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A 'Vedanta Mission' Page

Letter's of Guruji-5

(Poojya Guruji Sri Swami Atmananda Saraswati )


INDEX

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

No.

Subject of Letter

1.

Role of Guru

2.

Tips to start the journey

3.

Requisites of a desciple

4.

Let convictions touch the heart

5.

Eliminate the ego & not make it sleep

6.

Enjoy doing that which is Right

7.

Places to find ego...

8.

Basis of guru's affection

9.

Prayers & the feeling of blessedness

10.

God is an embodiment of love

- 1 -

Role of Guru

Hari om !

Everywhere the nessessity of a guru for some one's progress is emphasized. In Padma PurAna it is stated "Unless one is guided by a spiritual master, the mantra that one has received is without any effect". It is said in many places that progress without a guru is impossible. From another hand, in Bhagavat Gita it is said that Brahman is the ultimate guru, and works of others like Sri Aurobindo suggest that it IS possible to learn without the human guru if address directly to the Brahman, although it is more difficult. Do other great masters discuss the possibility of direct receiving of the guidance from the Supreme or human guidance is required first?

I joined the list some time back and was trying to get a feel of the group. I read the views on the topics of jnana & bhakti, and the latest on the role of Guru. Regarding the latter I seem to entertain different view and convictions. I am presenting some of my thoughts on the topic for all members.

Just as a lamp can be lit only with a lightened lamp, so also self-knowledge can take place only with the help of a Sat-guru.

It is indeed the extremely blessed ones who find company and association of men with true wisdom and love to help us awake from this realm of ignorance.

Knowledge takes place in an atmosphere of love and egolessness, which is a natural by-product in our relationship with our Sat-guru.

Those who say that there is no necessity of a Guru in life, do not apparantly know what is the real 'means of knowledge' (pramana) for Self-knowledge. They can neither imagine the joy of relationship with a truly enlightened soul.

If you really seek self-knowledge then you will have to show some extra initiative & enthusiasm to look out for a true teacher, who is not only contented with & in himself, but is also a knowledgeable person; well aware of the secrets & traditions Upanishads.

Guru-upasadana or approaching the teacher, is a very important indicator of the state of the mind of a student. It reveals various things about the student. The initiative on the part of the student reveals his intense desire to know the truth of oneself, it also reveals his or her egolessness. In my view it is only those people who cannot keep aside their ego, who
cannot go to someone and reveal their ignorance. Guru-upasadana is rightly seen as a great leap forward in our tradition.

If you don't find someone who is truly an embodiment of knowledge, love & contentment, then pray to God for association of such a truly blessed soul, seek him, go to him, establish relationship with him, and initiate discussions with him on the secrets of life. Don't waste your time, words or energy elsewhere. Life is too precious to be wasted in the midst of egoistic
people whose knowledge is yet to help them also. You have desperately prayed & craved for lesser things in life, why not show the same will & intensity for better things.

The factors responsible for our inability to take initiative to go & look out for a guru are the factors which are responsible for our inability to break open our shell.

It is obvious that as the subject matter of self-knowledge is our very Self, the whole inquiry has to be conducted in & by our own mind. The truth too will be revealed as our very Self. These things are never a point of doubt or contention. This is also a fact that Guru in his true essence resides in all of us, but by itself this has never been of any help to us, we continue to suffer inspite of that 'guru' within us. What is required is not the essence of Guru, but Guru in flesh & blood with whom we can discuss, talk and find a way out of the mess in which we ourselves have brought ourselves to. Truth is right there in front of you - revealed in all its glory, it is
just that there is ignorance about it. Having identified the problem, why should there be any hesitation in taking help of someone who has already undertaken this journey. It is indeed funny to see what all excuses the ego thinks about, what all logic it discovers, just to avoid the possibility of its surrendering at the feet of someone who is nothing but an embodiment of
true knowledge & love.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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2

Tips to start the journey

Hari om !

I was happy to go through your letter. Your spirit is indeed that of a sincere seeker, who can be objective too. This is an extremely important quality to discern the chaff from rice.

