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A 'Vedanta Mission' Page

Letter's of Guruji-4

(Poojya Guruji Sri Swami Atmananda Saraswati )


INDEX

(Click on 'Subject' to jump to that particular Letter)

No.

Subject of Letter

1.

Experience and Knowledge

2.

Right data invokes enquiry

3.

Bhagwatam & Bhagwat Gita

4.

Self-knowledge is easy & also difficult

5.

Guru is God himself

6.

Motivations behind seeking

7.

Go deep into your call

8.

Every sentence reflects basic perceptions

9.

Bondage & Liberation

10.

Gesticulating hands & Ganesh

- 1 -

Experience & Knowledge

Hari om !

Discussions are indeed like manthan. In this churning not only the very vichara has its own joy & kicks, but also brings amruta in the end. But as the story goes, more often than not it is the visha which comes out first. Those who do not get deterred by this painful phase alone get the prasad of divine elixir of right appreciation - the amruta. It is a joy to witness some very good discussions in the advaitin list. At times I do feel like jumping in but then resolve to wait a little bit more. When the amruta is just round the corner then why deny the joy of its discovery to the person discussing the issue. The discussion on 'What is the ego' has now taken an interesting turn, and I am propelled to share my understanding too on the topic.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ego as 'a conscious thinking subject, as that part of the mind which reacts to reality and has a sense of individuality, and also a sense of self-esteem.' The sanskrit parallel of ego is 'jiva-bhava'. In vedantic scriptures the word jiva is described as that conscious entity which has a definite sense of individuality, it has a definite identity-which is a sum total of the properties of its various upadhis blessed by the ever-existing & self-effulgent substratum. When we hear that ego is the root cause of all problems then we want to eliminate it lock, stock & barrel. But it is better if we first try to understand as to what is the 'real problem'. That I am a conscious thinking subject is no problem, it is in fact one the greatest blessings. That I can react to a situation is no problem again. If I have a sense of self-esteem then also it should be no problems, and individuality by itself too is no problem as such. The only problem is that the moment we define ourselves as so & so then along with this identity we also impose limitations on us. It is this intrinsic sense of limitation which doesn’t seem to be natural & acceptable to us. The mind naturally reacts to all limitations. Moksha implies freedom from all sense of limitations. A man of knowledge also has his own definite identity on this stage of life, each & everyone is unique, yet the beauty of Self-knowledge is that he has no sense of limitation whatsoever. So what we are trying to address is this sense of limitation alone.

Thereafter this conscious entity free from all sense of limitations becomes a blessings for all, inspite of their upadhis, thoughts and experiences. They are the Brahmanishtha. The moment we get this beautiful body, mind & intellect (BMI) complex by our prarabdha karma's, then the omnipresent consciousness gets reflected in it. Blessed by the reflection of consciousness, the antahkarana gets activated, and thereafter a conditioned consciousness comes into being. This is the aham-vritti which because of the prarabdha karma's identifies itself with the entire BMI complex and comes to take itself as all this, including the experiencer (PFT) of objects, emotions & thoughts. This is what we call as the jiva. None of this is a problem. The problem is when I take my ultimate identity as this PFT alone. He who knows that 'I transcend this experiencer yet I pervade all the roles of this experiencer' knows the truth of himself. Such a person has transcended all sense of limitations and inspite of knowing that I am not this individuality alone, doesn’t bother if he appears as a perceiver to someone at a given time.

It is extremely important to know the difference between 'experiencing' the conditioned consciousness, and 'knowing' oneself to be conditioned consciousness. The former is a blessing while the latter is a curse. Even though taking oneself to be this entity starts with the experience of BMI but the thought that 'I am the limited PFT- the jiva' doesn’t depend upon the constant awareness of our BMI complex. This implies that even when we are not conscious of our mind etc. this identity can & does exist, manifest or in an unmanifest condition. During the moments of joys or the deep sleep the experience etc.

