The Ultimate Knowledge – Gita VII

 

Gita Chapter VII – Jnana Vijnana Yoga – Ultimate knowledge

Bhagavad Gita from chapter one to six, the discourse was about individual, the issues and dilemmas facing him, the need to engage in action, the ways to do it, the importance of knowledge and renunciation and how all of them work together. We also understood that we are beyond this body, mind and intellect and are eternal atman. That being our identity the next step is about awakening the self, the inner being.

The journey from now on is of spiritual journey of a man. It is moving away from Individual consciousness to consciousness that pervades the world, the source of all consciousness the ultimate reality. That we call by many names, Brahman, Param-atma, God, Supreme soul, Universal Consciousness, Krishna consciousness and so on. From 7th chapter onwards the gear shifts and the direction is towards understanding this world, reality, universal consciousness or God, worshiping a godhead and aspects related to it. That from this chapter Gita becomes highly conceptual is may be why few attempts to talk or write about it.

Godhead, Manifestation of God and Devotion

All of us from time and again have a question, especially when we embark upon a journey to understand universe. Is there a God. Who is He or She. What defines God. What are the attributes. Why and how should I pay reverence to God. And related questions there off. Why there are as many gods in the world as there are beings in the world. And we have the limitations imposed by our body, senses, mind and intellect in trying to comprehend that which is beyond these instruments of ours. Within this constraint we try to understand when Krishna goes about explaining the God Consciousness.

Ultimate Knowledge

The ultimate knowledge is knowing that God is everything and in every being and he is the ultimate reality of what world is made up of. He is omniscient, omni present, Nature – one who does the functions of creator, sustainer, destroyer where all the three are necessary for evolution. He is life personification, essence of everything and anything, controller and illuminator. To put it in nutshell, nothing moves without him.

The World:

And what is world. It is made up of Elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether, intellect, ego and mind. Apart from this there is the universal soul, of higher nature, that is present in everything, matter and life in this world and it supports it. All beings that are born have two components, matter and energy. Soul, and Godhead is the source of all origin and dissolution.

Excellence in everything

Godhead is the source code of everything and everyone, for no animate or inanimate energy can exist without matter and consciousness necessary for that state of existence. And what we call as matter, plant, animal or body is the coming together of elements of earth, fire, air, and water, and when they disintegrate the body dissolves.  And the seed of intelligent is from ether that creates our mind, ego and intellect. In essence, not even an atom moves without God consciousness.

Nature of Godhead

God is the substratum of everything ever born and also the one in which everything dissolves. He is immutable, un-manifest, unsurpassed, veiled by illusion and controls the world. He is the essence of everything. He is the basis of the flavor and fluidity of water, the heat and light behind the sun, moon and fire, the vibration behind the sound, the elements of atmosphere, the solidity and fragrance of earth. He is present in all life forms. He is the prowess personified in the valiant, as strength in the powerful and life force in everyone. But the challenge is while he is all pervading, manifest in everything, present at all times – past, present and future, he is not easily comprehensible by sense organs, mind and intellect for he is beyond all that.

Purpose of Worship

Why do one pray. There are two types of people. One who do not believe in prayer being helpful and the others who believe prayer is a great source of inspiration.  All our prayers fall within these four types. When we are suffering, grieving and sad and need help we pray to God asking him to alleviate our suffering.  Or we ask for wealth, success, fame, promotion, college admission essentially those aspects which make one seem successful in the eyes of the world. The third type ask for knowledge for knowing that everything becomes easily attainable. And fourthly the wise pray to god, not for seeking in any of the above, for he is free of dualities, illusions and delusions that affect the world but to attain liberation for this is considered as ultimate in prayer and Krishna holds him to be the dearest.

By worshiping God, by taking refuge in God, practicing yoga one will know God in Full. When one worships with complete indifference to the fruits of actions, comprehend with the aids of mind and intellect – gather from outside and by going inside, by intuition and meditation one reaches perfection.