Spiritual studies should never strain existing relationships. Any wisdom which is said to lift a person to higher planes should only help make our lives all the more mature & better. I would be happy if with any new found wisdom your relationships with your near & dear ones become such that they too start becoming positively inquisitive about your this knowledge & wisdom.

You are right when you say that following some practise all by yourself does have this risk that you may just be following your ego & thus going round in circles. I also understand that for any beginner it is indeed a great problem to identify people who can guide us. But I think what you are doing right now is what is called for & best under the circumstances. Your initiative to shed aside all hesitation and start searching for the right association, with whom you get an opportunity to discuss and find your way, is what is really called for.

No, it does not help invoking Guru in some saint who is no more around. Guru should be living and also accessible. You should be able to discuss things and find solutions to your problems & questions. You can take some general guidance and inspiration from earlier saints but they can never be an alternate for a living Guru. What is called for is not general inspiration &
understanding but specific guidance. Company & association of right people is of greatest importance. If you dont find the right people, you will discuss from those who are still in dark and that never helps, it only complicates the matters. The reason why I sent my views to the list was that I was seeing that the whole discussion was going on the wrong track. That 'you should be your own light', 'Guru is already within you', 'That you need not look out for a guru', and all that. All that in my view is wrong. They are just words of no practical help.

Even though progress to a large extent does take place by your sincere efforts, but as you yourself realise this has its own limits. From finite to infinite is not a journey which takes place slowly. It is an awakening. A sudden leap. However great a number you add to your existing denomination it will always be short of infinity. So that's not the way. Purity of thoughts,
emotions and some deliberations at individual level do help but that is never enough. With your existing responsibilities you cannot go out and search for someone. Fine. Doesnt matter. I would suggest the following to you.

1. Be very clear about the role and importance of association with the right, knowledgeable people. Have great value for this. Try your best under your existing circumstances to get such company. Value for such people has its own effect. If you cannot find anyone who can help you provide some light, sincerely pray to God for such a company. Believe me, prayers have great power.

2. Try to identify your problem to the best extent possible and present your question as clearly and as specifically possible to all those who are available. As long as communication is taking place language becomes secondary.

3. Listen to all as objectively as possible, as you have been doing at present, but reserve the right to decide by yourself. Self-knowledge is not something which defies logic. But let the criteria be to discover your Self as the ultimate. This is not a matter of blind belief, but something pending discovery. Just as a patient has an intrinsic faith in his health, so also
have a deep intrinsic faith in your own divinity. Believe sincerely you are basically all right, that this fact can be understood even by you, and finally come what may you will one day know it. If others can do it why cant I.

4. Give more importance to 'understand things' rather than to get some momentary 'experience'. Try your best to study Upanishads and such Vedantic texts. They are one of the greatest heritage of all mankind. They obectively analyse and discuss the fundamental things of life. They are not to provide some do's & dont's but to help us discover the truth by ourself.

5. Pray to God to provide you with more & more oppurtunities to know more about the secrets of life & yourself. The fact that today I am discussing something with you is itself the will of God. Otherwise where is a Swami and where is Lilia in the midst of all her responsibilities and limitations. Who else can make such things to happen except God.

6. It is right that you alone have to work and find your way but in todays world many new vistas in the field of communication have been opened which could never have been imagined earlier. So guidance will be available even at your door step if you sincerely want it, not only regarding this thing but in fact for any thing. That's the way of God and his world.

7. Feel free to write to me and I will try my best to help you find your way. It would be my pleasure. But never blindly follow or accept what I or for that matter anyone says. Think deeply on what is said and if you feel convinced then alone follow, otherwise write back again. Let a good discussion take place in an atmosphere of mutual love & respect.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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3

Requisites of a desciple

Hari om !

Namaste ! My blessings to you ! It is indeed my pleasure if I can be of any help to any one, and share the knowledge which my Guru has so lovingly passed on to me. It is always best to start from the beginning with basic questions, so as to be on the same wave length. Let nothing be taken for granted.

