Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Self Knowledge - Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati

When we talk about self-knowledge, we have to identify who that self is. What do we mean when we say ‘I’? It is an irony that the word ‘I’ has no definite object. Every other word elicits a known object or concept in the mind. Say the word “pot” and the corresponding thought-form of the object pot is there. This is how language functions. If I hear the word “pot” and see “cot” you would say I have erroneous knowledge. If I see nothing, you would say I am totally ignorant of the object “pot.” If I use the word “gagaboogai”—a meaningless, nonsense word—I use it as just that, not to connote something in the world.

So who is this ‘I’? Who is this ‘I’ that I experience so intimately—who is myself? It seems to be this I who is unhappy, who cannot get his life together, who wants to fulfill his potential, his capacities, who wants a meaningful relationship, who does not want to suffer, and, now, who wants to know himself. I want to address this I. I want to see this I. Who is he?

It is my experience that I am here as a conscious being and everything else is the world.  We can reduce the entire creation to two factors, one the subject and the other the object. Anything I can objectify is an object and the one who objectifies is the subject. I am not there in an object because it is something I know. Here object includes not only the tangible but also the intangible, such as time and space.

While it is an acceptable fact that I am the subject and as a subject I am not anywhere in the world as an object of my knowledge, one tends to conclude that I, the subject, am the physical body. But, then, we tend to overlook the fact that the physical body is an object. I know my body and all its corners and crevices. But since the subject and object are always two different entities, since the knower of anything is distinct form the thing he knows, then I cannot be the physical body. Similarly, if I try to attribute the identity of ‘I’ to any function or system of the body, it resolves in the same subject-object, knower-known relationship.

If I am neither the physical body, its sense organs, the psychological system, nor any relative role I play, then what is left? I must be the mind. The thoughts of the mind are objects. Each perception, conclusion, doubt, etc., is known as an object. So even though I say, “I am restless, I am agitated,” I am only speaking of conditions that belong to the mind. The thoughts come and go but I am still here. Before the thought arrives, while the thought is there, and after it goes away, I am very much present. So that means I am independent of thought.

In Sanskrit we call the total mind with its various functions antaÒkaraÙa. KaraÙa means instrument. So the mind is an instrument capable of giving me knowledge, imaginations, memories, emotions, problems, and so on. Being an instrument, it must necessarily be in the hands of something else that is different from it, like any other instrument. The telescope for example does not see through itself. Therefore, ‘I’ cannot be the mind. You could say perhaps that what is different from all this is ignorance. But even ignorance is an object. What I know I know, and what I do not know also I know. (I know, for example, that I am ignorant of Russian language.)

Therefore, if you analyze the situation you would have to say “I exist and I know. I am the a knower of things. Things I know vary, but I am the one who knows all the time.” But here, we have to go one more step. That is, if I am the knower of all this, I am the knower only when I come to know something. In other words, with reference to things known, I am the knower. If I reduce the identity of ‘I’ to the knower, what does “knower” mean? As the one who is aware of “I am.” The ‘er’ is added to aware to mean “the one who” and is again a relative name. The ‘I’ I want to know is the one who is unrelated to anything and that can only be the content of the knower, the awarer—which is awareness. And this unqualified awareness is the meaning of the word ‘I. If you place ‘I’ anywhere else but in the subject, the ultimate subject, you commit a mistake.

In the body, awareness is. In the thought, awareness is. But awareness is also independent of both. Both depend on awareness for their existence, but awareness depends on nothing. It is self-existent, self-evident. Once I see that I am this awareness, I am free from all possible limitations that I can ever suffer from.

One seeks happiness and takes happiness to be a state of mind, an experience, and so it comes and goes. Even at that, for its brief moment of glory it has to be worked for, struggled for and hoarded for. The ‘I’ one comes to know as oneself through this teaching is said to be fullness (Ënanda). For the self, being formless awareness has no limit, no qualities to circumscribe it and cannot be but fullness, completeness, and happiness. It must not be clear that fullness is not the quality of an object outside, nor is it inside the physical body. When I pick up a moment of happiness, I am simply with myself. At that moment the mind is not wanting. Because that coincides with the gain of a desired end, we attribute it to the thing. However it is the very absence of any want or projection that allows one that golden moment of being with oneself.

The self which is said to be awareness (cit) and fullness (Ënanda), is also said to be that which always is, which is never negated (sat).

Vedantic Teaching

We showed in the beginning that people’s urges and pursuits, if reduced to their fundamental forms, would be expressed in the desire to live and live happily and to be free from ignorance. When the teaching unfolds the nature of the self, its identity is revealed as:

            sat                    existence which is never negated.
            cit                    awareness, the basis of all that is known.
            Ananda             fullness, without limit.

If awareness is the real meaning of ‘I’ then ‘I’ is not a historical person. All the problems one suffers from belong to the historical I, the relative I, the falsely identified I. It is something like an actor, playing the part of a beggar, who takes the hunger and poverty of the beggar home with him after the show. All problems belong, in fact, to the object of one’s knowledge, not to the subject who witnesses them. It is something like watching a congested traffic scene and saying, “I am congested.” Yet we watch the traffic of our thoughts flow and take its various conditions upon ourselves. These problems belong to the mind. The problems belong to the object, not to the subject. That is true objectivity.

A wise man, a liberated being knowing himself to be full and complete, is not dependent on a situation or thing or condition to be full.  You could say he is a master of himself because he knows the truth of himself. In knowing the truth of himself, he naturally comes to know the truth of the world, of the objects of knowledge. The problem that he originally took as real and thus needed to resolve, he now sees as belonging to a false person. He knows, “I am the one who gives reality to that person.  I have no problem. I am so full and complete that nothing can add to me or take from me.” That is seeing oneself and one’s life as they are. Only then can a topical problem be tackled for what it really is.

VedËnta has always been an oral tradition, passed from teacher to student. It is a means of knowledge (pramana). As an oral tradition, it requires a teacher who handles the words and unlocks the meaning behind the words. To say, “You are full, you are limitless,” is one thing, but to make the student see what that actually means is another. If that is not done, the words just evolve into another conditioning. Thus, the subject matter being so unique, being neither an object nor a concept, yet undeniably there, the communication of it requires very special handling. Words must be elaborately defined so that what is meant is what is received. Paradoxes must be juggled, illustrations handled, and contexts set up so that the implied meanings can be seen. For this a teacher is necessary, because he knows the truth as well as the methodology for revealing it.

Finally, he who comes to this teaching comes to it with a particular attitude. Being a mumukshu, desirous of knowledge, he has discerned the nature of the problem to a degree, and so there is receptivity, openness to what the teacher teaches. What is sought is very simply the truth. This distinguishes the teaching from all other types of learning and problem solving. We find that in the very learning process there is love and trust that come from the relief of discovering the means for what you really want to gain. The teacher is not an authority but a candle that lights another candle.

Thus, this knowledge gives a person the end that he was seeking in all his pursuits and in all problems. He sees the true nature of the “owner” of the problem and the true nature of the problem itself.


Monday, November 24, 2014

An Introduction to the Study of Vedanta


            There is an interesting Indian story that is relevant to the commencement of your studies here:

A great Sanskrit scholar, whose father and grandfather were also scholars, had set out on a pilgrimage. He had to cross a wide river on a boat. Since he was the only passenger, he struck up a conversation with the boatman and asked him if he had studied grammar (vyËkaraÙa).

“No. What is grammar?” the boatman replied. Because his father and grandfather had been boatmen, he had not thought it necessary to study in order to make a living. Nor did he know that there was a discipline of knowledge known as grammar. The scholar was both astounded and horrified. He had lived among scholars all his life and could not imagine anyone not knowing grammar. He said to the boatman, “You do not know grammar? You do not even know what grammar is? What kind of a life is that? You are only living three-fourths of a life. One fourth is gone!” The boatman did not seem to mind.

The scholar continued, “Did you study literature?” The boatman once again answered that he had not. “Did you study poetics? Did you study Kalidasa?” Again the answer was no.
The scholar then told him that another fourth of his life was gone.

“Can you read and write?” he asked him. “No, I cannot read nor write. I cannot even sign my name.” “You cannot read! You cannot write! What can you get out of life? You can only enjoy what your simple senses can satisfy, nothing more. This means that yet another fourth of your life is gone.”

The scholar concluded that the boatman was living only one-fourth of his life since he was alive and rowing the boat. So he told him that three-fourths of his life was gone. With that, the boatman became very sad. Rowing the boat, he thought to himself, “I should have gone to school. I am living only one fourth of my life!”

