How do you define Self Realization? Realize what is body or physique and what is self? Besides the physical body, there exists some thing like 'Self' which is an integral part of one's life which is a guiding lamp and which is always effulgent. To realize its power and impact, one needs to assume that it is not only the body or the brain power that guides our life's actions but there is something beyond.
Self realization can be defined simply by saying that a person who believes that body and self i.e., soul are entirely two different things, is on the path of self realization or soul searching. Self or the Soul is real whereas Physical body is relative or unreal. What is real and what is relative has to be clearly distinguished. If one can clearly demarcate both the things, then a person is on the path to understand the power of soul or Atman. The more one is aware that both things are different, he is on his path of reaching the state of self-realization. That will enable him to learn more what soul is and how to gain access to it, so as to reach greater benefits of enlightenment. Another assumption is that every one is a pure soul- you and me! That feeling will be a cleansing factor of all the negative faculties one has within himself. With that feeling one can bring in good vibrations in the others and bring them on the positive aspects of life.
Just as the whole Universe presents to us a colossal picture from the macro view point, the body or physique also points at its myriad aspects and the myth, at the micro level. Unfathomable are both the Universe as well as the body or physique with their infinite and myriad operations and mechanism.
How the Universe with Sun and Moon, Planets and Stars came into existence and in the same manner how the physique or body of a human being or animal or even plant life came into being on their own is beyond one's comprehension. Who created the intricate parts of the body of a human being, or an animal, a bird or different varieties of plant life are the greatest wonders in our life's study which is always unending or infinite. It all seems that the Scientific infrastructure of Nature governing the planets and the body/physic has been available from the beginning of life in the Universe. We could call it as existence of 'Law of Nature'- self born or auto-created and it continues for all the time as if it is programmed for all the time to come! Births and Deaths continue and other natural phenomena also occur , without being monitored by any authority excepting the Law or force of Nature! It is as amazing as how electricity is created which in turn generates light and energy!
Secondly, within this intricate physique how life is put into it which is invisible to the naked eye and it does not have any shape is also another exciting phenomenon. What controls its operation is no doubt, breath i.e., prana the function of which is also beyond one's comprehension. Who places the breath in a proper manner and who supervises or monitors its constant operation so that man continues to remain alive, is also another unsolved riddle.
In the same way, a man has been able to investigate and research how the Universe is made of, he needs to make a similar investigation as to how a physique is constituted. This effort leads one ultimately to the study of self or Atman.
Atman or Self-realization is a state of bliss one can attain when one assumes 'that state is one of birthlessness or a deathlessness'. One gets away from the fear of death to a state of vibrant life, from darkness of ignorance to light of knowledge and from an unreal world to real. A self realized person feels that the real one i.e., Atman never dies and it is only the body which deteriorates as one ages. Atman or Self is a permanent phenomenon whereas body or physique is thus purely transient or temporary and is bound to decay on aging. Sages have attained the state of bliss through yoga and meditation. To prepare their mind to gain access to bliss, they mastered the true discipline of yoga and meditation. In other words, if one can get mastery over scientific yoga and meditation which implies 'Pranayaam' i.e., control of deep breathing technique as taught by Patanjali, they find an easy path to reach the state of bliss. Attaining the state of bliss through the technique of deep breathing and single minded focus, needs some preparation like renunciation and getting rid of materialistic pleasures because these attract and influence more the mind and actions even though one cannot get total happiness through acquiring them. A multi-millionaire is never contented and still wishes to have more and more wealth and that greed affects his health and life style besides limiting his thinking power. Besides getting over the materialistic pleasures, one needs to conquer negative faculties like Sense pleasures, Ego, Anger, Greed, and Jealousy if one seeks spiritual bliss and contentment and acquire that state of 'Sthita Pradnya' as described in the Bhagvad Gita.
With all this background for attaining the state of bliss or self-realization, one can ask why we should at all get into this kind of exercise! Firstly, through investigating into the depths of mind and self, one gets into the realms of vast and infinite knowledge and enlightenment, which ordinarily with a common man's daily life of stress would have not been possible. At that level, one solves the greatest riddles of life and science and always invents a new path towards solving any problem. That state of bliss can only prepare the mind to open new vistas of knowledge. Sages, Saints, philosophers and Scientists have found new discoveries and innovations and reached new horizons of knowledge only through a spiritual eye or following a spiritual path.
Why one should aim at Self Realization is also a moot question for all of us. This brings us to the context of 'Karma' and theory of 'Recarnation' which has also been often quoted in the Vedas and Bhagvad Gita. Karma is not based on Destiny but on the choices one makes in his life time. These choices lead to future 'effects' which may carry on in to the next life time. If actions are good, one can assume results that will happen ultimately will be good. Vice versa, if one's actions are bad, then bad things happen to him. Prarabda karmas are one that are carried from our past lives. Sanchita karma is based on the way you act because of your past life. Agami karma is the karma of present life over which we do have control. One is said to get rid of karma through in-depth meditation and with love for God in which case karma can be detached from the Soul or Atman. Although this is not an easy solution, it is said if that happens, 'moksha' or liberation from this world or mundane life which is subject to recycles of births and deaths, can be experienced.
Lord Krishna in Bhagvad Gita states;
'O Arjuna, both you and I have had many births and death by rebirth. As a man casting off worn out garments takes new ones, so the dweller in the body casting off worn out bodies enters into others that are new.' Krishna further says 'From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one, who attains to my abode, never takes birth again.'
Through experiencing and attaining Self realization, one can get rid of the cycles of births and deaths and attain Moksha or liberation or enter into abode of God. If one believes in this theory through the knowledge of Bhagvad Gita, he is supposed to attain the state of bliss and liberation from the world's miseries. Getting 'Moksha' or 'Beatitude' is nothing but the 'State of Bliss' one gets in his mind at some stage after going through an ordeal of Tapasya (penance). That is equivalent to saying 'getting into Heaven'. There is no separate Heaven or Paradise on earth or on any planet but one can seek both God and Heaven in one's own heart. That is one of the reasons why it is often said that 'your body is a temple' and respect it.
Ishavasya Upanishad and Bhagvad Gita deal with different aspects of attaining self-realization. This is an in depth study in itself and needs a separate review beyond constraint of space and time. Also the opening verse in Isha Upanishad contains the hidden truth behind the power of Atman and Brahman, a combination of which leads one to 'Fullness' or the achievement in life. (Atman is 'Jeevatma' which one enjoys all materialistic pleasures in life after birth and later works towards attaining bliss of mind- going through successfully, the stages of Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnana yoga as stated in Bhagvad Gita). When that Jeevatma merges with 'Paramatma' the Super Consciousness ( all Supreme Power- in other words, God the Almighty ) in the minds of every one, that really is the Moksha i.e., liberation from the recycles of human birth and death.
What is this World? The following verse in Isha Upanishad explains:
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti !
'The invisible Brahman is the Full. The visible (the world) too is the Full. From the Full (Brahman), the Full (the visible universe) has come. The Full (Brahman) remains the same i.e., invisible, even after the Full (the visible universe) has come out of the Full (Brahman).'
As soon as the human mind becomes aware of the world around it, it also becomes seized with the question as to what is the world that so surrounds it. This question marks the beginning of all knowledge as the mind will always strive to achieve that 'Fullness' in life! Then Jeevatma i.e., Soul or Self in human being merges with 'Paramatma' (the Supreme Consciousness) WHO is supposed to live in every Jeevatma i.e., individual Soul.