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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recognizing the Self as is

When we want to recognize the truth of the self,  we need a mind, whose restlessness and clinging to its own stories, we can simply put aside for a while, so that we can recognize that we do have an existence independent of the mind-body-world.
In that quiet frame of mind, we can definitely confirm for ourselves that :-
1.      Whatever is perceived, like the world, the body, activities, sensations, thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, ignorance all are:-
a.      Subject to change – temporary, time-bound
b.      Dependent on their causes, and totally dependent upon ‘I’, the conscious being to make themselves known. Therefore they are subject to discontinuance. They come up to go in the presence of consciousness, the self
c.       Limited by simply being themselves, beside being limited in time
2.      The consciousness that shines as ‘I’ is self-evident, self-existent and INDEPENDENT of all that stands revealed in its ever-presence. We must confirm for ourselves, meaning recognize without the shadow of a doubt, that consciousness, the self, is self-evident, self-revealing and is ever-present in every cognition, in every emotion, in every feeling, in every sensation, in every activity and yet INDEPENDENT and therefore not changed or affected by the presence of these, even as light is unaffected by what is illumined in its presence. Consciousness illumines by its very presence and everything else is illumined. Perception simply takes place in the presence of self-existent, independent consciousness.
3.      Consciousness is the independent principle – and one must recognize as one’s own truth that the consciousness that is the self, is not limited by any object whatsoever, nor by space, nor by time

It is really all about recognition of consciousness-I as is – without superimposing anything, not even an idea on it. It is not really a new experience, because consciousness has always been present as the very self, in every experience. It is simply recognizing the same ever-present consciousness-I as it is, without mixing it up with what is illumined in its presence.

Once the independent nature of consciousness is truly recognized and owned up, the presence of one’s mind is not a disturbance or a problem. One’s existence as a body-mind is recognized for what it is – a dependent reality which cannot in reality disturb one’s self.  Perception still takes place, sensations do take place and one does enjoy an enlightened functional identity and so activities take place– and one recognizes that even though everything goes on as before, one is indeed free – totally free. What goes is one’s sense of reality in being a limited individual.  

Om Tat Sat

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Implied Meaning of Words

(adapted from Swami Shuddhabodhananda's book on Tattva-viveka Prakaranam of Panchadashi)

Vedanta is shabda-pramana – a means of knowledge in the form of words. It’s subject matter is to reveal the identity between the individual and Brahman.
The literal meaning of words cannot reveal the nature of Brahman. Why? The nature of Brahman or the self defies description through the direct meaning of any word or sentence. Brahman/ the self is free from all attributes. How can it is be on object of perception or words. Words can describe only those things which can fit into the categories of species (jati),  attributes (guna),  action (kriya), relation (sambandha).
Brahman the Self,  who is all-pervasive is free of all these categories. Therefore the Upanishads themselves declare Brahman as the one from whom words along with the mind returns without being able to objectify it.
However  the  Upanishads uses special means of communication within a known context to convey the nature of Brahman, using LAKSHANA VRITTI.
When a sentence is used as means of knowledge (pramana), its operation is effective, provided the meaning of the words therein and the sentence as a whole are properly understood.
The meaning of a given word or a sentence can be literal, implied or figurative depending on how it is employed. The inherent capacity of words to yield the appropriate meaning as per a context is called as VRTTI. It indicates the relation (sambandha) between the word (pada) and its meaning (padartha),  resulting in an understanding of the word (shabda-bodha).
Vrttis are of three types.
1.      Abhidha Vritti : It gives the literal meaning (vaacyartha)  of a word. It is also called mukhya vritti. For example, ‘this is a cup’ – the direct meaning of cup is immediately understood.
2.      Lakshana Vritti:  When the literal meaning of a word or a sentence does not fit in with the meaning then either the meaning must be wrong, or we have to look for the implied meaning. If the sentence is not wrong, there may be a possibility of conveying some meaning other than the direct one. This is called lakshana vrtti.  It gives the lakshyartha – the implied meaning. In this case some aspects of the word or words may have to be deleted, retained or added, depending on the context. We will see the three sub-division of this vritti.
In the case of the maha-vakya tat tvam asi,  this type of vritti is employed as the direct meaning does not make sense.
3.      Vyanjana Vritti:  This gives the figurative meaning. When the first two vrittis fail to convey the meaning, one can look into this.
The three sub-divisions of lakshana vritti are as follows.
Jahal-lakshana vrtti is the lakshana vritti which discards (jahati)  some aspect. Here the primary sense of a word is given up, yielding a different sense which is connected to the primary one in some way.

