Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Satsang with H. H. Shree Swami Dayananda : The truth of oneself is not an intellectual conclusion, nor is it something to be ‘reached’ by experiences.

 Question :     But we keep hearing that there are teachers who, through touch, can cause all things to fall into place so that you realize the Truth. Could it be that through experiences you can get enough glimpses of the vision of Truth so that you then won’t have to go through the heavy intellectual resistance to accepting that vision? Does it boil down to clearing the intellect?
Swamiji :      No. The Truth of oneself is not an intellectual conclusion, nor is it something to be ‘reached’ by experiences. The Guru is not an elevator who touches you and you go ‘up to Brahman.’ Brahman is you -- not a place to be reached. It is not through an experience that you become Truth. There is nothing to become. There is nothing to transform. You are the Truth that you are seeking. The teaching of Vedanta is simply a means of knowledge (praman), and an instrument that shows you what you are. 
What you are is not an intellectual conclusion. An intellectual conclusion is an inferential conclusion about something that is not available for immediate perception but about which there are data available from which logical conclusions can be reached. You need not be inferred because you are right here with yourself; you are immediately present. You are available to be known, not to be inferred. You fail to know yourself only due to ignorance, not due to lack of availability. Knowledge, not inference, and not experience, destroys that ignorance.
Vedanta directly teaches what you are. The use of logic is for the removal of doubts to give clarity to your vision. We use certain reasoning methods (yukti) to remove the blocks you may have that interfere with your clear vision. These blocks are always rational and can be removed by reason. We use your experiences also. We help you assimilate your experiences in terms of knowledge. In fact, we help you see that you have always had the experience of yourself. You don’t require a new experience to see yourself. There is no source of the vision of fullness (ananda) that you call happiness, except yourself.
Whenever, at any time, you pick up a resolving moment of happiness, you experience your essential self. Vishayaananda means happiness gained through a desirable object—something in which there is a ‘kick’ for you and for a moment that ‘kick’ swallows up all the other wants of the wanting mind. That fullness (aananda) that, happiness (sukha) is but yourself, really. Through some gain, through some sensation, through a profound appreciation of beauty, a certain mental condition occurs in which, for the moment, you are just with yourself—you do not want a change in anything whatsoever. In the quiet clarity of a mind that wants no change, you pick up yourself as a moment of happiness. You do not recognize that happiness as yourself and instead attribute it to an object or a situation experienced.

Desiring happiness all the time, you continually seek it through all your actions. You know that you want happiness again. The very fact that you want happiness shows that you know it. Nobody desires something that is unknown. What you do not know is that you are happiness; you cannot help but seek it because it is your very nature and you cannot settle for anything else or anything less. You do know that there are moments of fullness which are moments of happiness. You do not require some strange, new experience to know that.
Even if you gain some new experience that reveals happiness to you, it makes no difference. Whether the experiences you have are usual or unusual, they still have to be assimilated in terms of knowledge. Experience itself does not give knowledge. It is only experience. It come and goes. Shruti, the scriptures, particularly the Upanishads, provide the basis for the knowledge that the moments of happiness I experience reflect my real nature, which is limitless fullness. Shruti, is the means of knowledge, for what one cannot account for through perception-based data.
Not only that experience does not give me the knowledge of the nature of fullness, but also experience does not give me the vision of the whole. Slipping into myself does not give me knowledge of the whole—knowledge of the Truth of me, of the world and of the creator. It is the knowledge of the whole that frees me just as I am. For that knowledge I need to know, very well, what is apparently real (mithya), and what is limitless reality (satyam). It is not enough just to be myself—I have to account for this world or things will not fall into place. If I do not discover the nature of the world as well as the nature of myself, the world will overwhelm me and I will have to escape the world.
Vedanta has been presented as an experience. This has been a wrong presentation. Vedanta is knowledge, not a happening. A teacher unfolds the knowledge of oneself until it is clear. Doubts and vagueness are eliminated by logic bringing clarity of vision.
Vedanta is immediacy of knowledge. When that immediacy of knowledge is presented as experience, confusion follows. This confusion has arisen, at least in part, because of a word in Sanskrit, ‘anubhava’, which has been translated in English simply as ‘experience’. Such a translation causes the expectation of a ‘happening,’ not a ‘seeing.’ I would rather translate ‘anubhava’ as ‘immediate knowledge’. For the qualified student that which comes after teaching is knowledge in keeping with the teaching, and that is anubhava.

Om Tat Sat

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Meditator - Swami Dayananda

The content of the word ‘I’ is pure awareness,
without any form or thought.
When you hear, you become a hearer.
So too, when you think, you become a thinker;
doubt, doubter; decide, decider; inquire, inquirer.
All these are so many roles you can play-
walk, walker; speak, speaker; drive, driver.
In these various roles that you play,
Consciousness, Awareness, is invariable,
not really affected by what happens to the role.

As long as you are just a perceiver or thinker,
you have no problems;
but when you interrelate with people, or even objects, assuming
different roles—
like father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife,
neighbor or friend, member of a religion, citizen of a country,
person of a given race—
these roles bring about certain reactions on your part.
Since to be father is a role,
the problems of a father belongs to the role, and should be
confined to the role.
It takes self-knowledge to make a role simply a role.
Lack of knowledge makes the role yourself
and because of the non-recognition of oneself playing a role
reactions come, and become very real.

The reactions, everyday, leave behind a personality.
When as a father or mother
you want your son to behave in a manner acceptable to you,
and he doesn’t,
it does leave a hurt.
For a husband and wife,
when in an interaction with each other there is frustration
due to lack of mutual understanding,
there is anger, often locked up inside because of the over-
riding values.
As a citizen of this country,
when policies and actions of the government are not in
common with your values, you are going to react—
with despair, anger, frustration—
and all of them have no vent. They all get embedded in the person.
A number of prejudices against races, against other beliefs and religions, customs and manners of different people in the world again find no expression,
and they again create a personality.
There are persons in your life whom you have to suffer-
like an employer.
You cannot say much, for obvious reasons, against the person
to his face,
but there is anger, unreleased anger.
That you control your anger is prudence,
but that you are angry is an indelible fact.

It is this person, with all these reactions, who sits in meditation.
That is why meditation doesn’t take place.
If meditation is to be yourself, you must get rid of the left-overs
of all these roles;
to be yourself is not to play a role.
At this moment you are not father or son, husband or wife,
employer or employee, neighbor or friend, American or Indian.
You are just a person.

