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104. ఆత్మానంద (Atmananda)


At this stage the person feels liberated from the shackles of body and mind and also understands the Universal self and then serves others.

At this stage there is awareness of individual self and also one is happy, contended, peaceful and liberated from all thing. It is a feeling of liberation, he is not liberated. There is awareness in Atmanandamu. You know the atma is there, that is a samprajnata. It is not asamprajnata. In atmanandamu, you are aware of your individual self, contented, peaceful, liberated from all these things, there are no attachments.

Contentment, happiness, all these are connected the antahkarana, not the atma. Even when we have cancer, we can be happy. He was definitely in atmanandamu. Enormous torture he used to go through, from a physical point of view but he was not disturbed. He was able to have a sakshi consciousness. The awareness that the body and the soul are different which is the beginning of viveka, gets into a pinnacle state here. It happens even in the second knot. It happens here more. Atma is different from body. You have got antahkarana, you must separate yourself from the antahkarana. So, all the ills we talk about in the earlier stage, the ills of the world, good and evil all that, they are all related to antahkarana and not to the atma. That awareness must be passed through first, passed through in the earlier stages. When we go through that, evil and good don't have meaning, we move on further, atmadarsana happens, and we really do not get attached to this. Then you are happy with yourself but it does not mean the antahkarana is not groaning, it is groaning.

The body also should be respected, it is not to be condemned. It has to be maintained well. Even Antahkarana has to be maintained, antahkarana is hidden, nothing to do with me. Sakshi is experience, that is atmanandam. After atmadarsanamu only atmanandamu comes. Once you know your nature, you are happy with it. In atmadarsanamu there is still a question of the body being used as an instrument by the soul for divine work but in atmanandamu service is not there, it is on its own. It is the state that comes after this, not before this. It is not atmanandamu first, then service to others. It is the other way. First comes service. Use the body fully for others, as an instrument, then you come to this stage.

Atmananda is not about laughing every time. It means that we are diverting our attention towards atma. It does not mean that body suffering is not there, that is still there.