I as a limited guy is not experienced, yet we never say sushupti is same as samadhi. Experience of a state free from all limitations is not what Vedanta is professing. What is required is drawing the right lessons from the whole spectrum of experiences which we are getting even without any efforts on our part. The experience of sushupti is available to one & all, but what lessons have we learnt from it is the million dollar question. Yoga shastra (all kinds of Yogas included) helps us get sattvic experiences, while Vedanta shastra teaches us to get right lessons from the whole range of experiences we are getting every moment. Vedanta declares again & again that 'by knowledge alone you liberate yourself, and not by any experience.' A student of medicine having completed his degree course, is in the beginning intensely conscious of his having become a doctor. 'I am now a doctor' is his 'experience', in which he continuously & joyously revels. Later after some time even though he may not be consciously retaining that thought that 'I am a doctor', yet the initial effort of consciously & continuously reveling in that thought now culminates into a 'knowledge' that 'I am a doctor', and this 'knowledge' operates on all his thoughts, plans & relationships - unconsciously. Now it is immaterial whether the fellow is conscious of it or not, the knowledge will continue to operate. It may be easy to handle experiences, or at times even shove the experiencer on one side, but the real thing is to handle the deeply ingrained 'knowledge' that I am a PFT alone. Can we root out those mis-apprehensions which have trickled down deep into our psyche or rather our unconscious mind ? That alone is the challenge in front of all Vedantic scriptures & teachers. Real freedom is freedom from those baseless presumptions and apprehension of the truth of ourselves as revealed by the Upanishads - the pramana granths.

It is a fact that the experiencer has almost infinite facets, the kinds of possible experiences are also almost infinite. Some time the time flies by, while at other times it doesn’t seem to move. Sometime the very experience of time is not there at all. During such moments the experiencer too will not be perceived, yet the ego remains, ready to jump in when the conditions are ideal. Experience of the absence of the experiencer by itself doesn’t effect our 'jiva-bhava' resting deep within the recesses of mind. Yes, the analysis of such moments does help a lot, in eliminating our erroneous apprehensions. We realize the relativity and thus the non-permanence of this guy, and thereafter if the intensity of awareness of this truth is deep & intense enough then this right appreciation will also trickle deep down in our psyche and root out the mis-apprehension.

Bhagwan Bhasyakara Sri Sankara refutes the contention of Yogis in a very strong words that the non-experience of the thoughts or experiencer amounts to its elimination. The nature of moksha for such people will be to just sit down thoughtlessly, preferably eternally - a thoughtless act indeed. The Vedantic teachers fearlessly move around, free from all sense of limitations, inspite of their limited body, mind or intellect equipment's. Their knowledge alone is worthwhile. That's the unique & divine prasad of the great Vedic Rishis. Our prostration's at their feet, again & again.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 2 -

Right data invokes enquiry

Hari om !

Your mails about Knowledge and Experience proved to be a real blessing. It seems that major problem was mixing of the two, and after seeing the main problem others just disappear. So, I just drained myself of questions. Even if I think hard I can not come up with a question worth asking. Major pieces of puzzle seem to got on place, and the rest is secondary. I am following all your postings on the mailing lists, but do not have much to ask at the point. I guess, you are familiar with kind of diciples who follow you but not talking much, this is it, although I am not sure if it is a best kind !

I doubt whether my mail regarding 'Know & Exp' really proved to be a blessing. Draining yourself of question is certainly not the kind of effect which I wished or anticipated. I would have loved to see different kinds of questions. But I think some things come out in their own time. I'll wait.

I am reading some Scriptures, and it is much more joyful and easier then it is used to be. The focus of reading has also been shifted somehow more like swimming in friendly familiar waters instead of feeling almost drowning. Now I am reading Srimad Bhagavatam, and delighted to find my old questions and uncertainties answered here. It is pity I do not have complete translation.

If u r enjoying reading Srimad Bhagwatam, then u can get complete translation from books published by ISKCON people. Yes, their entire stress is on devotion & knowledge is secondary. If we are aware of their exact difference of opinion then reading their books will never create contradictions. If at all u wish any book from here u can let me know. I will get it for u.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 3 -

Bhagwatam & Bhagwat Gita

Hari om !

I meant not exactly draining myself of questions, but run out of questions which are worth asking. Probably it is influence of scientific training where you are often left to fetch for yourself, but I got an impression that I should try to go little further on my own. Looks not very successfully. What should I know now?

Yes, I understand and also respect such an adventurous outlook where our works & faculties are swung in action to shatter the darkness ahead. Study of Upanishads will help to bring about the right questions. So continue with them and as & when the questions do rise then do pen down your thoughts. I'll be waiting.

