Sunday, April 10, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
Question: Is there not another experience?
Swamiji: It is not an experience to be gained; you have enough experience of yourself. I am saying you are never away from yourself; you are not something to be gained as a new experience. You are already there, seeing me, hearing me. You never go out of the experience of yourself. You are there experiencing yourself in every experience. You are never outside yourself. You never get lost. Everything else, any object, may get lost, but you, the subject, never gets lost. Therefore, there is no question of lack of experience. In fact, you are the essence of every experience. I analyse your experiences about yourself and point out that this is what you are. Therefore there is no question about gaining an experience of atma, I, because atma is the invariable in all experiences. It is not that I must experience myself; it is that I recognize myself in all experiences. I see what I am – in seeing, hearing, walking, talking, thinking, doubting. In all of them what is there is only myself. There is only One and that One is I. To see that One is recognition. There is no experience. Experience is only with reference to an object other than yourself.
Questioner: Perhaps I was confusing the issue because I was not clear.
Swamiji: We are confused and therefore we use wrong words. Weuse wrong words and therefore we are confused. When we use right words there is no problem. If I use the word ‘experience’ for knowing myself, I will be confused. Let us stop using that word; knowing myself is a question of self recognition. So what you are asking is, “Is there such a thing as clear knowledge?”. Yes. In fact knowledge must be clear. Knowledge is not gradual, but clarity is gradual. Clarity is gradual because I keep creating doubts.
In preparing the mind for self recognition there are things that can be done to have a quiet mind. That quiet mind is experiential. So you may say that experientially you first obtain a quiet mind. That is useful, because without a quiet mind, the teaching does not work.
Question: So breathing exercises ....
Swamiji: Everything like that is experiential.
Questioner: But they are useful?
Swamiji: Everything including asana, pranayama, pratyahara is useful. It all depends upon what you want. They are useful to gain a quiet mind. But if you think these practices are going to solve the problem of knowing yourself, that is not true.
Om Tat Sat
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Question: I am somewhat amazed that Vedanta is not intellectual ...
Swamiji: How can it be? You are seeing me now. Tell me, are you ‘theorizing ‘ about me or “practising “ me when you are seeing me? I am not an object of any theory or practice. You open your eyes and if I am here, you see me. Similarly, when I say that you are the subject, that you are Brahman and I am able to help you to see the fact of what you are when I negate what you are not, my words are like your eyes. So is it theory or practice? It is neither theory or practice.
Question: Are you saying that it is showing me what I am? Now I already have the experience of what I am.
Swamiji: You do not know the dimension of yourself. You are dimensionless. You do not know that. That means you do not know the truth of yourself. You know that you exist, that you are a conscious being, but it is all put together in this concept of “I”. I have to strip what you are not from the concept of “I” and make you see the content of “I” being Brahman.
Unlike other means of knowledge where you can figure out by yourself what is to be known through perception, inference and so forth. Vedanta is a means of knowledge which requires a teacher to wield the words properly.
Question: And that is why the Guru is praised?
Swamiji: Yes. The Guru and the teaching are the means of knowledge. If you fix up your misconceptions, have studentship and listen, it works very well. Then there is teaching. And once you know, that knowledge is not going to change; you will not be shaken.
Om Tat Sat
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Question: Swamiji, is it not that there is commonly held idea that after having an experience like samadhi, one then gains theoretical knowledge about that experience, and that Vedanta is that kind of a thing? How would you dismiss this idea?
Swamiji: That special experience does not give you anything. You do not require a special experience like samadhi to have an experience of yourself. It is enough to analyse your experience in waking, dream and deep sleep. These experiences themselves are enough to form an experiential basis for the knowledge given by Sruti. That is why we do the analysis of these three states of experience, also of the experiences, and also of the experiences of pleasure and pain, and of the panchakosas (five levels of error).
Question: So, is it that Vedanta is something that gives you knowledge about samadhi and then you go out and get that experience?
