Friday, June 19, 2009

Discovering Trust In Ishvara

The purpose of all study of Vedanta is to discover yourself to be the person who is content and secure in yourself, at all times. While working you are comfortable with yourself and the world, and in retirement you are comfortable with yourself and the world. When we are not comfortable with ourselves … and so naturally we are not comfortable with the world.
Supposing you are walking with shoes inside which is a thorn. Can you be comfortable? You cannot. The thorn is piercing your flesh and it is very painful. Exactly at this time your friend comes upto you and tells you his sad story .. will you be able to sympathize with him? No. You are concerned with your own intense pain…. You have to get rid of that first and only then can you attend to your friend.
The thorn of pain is lodged firmly in the human heart…. the pain of the sense of isolation, the pain of loneliness, the pain of not being understood, the pain of loss of loved ones, the pain of painful memories, the pain of sadness, hurt, fear, anger and guilt. Because of this accumalated pain we cannot be comfortable with ourselves.
In many cases it is accumulated pain… meaning it is not the pain of the immediate present…. Rather it is the pain of the past remembered in the present that is is bringing the pain… or it is in anticipation of a pain in the future.
A mentor told me a story. “There was this man who was standing in front of a mirror and his finger began to bleed. He looked at his bleeding finger in the mirror. Then he quickly went and got some medicine and a bandage and bandaged it. He quickly healed. But in his mind the image of reflection of the bleeding hand was stuck. He never looked at his healed image in the mirror – only the damaged one was left behind. So he would always be stuck with that image – that he was damaged.
Supposing in your work place, you were insulted badly by your collegues, or because of a cruel conspiracy of people, you had to leave your job. You become very depressed and sad. You see yourself as having been hurt by other people. After a few months you get a new job which you like and you are happy. Yet you keep brooding about the past job’s unhappy end and feel hurt again and again.
It is exactly like the man in front of the mirror, who saw his bleeding finger in the mirror. Even after the problem with the finger has been taken care of, he still holds on to his idea of being hurt, because he is stuck with that image of himself being damaged – he is heavily identified with it and so keeps on cmplaining,.
Actually in real life no such damaged person exists – still because his mind is loaded with the image of the bleeding man … he lives with that damaged image and suffers thinking that he is damaged today. The damage was in the past. It is over. It is no more there today. Today that damaged person does not exist. But he is so identified with that image of damage that even today he moans and cries everyday, spoiling his each day.
In this way, we also load our minds with the image of a damaged person that does not exist in the present …. We have to learn to take each transaction as it happens and refuse to carry over and clutter our minds with the damaged images of the past. The past is PAST. It is dead – gone. Refuse to identify with the past, dead, gone images. Refuse to chew on past pain. Refuse to continue to look at the reflections of damaged person of the past or the anticipated damaged person of the future. Simply live in the present. In your every present moment you have the choice of either
living in the painful remembered past or joyous past that does not exist today
or the anticipated IMAGINED painful / joyful future
Remember, the past does not exist NOW, the future also does not exist now. In the NOW are you going to waste your time weeping about the non-existent past, or the non-existent future? If you do …. That is what we will call as psychological time. It is psychological time that is painful….. because this is only imagined - meaning it does not exist, how can you do something about it? It would be like bandaging the remembered reflection in the mirror, which does not exist now except in your mind.
What about the pain in the present moment? The pain in the present moment is to be accepted and dealt with as appropriate … don’t carry it forward in your memory and destroy your happiness.
How to do this? By understanding the meaning of NOW… the meaning of now is YOURSELF who is the light of awareness/ consciousness as free and vast as space … as totally free of pain as sunlight is of what it illumines. That is the meaning of Now … now IS SIMPLY YOURSELF the light of consciousness, free, whole and secure and free of the past, free of the future in whose presence all that is objectified is illumined.
Any joy or pain that is felt in the NOW … simply feel it, accept it and let it go. Don’t make an image of yourself as damaged or happy out of it – don’t make a story out of it and live inside that story.
At this moment you are experiencing something… whatever you are experiencing simply accept it, feel it whatever it is joy or pain or whatever…. Then glide into the next moment without a carry forward and experience the next moment as a free person… instead of as a reflected image of the previous moment.
How is it possible to be so free, experiencing moment by moment as it comes without a carry forward?Whatever is happening in the now…. How much of it are you the author of? Are you the individual, the script-writer for what is happening in the NOW?
