Sunday, October 1, 2017

Calling the Ego’s Bluff - 2

Vedanta points out that there has been a major error in the understanding of ‘I”. Let us understand the error.
We find that our understanding of ‘I’ is dependent on a number of conclusions, which are based on observed experiences.
This is beginning of the cascading errors which constitute our understanding of ‘I’.
Vedanta points out that I is  the changeless sakshi,  of the nature of self-evident consciousness  in whose ever-presence all experiences are illumined, observed to  take place. The changing world is an observed experience, the changing body is an observed experience and the changing mind is an observed experience.
Vedanta points out that it is our common conclusion that being the subject, I am not the observed experienced world. How then can I conclude that I am the observed, experienced body or mind?  
This opens up the enquiry.
Let us look at facts which are pointed out by Vedanta.
1.      There must be a changeless observer otherwise called the sakshi or the true ‘I’ in whose presence change is observed – otherwise it is not possible know that there has been change.
2.      So everything observed/experienced becomes an object of knowledge for the sakshi. Indeed all conclusions regarding the self are all objects only for the sakshi.
3.      Whatever is observed/experienced is in state of flux always – so its presence as a constant entity cannot be established. The body is in a state of flux, so is the mind, and of course so is the world.
4.      Again the object experienced/observed be it thought or any physical object can never be independent of the observer – nor is it independent of n numbers of local factors.
Vedanta asks this question, how can any conclusion which is based on the changing, dependent, observed objects, regarding the self-evident conscious being, the ‘I’, the changeless sakshi,  be true?  Any conclusion regarding the sakshi,  the true ‘I’ based on anything observed can only be FALSE.
The self is not a conclusion based on any experience, or series of experiences, or memory of experiences. The self is self-evident consciousness, who is independent of every experience and yet the essence or content of every experience.
What is the sense of ‘I’? Really if we analyse it, it is a set of conclusions which poses as an independent entity – and all actions are rooted in this entity interacting with the environment.
We already saw that all conclusions based on the body-mind and attributed to  ‘I’, the self-evident basic conscious being, are false.
When we examine the conclusion ‘I am a doer’, we find that the ‘doer’ conclusion is based on observed fleeting experiences of actions – for example folding clothes, cooking food, eating the food, walking, talking etc. All these actions were observed in the presence of the changeless conscious being – the sakshi.
The changeless sakshi does no action – in its presence, the action is revealed to be taking place at the level of body-mind. We cannot call the changeless sakshi as doer.
Then who is the ‘doer’. This ‘doer’ is not a permanent entity. The action takes place thru the agency of the mind-body and the action is over even as it takes place.  Is there a real entity here, an independent entity here to own up the action?
If the doer-entity is real, it must always be present. But it is not always there – in waking itself sometimes a doer, sometimes an experience ... again absent in deep-sleep. Is there any permanent entity here to whom we call the ‘doer’?
There is only a sort of constructed pseudo-entity, who is the result of endless conclusions based on observed experiences superimposed on the changeless, ever-present conscious being. This constructed pseudo-entity poses as an independent, permanent entity and concludes it is a doer and experience as well.
For the one who has recognized the truth of the changeless self, there is no more concluding anything based on any observed experience – and the person is free of the conclusion that ‘I am a doer/experiencer’. The sort of constructed pseudo-entity dissolves in the wake of recognition of truth. So the empirical doer is not taken to be real anymore.

Om Tat Sat

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Japa A Support for Concentration - Sri Chandra Swami Udasin

A type of support that can be given to the mind for concentration is that of a name or word. Let us consider this now. The support maybe in the form of one name, or in the form of any mantra. The mantra is a phrase or formula bearing a certain meaning that affirms the existence of God and embodies a certain idea of feeling in relation to God, such as surrender unto the Lord or the feeling of the divine presence,  or it may inspire devotion with a certain prayer raised unto the Lord. Any one name of God or Mmantra or phrase is selected according to one's faith and conviction. It is to be mentally or vocally chanted. It is to be repeated gently and calmly. Gradually consciousness is centred on hearing of this name or mantra. This practice is called Japa. Science may not prove it today, logic may also fail to do so,  but experience has proved that such intonation and repetition of God's name has a marvelous effect in tuning The mind with God - the spirit that is all and beyond all. There is tremendous power in the name of the Lord. The Lord's Grace does descend  through His name on one who has faithfully and wholeheartedly repeats it.  This is a fact confirmed and  reconfirmed by the saints of all religions. The proper place for concentration on the Lord's name or on Mmantra is in the Heart Centre, which corresponds to the anahata chakra in yogic parlance.

