Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Importance of Atmagauravam (Respecting inner SELF)
It is important to be receptive to and nourish our Atma as doing so would keep us in a balance to fulfil our responsibilities in life, care for our mind, senses and body, help us maintain good relations and ensure we stay on path of spiritual progress.
1. How do we respect our own Atma?
Our main effort is towards pursuing our inner self almost like we are researching on it and thus surrender ourselves to sincerely follow its guidance.
2. Why should we care to understand our inner self?
This is so as it is our true self.
3. Can we trust our inner self?
Yes, as it is the representation of your true self.
If our inner self has maintained its pure state by not being engulfed by samskaras (emotions, thoughts, actions carried forward from previous lives as karma) then it is absolute truth. Which is then easy to follow. However, let us say that our inner self is engulfed by samskaras , which is the case for most of us, then the guidance coming from it may not be perfect.
4. Are we then not wrong in following it if it is influenced by samskaras?
Yes that is a valid concern. Despite that it is better to your own inner self than someone else's.
Firstly, for this we need to make a constant effort to unravel the samskaras through meditation and various practices which help us to be in constant awareness of our “absolute truth state.”
Secondly, by following our inner self even when its condition may not be perfect we have started the practice of “listening to our heart” instead of relying on others and thus over a period of time, along with meditative practices, we would make a lot of progress in the right direction. The benefit for us here and now is that we learn to trust ourselves and our outer self stays consistent with our inner self.
5. Doesn’t our mind convey the truth?
It may or may not convey the truth. However, your inner self conveys your own truth to start with and if the inner self is devoid of samskaras it conveys absolute truth.
6. What if the truth conveyed by my inner self is not palatable and likely to put me in difficulty?
You are right. Your truth isn’t always palatable and very often you may end up in conflict with what the mind says and thus settle for what the mind tells you to do. However, we should understand that between the mind and your heart (inner self) it is spiritually better to follow the inner self. We may go wrong in this human life by following our inner self but will not go wrong in the cosmic life as we shed the karmic baggage. This is so because it is the path of truth.
Atmagauravam vs Shareeragauravam
Respecting Inner self vs Respecting outer self
Respecting outer self is nothing but giving undue importance and developing a preoccupation towards our tools of body, mind and senses believing them to be true. After all they are tools to be guided by my inner self. That doesn’t mean that we have to let go of utilising our tools.
7. To what extent should we use our bodily tools?
They should be optimally utilized for us to be maintained in a pure state of thinking, speaking and acting. They should help us to stay on path of spiritual progress. For example, listening to, watching, performing or going to are the acts we do regularly. These should be done for the “right purpose”. Tools will cooperate with us as long as we stay in sathwika state – state of calmness and balance.
Tools shouldn’t be ideally used as play things obsessively for entertainment or pleasure. Even when we enjoy entertainment or pleasurable activities in this human life particularly as part of Grihasta dharma – fulfilling responsibilities as a householder- we can learn to be detached from them. Overuse of tools has its own set of problems in our current life anyway.
8. If we preoccupy with our outer self we also ignore our inner self.
Should we practice Atmagauravam constantly? If so, how do we do it?
Yes, it should be practiced constantly. We can practice various ways such as Ashtanga yoga, meditation, Bhakti, constant remembrance of paramatma, the divine supreme energy, in its formless state or in a any form that helps you stay in constant remembrance. This is brahmastithi. As long as we stay in this state we are always in the path of vidya – absolute truth.
Hence in summary,
If we perform atmagauravam by being aware of our inner self, listening to it and following it we can also respect our outer self by utilising it optimally and giving its due optimal recognition as much as is necessary in turn for our holistic wellbeing – spiritual, mental and physical. If Atmagauravam is neglected then our tools are bound to be used for undesirable needs.
Dr. Malladi Srinivasa Sastry