The only thing which we look in a student is the sincerity of purpose for 'bringing about right understanding about life' and 'necessary faith in the teacher'. We dont bother much about prescribing daily routine. Decide what is best under your circumstances. See what is best to retain your positive mindset. Have good physical health and good state of mind, along with the
above two attitudes is what is really required. Performing all our duties with a loving mind, enjoying every work we do and not being bothered too much of what we get in return, is a very helpful attitude to bring about all positive qualities. A mind which is awake and also at peace through out the day, will have a nice sleep, get up fresh, will be quiet to think deeply about the secrets of life. That is all what is required. Do keep some time to study some good texts, and some time should also be kept apart for some prayers and meditation.

Yes, prayers and meditation do have some difference. 'Prayers' involve bringing to mind the great qualities of God in our mind and in the process being overwhelmed by the reverential emotion, while 'Meditation' is in the beginning a process of understanding about this divinty we call God or the Atman, and having known him discovering ones identity with him. Being that.
So prayer is the initial stage and in due course of time should culminate in meditation.

Because God represents all what we love, respect and cherish therefore thinking about him brings about the same feeling as we get when we think about our beloved ones. Prayers may or may not involve any asking. When you sincerely realise that there is someone who is already showering everything you have then there is indeed nothing to ask at all, prayer then becomes
just a moment to express our overwhelming gratitude. A thanksgiving. But there is nothing wrong to ask for something from someone who loves you so much, who is your own. Not to ask any thing at all may at times be an ego-prompted decision. So one should not be too adamant in such things. One should ask for proper company, proper knowledge, proper health, well being of our beloved ones, and also well being of the entire world. May all be happy, and such other things. The intensity of positive emotion is the aim and essence of prayer. Doing such prayers not only fills the mind with overwhelming love, and is a great experience by itself but also helps eliminate problems of gliding into sleep in the process of bringing about quititude of mind. So prayers have a very important role to play.

I hope the above reply answers your questions. If you innocently invoke a child in you, then automatically by this very act you invoke a mother or lets say a father in me, this has its own joy for me too. You are welcome to ask any thing you feel like.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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4

Let convictions touch the heart

Hari om ! Blessings !

I am indeed happy that your mental disposition is being reflected & translated in your behavior so soon. This speaks of the purity of your mind, but I see it more as an emotional upsurge borne out of the joy of getting something or someone you wanted rather than the effect of some positive values & conviction. I say this because on one hand you say that you are 'so happy
third day in a row' and on the other hand you say that 'I believe that in His immense love to me
He gives me exactly right situation every time.' If the latter statement was really your heartfelt conviction, then there was no question of suddenly being happy now. It is the same God who has brought this situation who had earlier not yet brought it. You should have been happy all along.

What I imply is that at present such statements are mere words, not a deep rooted conviction. Please remember information is not knowledge. If you realize this and many such erroneous possibilities on your part, then certainly there is something to ask God. I fully agree that we should never pray for answers but only strength to find answers. When we finally bring our mind in order then the attitude which you speak of about 'not asking whatsoever' is what will be natural to you. This is the natural quality of not only a man of knowledge & bhakti, but even for an ignorant sadhaka who has deep rooted faith born out of some conviction. Aim for that. The only problem between us & the truth is our ignorance and the subsequent negative values created by our own minds. Lets just handle all this and then see with an open mind his play. The world is very beautiful, being run by someone who is an embodiment of love & knowledge, and you too are that divinity itself. There is indeed nothing to ask. He is indeed talking, speaking, suggesting and guiding, but the million dollar question is 'are we available', 'do we really believe this fact'. Vedanta simply teaches us to learn his language and messages. This is certainly worth asking for.

Moreover, if you really don't bother much about 'the fruits of action' and enjoy the 'very doing part of it,' then also your question should not arise. When we are & also were never bothered about the 'fruits of action' then the question of asking for answers doesn't arise. So this also reveals that there are quiet a few of your own statements which are yet to touch your own
heart. Talk from the core of your heart, then the communication will be more effective. May God help us sort out the mess we have brought ourselves to, know the truth and just let him operate. We are simply asking for wisdom & strength to see 'what is' rather than telling God 'what should be'. That certainly would be wrong prayer.