As the boat continued to proceed, the scholar noticed water seeping into the boat and brought it to the boatman’s attention. All efforts to block the hole failed. The boat was now half-filled with water and sinking. Knowing that he could not save the boat, the boatman asked the scholar, “Panditji, can you swim?” “No,” the scholar replied. “I cannot swim.” Then the boatman said to him, “Panditji, I am very sorry. Your whole life is gone!”

When I look at my experiences in life, I see one invariable: the struggle to be different, to be different from what I am. The struggle is universal. Man or woman, young or old, there is a continuous effort to be different. This process of becoming begins at birth and has its basis, not in joy or in some creative power, but in a certain sadness on my part that is self non-acceptance.

Self non-acceptance is the basis for all attempts to become different. If I want to become someone in order to be somebody, there is definitely a self-image that I don’t accept. There is the idea that I am a nobody, and so the need to become a somebody arises. The expression “wanting to become somebody” refers to any form of struggle with a particular end, whether be it  money, profession, or family. If having achieved a particular end, I can say that I no longer want to become somebody, then I can say I have made my life; nothing more needs to be done; thereafter, any becoming is just for the joy of it.

Whatever end I pursue, it is for me and not for the sake of the end itself. This is a very central fact in the life of a human being. In the BÎhadaranyakopanishad, this is beautifully presented in one sentence:

                        atmanastu kamaya sarvaÑ priyaÑ bhavati

“All things become dear for one’s own sake.”

The whole tradition of Vedanta is based on this one fact. Any struggle is meant for myself alone. The self I want to be is different from what it is now. In the different self that I am going to fashion out of some economic addition, rise in social status, or some other comfort, the central figure throughout is ‘I’, the self. 

I do not accept myself as I am now, nor have I since the day I was born. Crying as a child for want of something is no different from the crying I do now for want of something. This non-self-acceptance is the invariable basis for all human struggles. The question is, when am I going to accept myself?

Is there any goal in life that is not aimed at total self-acceptance? Suppose someone says, “My goal is to go to heaven.” If we ask him why he wants to go to heaven, what will he say? Whatever words he uses will reveal that he does not accept himself. There will be heavenly pleasures and so on in heaven. All of these are nothing but possibilities of seeing himself as acceptable.

Generally, you prefer to have others accept you. “If they accept me, I will be more acceptable to myself.” The more you seek the acceptance of others, the less you accept yourself. The poorer your self-image, the more you depend on the favorable opinion of others. When others say something nice about you, you think you are acceptable. This is why love becomes so important. At least in one pair of eyes, you are acceptable and through that person, you can accept yourself, if only a little. But you also seek recognition or acceptance from society that further proves that you do not accept yourself. Thus, whichever way you look, the problem is one of self-non-acceptance.

If self-non-acceptance is the problem, self-acceptance must be the solution. This seems quite simple, but in order to accept yourself many facts need to be addressed. Anyone can say that all you have to do is to accept yourself and the problem will be solved. But in your life there are so many deficiencies that you have to come to terms with, such as deficiency in memory, knowledge, health, and so on. This list is long, and ever getting longer. And yet you are told that the solution is to accept yourself. How can you? You cannot. Therefore, the struggle to become perfect continues.

Another problem with your constant effort to become different is that with any change there is something lost as well as something gained. In every gain brought about by effort or by a process of change, there will also be some loss. This is why positive thinking is improper thinking. Positive thinking is seeing only the good side of things while the other side, the negative side, remains hidden. But it does make its presence known at one time or the other because each side is as true as the other. What you have is as true as what you do not have. What you gain is as true as what you lose. Positive thinking does not change this fact. It may be useful in changing the habitual thought patterns of someone who thinks negatively, but it is not a solution for the problem of self-non-acceptance.

By a process of becoming, you are not going to become the acceptable self. Therefore, there is only one possibility: perhaps the self is already acceptable. If you are acceptable to yourself, and you can know this fact, then gaining this knowledge becomes the only meaningful pursuit. When you have this knowledge, everything else becomes meaningful.

You also need the knowledge that will enable you to cross from self-non-acceptance to self-acceptance. This knowledge is not subject to choice, but once it is gained, you are free to exercise your faculty of choice. When you accept yourself, then you will find that you have the choice to desire, to do, and to know. When this particular knowledge that “I am acceptable just as I am now” is there, then other disciplines of knowledge and interests can be explored and enjoyed.