Thank you for the offer. Do you know a must-read which is not available here? We have a very good library here, ISKCON Srimad Bhagwatam is in the catalog. What is the place of Srimad Bhagawatam in the hindu system of knowledge?

As per me in the 'must-read' is only Bhagwad Gita. It is the greatest of all our scriptures. Srimad Bhagwatam is a work of that same great teacher who had written Gita, and is very popular too. Here all the tenets of Vedanta are revealed in a story form. The tenets thus become very easy to objectify & relate. Apart from discussing the 'Knowledge of the ultimate, non-dual' truth, these Puranas also talk about other aspects of life. Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha - the four goals of life, and means for their attainment, various do's & dont's etc, all are discussed here. So it is a very comprehensive, simple & interesting. The main objective of these so called Puranas is to invoke love for God - which is the basis of all subsequent endeavors.

Also zero experience here. How can be money generated by the programs?

Doesnt matter. It will be taken care of. Normally money is generated in three ways. Either we are paid some honorarium for our lectures by the institute or organizers, two, the devotees at the end of a program voluntarily offer some Dakshina (money paid out of gratitude to the
teacher), or the whole thing is sponsored by someone. Our experience is that somehow these things are taken care of. I am not really bothered. Even though I dont have any sponsors till now but I rely more on the voluntary donations by the people, and things keep going. Lets see what happens there. Maximum you all may have a stranded Swami hanging around Houston. My objective & prayer is to sincerely share what I know with all my love & capacity.

Also, univ.seminars always have a lot of 'visual aids' - slides or overheads, and rooms have required equipment.

We normally don’t use 'visual aids' in our lectures. The only visual piece around is the Swami along with his audio. However if at all I do require it I will let you know. Thanks.

Can you give a talk on something like comparative analysis or integration of major religions, or religion and peace, or place of religion in the modern world or such? Here is an Institute of Religion (pretty inert in activities though) in a convenient place, I can imagine they can be interested in something like that. Also I am in Medical Center, it means lots of hospitals around. Something medicine-related? Stress, information glut etc are popular topics. Or it is a way out the scope of your mission?

Sure, talks on general topics are certainly possible. I however do not prefer to talk on other religions, no comparisons or integration. We can have topics like 'Religion & Peace', 'Place of religion in the modern world', 'Bringing out your best', 'Religion & Holistic vision' and things
like that. I am already offering a Stress Management Workshop to various institues & industrial setups here. You can visit my Page on Stress Management for more information. Such topics are very much a part of our agenda.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 4 -

Self-Knowledge is easy and also difficult


Hari Om !

I continue to meet nice people, some are happy to help with organization. We already have a place at Gandhi Center for every weekday night, but people afraid that 200 people are not going to show up unless pizza is provided.

No baits for devotees. I dont want to hurry. I would be happy with a small but sincere crowd. If we can really give them something positive then they will all come.

Swamiji, please tell me, whether realization of the one Self, our true nature and happiness is the beginning or the end of advaita teachings ?

It is obviously the culmination of all possible teachings & sadhana. In case you realise that there is just one 'thing' then who is to pursue what ? You are that infinite reality, and there is nothing apart from you. The very question becomes redundant. Moreover it is just an 'out of the world' & extremely satisfying awakening, the very desire to do something 'for our self' is no more.

Is it the easiest or most difficult part?

It is easy yet it is difficult. It is easy because all what we have to do is to realise 'our' true nature, and it is difficult because our minds have been continuously trained by us to look outside. We try to objectify the subject. Self can be known, but not objectified. The process of knowing is also not like the process of knowing the objects of the world. This part alone makes this knowledge something different. Those who do not understand this, for them this knowledge is difficult. Two things make this difficult knowledge easy. One, a pure sattwic mind, and two, access to a right teacher.

What becomes of the means if they were not used to get to the goal, but goal is already here?

All 'means' only help us to either purify the mind or eliminate some impediments. The moment these means fulfill their roles they are left. No use for them thereafter.

I am confused by the fact that I am not confused. You wrote some time ago what you expect different kind of questions and will wait. Well, today I realized that instead of asking different questions I started to teach, and do it already for quite a while. Mostly on why one is not happy and satisfied, where to find happiness, and how egoistic separatedness does not let us be happy; what we are and how understanding of this
removes sorrow. I do it from time to time then asked, and today I was asked to talk about it on a small philosophical gathering next week. I said no way, I can not talk; and in responce - c'mon, you already do it, and it is very good. So I agreed. Where I'm going now?