Let it be pointed out here at the shorter the mantra or word the better it is,  because it becomes easier to concentrate on.

The japa of any name of God or mantra can also be practiced by connecting that name or Mantra with the rhythmic incoming and out coming of breath and by chanting it mentally. And in this practice the attention of the mind should not be focused on the navel centre because through this practice the vital being becomes active which might cause a severe agitation or sudden explosion of the pranic force. If the discriminating power in the sadhaka is not sufficiently developed, if he does not possess complete mastery over his senses and mind and if above all he is not single- mindedly devoted to the ideal of God- realisation, the violent awakening of the proanic force may lead him astray in his  Sadhana and consequently, throw him into the absyss of sin and sorrow.  Unless the centre of command what is the aajnaChakra and the heart centre of the aspirant have been adequately purified and unless they have resumed full control over the navel Centre, it is not proper for a man to practice Japa with the incoming and outgoing of breath by fixing the mind on the navel Centre. This practice should not be performed by anyone. If a practitioner wants to do Japa by associating with incoming and outgoing of breath then he or she should keep the attention at the heart Centre. There is no danger in doing this. The practice of Japa can lead even if performed to the exclusion of all other methods of concentration to the highest spiritual recognition. In fact in its advanced stage the Japa itself turns into deep and dynamic spiritual concentration. As such by becoming a dynamic concentration, it brings about an extraordinary transformation in the external life of that  sadhaka, who practices it regularly and sincerely.

 Chanting of the Lord's name is an exercise divine and spiritually rewarding indeed. There have been many Saints who devoted themselves to this method of spiritual concentration alone and to none other and realised the Lord.

Sri Chandra Swami Udasin

Satsangs Schedule at Dehradun

Monday        11.30 - 12.30 am  Tattvabodha
Sewla Kalan

Tuesday         11   - 11.30 am Chanting
Sewla Kalan  11.30 -1 pm Bhagavad Gita

Thursday       5  - 6 pm     Drg-Drshya Vivek
Indira Nagar

Ram Vihar     11.30 -12.30pm Tattvabodha
Vasant Vihar   2 -2.30 pm  Chanting BG
                           3.30-4.30 om Bhagavad Gita        

Friday, September 15, 2017

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

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Calling The Ego’s Bluff

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Surrender - Om Harih Sharanam

Dedicated to all the SadGurus

All that is here is Ishvara.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om Tat Sat

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Sadhana of Witnessing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om Tat Sat.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Breathing and Wholeness

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

Om Tat Sat

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Immanence of God - by Swami Chidananda