Swamiji: It is the reverse. The moment you begin to think about an experience like samadhi, you are committing a mistake about yourself. When you think, “I am akarta” – “I am the doer” – the time-factor comes in. Then I, atma is seen as time-bound. A time-bound ‘I’ is not going to figure out the ‘I’ is timeless. So experience becomes a problem. The problem itself is due to ignorance.
Experience cannot dispel ignorance. It is the karta, the doer who undergoes that experience. The mind just gets into a disposition; a shanti-vritti ( a thought modification in the form of quietude) takes place. From that vritti, degrees of experience are possible and they only give one thing – desire for further experiences. I experience a wonderful thing, and therefore, I strive for a repeat experience – that is all that happens.
If you have a profound experience, you will try to provide all the conditions necessary which produced the experience before, so you can have a similar experience. So, it becomes experiential, and that is endless. It does not involve knowledge at all. It is no way different from any other experience.
The fellow who goes about surfing also wants to have an experience. It gives him a kick. And if you ask him, “What do you get out of it?” he can only tell you to try it. If you have not had the experience of surfing, you are not going to understand what it is all about, what the thrill is. But there is a thrill in it. That is why some surfers just live on the beach and watch for a wave. All their good luck and bad luck depends only on waves! Today there is a high tide and good winds, so they are lucky! They get a thrill out of it; it is an experience. And another more conventional fellow gets a kick out of a big party, and things like that. He throws a big party and everybody comes, and he feels very great about it. So this is another experience. It is all the same. Thus, people are experience-hunters. Both conventional and non-conventional fellows, the big boy and the beach boy go in for experience.
And the spiritual person also goes in for experience. One fellow depends upon waves, another fellow upon a certain situation like money, parties, people etc., and the spiritual fellow depends upon some pranayama, some meditation, some practices; he depends upon these things to create the conditions for his experience. Each one is dependent. There is no difference at all. I do not see any difference, except that the person after “non-spiritual” experience has to depend too much on external things. Waves do not come all the time. But here since all you need is yourself, there is less external dependence. Nonetheless, there is still dependency – upon conditions of yourself. Suppose a fellow wants to do pranayama and has a blocked nose? He has had it!! (Swamiji laughs).
Om Tat Sat
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Question: Some teachers say that the rational mind cannot comprehend the truth of the Self because the mind is stuck in its patterns of thinking; they say that only intense experiences will shake these patterns loose. Would Swamiji please comment?
Swamiji: How can experience shake a thinking pattern? A logical pattern cannot be shaken by anything. From being taught you know that the sun stands still and that the earth goes round. Does your everyday experience of a rising sun sake that thinking ?
How can wrong thinking – firmly entrenched notions – be shaken by mere experience? It cannot be shaken. You think you are the physical body. Yet every night in a dream experience while that body is stretched out on a mattress with a pillow under its head, a ‘you ’unconnected to the body works and eats and plays, is happy and sad. That dream experience does not shake your conclusion that you are the body. A teacher may use your dream experience as an aid to help you discover through knowledge, that you are not the body, but experience itself does not do the job of shaking off the wrong thinking.
Wrong thinking can be shaken only by right thinking, which comes from knowing, from seeing, not experiencing. Techniques which incapacitate thinking do not really work for recognizing yourself. You can arrest thinking for a while, but you cannot shake off wrong thinking. When thinking returns, the wrong thinking will repeat itself.
Question: Why then do we hear so much about techniques?
Swamiji: There is some benefits in working for quietude; a quiet mind is a useful mind, ready to learn, ready to see. To work for such a mind is understandable. There are techniques and practices which are helpful. Pranayama, physical exercise, certain diets are all fine if their purpose is understood. A relatively contemplative lifestyle and assimilated ethical values are also important. All these constitute preparation of the mind for knowledge. It is the same in any branch of knowledge. The mind must have proper preparation for learning. It must be ready to be taught the particular subject. Learning to read comes before the study of literature.
