Question: If the Self is already realized and if it is already Divine, why do we need the experience of enlightenment to know this?
Swami Satchidananda: Who said the Self is already realized and already Divine? Do you know positively? If you know this positively, you won’t have any question. But because you don’t know it, you are trying to know that. The Self is always clean, and never gets into any problems because the Self, or your I, the big capital I, is the image of God.
There is a Self in everything. Don’t you see that in the English language? The microphone itself, the speaker herself, the chair itself, the tree itself, himself, yourself. What is the ending of all these phrases? Self, Self, Self. That shows there is Self everywhere. It appears differently but it is the same Self. You just don’t realize it. You don’t see the Self clearly. Or, you don’t see your Self as God’s image clearly. In other words, you don’t see yourself as Divine. You can’t see yourself as Divine unless you see that divinity reflected in something.
Do you have a face? Have you ever seen it? You say you have a face but you have never seen it. You need a mirror to see your own face. But what you see is the reflection of your face. You are the Self, but you have never seen it. God created you in God’s image and wanted you to see your own image in a mirror. So, God gave you your own built in mirror: your own mind. If the mind is clean, you see yourself clearly. So clean the mind, and see your Self—the image of God. That is Self-realization.
Normally the mind is not clean; it’s always disturbed. There are lots of waves in the pond. When you want to see your face in some water, how should the water be? Clean and peaceful with no ripples or waves. In that still water, you see your face reflected clearly. If there are waves in the water, you see a distorted face. Do you run to a doctor? No, because you know there is nothing wrong with your face, only with the water that is acting as a mirror. So you correct the mirror and you see your face again. That is the aim of Yoga.
We have been given our own mirror and that is the mind. You don’t have to do anything with your Self. It is always clean; nothing can pollute it. But it the mind/mirror that is not clean, so the Self is not reflected clearly. Therefore, calm and purify the mind. Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see themselves as God. But the word themselves is missing in the Bible. The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God.” You have to add: they shall see themselves as God.
Purify your heart, balance your heart. That is what Raja Yoga talks about. Sage Patanjali gives us the following sutra: Chitta vritti nirodha: The restraint of the modifications in the mind is Yoga. An unshaking, steady, well-balanced mind is Yoga. If you achieve that, you will know your Self.