Regarding mantra. One can take 'any name whatsoever' which strongly suggests to us the existence & presence of God. If the part 'Hare Krishna' has been found to be helpful then it is enough. The real strength of mantra or any other such things is in your faith and not in anything extraneous. Without faith no mantra is effective and with necessary faith any name will do. We
simply need some help to bring about his awareness. Rosaries do have some role in the beginning, but one can as well do without them. Be very clear about the means and end. The majority get too much bothered about means and ignore the end. Beware.

Love,

Swami Atmananda

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5

Eliminate the ego & not make it sleep

Hari om !

Inspite of some of my regular preoccupations & busy schedule (with Navratra celebrations in full swing), I still like to find some time to reply to your mails, for the simple reason that I see sincerity in you. It is always a pleasure to give ones time for such people.

I saw this apparent contradiction and the realization of it made me laugh even more. It is like here are two of me. One is a wise, kind, quite *I*, and another is restless, moving, always attempting something and abandoning attempts, but it is also *I*. The first one *know*, not just informed, that the situation is the right one always, but let the other one play and fool around, not directing, but watching always. And than the second one notices it is being watched, it restrains itself for some time, and lets the first one forward. It is this restless one cries "wolf!" and behaves accordingly on every ocassion - pleasant or not, *knowing* quite well he is complete fool (he himself can see it every time after he calms down) but remaining mischivous anyway. His weak point is that he is easily getting tired, and all *I* (as a sum of these two) have to do is to wait for some time to get to balance.

A fragmented personality always has two entities always talking to each other constantly. The Mundakopanishad says that it is like two birds on a branch. One always hungry and eating various things, while the other sits contended, and watches on. One is Jiva and the other is the Atman. This is the eternal story of life, for all ignorant people at any place and at any time. This however changes completely with the proper knowledge of Self.

What would be your advice to keep him sleeping all or most of the time?

Dont think that we will always have to live with this second 'I', As Jiva (ego) is just a product of ignorance, it has to be completely eliminated with the help of right knowledge - of the Self. It is something which has to be fully eliminated from its roots, and not something which has to be made asleep.

Dear Master, what should one do than he knows he made a mistake and have a substantional suspicion that monkey will try to do it again? I hope it does not sound like shifting responsibilities from myself !

No mistakes are ever deliberate, they are natural product of ignorance. This being the case all what one can do is to try to retain a high degree of awareness in ones mind. Having identified the cause one should do what ever necessary to eliminate the very root of it. The ignorance of Self.

It is also very true. How to set aside all attempts to deceive yourself? Then you sincerely think you are sincere while actually are not? Conception of not bothering about fruits is straightforward with phy ical work where you can see and touch or imagine these results.

It is extremely necessary to identify ones real problem properly, thereafter sincerity of purpose is natural. Till then not only you will have to be patient, but our teachers too remain patient with us, because they know clearly what all one has to undergo.

What is about striving for perfection, knowledge, God? Where God is the ultimate 'fruit'? (I am talking about theoretical situation now, you took out my imagined 'ground' in this question, leaving empty place). What is the driving force if not desire for God and truth? Please, tell me, I will try not to convert it into another 'vision' of 'what should be'.

God is not some extraneous thing like some other object which has to be achieved. He is my very truth. When the goal is merely to know yourself as you are, then this is not something which comes in the category of 'fruits' of action.

Dear Swami, I would like to start studying the books. I do not know much about logical/ historical organization of Vedanta, and need to learn a lot. What would be your recomendation to start from? I have english translation of Upanishads and comments of Sri Aurobindo. How are the books to approach?