To be confused is not a natural state to be in, so you are not missing any thing. Not to be confused is something desireable. It is good. But just see to it that what you know is validated & verified by your own life. Let not one set of mis-apprehensions be replaced by another set. Mind plays lot of tricks to keep itself going & remain in power. The test of our direct realisation
is existence of a contended mind, motivations of merely the 'well being of all', not getting any situation, positive or negative disturbing your equanimity. You can see directly that this 'entire field of experience' - the whole world, has come from you, is sustained by you and will go back in you. If you directly know all this then certainly you know the truth. If not, then with all your sincerity and humility keep going deep into the factors which obstruct such realisation.

It is very nice to know that you have starting talking to others about your convictions. Becoming vocal & starting to talk to others on these matter is good sign. But it is no alternative to asking questions. It is a natural outcome of our convictions becoming firm and is an indication that you
have started getting benifitted with them. It is something to be encouraged. It helps us to shed self-centered habits of hesitation & self-consciousness. and increase our love for the subject inquestion. It helps us to go still deeper into the topic, because you never know what type of question others may raise. It thus helps us to get deeper insights. It also helps others to get
some different food for thought, it fills the world with positive ideas, which is saturated only with self-centered thoughts. It is something which is good for all. A jar does start spilling when it is full. May your fullness help others too. May there be more light in the world. Congratulations and Best Wishes.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 5 -

Guru is God himself

Hari om !

What's goes after teachings? Is it a culmination of the knowledge available to human form, or an absolute culmination? I would rather think it is first, if yes, what you can say about the absolute one?

After the teachings & realisation it is just revelling in the joy of your own self -'Atma-Ananda', and letting the full, bubbling jar spill - effortlessly. Regarding the knowledge, please remember Vedanta talks about discovering identity with God himself - who is a synonym of the absolute. Secondly, the conditioning of & by a form is never brought about by any conditioning itself but by the conscious entity, out of his delusion. If you choose not to identify with your upadhi -
the human form, then you can attain any thing which 'you' wish. There are however two kinds of knowledge, one pertaining to the truth of an entity, and second the distinctive properties of that upadhi. The latter is not addressed here, for that separate efforts are required.

What kind of knowledge is attained by one who meditate and leave the body in the process? Is not it something more right after the 'point of no return'? Like a desert one should cross with just a jug of water, and it is only enough water to reach the middle. Who ever comes back did not reach the other end, whoever reach and know the other end does not come back ?

Moksha is not being sucked into any state. It is directly realizing, 'knowing' one's true nature. It is being truly awake. If we accept the example given by you all the scriptures & words of saints become nonsense. Go more into understanding the nature of Liberation & Bondage. You do not seem to be clear on that.

I hesitate to say if it is difficult or easy, these are so relative terms, and I do not have much experience to decide what is easy and what's not. Then you come here, I hope you will tell me if I have a problem of perception I do not see, or whatever.

Sure thing. Even though your words also give pretty good insight into your perceptions.

I did ask questions to Swami K.. when he was here, but more about 'objects' which come our way. With regards questions about knowledge it is either here or very close, and last polishing is at own discretion, simply because no one can help you in swallowing food which is already in your mouth. But we were talking about tons of things, and I find the experience satisfying, and hope to continue then he is back and for sure then you come here.

What can a Guru & his teachings of Vedantic scriptures do to us is something beyond anyone's comprehension or imagination. It is some thing to be experienced. A famous 'Hymn for a Guru'
repeats again & again that - 'Guru is verily, the absolute Brahman'. Your statements reveal a person who still has to see or even understand that directly. Like anyone else you too are certainly free to remain satisfied with any of your experiences but that's certainly not my way. I have been blessed to see his incomprehensible ways & power. For me Guru is not different
from God himself, and when I say that, then it implies - he not only provides us the food but also a mouth which can masticate, swallow and later even digest the swallowed food.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 6 -

Motivations behind seeking

Hari om !

Could you please explain more on the point. God is the Lord of both kinds of knowledge. We discover identity with God himself, but do not get the second kind of knowledge? Why is it so? Is it pointing on some limitation of a human being's consiousness vs. absolute?