Question: But we keep hearing that thereare teachers who, through touch or through some induced experience, can cause all things to fall in place so that you realise the Truth. Could it be that through experiences you can get sufficient glimpses of the vision of the Truth, so that you then do not have to go through a heavy intellectual resistance of accepting that vision?
No. The truth of oneself is not an intellectual conclusion, nor is it something to be ‘reached’ by experience. The student is not an ‘elevator’ to go ‘up to Brahman’ at the touch of a guru. 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 you are seeking. The teaching of Vedanta is simple a pramana, a means of knowledge, an instrument that shows you what you are.
What you are is not an intellectual conclusion. Intellectual means inferential. An intellectual conclusion is an inferential conclusion about something not available for immediate perception but about which there are data available from which some logical conclusion can be reached.
Your existence requires no inference. You are not available for inference because you are right here as 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 of yourself. Knowledge, not inference, nor experience, destroys that ignorance.
Vedanta directly teaches you what you are. The use of logic is for removal of doubts, to give clarity to your vision. We use yukti, certain reasoning methods to remove the blocks you may have which 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 an experience of yourself. You do not require a new experience to see yourself. There is no source of ananda, the vision of fullness that you call happiness, except yourself.
Whenever you pick up a resolving moment of happiness, you experience your essential self. Vishayananda, 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 other wants of the wanting mind.
That ananda, fullness, that sukha, happiness is but you, yourself really. Through some gain, through some sensation, through a profound appreciation of beauty, whatever, a certain mental condition occurs in which for a moment you are just with yourself, you want no change whatsoever in anything. In the quiet clarity of a mind that wants no change whatsoever, you pick up yourself as a moment of ananda , a moment of happiness. You do not recognize that ananda as yourself but instead attribute it to an object or a situation experienced.
Desiring ananda all the time, you continually see it through all your actions. You know that you want ananda again. The very fact that you want ananda shows that you know it. Nobody desires something that is unknown. You know what ananda is and that is why you want it. What you do not know is that you are ananda; you cannot but help seek it because it is your very nature and you cannot settle for anything else, for anything less. But do you know there is such a thing as ananda; you know that there are moments of fullness which are moments of happiness. You do not require some strange, new experience to know that there are such moments of fullness.
Even if you gain some new experience which reveals ananda 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 by itself does not give knowledge. It is only an experience. It comes and goes. Shruti, the scriptures, provide the basis for the knowledge that the moment of happiness I experience reflect my real nature, ananda, limitlessness, fullness.
Experience does not give me knowledge of the nature of fullness nor does it give me the vision of the whole. Slipping into myself does not give me knowledge of the whole – knowledge of the truth of myself, 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 mithya, apparently real, and what is satyam, non-negatable Reality. It is not enough just to be myself. I have to account for this world or else things will not fall into place. Just slipping into myself does not make things fall into place. If I do not discover the nature of the world as well as that of myself , the world will overwhelm me and I will have to escape from the world.
If experience is all that is needed to know the Truth of everything, all one has to do is take drugs. No Vedanta, no yoga, no touch on the forehead, nothing is necessary – simply take drugs. When experience is seen as Truth, it comes to that. The whole drug culture has grown because of this false idea.
Vedanta has been presented as an experience. This is a wrong presentation. Aldous Huxley and some others introduced Vedanta this way.
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 the immediacy of knowledge.
When that immediacy of knowledge is presented as experience, confusion follows. This confusion has arisen, at least in part because there is a word in Sanskrit, ‘anubhava’ which has been translated in English simply as ‘experience’. Such a translation cause the expectation of a ‘happening’, not a ‘seeing’.
I would rather translate ‘anubhava’ as immediate knowledge. Gurupadesham anusrtya bhavati iti anubhavah. That which is in keeping with the teaching is called anubhava. For the qualified student, that which comes after the teaching is knowledge in keeping with the teaching. But instead, ‘anubhava’ is translated everywhere as ‘experience’ which does not bring about the correct understanding that what is indicated is immediate knowledge.
Question: Could you call this ‘realization’ rather than ‘experience’?