Say right now …. You are in this hall, listening to me … this particular moment did you author? Did you author the asan on which you are sitting, the clothes that you are wearing, the space in the room, the walls of the room, the other people in the room, outside the room the cemented road, the railings , the space, the air, the water in the Ganga, the rocks outside, the cold in the air?
Ask yourself at any given moment what have you authored in that moment? You will findthat you have authored nothing. The moment is given moment … you might have done certain actions that contributed to the moment … but the moment itself is a result of countless factors that you niether know about, nor you have done anything with. Then who is the author of any given moment? Is that author of the moment one or are there many?
Who is the author of this given moment?
It is not you the individual … it is Ishvara or whom we call as God.
We have been studying Vedanta now … so if I ask any one of you who is Ishvara. You will be able to tell me Ishvara is the light of consciousness that is ever-existent and indestructible, that is boundary-less – who is all knowing, all powerful and all pervasive. In Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 13, the Lord describes himself,
That (jneya brahma), the one who has hands and feet on all sides, the one who has eyes, heads and mouths (faces) on all sides, the one who has ears on all sides in the (bodies) of the people remains pervading everything.
(That Brahman) appears as the attributes of all the organs, is free from all the organs, is unattached and is the sustainer of all, is free from the (three) qualities and is the experiencer of the (three) qualities.
And that (jneya brahma) is outside and inside of the beings, it is that which does not move and indeed what moves. Because it is subtle, it is not known and it is far as well as near.

And that is to be known as the one who remains undivided in the beings and who is seemingly divided, who is the sustainer of the beings and elements, and who is the devourer and the creator.
In these verses the nature of God is clearly brought out. Lord is in His own nature or svarupa is Nirgunam – free of all attributes, free of form, pure, stainless. The Lord is the Light of Consciousness, that is ever-present and indestructible, that is boundary-less, actionless and unattached. He is the Absolute Truth
And He alone manifests as all the beings, as the organs, as those that move and those that do not move. Though undivided, whole and unchanging in reality, he appears as divided and changing – as the countless names and forms. He is the nimitta-upadana karanam.
As the nimitta karana He pervades your body-mind-sense complex and the world as the knowledge, as the intelligence that makes them what they are. In Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita Lord declares in Chapter 15
May you know that the brilliance that obtains in the sun and illumines the entire world, that which is in the moon, and which is in the fire, belongs to Me.
And having entered the earth, I sustain the beings with strength, and I nourish all the vegetation, having become soma in the form of (their) essence.
Having become the digestive fire obtaining in the bodies of living beings, endowed with pr¡¸a and ap¡na, I cook the four‑fold food.
And I have entered the hearts of all. From Me (have come) memory, knowledge, and forgetfulness. I alone am the one to be known by all the Vedas and I alone am the author of the Ved¡nta (ved¡nta-samprad¡ya) and the knower of the Vedas.

Again as Nimitta- Upadana karanam the Lord declares in Chapter 10

Among the Adityas I am Vayu; among the luminaries, the Sun, the one who has rays. Among the Maruts, I am Marici; among the luminaries seen at night, I am the Moon.
Among the Vedas I am the Samaveda; among the gods I am Indra; among the sense organs I am the mind, and of the embodied beings I am the faculty of cognition.
Among the Rudras I am aakara; I am Kubera among the yaksas and raksas. Among the Vasus I am Fire. I am Meru among the snow-peaked mountains
I am indeed the beginning, the middle, and the end of the creations, Arjuna. Among the disciplines of knowledge, I am the knowledge of the self. Of those who discuss, I am the discussion leading to truth.
And I am Death that takes away everything; and I am the cause of prosperity of those yet to be. Among the feminine words I am fame, wealth, speech, memory, intelligence, fortitude, and equanimity.
I am the game of dice among the things that deceive; of the brilliant I am the brilliance. I am the victory of the victorious. I am the clarity in thinking (of those who have that clarity). Of those whose nature is predominantly sattva, I am that sattva (contemplative disposition).
I am the discipline of those who enforce discipline. I am justice of those who want success and I am silence among the secrets. Of those who have knowledge, I am that knowledge.
And Arjuna, I am also that which is the cause of all things. There is no mobile or immobile/sentient or insentient thing, which can exist without Me.
Whatever existent thing there is, which has glory, which is endowed with any form of wealth, or that which is distinguished or mighty, every one of that, may you know is born of a fraction of My glory.