Why are we taking three years to study Vedanta? In fact, three years may not be required at all, but this knowledge does seem to have a particular element to it. It seems to grow, not in linear way, but in terms of clarity. You hear me speaking today and you think you understand. But when you hear the same topic again, perhaps after one or two years, you will say, “Oh, now I understand.” Clarity comes in increasing degrees—like a Polaroid picture. When the picture first comes out of the camera, nothing can be seen; it is dark. As the picture develops, the image is still a blur. The whole picture becomes clear gradually. There is a lot of difference in what is actually seen between the initial recognition and the final confirmation of the picture.

To know that the self is acceptable entails study of the world and God also. Why do we need to study the world? Because the self is connected to the world, an understanding of it is important. Why should we talk about God? For the same reason: if there is a God, we are definitely connected to that God. What are these connections? Are we connected permanently, or are we “as though” connected?

As we proceed, we will find a new vista of knowledge opening up. What starts out simply, and appears to be very innocuous, becomes complex in the sense that there are many things to be understood. This knowledge is gleaned from certain major texts, the study of which traditionally takes twelve years. Thus, both the study and clarity take time.

Inauguration of the three-year course
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam
Saylorsburg, PA.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

KSHANTI (ACCOMMODATION) - Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Kshanti Shankara says, is remaining unchanged when one is wronged by another. Whether verbally or by an action, which is against dharma, when one is harmed in any manner, there is an impulse to retaliate. This reaction is called vikriya. It first occurs as a mental modification and then is expressed in the form of either an oral or a physical action. The absence of such a reaction is kshanti.

How can anybody remain without a reaction when he has been wronged in his perception? Psychology will say a reaction is legitimate. It is true in one way; but here we are going one step further. We do not say that you should suppress anger but look into how you can get past the reaction.

This is possible only when you have an intimate understanding of the other person. What has prompted him to act in this way? Each person acts or reacts in a given way because he cannot act differently. If he could, he certainly would have. Generally we avoid people whose behaviour we find difficult to handle. But that does not solve the problem of my reaction. I have to look into myself and see why I am not able to allow the other person to be what he or she is. Reaction happens only because of intolerance or, looking at it in another way, internalisation.

When I feel hurt because of someone's action I internalise that behaviour as though I had some responsibility for it. The reality is that as an adult I am responsible only for my own emotions and actions. If they are wrong I can always correct them. But I cannot afford to take responsibility for the emotions and actions of others. The only thing I can do is accept each person with whom I am required to relate exactly as he or she is. Every person comes from a given background. With the same background, I would do the same thing. That consideration of another's background as the basis of his or her responses is maturity.

There are laws governing the behaviour of the human mind. That is why it is possible to have a discipline of knowledge called psychology. Certain backgrounds result in certain types of behaviour. Who is responsible for that? If I can appreciate that, I will have compassion, understanding, and a capacity to listen. Any action on my part in response to what has happened will be born of an understanding of the person. This requires great patience because it is not easy to understand another person. Sometimes it takes years. People married for twenty years separate because there is a failure in understanding. To understand another person we must be open to him and most of us are not able to be so because of our own fears and anxieties. As a result, the communication is not totally honest and consequently, neither is the relationship.

Each one remains closed in some areas and the behaviour is based on an anxiety to maintain the relationship. Instead of making you mature, an intimate relationship causes further problems unless you are able to be open and understand the other person. That openness is what is called accommodation, kÀ¡nti. If you give that a very important place in your value structure, you will find that you are open and easily able to understand people.

Then your action will be appropriate. If, for want of data, it proves to be wrong, you can always correct it, but in a reaction there is no correction because there is no learning, It just happens even against your understanding. In action, however, we can learn. We cannot count on being informed enough to make every action successful but we can always learn. With great intention I may deliberately act out of sympathy but the other person need not take it as an act of sympathy. He can always misinterpret and think that I am patronising. At this level, further communication is not easy. Even the most communicative people find it difficult to communicate in this situation. But you have to try. I can perfect the action or change the course of it as long as I am ready to understand another person. And understanding another person is possible only when I have accommodation, kshanti.

The example I always give for kshanti is the baby kicking his father. The father not only does not complain, he is so proud that he shares with his wife, the joy of being kicked. But if the child were to kick him fifteen years later, he would have an entirely different response. There was no reaction to the baby kicking him because there was an appreciation of the background from, which a baby kicks. The background is innocence. Even when the older boy kicks there is a background. He may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs; there may be a hundred different reasons but if I do not have accommodation, I can never understand that background; I only react.