This is what you pay attention to now, in meditation.
You don’t play roles now; but the angry person whom you saw
as yourself while playing a given role is not gone,
the anger being there, sadness being there, regret,
disappointment, failure being there, despair and frustration
being there.
There is no way of being yourself unless you strip yourself
of all these left-over roles.

How do you get rid of these left-overs?
Just to be a person, free from all these left-over roles,
is to look at yourself as a person,
a simple person.
First, visualize the blue sky. How do you relate to the sky?
As a person who has no complaint against the sky being what
it is,
you find yourself  as a simple, conscious person,
seeing the sky and the stars therein.
You are an appreciative, a conscious, person.
You can be so in all other situations, too – even situations that
cause problems in you – by being objective to situations.

When you are meditating, you can command this objectivity,
the situation not really being there but only visualized on your own volition.
Think of the clouds or the absence of them;
the rains,  the absence of them.
You accommodate. You accept the situation as it is—
that there is air, that there is sun, that there is moon, does not
become a source of botheration for you.
In fact, you appreciate these things.
Because there are planets, our system is filled with further beauty.
Earth is not alone;
Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Saturn – all these do not create
any kind of reaction in you.
That the earth is a globe doesn’t create any reaction in you.
That it has mountains, valleys, oceans, islands, islets, minerals,
trees, plants, weeds, doesn’t bother you.
Varieties of flowers and fruits, varieties of animals, including insects,
they are to be accepted first and dealt with.
You cannot react with hatred to a mosquito,
but you can act to exterminate the mosquitoes.
Action without hatred to achieve a given result which enhances the
quality of your life is necessary.
Act. But take into account when you act that there is no reaction.
An insect is just an insect, whatever it does, in whichever
form it is, that is how it was made to be.
Accept it, and act.

Now visualize different races—
the Mongolian race, the Polynesian, the Negro, the Caucasian,
and the mixtures all over the world—living in different parts of
the planet.
They have their language, their literature, their music, their
dance, their dress and their eating habits.
What is wrong in this?
Their beliefs, their customs, their manners, their forms of prayer,
and their concept of God,
take them as they are.
Why should they bother you?
Take them as they are.

Come to your own country.
The people—accept them as they are.
The southerner, the northerner, the Polish, the Irish, the Indian,
the Mexican—
accept them as they are.
There is no use being frustrated.
Accommodate your employer, or employees or co-workers.
Remember, as you have a mind, each of them has his or her own mind.
That makes a difference between you two.
Take the person as the person is.
Change the person if you can, and if you are convinced
that such a change is beneficial for both.
Accept your neighbor.
If you cannot stand your neighbor, seek other neighbors—
leave the neighborhood.
But let that neighbor not have handle on your mind,
to make you regretful and angry.
Accommodate the person as the person is.
Let the person be not in a position to hurt you.

All people struggle with their minds, with their fears, anxieties,
insecurities, complexes.

Accept your father and mother as they are.
If you think they have not understood you, communicate.
If you think you have failed, accept.
Accept them as they are, and do whatever is to be done.

Accept your partner in life.
It is this person with whom you share your life.
Take the person as the person is, at all levels.
If you think a change would be better, for both, do what you
can to make the change,
but first accept.
If you say, “Unless you change I cannot accept,”
there is reaction.
If you accept, and work for change,
there is love, there is understanding, there is care, there is
And there is something done.

Accept your own body—
its height, its weight, its looks, its color, its sex, its illness, its
inabilities, inadequacies, its strength, and virtues.
Accept the body as it is.
If you can cure the illness, do.
If you can reduce your weight, and if you want to, do.
But do not reject it just because it has a weight problem.
When you reject, you react.
When you accept, you act.
Accept with love, with understanding.

Now accept your mind—
Its moods and its movements, its prejudices—accept them.
Only then can you change.
Accept the limitation of knowledge, and work for what you
want to know further.

And last, but not the least,
accept your memories.
Let there not be a memory which compels you to
escape from it,
by singing or driving or going on a spree of buying—
hundreds of diversions all to escape from the skeletons of
your memory.
Memory does not harm. Every experience leaves an impression
meant for use.
Be objective toward memories. No piece of memory is going to
frighten you or make you regret what happened.
There is no use in regretting.
There can be learning from what you have gone through;
you can be wiser for what has happened.
Bring up those memories that haunt you.
Look at them as left-overs of a dead past.
Let there be not a single piece of memory that you are afraid
to face.
Now you are yourself.
You are a simple, conscious being,
a person who is endowed with memories, mind, sense organs,
all to see the world, to experience, to make your life in this
world, to interact with situations, people.
This is all that is there—
to act, to know, to think, to see, to hear.
You are simple person.

This is meditation.
Be yourself.
Know more about yourself.
Even without Self-knowledge you can be so simple and
relatively free;
and when you turn your attention to learning about yourself,
the words of the teaching ring true all over.

It is the meditator that counts in the meditation.

                                                                        September 1, 1983 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dr Anantanand Rambachan on Pujya Swami Dayananda