A familiar instance is gangaayaam ghoshah – “a village on the Ganga. A village on a flowing river is not possible. So we discard the meaning of a flowing river Ganga and interpret the word Ganga as the ‘bank of the Ganga’.Thus the implied meaning is that there is a village on the banks of the Ganga.

Here the original sense of a word used is not given up but it is supplemented by a relevant word.
Shono dhaavati’ – meaning “the red runs”. Now the red colour by itself cannot run; therefore it means “a red horse runs”.

In bhaagatyaaga-lakshana vritti or jaha-ajahal-lakshana vritti, words convey the implied sense by discarding the mutually contradictory aspects. “Soyam devaduttah”-  This is that Devadutta’ .

You were going to your office. On the way you met your friend who was talking to a bearded man in a suit. You friend introduces this man as “This is that Devadutta’. Immediately you recall who the person is – you remember the owner of the chai shop in Calcutta where you used to drink tea in your college days. That guy never had a beard, and used to be dressed in a dirty lungi and banian.  Later he also came to Dehradun and became a successful businessman, which you never knew about.

In this sentence, “that” represent Calcutta, the time twenty years ago and the person the chai-shop owner. “This” means the present time at Dehradun, and the  businessman. In point of fact, both these group of characteristics qualify the same person, Mr Devadutta. Yet there is an apparent contradiction because they differ from each other and cannot be the same. So to understand the statement what happens in your mind, before recognition takes place is that you have discarded the mutually opposite aspects, (the place and the looks) (bhaaga-tyaaga) and retained only the locus, who is the individual Mr. Devadutta.
Bhaaga-tyaaga  is an important means of communication provided the context is known. This lakshana vrtti is used to understand the maha-vakya “That You Are”.

Om Tat Sat

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Is a temporary sense of absence of one’s self-image equal to enlightenment?

I, sometimes do a small exercise with my students, to help them recognize that the self is self-evident and simply cannot be negated.

In a cultural context of devotion, love and trust  for one’s Ishta devata, the exercise begins when I ask them to quietly leave all that can objectified by them, with their Ishtha devata – who they feel safe to entrust with whatever is most precious for them. So it is in an atmosphere of relaxation that they hand at their Lord’s feet:
  • ·         The world that they can objectify – they did not create this world – they simply hand over to their Lord who they understand to be the Creator
  • ·         All concerns relating to the world – political issues, social issues .... everything
  • ·         Since they have handed over the world, they can hand over all their roles in interacting with the world – whatever they may be – husband/wife, mother/father, brother/sister, other relations, friend, employee, employer, citizen etc .. and along with their roles they can hand over all their concerns and worries for the time-being to the Lord
  • ·         Then they hand over the body ownership for the time-being, along with all their concerns regarding the body – as all of these are perceived and objectified
  • ·         They next hand over their emotions and feelings regarding themselves and everything else- as they can be objectified too
  • ·         They hand over whatever intellectual accomplishments they have, and all thoughts – they can be observed/objectified as well
  • ·         They can observe their memories, so these too are handed over to the Lord
  • ·         And of course they observe their ignorance – so they hand that over to the Lord as well.

Then I point out that you are the one who is observing – the perceiver. Now what is left .... the perceiver-I  with nothing left to perceive. And of course this perceiver-I cannot be perceived – otherwise we could handover the perceiver too.

Is this perceiver present? Yes. Is the perceiver conscious?


This consciousness is self-evident is it not? It is self-revealing.

At this moment this self-evident consciousness is not identified with any aspect of a historical self-image. There is as though a temporary absence of the historical self-image.

I ask ‘Are you unhappy now?’

‘No’ they answer.

‘Are you uncomfortable?

‘No’ they answer.

In fact the freedom from self-image seems to bring on a lightness of being for them. They look radiant and happy.

Is this equivalent to self enlightenment?


Freedom is not temporary, nor is it conditional – that I am free only if the self-image is absent.

What needs to be recognized for enlightenment is that freedom is the very nature of Consciousness the Self  – even when I take myself to be a historical self-image held prisoner by my mistake about my Self – even at that time, the Self – the witness of this self-image, is free.