This value is not an ordinary one. I would say it should occupy the most important place in the value structure. If a person has kshanti, he is a saint. All other values—amanitva, adambhitva, ahimsa, etc., will follow because that person tries to understand and not make judgments about others or himself. If you are not critical of yourself, you can understand others without being critical and if you can be kind to yourself, you can be kind to others. To be kind to yourself you just have to enjoy yourself as a person. There is nothing wrong with you as you are. Then, when Vedanta says that in spite of the limitations of your body, mind, senses, you are p£r¸a, totally acceptable, it is meaningful because psychologically you do not oppose that fact. If that vision is understood thoroughly there is no problem. Any correction required in the behaviour pattern is possible without self‑condemnation.

Saint becomes a very big word because we give a saint an exalted stature so that we can continue to be what we are. Everyone has to become a saint in as much as a saintly person is a mature person. I have to take responsibility for my actions and emotions and acknowledge that there is no outside force that influences me any more than what I allow it to. I am the devil and I am the angel impelling my actions. I am responsible for all my emotions and actions and others are responsible for theirs. If I think their behaviour can be better, it is because I have not understood their background. Seeing that is the only way to become mature.

If you go to a doctor with a headache, he does not treat you as a good person or a bad person. He treats a problem. Even if you are an alcoholic he cannot sit in judgement of your diseased liver. Or, if a person in the delirium of a high fever insults the doctor, he cannot take offence and refuse to treat the patient.
 In exactly the same way a saint responds to a person who has some behavioural problems. He does not judge because he understands very clearly that nobody is bad or good. Everybody is a mixture of countless different things—neither good nor bad. There are certain behaviour patterns based on given backgrounds, which are highly predictable. With a certain kind of father, mother, society, schooling, there will be a certain behaviour. But one great thing about a human being is that this programming can be undone. As an adult I can create an antidote to habitual behaviour patterns rooted in my childhood. That antidote is my value structure. Understanding it intimately, I give priority to a value like kshanti, accommodation. I consider this the most important value in the modern world where there is so much tension and competition and therefore, rancour. The only answer is to have a primary value like kshanti. That is the way to become mature.

Om Tat Sat

The Value of Satya - Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Satyam here refers to speaking truth. Because words can be so hurtful, one is advised to say not only what is truthful, but what is also pleasing and beneficial. We have a mandate to speak only what is truthful, satya. But while doing so, we may say something hurtful. So, we are enjoined to say what is pleasant, priya. And while it is important to say what is pleasant, it should not be at the cost of what is true. It should not be false, anrta.
Why does anyone tell lies? It is only due to fear of facing certain facts about oneself. But not being truthful only makes a person weaker and weaker. Therefore honestly facing situations and the facts as they are, and then being honest in conversation is the way to overcome some of these fears. In speaking about something, our words should convey the sense of it exactly as it is, that is, it has to be yathartha, with no omissions or embellished merits. What is satya and even priya may also sometimes be useless. We, therefore, try not to use words which do not serve any purpose. This implies care in using adjectives and in choosing words that most accurately convey what the thing or situation is. If you restrict your speech to what is useful, naturally, you become conscious about what you say.

Gita Home Study

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Value of Ahimsa - Swami Dayananda

Ahimsa – is non-hurting. Do not deliberately, for your own sake, hurt another being. That is ahimsa. This is a value given by Bhagavan. Animals are programmed and do not seem to exhibit the power of choice. The cow is programmed as a gentle creature – just look at its eyes. The cat’s eyes are the eyes of a predator. Animals are programmed. Whereas he human being is created with the power of choice. How is this choice to be used?
Given the faculty of choice, the human being can destroy the world. You can see how centuries of hate for the Jews powered Hitlers choices creating the tragedy of the Holocaust. In Walter Scott’s novel he describes the centuries of hate that went on piling up, unchecked against the Jews in England. Hatred leads to great abuse of choice.

There is abuse of choice when there is violence and hurt caused to oneself or others. We can call it as abuse because as human beings we are programmed with a conscience – somewhere in our understanding, in our heart,  we have a basic common sense that makes us feel sorry  and guilty when we are instrumental in others feelings of pain.  Our common sense is our inner guide,  making us recognize that just as I do not want to be hurt, others also do not want to be hurt.

