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A 'Vedanta Mission' Page

Letter's of Guruji-9

(Poojya Guruji Sri Swami Atmananda Saraswati )


INDEX

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

No.

Subject of Letter

1. Opening of the floodgates
2. Limits of Rituals
3. Solving an imaginary problem
4. Body & the Self
5. Karma Yoga & the 'third-eye'
6. Laying the dying on the ground !
7. The Right deduction
8. The Great Nishachar
9. Thoughtlessness & the thoughtfulness
10. Gita & the profit motive !

- 1 -

Opening of the floodgates

Good day Guruji!
I would like to ask a question on the cause and effect theory or better known as the Karma Theory. Is it true that those who sustain fracture or other serious illness are paying up for something nasty that they have done in previous birth?
If so what is the significance; that is; these people are suffering in this birth for what they have done previously without even knowing what have they done; so how is it possible for them to remedy their fault? In my little understanding it just brings to the conclusion `to suffer and suffer for your deed but I won't tell you why`
Please don't take me wrong Guruji as I am no atheist but still I need to know.
Thank You

Dear H..,

Hari om ! Blessings !

I received your message yesterday when I opened the Private message box of our VM Page.

A question by itself does not make anyone an atheist, but it is the way it is asked which reveals ones faith & conditionings. If asked with a sincere desire to learn the very question becomes a means to make your faith stronger by reinforcing it with proper understanding. Never hesitate to ask any question whatsoever, and keep up the humility & faith which your mail nicely reflects and is so intrinsic to our culture. Your question is good and has indeed been asked with positive inquisitiveness. So here goes our reply.

You are perfectly right that Law of Karma is based on the cause & effect relationship. Any situation or happening is an effect of some cause - whether we know it or dont. The laws of nature are unbiased and equally available to one & all. It all depends on how we invoke & use them. When a situation comes it is thus always appropriate to look upon the doer alone to be directly or indirectly responsible for it.

Now, every situation is brought about by the interplay of various factors, which we may or may not know. The factors which we know fall into two categories, those which we can influence and those which we cant. The factors which we know and also can influence are generally the object of our attention, and there is obviously no question about them. However, the factors which we cant influence, and also the factors which we do not know are the points of contention. Whenever a situation comes regarding which we do not see our actions to be directly responsible for them, then all the questions come. The example of accident is one such classic example. Now that a situation has come what should be our way of looking at it.

We know that some causes are definitely there, now we have a choice to either attribute the doership to some extraneous entity or to our deeds - whether of this life or of earlier ones. We know that we do not know the real cause or factor of the accident today, but that does not justify attribution of doership to someone else. Attribution of doership to some other factor amounts to saying that the laws of nature are not equally available to us and are thus unbiased. This is baseless and contrary to our experiences. So the most intelligent thing is to take ourself as directly or indirectly responsible for it, and thus open the floodgates for continuous learning & awakening. Lets try to unfold the secret of the riddle of life. I can assure you that there will be many new things you will discover about your potentialities, and there will also be things about which you will not be able to do anything. Regarding the latter we just have to learn to live with them by physically & mentally preparing ourself for all such eventualities - that also is the doer's department. The Upanishads thunder that the moment we know the truth of life then instead of merely solving the problem we also dissolve it. This is a big statement & assurance and whatever becomes an impetus for opening up the gates for more knowledge is always worth the gamble, if at all it is one.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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2

Limits of Rituals

Hari om !

Thanks for your mail & the latest info about your T… clan.

Nice to know that you are in touch with the discussions. Do drop your views too once in a while. I liked your mail about the Role of Temples sent earlier.

As I had written earlier rituals do have a role in the scheme of things, but they have their limitations too. They are not to be done for all times to come. Once a person learns to inculcate the 'attitude of worship' in & thru all the actions, then for all practical purposes that person has got what rituals had to offer 'for his own personal upliftment'. Later one may very briefly continue with them symbolically - for some other purposes. These other purposes basically pertain to bringing about a cultural ambience at home, inculcation of the faith regarding the presence of God in others around you, feeling the presence of God even at the level at which we transact etc. Ability to meditate and merge ones mind in devotion unto HIM is certainly the goal for which all these practices are undertaken. From what I can gather from your mails, you need not devote to much of your time in rituals. 'Undertaking enquiries to know the Self' and 'being that' should preferably be your priorities. You seem not only better poised for this, but
you also seem to have inculcated the attitude for which rituals are undertaken.