Consciousness that shines here as self-evident I is always free.

Consciousness is ever sat – independent of all that is perceived in its presence and ever changeless. This fact, this reality has to be recognized. In the wake of this recognition alone, the sense of reality that is given to the historical self-image is destroyed.

Merely emptying oneself of one’s historical self-image, will give some temporary relief from one’s sense of bondage which will last only as long the historical self-image is absent.

The problem is the sense of reality that one gives to one’s self-image, and that sense of reality will go only in the wake of self-knowledge – not just by emptying oneself of the self-image.

Consciousness, the Self is THE independent reality and everything else is that appears to shine in its presence is DEPENDENT on it, even the self-image. There must be a recognition of the independent reality and in its wake the sting associated with the self-image is gone.

What the exercise does is give the students an understanding of the Self being self-evident, self-revealing consciousness independent of all that they believed they needed to simply be. I ask them to repeat it so that eventually they are able to confirm for themselves, that yes the self is self-evident, self-revealing and independent perceiver– if it were not independent, they will not be able to hand over anything to their Lord!
If one gets this far, enlightenment is not too far away!

Om Tat Sat

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Are you Consciousness or are you your self-image?

Every committed seeker of self-knowledge will knock into this question with themselves - who am I? 

Am I my self-image? Am I my historical psychological self? 

If I am my historical psychological self, if I am my self-image then indeed sorrow is my lot, because I can never be pleased with myself - I will remain an eternal seeker, constantly stuck in life of becoming something other than what I am, simply because I am displeased with myself. 

Its good to ask this question to oneself - am I my self-image?

What is one's self-image? It is nothing but a bunch of ideas, a bunch of thoughts and some memories to which one gives life by owning up as one's self.

What are thoughts? They are movements in the mind-stuff - which can be perceived and indeed are perceived.

How can I be what I perceive - after all I am the perceiver, the observor, the subject who knows those thoughts, feelings, emotions ... all of the mind-stuff.

How did I mix up the subject with the object and the object with the subject? It's all one big confusion. How can I be both the perceiver and the perceived? 

How come I am giving life to these thoughts,concepts, memories that constitute my self-image and owning them up as my self?

Every committed seeker of self-knowledge must have this much clarity at the least - that I am not my self-image - whatever that self-image may be. Since I am not my self-image, I do not have to put energy into improving it nor do I need to be driven by it.

Instead it is important to shift gear - to put one's energy into discovering what is the nature of the perceiver?

The perceiver's truth is formless independent Consciousness, the impartial witness with reference to all of the mind-stuff - the ego, the thoughts, the feelings, emotions, attitudes, values, decisions, memories etc. 

In Consciousness there is no self-image - there is no self-identity. Consciousness is independent, formless and changeless - there can be no self-identity for consciousness. Consciousness is the underlying truth of the whole universe, absolutely free of the universe, even though the universe and everything in it is a seeming manifestation of itself. 

When there is ignorance of the supremely free nature of Consciousness that shines here as self-evident 'I', a personality is formed consisting of a self-image in keeping with Isvara's psychological laws - a limited bound  personality, who one identifies with and gives life to as 'I'. This self-image keeps one hostage because it is limited and bound - in its limitation it is demanding - it demands a great price - your freedom.

The self-image must be recognized as FALSE. How to recognize it as false?

See the truth of the perceiver being independent, changeless, ever-present. 

How can change be perceived without the presence of something that is changeless? Trust in the Guru's words, trust in the Scriptures words which say that the truth of the perceiver is  changeless independent formless and permanent. When you trust, you are not scared - and you will ready to disown, and let go of all that your believed to be true as your self. You will sincerely negate whatever is perceived as in the category of 'not-I'. That includes the self-image.

Now you are left with simply self-evident 'I' - and you cannot negate that I is consciousness - even if you want to.

It is about this self-evident 'I' who is never an object, who is ever the independent impartial witness, that Shastra reveals - is independent, changeless, formless, free of time, free of space, free of object, non-dually one, who in its own glory appears as all that is changing, dependent, temporary.

The limited self-image is ever dependent on you Consciousness to give it life. Once you discover your truth, at the very same moment you discover that the self-image is FALSE and even by habit if it makes a come back, you are able to stop giving it further life. 

