Friday, September 15, 2017

Sep 2017 Revision of 'Pujya Swamiji The Mahatma I Know'

Press the link below to go the page on 'Pujya Swamiji The Mahatma I Know' - I have revised it slightly to include some mention of Pujya Swamiji's writings.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Calling The Ego’s Bluff

The ego which believes itself to the body-mind complex, separate from everything else, poses as a real entity.
What is the meaning of being a real entity? A real entity is that which is always there. If you can prove its absence even in one instance, then you cannot call that thing as real.
First let’s understand what are the constituents of the ego?
That I am a conscious being I cannot dispute. I am a conscious being, conscious of myself as a historical being. This historical being is just the roles assumed by the conscious being during the process of living life, as well as an intricate network of association of ideas, memories constituting the sub-conscious, the unconscious, and conscious memory etc.
If you really analyse it the historical person has no autonomous existence of its own, moreover  it is always in a state of flux changing from one personality to another, as conditions changes and the situation demands, or as some event triggers some memories.
Is the historical being intrinsic to the consciousness that I basically am?
To be intrinsic to consciousness that I am, it must always be there, exactly in the same form.
However what I find is that it not always there. Consciousness is always there, illumining not only the changing flux that is the historical being, but also the absence of the historical being, as in sleep, or a moment of joy, or a quiet moment in meditation.
Historical being is there -------- > Consciousness is there
Historical being is absent --------- > Consciousness is there.
I am the consciousness in whose ever unchanging presence, the absence as well as the presence of the historical being is illumined, is revealed.
So in the consciousness that I am, the historical being is an appearance only – the personality is not intrinsic to consciousness.
Consciousness is in reality totally free of the historical person, whereas the historical person is totally dependent on consciousness to enliven and reveal its presence.
This knowledge is very freeing, very stabilizing.
To recognize that one is indeed independent of the historical personality at all times, is truly stabilizing and liberating.
I have a friend, a Vedanta student, who in the core of her psyche, suffered from the extreme sense of helplessness and powerlessness. It controlled her whole life, in an unconscious manner. She was a dependent personality, always unconsciously looking out for support from stronger personality figures. 
As she began understanding Vedanta, she began sitting for longer hours of meditation. In one of her meditation sessions, she experienced an incredible sense of helplessness, powerlessness – a black black feeling. She was completely identified with it and sank along with it.
For a day or two she suffered with this nameless sense of helplessness. Finally she called me. I had to work with her at several levels. First I explained to her it was old feelings from her troubled childhood coming up. Instead of rejecting the feelings, could she just stay with the feelings in loving awareness of it – holding them as it were, even as she would a helpless child. Just compassionately stay with the feelings and it would dissipate. She did that and reported that though they did dissipate, she had a very uncomfortable feeling inside.
I then asked her, “Are you helpless in your life right now?”. She had to admit that she was not.  In fact her life was going well – she had adequate support from the people in her life on all counts. Now she was able to see, that these helpless feelings were from the unconscious from the past – stored there and being triggered now. Understanding this was a big relief. I pointed out to her that these experiences of helplessness had left her with a strong conclusion centered on ‘I’ – namely ‘I am helpless, I am powerless’.
Now I asked to examine if this conclusion was true in the present time. She had to admit it was not true. Then I gently pointed out that in fact she did not need to hold on to this conclusion in her life anymore. She could let it go. If again she faced difficult situations, she could always ask for help either from Lord or people or both. She agreed.
Now since she was an advanced Vedanta student, I took it further. I reminded her that essentially she is consciousness, the witness,  in whose presence this feeling of helplessness is being  illumined. She must ascertain for herself, if the feeling of helplessness belonged to the consciousness being that she is.
Her years of Vedanta study helped her. She told me the helplessness feeling is drshya ( seen) and I am the drk  (the seer, the subject). The subject being always different from the object, the feeling of helplessness  cannot belong to the consciousness that she is.  Again she herself pointed out that this feeling of helplessness, was not always there – it came up very occasionally. Again in deep-sleep it was totally absent – whereas the consciousness is there.
So she ascertained for herself very conclusively that the conclusion ‘I am helpless, I am powerless’ was false – totally false. This was very liberating for her. She understood the importance of immediate recognition of consciousness being changelessly ever-present and independent of the body-mind complex.
So in Vedanta, it is important to negate obtaining erroneous conclusions about the self, and recognize the nature consciousness that one is essentially, being totally independent of the body-mind complex. Logic in keeping with what one has studied from the scriptures is very helpful for this.
Firstly intimately understand the nature of the body and mind being mithya. Mithya means it has no autonomous existence – this is easy to understand – you can see that the body-mind complex is only a coming together of various interdependent constituents, which are ever in state of flux. And eventually the entire body-mind complex is dependent on consciousness to enliven it and reveal it. So dependence, change, and being objects of consciousness characterize both body and mind.... so it is mithya not real. Again the presence of body-mind is not always there – the three states of experience show us that. The consciousness of absence of body-mind, in deep-sleep, again helps us to see that any conclusion about oneself which has reference to the body-mind is false.
Thus any conclusions, centered on Consciousness-I, who is the drk,  which have the body-mind as a reference point can only be false and they must be negated as false, at an empirical psychological level, as well as at the level of ascertaining the true I.  In the process of negation the emotional holding onto those conclusions loosens and wears off eventually.
Om Tat Sat