It is nice to know that a desire to study Vedanta has surfaced in your mind. As mentioned earlier the real way to study books on Vedanta is to study through a right teacher, who knows its tradition etc. But as this is not always possible you will have to study yourself. Aurobindos books will not help. Try getting a book 'Introduction to Vedanta' by Swami Dayananda. Sw
Dayananda's commentary on Upadesha Sar (of Ramana Maharshi) is also worth getting. A commentary on Bhagwad Gita (called Holy Gita) by Swami Chinmayananda is good for studying Gita. 'Gita as it' is will not help.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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6

Enjoy doing that which is Right

Hari om !

Thank you very much for all your time you spending for me, and all your patience with me. Despite your many occupations you took me aboard and I can not say it would be easy for me to leave the boat by my free will. I would be happy to have a hope to stay for some time (untill you feel it is ok to leave me somewhere on more or less solid ground or loose your patience, whatever comes first), meanwhile I will try to make my presence as bearable as possible and not to drop in vain any word of wisdom you say (alas, I hear only what you say directly to me!). What is about being a mouse? You can ignore most of its squeaks, and answer only ones you consider most important, and any time you speak you will have a pair of grateful pink ears sticking out of the nearest hole.

I consider this sharing of my knowldge to be my Lord's wish, because as I see it He alone gives all situations. As whatever I do is my offering at His feet, so this entire endeavor is my pleasure alone. In this ship the Captain will never ask you, or for that matter anyone to leave. You are the one who has to decide your destination, and again you are the one who has to decide to leave or even not to leave. The Captain is on a lookout for nice genuine people in this vast majority of humanity called this world, and is the most happy person when he sees such people. The lady with the pink ears appears to be of that category.

Dear Swami, some time ago we talked about meditation and prayer. I told you I have problems with meditation and can not pray, too. After reading your letter about prayer many times, I found it extremely easy to do it (prayer that is), it came by itself without me asking for it and even thinking about something completely else. It came as a surprise after as I realized that I was *reading* about it many times (Sri Ramakrishna), and it never had such a profound effect, although many more words were spend. I am very thankfull to you and God for directing the words to my heart.

I am happy that you have now started discovering the meaning of 'prayers'.

Dear Swamiji, you wrote prayer is the first step to the right meditation. Should I make effort to make it 'right', or it is better just to wait untill it comes by itself?

You should neither put efforts to make it right nor wait for it to come by itself. You should just be convinced that what is implied by prayers is something worth doing. Dont wait for anything. Just do it, enjoying its very doing. Dont look forward to anything. Dont look at it as a means for an end, but just something which is a joy by itself. One need not always be so calculative, so as to think that expression of gratitude towards God will bring so & so benefits, and lift me to such a height etc. The overwhelming experience of genuine gratitude melts the very reciepient. When you see all what is being showered on you, then you just thank from the core of your heart. If this very act has its own benefits too, then also such a person is hardly bothered. The result if any always comes unasked. All worthwhile things come unasked.

And how one can lead to another, if even physical reactions are opposite - fast heartbeat and excitation for praying and calmness for meditation? Probably I am asking ahead of time and should just wait a little bit to see by myself..?

Even though the above reply should answer this question too, but still if you ask, then you are right. First start praying from your heart, and then look back to see if you still have any questions left.

I will try to get the books you mentioned. What is the relation between Upanishads and Gita? Is it right to consider Gita as a direct message from Krishna and Upanishads as a essence of the human knowledge?

Upanishads, Gita and Brahma Sutras are three fundamental texts of Vedanta. All expound the same Vedanta Philosophy. Upanishads are mother of Gita, they are the basic source books. Gita talks about the same vision but to a relatively lower level of student. It is therefore easy to relate. I too like Gita very much. While Upanishads talk to a man with a pure mind, Gita talks to someone who is very devoted, sincere but still has some problems of attachment etc. Both of them are from the mouth of God.

I am in love with Gita, and have used 'Gita as it is' to get exact meaning of the words in order to understand the records of chanting of Gita. I have somewhat abandoned the efforts of learning this way (understanding Sanscrit) because I was afraid to put the 'means' above the 'ends', should I try it again? (Sometimes I feel I am ignoring 'means' too much).

It is better to learn Gita with shlokas. It is worth learning Sanskrit too. Means have an important role to play, dont ignore them.

I have several translations, and comments by S.Radhakrishnan, is it of use? What is wrong with comments in 'Gita as it is'? I can not use it other than purely technically, but I can not figure out why. Why Sri Aurobindo's comments on Upanishads are not to use? Is the same true for his 'Essays on the Gita' (I have it too)?

Do read the various books you have on Gita, but also read the books I have suggested. You will know the difference yourself. There are different interpretations of Vedanta by different teachers. 'Gita as it is' has various good things, but philosophically it does not subscribe to Advaita Vedanta, which I believe is the real purport of Upanishads and Gita. When the aim is to understand the text thoroughly then it is important that only those texts should be given importance which expound Advaita Vedanta properly. When traditionally there is already a definite methodology which helps & guides us to go deep into such texts, then why should I go to those texts which expound the individual view more than the purport of Gita.

Dear Swamiji, I am very gratefull for all your time spend for me. I feel guilty because I *do not* feel guilty to use your limitless kindness and knowledge toward me. It is like the knowledge you have can not be personal knowledge. Please, forgive me if I in my egoism forget you are a person, who can get tired, need some time to sleep, and have much
more important things to do than to answer my questions. I would love to be of service to you too.

Please dont feel grateful or guilty and all that, just keep on considering me as your own Self. Talk to me as you talk to your own Self. Try to understand this aspect of your self. Try to understand what I really wish to communicate. Yes, you can be of some service to me. I want some thing from you, but I wonder whether you can give it me at this stage. I want whatever traces you have of your ego. Give it to me lock, stock and barrel. Can you ? If you can, then never raise such topics again, and if you cant, then also dont ask such things again, because you dont have the capacity to give what is asked for.

With lots of love & om,

Thy own Self,

Swami Atmananda

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7

Places to find ego...

Hari om ! Blessings !

I am happy you love mice, although they come with long ugly tails, and I have at least one of these nasty things.

If I see a person with a beautiful heart then every thing else in that person looks beautiful too. Tail or no tail. What is really worthwhile is an open & thinking mind, a loving heart and desire to know the truth of this riddle called life, along with the faith in God. You seem to have all these,
and so I do seem to be developing some liking for you.

Reading your letters I realize how much dependent I am now on your wisdom. Every day it gives me a new energy to do whatever I am doing and feed my happiness.

I pray to God that 'May this association and the apparent initial dependence enriches you with all the wisdom of the great Rishis of yore, and its culminates in making you truly independent'. That alone is the aim, direction and thrust of our discussions.

These are all the things I feel with my senses and I enjoy them all and want everyone around to enjoy too. Then what is about 'withdrawing senses as a tortouse withdraws its limbs into its shell'? I feel, indeed, blessed I have them and do not look like a tortouse at all.

We are indeed blessed to have all our different faculties of perception. The scriptures never suggest suppression of our senses, but only the dominance of our intellect over all other faculties. An ideal personality is one which can live as per its convictions in an integrated way. A personality which cannot live as per its conviction can never achieve any thing or even enjoy
the sensual pleasures properly. In all your endeavors try to bring all your faculties into play. Let no part of your personality miss the beauty of each present moment. There are quite a few people whose personality is not integrated, who cannot even sit down for a short period of time just because of the hangovers of some fascination lingering in the mind, and in the process missing out on what is right in front of them. The example of a tortoise just reveals a personality where all faculties are integrated and it can thus execute all what it really wishes to do.

Dear Swamiji, you said I should talk to you as I talk to myself, but the problem is I did not talk to myself, I used to communicate without words because I did not feel the need to explain anything to anyone, and to myself I did not need the words. Now it is a double enjoyment in trying to put everything in words, and not to false. I getting a new tool both to cheat, and to ask questions about myself. But now in most intimate moments I hear 'ok, in words it will be this way...' It is quite funny, I would guess it should come away than I will use the language tool better?

Talking to the Swami 'as your own Self' is more of a figurative speech. All what it implies is that let no hesitation or formality come in the way. Never fear to open your mind. Yes, the ability to express in words what you feel inside is indeed something which gets polished only in due course of time. You are however doing fine.

I am not sure where to look for Ego and how to be confident it is already in India and not in Texas, USA. I will be happy to give to you whatever you ask, but can you start with indications where to find it, which color is it, and I will send it to you piece by piece?

You have beautifully turned the tables on me. Well ! 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 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. To begin with these pointers should suffice, details you let me know when you find it. Whether it also has a long ugly tail, pink ears and all that.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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8

Basis of Guru's affection

Hari om !

Thank you for the many kind words you have for me, I am indeed happy to love and to be loved! But, dear Swami, in your description I am too good to be true, and I feel like cheating. Moreover, your words tinkle my Ego, and I am succeptible to it, as any fragmented personality! The tool to deal with me is rather a thick stick to be applied or treaten to be applied to my neck.

I am happy that these letters to me are helping you to introspect and also purge out things deep inside you. I have no such notion that I am talking to someone who is an embodiment of perfection. I believe I have in front of me a person who is desirous to learn and who is sensitive and intelligent. All of us have our own limitations, but the important thing is to firstly have
the senstivity to be conscious of them and humbly try to root them out. I the 12th chapter of Gita Lord Krishna says that I love those who are perfect, but I love those all the more who are sincerely trying to wake up. This is what I like in you, and I would certainly like to help such people in whatever way I can.

Remember all negativities are because of ignorance of Self and the subsequent ego alone. If a person sincerely strives to know the truth then whatever be your present day limitations and problems, all will be rooted out. So be patient and strive on.

Are you talking about the same guy you wrote before with name Jiva? I know him, if it is the same thing.

Jiva is the 'I' consciousness conditioned by the mind. When this 'product of mind' is taken as the real 'me' then comes about this guy called ego. It is and always will remain limited entity. Taking yourself as ego there can never be any fulfillment, it alone is the breeding ground for all
negativities.

Well, I can try to send you two pieces today, which *look* to be easiest to take out. One is about being too depressed in any situation, and another is about accepting fault. The
first one is relatively small and autonomous already, depending on the definition of how much is too much. The second one drags out hurting emotions and thoughts. It will take some time to fix, I will look out for fixing it.

What do send me is your choice, but once you decide on something out of your own choice then see to it that there is no cheating thereafter. That thing should not remain with you at all. So now see to it that you dont get depressed in any situation, and now you will also gracefully accept whatever fault is there. Then alone you would have given to me these things. It will
indeed be a great leap forward if you are sincere in this. For that I have no doubt that you will.

Is it absolutely possible not to hurt anyone? I have a friend ....

No, it is not always possible not to hurt anyone, for the simple reason that happiness or sorrow is not something which is given to us by someone else, but is the result of our own understanding, values and perceptions. That which is in our hands is simply that we should never consciously give sorrow to anyone, we should always try to even retain senstivity that even unconsciously we never hurt anyone. This should be our 'genuine feeling' and also effort. This alone is our role. If, however inspite of our best intentions and efforts someone is still suffering then it is clear that the fellow is not suffering because of you but because of his or her own negative values and perceptions.

Just as your friend is free to entertain and live as per his convictions so also you too are free. Know your role and act only as per that. Be true to your convictions, and at the same time be open to learn more & more. If this is there then forget every thing else. Every one has to ultimately handle his or her own life and mind. You should have better things to do rather
than dance to the tune of some fanatic person. Identify your goal and live as per that. You will find your own like minded people soon.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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9

Prayers & the feeling of blessedness

Hari om !

I just started to read Upanishads. Do they have specific order? I started with Mundaka Upanishad. I am yet to understand it, put my understanding in words and ask deep questions. But it is like it went first to my heart filling it with joy and now yet to ascent to the mental level. The process by itself is beautiful, and while reading I had the impression I would not feel this way if I read first *about* it in any kind of introductions and comments, however they may be good.