Swamiji: It is recognition in terms of knowledge. You recognize the Truth of yourself in terms of knowledge – a knowledge that embraces you, your world, and God. Unless you see the whole, your problem is not solved. In knowledge you see the identity of God, world and you. You see the nondual vision as a whole. You cannot duck from duality.
Neither experience nor knowledge destroys the perception of duality. Experience is only an escape from the perception of duality; knowledge accounts for duality. In knowledge I face duality and see there is no duality. I appreciate and enjoy the world I perceive but at the same time I know there is no duality.
It is like the sunrise. I know that the sun does not rise in the eastern sky, but nonetheless I am enchanted by the beuty of the rising sun. The sky is not blue nor does the rainbow have substance, but I rejoice in the blueness of the sky and welcome the rainbow. Just because duality does not have absolute reality does not mean it is not perceived nor does it mean it should not be enjoyed for what it is. This is not the point. The point is truth must be known as a whole.
The whole should account for the world, God and myself – my mind, my body, my struggles, my liberation – everything should be accounted for and in that accounting, the fact that ‘I am that whole’, should be seen. Mere experience does not account for the whole. The whole is accounted for in terms of knowledge.
Knowledge requires a pramana, an instrument of knowledge and someone to wield that instrument. Shruti, scripture, is the pramana and the teacher wields the pramana, unfolding the words of Shruti until the student sees the fact of the whole and knows, “That whole I am”.
Om Tat Sat
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Question: What is the origin of avidya?
Swamiji: Avidya cannot have an origin, because if ignorance has a beginning then before its beginning, there must have been knowledge. Therefore, if avidyas has a prior non-existence (ie it is beginningless), there must be knowledge.
Knowledge is opposed to ignorance. Therefore ignorance can have posterior non-existence (an end) but prior non-existence (a beginning) it cannot have. Therefore will we have if ignorance has prior non-existence? Definitely there must be knowledge because where avidya is not, knowledge is. If knowledge is, ignorance cannot be. Therefore ignorance cannot have beginning in any way.
Question: Avidya can have posterior non-existence (an end), but does knowledge have a beginning?
Swamiji: Ignorance has an end, but knowledge has no beginning because no one can create knowledge. You only remove ignorance. In that sense it has no beginning. But it has a seeming beginning, it has an apparent beginning, because ignorance goes away at a given time.
Question: According to Advaita, knowledge is not gained through action. Removal of ignorance also is not through action. How is action then related?
Swamiji: Removal of ignorance cannot be an action. There are two things conveyed by this one statement: removal of ignorance is not ‘through’ action, and removal of ignorance ‘is’ also not an action. Removal of ignorance cannot be therefore an action inasmuch as action produces a result involving a doer. I am a doer and the doer performs an action to produce a result and therefore that is not knowledge. It cannot remove ignorance. Therefore removal of ignorance is an epistemological problem. It is purely a matter of operating a means of knowledge and that is not an action because in an action there is a choice. In knowledge there is no choice.
Your eyes are functioning and suppose I ask you what is this – it is a shawl. For this you don’t need anything. You open your eyes and you see the shawl. Whether you like it or not, it is a shawl.
Now suppose I say to you that it is a rabbit. Then what will you say? You are not going to accept it. Even if you have shraddha in Swamiji and you wish to accept Swamiji’s words, you cannot accept them in this case because this object is not a rabbit. Suppose you accept it, it will still not be a rabbit because knowledge does not depend on your will.
Now suppose I ask you to come here and take this shawl from me. Whether to do it or not depends upon your will. You may come, you may not come or you may come in your own manner. Action is purusha-tantram, centred on the will of a person, but knowledge is vastu-tantram, centred on the object as it is.
If your eyes are open, if the object is present and your mind is behind the eyes, you will see; the seeing will take place. You cannot avoid it. That is why sometimes we see something for which we regret for your lifetime. You happen to be there, you see. You happen to be at a place, you hear.
Thus knowledge is not an action. Action presupposes purusha, which in this context is means will. Therefore where will is involved, there is action. Wherever vastu or object is involved, there is knowledge. In one karta, doer is involved; in the other pramata, knower is involved.
Question: Then what will happen to the philosophy of action since action does not lead to knowledge?
Swamiji: Action does not lead to knowledge and knowledge is not affected by action. But action is useful, because if it performed with a certain attitude, it becomes yoga. It is not really a yoga of action, it is yoga of attitude with reference to action and result.
I have a certain attitude towards action, the action that I have to perform, and the attitude makes the action yoga because of which likes and dislikes do not create any problem in my mind. The attitude enables me to accept the result, whatever it be. This involves Ishvara-arpana buddhi, the attitude of offering to the Lord and prasada-buddhi, glad acceptance of the result. That is where religion, God, prayerful attitude etc come in.
I perform an action, such as clapping my hands. It is a very simple action. I clap my hands and the sound is produced. Having performed the action, I see the result happening there. Suppose I did not know that clapping would produce sound; now I know that it does and so if I do not want this sound to be made, I should not perform the action of clapping. That is how by performing action we learn about the result and thereby we become wiser.
Now suppose I perform an action and expect that a given result should not come, I have no control over the result. Action will produce the result whether I like it or not.
For every action there is a result, an appropriate result and the result is governed by the laws of action and reaction. The laws are not my creation and I cannot change them also.
Om Tat Sat
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Swamiji: My concept of moksha is freedom from the sense of limitation and the sense of dependence for your security and happiness. It is not my concept. It is the concept of Vedanta.
Question: Does it means freedom from materialism?
Swamiji: Freedom from the sense of inadequacy.
Question: Inadequacy can be spelt out. My inadequacy may be that I do not have a certain social position. Some people say they do not have enough money. One may say one needs this much and I may say I need a little more.
Swamiji: It is the same. You are talking of your concept of adequacy. You are accepting inadequacy anyway. You may think that by having some more money, you will be adequate. Another man may think that with some power he will be adequate. Yet another may go for name. One may work more for scholarship, position, or whatever. But it is clear that everyone has a sense of inadequacy.
Question: Does the problem of inadequacy require metaphysics ... soul... meditation?
Swamiji: We can accept this much: there is a self-consciousness and therefore a self-judgement. The universal judgement is, “I am inadequate.” When I find myself inadequate, I cannot stand it and therefore there is a natural urge for becoming adequate. According to your concept of adequacy, a given thing may make you adequate and that varies from person to person. Logically it is impossible for you to be adequate because inadequacy plus something is still inadequate only. When you evaluate a gain, taking into account the loss involved, it turns out to be not a great gain, because in every gain there is a loss. Every gain is accompanied by a loss. You get something only when you invest something and thus you will discover that in the relative world any gain involves a certain loss. Naturally therefore the inadequacy continues to be and that is the experience of everyone.
The question that arises now is whether the urge to be adequate is natural or not. It is a natural urge; one cannot stop it also because one cannot ‘become’ adequate. I cannot stop working against inadequacy and therefore I have to find a solution. If the solution is not empirically available, necessarily then I will have to ask the question, “Am I really inadequate?” Is inadequacy merely a standpoint?
Suppose inadequacy itself is a judgement based on a standpoint and I may be taking it to be absolute. Suppose the standpoint makes me inadequate, I look at myself as inadequate, then only it is my problem; if something else is inadequate, then it is not really my problem, it is not a problem centered on ‘I’. Therefore, if there is an inadequacy centered on ‘I’, I am inadequate. Therefore I should discover myself to be adequate.
There is no way of myself discovering adequacy by myself though wealth, power or anything because anything I gain is going to be inadequate and therefore ‘I’ plus something will still be inadequate. Inadequate plus inadequate is inadequate. Finite plus finite is finite only. So through inadequacy there is no possibility of gaining adequacy for myself. My urge is natural and I cannot remain being inadequate; the sense of inadequacy is something I cannot live with happily. And therefore I should discover that perhaps I need not ‘become’ adequate. Becoming adequate is meaningless. Perhaps I ‘am’ adequate. I have to say only ‘perhaps’. Perhaps I am adequate.