For every endeavor we have to have a 'clear goal' and subsequently put necessary efforts to attain that goal. In the pursuit of Moksha we aim at getting the direct knowledge of that which is 'permanent'. That which transcends time and therefore is not effected by time. That which always is. With this clear goal we start our enquiries, put efforts and do get that knowledge, right here. This knowledge is sufficient by itself to eliminate all sense of limitations which alone
is called bondage. Knowledge of each & every object is not addressed and therefore does not come in the human mind by itself. If at all someone wishes to get understanding of any particular 'objects' too, then such a person is very favourably poised to get that too, with slightest of efforts. But here also a definite specific goal has to be kept and appropriate efforts have to be put. In a mind having the direct realisation of the absolute many things are revealed easily
by the manifestation of the 'intuitive faculty' of the mind.

Tell me more on the nature of Liberation and Bondage so I can be clear on it.

This is an extremely important & fundamental question, and it is best that this alone is addressed first instead of starting some sadhana, which is like a 'cure' for the disease called bondage. No doctor worth his name starts any treatment without diagosing the problem. So also all intelligent people should first take their own time to understand the exact nature of problem and then
alone go about taking resort to any sadhana. Your occasional statements that 'you are confused that you are not confused' only points to the fact that you do not really feel any bondage.

Before I elaborate on the topic of Liberation & Bondage, I will like you to please introspect and let me know as to what is that which you really seek & aspire in life ? Even though, as you say, you are not confused about anything in particular, yet the fact remains that you still are seeking something ? What is that & Why ? What is it that you are seeking in & through these studies, discussions or even practices like Meditations ? Is it trying to get just some more or new experience or you have some still deeper motivation ? What was the exact purpose of raising the question of understanding the necessity of Guru in life (in Advaitin list) ? Are you addressing some problem ? You do have some sincere inquisitiveness, & also the ability to
not let the egoistic tendencies & reactions come in discussions & disagreements, and I respect you for that, but what I am trying to understand is your motivation behind these pursuits ? I have raised this question because only after being clear on this point that we can really go into the question of Liberation & Bondage properly.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 7 -

Go deep into your call

Hari om !

It took me quite a time and efforts to answer the questions you ask. I am afraid I can not answer that question clearly. I do not actively 'seek' anything in terms of making choices to do or not to do. But I do certainly follow a 'call', the call being to crystal clarify the nature of the Absolute. This is as much as a kitten can say about where his mother carries him. I am sure it is further than kitten's views.

The desire to know the Absolute is called Brahma Jignasa. Jignasa implies not only the existence but also some awareness of the existence of ignorance of the Absolute. It is very important that one should be very clearly aware about the awareness of ignorance of the absolute & let this Jignasa grow. This has a drastic effect on the mind. It brings great humility & purity in the seeker. This awareness starts the beginning of the end of ego which sustains itself on the delusory perceptions is decimated. The kitten has been very truthful, and yes, there is a lot more than what the kitten can see today.

Aspiration is to become whatever I am to become.

Is there something which you really 'need' to become ? Forget about what the world or even the monks are doing. Just go deep into your call. The scriptures & teachers are required just to help us understand ourself, and not to impose a goal. The goal is discovered the moment we become aware of the existence of the ignorance of Absolute. Let's just try to understand this desire to become something. The possibility of becoming something better or greater, is something which is applicable to something which is limited by time, to something which is not Absolute. It is just a movement of ego, and that also a futile one, because whatever you become is again limited by time & thus you will retain the present motivation of having to 'become something'.

When Swami K.. was here, I had a very clear view that I am to follow the wondering monk's life in a matter of few years. I do not entertain or pamper the idea, but the view is pretty clear. And also now I am to stay home.

If the goal of the awakening to the Absolute is clear, then following anyone is not really the answer. You be yourself and just try to understand your true Self. The best bet is to hear Vedanta through a right teacher. That is all what is required. Absolute is right here & now. What is required is only a free non-reacting mind and right enquiry.

present my actions or at least majority of them are the ones which do not bring karmic reactions. I stay only for as long as to burn the karmic load which I have to burn. I also feel that the fire is big, as to consume generations of reactions. Sometimes I can clearly see that this is a product of some action, or now the particularly this reaction is being burnt.

It is a good quality worth cultivating more. But please remember that absence of reaction should not mean absence of Karma. Karma is a deliberate act and not a mechanical happening.

I seek confirmation and clarification.

Here starts the mind with its trick again. My dear ! the words 'confirmation & clarification' are relevant only when you know that you know, and not when you know that you dont know. To begin with what is required is knowledge of the Absolute. When even the motivations are in dark then how can you think that you know that which even sustains these things. The use of these words does indicate that you have had some experience and have an understanding that you experienced the Absolute. This is exactly what I pointed out earlier. It is not Experience but right Knowledge which alone liberates. Ignore the experiences, just try to understand who is experiencing them & why ? Rest in next !

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 8 -

Every sentence reflects basic perceptions

Hari om !

Yes, we were discussing Liberation & Bondage. I sent you some pointers in my last mail. Herein I am just sending you clips of your mail which are clear & truthful, and therefore provide ample indications about the topic of our discussion. L&B. Instead of telling you I want you to discover the answer yourself, that's why I am catching the nose the longer way. Go through your statements again and let me know now as to what is the possible nature of problem & solution. Let me tell you one thing that 'you are on the right track'.

1. It took me quite a time and efforts to answer the questions you ask.

2. I am afraid I can not answer that question clearly.

3. I do not actively 'seek' anything in terms of making choices to do or not to do. But I do certainly follow a 'call', the call being to crystal clarify the nature of the Absolute.

4. Aspiration is to become whatever I am to become.

5. I stay only for as long as to burn the karmic load which I have to burn. I also feel that the fire is big, as to consume generations of reactions. Sometimes I can clearly see that this is a product of some action, or now the particularly this reaction is being burnt.

6. I seek confirmation and clarification.

7. I do not want any part of the knowledge I have or will have to be a sophisticated trick of my consciousness or sub-consciousness. I do not want any part of this knowledge to be my inflated opinion however insignificant the part is. I want to break it into smallest pieces and verify them one by one. Looking on other people, I can witness at how huge proportion of
opinions is a self-deception, and do not want any part of it.

8. To avoid self-deception. To see the real, and not its distorted image. To show the source of distortions, and help in eliminating it. After egoistic distortions are removed, the Self shines, not being a distant goal, but something always with. I remember many peels taken away.

9. Is the removal of the egoistic tendencies a sound motivation?

10. It was not a purpose to remove ego from discussions only, it was removing it from the life and consciousness.

11. They (tendencies) come out from time to time then I am tired, but are weakened to extent that they do not oppose their own elimination, it is easy.

We will discuss this matter further after your reply.

Regarding VishishTAdvaita, Well ! it is the name of a school of thought by a post-Sankara teacher called Ramanujacharya. In his interpretations on Upanishads we find that he is motivated not really by the desire to know the Truth of Upanishads, but for providing a logical & philosophical basis to his desciples to bring about the attitude of surrenderance. It is basically
a compassionate compromise with insistence on a particular means. His philosophy is certainly easier to comprehend than the Pure Advaita as revealed by Sankara. What Sankara talks is the truth, what others talk is a compromise. I personally do not think that it is necessary to take resort of Vishista Advaita even for the purpose of bringing about surrenderance. Knowledge of Truth alone redeems, rest should only be seen as a means to fulfill that objective. Insistence on means in fact indicates absence of even true inquisitiveness. So I do not need any distorted interpretation of Upanishads just to help me take to some means properly. There should be just
the desire to know the facts, desire to know what the Pramanas have to say & reveal. The Upanishad do not merely reveal, but they literally thunder about the total identity.

Could you please elaborate on the topic? I found it closer to my understanding, knowledge, or whatever part of it I have. I understand myself as a drop in the ocean, but not the ocean, just a small part of it. I can blend with it, but as a drop does not have all the properties of the ocean, I am a part of the Absolute made from the same material,
but I do not have all its vastness and all its power.

You may begin by being a drop, but the culmination is to know that 'I am that which is neither drop or the ocean, but that which sustains these both'. Brahman is neither big nor small, but that which sustains them both. Truth is not to be bent as per our personal conveniences, it is we who have to mould our perceptions as per the truth of Life. So drop Vishishta Advaita.