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

As a sadhaka, handling a negative emotion

Nobody likes to have a negative emotion like hurt, anger, guilt, jealousy, the sense of rejection, loneliness, etc. Often it’s just a vague sense of discomfort or uneasiness which one cannot pin-point. So our first instinct is to try to escape it through some displacement activity – for instance we may find ourselves picking up the phone to talk to someone, or going out for a movie or walk, or simply talking with friends. Some may head to the bar for a drink, yet others may light up a cigarette. Yet others may do puja – the idea is we simply divert ourselves to escape feeling the feelings that are there in that moment.
In other words, we want to escape our present moment of feeling lousy and so we try to create a new better present moment through doing something or the other. We can say that in way we have abandoned an aspect of our psychological self, we have rejected an aspect of our psychological self. In a sense we have fractured our psychological self.
Our psychological self needs to be whole– integrating all aspects of our psychological self in a deep self-acceptance. Am I able to deeply accept myself at each moment of my existence, as I am?
What does it take to accept oneself as one is at each moment in time, and simply allow oneself to feel the feelings that arise, without judgement, with compassion and yet not be impelled to act upon them, if they prompt actions that are against one’s chosen universal values of honesty, commitment, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, etc?
One needs a great deal of understanding of the fact that whatever is, is in Ishvara’s Order.  The laws of cause and effect, which includes in its fold the laws of psychology, pervades the Universe – so every moment in time, is in Order, just the way it is. The Universe is ruled by the laws of cause and effect – laws which I did not create – they are simply there, rendering whatever is as it is.  If it could be different it would be different, but it not. It is the way it is – it is in Order. Naturally my feelings at every moment in time, whatever they are,  are within that Order – they are in Order – they are. They are acceptable simply because they are in Order. So compassionately,  one allows oneself to feel them.
What one discovers is that one is greater than the feeling, because the feeling passes and one is still there. Be there for the feeling compassionately, not because you want to feel better, but simply because you want to be there for your psychological self, giving it the attention that is needed.  
And the advantage of accepting them and allowing oneself to feel feelings however uncomfortable they may be, is that one becomes more integrated  in one’s psychological being. That integration leads to a great sense of peace born of self-acceptance. In that self-acceptance is also the space to look at the situation in which those feelings were triggered, in a new light. One has the space to revise one’s thought processes which led to the uncomfortable feelings.
In the event that one’s feelings are more than one can handle, one can take a break from feeling them, by resorting to any action in keeping with the universal values. However one compassionately notes what one is doing, so that it is not an unconscious or mechanical escape, rather the action is one’s conscious deliberate choice for the time being.
Another important thing to note is that feeling one’s feelings  does not mean that one may act upon them through one’s habitual responses. One’s responses to situations are to be guided not by one’s feelings. Rather they are to be based by one’s well-thought over and chosen universal values.
Thus as a sadhaka who has moksha as the chosen goal, one handles one’s negative emotions with deep compassion and a great deal of understanding. One allows oneself to feel one’s feelings and yet develops to space to not act upon them. Rather one acts in keeping with one’s well-chosen universal values.
Look at the table below
Negative Emotion
The process – Be compassionate and non-judgemental
Values and Response
 Admit it, Feel it, It will pass, understand the unmet need behind the feeling, look at the thought process behind the feelings, revise if required
Values are respect, discipline and eventually forgiveness
Express appropriately
Admit it, Practice the Pause, Feel it, understand the unmet need behind the feeling,  look at the thought process behind the feelings, revise
Values are Respect, Discipline, Forgiveness
Express appropriately
Admit it, allow the feeling, understand the value transgressed in order to meet a need, look at the thought process behind the transgression, revise
Value is self-forgivess
Make amends
Admit it, allow the feeling, understand the attachment behind the feelings, look at the thought process and go through what if the worst possible scenario, revise
Value is courage, prayerfulness
Auto-suggestion,  go ahead with whatever you need to do after doing a reality check on the fear or anxiety

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Freedom That Is The Self

What shines here as ‘I’ is self-revealing, self-effulgent consciousness who is independent of all that is observed or perceived in its presence.
For understanding the self-evident nature of Consciousness that shines here in this body-mind complex as ‘I’, all you have to do is unload from one’s understanding,  all that is observable, as well as all that is changing and taken to be “I”. That means one would unload the notions of being a body-mind complex from one’s understanding of “I” because the body-mind is observed and observable. What about the deep impressions that are in the mind, which are not available for immediate observation? Well the deep impressions, whatever they may be are observable, as and when they surface into one’s conscious mind. Since they qualify to be observable, they too are not inherent in consciousness.
What is left after this unloading, which is really unloading of one’s sense of self-identity in the body-mind complex, is just  self-evident consciousness.
Is arriving at, ascertaining for oneself the nature of “I” being self-evident consciousness equivalent to enlightenment? NO. There are some teachers who claim this is equal to enlightenment – that is false – it is cheating gullible troubled beings, who need some respite from the agitations caused by their mistaken self-identity. That respite is only temporary as many of them do discover.
Ascertaining for oneself that who I am is self-evident self-effulgent consciousness, that is indeed INDEPENDENT of the body-mind complex is the first step. Without understanding the purport of the Upanishad statement tat tvam asi – You (the self-evident consciousness) are That (absolute reality that  apparently manifests as the ever-changing universe)  how are you going to ascertain for yourself that the self-evident consciousness is indeed independent, changeless and  infinite and therefore absolutely free?
Freedom is recognizing the “I” to be the self-evident consciousness that is independent of everything illumined in its presence and therefore to be always free of whatever you had considered yourself to be bound by. Therefore self-evident consciousness that shines as “I” is always free of
  • ·         Samskara (deep impressions) even when they are present in the mind
  • ·         Results of action -Punya and paapa
  • ·         Restlessness and agitations of the mind

The freedom is total.

Perhaps it is only on understanding one’s freedom that one understands how free the human free-will is.  All vyvahara continues as before – and yet now one is free enough to choose out of one’s love and joy, what to associate with and what not to.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Real Ecology -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.