Friday, August 25, 2017

Surrender - Om Harih Sharanam

Dedicated to all the SadGurus

All that is here is Ishvara.

This body which I thought is mine, I  recognize now, that I did not create this. I simply hold it in trust. For whom? For its owner – Ishvara. I did not create this body nor the mind-stuff. Nor did my parents ....  they knew nothing of how all the systems here work – the skeletal, muscular, endrocine, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, reproductive systems – what a wonderfully intelligent community of cells living in harmony to provide a grand instrument for me, to use and experience this amazing world in which I find myself placed.

Like the body-mind-sense complex was given to me, so too is this universe. I, a simple conscious being, endowed with this body-mind-sense complex, did not create this universe. It is given. The intelligence that pervades this universe through a complex network of laws of cause and effect, is the same intelligence that pervades this body-mind-sense complex, making all of it what it is.
This super intelligence has to rest in a conscious being – and that conscious being who is endowed with this super intelligence is who I call Ishvara. Ishvara is the cause of this universe which includes the body-mind-sense complex I am endowed with. Usually we in the universe we find  there are two types of causes. For example, a watch has a watch-maker, the intelligent cause as well as the material it is made of . So in the case of the universe the intelligent cause is Ishvara. And where did Ishvara get the material that this universe is made of?

After all before the universe came into being, there was no time, no space, no material . There was only Ishvara. So the material for this universe could have come from only place – that is Ishvara. Meaning Ishvara is both the intelligent cause as well as the material for this universe.
This truth has huge implications. It means the body-mind-sense complex that I think of as ‘mine’ – is really not mine. It belongs to Ishvara all the way. I am just the simple conscious being, who is aware of this body-mind complex, who has been entrusted with it, to use as an INSTRUMENT for participating enthusiastically, alertly and cheerfully in Ishvara’s universe.

The scriptures point out that Ishvara in reality is One, Without A Second, ekam eva advitiyam,  partless whole.  Ishvara in reality has never changed to become many, Ishvara only appears as this manifold universe through his inscrutable and undefinable power to do so – that power has been given a name Maya.  Maya is not independent of Ishvara.  Maya  is not a parallel  reality to Ishvara.  Maya  is Ishvara’s shakti and so fully dependent on Ishvara. Ishvara can withdraw his shakti at any time – Ishvara is independent of Maya.

Based on this understanding, I take refuge in Ishvara. Ishvara is my strength, my Guru, my friend, my well-wisher, my father, my mother, my all. I look upon this universe of which this body-mind-sense complex is a part (I say this, because it is Ishvara’s, not mine) as a grand stage in which the drama of life is going on. Endowed with this body-mind-sense complex, I am an ACTOR in this drama, playing various roles, whose scripts are written by Ishvara. As far as living this life is concerned, all I have to do is follow the scripts and play my part, even as an actor does, with enthusiasm, alertness and cheerfulness. I do not invest a sense of reality in roles I am playing, nor in the situations that I play them in – because I know it is a drama. I am centered in Ishvara, not on this body-mind-sense complex. Ishvara has the script for this body-mind-sense complex all ready – I don’t resist His script. Sometimes it is not easy, especially when the script is unfavourable to this body-mind complex – then I simply affirm Ishvara is my strength, my well-wisher and allow myself to accept His script cheerfully. Om Harih Sharanam

Ishvara is my well-wisher. I accept that. Ishvara is also the karma-phalla-daata. I used to find this very difficult to reconcile these two aspects of Ishvara.  The law of karma by itself is inert. It is Ishvara who gives the karma-phalla.  How can my well-wisher dole out so much pain? I realize now that pain, physical or emotional has a purpose.

The cause of pain, in the karma model, is a prior unworthy action, an action not in keeping with the harmony of Ishvara’s universe. What caused that unworthy action? The sense of apurnata (incompletness).  Where did the apurnata comes from? Because I took the body-mind-complex to be both ‘I’ and ‘mine’. Why did I do that when it is not true? Because of ignorance.

So the presence of pain, points out that there was ignorance behind the pain. That ignorance must go. For that ignorance to go, one must pursue knowledge and discover that one is free of this body-mind-sense complex.

My taking refuge in Ishvara, my surrender to Ishvara is the natural outcome of this knowledge of my truth. This surrender means that I accept fully that all that is here is Ishvara, and all that is here is ok, it is all meant to be exactly how it is meant to be. I don’t have to run after anything here in this universe, because nothing here has the capacity to give me what I wanted all the time (before the surrender) namely security and happiness 24x7 without a trace of sorrow. So now I can allow myself to fold up my mind and simply rest in Ishvara, my home, my refuge, my Self.

Om Tat Sat

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Sadhana of Witnessing

Vedanta points out that what shine here as ‘I’ is pure consciousness ... who is independent, timeless (indestructible) and purna (whole) – who is ever the one who illumines, enlivens, empowers the body and mind, who is indeed never the illumined.
There is a rule given by Vedanta – the subject ‘I’, the conscious being who experiences life, is distinct from every object of experience even though no object of experience is ever separate from  consciousness, the one who experiences. One can understand this in several ways. No object of experience can reveal its presence without the presence of a conscious being who cognizes it. Again the very being of the object of experiences, its ‘isness’ is not separate from the ‘isness’  or existence of the conscious being who cognizes it. It is one Being-consciousness who manifests as the conscious-experiencer as well as the experienced object.
This rule that the conscious-experiencer is distinct from, independent of the experienced object is easy enough to understand  ... I see the wall... I experience the wall ... so wall is an object of my experience of seeing ... I am different from the wall. Easy enough.
What about I see the body,  I experience the body, I experience the mind in its various forms of thoughts, feelings, doubts, memories, ego  .... when it comes to the body and mind that I am endowed with I am not able to say that I am distinct from them. In my understanding the body is me, the mind is me.
Here is where we need more knowledge. What is difference between consciousness-I and every object of experience which includes this body and this mind.
Vedanta points out that consciousness that shines as ‘I’ is not the body-mind, nor is it a part of the  body-mind, not a property of the body-mind, nor is it a product of the body-mind. It is self-existing and self-revealing – in fact it is the only self-existing, self-revealing INDEPENDENT, CHANGLESS REALITY (satya), ever-free of energy and matter which are its apparent every-changing manifestations. Consciousness is oneself- so it can never be an object of experience. Consciousness is ever the subject and never the object. Consciousness is oneself- so it can never be an object of experience
 Consciousness illuminates, reveals everything else – we find that not even the brilliant sun can reveal its presence in the absence of a conscious being to cognize it. No object of experience can reveal itself – therefore objects of experience are considered as basically inert as they do not have the capacity to reveal themselves. Thus every object of experience is a DEPENDENT, CHANGING  REALITY (mithya). And  consciousness, the independent absolute reality is basis of, the content of the dependent changing reality of energy and matter.
Consciousness  is indestructible, free of time – it ever was, it ever is, it ever will-be. Whereas objects of experience are all within the purview of time – they arise to go. They manifest and again resolve back into the unmanifest again.
Consciousness is all-pervading – it is here, there and everywhere. Whereas objects of experience have limitations in pervasiveness.
Consciousness-I is to be recognized as it is. Recognising Consciousness-I to be as it is is to have true knowledge of ‘I’ and this knowledge liberates one from the sorrow of taking oneself to be the mortal body-mind.
A very useful sadhana which helps us to recognize that  what shine here as “I”is self-evident, self-revealing, immediate consciousness which is indeed distinct from whatever is experienced in its presence, is the sadhana, the discipline of ‘witnessing’ one’s thoughts. This discipline trains us to separate  self-evident consciousness-I from thought and recognize that I am indeed independent of thoughts/ mind. We can extend it to witnessing actions also – which will not be considered in this article.
Witnessing means one observes one’s thoughts without involvement. We can also put it as ‘observing’ without attachment. So I am the one who observes the thoughts that arise in my mind, and the thoughts are what are observed. I am the drshta, the observer of thoughts, the self-evident conscious being, the atma and the thoughts are drshya, the observed, which is dependent on me for being observed.
Our Shastra gives us a thorough understanding of thoughts by guiding us to observe our thoughts, gain more understanding about them by labelling them, and then letting them go.  So we start by observing individual thoughts as they arise, we label them and let go of any holding onto them – or subscribing to them by allowing them to create a story. This allows us over a period of time, to discover, that the conscious that I am is the invariable, in whose presence thoughts are illumined, and even though I am intimately present when thought is there, I am unaffected by the thought.
When we observe we can find out:-
1.      In which state is my mind currently – is it
a.      disturbed/troubled (kshipta)
b.       dull/heavy (mudha)
c.       Distracted, partly focussed (vikshipta)
d.     One-pointed, focussed (ekagra)
e.      Disciplined, mastered (niruddha)

2.      Is this thought
a.      coloured or afflicted (klishtha)
b.       not colored or not afflicted (aklishtha)

3.      Is this thought
a.      Useful to our growth
b.      Not useful to growth

4.      Which qualities or gunas are dominant with this thought
a.      Sattva – noble, knowledgeable, light
b.      Rajas – active, ambitious, moving
c.       Tamas -  inert, stable, stagnant
5.      If the thought is coloured, which colourings are dominant?
a.      Forgetting of one’s truth, veiling (avidya)
b.      Claiming ‘I’-ness – (asmita)
c.       Being attracted to or drawn towards (raga)
d.     Having aversion for, or wanting to avoid (dvesha)
e.      Fear of death, loss, anxiety –(abhinivesha)
6.      Which type of thought is this?
a.      Clear, correct, valid knowledge – pramana
b.      Unclear, contradictory, misunderstood – viparyaya
c.       Conceptualizing, fantasy –vikalpa
d.     Sleepy, focussed on anatma  -nidra
e.      Memory, recalling –smriti
7.      How strong is this colouring? You can grade it as low, medium, high
8.      How do I know this is true?
a.      Through perception (pratyaksha)
b.      Through reasoning /logic (Tarka)
c.       Through scriptures (pramana or Agama)

Having labelled the thought, I can ask myself is this thought pattern who I am, or am I the conscious being who illumines the thought, who is the one who has the thought, who is distinct from the thought.

I discover that like light, in whose all-pervading presence all things are illumined, and yet light is untouched by what it illumines, I too am the self-evident conscious being, in whose all-presence, different thought arise  and resolve, and yet I am untouched by the thought.

Om Tat Sat.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Breathing and Wholeness

This morning, as usual I was into certain breathing exercises. I am fairly regular with them. They cleanse one’s energy field, fill one with great vitality. They also are practice for the capacity for focussing by simply staying  with the breath and letting one’s auto-nervous system relax.
Inhaling – there is awareness of in-breath
Exhaling – there is awareness of out-breath.
I simply stay with the breath. It’s wonderful. The body is still. Yes I have the capacity to move, yet I simply suspend that capacity and keep the body still. The mind calms down as I stay with my breath and notice that there is awareness of in-breath and out-breath.
Soon there is awareness of body being still, the breath being smooth and the mind being quiet.
I am a simple awareful being – a simple conscious being, witness to the stillness in the body, the smoothness of breath and the quietness of the mind. Now it is easy for me to acknowledge this fact that the awareness that I am, the consciousness that I am, is whole, is peace.
At this moment of understanding there is total fulfilment in my self - there is nothing to gain. I am not looking for anything new to happen. There is no resistance to anything whatsoever – I simply am. This ‘am-ness’ is purna. There is no need for words – yes the capacity to form words and understand is there – yet I do not have to form any words. This is a wordless being .... and the Being is whole.
Am I going to lose this wholeness when the mind come’s back, when resistance to facts comes back?
No – I cannot lose this wholeness that is the Self, ever – even when there loss of peace of mind.
Why? Because what shine’s here as Self  is the Being who is independent of the mind, the breath, the body. Certainly the mind, the breath, the body are not independent of me, the self-evident, self-revealing consciousness – yet I am independent of the mind, the breath, the body.
 In ignorance, I totally identify with the body, the breath, the mind and in ignorance and ignorance alone, my wholeness seems to depend on the quietness of the mind, the smoothness of the breath and the stillness of the body. Oh what a miserable wholeness I must be then, totally dependent on the condition of the mind, the breath and the body.
When I recognize the self to be independent of the body, breath and mind, the wholeness of the self is not dependent on their condition. This is real freedom.
In wholeness there is no ‘becoming’. One does not ‘become’ whole because of certain conditions. If that were so, one’s wholeness could not be whole – because it will be lost when the conditions change. The truth must be that what shines here as self-revealing, self-evident Consciousness-I  is whole – here and now, no matter what the condition of the body, the breath or the mind.
Dear Lord, may we all revel in that knowledge of wholeness, which apparently manifests as all that is here. I am whole, You are Whole. All That Is  is Whole.

Om Tat Sat

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Immanence of God - by Swami Chidananda

Radiant Divinities! Blessed sadhaks and seekers! Spiritual aspirants aspiring to follow the spiritual life, aspiring to progress upon the spiritual path, aspiring to attain success in your spiritual sadhana and aspiring to achieve the great, glorious, spiritual goal of divine perfection and liberation! To all of you I recommend the awareness of the spiritual presence of Gurudev.
During the day everything is illumined by the sun. When the sun sets the darkness may be illumined by the moon. If there is no moon the darkness will still be illumined by the stars in the sky. And if it is a cloudy night in the middle of the rainy season, and even the light of the stars are denied to us, then it is fire that illumines—like that akhanda dipam (oil lamp burning silently there behind the glass door.
The current may be cut off, that lamp may go out, and we may be in dense darkness—you cannot see your hand in front of your face—yet, you know that you are there. By what light is your presence known? You are aware of yourself and the presence of people and things around you, even though they are not visible. What is it that knows their invisible presence? That is the Light of Consciousness. And that Light of Consciousness is the presence of God within.
Silently that Light is observing everything that is going on here. It not only observes our physical bodies, but what is going on in our hearts and minds. It also knows what we do not know. It knows what is lying in our subconscious minds, to which even our conscious active minds have no access (except only occasionally during dream). And it is this silent Light of Consciousness that observes all the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep.
For the individual consciousness as well as the universal consciousness, the innermost self-essence is consciousness, awareness, knowledge that I am.Philosophy uses the same identical term for both—atma-tattva. The universal consciousness they call paramatma or visvatma and the individual they call jivatma. Atma is the same to both because it means self-awareness. And this self-awareness is both in the aspect of the universal source of all being and the source of your own present limited, separatist self-consciousness. It is the source of both, and the relationship between the two is of the utmost importance.
Eko devah sarvabhuteshu gudhah sarvavyapi sarvabhutantaratma, karmadhyakshah sarvabhutadhivasah (God, Who is one only, is hidden in all beings. He pervades all and He is the inner soul of all beings. He presides over all actions and He dwells in all beings). Three times the indwelling presence of God has been brought out in this single verse—sarvabhuteshu gudhah (hidden in all beings), sarvabhutantaratma (inner self of all beings), sarvabhutadhivasah (immanent in all beings). Sarvavyapi (all-pervading) only once, but the indwelling presence thrice within a single verse. Here also: saman sarveshu bhuteshu tishthantam paramesvaram (the Supreme Lord is equally present in all beings). Again, twice that I am within all creatures: ahamatma gudakesa sarvabhutasayasthitah, aham adischa madhyam cha bhutanam anta eva cha (I am the Self, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all beings; I am the beginning, the middle and also the end of all beings).
This is something very, very important. Sarvabhutahridayastha (present in the heart of all beings) has been raised to that supreme height because of this fact—He indwells all creatures. Vasanat vasudevasya vasitam bhuvanatrayam, sarvabhutanivaso’si vasudeva namostu te—Thou indwellest all beings, O Lord. Therefore I bow to you in all. And Gurudev said: “Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms. Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms.” He did not say in all these men. Rather, he said in all these names and forms, whatever the name might be, whatever the form might be—not necessarily a human name and form, but whatever living beings God has created.
These are all powerful inducements to the three cardinal virtues that lead to liberation: ahimsa, satyam and brahmacharya (non-injury, truth and purity). If you are aware of the indwelling presence of God in all creatures, ahimsa is inevitable. If you are aware that He dwells within you, and He is satyasvarupa (essence of truth), asatya (untruth) to you is impossible and satya becomes imperative. If you are aware that He is within all creatures and within yourself, then our relationships have to be of the same quality as the indwelling presence in both us and in others—that is divine. And God is supreme purity—nitya suddha, amala, vimala, niranjana. Therefore man’s relationship to all fellow beings will also become pervaded by a supreme divine quality of purity. And samyama (self-control) and brahmacharya will become automatically realised if man keeps himself in the awareness of the presence of the silent Light of God within himself and all creatures.
Therefore, the relationship of each being to that indwelling Light of God is of the very essence. If that relationship is always borne in mind and kept in our heart, then our relationship with all other things automatically becomes right, proper, ideal and as it ought to be. Even the good that we do we will do because the Spirit of God indwells all creatures.
To be aware of this and therefore not to harm or do anything bad to any creature is a very essential part of our sadhana and spiritual life; otherwise, you will be offending God Whom you are trying to realise. If you are hostile towards nature, you are hostile to God, because God is immanent in nature and indwells all. And to be hostile and thus relate yourself destructively to any creature would be to destroy the sensitive ecological balance that has been created by the Master Mind, the Great Intelligence, which is no other than God Himself. Everything will be upset if any species of creature is harmed beyond limit. Our relationship with the environment, nature, with all creatures, with all other fellow human beings and ultimately our relationship with ourselves will become perfect if the relationship of ourselves and all beings to that indwelling Light of God is ever borne in mind.
Thus you see the four-fold relationship of awareness of man: awareness of the immanence of God in nature, awareness of the presence of God in all creatures, awareness of the presence of the Light of God in all fellow human beings and awareness of the ideal way to relate oneself to oneself—make oneself an instrument of God, make oneself a channel for the manifestation and expression of God’s divinity and God’s purity. This becomes sahaja (natural) to one who lives in the awareness of God’s indwelling presence in the form of the inner Light of lights beyond all darkness, which is in all hearts. And to be in awareness of this is to set right immediately your relationship to yourself. You can never stoop to harbour anything that is undivine or unspiritual either in your feelings or sentiments, nor in the thoughts of your mind or intellectual process.
Thus it is that immanence is key to divinity. Awareness of God’s presence within and without, in all beings, in all creatures, in all nature becomes the key, the secret of living in the awareness of the Yoga of the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga of the first verse of the Isopanishad. What more can I say? Be aware, be aware of God, aware of your relationship to Him, and make your life sublime and divine and attain the supreme, grand goal of all spiritual aspiration, of all spiritual life, of all spiritual sadhana, of all spiritual living, the grand goal of God-consciousness and divine perfection and liberation.
May God help you in your sincere endeavour to attain this supreme state here and now in this very body, in this very life! This is my prayer at the feet of Gurudev’s presence, at the Feet of God Who is within and without. Gurudev’s grace and God’s grace be upon you always and give you sure victory in this great quest!
(This article has been reproduced from the book, "Ponder These Truths" by Swami Chidananda)