I am happy that you are proving to be a source of inspiration to others. But just a word of caution. Always use teaching & discussions with others only as a God-sent opportunity to reflect more on the facts & facets of life. Dont even think of being a Guru, even in your mind. Wait for some more time for that role. At present it could be a dangerous ego-trip, on which many people, including sanyasins, have fallen. Do talk on the matter, discuss, & at times even cautiously guide others, but with greatest humility at your command. Even if the other fellow says that you are his Guru, then also, know such statements to reveal his or her state of mind and not your identity. Your true identity is too big even for this beautiful word of Guru. So do not let it get stuck to you.

With lots love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 9 -

Bondage & Liberation

Hari om !

1. It took me quite a time and efforts to answer the questions you ask.
Bondage - 'it took me quite efforts'
Liberation - there is no efforts?

Efforts are not really a problem but lack of clarity or lets say ignorance of what is being really
aspired for is certainly a problem. All your efforts were only to discover that objective. Efforts can later be there - but for the well being of all. One must work as hard for others as one did for one's personal goals earlier. So I do not really see efforts to be any problem. Efforts rather become a source of joy if they are expression of our love for
all or even some one person.

2. I am afraid I can not answer that question clearly.
Bondage - afraid has something to do with 'clearly'?
Liberation - there is no 'afraid'?

Not really. I consider this statement a daring & truthful statement. Only those who have some strength within can accept & confess about their ignorance so truthfully. So problem again is darkness, ignorance. Deep within there is a some desire to seek something but the intellect is not really clear as to what the mind wants. Various efforts to try various things are all the more an indication that one is groping in darkness.

3. I do not actively 'seek' anything in terms of making choices to do or not to do. But I do certainly follow a 'call', the call being to crystal clarify the nature of the Absolute.
Bondage - follow a 'call'
Liberation - nothing to 'follow', ?

The statement is right but the lesson learnt is wrong. In Liberation it is a fact that one does not 'seek' anything in terms of making choices, but still something is still being sought. What is that ? The problem is that you do not know what you really seek & want. This alone is called ignorance. So again the pointer points to the same problem. Following your call or intuition is no bondage, specially when it is following a call to know the absolute - clearly. It is the best thing which can happen to a person. There is no question of any problem here. It is a blessing.

4. Aspiration is to become whatever I am to become.
Bondage - 'to become'
Liberation - is there really something needs to become something?

Right. This is a problem. Trying to 'become' something. Efforts to become something implies the existence of an unconscious presumption that 'Whatever I am today is not the ultimate, it is not really something which I want & aspire to be'. There is another presumption too, that is, by this process of 'becoming' something that apparent 'lack' within will be eliminated. This presumption is baseless, something totally contrary to what the awakened ones reveal. They declare that the Self is the one, non-dual, infinite & transcendental divinity. There is a further absence of right understanding of the consequences of the 'process of becoming' something. Whatever you
'become' is always short lived, never permanent. If we look back then we realize that till this day we have become so many things, attained so many goals, fulfilled so many desires. Sometimes the feeling was that 'I am on top of the world', but still the lingering feeling of attaining something more still remains. So the very thought that you want to attain fulfillment by yet some another process of 'becoming' is a product of ignorance of facts of life. So the ignorance of facts of life & the truth of our Self, and the subsequent taking of some other thing as problem is Bondage, and to 'see' the facts as they are and thus being free from that intrinsic lack is Liberation.

5. I stay only for as long as to burn the karmic load which I have to burn. I also feel that the fire is big, as to consume generations of reactions. Sometimes I can clearly see that this is a product of some action, or now the particularly this reaction is being burnt.
Bondage - 'I have to burn'
Liberation - is it only while you feel 'I have to...', you really 'have to'

Partially right. The feeling that 'I have to' is an effect of some deeper cause, there is superimposition of limitations on the Self. Any conscious or unconscious imposition of limitation on the Self are unnatural, contrary to facts about Self, and therefore there is this natural 'feeling' of getting rid of it. It is just like being sick where the pains only reveal that this condition is unnatural and we have to get rid of it. This feeling is bound to be there as long as conscious or unconscious presumption of contrary facts are there. So again the Bondage is ignorance & Liberation is knowing facts of life as they are.

6. I seek confirmation and clarification.
Bondage - seek, and seek more actions - 'to confirm' and 'clarify'?
Liberation - no need for any of these?