Few teachers have fulfilled their obligations to their tradition as Swami Dayananda Saraswati did. He has left our world richer with teachers.
In 1973, after graduating from the University of the West Indies, I made a long journey from my home in Trinidad to study at the Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, the aśrama in Mumbai, India, founded by Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993). This was my first visit to India, the birthplace of my Hindu ancestors. It was a time when few from my country traveled to India.
I was a teenager when Swami Chinmayananda first visited Trinidad in 1965 and I avidly read his available writings. In 1969, I wrote to him for permission to join his aśrama. His sage advice, after rebuking me for my undated letter, was to complete my college education before coming to Sandeepany.  In 1973, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya launched its first intensive multi-year course of study in Vedānta and Sanskrit.  By then, I had fulfilled Swamiji’s advice and I was accepted as his student.
Mumbai was drenched in monsoon rains when I made my way from the airport to Sandeepany. I was introduced to Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who I learned was the prinicipal ācārya and the designer of the course of study that I came to pursue.
When I arrived at Sandeepany, I discovered that the course had already started.  Swamiji, in fact, had completed his teaching of one of the foundational texts, Śaṅkara’s TattvabodhaTattvabodha offers concise definitions of the major terms and concepts of Vedānta and is a necessary preliminary to further study. Realizing that I would be at a learning disadvantage for his Upaniṣad classes, Swamiji offered to teach the text again and did so in intimate sessions in his kutir. Though he had recently completed the text, his instruction was patient and thorough. These were features of his teaching that never wavered. There were never signs of impatience or haste.
This was my first and indelible experience of the one who would become the most influential teacher in my life. For the next three years, with rare breaks, I sat at his feet studying the Upaniṣads and the Bhagavadgītā with the commentaries of Śaṅkara.
When Swamiji was ready to begin the teaching of the Bhagavadgītā, he wanted a location where the ancient ṛṣis themselves taught and where their memories were still alive.  He took us all to Purana Jhadi in Rishikesh. There was no accommodation at Purana Jhadi. Swamiji had a tiny one-room cottage, and so we stayed in the spartan rooms of Andhra Ashram. On early mornings and late afternoons, we sat in the open on the banks of the Ganga, breathing the cool air and listening to his meticulous verse by verse exposition of the Bhagagavadgītā. The Ganga roared unceasingly in the background and Swamiji often spoke of it as symbolizing thesampradāya or flow of knowledge.  Swamiji delighted in the simple and unencumbered ascetic setting of Purana Jhadi . It seemed a perfect setting, singing Ganga and silent Himalaya, for Swamiji to do what he loved beyond all else – teach.  It does not surprise that Swamiji chose Rishikesh, a sacred space where he lived as both student and teacher, to be the site of his mahāsamādhi.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati was an abundantly gifted human being and these gifts found fruitful expression in a variety of achievements and initiatives.  A proper and detailed assessment of his legacy is a necessary task for scholars of religion in the future. For his students across the world, however, the heart of this legacy is not in dispute. They have discovered it in his extraordinary gifts as a teacher of Vedānta; this is the image that is lovingly and gratefully alive in their hearts.
At the heart of Swamiji’s passion and creativity as a teacher was his foundational commitment to the Veda (śruti) as a source of valid knowledge (pramāṇa). The understanding of the Veda as a pramāṇa, though central to the methodology of the classical teacher, Śaṅkara, did not come easy to Swamiji. He spoke often to us of his early challenges as a student of Vedānta before he understood the Veda as a pramāṇa. His students, he would say, “do not know the magnitude of the discovery that the Veda is a pramāṇa. They did not suffer as I did.”  He attributed his transformative understanding to the teaching of a Telugu-speakingsaṃnyāsin, Swami Pranavananda. Through the teaching of Swami Pranavananda, Swamiji came to see Vedānta as a direct means of knowledge for knowing the truth of oneself, even as the eyes serve as the instrument for the knowledge of forms and colors. “That was enough for me,” said Swamiji. “I never looked back. I had already studied theUpaniṣads – Vedāntaḥ. So, what was needed was only to rearrange – to look at the Upaniṣads, the whole teaching in the light of Pramāṇam.”
Any description of Swamiji’s skillful teaching is incomplete without grasping this fact. This is where he always started his unfolding of the Vedānta vision. The human problem, as Swamiji tirelessly taught, is one of incorrect understanding of the nature of oneself that is full and whole, but erroneously taken to be incomplete and lacking.  Ignorance is dispelled only by knowledge and knowledge must be derived from a valid source.
The Veda-pramāṇa consists of words. The potential of these words to dispel ignorance depends on their handling by a skillful teacher. Swamiji brought to his teaching a deep understanding of the possibilities and limits of language.  He exercised meticulous care in his choice of words and used these with marvelous dexterity and deftness to instruct about that, “from whom all words, along with the mind, turn back having failed to grasp.” (Taittirīya Upaniṣad). He knew well the dangers of linguistic indiscipline and imprecision in speaking of brahman and sought always to use words with caution, and consistency. He was fresh and chaste in his teaching. Words can liberate and words can imprison; he tapped deftly into the liberating potential of the words of the Upaniṣads and taught his students to do the same.
As a teacher, Swamiji’s attention was unwaveringly centered on the end-purpose of his teaching- the freedom of the student sitting at his feet. He made mokṣa, an end that is too-often clothed in mystery and made to seem remote and difficult, real and accessible.  He universalized the human problem as a sense of inadequacy and incompleteness, making it one that is validated in the experience of every human being. He presented mokṣa as freedom from self-inadequacy that is attained through understanding a teaching that dispels ignorance.  He enabled us to see that the full being we want to become is immediately and always available. The presentation of the human problem and its resolution in these terms means that the Vedānta pramāṇa deals with a recognizable human issue.  As a teacher, Swamiji clearly wanted to present the Vedānta  pramāṇa in a manner that overcomes cultural or religious alienation and to make it accessible and relevant to a recognizable problem. I recall that in every class, at some point or the other, he imparted the vision of Vedānta in its entirety. To transmit the vision of the whole in this manner is no small accomplishment for a teacher, and Swamiji always did it with an irresistible relevance, charm and intimacy.
One of the eloquent statements about Swamiji’s impact and effectiveness as a teacher is his ability to nurture and produce capable teachers.  He understood himself as belonging to an ancient lineage (sampradāya) of teachers and students. This lineage had both a teaching to transmit as well as a distinctive methodology to ensure proper transmission and continuity.  He fulfilled his indebtedness to this tradition through his own earnest study, his commitment to teaching, and his founding of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam as a place of teaching and learning. Few teachers have fulfilled their obligations to their tradition as Swamiji did.  He has left our world richer with teachers, monastic and lay, who will contribute to the vitality of this tradition and produce new teachers.
Swamiji’s teaching was essentially an invitation to inquire. One cannot prove that the Vedānta, as a valid source of knowledge, works unless one is willing to give it a try by exposing oneself to a qualified teacher. As a teacher, he never demanded that his students assent to anything apriori. All he asked for was a willingness to try the teaching with an open mind. One must be willing to suspend judgments about the pramāṇa until it is given an opportunity to prove itself.
When I visited Swamiji for the last time in December 2014, forty-one years after we first met, his health was failing and he was frail in body. Each evening, however, a few of us sat around him in the lecture hall to listen to the transcript of his lectures on Taittīriya Upaniṣad.  Between periods of listening, we would support him to exercise by walking around the room. He was attentive to each word, occasionally correcting the transcript, ensuring that his meaning was accurately communicated.  His eyes and face lit up whenever a passage from the commentary of Śaṅkara was cited. He delighted in the clarity and logic of the argument. Commitment to the Veda-pramāṇa was the beginning and end of his self-understanding as a teacher.
One night, at the end of the session, he turned to me and spoke words that I will never forget, “Śastra pramāṇa does work.” 
Jaya Gurudeva

