On being Rational

Ignorance is the bane of humanity. It is the cause for sorrow, unawareness and despair. Without knowledge and strong reason, unceasing sensory excitements, fears, problems of the world will continue to affect one.  All that ails the man, such as apathy, lack of dignity, sorrow, depression, inextricable difficulties, baseness, poverty and degeneracy are all outcome of ignorance. Whatever misdeeds, misconducts and mishaps happen to one it is due to ignorance and lack or reasoning by one. The way to overcome is this understanding supported by reason. Only with reason can one avoid errors of omission and commission.

As with ignorance and irrationality, unreasonable people also cause sorrow and hence staying away from them is wise. Under all unfavorable and dangerous circumstances, if reason and intelligent is our companion we can overcome the problems, avoid danger and find solution. The quiet man with great intellect. tranquility of mind and acting with reason stands apart from his peers.

The rational being is bestowed with many gifts. Reason is the lamp to show us right and wrong and instrument with which we accomplish our desires. With right reason any person can accomplish great things in life. The benefit of being rational, logical, thinking behavior are immense. A reasonable man possesses even, unobstructed, interminable and independent mind that leads to happiness. He feels neither elated or nor depressed with the events that happens to him. For a reasonable man, being steady, stable and fully conscious under all circumstance should be his approach to life.

A wise man should be aware of who he is, who he belongs to, what is his family, whom he is engaged with and what are his circumstances. He should also know the state of his business and the success of failure is solely dependent upon his judgement and knowledge.        He who is possessed with power of reason is said to be blessed with divine eyesight and becomes victorious in all his activities.

Great men must always be in full possession of their reasoning for otherwise it will lead to their fall. It is by means of reason one knows the truth, and by truth gets peace of mind, and this tranquility of mind that dispels the misery. Therefore, get rid of ignorance which is one’s greatest enemy, reason for one’s dangers and condemned by all.

Develop reasoning capacity by extensive reading, by being amidst knowledgeable folks and being guided by them. The happy mind filled with contentment, quiet intelligence and proclivity towards association with learned men is sure to meet with prosperity and success. A man though the exercise of his reason, comes to know his soul. The mind free from desires, senses calmness and such a man is relieved of the actions otherwise likely. It is the company of reasonable men that leads to understanding of life and cultivating characteristic required of greatness in men.

Those who are of great mind and who have known their natures and those of others by right reasoning are said to be honored by gods.             Let us work towards that.

  • Adapted from Yoga Vasistha
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Challenges of Childhood

Childhood is touted as most happiest, carefree phase of ones life. it is a period of life when one is supposed to be well taken care of by the mother, father, siblings, extended family and society.They are supposed to be well provided for and safety and security assured. The entire world is supposed to be working overtime to provide stable, secure and sublime life to the children and to see the happy face of the child. Of course, this could not be validated by children themselves for they are incapable of expressing their feelings clearly. We all know the problems we face in youth, adulthood, and old age and in various conditions for by then one has developed the ability to communicate. much has been written about it. But reading below what ails the childhood is likely to take one by surprise. Henceforth let us be aware and act accordingly.

Quotes on  – Travails of Childhood –  Rama in “Yoga Vasistha”

We know not the travels of our bodies, as we do not know those of the winds, light and our thoughts. They all come and go, but from where and to where, we know nothing.

The attendants of infancy are a lack of strength and sense, diseases, dangers, muteness and sensual desires, joined with longings and helplessness.

Childhood is chained to fretting, crying, fits of anger, craving and every kind of incapacity, like an elephant chained to a post

How can boyhood be pleasing to anybody, when it is a semblance of gross ignorance, full of whims and hobbies, and ever subject to improper behavior?

Silly boyhood is in constant dread of dangers arising at every step from fire, water and air which rarely cause problems in other states of life.

Children are liable to very many errors in their plays and wicked frolics, and in all their wishes and attempts beyond their capacities. Therefore, boyhood is the most dangerous stage of life.

The minds of all living beings are ever restless, but those of young people are ten times more at unrest. The mind is naturally unsteady, and so is boyhood.

All kinds of miseries, misdeeds and improper behavior await on boyhood, as all sorts of men hang upon the rich.

Children are always fond of new things, and when they fail to get them, they fall to a fainting fit, as if from the effect of poison.