Right. If you 'see' something very clearly, you dont need confirmation or clarification. The fact that you still require confirmation does show that still the facts are not being perceived as clearly as they should have been. There is however a positive side of seeking clarifications too. Only those who have deep & sincere inquisitiveness, humility to accept their ignorance, a good degree of egolessness and faith towards someone that this seeking of clarification from that person is possible. So this is a silver lining. Opening up with Guru, discussing, clarifying facts etc is all a positive thing, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact one rare few get this opportunity. Otherwise it will be yet another ego-trip. But the fact still remains that this discussion even with Guru will continue only so long as a clear, direct perception of facts has not been got. Thereafter it will be reveling in the infinite joy of Self.

7. I do not want any part of the knowledge I have or will have to be a sophisticated trick of my consciousness or sub-consciousness. I do not want any part of this knowledge to be my inflated opinion however insignificant the part is. I want to break it into smallest pieces and verify them one by one. Looking on people, I can witness at how huge
proportion of opinions is a self-deception, and do not want any part of it.
Bondage - 'I want to break and verify'?
Liberation - not to break, but to discover unity?

The statement is great but the inference is not. That should be the objective. One should learn to see the tricks of mind, and not fall for it. Every fact should be gone into great detail, as though in bits & pieces. The implication of the phrase 'I want to break it into smallest pieces' is only the desire to know the facts thoroughly. So there is nothing wrong with that. Rather it should be this alone. All what is required is to know the truth of every thing, unity will automatically be discovered. So again the obvious problem is not knowing the facts.

8. To avoid self-deception. To see the real, and not its distorted image. To show the source of distortions, and help in eliminating it. After egoistic distortions are removed, the Self shines, not being a distant goal, but something always with. I remember many peels taken away.
Bondage - 'peeling' for ever, and may be not the right thing?
Liberation - should be something after knowing which the question of 'peeling' does not even arise?

Perfect.

9. Is the removal of the egoistic tendencies a sound motivation?
Same as in previous one?

Yes, it is a sound motivation, because elimination of ego is synonymous with elimination of imposed limitations.

10. It was not a purpose to remove ego from discussions only, it was removing it
from the life and consciousness.
Same as in previous one?

That it what it should be.

11. They (tendencies) come out from time to time then I am tired, but are weakened to extent that they do not oppose their own elimination, it is easy.
Same as in previous one?

Manifestation of tendencies to seek greater fulfillment are 'effect' of a 'cause'. Remove the cause and effect will no longer manifest.

I am sure that with this discussion you should be clear as to what exactly is Bondage & what is Liberation. Now, can you please write a synopsis of the whole discussion for me.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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- 10 -

Gesticulating hands & Ganesh

Hari om !

instead of Gauran I started to see Ganesha - with waving trunk, gesticulating, etc.

That was a nice one. I too must also be careful in my talks for not using the language other than that of the audience. Otherwise with gesticulating hands and also a slight tummy I will look like all the more real Ganesha.

Probably for the first time for that long (I do not remember for how long), and I never meditated before with open eyes. By the end of the class i had trouble coming of it, it was like - close the book, and back in meditation again, put it in the bag, and back
meditating again. Gauran came after apologing for too much of Hindi, and i had trouble not to touch his trunk! I said that's ok.

Indeed ! Meditation is a blessing for more than one reason.

So, I am definitely cured from any attempts to drop the class. I can see someone else CAN be God himself. I still did not see the same in respect to 'me'. I understood that he said, but it fell somewhere beyond the words, i.e. I can not repeat it now in much detail. I would like to hear your comments on the whole affair.

Well if 'Guru is God' in the form of waving gesticulating trunk like arms, and the devotees going into trance like sleep, then I would prefer to take back my words.

Why Ganesha? I do not know much about him, and the mantra I used for meditation was addressed to Shiva. Several weeks ago while meditating on Shiva, I saw Him with Ganesha's head, if it is of relevance. Will Gauran consider it impolite toward him, if I would told him what I was in meditation,or if this is to repeat?

Dont tell Gaurangbhai about either his gesticulations or your meditations. The topic of talk should be the topic of discussion too. Speakers do feel let down if listeners switch off.

Where to put that potato (Vishishta Advaita)?

Potato is a compromise. Dont except any thing less than infinite & limitless. Believe in your fullness, assert your divinity and you will soon realise it too. If that is not possible then we can only temporarily accept the relationship of part & whole.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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OM TAT SAT