Shri Kalyan Vishwanath Writes About Pujya Swamiji

Kalyan Viswanathan, President, Sanatana Dharma Foundation
Executive Vice President, Dharma Civilization Foundation

In the passing away of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the divine has given up one of its most excellent forms of its myriad manifestations – the form and spirit of an extraordinary Guru. On a Gurupurnima day in a year past, Swamiji made the following observation – “There is no Guru without a Sishya”. In other words, the Guru and Sishya arise together, in relationship with each other. The readiness of the student, and the willingness of the Guru, is what makes the relationship flower. In Pujya Swamiji’s own words, the Guru is one who brings light into an area of darkness in the Sishya’s life. In the presence of a Guru, a Teacher, what was previously vague and unclear to the student, lights up with a brilliant clarity. Bharat has been blessed with many Gurus from many different Sampradayas, throughout its ages. And each Guru has addressed himself or herself to the needs of the people of their own time and age. In this lineage, some Gurus stand out, for their brilliance and eloquence, and Pujya Swamiji will be remembered as one of the finest among the Gurus of the various paramparas of Sanatana Dharma. 
I began my association with Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati in the year 1994 in earnest, when I attended a series of his lectures titled – “Relationships and Freedom”, in Mumbai. At a time when I was a graduate student at Ohio State University, and dealing with existential questions about my own life – such as “Who am I?”; “What is my life for?”; “What is the purpose of this existence?”; and so on – I encountered Pujya Swamiji, and have maintained a close association with him, for over 21 years now. Every encounter with him, whether it was for a short period of time, under an hour, or for a protracted period of time, over several days or weeks, has been a meeting of transformational significance. What made this possible?
Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s unique gift lay in his constant seeking of how to communicate truths known to ancient Rishis to modern minds, pre-occupied with modern complexes and challenges. And perhaps even more importantly, his greatest gift was in his ability to speak to each person, in a manner that was most relevant and appropriate to that individual that addressed his or her most pressing spiritual need of the moment. At least, he seemed to speak to me, personally, whether he was addressing a whole audience, or just me in a private room, where there was no one else but just the two of us.
I arrived at the Ashram, in Saylorsburg, in 1994, somewhat bewildered by Hinduism, its seeming incoherence, and its seemingly myriad and often conflicting expressions, and its relevance to the questions that were engaging my mind at the time. It was a time in my life, that science and engineering held primacy of place, and everything had to be scientifically and logically explained and better still, empirically verified through experimentation and demonstration. For over a year, I challenged him, intellectually, rationally and scientifically. I was not prepared to accept him as a Guru, unless he met my own internal standard of acceptability, even though I myself was not clear what that “test” was. I was mostly skeptical; not willing to believe; not willing to accept anything at face value; I was irreverent; I was not filled with a manifest Shraddha in the traditional manner appropriate to a young Brahmin man; I was not even sure what it meant to be a Brahmin in today’s age and time. I had a deep disillusionment with the whole domain of Ritual and its pomp and circumstance - It lacked meaning and significance for me.
I had already deeply studied J. Krishnamurti, (1895-1986) whose austere life had held a special place in my heart. J. Krishnamurti’s singular and dramatic rejection of all tradition and Sampradaya, also held a tremendous value for me. I found Krishnamurti addressing himself to the moment, in current time. He seemed fresh every moment at every occasion – and nothing of the past seemed to cling to him. He seemed to be speaking from his own enlightenment, not from the authority of a scripture that codified someone else’s enlightenment. He was almost constantly mocking the lack of value of someone else’s enlightenment to one’s own life and its challenges.
The private dialog that I began with Pujya Swamiji, first took the shape of interrogating J. Krishnamurti, and to my tremendous surprise, I discovered that Swamiji himself had been a great admirer of J. Krishnamurti in his younger years. One would not discover this easily, because Swamiji has spoken very little of J. Krishnamurti publicly. I would take passages from Krishnamurti’s speeches into his room, where he and I would privately engage with that passage for 30 to 40 minutes even as a crowd of people gathered outside his room, patiently waiting for his Darshan. We spoke about Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharishi, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Mahatma Gandhi, and Swamiji would patiently answer my questions and engage with me, as though it was the most important thing to do at the moment. This kind of accessibility and relationship with a teacher had never existed for me, until this moment. Even as we were dealing with abstract ideas, a personal relationship was also taking shape.
The Shastra is a Pramana – A Shabda Pramana, and must be understood as that – he would say. I knew not what a Pramana was, let alone a Shabda Pramana. A Pramana is a means of knowledge; a means of communication – he would say, that allows a Guru to communicate to a Sishya. Without a Pramana, and the ability to utilize the Pramana, communication will always remain vague and unclear – he said; and we discussed the lack of a Pramana manifest in the life of teachings of J.Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharishi, and many others like them. I became intensely curious about what is a Pramana?  Pramana is what makes a Parampara possible – he would say; it is the building block of reliable inter-generational transmission of the knowledge i.e. the Atma Jnana or the Brahma Jnana which was the subject matter of the Shruti. It is not a surprise that neither J. Krishnamurti nor Ramana Maharishi have a Parampara of any significance.
What is Jnana? Does knowledge not need the validation of personal experience? I would ask. In fact, it seemed to me, the personal experience of a J.Krishnamurti or a Swami Vivekananda, or a Ramana Maharishi, held a greater value for me at that moment, than the conceptual framework of Vedanta, once I began to grant the possibility that there was such a thing called “enlightenment”. So many times, we discussed the distinction between concept and experience, and how our experience validates our concepts, and how our concepts in turn give rise to our experiences. For those who have taken courses with Landmark Education, this is a central proposition in their programs – By simply transforming our concepts, we can bring into being entirely new experiences. However, Pujya Swamiji, insisted that our experiences can be deceptive. In fact, what we experience as solid, liquid and gaseous in the physical world, is nothing more than groupings of atoms and molecules, organized together in various densities – in fact the entire reality of this world as we experience it, is subject to re-interpretation. Even our physical bodies are mere assemblages of compounds and chemistry, subject to change and disintegration. What is real here? He would ask. Even the Sun only seems to rise in the east and set in the west. What is really going on is entirely different!  I would come away from the conversation more bewildered about “Reality” – Satyam.
Little by little, he introduced me to the concept of “Mithya”, an order of reality that is intermediate between that which is wholly real (Satyam) and that which is wholly unreal (Asatyam); He gently questioned my attachment to scientific verification;  Science concerns itself with objects that it can apprehend through the senses; Vedanta deals with the Subject who wields the senses and since the Subject cannot objectify itself – therefore the whole quest for scientific proof was illegitimate since it does not apply to the realm of the Subject; he would say. And I would come away reeling with a whole new dimension of inquiry. Vedanta and Science are orthogonal to each other – he said. The domain of Science is not the domain of Vedanta; (or the Veda); the domain of the Veda is nor accessible to Science; he would say. The people who are trying to demonstrate that the Veda is scientific, are missing the point – he would say. And I would walk away with a sense of awe about these conversations.   
