Knowing Sentient From
The world is a house of animate and inanimate, of conscious and
unconscious. To survive, a partnership between the two is
essential. A touch of the animate infuses with life all that
which is inanimate. What is it that allows mind to think, ears to
hear, eyes to see, nose to smell, tongue to taste, and body to
feel? It is consciousness. Otherwise, our brain and five
senses would be unaware, lifeless, unable to function.
Life is radiating behind all living forms. What
can we call that invisible life-giving element? In Sanskrit
language, it is known as atma. In English, it has been
called soul, spirit, self, the divine. Truly speaking, none of
these words carries the full import of atma. When one
hears these words, one must get a sense of talks, I often prefer
to use the phrase sentient energy to brig out the inherent
dynamism of the words atma., soul, spirit, or
Let us clarify the
word sentient. Ordinarily, it means one has the power to
apperceive by means of the senses; it is also defined as the
conscious mind. The meaning I aim to convey is inclusive yet
greater than any of the above definitions. Sentient energy is
that in each one of us which is conscious awareness itself. It is
our immortal essence, incapable of either stagnation or physical
harm, for it is not a material substance. We may call it life,
indweller, the one we are from begin, ningless time. We must
know it, express it, and make friends with it.
That is one of the purposes of this series of talks. To know and
experience atma as our nearest and dearest one, this is the clear
awareness which must dawn on human consciousness. When we learn
to differentiate between soul and matter, we will come into the
experience of our conscious reality. In the words of the ancient
“No weapon can cut it
Nor any fire burn it.
No water can make it wet
Nor any wind dry it.
It is atma, immortal.
It is indestructible sentient energy.”
Now we will investigate the two entirely different and unique
energies working in this universe, the one conscious, the other
unconscious. In this philosophy the smallest indivisible form of
matter is called atom. Atom means the essential structure of the
material world. When atoms come together, they form molecules
when molecules group togther, they construct the myriad of
bodily forms found in the material universe. Atom is an energy,
an insentient or unconscious energy. Its nature is this: that
molecules compose and decompose. These are in a perpetual state
of flux. They are continually alternating between motion and
rest, like the pendulum of a clock. As such, they bum up against
one another, thereby creating an impact or a vibration.
Unlike atom, the nature of atma or sentient energy is to be
conscious. It has creative power. Its power is this: to change
the arrangement of the material world of atoms. Together atma
and atom make up the structure of the whole universe.
When we understand the two polarities, the East exploring the
secret of atma and the West exploring the secret of atom,
our knowledge becomes complete.
If we see only one polarity, our vision tends to become myopic.
This who see nothing beyond atom strive only for material
achievement and end u where they began-in the process of
construction and destruction of molecules. Seeing man as a
machine, they risk their own annihilation. At the same time,
those who neglect the study of atom for an exclusive interest in
atma risk becoming engulfed by poverty, indifferent towards
progress, and callous towards suffering livings beings.
To live we need both, food for the body and nourishment for the
soul. We need balance. We need to sit at the center of ourselves
and observe both atma and atom. Watching ourselves with
the eye of wisdom, we will see that we are neither biased nor
pious, but open and moving-towards the enlargement of
How can we experience that balance? By shedding the spiritual
light of the atma on atom. By becoming away through meditation of
both the center and the circum-ference. By differentiating
between sentient and sentient. Balanced, our movement will be
characterized by purposeful direction (pragati) and not not by a
vicious circle (gati). In this way, our sentient energy will be
evolving towards ultimate complete awareness of itself.
By expanding our understanding of the relationship between atma
and atom, by being in tune through meditation with the
permanent qualities of our self, we can be of service to ourselves
and to the entire family of man and all living beings. The
expression, of our meditative balance in everyday life will come
according to our individual nature-to be actively calm or calmly
How can we know the difference between sentient and insentient
energy? How can we know the relationship between these two? To
begin to understand these questions, the real seeker discovers
right away that intellectual analysis and logic will not help
him. He is aware that the mind is a fine form of matter and can
not see beyond its own self. Mind always dissects and finalizes
on a material level.
What the seeker wants is to go beyond that which is tangible or
visible. He sees that the world of mind is pirmarily a business
of words and arguments, of discussion and quotations. He observes
how mind becomes deluded by words and how it fools itself by
presuming, “I am getting an insight into something higher.” But
instead of gaining insight, it is creating categories. Mind likes
to give labels to those who do not agree or believe. It uses
names such as ‘atheist’ or ‘pagan’ because of its habitual
tendency to react and creat a form. Mind, which clings to forms,
looks upon anyone who goes out of the form or the norm as its foe.
This is how religious people who claim to love harmony bring
instead disharmony. This is why wars are still fought in the name
of God or land or ideology. Always the world of forms creates
some kind of friction; one sees there the collision of minds.
Even the psychic experience is a creation of mind. Though it may
be called a spiritual experience and though it may appear in a
subtle form, still it is and interplay of matter. It is in the
kingdom of mind. Mind is still governing, operating, and
When mind-words, logic, scriptures, arguments, forms-is allowed to
rule your life, you do not set yourself free to see and feel the
beauty and serenity of that which is beyond mind. The real beauty
starts when you begin to get in touch with that. The genuine
seeker’s journey begins here.
So those who want to go beyond mind take a higher step. Instead
of entering into argument, they turn inward. It is not
introversion; it is introspection. It is a purifying. You notice
what is taking place in your thoughts, in your feelings, in your
fancies. Gradually you observe your relationship in intimate
commune with yourself.
When you go on watching yourself, your awareness of all your
thoughts increases. A light of calmness reaches a point where any
negative thought or emotion stants out and is easily recognized.
It may be a spark of anger, a flicker of jealousy, a heaviness of
greed, a puffing up of ego, a wave of deceitfulness Upon
recognizing them, do pratikram: go back to erase and obliterate
the darkness of negativity by working with your breath until he
heaviness of the emotion evaporates.
Eventually with vigilance and continued practice of this
introspection, a fresh awareness dawns upon you that now mind is
not operating, governing, or controlling. Mind is operated,
governed, and controlled. By whom? By sentient energy, by atma,
by soul by that which has the living force of life, a deep
awareness of innate qualities.