from the life of the world, and de-programs self keeping only what is necessary to live in an ideal democratic society.

            Everything that happened in one’s life has a message or reason whether one knows it or not. After a formal training period of twenty-two to twenty-five years in Sathyashram and informal and formal training in Sevashram one becomes a master of one’s own destiny. Sevashram especially is a living university where lived experience and experimentation prepare one for the final assault to the peak if a metaphor of a mountain-climbing expedition to the top of Everest is used. In Paramarthashram lasting about five years one solidifies the gains from Sevashram and supplies all that is necessary for the final end - Siddhashram. In Siddhashram beginning around 65 years of age one’s authority of life is oneself. Steeped in truth, justice, fairness, unity of humanity, altruism, compassion, and love for all, one is even incapable of hating or harming anyone. That kind of person exudes goodness and love, and goes beyond all differences and distinctions. One is beyond all doctrines and dogmas. One does not look up to anyone for guidance. At this stage no one except the Almighty God or the Supreme Source of Energy is capable of guiding anyone. Here one is one’s own guide. Each one is on his/her own. Nobody has any special answers to questions related to after-life or the final end of humans. Yet one in all humility learns from everyone till the very end. Here all are in unchartered waters. All are wayfarers. Persons who believe get engaged in their belief systems and immerse themselves toward the end of their life more deeply in rites and rituals more frequently than ever. Persons who do not believe also express themselves fully by actualizing their potentials.

            It is also important to note that St. Thomas Aquinas who is considered to be the greatest philosopher, theologian, and doctor of the Catholic Church stopped writing after some kind of supernatural experience of God. When the one who used to receive his dictation urged him to express his thoughts in writing, he said: “I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me”. Shankaracharya, probably the greatest Indian philosopher, theologian, and spiritual leader, is reported to have stated before he died that the greatest mistake in his life was to attempt to define the undefinable. He further stated in his Nirvana Shatakam - the essence of all Upanishads and indeed Atma Jnana (self-knowledge) - that the aham or I or atman (soul) in all of us is beyond anything describable, conceivable, or imaginable, and that “I am eternal knowing and bliss, love and pure consciousness”. In Siddhashram one, whether he/she is a believer, doubter, non-knower, or unbeliever, is truly and fully dependent on one’s own inner resources, and is in one final and total offering or surrendering of self to the Supreme Being or the all-encompassing Cosmic Energy.

 

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