To maintain our peace of mind we must raise ourselves above the duality to experience the nonduality. But what does that mean? It doesn’t mean we need to leave our homes and go somewhere else. And we don’t need to just sit and be quiet doing nothing. If that were the case there would be no use for us even being here. So then what is it? If we do things, we seem to disturb the mind and if we don’t do anything we are of no use to the world. Is there an any middle ground? Yes, there is. We should understand that there are certain actions or certain thoughts that disturb the mind and others that do not.

When I use the word “certain,” it’s not the thoughts by themselves that are important but the quality of the thoughts and actions. All selfish thoughts will disturb your mind. All selfless thoughts, will leave your mind tranquil. That’s all. Anything that you are doing with your own selfish motive to achieve something for yourself will disturb your mind. It is because of our selfishness that we often go out of our way to do these kinds of things.

All the religions agree that it’s best to be truthful and to do no harm. But these universal ethical guidelines are violated by a selfish mind. If you are selfless you don’t even need to practice all the commandments because they all fall into place automatically. If you are selfless you won‘t even think to go and tell a lie to achieve something. You would never steal something from somebody. You wouldn’t cause harm to anybody. You are always contented. So leading a selfless life, a dedicated life, is the way to maintain peace of mind.

The truth is that we are all Spirit, pure Consciousness, the image of God. But we don’t see ourselves as pure. That’s because our mind, which is the instrument through which we can see ourselves, is constantly disturbed. When the mind is restless it cannot act as a clean mirror to reveal our true nature. So to see or to know our own essence-nature, we need a clean mirror. And that is what is meant by the Beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God.” That means that your essence-nature, your divine nature, will reveal itself as God. You are God, but you don’t see yourself as God because your mind is disturbed by various thoughts and emotions so it cannot reflect your true nature clearly. If you calm and purify your mind you see yourself as God.

Now, why does the mind become disturbed? It is the selfish attitude. If the mind is freed from the egoism of “I, me and mine,” there is no reason for the mind to get disturbed. That’s why every spiritual tradition talks about dedication and service. It is by leading a dedicated life  that we can raise above the little self  and realize our true nature. When religious texts talk about rituals that include sacrificing animals, they are not talking about actual animals. They are pointing to the animalistic egoistic mind. It is that “animal” that is to be offered at the altar so that the mind can remain free and well balanced.

Whoever has lived a selfless life is accepted and respected as a refined person, a holy person. They have sacrificed their lower nature so that the mind can remain clean so that they were able to see themselves as the image of God. In the Bible it is written that Jesus said, “I and my Father are One and the same.” He didn’t see any difference between himself and God because he was seeing through a pure, clean mind.

It is written in the Upanishads, “Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Twam Asi, which means, “You are that absolute God, Thou Art That.” With a clean, calm mind not only will you recognize your true nature, you will also be able recognize the same nature in others as well. With that realization, all your actions will be of benefit to humanity because you are not going to do everything only for your own sake and you are not going to engage in actions that harm others because you realize that we are all one. That is the meaning behind recognizing the non-duality within the seeming duality.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda