A 'Vedanta Mission' Page
Letter's of Guruji-10
(Poojya Guruji Sri Swami Atmananda Saraswati )
(Click on 'Subject' to jump to that particular Letter)
Subject of Letter
- 1 -
Doubtless knowledge is a 'great' experience
Hari om !
Greetings to you too after your trip. Your long silence made me think that you were busy with your exams. Nice to hear from you. It is always a joy to go through the mails of a sensitive & dedicated sadhaks like you. There is indeed great joy in an indepth communication between two tuned up people.
Even then I tried to ask exactly the same questions!! I gave up because it is really a great number of ways leading to the same summit, everyone has his own descriptions of the way, but I happen to be going just exactly your way you did.
Well ! I do not agree that there are different ways to the summit. There is only one way and that is the one of Self-knowledge undertaken by a sensitive & intelligent mind, rest is just going round the circles or aiming for some other objective.
Could you please tell more about your teachers, and teacher's teachers. I read several of Swami Dayananda's books, and he is talking exactly the way you do. Is it because you have the same lineage of teachers (it was no introductions in these books, so I do not know by myself), or because you share the same last name Saraswati? Who are the teachers of Swami Chinmayananda, and why did you leave Chinmaya mission (if you did) ?
Sure. Here goes the fairy tale. Yes, I am indirectly connected to Swami Dayananda. One, both of us have been given Sanyas by Swami Chinmayananda - thus the common name of Saraswati. (He was given sanyas much earlier than me. I am told that Sw D was initially inspired into spirituality by Sw Chin alone, but after his initiation he went over to another Swamiji at Rishikesh for his full fleged Vedanta studies. Sw Chin. in turn learnt Vedanta from one of the greatest Vedantic scholars of his times - Swami Tapovanam, but was initiated into Sanyas by Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Founder of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh. Secondly, one of the desciples of Sw D namely Swami Viditatmananda was my Acharya at the Ashram were I first studied Vedanta. (Later I continued it with other Swamis too, but his impact was greatest). Apart from that I respect Sw D's teaching and his logical way of revealing the tenets of Vedanta. Very rarely we find Swamis truly dedicated to the tradition of Vedanta as Swamis C, D & V. Sw D was initially in Chinmaya Mission too but later left in 1982 to translate into action some of his organisational priorities. I too left Chinmaya Mission in 1989 to not only go for further studies to other Swamis in the wild, but also felt it necessary to tread alone so that I directly see the ups & downs of life and get an opportunity to test my knowledge first hand. An over secure set up is not an ideal place to directly discover the meaning of various things which are suppose to provide real strength & security. Moreover this is basically the tradition of we Swami's that after our teachings and initiation, when the student has gained necessary inner strength, we leave our Gurus place to tread alone. Those who cant leave have either not discovered enough strength or are pursuing some other goal. Missions and organisations are modern phenomenon because the world has become small, and suddenly we are exposed to lot more ideas & people and also have new challenges. Every Swami is basically a loner and just drifts around exuding the fragrance of knowledge to those around in his or her own special way. It is a great ancient tradition which we have & follow.
Last time we were talking about operating presumptions and sense of individuality. I did not write for long because was waiting for something to happen, until understood that waiting for this is the same operating from the wrong presumption. i.e. like 'I am not that, but something should happen and I will be it'. Wrong, is not it ?
Yes, it is wrong. You are not only that which is revealed in a quiet mind but also that which is even present right now - in all its glory. Yet awakening to a state brought about by (1) conviction of your being the one non-dual Brahman alone, and (2) the realisation of the objective world to be an illusion - is extremely necessary. A doubtless knowledge & conviction of the above facts is by itself a great experience. Look for no other experience. Aim only for the understanding of the in-depth implication of the above facts and subsequently the 'constant' retention of this awareness.
I also wrote that I got some 'glimpses' of understanding, which were here for a split second, and disappeared. I think that now appreciation of that I really am is pretty much here (I put 'I think' because not sure about final possible extent of understanding). But it seems to work this way now - here is no constant 'appreciation', I do not 'feel' or 'think'
this way usually, but it appears by conscious request from mind in case of obstacles, or a possibility of obstacles. Like then everything is rolling on its own, I do not need to remind myself to be separate from ego-sense, but then there is a least possibility of acting or reacting from ego-point of view, it comes to surface. So the question - is there a problem? Should it be a constantly present kind of knowledge, or it is its natural state then you notice it only when there is a problem you need to eliminate?
Constant awareness of ones reality is extremely necessary. For fulfilling this objective problems indeed become a great blessing. The moment we tend to forget the truth, right then our earlier presumptions surface once again. It is like an actor who can play any role, but deep down he is conscious of the truth.
Meanwhile, I went back to the very beginning of our correspondence on the topic 'where to find ego'. You wrote, 'you'll find this non-entity called ego behind all those thoughts and emotions which not only bring suffering to you but also to all those around you, you'll find it trying to peep through all thoughtless reactions. That guy will be around when you get too excited or depressed in any situation. Its presence will be felt when inspite of being wrong you will not be able to accept your fault. It will be be this fellow alone because of which you will be more bothered about 'your happiness' and 'your securities' rather than thinking about the joys of all those around you. It will be this very
entity which will not allow you to melt away in love and gratitude, it will bring about consciousness of an individuality which would rather retain its identity and stand apart, isolated and then try to find answers to its problem of limitation and isolation.' Back then I promised to start with not being too excited or depressed in any situations. Well, I kept the promise. Sincerely, I am not finding the other pointers inside anymore, with some unclear doubts on the extent of elimination of the last one about 'consciousness of an individuality'. Should it be now another, more subtle checklist on the same subject?
The moment you know about whom we are talking about you will be in a position to formulate a new checklist all by yourself. If you do not still know about whom we are talking about then the earlier checklist will still be helpful.
While I was away, I literally had nothing to do one evening. The idea of doing nothing or watch TV did not appeal at all. So, I opened a book on chemestry and read it. But thought after that it possibly indicates a problem. Kind of if everything is as good as I think, I should be equally happy to do something or not to do. But I clearly preferred to do. I am a bit confused if there was really a problem with this, but do you see something to worry about?
Doing or not doing anything is not a problem by itself. Freedom is not merely in not doing but also in doing what you wish. The problem is when we want to escape from a state of mind & self, which is feeling bored, alone etc. A wise person with his wisdom should be able to rise above from such a state of mind which prompts escape. Ability to just BE without doing anything is indeed the goal and final test. First be free from all ego-centric compulsions of success, failure, insecurity or escape and then do anything which your situation, profession or interests demand. That is freedom. Even if you have to do anything then first see & feel that 'This is my service to a cause, for family, or the institution etc. May it grow & prosper. I ultimately have no expectations.' Doing something in an intense & loving way is a joy by itself. We just prefer to enjoy the very journey rather than reaching some place.
And, connected with previous one, I have a question about likes and dislikes. I read Swami Dayananda's 'Seeker and the Sought', and really enjoyed it (may be because we already discussed many of the points he was talking about, and I was delighted to see it confirmed again). The question is about pronounced and non-pronounced likes/dislikes. What exactly is meant by 'eliminating likes and dislikes'? Is it possible to eliminate them all? I have a problem imagining someone acting ambivalent in regards to a dust piece in his eye. Where is the boundary between pronounced and non-pronounced? I do not seem to recall pronounced ones, should I concentrate on elimination of the most pronounced of the non-pronounced? Will not it be an endless pursuit? It is more of a theoretical math problem, since people (Swamis including, from that I read) seem to have their own 'limits'.
I have not yet seen any such book of Sw D so I will not be able to comment as to what exactly he means by pronounced or unpronounced likes & dislikes. If you can send me an excerpt of the section using these words then may be I will be able to comment on them. More on likes & dislikes in my next mail. By the way what are the limits of Swamis which you have read or heard ?
With lots of love & om,
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- 2 -
Self transcends the mind
Hari om !
The thing with letters is just like with apples....
I always look upon myself as a trainer of gardeners, and the whole process of sadhana as a process of gardening. So well aware of the whole process we wait patiently, no rushing. I did have an inkling that the gardener is at work, and I believe giving all the time to the gardener. I have reasons to believe that if the gardener knows his job well, the blossoms do come.
But I thought that the Self-knowledge is a summit itself....
Summit is just 'to be' & revel in your 'being', and Self-knowledge is the means to eliminate the veil of ignorance on your divine Self. Knowledge of anything is brought about only by proper enquiry and nothing else, so there are no different ways here. It is just an open, unconditioned, deep enquiry - going into even your operating presumptions. None of the things which you have mentioned above are means for Self-knowledge. They are all basically means to help bring about the right state of mind with which enquiry is to be conducted. There is indeed lots of ignorance about the end & means (the Sadhana & Sadhya).
So, it is a long path....
No, there is no path as such to follow. In the process of enquiry, understanding and living what you believe to be the truth, you just take measures which are specific to handling your conditionings. You subsequently know what path has to be followed by you.
I regret to say, but I recently left the Upanishad class which I attended in Chinmaya Mission. I cited physical difficulties attending, which was partially true.
Follow your intuition. Even scriptures give out the requisites of a right teacher. Listening by itself is not the answer, it HAS to be convincing & inspiring. But always be on a lookout for some company with whom you can talk, discuss or even learn about these things. Meeting such people is however rare.
I think here is a very little problem left for me with bringing about the awareness of self-reality, but is a big problem with mind drifting away. What is the way to overcome this obstacle? Is it only insufficient contemplation? It is getting better, but very slowly, like I can not see a difference on day-to-day basis, but only after about a month. Is it a really slow process of 'mastering' the mind, or I am not employing all the opportunities? So far, I usually just bring it back then I notice it is not there again. What else can I do about it?
I must congratulate you that you have started seeing change in yourself at least on a monthly basis. Impressions & feelings are very deep rooted things, and do take time to change. The difference is never seen on day to day basis. Having clear deep-rooted convictions, and also the ability to let these convictions sink down in our minds is a time consuming process. The gardener has to be very patient. Basically mind is not our enemy, it goes only to that place where you wished it earlier to go. We draw a circle with our aspirations and the mind faithfully goes around while faithfully remaining in its limits too. After years of watering when the sprouting has begun the gardener suddenly wants to have different flowers, the driver not only wants to change tracks but wants to rather reverse. You are the driver so everything from changing tracks to reversing etc is very much possible, but please be considerate to your own mind. It has to first slow down, get a feel of the new plans and then change gears.
I thought it was called Ignorance?
The checklist pertains not to the non-apprehension of truth, but that which is subsequently brought about - an imposter.
But I did miss my family while I was away. Where is the border between non-problematic missing and problematic feeling alone and bored ? What are the objective criteria to distinguish 'being free' and tricking yourself into feeling free, while in reality not ?
There is a fine distinction between the two. Missing a beloved one reveals a state of mind of egolessness, while the feeling of being lonely reveals a state where 'I' the individuality is fully crsytallised and is feeling suffocated. The former has no personal insecurities while the latter is insecure about himself. One is at peace with himself and aspires for the all-round well being of his/her kith & kin, while the other still has various subjective problems.
It seems to require an external monitor, apart from myself ... How you can verify beyond any doubt you are already in a 'problem-free' zone?
Company of some enlightened one is always the ideal solution, but that is indeed very rare thing to get. Next best is your books & intuition. Doubtless verification of being in a problem-free zone is possible only when you have clearly seen what is the meaning of egolessness and a
state of crystallised ego.
It may sound with no basis, but i used to doubt everything too much. Then I was a kid (5-7 years), i was tortured for several years by stupid questions. Something like "how do we know that the color we call 'green' is really green, and not red? May be someone once mistakenly / intentionally identified 'red' as 'green', ... and I am following the same common mistake calling something red or green'. The haunting conclusion from such ideas was that now it is impossible to find out the truth, and seems will never be.
It is a great quality to question those fundamental things which everyone takes for granted. All human problems indeed arise because of taking things for granted without proper enquiry. This is what I had indicated by using the word 'operating presumptions'. I am happy to know that this quality has been in you right from your childhood. The strange thing about answers is that - as long as you dont know the answer, they appear almost impossible, but the moment you know the answer it becomes the most simple thing. The journey from question to the answer is undertaken with a deep rooted faith that 'I know that there is a way out'. That alone keeps us going.
Now, I do not entertain such ideas... But my own mind have a reason to trick me, because that I am trying to do is to take autority from it. So, mind and senses are not to be trusted. And then i think I 'mastered' the mind, it can easily be another of its tricks. What can I rely on if I process information by a machine, in which mistakes can be introduced on each step?
Dont fear the mind, it is basically your friend. Ability to enquire and live as per your conviction alone is required, after that let the child play. Donít rely on the transitory experiences brought about by this intrinsically fault-susceptible machine. Look out for that which is changeless and exists even when the mind is not there. That is the truth.
I do not know if it does make sense to be skeptical down to these points. Deep inside I may not be completely convinced that 'I am', but IF 'I am', then I am not this body, senses, mind and intellect, etc (AND it is possible to go to a conclusion 'I am that'); and IF 'I am NOT', I am even more sure I am not these things, but the conclusion could be different from classical texts (AND it is impossible to conclude anything now).
It is good to enquire into all aspects but always remain confident that there is always an answer to every solution. Vedanta is a time tested ancient science which has been providing answers to all possible concieveable questions. Continue with its study and you will get all the answers.
Oops.. it was 'The Sadhana and The Sadhya (The Means and The End)'.
Likes & dislikes do fall into two categories. Those which we are conscious of, and those about which we are not conscious. The moment you develop the ability to live as per your convictions that very moment you take away the sting out of L's & D's. They are thereafter no more any problem.
But that they want to do, i think, is the expression of their likes / dislikes, however non-pronounced they are. Everyone 'likes' to be free, and no one 'likes' to be bound. Is the total elimination of likes / dislikes possible, or only to extent they are not problems / limitations?
Nothing is a problem by itself, but anything whatsoever can become a problem if it obstructs our freedom to enquire, understand and subsequently live as per our convictions. It is a relative term. Mere wanting to do something is not a problem, but to feel that without that 'It is the end of my road' is indeed a problem.
With love & om,
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- 3 -
Swadharma & Vasanas
Hari om !
Thank you very much for the detailed reply. Following your huge work you do on the internet and mailing lists, and imagining the work you do for your ashram, I can not stop to wonder how you can still find a time to answer my mails too! Thank you for all your work you do for the benefit of others.
Yes, I do keep myself busy. Conducting daily classes for my students in the Ashram, handling organizational matters, meetings for planning & organizing future camps & discourses etc, writing articles, preparing for next newsletter, handling e-mails & snail mails, apart from my time for self-study, garden & my dog. You can never ask for anything better if your love alone is your professional work too. I think if you really love doing some work then time is not too big a problem. You find your way, for the simple reason that you like it. I have always been inspired by a statement of my Guru, Swami Chinmayanandaji : 'Diligently, consistently shall we work and undertake daringly even stupendous programs. Whenever a piece of work comes our way, we shall accept it as from Him, and do it for Narayan, offering its results, be it success or failure, entirely unto the Great Parameshwara... Reveling in our tiredness !, joyous in our exhaustion !, blissful with our fatigue ! we shall still work on inspiredly in our endless love for Him who is thrilling us into performance from within. He tickles, and our giggles percolate in suffocating laughter through our daily actions.' I like the spirit of this attitude and since then I enjoy every moment as I have never before. The secret is that you do yet do dont.
In the commentary to Gita 18.10, Swami Chinmayananda writes about 'a man established in sattwic abandonment' and that 'he is overwhelmed neither by extreme joy, nor by extreme sorrow'. I would like to ask about the word 'extreme' here, which also appeared in some of your earlier mails. Does the using of the word means that joy and sorrow still can 'overcome' a man of realization, but not 'extreme'?
No, that is not the implication here. The word 'extreme' is used only to indicate that even extreme sorrows do not effect a 'man of realisation', what to talk of small ones.
After that, Swami Chinmayananda writes "When, to such a man of Sattwic Tyaga, impulses such as jealousy, anger, passion, greed, etc., come, he does not get involved in those impulses...". Where such impulses can come from, if not from within, and how they can come to a man of Sattwic Tyaga on the first place? Or it is meant that then such impulses come from other men, such a man does not answer them?
Please remember that 'man of sattvic tyaga' is not yet a 'man of realisation'. He or she is in the process. So the thoughts of jealousy etc. can not yet be ruled out. What ever comes it comes only from within and not outside.
I see the word vasana appeared with short description as 'thought tendencies of the human mind'. How 'vasanas' are different from 'swadharmas' if this difference is important?
Yes, the difference is extremely important. Both of them are basically 'impressions in mind', the only difference is that while 'swadharma' relates to our field of work, 'vasanas' are lingering remnants of some sensual experience, where the thirst is yet to be fulfilled, thus propelling
us to go for it again & again. So the former is an impression relating to 'work-field', while the latter is for 'fruits'.
Regarding 'fruits' of the actions, I have a feeling that before I did not care much for them, but now I am asking myself all the time why I do certain things, and spend too much time worrying about not worrying for 'fruits'! I think it is not better than worrying for fruits themselves.
No, I will put it differently. Before you 'did not know' that you cared for the 'fruits of action', while now you are 'conscious' of this fact. But know this to be a temporary phase. The purpose of bringing about this awareness is to correct a possible error, and see to it that all our entire and uncompromising attention is focused only on enjoying the very work. Now that you are conscious of this fact you will not escape it even if you like, till of course, the positive change is brought about.
Dear Swamiji, I came across two descriptions of 'natural' states of being one with the Self. One is in the deep sleep and another is a rare state of being completely in tune with everything in the moments of happiness. If these both states describe the same feeling of being one with the Self, why they do not bear the same degree of 'desirability' of these states? I can get deep sleep every night, and not particularly fond of an idea of being in a deep sleep forever. At the other hand, the feeling of being in peace and harmony with every thing and one is an attractive one, and can be a driving force for the study of the Self. Can the latter state of being happy be compared with being one with the Ishwara - the Self with a creating potential, while deep sleep state is being one with the pure Consciousness?
There is a great difference between the states of 'sushupti' and the state of 'samadhi'. In the former, the deep-sleep state, you glide in because of your exhaustion & tiredness, while in the latter you go in because of your heightened awareness & understanding. Experience of thoughtlessness being same, the lessons we learn, the knowledge we derive makes the real difference. You by now should be convinced that the real problem of every individual is 'ignorance' of the truth of his Self. This being the case, the state of samadhi represents 'culmination of our understanding', while our inability to consciously go into a 'thoughtless' state shows absence of having learnt the right lessons from the variegated experiences which come our way, and thus the continuation of ignorance with all its consequences.
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- 4 -
Ego is neither BMI or PFT
Hari om !
Sh. SÖ in his nice in-depth reflections wrote :
But the question that is being addressed also includes "Does ego exist in the present" - As I understand - ego is the identification that I am only this and this - with only the limitations of this and this automatically superimposed along with 'this'. This and this constitute the upaadhies - the BMI - where MI include the notions of what I think I am.
The question whether the ego exists in the present indeed calls for an understanding of what is exactly meant by the word 'ego'. Is the 'conditioned consciousness' ego, or the erroneous presumption that 'I am this conditioned consciousness' is ego ? As long as the glass-like BMI complex will remain so long the reflection-like 'conditioned consciousness' will exist. The moment I know that 'I am not this', then I am not really bothered with its limitations. Looking at this 'upahita-chaitanya' - the conditioned consciousness, we come to realise that the moment it comes into being, the dimension of time & space becomes a matter of our experience. Further more, there is 'subjective time' as well as 'objective time'. The former comes into being the
moment there is dwaita of seeker & sought. During moments of joy, unconsciousness or deep-sleep this dwaita is not a matter of our awareness, yet the 'objective time' ticks by, the hairs continue to turn grey. As long as upadhi will remain, the time will exist, and so will the
'conditioned consciousness' with its continuum of time & space, yet I may still be untouched by it all - by this understanding that 'I am not this alone', and later 'I am not really this at all'.
I am this body - Here I am not only identifying the gross matter - but most importantly also with the knowledge of the body. 'I am hungry' - It is the awareness of the reactions of the body it its present state - that knowledge is reflected as "I am hungry" similarly 'I have back pain' or 'I am sick' etc., - I am best baseball player - It is the knowledge of the my skills in baseball play at my MI level. Hence 'this' that I am identifying - 'idam vRitti' and 'aham idam vRitti' - or more correctly 'aham idameva vritti' in contrast to the knowledge of 'aham Brahmaasmi'.
It is a fact that all our statements like 'I am so & so' do have some reference to our past, but attainment of a state where there are no reference to past whatsoever is neither possible nor desirable. Try any thought or statement, some direct or indirect reference to past will be discovered in it. Even though excessive dwelling in past is always counterproductive, and denies us the present moment which alone is, yet references to past does not really matter, as long as you know that it is the 'dreamer-like mithya entity' which is being referred to.
Hence jiva is a notion that 'I am this PFT alone' - this perceiver, this feeler and this thinker 'alone' - is the ego too - Although perceiving, feeling and thinking etc. happens in the present alone, what is perceived, felt and thought is a past stored as memory. Now do I identify my self as this PFT - with relation to the perceiving in the present or to the
perceived up to the minute second past, feeling to felt and thinking to what was thought - This may be mute or too subtle or splitting the second - but seems to be related to the question related to Ego - pertains to Shree CW point of discussion.
As the word 'present', being a relative term itself, has no existence apart from 'past' or 'future', so we can not really divorce the present from past, and thus our erroneous identity, of taking ourselves as the PFT, is both with reference to our past & present, and also an extended ideal
somewhere in the future. Purity of mind implies relatively greater living in present. This ego, the experiencer, has to be first taught the lesson of giving importance to present, rather than what has gone by or is yet to come. Such a person who can turn greater attention to what is 'here &
now', has not transcended the ego, but is considered the right adhikari to discover that which pervades this ego yet transcends it too. Thereafter, even though the eyes may be illuminating some forms, yet I dont limit myself by saying 'I am the perciever' of these forms. Just because I am writing something right now, my real identity does not become that of a 'writer'. Let those who see the writing call me what they like, but I know that this word doesnt really describe me. If just by writing something I start taking myself as writer, then indeed I have identity problem, and all problems which follow baseless presumptions. He alone is the PFT, the ego, who just because of percieving some objects starts taking itself as this alone, who just because of playing some game, takes himself as this alone. So it is not really the perception which matters but the subsequent conclusions. As long as conditioned consciousness is there so long time, space, limitations all will be inevitably be there, yet I can be free from all these by greater in-depth understanding, is the thunder of the Rishis.
Love & om,
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- 5 -
Authorship Authentication !
Hari om !
Revered SvAmiji, Browsing through the archives of the ADVAITIN-LIST, I saw with high interest that you started lessons on TATTVABODHA of Adi SrI SankarAcarya. Now, I've a question on the subject, and I apologize if you have already answered to it by elsewhere, and if I overlooked your answer : Looking in my set of Complete Works of SrI SankarAcarya, I could not find any TATTVABODHA. In the volume 2 on prakaraNa-s, I found one TATTVOPADESA, which does not match at all your general literary description, as the latter is all in Sloka-s, while you say TATTVABODHA is in prose except for one opening and one concluding Sloka.
No, I have not dealt with this query in the text under discussion.
I know there has always been wide discrepancies between scholars and even between shankarite traditions as to which works should be attributed to Adi SrI Sankara, but how can we known that TATTVA-BODHA is one of these "genuine" works ?
You are right, there are still many debates going on amongst scholars as to which is the real work of Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankara. If only these Acharyas who were verily an embodiment of knowledge, could have been more sensitive to the inquisitiveness of authorship authentication of various people, then we could have avoided these problems. But they did not care and thus have created lot of work for the modern day scholars. Was this absence of their personal signatures an inadvertance on their part or was it deliberate ? I for one cannot even dream of the possibility of inadvertance, so I have to search a message in this deliberate lack of interest in declaration of authorship. Moreover, the strict habit of the Acharya of offering a relevant quotation from Upanishads for each & every point reveals that he doesnt attribute this knowledge to himself. As per my understanding the Acharya is trying to communicate to us to catch his message rather than the stamp of his individuality, which as per him is not of much significance. As far as catching of his message is concerned I am sure that nobody has any doubt as to what is he trying to communicate. An uncompromising declaration of non-duality. And Tattva Bodha communicates just that.
It could be possible that Tattva Bodha was written by him and it also is possible that it was not written by him, yet there are teachers who believe that this work is his alone. My teacher was one such person. I personally reconcile the entire debate by seeing that in this text too, the author has very clearly, uncompromisingly and in a very simple language put forward the message of non-duality. As all of these qualities too were like the signatures of the great Acharya, so I am personally convinced that it is his work alone. Even if it is not then also I am hardly worried, because the message is of non-duality alone. If I am convinced about uncompromising adherence to non-duality then I am not bothered about things like authorship authentication.
Having said that, I do agree that there are texts which are using the name of Acharya wrongly, and that there could have been interpolations too in various commentaries, yet the criterias as per my understanding to seperate chaff from rice should be to see the message of non-duality.
I hope you will not consider my question as the unfriendly attitude of an incredulous French Cartesian but as the sincere quest for Truth (if possible at all on the topic) of a staunch student of SrI GauDapADAcarya and SrI SankarAcarya.)
It is indeed a pleasure to know yet one more sincere student of Advaita Vedanta.
Love & om,
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- 6 -
The First & the Last text-books !
Hari om !
GG wrote : Sending you a question off-line on teaching methods. I saw the brief
interchange about the Tattva Bodha being appropriate for beginning Vedanta
instruction, or not. According to the teaching of Swami Dayananda and the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, it is the first text studied. I'm not sure what is the final text for them, but for the Chinmaya Mission, the final text is the Mandukya Upanishad. Is this the usual course? What is the reason for this? I had heard an explanation as follows. That over several years of instruction, perhaps more than a decade, the teaching proceeds from a richer, more element-laden metaphysics, with more complex creation stories -- to a simpler model and the ajata-vada creation theory. Each simpler teaching sublates the notions in the more complex teaching until the student is left with Brahman alone. If this is true, I can see the great wisdom in it.
The basic purpose of all Vedantic teachings is indeed to lift the student from his delusory plane of taking the transactional or perceptual plane as real, to a plane of appreciation & awareness where he or she also is not, Brahman alone is. 'Brahmavit brahmaeva bhavati'. The means of knowledge for this 'journey' is unanimously taken by all teachers of Advaita Vedanta as
the Upanishads. Each Upanishad is complete in it self and thus equally authoritative too. However the state of mind of student varies, and this alone has to be slowly uplifted or unfolded. We all have the blessed privilege of having an almost mountain load of scriptural litrature, and the teachers have a choice to start with any of them as per their discretion and the level of their students. However the thrust will always be to prepare proper grounds to
facilitate their entry into the portals of Upanishads, which alone is the objective of prakarana granths. If this is the line of the teaching of Arsha Vidya etc. then we share their convictions & systems, otherwise they are not part of the tradition of which I represent & follow. I am not a spokesman of any institution and thus will not like to comment on them.
The reason of taking texts like Tattva Bodha in the beginning is very evident. These so called 'prakarana granths' provide basic definitions of the words which are commonly used by the Vedic masters to expound this subjective science. Prakarana granths present the basic philosophy without going into any dialectics. However it would be erroneous to think that the introductory texts profess a system or vision which is later contradicted by the other texts. The so called 'first' text of vedanta says that 'Brahman alone is real, and all else is Mithya', and the 'last' text also reveals the same fact. Nothing can be or has been added thereafter. The evolution is not in the facts revealed by the Upanishads, but only in the mind of the student.
The significance trickles down slowly. Prakriyas have secondary significance, their only objective is to communicate facts, which remains same.
As you must be aware, that the basic format of Vedantic teaching has been established by the Upanishads themselves. I refer to the famous statement of Yagnavalkya in Chandogya Upanishad that 'Atma va Aare drystavyah, shrotavyah, mantavyah, niddidhyasitavyah'. Meaning, 'One should 'see' Atma, by sravana, mananan & niddidhyasana'. Sravana, manana & niddhidhyasana are for elimination of the asambhavana or ajnana(ignorance), samshaya(doubts) & viparit bhavana(habitual errors) respectively which exist in the minds of students. All methodologies of teaching vedanta follow this sequence alone, nothing else. Sravana is said to have been completed when one has discerned the true purport of the scriptures. Completion of Manana is indicated by absence of any doubts regarding the message of Upanishads, while Niddid.. is said to be complete when even habitually you dont take yourself as the jiva any more. This alone is the criteria, rest is flexible. I may prescribe Tattva Bodha as the first text to someone, while recommend Mandukya to the other. This is relative and who should be prescribed what is the discretion of the teacher after his discernment of the level of the student. He is the best judge, just as a doctor is the best judge to tell what medicine a particular patient should take. Some may be even asked to study texts like Tattva Bodha, many times over. What is important is to see whether communication has taken place or not.
In the Gurukula system of education there is no course as such, neither is there an time limit, it is one to one relationship between student and teacher. When however the teachers go out to educate the masses and are compelled to follow the 'modern' systems of education that necessity of having a course and things like that arise. So we look upon these things as
secondary. Let different institutions devise their own 'curricula', we are only interested to see whether in & through their efforts, sravana etc. has taken place or not. By taking Tattva Bodha on the List I am not only targetting our various new members, who are not yet familiar with the
various terms of Vedanta, but also present a birds eye view of Vedanta without going into dialectics. The same thing will be revealed later, maybe in greater details when we take some other 'higher' text. I will take this opportunity to express my satisfaction at seeing a good number of our list members taking good advantage of these lessons. My love & blessings to all.
With love & om,
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- 7 -
Making Karma an Offering
Hari om !
PÖ wrote : Well i do get the point what SA pointed out but I would like a further introspection into it. Well you say what we do is a gift for the Lord, Well then if it makes no difference to myself why will the self centered human being do any thing.
Well ! to get things straight, when SA quoted Swami Chinmayanandaji saying that 'What you get is Lord's gift to you, and what you do is your offering to HIM' then your contention is that 'why will a self-centered human being do anything'. Is that right ! If that is so then my reply is that when you start living a life for someone, in utter love, then not only the joy of the work increases manifold but we have enough evidence that the effeciency & productivity of that person also increases manifold. I am sure even a self-centered person would like that. OK, a selfish person does'nt care a damn about anyone else except himself, no gratitude to parents, friends, the society or God, but even such a deluded & closed person should try out the motivation of 'love'. His productivity will increase manifold.
Work remaining same, if the motivation is to take others too into consideration then the end result too gets positively effected. I remember a small story, which should communicate my point.
A dam was being constructed in a place and some labourers were working on the site. Someone came and interviewed the labourers as to 'For whom are they working ?
The first one replied : For myself, I will earn money and enjoy life in my own way. What else will anyone work for !!!
The second one said : For my family, who have given me all what I have. This body itself with which I am working was so lovingly looked after by my mother when I could hardly walk. They love me so much, and I will see to it that they are looked after nicely. I will give everything I can for them. That's why I am working.
The third one said : It is for my whole society. When the dam will be ready we will have enough water & electricity. With water and electricity at their disposal, our people will be able to fulfill all their basic needs, there will be more work, employment, and thus prosperity. I too will be a
beneficiery, but then I get greater joy to see the well being of all. May all be happy, and I will be the happiest man. My work is just a small offering in that great endeavor which has been undertaken to make all happy. That's why I am working.
Here all three people, inspite of their different motivations did get their pay cheques, but history later showed that the person 'with a kind & big heart' which had love for all, rose one day to become the source of inspiration & leader of all. The person working for his selfish ends ended
his life in isolation, despondency & mediocrity."
So when we say that 'work with love', then we say that let your motivation be such that the best gets a chance in you to come out. Your pay cheques will come to you alone, but with a bonus.
I would rather say what you do you should take responsibility for it.
There is no question here of shirking any resposibility whatsoever. If by saying that 'what I get is God's will' someone is just passing on the buck to God then you are right, it is negative, but in case you are first motivated to give out your best, and then, also keep yourself away from the
short-sighted arrogation that 'I alone am responsible for this result' then I think that is the most ideal situation. Whether you like it or not, every success is ultimately a team work, and the most graceful thing is to give credit to everyone & not to yourself alone. Team is not merely your partners in your work field, but also all those unseen factors which were very favourable, call it luck or what you like, but lot of unknown X factors were helpful, then alone success is possible. Dont you think that we should give credit to someone for that also ? The word 'God' for me stands for all those known & unknown factors. I work hard, learn from my experiences, but when I get the final result then I simply remember all those known & unknown factors too who helped me get this success. If remaining free from all 'arrogation of credit to yourself alone' is also on your agenda, then the best possible way is to see & realise that the 'success is because of the help of all my team, and all those X factors which I do not even know of'. That is the implication we have in our minds when we say it was 'This success was God's gift to us.' I hope you see my point.
It's very easy to say i did it for i was supposed to and i got what I deserved or further what he desired to give me. Why that is outrageous !!! How can we do a thing and take our responsibilty out of it . Thatís amazing, i would not take that in. You have to take the full responsibilty of what you do.
There is no denying the fact that everyone does get that which he deserves, but having given out all what you have in your work, in a dynamic, creative & loving way, the ability to give credit of the same to someone else does require a special degree of magnanimity & wisdom, which at times may not be understood by others. What I am suggesting is a work with full responsibility, dynamism, yet that special magnanimity having the fragrence of love & wisdom.
Yeah, don't take the fruits in as your aim but yes do set some goals and see that you get to it, hook or by crook.
Yes, with a clear goal in mind, hard work is a must. I am with you there. But by hook or by crook, is not my way. I would not prefer to step & crush others toes if I have to catch my train. My ideal is a dynamic yet a conscentious man and not someone without any feelings or a heart. I think this is where we differ. This I think is extremely important for you too. My understanding shows that work of anyone treading this path will be not only be counter-productive but positively detrimental for him and also for all those around you. Please think deeply on this.
Love & om,
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- 8 -
Emotions & Rationality
Hari om !
P.. wrote :A truly wonderful story. Thanks R... I wanted to ask regarding the story, how many of us ever do this ?? Whenever i see them there's a current in me which asks me to get up and get such people what they want but that impulse in my is suddenly suppressed by rationalism, my this mind who says "If I help them today ? They'll do the same tomorrow, let them work out a way to exist".
The feeling of compassion is indeed something divine, it is indeed worth having & inculcating, but the reins of rationality are a must. Emotions & rationality are like the two blind & lame friend. One cant see & the other cant walk, together they are mobile & capable once again. The path in which our emotions flow should always be illumined by our rational intellect. Otherwise we will do more harm than good. We are surprised to see that there are beggars who have taken to begging as their profession. They just thrive on the unreined emotions of the faithful or thoughtless people. Such people are in fact responsible to create a breed of people who are without any drive, creativity, hard work or self-respect. If we are really concerned about the well being of people then we should preferably find out a way because of which the very problem of beggary or things like that are 'rooted out'. Help them to be independent & self-sufficient. If we have limited resources then pool the resources and let your compassion flow intelligently.
This i believe is the truth but the fact remains that they remain poor and my conscience bites coz when i question myself "Have I worked for my existence ?" I have no answer for that. There is no reasoning behind the fact that i was born with a silver spoon and he was'nt.
Whether we know it or not there has to be a cause for every effect. The creation is too orderly to have any effect without a cause. This is the basic scientific spirit. The intelligent ones just try to discover that inevitable cause. Another thing also appears obvious, that this cause has to do something with the very person who is experiencing that effect. This guy obviously has the freedom to either bring about either kind of effects. If that freedom has not been positively exercised earlier then the best way out is to motivate him to exercise it now. Is that person really ready & desirous of exercising that option even now ?
The exercising of that option has to include a great desire to know the facts of life, availability for real hard work, capacity to keep aside our pleasures aside till we fulfill our goals, not losing our confidence, enthusiasm or equipoise under any circumstances, a heart which can even feel for others, an outlook which motivates us to even die with our boots on, rather than live like parasites on others. If such an education is given to anyone, I am sure that with such a will everyone will find a way. Anyone can try it out. There is nothing mysterious about it.
Well ! you may not know it today, but the 'effects' of having a silver spoon in your mouth today does reveal that the above 'cause' were there or even are there today. The proof of this fact is to see the efficacy of the above outlook even now. The above outlook is guaranteed to bring about a virtual revolution in the life of anyone. Lets help the world to bring about such positive outlook & values, then alone we really help anyone, otherwise we just help sustain the incapacities & dependence of ignorant ones and maybe fatten our ego's too. Right knowledge alone redeems.
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- 9 -
Standing apart, learning & flowing !
Hari om !
I was reading Sri Ramana Maharshi few days before where he talks about Atman as a light surrounded by the wall of ignorance, so, it could be something like 'monkey read - monkey do'. What do you think about his ways? Could I continue to read it, or it would be too easy way? Should I have been scared? I felt like I could jump in, but I was like taking notes on where I am, and was so somewhat separated.
The experience which you got is a positive yet a normal indication of the state of mind. There is nothing to be afraid of. Just go along with the flow. That which is imperishable will never be touched by anything, while that which gets effaced is that which is a product of mind. Know yourself to be that which is conscious of this entire gamut of experiences. Even though the word 'light' is used for Atman, but it is not this worldly light which is being talked about, it is the very consciousness which illumines everything every moment. Atman is the light of all lights. It is because of consciousness alone that we even know about the various worldly lights. Experience of any other light or sometimes some sound is a product & projection of our mind. You have freedom to stand apart or even to flow along with these experiences. Try out both, both have their place & importance. Get experiences which come your way and then later learn from all of these experiences. Vedanta simply helps us to learn from our various experiences. No experience will liberate you. It will be the lessons learnt after or about the various gamut of experiences will alone redeem us.
Sri Ramana Maharshi talks of no different or easy way. He talks only about the importance of enquiry into the self. He himself prompted the people to study Upanishads. People who say Ramana is talking something different neither know what he is talking about nor do they know what upanishads are all about. He provided the direction, Upanishads provide the details.
And my first reading in Sanscrit being Upanishad stanzas! I am just scratching my head on ways the things work.
Take it easy. Consistency will pay.
With lots of love & om,
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- 10 -
What is Maya ?
Hari om !
I am happy that in the process of asking questions you are getting some answers by yourself. This all the more shows that the moment we start going deeply into the secrets of life then this very enquiry starts opening the doors.
Not everything is quite clear for me. If I think of God with form,I do not have problems thinking of Maya as his power. If I think of God without form, then Maya stands apart from Him, who is unmoving, and is like a separate entity, creating some duality. But they should merge, shouldnít they?
It is certainly good in many ways to start with the God with form, but still when you have problems to understand the formless God with Maya, then turn your attention to the wind, to the gravity, to the intelligence and various other so powerful yet formless things and you will get the answer.
Can you tell me more about Maya, how it works and how to think of it ? Is it possible to tell at which point it intercepts our understanding is it at the level of primarily senses or at the higher level of interpretations, or it is impossible to tell because everything is
riddled with it ? I think if I understand Maya better, I will better understand Brahman.
Maya is that power which presents something even when it is not there, like a magician presenting something which is not there. Think of Maya as that which continuously changes. Know the entire expanse of the beautiful nature we see around as Maya. It is beautiful but it is also changing every moment. It is ephemeral. A 'form' is Maya, it is there yet has no independent existence apart from its basic material. Take away the mud from the pot and
you donít have anything whatsoever. So also take away the very conscious existence from a being and you donít have anything left. This conscious existence is Brahman and the ephemeral forms are Maya. Scientists tell us that all matter is merely energy. They have definite reasons to say so, yet how strange that this one energy is presenting itself in such a variegated forms & variety. This is what we call Maya, the incomprehensible & beautiful power of God. Understanding Maya helps, but let me warn you that no matter how much you know Maya this will not really facilitate your understanding of Brahman. Maya is worldly, Brahman is just out of the world, yet in & through everything in the world.
what are conditionings at the cosmic level?
Maya is the upadhi(conditioning) of God, while ignorance is the upadhi of Jiva.
Today is our famous festival of lights - the Deepawali. My best wishes and blessings to you to awake to that divine light within you and thus make your life a joyous celebration.
With lots of love & om,
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OM TAT SAT
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