Om Tat Sat

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

‘I am lonely’ – is a false samskara

A student comes up to me and says ‘Swaminiji, even after listening to Vedanta I still feel I am very lonely. My loneliness drives me to seek friends and I sometimes end up making wrong choices of friends – sometimes toxic and harmful. I am not able to draw boundaries. I become dependent on these friends for their appreciation and approval and am not able to extricate myself from these relationships even after experiencing much emotional abuse”.
To a person who is not committed to Self-enquiry, I might say go to a counsellor – the counsellor will help you to see through this, so you can make better choices next time.
However, when this pattern of behaviour becomes evident to a committed student of self-inquiry, we have to use our  recognition of the truth that Vedanta reveals to first examine if our conclusion on which this feeling is based is right and then examine if we want to continue to give life to a belief that is false.
Our knowledge of Vedanta and recognition of its truth can help us to see the fact, that this feeling of loneliness is born of false conclusion. A feeling based on a false conclusion can keep you imprisoned in it, all because you, the consciousness have given it life by believing in it. A false belief must be seen as false and let go of. One’s commitment to truth demands that one give it up – in fact the more you see it as false the more easy it is to give it up.
So what is the false belief behind the feeling of loneliness?
One is that ‘I am this body-mind which is separate from all others and the world around’.
Well everybody has this conclusion so everyone must be lonely then. That is fairly true – everybody has this false conclusion, except wise people who see the truth. However for some people the feelings based on this conclusion are very heavy, because they might not have received enough support and care when they were children, so the feelings of loneliness became hardened as the conclusion that ‘I am lonely, I am all alone, I am unsupported.” Some may even conclude that “I cannot manage on my own.”
So first step is to show the person that at the level of their body and mind, in fact they are NOT separate from the world or others.  This body has a symbiotic relationship with the world. For example the body breathes in oxygen given out by the trees and gives out carbon-dioxide which is used by the trees. Again one’s body is a put together of flesh, bones, blood, fat, muscle etc... so is the body of others made of the same constituents. If you truly analyse the body you find that it is made of particles of energy – in fact the whole world is nothing but particles of energy. So the basic constituents of the body, whatever model you take, is the same as the constituents of any other body. How is this body really separate from the body of the world? In fact this body is a part of the world.
No, at the mind level, I feel lonely, I feel misunderstood, un-understood, unsupported and alone!!
Did you feel lonely as a child? Yes... very lonely.
Yes, this feeling of loneliness is an old, old impression which is left in the sub-conscious mind and it is holding you hostage because you believe in it. Once you believe in it, the sub-conscious mind is very powerful ... it will create situations for you which you will again interpret in the same way and strengthen your belief.
Is it really true that nobody understands you or is this a belief you picked up[ in childhood?
Do you understand yourself?
What is your relationship with the Lord? The Lord is ever the impartial and all-accepting  (loving) witness to your every thought, emotion, feeling, decision, action. Have you given attention to understanding and recognizing the presence of the Lord in your life? How can you be lonely if you recognize the presence of the Lord in your life? The Lord understands you even if you imagine that nobody else does.
The feelings of deep loneliness brings to light that there is a conclusion of separation from the world and the Lord and it is time to pay attention to this and be free of this debilitating  conclusion.
Do you want to be free? How deeply have you invested in this conclusion of separation?
Finally the master-stroke to free yourself.
Have you observed this feeling of loneliness?
Observing the feeling, you are not the feeling ... you are indeed distinct from the feeling as the one who perceives the feelings.
You are consciousness, awareness and in your light of awareness, these feelings are revealed. Are you consciousness or are you loneliness? You can’t be both.
Are you clear about this? One is the perceiver and the other the perceived. How come you have mixed it all up?
You are consciousness, satyam, independent and changeless. You illumine and enliven every thought, decision, feeling, sensation, activity, the body and the world . You give life to them. None of these can be separate from you, the one who gives life to them, and yet who is independent of them.
Why are you giving life to a false belief? You are consciousness, you are not loneliness. Loneliness is only an old old samskara based upon a false conclusion. The knowledge of your truth has the power to destroy the false conclusion and in its wake you stop giving reality to your old old samskara. 
Can you see this? If you can’t see it immediately, trust in this ancient knowledge and give attention to finding out the truth.
If you can ... STOP giving reality to the old conclusion of separation and the feelings of loneliness. Stay as consciousness, whole, undivided and complete. Live from this truth. Refuse to subscribe to your false conclusions and samskaras.
Om Tat Sat