Undertaking a ritual for the well being of someone is a different matter. In all Sakama Karma one has to go thru the whole karma very deligently. However, in Nishkama Karma one is free from any such obligations, what matters here is only the expression of your feelings, in any way you deem it to be fit. Once a person grows over the necessity of rituals for his/her personal upliftment, then even when it comes to doing something for the well-being of others, then mere prayers of such a person are enough. That which really helps others is ultimately our feelings & best wishes alone and nothing else. Rituals are certainly necessary for those who are assured of
their positive feelings only after a physical act.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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3

Solving an imaginary problem

Hari om !

>V.. wrote : Can the Physical rope be seen as the material bonds which make us feel
>secure. The sheep were tied to the shed with ropes not only for security
>but also because of the security it protrays. By entertaining our desires
>we may actually be falsely creating the impression of security
>
Basically the rope in that case was tied to quench the conditionings of the sheep, who had been
made to associate tying of the rope with calling it a day. The process of tying the sheep at night was started by the owner of the sheep, more because of his fears of losing the animal in case of its straying out. In the first place itself the sheep had no such insecurity. However most of the human desires do have a conscious or at times unconscious component of bringing about greater security.

>The imaginery rope is then providing us the same security the same
>satisfaction but actually no bondage. When we are connected to God in such
>a manner we are actually liberating ourselves from the want of false
>security - we know that there is somebody there to look after us and our
>needs. your explanation to this reply was different - Am I incorrect in my
>intepretation
>
Bondage is something which deserves great deliberation & understanding. The pharse like sentence of the Mahatma throws light on the problem & its solution. 'Connecting to God' is onething, and 'discovering an already existing identity with him' is something different. All our scriptures unanimously reveal that God is basically one with everyone, it is just that there is ignorance of this fact. The problem doesnt stop here, the human mind subsequently complicates the problem by taking something else as the truth etc. This mis-apprehension is diagnosed as the fundamental problem. It is thus comparable to tie yourself with a rope which is not there. Once such a notion comes about, it will not suffice to say that you have no problems. Imaginary problems are more tricky to efface. They are compared to untying the unseen rope.

Love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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4

Body & the Self

Hari om !

>Thank you for the greeting card Dear Swamiji, thank you for the greetings on the ocassion, >and I also return my greetings and best wishes to you on the occasion of the birth annivesary >of Sri Adi Sankaracharya.

Thanks for your greetings too.

>I am still working on your last mail. I thought about 'it' being a sense
>of individuality, but rejected it on the basis that in order to be this
>sense of individuality, I should feel something specifically about myself, like saying
>explicitly "I am" or "I want" or something of this kind. Since I did not
>say or think anything like this, I thought that 'I-body' can stay
>and be real in some sense like the post to which the sheep was tied (or
>imagined to be tied).

The only thing which this 'sense of individuality' brings about is the 'experience of duality' which we very specifically feel & experience. It limits & isolates. Moreover whether you explicitly say anything or not, the existence of the experience of 'I am' and 'I want' is very much there. There
does exist a unique relationship between the 'Self' and the 'body', but the imposition of limitation on the Self is still an error. Body is not a post to which the Self is tied or vice versa, but Self is the substratum on which the super-imposition of the qualities of body has been made. You are right when you say that the Self is "imagined" to be tied to the body.

>The next step was if the post is real, and the
>'I-sheep' is real, but something is still wrong, this wrong should be in
>their relation, i.e. the rope. At this point I wrote the previous letter.

The body and the Self do not enjoy same degree of reality. One is constantly changing while the other is changeless. One is made up of inert matter, while the other is pure consciousness. One is the 'object' while the other is the 'subject'. Nevertheless the problems lies also with the relationship, basically promted by the notion that both of them have same degree of reality. Realisation of the fact that the body & the Self do not enjoy same degree of reality, in fact becomes a very important cause to change the very nature of relationship between both. It begins the process of the untying of the rope.