Therefore the whole enquiry falls on your own lap. Now you will ask the question, ‘who am I?’ Then it becomes metaphysics.
Question: Is it not that the social structure is such that every individual feels inadequate?
Swamiji: It is an individual problem that I feel inadequate. After all when you say you are inadequate or the society is putting an inadequacy on you, it is just inadequacy. I am saying that even if there is no society, the sense of inadequacy will still remain.
I would like to know how do you look at yourself, what is the self. Suppose you say you are the physical body, definitely you are inadequate. If you say you are the mind, definitely you are inadequate. If you say, “I am knowledge that I have gathered”, definitely you are inadequate, because knowledge never comes to be adequate. Therefore in any way you look at yourself, there is going to be inadequacy. This is the basic judgement. First you judge yourself and then you look at yourself through society. You look at the other fellow and if he is recognized as more beautiful, you develop a complex. Then if some other fellow is more successful, you have another complex.
Question: Are you trying to say there is ignorance of oneself?
Swamiji : Yes. I am born with ignorance and the ignorance is two-fold. One is ignorance of myself and the other is ignorance of everything else. I have such means of knowledge as perception, inference etc to know things other than myself. But then the self-ignorance continues. You do not require self-knowledge to operate the other means of knowledge. You can be a successful scientist without self-knowledge. In this regard, there is no distinction between human beings and animals!
Om Tat Sat
When you examine any object, you find that it resolves into its constituent parts. For example , take a rose. What is the truth of the rose? Are the petals the rose? No? When you pull apart all the petals, what is left is a center - Is the center part the rose? Is the stalk the rose? No.
Are these individual parts the rose? No.
Examine each individual part – and you find it is made of parts. Then examine each of these individual parts and you find it is made of some more constituents.
Like this on analysis every object is found to be nothing but its constituents parts which are nothing but their constituents parts which again are but their constituent parts ....
And so some philosophies will claim that there is no truth at all in the rose ... in fact the rose as a rose is non-existent.
What do we say ... we say the rose and all its constituent parts proves their existence only because of the presence of a conscious being – the one who is analysing the rose. The rose ‘is’ and every constituent also ‘is’.
This conscious being is the truth of the rose – the conscious being ‘is’ and the rose ‘is’ – the ‘is’ of the conscious being and the ‘is’ of the rose is one and the same. There is no difference between the substance of consciousness being and that of the rose.
There is only one substance here – existence or the ‘isness’ – the ‘is’ called as SAT – this SAT is the satyam – the truth of the rose, this SAT is the satyam - the truth of the one who is analysing the rose to find out its truth! The rose is merely a word with a meaning centred on one’s tongue and the substance, the truth is SAT – IS. This SAT is one, non-dual. It is satyam and the rose is mithya a dependent reality.
Om Tat Sat
Monday, January 18, 2016
Om Sad-Guru Shri Dayanandeshwaraya Namah
Purno’ham – what shines as ‘I’ is suddha caitanyam is purna –is whole.
Wholeness is to be understood. Whole – means that which has no holes, which is complete, full – undivided, part-less, whole – ekam advitiyam.
I am – self-evident, self-revealing consciousness that is :-
· never subject to any division (no time-wise division therefore always present and changeless, indestructible, nor subject to space-wise division therefore all pervading, not limited by the boundary of the body, nor subject to object-wise division therefore in the apparent form of all objects),
· free of all differences (sajatiya bheda, vijatiya bheda, svagata bheda), in whose presence all divisions, all differences are perceived, who is in and through all the differences and yet free of all differences,
· free of subject-object division, and yet who is in and thru the subject-object, pervading the subject, pervading the object and yet free of both subject and object – who is WHOLE – all-inclusive and yet free of all that is included in it!!
Purno’ham. Cinmayoham ....Sat-cit-ananda svarupoham So’ham.
Om Tat Sat