I am happy that you have started reading Upanishads. There is not really any order in reading them. All are complete in themself. Nevertheless in some the explanation is easy and in some it is very profound, so we do suggest that Upanishads like Katha, Mundaka and Isa to be read first. Mandukya is the most direct & also short, and is thus read last. Upanishads being like
technical books should preferably be studied through a proper teacher, but till then you may start reading them by yourself. But let me warn you, you will face difficulties. Gita is easy & better to be read by yourself.

While reading I fell in a state which was not neither 'prayer' nor meditation. It is close to 'prayer' but more steady, less involving senses, more inward, and sort of with more potential of becoming a permanent state. Should 'it' really become 'permanent' (at least for some time) state or it is a transition? Is there a name for it?

What you are experiencing are glimpses of a contemplative mind. Such states are also an experience by themself. In the process of going on the pilgrimage to the Lord who is 'sitting in your heart' you will get glimpses of many such states of mind. But never get bothered by any of them. They always come unasked and also hangon unasked. The moment you start any effort
to hold them they will disappear. Just be very clear about your ultimate goal and carry on.

And in a normal 'prayer' who is praying to whom? Does Jiva part have an ability to pray or meditate? Does Atman part have a *need* to pray?

You are again getting trapped into hypothetical questions regarding prayers. Just see the blessings being showered on you and let the feeling of gratitude and blessedness overwhelm you. Thats all. Jiva alone prays and meditates. He is like a sick person. Atman is comparable to a state of good health, you dont need any medicines when you attain that. Medicine is required if you feel sick. If you feel you are now fine then stop all medicines. Then you need not pray or meditate, but if there is some lack then some thing needs to be done.

How I need some of your knowledge to be able start understanding Upanishads better. It is told of two-fold knowledge, lower of which include Veda. Does one should know both of them to know? Is it possible or permissible to know higher and be ignorant about lower?

Both the kinds of knowledge are important. Upanishad uses the word 'veditavye'. It means 'must know'. One should know both of them. Moreover you cant go directly to the Para Vidya - the higher knowledge. The Apara vidya is like the stepping stone for the higher. One has to one day leave the stepping stone, but you cant do without it.

In 1.2.3-4 it is told about 'all the seven worlds' and seven tongues of the fire with names and characteristics. Are seven tongues represent the seven worlds? What are they, and what do their names mean?

The seven worlds are the different levels of 'all possible' experiences of man.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge! I hope to have more understanding by the time you come from the pilgrimage. I wish you the very best during it and all the time, and hope to read about the journey in the Newsletter!

Thanks for your kind wishes for our journey. We will certainly be writing about the experiences about our pilgrimage in our Newsletter later.

With lots of love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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10

God is an embodiment of love

Hari om !

I do not know how Atman and Brahman are different.

Both these words refer to the truth or the basic essence at the individual and cosmic level respectively. The conditionings (called as upadhis) at both the levels may be different, but their essence is same. Therefore the upanishads speak of the identity of Atman and Brahman.

Brahman is fulfilled in itself, so he does not *need* any moving force, it does not desire to express itself anyhow. But we, and the whole created world, are someone's expression? What is being expressed and by whom? This moving force can not exist by itself, so it *need* to be based on something, on what if not on Brahman? That is the origin of this force,and how it came to be?

Brahman has a divine power called Maya. When it wields this Maya he is called as Ishwara or the God as the creator. Without Maya Brahman is unmoving and all that, an embodiment of sheer contentment. The question of how the truth came to be has to subside at some place. There has to be a causeless cause. Brahman is that.

Books say 'Brahman alone exists'. I can not trace the existence of the creative force to Brahman unless I attribute some desire or unfulfillment to Brahman, which I know is not correct !

It is Ishwara who like an artist has weilded his creative potential. He alone creates and also runs the show here. The only motivation we can imagine about God is 'love'. Mandukya Upanishad says it is his very nature.There can be no desire in him. To imagine that someone does some-thing only because of some desire or unfulfillment is simply to impose our wordly ways on Lord. Even here in this world the best works and also relationships are without any selfish calculations or considerations. In such things alone there is a fragrance of divinity. God is an embodiment of this love.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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OM TAT SAT