Thus Bhagavad-Gita reveals that Isvara, the Conscious Being who is Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent is the maker and material of this universe, in whom your body-mind-sense complex is included. Isvara is the manifestor and the universe is a manifestion of Isvara’s all-knowledge. Your body-mind-sense complex is a manifestation of Isvara’s all-knowledge. Isvara pervades you, pervades the Universe as the intelligent Order that makes everything what it is.
So your first and basic relationship is with Isvara, your very source – it is the basic invariable relationship, which can never be negated whether you know it or not. Related to Isvara, one is related to everything else in this universe.
What kind of a relationship can you have with this universe – one of trust or distrust? When your relationship to the universe is only through Bhagavan in your understanding– it is a relationship of TRUST. Why? Because you know that Bhagawan who is Omniscient, and who has all-power is the one who is the maker of the Universe – not only that He is the one who sustains the universe as well.
For example, there is a a revered man in your home-town, who is very knowledgeable. Not only is he knowledgable, he is wise and free of all vices. Not only is he knowledgable , wise and free of all vices, he has ample resources at his command. Not only is he knowledgable, wise and free of all vices, with ample resources at his command, he is also just and fair. Not only is he knowledgable, wise and free of all vices, , just and fair with amples resources at his command, he is also compassionate. Would you or would you not TRUST such a person to make the right decisions for you, your community etc.? You would definitely trust him to make the rght decisions for you – you know that he has no agenda of his own – he is impartial and just and yet he is compassionate. He will definitely make the right decisions – you have this TRUST. If he arranges your marriage partner for you – you will trust his decision – and you will enter into the marriage, with basic trust in your partner. Is it not so?
Our relationship with the world is not based on our knowledge of Bhagavan – it is based on the knowledge we gain through our experiences as we grow. If these expereinces have been painful, we are not able to trust the world – because experiences of pain have been gained in the world itself. We never bother to ask – that why did I undergo this painful experience? Each of us assumes automatically that I do not deserve to have this painful experience.
This is where we have to grow in our knowledge. This is why it is important to understand the law of karma thoroughly – and know that we only get what is to come to us rightfully. For this we must understand the law of karma. The law of karma simply states as you sow so shall you reap. Meaning for every action of yours there will definitely be a result. The result is not the product of some inert laws – no it comes from the all-knowing Ishvara.
1. So the first fact is that the law of karma, or the law of cause and effect, or the law of dharma – comes from Ishvara, the all knowledgable, all powerful, Conscious Being. Ishvara is in the very form of the laws. Ishvara is just and fair – because he has no agenda of his own. He has no agenda of his own because He is purna – he does not need anything whatsoever to be full and complete. Not only that Ishvara is compassionate – he is benevolent. In Bhagavad Gita it is said suhrdam sarva bhutaanam, Lord says there “I am the well-wisher of all”. Not only that Lord declares He is the Father – pitamahasya jagatah maata dhaata pitamaha - I am the Father, I am the Mother, I am the Grandfather – and so suhram sarva bhutaanam – Lord is the well-wisher. This is the tough part. But He is the well-wisher – He means good – whatever happens is for my good if He is my well-wisher.
2. The second fact is that the result or effect – will be as good as the cause. For example, when you play cricket – you hit the ball with a particular force. Because of the force with which you hit, the ball goes a particular distance. Here the force is the cause and the distance is the effect – the effect is directly dependent on the cause. The harder you hit the furter the ball will go.
3. Whoever initiates the cause – that person alone will be the recipient of the result. It cannot be that I have done something and you are stuck with the outcome of what I have done. Or you have done something and I get stuck with the outcome of that - it cannot happen.
This is a matter of acceptance, because there is an Order. So we accept that whatever it is that I am confronting, is the result of something I must have initiated in the past, whether in this birth or in the past birth.
The past birth or the next birth is a matter of belief. In the Vedas, we accept the continuity of life. Otherwise there will be no order, no vyavastha at all if I had no past at all and I was just born, this is my first birth and death means the end of my existence. Then it would be very difficult to explain why I am what I am and you are what you are, meaning that we cannot explain the diversities that are existing now and what is the reason I am stuck with what I am stuck with and not have the benefits that you have.
Disparity and diversity is there everywhere – someone is happy, someone is not, someone is rich, another is not. We can explain disparity and diversity only when we accept that each one born has an individual history - each one is a product of what they have done in the past – meaning that I am a product of my own past. Not that the law of cause of effect is applicable only with reference to matter, but the law of cause and effect is applicable in the case of living beings also – because nothing has a beginning and nothing has an end.