Vedanta was an investigation into the realm of Reality – Satyam. In that sense, its approach was more or less similar to the approach of a Scientist. However, the methods of science did not go far enough. As I listened to his discourses on “Reality”, different orders of Reality came into existence for me - the Ultimate Reality, the “Paramarthika” order; the seemingly Real i.e. the “Vyavaharika” order; and then there was also the imaginary reality – the “Pratibhasika” i.e. all that one imagines to be true, but is not really so. Science and the Scientific method was useful in distinguishing the Vyavaharika and the Pratibhasika orders – in fact much of the scientific critique of Hinduism as superstition arose from its commitment to empirical verification of propositions, which were largely confined to the Vyavaharika order of Reality. Science almost had no access to the realm of the Subject, the Spirit or Consciousness i.e. the Paramarthika order of reality. It could not comprehend it, measure it, and make observations about it. Science even today is unable to grapple with the phenomenon of consciousness, and assumes that it is merely a by-product of the physical body. If the Veda says something that is contradicted by scientific verification, then we must reject the Veda – Pujya Swamiji would say. That made sense. But on the other hand, if the Veda asserts something that cannot be disproved by Science, you must at least entertain the possibility of the Vedic propositions being valid – he would say.  As this began to sink in, I gained a new measure of regard for the Veda, Vedanta and the Teaching tradition embodied in the Shruti, as it related to the domain of Science.
One day, he looked at me with great compassion, and said to me “I want to draw your horoscope and see what is in store for you”. I responded by saying “I don’t believe in horoscopes”. He asked me “Why not?” I said it is not reasonable to assume that the positions of planets and stars at the time of my birth somehow influence the trajectory of my life. It is in fact so absurdly unscientific that it seems to me only the extremely superstitious would believe in such things. He smiled at me, and said to me, “the planets and stars do not cause how your life turns out. But there seems to be a correlation between the positions of the stars and planets and the way a person’s life unfolds”. As I looked bewildered at him, he said “you know there is a difference between correlation and causality”. Even as I pondered that sentence, he said “These correlations are a matter of the Rishis’ knowledge – We may not understand it, but we must respect it – It is in fact Arsha Vidya – the knowledge of the Rishis”. That sentence rang in my ears for years to come. On the same day, in the classroom during Satsang, he proceeded to tell the story of how he himself at one time did not believe in horoscopes and how he came to believe in their power, through the predictions of a brother Swami who lived near Purani Jhadi in Rishikesh during his days of seclusion.
On another occasion, he said “Why don’t you start a Bhagavad Gita Class in Columbus, Ohio?” And I did. And this class went on for some six years or so. I went deep into the Bhagavad Gita, and began to enter into the mind of Adi Shankara. Since Adi Shankara wrote everything in Sanskrit, and we live in a time and age, where Sanskrit has largely gone out of fashion, Adi Shankara has become inaccessible to our current day humanity. The other Sampradayas, keep contending with Adi Shankara, without adequately either understanding or representing his positions and perspectives accurately. Through Swamiji’s words and teachings, I gained a new respect and regard for the brilliance of Adi Shankara.
On another day I asked him, what is the value of knowing something without being it?  He replied that the word Jnana represents both knowing and being – it is in fact an ontological word. He proceeded to deliver a talk that day that the Teacher is the Teaching. Jnana fuses knowing and being together. The talk was so brilliant, that for the first time, I began to sense that Jnana is not knowledge, in the sense that we understand the word knowledge in English. There is more to that word. Sanskrit has many layers of meaning – often veiled by our own rendering of that word into English. He said that there are many lamps, and many flames – but there is only one Agni. Similarly, while there are many waves, puddles, lakes and rivers, there is only one water. Even as there are many electrical appliances such as a TV, Microwave, A light bulb, a fan and an air-conditioner, there is only one electricity that brings them all to life. Thus even as there are many bodies, the Atma is one. Thus your Atma and my Atma are non-different. And the Atma is untainted by the content of our minds and their afflictions, just as the Sky remains untainted by the clouds that gather within it. The Clouds and the Sky belong to different orders of Reality, just as the physical body and its shadow belong to different orders of Reality. One can enter into an argument with another man or woman, but not with their shadows. I would go home, with the words “different orders of Reality” ringing in my ears. Shravanam and then Mananam.
I had loved the ‘Being-ness” of J. Krishnamurti. He was a being with a great presence. But so was Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. One abhorred the Shastra, and the other embraced it fully. And I began to see that the Shastra had nothing to do with it. But I also began to see, that without the Shastra, the medium of communication that generates clarity for the student, is somewhat impaired. But even if the Shastra provides the medium i.e. the pramana, the individual Guru also brings something to the Party. The extreme degree of fun and amusement that Pujya Swamiji could generate, even while unfolding the seemingly profound verses of the Upanishads, was extraordinary. I once took my father to a talk by Swamiji, and we laughed non-stop for ninety minutes. Pujya Swamiji was better than any stand-up comic that I have listened to – and far cleaner with his jokes. And boy, could he deliver a good story with a terrific punchline!
As our relationship evolved, I observed him launch a variety of new initiatives - the Aim for Seva movement, the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha; and many other projects. I saw his close involvement in the Rama Sethu Court Case; his angst at the condition of the Hindu temples in India; his involvement in ensuring that the seven hills of Tirumala remained with Tirumala; his engagement with the Saraswati River conference and so on. I started going to him with my own propositions. Shall I help you launch the Web Site for the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha? Of course, he said. And for a while, we managed that web site. I am going to launch an organization called Sanatana Dharma Foundation and a program called Vidya Daanam. Swamiji blessed it, and even gave a few words of blessing. One of the most remarkable aspects of our relationship is that Swamiji never imposed anything on me. He never asked me to do something, that he wanted me to do. In fact, it was almost always the other way around. I would ask him, “May I do this?” and he would readily bless the endeavor. In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 63, Bhagavan Krishna says to Arjuna – “yathecchasi tatha kuru– Do as you please.This has been Pujya Swamiji’s governing philosophy. After all the teaching, after all the hours and hours of discourse, and questions and answers and Satsang – these have been his final counsel – “Do as you please”. I must regard this as his greatest gift to his students – he has never imposed his own choice or will on his numerous students, but rather allowed each one’s life to unfold and flower in its own unique way.
In the last two and a half years, I have been very involved with Dharma Civilization Foundation, Los Angeles, California, and the project that Pujya Swamiji initiated at the Graduate Theological Union, (GTU) Berkeley. I have discussed this initiative with him, on five different occasions in both Coimbatore and Saylorsburg, and on each occasion, he has grown more and more enthusiastic about this initiative. He has provided specific counsel, and very specific direction on how to move forward. His last wish to me was that we establish an “Adi Shankara Institute for the Study of Vedanta and Sanskrit” at the GTU, as an affiliate institution under the auspices of an independent, autonomous Graduate School of Hindu Dharma Studies which would function as the equivalent of a Hindu Seminary in the west. Evoking the same spirit with which Arjuna said “Karishye Vachanam Tava” i.e. “I shall act according to your word”, I too shall rededicate myself to the fulfillment of this vision, i.e. the creation of a Graduate School for Hindu Dharma Studies, and the Adi Shankara Institute within it. I can see no more fitting a tribute to the singularly committed life that Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati lived, than the dedication and devotion of our own energies to an initiative that he envisioned as worthy of our effort.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ecology In The Bhagavad-Gita - Swami Dayananda