Children are subject to fear and voracious appetites. They are helpless but fond of everything they have seen or heard, and equally fickle in their bodies and mind. Hence boyhood is a source of only troubles.

The foolish and helpless child becomes sad and sour when he fails to get the object of his fancy and thwarted from the thing desired.

Children have much difficulty to get at the things they want, and which they can ask only by indistinct words. Hence no one suffers so much as children

Human mind is like a child and hence it must not be forced. Both mind and child should be trained gently with care and indulgence and not by force or hurry

Let us take care of our children.

Effort and Destiny

Effort and Destiny – A Dialogue between Rama and Sage Vasistha

Will is the prime instrument of all actions. Will and effort varies from person to person. While some can work tirelessly in right directions some need great effort to do ordinary work. Fortune and effort vie with each other, and the stronger of the two wins in the end. Therefore, man should work diligently so that his tomorrow may be overcome by todays effort. If one is to meet failures, danger, and adversity despite his effort, let it be known that it is because of misguided and misdirected effort.

A man can overcome his misfortune because of his past action, known as fate, destiny, by diligent, meritorious and lawful action in the present. We are the results of our efforts. It is effort that leads one to attain status, greatness, and riches in life.  It would be as a result of our actions, either in previous lives or in present life. And acts of present life supersede the previous, and demerits in previous life can be broken down by present actions. Good effort and lawful acts by men leads to his success or else turn into nothing or disadvantageous.

Chance is a meaningless word. Do not waste your youth by being lazy.  Prosperity does not stick to a man who depends on luck. It flies away. Know like all things, there is a limit to both human fate and effort. So work logically. Work as per scriptures. Work as per good counsel. Any man who works in the right course would never fail. But if he is to fail, understand you can rise up again.

A person who instead of working depends upon fate to provide fortune is perverted and bound to have misery. So if one is courageous in their effort, it is capable of averting one’s misfortune for between fate and effort, it is stronger of the two that wins. So be known that present acts can destroy those of past life and those of past life can destroy the efforts of present acts but the effort of man in righteous way are undoubtedly successful.  Of these present act is more superior.

If at times fates overpowers one’s effort, one has to face misfortune, do not be sorrowful for there is no use to grieve for that which is beyond one’s control.   If one has sorrow for that which he is powerless to prevent then his entire life will be wasted in sorrow for ultimate misfortune of death cannot be prevented. So please work persistently with the clarity of understanding and guided by wise men and books to succeed in this life.

There are many acts that will result in gain or loss, but it is the duty of the man to do what is right be it, peasant or painful. Those who abide by the law and fulfill his duties is bound to get all riches of the world. Only the ignorant believe in fatalism. Please give up fatalism for it a myth  and devoid of any cause or effect. Working hard, following local customs, attaining perfection in ones activity is what wise men do. Having obtained a body free from disease, mind free from troubles, try to know the knowable to prevent further birth. Whoever wants to avert his destiny through action, fulfills his wishes both in this world as well as the other world.

Our perceptions are the cause of our our mental activity and this triggers the bodily action whereby we obtain the fruits of our desire.         Even the gods and divine beings were bestowed with divinity because of their efforts.     On the contrary some of the so called great men have to lose their position due to lack of rightful action from their end.

No one can see his fortune nor has any seen it .Destiny has no form, no act, no motion or might. It has originated from the idea of karma, the idea of future retribution for ones past actions and the like. From this ignorant are led to believe that there is such a thing as destiny, something incapable of explanation. Know that yesterdays misdeed is rectified by following days good action. Therefore, let today overtake yesterday’s action. If destiny is to be sole cause of everything, then most of the regular activities of men loose relevance. Destiny is immaterial. Nonexistent. If destiny is to be main spring of movements of all beings in three worlds, then men need not perform any acts, can rest as destiny will perform their parts. The belief that we are guided by destiny and do as we led to do is a deception and an excuse. One who fancies upon destiny and relies upon it does so to his disadvantage. The intelligent raise themselves to better position by their effort. So give yourself to your best efforts.

  • Pearls of wisdom from “Yoga Vasistha” of Valmiki

 

 

Concept of Time

Concept of Time – As enquired by Rama –  In Yoga Vasishta

 

Prince Rama, when in a philosophical mind frame, more leaning towards depressive thoughts questions the travails of human life with its childhood, youth, old age, disease and death, the vagaries of time, destiny, effervescence and mutability of the world and in general all that hails the world. He questions the futility of life. These questions are raised towards Sage Vasistha amidst his kingly counsel. These questions were praised by everyone present for they bring out what is there in every one’s mind but that many of us cannot express. Read on.

Time and tide does not wait for none. It does not spare anybody and consumes everything in its own time.  It is the overlord of all things and everything in this world. He abstracts, produces and destroys everything. Mountains, rivers, lakes, land mass are created and destroyed in the course of time altering the visible world. Time has devoured everyone, the kind and cruel, generous and miserly, young and old, the king and the pauper. It uproots all proud living beings in the world.

Time is the subtlest of all things. It is unseen and yet the ravages of it is known throughout. Time like mind is strong enough to create and demolish anything and everything.

At periodic interval time assumes the terrific form of fire to dissolve the world into empty space, whatever and who ever, gods, god heads and humanity ceases to exist only to be created anew. Like waves after waves in a sea, time creates, nurtures and destroys. Time accompanied by action, entertains himself in this world.

As the high and huge rock supports its body upon the earth so does time rest itself in endless and interminable eternity. It assumes multi colors of black, white, red – that of night, day, sunrise and sunset – as its vest. It supports all the constituents of the world. Billions of years may pass, eternity may rollout, yet time keeps continued to do without pity, compassion or feeling of anything or for anybody.  Time is the one who with the least sense of pain or effort brings this world into play and makes it exist. Time is said to be the clock work of the actions of sun and moon to light up.

After playing for eternity, the play of killing and crushing of all living beings time comes to lose its own existence and becomes extinct in the spirit. After a brief period of rest time start again its actions of creator, preserver and destroyer of all. He shows the shapes of all things whether good or bad, keeping his own nature beyond the knowledge of all. Thus does time expand and preserve and finally dissolves all things by way of sport.

This world is like a sporting ground and a forest of times where the living beings are lost. The transcendent time announces the death of us in this sporting arena called world.  This world is like a forest in which sorrows are everywhere and like a sportive prince one wanders, walks, plays and wins game.

Time is the most deceitful player in this world. Time has the double parts of creation and destruction and of action and fate. The existence of time is known to us only through action and movement that binds all beings by way of thought and action. Time creates the worlds, oceans, the mountains, the localities and living places alive with people. The forms the movable and immovable substances, establishes customs only to dissolve them

  • Ref – Yoga Vashista by Valmiki, Translation of Vihari Lal Mitra

 

 

 

 

Being Discriminatory and Overcoming Tendencies

We all have a vasanas or tendencies or propensity to act in a certain way, in a given situation. The less aware we are at the moment of action, the more likely it is that we will act in that way again and again. Depending upon whether these are good, bad or mixed, tendency it could decide our state of wellbeing. Being freed from these discriminatory tendencies leads one to liberation or freedom.

Origination of Behavioral Tendencies

How do we create tendencies? Every thought, feeling, imagination, perception and action creates an impression in our mind. When they become deep rooted they are called vasanas or tendencies. These tendencies then can become manifest or hidden. These tendencies create like or dislike in us and prompt us for action. If they are weak we can dismiss it and if it is strong then one is compelled to act.  If our tendencies are good, then actions tend to be favorable else we end up having problems and sufferings.

These tendencies cloud our mind and take away our freedom of action. How do we overcome the desire for objects? How do we free ourselves from our tendencies, our discrimination between likes and dislikes, good and bad. One needs to have strong intelligence and mind power to overcome our negative tendencies.

Cultivating intellect

Intellect is of two kinds – sharp and subtle. Sharp intellect is the one we use in our day to day life and that helps us in understanding physical world, analyse and categorise objects, people and actions of the world and help us to acquire material wealth and enjoy our life. This is essential to bring fame, wealth and worldly success.

Subtle intellect, on the other hand helps us to understand ourselves better and the questions of existence in this world. Questions such as who am I, where from I come, where do I go henceforth, why this world is full of sufferings, is this real. Understanding these questions call for different kind of intelligence.

But for a person which intelligence is predominant depends upon their status in life and their general tendencies in life. Whether inherent or acquired, our tendencies are the ones which decides our life to a great extent.