>If I am right, it still boils down to the same thing, "sense of
>individuality" being percieved in the feeling of 'true identity' bound
>by/to something. So, it is not 'taking away the joys of discovery', but
>the confirmation of a suspicion.

As I see it this 'sense of individuality' needs more enquiry, enquiry & discussion.

>Next step would be, I think, realization on
>'who-is-that-sheep-not-tied-to-anything' vs complex of 'sheep-rope-pole'.
>Now I am trying to 'see' why somethimes the 'sense of individuality' is
>real, somethimes not, and what is it - 'sense of individuality', but I
>can not say anything definitive yet.

Please do go into it to see it through.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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5

Karma Yoga & the 'third-eye'

Hari om !

>I do not still have much to report on. In the sense I used to 'think' I
>am experiencing kind of setback, but am starting to discover it is
>somehow connected with that we were talking about. Kind of 'let
>see the same from another point of view'.

Take your own time to 'realise' these facts. You are right, it is connected with what we were talking about.

>I am working a lot now, and by the
>evening can hardly drag my feet and brains. I thought in the beginning
>that my circumstances now require more, but now I think it is more
>related to mental disposition. It makes me stop from time to time and
>reflect on 'who is, really, tired?', the position which makes one rather
>observer, not participant.

The ability to pour yourself out in the work at hand, enjoying the very intensity, challenge and the work, and later 'standing-apart' to objectively understand the doer and its work, is one of the finest quality to have. I am really happy to see that this quality is continuously increasing in you. You are right in saying that the mental disposition has a big role to play in such change.
The above two qualities opens up the floodgates of various achievements, success & satisfaction, apart from helping to open the proverbial 'third-eye' - the eye of wisdom. Intense selfless acts cleanses the mirror of mind to reflect the inherent beauty of your divine Self. It is extremely important to enjoy the very act of the doing of your work. Those who do not love & enjoy this intense involvement & dedication in their actions, yet keep working are people with negative motivations of escape or greed. Such people may get some results too, but they miss the bus of Self-realisation'.

>I think I could relate on the situation in
>words I read elsewhere, but I am yet to realize it in practice, so far,
>I am just feeling funny and amazed on how tiredness can easily go
>away (not limitlessly..), after you see that it is not 'you' who is tired..

Ability to detach & stand apart is what really relaxes us even in sleep. A short nap relaxes us down to the core, and we are ready to get tired once again. Anyone who can 'stand-apart' even in his daily acts, without compromising the ability to act with intensity & involvement, always feels relaxed even in & through the intense activities. He acts yet he doesnt act. This is what the motivation of love is all about. Whenever we sincerely work or live for someone else then because of the absence of concerns about oneself the ability to stand apart becomes possible & operational. If along with the above qualities of Karma Yoga, you also retain the awareness of the truth of your self - then there cant be a better combination. You are doing
great. May you enjoy every moment and also remain awake.

>Am I right that it also points to exactly the same
>direction as our previous talk that major obstacle to realization is a
>sense of individuality, or I should not have moved in a new area
>before realizing this truth directly?

The above elaborations will reveal that it is not really a new area. They are connected, by facilitating to refine the quality of the very enquiry, and also bring about conditions to help to 'see' the facts directly.

With lots of love,

Swami Atmananda

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6

Laying the dying on the ground !

Hari om !

>namste, one of my friens asked me this ?. when a hindus die why is it his body
>is placed on the ground. what is the logic behind it ? pl help.

Further to your question regarding laying down a person on ground. Number one, the system is not that when a person is dead that he is laid on the ground, but he is supposed to be laid on the ground when he / she is very much alive and when all possibilities of his survival are over, and also when definite signs of the incoming death are visible. (References : Kaushik Sutras - 80/3, Baudhayana-pitramegha-sutras - 3/1/18). The Shastras enumerate various signs & premonitions of the incoming death which are visible even one year in advance right to the last sign just before the death.

The reason for this practice (which is also prevelant in some parts of Europe - see the article 'The Hour of death' by Prof Edgurton in the 'Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute) is to leave the world with a mind free from all attachments. The bed symbolises all that which bring comfort to the body and ensure its continuation in this world. The professed & practised ideal is to mentally leave the world even before the Jiva leaves the physical body. All attachments, all relatives etc are seen as things provided by God to help us lead a good worldly life, before death they are mentally returned to God and one should mentally go with a clean slate. With the help of these practices the incoming death is accepted gracefully with full mental preparation. Obviously the person who has been laid on the ground is suggested few other things too which gaurantee that his mind will keep reveling in God and nothing else. The relatives too are enjoined to facilitate creation of conditions which help him revel in that which is
eternal and not the ephemeral. The eigth chapter of Gita reveals that the last thought at the time of death helps decides our next life & state, so the last moment is always considered very important.

Hope your friend & you will get the answer to the query.

With love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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7

The Right deduction

Hari om !

> I was wondering if it is possible to live without an ego.
> The reason i ask this is because if there is no ego
> then there are no desires, and if there are no
> desires then there is no action , and if there is no
> action then there is no life.. As usual I ask you
> for your help at your convenience.
>
Further to your query, the apparently logical inference has some premises which are incorrect. The right deduction should be. Living without ego is very much possible, because it simply implies 'living without the diseased & discomforting state of limitaton', which further implies freedom from 'selfish' desires, absence of selfish desires implies absence of 'ego-centric' actions. Obviously there cant be vacuum specially when there is fullness within, so what then is seen are dynamic actions but of 'love, wisdom & well-being of all'. That's what true knowledge is all about, and that is when real life begins. So reject the life of limitation and expand. This is what all scriptures and also the life of all saints the world over including that of our avatar-purushas reveal. In ego-centric life you are never at ease - that is why it is called a dis-eased state, I am sure this is not worth any justifications.

With lots of love & om to all of you,

Guruji

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8

The Great Nishachar

Hari Om !

Thanks for your nice comments on my earlier mail. Here is some masala on this fellow called 'ego'.

It appears that in our minds we have created this ego on the basis of what we have acquired in the past.

The specific details of ego, as it is seen today, is certainly a product of past impressions
pertaining to ourselves, but it is basically a product of ignorance of some facts about ourself
in this present moment itself. Therefore it can be handled & effaced easily.

The relationship of our mind with the ego is closer than that of twins at birth !!!

Mind and ego are definitely very closely related, but I would rather compare the two with the relationship of a mother & child. This is simply because ego is a product of an ignorant mind itself. So the moment the mind is activated the ego is in position controlling our reactions. This simultaneous activation will be so only as long as the mind is 'ignorant. Ego is a 'Nishachar', it is born in darkness, and also lives, thrives & operates in darkness alone. It is Rajneesh - the king of the night. Bring the light and the darkness is not there and along with it also go all the products of darkness.

The trick is to connect the mind to the Intellect bypassing the ego totally and acting to a situation rather than reacting !!!!

Not really !!! The trick is to understand the truth of ourself. It is only when the rope is understood as rope that it will not be mis-apprehended as a snake. Bypassing the snake amounts to believing that the snake is really there.

Easier said than done !!! The real difficult uphill journey has just begun. !!!!

Really speaking there is nothing to be done but only to be understood, but I agree that this understanding itself is tricky. If the snake-like ego is not yet seen as mis-apprehension, till that
time one has to learn to live with it by living a sattvic life - where this individual loves someone to such an extent that it itself becomes secondary. That someone should preferably be God himself - an embodiment of this knowledge and enlightenment. May he be our role-model and conquer our hearts. During moments of love even though the ego exists yet it's fangs are as good as removed. So you are very near to the state of the experience of egolessness - not from understanding point of view but experientially. Effacement of ego by proper understanding ensures its rooting out, but bringing about the state of egolessness by any other means ensures its re-surfacing.

Swaminiji must have reached Ahmedhabad safely. We also wish you a good and comfortable trip to Delhi. Delhi people will also now be blessed with your presence, your love and your knowledge on a regular basis.

The Delhi Yagna here has had a humble beginning. The efforts to organise the discourses have been very sincere. It is basically a one-man job. A blessed soul indeed.

With lots of love & om to both of you,

Guruji

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9

Thoughtlessness & the thoughtfulness

Hari om !

"MB" wrote :
The thirst to know the Infinite, that 'I am That' is there, but we have to become thought-less (mind and intellect must be quiet) in order to experience the Infinite.