Ahimsa is a value and it helps us to be sensitive enough to understand others' pains. No human heart is incapable of empathy but we generally shut it out. Just observe someone who wins a tennis tournament. At the moment of victory he will throw his tennis racket in the air and cry out in jubilation. In this state of ecstasy he approaches the net to shake hands with his opponent. Just observe his expression as his eyes meet the face of the loser. The smile goes. The ecstasy goes. He looks as though he is very sorry that he has won. Why? Because the other person is sad and there is not a human heart, which is incapable of understanding another's pain. He knows what it is like to lose, so, it is impossible for him not to pick up that pain however momentarily. When we experience another's pain, however, often it is put aside through rationalising and slowly a justification for causing hurt (himsa) develops.
We become unmindful of the pain of another person purely because of a certain kind of thinking overlaying the original sympathy, which is an expression of ¡nanda. Fullness related to another person becomes sympathy and that is manageable only when you have mastered your own emotions. Otherwise, that pain becomes your pain.
Ahimsa is an appreciation of others' pain that gives you a profound respect for life and allows you to let other living beings live as they were meant to. It is not even that you allow them to live because that is not something over, which you have any say. Nor is it a policy but a value  born of one's own understanding that every living being has an inherent right to live without pain. You live and enjoy others living. Then you find that ahimsa is very simple. It makes you a person with a very high degree of sensitivity in whom the original emotions of sympathy, etc., are not clogged by some wrong thinking contingent upon your own priorities.
Om Tat Sat

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Getting Past Need Fulfilment

Some basic needs that we, as human beings all have can be classified into various heads :-

·       Independence : this includes choosing dreams/goals/ values and choosing plans for fulfilling the above
·       Happiness/ Celebration  which comes from celebrating the creation of life and dreams fulfilled
·       Mourning  losses: loved ones, dreams etc and moving on
·       Integrity which includes Authencity, Creativity, Meaning, Self-worth
·       Interdependence  which comprises of Acceptance,Appreciation, Closeness, Community, Consideration, Contribution to the enrichment of life, Emotional safety, Empathy, Honesty (the empowering honesty that enables us to learn from our limitations), Love, Reassurance, Respect, Support, Trust, Understanding
·       Physical Nurturance  which includes Air, Food, Movement, exercise, Protection of health, Rest, Sexual Expression, Shelter, Touch, Water
·       Play which includes play, fun, recreation
·       Aesthetics  which includes beauty, harmony, inspiration, order, peace
·       Knowledge of truth that will free us

For most of us living our lives means fulfilling our needs. We learn how to meet these needs by better management and improved communication. Money and power is not a need – it is more a strategy for meeting these needs.

When needs are fulfilled we feel comfortable, confident, eager, energetic, enthusiastic, fulfilled, glad, hopeful, inspired, intrigued, joyous, moved, optimistic, proud, relieved, stimulated, surprised, thankful, touched, trustful.

When needs are not fulfilled we could feel angry, annoyed, concerned, confused, disappointed, discouraged, distressed, embarrassed, frustrated, helpless, impatient, irritated, hopeless, lonely, nervous, overwhelmed, puzzled, reluctant, sad, uncomfortable.

Fulfilled needs become likes and unfulfilled needs stay on as dislikesin our psyche. And there will be a constant pursuit of these likes and dislikes.

At every stage in our life, there will always be some needs that are unmet and cannot be met with any amount of management of resources or communication skills. For example terminal diseases, or chronic health conditions that defy cure like rheumatoid arthiritis, diabetes etc. leave us with the unmet needs for physical nurturance. The needs for love and appreciation cannot be met all the time.

So the presence of these unmet needs can leave us with the gnawing sense of discontentment which fuels the basic sense of inadequacy and insecurity that is centered on our sense of identity, the I-sense. The knowledge that we innately possess about the temporary nature of everything in life also fuels that sense of insecurity.

Since at every stage of life there will always be some unmet needs, are we doomed to be experiencing feelings of discomfort and discontent with ourselves, and worse still the conclusion that ‘I am inadequate and insecure’  forever?

Addressing this condition of the human being, the Vedanta shastra, boldly declares that indeed the ‘I’ is truly free of need, is independent of need, is independent of desire and all the effects of desire. The only reason for concluding that ‘I’  needs something or the other to complete itself is because of ignorance of its fundamental real nature. Our entire life which is committed to need-fulfillment has its basis in ignorance of our fundamental nature of a wholeness that never changes.

If this ignorance has to go, we need knowledge – knowledge of our truth.  And this knowledge we gain from Vedanta – a means of knowledge for the truth of the self.

Om Tat Sat