Sage Vasistha counsels Rama thus:

“That which is desired by man is called purushartha and the effort to gain the desired goal is also purushartha. Fate is what comes to us as a result of our past actions, todays efforts carves tomorrows destiny. What comes to us in the present is our destiny what we do with what we get is our effort. Therefore, success and failure are in our hands. Consequently, instead of wasting time in worrying about past or the future we must do our best with whatever we have on hand.

One who waits for better times to come waits forever. One who blames luck, stars or god can never succeed.”

– “Yoga Vasistha sara Sangraha” – Swami Tejomayananda

Overcoming bad  and cultivating good behavioral tendencies

One needs to lift oneself up by their own effort. And how do we work.  To be effective our work has to be well directed, well thought, focused and continuous till the goal is achieved.

We are of our mind. All of us are bundles of good and bad tendencies while good dominates in some and bad in some. Both these tendencies have to be overcome to attain freedom.

Bad tendencies are those desires that seek pleasure, destructive, of negative emotions and inauspicious.  Overcoming bad tendencies require subtle energies. It needs us to understand ourselves and our aspirations, likes and disposition better as a first step.

So how can this be achieved.

  • By being intellectually alert
  • By analysis
  • By substitution
  • By outgrowing
  • By observing others
  • By one’s own suffering
  • By path of action
  • By path of devotion
  • By path of knowledge
  • By path of meditation

 

Bad tendencies pollute our mind and affect our joy and peace in life. Bad tendencies are overcome by cultivating good tendencies. And what are they? Any thoughts and aspirations that express feelings and thinking of upliftment of oneself and others, studying scriptures, being creative, introspection and meditation and doing one’s duty. The awareness of our thought helps us in cleansing the mind. Whenever we find oneself getting into negative thought, bad company be it of books, people, situation, or programs that evoke the bad in us we need to get out of it immediately and substitute it by alternate thoughts and actions. Some of these desires are overcome as we fulfill or as we outgrow it

We should also learn to question our desires, needs and aspirations and understand where they lead us to. When we watch them in our mind without trying to question, control or manipulate it they vanish by themselves.

It is not only bad tendencies but also good tendencies affect us.  At first one has to transform bad tendencies into good and ultimately be freed of good tendency also.

Cultivating Good Behavioral Tendencies

For liberation one need to cultivate the quite mind, inquiring mind, content mind and association with wise people.

The mind has to remain quite despite provocations, insults, problems, sufferings and unfulfilled desires. We should develop intellect to question the nature of reality – who am I, why am I here, where have I come from, where do I go from here, who are my parents, what is this universe in which I live so on and so forth. And we should cultivate the virtue of contentment. Spiritual progress is possible only for the one has who attained material contentment. Hence material contentment should be achieved.   Needless to say associating with wise help us improve ourselves, understand the goal of life and the means to reach it.

Being intelligent, discriminatory, calm and alert in the moment with our intellect one would be able to decide between alternative courses of action and overcome detrimental innate tendency if any and  lead a good life.

  • Adopted from Chapter II, Preparatory teachings of Sage Vasistha, Yoga Vasishta Sara Sangraha, Swamy Tejomayananda, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust Publication

Quotes from “On The Shortness of Life” – Lucius Seneca

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.

Life, existence and time

Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it.

 Nature of time

The present offers only one day at a time, and each by minutes. Present time is very brief, so brief, indeed, that to some there seems to be none; for it is always in motion, it ever flows and hurries on; it ceases to be before it has come, and can no more brook delay than the firmament or the stars, whose ever unresting movement never lets them abide in the same track. The engrossed, therefore, are concerned with present time alone, and it is so brief that it cannot be grasped, and even this is filched away from them, distracted as they are among many things. The mind that is untroubled and tranquil has the power to roam into all the parts of its life.

Life – Past, present and future

Life is divided into three periods—that which has been, that which is, that which will be. Of these the present time is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain. For the last is the one over which Fortune has lost control, is the one which cannot be brought back under any man’s power.

Has some time passed by? This he embraces by recollection. Is time present? This he uses. Is it still to come? This he anticipates. He makes his lifelong by combining all times into one. But those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear for the future have a life that is very brief and troubled; when they have reached the end of it.

Company of own vs others

After all, no matter who you are, the great man does sometimes look toward you even if his face is insolent, he does sometimes condescend to listen to your words, he permits you to appear at his side; but you never deign to look upon yourself, to give ear to yourself. There is no reason, therefore, to count anyone in debt for such services, seeing that, when you performed them, you had no wish for another’s company, but could not endure your own.

Believe me, it takes a great man and one who has risen far above human weaknesses not to allow any of his time to be filched from him, and it follows that the life of such a man is very long because he has devoted wholly to himself whatever time he has had. None of it lay neglected and idle; none of it was under the control of another, for, guarding it most grudgingly, he found nothing that was worthy to be taken in exchange for his time. And so that man had time enough, but those who have been robbed of much of their life by the public, have necessarily had too little of it.

On wasting time

Life! In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal.

Ponder upon life

Look back in memory and consider when you ever had a fixed plan, how few days have passed as you had intended, when you were ever at your own disposal, when your face ever wore its natural expression, when your mind was ever unperturbed, what work you have achieved in so long a life, how many have robbed you of life when you were not aware of what you were losing, how much was taken up in useless sorrow, in foolish joy, in greedy desire, in the allurements of society, how little of yourself was left to you; you will perceive that you are dying before your season!” What, then, is the reason of this? You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last

And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer? Who will suffer your course to be just as you plan it? Are you not ashamed to reserve for yourself only the remnant of life, and to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? How late it is to begin to live just when we must cease to live! What foolish forgetfulness of mortality to postpone wholesome plans to the fiftieth and sixtieth year, and to intend to begin life at a point to which few have attained!

Focus for result

Finally, everybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is preoccupied with many things—eloquence cannot, nor the liberal studies—since the mind, when distracted, takes in nothing very deeply, but rejects everything that is, as it were, crammed into it.

Whole life to learn

There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn. It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and—what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.

Many very great men, having laid aside all their encumbrances, having renounced riches, business, and pleasures, have made it their one aim up to the very end of life to know how to live; yet the greater number of them have departed from life confessing that they did not yet know—still less do those others know.

Live everyday as it is last day

Everyone hurries his life on and suffers from a yearning for the future and a weariness of the present. But he who bestows all of his time on his own needs, who plans out every day as if it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the morrow. For what new pleasure is there that any hour can now bring? They are all known, all have been enjoyed to the full. Mistress Fortune may deal out the rest as she likes; his life has already found safety.

Life waits for none

Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness. Silent it will glide on; it will not prolong itself at the command of a king, or at the applause of the populace. Just as it was started on its first day, so it will run; nowhere will it turn aside, nowhere will it delay. And what will be the result? You have been engrossed, life hastens by; meanwhile death will be at hand, for which, willy nilly, you must find leisure.

The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.

You dispose of that which lies in the hands of Fortune, you let go that which lies in your own. Whither do you look? At what goal do you aim? All things that are still to come lie in uncertainty; live straightway!

Old Age

And so there is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles; he has not lived long—he has existed long.

Old age surprises them while their minds are still childish, and they come to it unprepared and unarmed, for they have made no provision for it; they have stumbled upon it suddenly and unexpectedly, they did not notice that it was drawing nearer day by day.

Leading Life facing death

But for those whose life is passed remote from all business, why should it not be ample? None of it is assigned to another, none of it is scattered in this direction and that, none of it is committed to Fortune, none of it perishes from neglect, none is subtracted by wasteful giving, none of it is unused; the whole of it, so to speak, yields income. And so, however small the amount of it, it is abundantly sufficient, and therefore, whenever his last day shall come, the wise man will not hesitate to go to meet death with steady step.

Glory to Philosopher’s

Of all men they alone are at leisure who take time for philosophy, they alone really live; for they are not content to be good guardians of their own lifetime only. They annex every age to their own; all the years that have gone before them are an addition to their store. Unless we are most ungrateful, all those men, glorious fashioners of holy thoughts, were born for us; for us they have prepared a way of life

Fickleness of fortune

All the greatest blessings are a source of anxiety, and at no time should fortune be less trusted than when it is best; to maintain prosperity there is need of other prosperity, and in behalf of the prayers that have turned out well we must make still other prayers. For everything that comes to us from chance is unstable, and the higher it rises, the more liable it is to fall.

“It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca