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Chapter 4: Reflections in a Mirror

All are born as sudras, only a few die as brahmins. The whole world is sudra. Sudra means, all those people in the world who live believing themselves to be the body. It is very difficult to find a brahmin. It is not difficult to take birth in the house of a brahmin, but to be a brahmin is difficult.

I have heard, Uddalaka said to his son Svetketu, “Go to the ashram of a seer and come back after becoming a brahmin.”

Svetketu said, “But I am already a brahmin, I am the son of a brahmin.”

Uddalaka then lovingly but firmly told his son, “It has never happened that just by being born in our house a person becomes a brahmin. We have actually been becoming brahmins. So you go to the ashram of a master and come back having become a brahmin. Where in the world has brahminhood been received from a father? It is received from a master! And in our family there has never been a nominal brahmin, we have always actually become brahmins. You go and come back when you have become a brahmin.”

This sutra says: Move away from your body as if you are moving away from a chandal or a sudra. It is not that one has to move away; the moment one understands it is stinking filth, it is excreta, it is flesh, blood and marrow - as soon as this is realized, moving away begins on its own. We are attracted, we are pulled, to where we think is fragrance. We start moving away, we are repulsed from where we feel is stinking. Our inclination to be near the body is because of our ignorance of it. We have no idea what our body actually is.

So visualize the inside of your body. Become your own surgeon and open up your own body. The skin is not very thick, it is thin. We have developed so much attachment to all the things that are hidden behind this skin, and we start living as if that is all there is to our being. So we get attached to it, tied down to it.

If you start realizing the exact reality of your body you will find that a moving away has already begun; you do not have to move away, moving away begins on its own. Then if we have to re-identify with the body it will require effort. But our being attached to the body means only one thing, and that is that we have never looked at the body from its inside.

We know our body by seeing it in a mirror - but what is seen in the mirror is the outside cover of the body. It will be very good if someday science develops such a machine - like the x-ray machine - that if one stands in front of it, it shows everything on the inside of the body just the way it is: bones, flesh, marrow, excreta and all. Such a machine will be very useful.

Once you come to know the real situation of the inside of your body, you will immediately find that a distance has developed between your body and yourself; all those connecting bridges will have collapsed, all the identifications will have disappeared and the gap will start increasing. The seers of the Upanishad have tried to create that eye through which you can glimpse within - behind the skin, behind your own skin.

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