There are people who are highly concerned that humanity is in danger. They warn that if conditions continue like this, if people don’t care, the ozone hole will become so huge that people will have a radiation problem. For some, the whole concern is for the life of human beings and the suffering that they will have in the long run. Therefore, they say that in order to protect human life, we have to protect the environment, maintain the ecological balance—save the trees, save the rainforest and create green lungs everywhere.

While we agree with this, the Gita has a wider perspective that includes all forms of life. Why don’t all forms of life deserve protection? Why only human life? What is distinct about human beings and why do we place human worth above that of other creatures? What is the sanctity of human life? In which way are the lives of other creatures on this planet less sacred than human life?

In the third chapter of the Gita, we have:

devaan bhaavayataanena te devaah bhaavayantu vah
parasparam bhaavayantah shreyah paramavaapsyatha (BG 3.11)

Propitiate the deities with this (yajna). May those deities propitiate you. Propitiating one another, you shall gain The highest good (moksha). (BG 3.11)

The perspective offered by this verse is not even limited to life on this earth—its scope is cosmic. The Gita here is talking about an awareness of all the forces. In this vision, the natural forces of the universe are not separate from Ishvara, the Lord, for the universe is a manifestation of Ishvara, the Lord. We can look at this Lord from the standpoint of a given force. As such, any phenomenon, any force, is considered a devata, a deity. This entire jagat—the world of names and forms, including natural forces—is a manifestation of the Lord. It is not that Ishvara at a certain time created the jagat as separate from himself. Although we may refer to the jagat as a ‘creation’ from the standpoint of the Lord as a conscious, all-knowing being, this is not ‘creationism’. We may use the word ‘creation’, but we follow it by the word ‘manifestation.’ Why?
In the view of creationism, the creator is separate from his creation. Since the creator must have a place, where, then, does he reside? If he is a distinct entity, where will he be? He would have to be located in space. But space itself is a part of the whole space/time creation. Where was the creator when he created space? The creator cannot be in space and create space, for if he is in space, space has already been created. If he is inside space, who created space? It is also not possible for him to be outside space, spatially. The Lord cannot be an individual located outside space, because which is the space that is outside space? Both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ refer to space. The only real possibility is that space is not separate from the Lord.
Only if we conceive of space/time as absolute is the creationism model feasible. But modern physics, consistent with the vision of Vedanta, has shown that space/time is not absolute. It has been proven that space and time are collapsible and that they come to manifest along with the other things. If that is so, space is more a manifestation of whatever was the unmanifest cause. ‘Creation’ is the formful aspect of the unmanifest—nothing new has been ‘created’. Space and time and everything in space and time—the whole thing—is a manifestation of Ishvara. Therefore, space itself cannot be separate from the Lord.
If that is so, then an awareness on the part of human beings that they are not isolated entities and that the entire jagat is a manifestation of Ishvara, is in order. With this awareness, we can strike harmony with the world; without or against this awareness, we can constantly rub against our world. The truth of rubbing is the one who rubs, who creates disharmony, gets rubbed. You cannot rub against something without getting rubbed in the process. That is the truth. And we are rubbed all the time, because we keep rubbing against the order of things. We rub each other and we rub other life forms and matter. And then we say that the world is inimical to us, and want to save ourselves from the world.
Our foolishness is that we rub and then complain that the world rubs us. “Why me?” is a common expression. “Why me?” Everybody asks the same thing. Nobody is exempt from asking, “Why me?” “Why me?” In everybody’s life, there are innumerable occasions to ask, “Why me?” In the morning getting up you may ask, “Why me?” Although you may use different words, the equivalent forms are constantly being murmured. This is due to not being in harmony with what is. In order to be in harmony with the world, you have to change the whole picture. You must have a bigger picture. Without a bigger picture, small things become big things. With a bigger picture, small things become smaller. The bigger the picture is, the smaller is your problem. The big picture really resolves problems, and Vedanta gives you the biggest picture possible. In this discussion, however, I am not talking of the biggest picture—just a bigger picture. The amazing fact is that even the bigger picture is enough to free you from a lot of rubbing.

The Gita says that your awareness should not fall short of covering, of recognizing, Ishvara as the force because of which all life forms and matter are possible. The reverence for forms is a very, very important thing. Unfortunately, in many theologies, this reverence has been destroyed. Some theologies prohibited worship of any form made of hands or by nature, and located God somewhere far away from us. It was assumed that by doing so, they were updating tribal religion. In fact, in the process, theologies have lost their reverence for forms.

Such reverence, as expressed in the Gita and other works, is an essential part of Hindu culture. When, as a child, I kicked the ground, my mother would say, “Hey, don’t kick the ground. That is mother earth.” “What mother earth? It’s dirt”, I said. “No! It’s mother earth, prithivi maataa.” Then I would think, “Oh, this is mother, maataa.”

I come from an agricultural family. During a particular month, the water would flow in the river and the agricultural operation would begin. The first thing was to sow the seeds, the paddy seeds. Then, after a few days or a month, they would remove the seedlings and transplant them in the fields. This operation was done by all the villages. Before sowing, although each villager would sow on his own piece of land, all the villagers would come and do pujaa to a piece of land that belonged to the temple. They would do pujaa to the earth. Seeing this as children, we naturally developed a reverence for the earth. That shows a concern not for my life alone—but for the one that bears the life. Mother earth is not just something inert.

Inert is a point of view. For instance, when you dream, you dream mountains and you dream mountain lions. In the dream, the mountain lions are sentient and the mountains are inert. But you, the dreamer, are not inert, and the dream universe is nothing but you. It is you who are the dream characters and scenery. You are the creator and you are the manifestation of the dream world. So when the dream character thinks that the dream mountain is inert, it’s purely a point of view. You may say one—the dream mountain—is insentient, and the other—the dream mountain lion—is sentient. But really, both of them are not separate from you—the sentient you who is dreaming. It is the same with Ishvara, the Lord. Everything we see in ‘creation’—other beings, as well as what we consider ‘inert’ material—is not separate from the Lord. That is why we don’t take mother earth for granted. The same is true for the other natural elements. Water is called Varuna. The air that you breath in is Vaayu. Tvam eva pratyaksham brahmaasi. “You alone are the perceptible Brahman.” In fact, we don’t even need a form to evoke reverence. Vaayu, Air, is enough for us. Space is enough. Time is also revered by us.

Time is generally the one that people are afraid of, except when it is Fourth of July and you have a holiday. Otherwise, time is the one that frightens everyone. That is because time levels everybody. It is just with you, silent—a silent assassin. A silent destroyer, it changes the hair of all—the black haired-one, the blonde-haired one—into what we call gray. That, of course, is assuming that any hair is still there! Time is ubiquitous. It doesn’t spare anybody or anything. Empires crumble in its wake. But for Hindus, time is an object of worship. Is there another culture where death itself can be considered God? Death is not an ordinary thing. Hindus worship Mrityu—Dharmaraaja. So that we have no fear of death, we worship. Suppose you see Mr. Death coming? You have to acknowledge him with reverence, you do namaste. He may even spare you for some time, because he has to reciprocate your namaste. Because death is considered a natural part of the whole process, the fear of death goes away.

Similarly, every phenomenon, every force that is here, from the standpoint of Ishvara, the Lord, is not inert because it is a manifestation of that Lord. The awareness of forms being not separate from Ishvara makes you aware of your environment cosmically. Our environment doesn’t stop with the atmosphere. The ‘environment’ has an extending radius. To begin with, the environment is your neighborhood. Then, extend that to the county, the state, the country, the continent, the globe, the system, the galaxy and the universe—that’s our environment. It is not an ordinary one, really. It’s an amazing one, having so much to offer in terms of your own intellectual adventure—so much to offer. We make inroads into Ishvara’s mind when we explore and understand a particular subject matter. Therefore, we don’t consider any knowledge to be secular. It is all Ishvara’s knowledge.

To be in harmony with the environment, the Gita tells us to simply do what we have got to do every day, with a certain awareness. Let all the devataas, the deities, do their jobs. Let the sun shine. Let the air blow, and let it not get stuck in one place. Vaati iti vaayuh, “Air is that which moves.” We need all the natural forces. Let every one of them function. In fact, we don’t call them ‘forces’; we call them devataas, because we are not referring to some merely material force. ‘Force’ is Ishvara, the Lord, a singular noun that means all the forces together. All the forces are one force. Otherwise, they would be in conflict with one another. They form one singular force, which we call shakti. In Star Wars we heard, “May the Force be with you.” May shakti be with you, the shakti of the Lord. That’s the force.

If I am aware of the bigger picture, how can I ever do anything inimical to this planet and to any life form that is here? How can I eat an animal? It is very difficult. How can I harm anybody? How can I harm anything—even the minerals? In other words, how can I abuse them? I can use them, because we are all mutually dependent. I contribute, I consume. I am not merely a consumer—I am a contributor, too.

Sometimes the contribution is to create what I had to destroy. For instance, I am told in our Dharma Shaastra that if you must cut a tree, then you should plant some also. It is not an easy thing for a tree to grow to full height. It may take twenty years or thirty years—then in a few moments it is cut down. The tree has survived storms, cyclones, and more. When it was a small plant, in order to grow it had to survive the stray goat, the hungry cow, and the idiotic human being. Once it finally became a tree, someone may have cut it down with a chain saw. In earlier times, using a handsaw, it took some time to finish cutting down the tree. In the process, the person may wonder, “Should I cut this tree?” He may discover, “No, I should not” and go away. These days, however, it takes only a few minutes to fell a tree. So one does not have the time to reflect upon and change the action. If it is a whole day’s work, then you may be able to change your mind. Even if during one hour you don’t change, at least there is the possibility that in next hour you may, so that not much damage is done to that huge tree. Still it will survive. It may have survived twenty-five years to become this big tree. Some trees have even taken a hundred years, two hundred years, to grow. The coastal redwood trees in California have survived five hundred years or even a thousand years or more. Still the trees are there. And you go and cut them? It is an idiotic thing to do. But people do that. Sometimes you have to cut a tree. The Dharma Shaastra tells me that when I cut a tree, it is a paapa, a wrong action that has undesirable consequences. Therefore, it tells me I should plant ten trees somewhere. Sometimes you fell a tree because you want timber. Or, it is in a wrong place, according to you, because you have decided to put a house there. In fact, it is in the right place. It is standing there, poor thing, never knowing that you would come there. Had it known, it would have grown somewhere else. But the tree, unfortunately, cannot walk around. It is supposed to be so. If the trees and plants were to walk around, you couldn’t get your salad because when you went to pick the vegetables, they would all run away. You would find the spinach running away, all the mango trees running away. Already we have traffic problems. That’s why they are sthaavara, stationary. They have to be what they are. They have to provide you with food.

All food is vegetarian. You can have a non-vegetarian meal, but food is basically vegetarian. When I say that you can have a non-vegetarian meal, I am not giving a sanction for that. I don’t want to disturb you, that’s all. You can have a non-vegetarian meal but food is vegetarian, because if you eat a goat, a cow, or any animal, it has to first find food to give you food. To give itself as food, it has to find food. Where does it find food? In the same plants and trees alone. Oshadhibhyah annam, “From the plants comes food.” Therefore, food is vegetarian. You can have a non-vegetarian meal by making that cow eat the grass—the vegetarian food—and then eating the cow. That is not environmentally healthy, really. Eating the cow is neither healthy for you nor is it environmentally healthy. In fact, I would say it is wrong. It is wrong in the sense that I can live without eating the cow. When I can live without it, why disturb the cow? That is why the cow has been given four legs and the trees are not given legs—they are sthaavara, stationary. My food is outside, and it is vegetarian. “What is eaten is food,” adyate iti annam and “Food is from the plant kingdom,” oshadhibhyah annam. I’m sorry, but that is the truth. All the proteins, all the carbohydrates, have to come from vegetarian food. So, although you can have a non-vegetarian meal, all food is vegetarian because there is no other source. On this planet there is only one source of food, and that is vegetarian.

When I cut a tree, I have to plant ten trees. Thereby, I protect. I am asked to do that by the shaastra. Otherwise, it’s a paapa. There is also awareness, not only of the life forms, but even of the so-called ‘inert’ matter, such as minerals, that are here. All of these are not to be taken for granted. They are here; I am here. I am a consumer; I also contribute to their welfare. Even an acknowledgment of the devataas is expected of me. It’s not that the devatas won’t function without that reverence, but my awareness of their contribution makes the environment, the cosmic environment, different. That is so because I am not totally programmed. I am a person, endowed with choice. And I have to exercise my choice; I have no choice in exercising my choice. What choice do I have to not exercise my choice? I have no choice. Because I can choose, I have to be aware of the whole cosmic environment, and choose to do what is required in a given situation. You do what is proper, what is the least hurtful. When you must hurt, you do the least hurtful thing. And be aware of the forces, letting those forces, those devataas —Ishvara—bless you. You are aware of them, and you invoke their grace.

By being reverentially aware of all the life forms and minerals that are here, you can deal with the more topical environmental problems. This ‘cosmic awareness’ precludes your destroying anything. We protect as well as we can. And the forces will protect us. That’s how it is. You have to protect what is to be protected. What is to protect you, you should protect. You can’t lose that. If you have armour, you should maintain it properly. When you are fighting with bows and arrows, your armour can’t be full of holes. If you are a right-handed tennis player at Wimbledon, you have to protect your right hand properly because it blesses you. The whole thing is in your hand—all the monies you’ve earned are all in one hand. If you are a right-hander, it is only in one hand. If you are a double-hander, it is in two hands. And so, you have to protect those hands properly. The whole cosmos is an environment that protects us. We are beholden to protect it. And that environment also includes fellow human beings.

That’s why the goal of environmentalism cannot be merely to protect human beings as an end in itself. It is not sound to simply try to protect human beings while justifying their destruction of the other life forms and matter, on the basis that humans are a more complex life form. I don’t find that human life is more sacred than the life of a bird or a worm—that is also life. If you argue that it is only a simple form of life, I say that a simple life form is more sacred because it is in harmony with its environment. It is this complex life form that is a problem. A simple life form at least does not go about destroying everything else. Its behaviour is programmed.

The more complex the life form is, the more aware you have to be. As a human, you are a self-aware being; that is your distinction. Naturally, you have to be aware of everything else. If you are aware of everything else, then I would say human life is really something special. For unlike the cow, you have been given a tremendous freedom—the special capacity to choose your actions based on your awareness. This freedom stems from the very self that you are conscious of. It comes from there, because that self you are aware of is the plus you have. In that plus is your freedom. Although the self is there for a cow, too, it doesn’t seem to be totally aware of the self. If it were, it would have complexes like you have. This self that I am aware of gives me a freedom to choose to do or not to do.

You can choose to have a couple of months out of the year to hunt deer. For two months, during ‘deer hunting season’, you are free to hunt the deer. Why not also give the deer a chance to hunt you? Suppose the deer population decided, “Human beings are too numerous these days, and that is not good for us. I think for two months we will hunt them.” Then we are in the same boat. Then it’s fair, a free-for-all—survival of the fittest. I don’t agree with the justification that, “Swamiji, at this rate, the deer population will increase.” Let them increase. Why do you bother about that? Let them take care of it. We take on responsibilities that we are not supposed to assume. It is like someone losing sleep, worrying, “What should I do to make the sun rise in the morning?” If he considers this to be his problem, what can you do? We carry too many things that we need not. It is like a lady on the early morning train, which is empty, who is carrying a big basket of vegetables on her head. When she was asked, “Why are you carrying that on your head? Why don’t you put it down?” she replied, “I don’t want to load down the train.” We have too many loads like this. Think about all the loads you believe you are carrying, which you are not really carrying, which, in fact, somebody else is carrying. Yet we worry about what will happen tomorrow if we don’t carry these loads. What will happen tomorrow? Exactly what happened yesterday. Tomorrow the sun will rise. You are worried about the weather, so you check the forecast—what will the temperature be tomorrow? All right, now that you know the temperature, what are you going to do? Are you going to change it? If the forecast says that tomorrow will be 98 degrees, from now on, you worry about how hot it is going to be.
We create problems. We are funny people, really. We say we are evolutes of monkeys, but you should talk to the monkeys. I can imagine a conversation with a monkey, “You know, human beings are evolutes of you fellows.” The monkey said, “What?!! They are evolutes? If that is the case, we don’t want to evolve!” What kind of evolutes are we? If you have a bigger picture, however, then you can enjoy what the monkeys cannot. Otherwise, monkeys are better off. They don’t destroy the environment as we do. If we leave them alone, they just fall into their slots in the scheme of things. Every snail, every oyster, falls into its own slot. It doesn’t really transgress it, but rather, does exactly what is expected of it. We have to learn that so that we don’t rub against our environment and so that we avoid getting rubbed. That is real ecology.

Om Tat Sat