The necessity of having a quiet mind to know he truth of yourself is not a point of contention. This is one of the basic requisite of a student of Vedanta. The Sadhana Chatushtaya sampatti clearly points that out. The point which I was trying to put forward was simply that the absence
of experience of thoughts should not be considered synonymous with negating thoughts. Negation implies realisation of the mithyatvam of thoughts, just as we realise the mithyatvam of a our reflection in a mirror. With this realisation of the ephemerality of thoughts, the thoughts
do drop, and this state of being free from all thoughts, is extremely necessary to know 'that' which remains even when thoughts are not there.

A person who has realised the ephemerality of thoughts, will not really be bothered even if the perception of thoughts is there. So the thrust has to be to know the truth of thoughts rather than quietening the thoughts. As far as experiencing the state of thoughtlessness is concerned, you
any way experience it so many times daily. The reference to our deep-sleep experience is for that purpose alone. Yet if that is not sufficient you may even consciously keep aside all your thoughts and 'see' what remains when the thoughts are quiet. The proof of really having seen
that which is the very substratum of thoughts, is to later 'see' that & that alone as the very essence of one & all, including your thoughts. Thoughts also will be seen as 'that self-effulgent blissful existence', which you had 'directly realised' after quietening all your thoughts, just as all pots are seen as nothing but that mud alone, which alone was when the pot was not there.
Such men of knowledge revel in the non-dual inspite of the perception of this apparent duality. You see one inspite of the perception of many. That's the beauty of the knowledge of Vedanta. That is what Lord Krishna says 'Verily, everything whatsoever is Vasudeva alone'.

Love & om,

Swami Atmananda

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10

Gita & the profit motive !

(Sent to the Rediff on the Net)

Read the interview of the so called ‘inspirational writer’ Gita Piramal. In her enthusiasm to provide the much needed ‘role models’ for today’s businessmen she has given such statements which makes her assertions that ‘she has done lot of research before writing’ her book questionable.

Her statement ‘Most of our people grow up in an environment where the profit motive is considered the root-cause of evil. The Bhagavad Gita exhorts people to shun it. Jawaharlal Nehru talked of socialism, against profit. It is as if we Indians have a pathological hatred for profit.’ is the one which I would not only like to question but would firmly negate as baseless & malicious. Such statements reveal that not only she has definitely not read Bhagwad Gita, but also has not gone deeply into the secret of success of people like GD, on whom she claims to right authoritatively. I happen to be a teacher of Bhagwad Gita and I firmly deny that Gita has in any place exhorted people to shun profit, and I have reasons to believe that GD personally had so great a respect for Gita and Krishna, that he almost had Krishna alone as his ‘role model’. Lord Krishna and his teachings were a constant source of his inspiration. So too Mahatma Gandhi, who constantly drew inspiration from Bhagwad Gita to achieve feats which posterity can simply admire and maybe write books on. It is not I who say this but the very Mahatma himself. Either Gandhiji did not know what he was talking about or such over enthusiastic writers do not know what they are talking about. I would humbly suggest that instead of merely being bothered about the demands of people and requirements of publishers please also be bothered about facts. The present decadence is not because of precepts of Bhagwad Gita but because of our ignorance of its vision and teachings. It is only in & for Hinduism that such malicious liberties are possible. Something should be certainly done for people like these who want to attain cheap success by things like mud slinging.

If at all there is some absence of daring and enthusiasm in today’s businessmen then it is simply because of their own fears & complexes. Instead of attributing their inabilities to their cultural & spiritual values, which they have never even cared to know, it would be more closer to facts if reasons were discovered closer in fields of their influences & knowledge or maybe the absence of it. It was this Bg.Gita alone which motivated Arjuna the great warrior to act on without any complacency or weakness borne out of our attachments and fears of possible failures. Make your very work a pleasure, your love, and thereafter no setbacks are ever possible. Even though for such people success is bound to come, yet even this success cannot bring about any complacency, they work on, attaining greater & greater heights. That’s what Gita, sorry Bh.Gita is talking about. I not only wish but even pray that ‘May Bhagwad Gita once again become a source of inspiration of not only for all our countrymen but for all people all over the world.’

Swami Atmananda

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OM TAT SAT