Matter, we know does not begin and does not end. It just changes the form. In fact we cannot trace the beginning of anything. For something to begin, there must be total non-existence of that before it began – and we cannot visualize that. We cannot logically arrive at the beginning of anything because nothing can be created without the cause.
Something cannot be born from nothing. Something can be born from something and effect always presupposes a cause and everything that is born, or everything that has a beginning is an effect and so there must be a cause. Without a cause the effect cannot be. We are able to say simply looking at the world.
When I boil water at atmospheric temperature, it boils at a certain temperature. When I drop a heavy object from my hand, it drops at a certain acceleration. So all these laws of nature are there. The laws of science are there. The laws are possible only when there is consistency and consistency can be there only when there is a certain order – cause and effect.
All we say is that life also follows this law of cause and effect. And just as for matter there is no beginning, for life also there is no beginning. Life also changes form and so it continues from one embodiment to the other embodiment and that is how there is continuity of life and therefore everybody has a history.
This is going on since time beginning-less and so I have a history. Since the past many births I have performed actions, deliberate actions and thus I have initiated certain effects and what I am in the present is the product of the cumulative effect of the past. It is only on the basis of that, that we can accept the present – with TRUST that it must be alright. We have TRUST that whatever happens must be right. In order for us to do something right, we must know everything that is involved in it. And only God is Omniscient and therefore whatever happens must be alright.
Otherwise it is very difficult to accept the present. For those people for whom there is no past life, they cannot explain the present –they always ask “why should this happen to me?” “ why me?” why should it happen in my life?” And there is no explanation because we do not see any evidence that could be the cause in this life-time – we can always say that there must be a cause in the past life.
And also the Vedas also say about the past and the future. And our Puranas are full of stories of how the present was formed or governed by the past. Thus we accept the law of karma – the law of cause and effect – applies not only to the material world, but also to living beings. There is a moral aspect. That is why when I perform an action, the outcome is determind, not only by my efforts, but also my intention and the past accumalated history spanning over lifetimes.
Law of karma or the law of dharma in fact takes into account all these variables.
So in the Law of karma there is one thing – that you are responsible and still you are not to blame. I take the responsibility but need not take the blame. I know that whatever is happening is because of something I did in the past but I don’t know when I did it, in what condition I did it and therefore I need not blame myself at this time. This is also very important. Because this blaming is a real problem. Every human being blames themselves when something painful happens – in some way or the other. Many people we talk to, to whom death has happened to somebody very close in the family – then the people who are very close to the person always suffers from the sense of guilt. If I had taken them to a doctor at that time. If I had made a call at that time – if we had done something that time then perhaps we could have avoided this! So we say that karma is responsible and there must be a reason why this happened and we need not take the blame for what happened to somebody and that way we are able to deal with things. So law of karma helps us to deal with the painful events in life also.
Because Lord is my well-wisher and I know that there is FAIRNESS in the ORDER– I TRUST that this pain must have some purpose in my life. Life is for learning – I can learn from this painful situation and grow.
Thus when there is basic TRUST then whatever happens must be alright – I might not understand it presently because my understanding is not adequate – yet I can TRUST that even though the result is painful it must be okay. Then I accept the pain as a part of life – and I don’t use the pain to run myself down or to feel victimized. I accept Lord’s vedict – this is sharanagati or surrender. There is no damaged reflection in the mirror of my mind in the form of a memory of damage.
When this basic TRUST in Bhagavan is there, there is TRUST in our relationship with the world also … then even in painful moments, we will not waste our time and energy in cluttering up our mind with damaged images of ourself . We will simply let go in TRUST that ‘God knows better’ and retain a healthy mind. There is no accumulated clutter in the mind and we are free to glide from one moment to another staying in the moment, experiencing the moment as it is, without self-judgement. The mind is clear and clean. There is santosha – there is prasannata – tranquility. And in the tranquil mind you are able to recognize that you are indeed none other than the light of consciousness in whose presence every factor of each moment is illumined – you are untouched by what is illumined. You are free. The invariable self-revealing consciousness is what you are – boundaryless and vast as space – untouched by what is illumined. In the mirror of your mind, there is no damaged reflection, and consequently there is freedom from the pain of the damaged refelction – whatever reflection is there is healthy – that is the enligtened ego – so there is freedom – total freedom.
[1] sattva, rajas and tamas