World as a playground

Worship for deliverance from suffering because of dualities – birth/death, pain and suffering. We take birth in this world of experience, illusionary world as long as the soul has desire. We have inherent tendencies accumulated from various births and led by them we seek our experience in the world. Each birth is a step towards soul’s evolution. And this is directed by the consciousness in us, desire, knowledge and action and our nature of rajasik, satwik or tamasic.  And it is the god who drives us in this world to fulfill out right desires, that is desire as per the state and stage in life. So, we understand that wish fulfillment is not denounced as long as it is right.

And we understand the futility of materialistic nature of the world. It dawns on us that we come from God, play in this world for some time and go back to the God. And the stay in this world is like crossing of the ocean, full of challenges and dualities. Knowing this world, the elements, the God consciousness, transitory nature of our life the wise seek liberation and merges with consciousness.

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Knowledge – A Gateway to Freedom – Gita Chapter IV

Knowledge, Action and Renunciation – Way to Freedom

Freedom can be obtained by either following the path of Knowledge, Action or Renunciation and the path differs based on the individual’s latent tendencies.

Why birth:

As per Hindu philosophy, there is reincarnation. Everybody has had multiple births and death but are not aware of it. And that there is a definitive pattern behind taking birth. Natures decide the course. Everyone is born with certain tendencies and these latent characters of one decides one’s preferences and orientation in life. There also exists the reason behind everyone’s birth and the success is in knowing our purpose of being born, our areas of work, field of operation and tendencies which we must harness and fine tune so that our purpose in life can be fulfilled. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna states his life purpose as – “whenever there is decay of “Dharma” – morality, virtue, righteousness – and there is rise of “Adharma” – decay, decadence, injustice, wickedness, – I am born in this world; for the protection of good people, for the destruction of evil-doers, for re-establishing the right.” Only different being his birth and ours is that his is not guided by the desires and karma but by his own determination and based on the needs of time. He is not bound by the life-death cycle which we are. And the ultimate freedom for a human being is supposed to be getting liberated from this cycle.

Knowledge as-a-way to freedom:

Krishna says – Those who know me, my action, my birth obtains freedom. Those who can get rid of desire, fear and anger, worship me, get purified in the fire of wisdom, or whichever way they reach out to me get liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Ways of Action and Organizing Society:

Men are endowed with different temperaments and tendencies. All are not equal and each one has some tendencies that are prominent. Action is the easiest way to achieve material success in this world. For this purpose, the society and people working are divided into four divisions, based on the energy requirements for effective functioning, each function being complementary. The four castes or varnas are created, are aligned with types of tendencies and actions, being the tendency for knowledge acquisition and exposition, for warrior-ship, for commerce and business and for production involving ground level work. Four division of labors, based on their tendencies and capability, each meant for specific purpose or excelling in certain works to express themselves to fulfill societal functions. There is no work that is low or high and all are equally important for the effective functioning of the society. This division helps in one expressing themselves freely based on their inherent tendencies. It is not that others cannot do it but something like the economic concept of comparative advantage. This we find still prevalent in organizations and more akin to consultant, architects, authors, teachers forming intellectual class, Military, Police, CEOs, Controllers, Sales and Marketing, forming part of warrior clan.  And Business, trading, Farming and producing class constituting the third section and service oriented work forming the other sections of the society.  It is important to note here, that as Krishna says in the opening verses of this chapter, these knowledges has however deteriorated and collapsed in the course of time, when being handed over from generations to generations and societal imperfections that this has becomes the most mis-interpreted concept in Hinduism and India currently.

Way of doing work:

Do work without doers-ship. Do without enjoyer-ship. Work. Engage.  Be amidst work. But do not think that you are doing it. Because the nature that is present in the world does it. Circumstances make it happen. It is a collective action.  To understand this better, if you have put a seed to grow, for it to start giving fruit, in addition to you, the sun, water, nutrients from soil, may be birds for pollination need to work together for the tree to start giving fruit. And when it starts fruiting may be the enjoyer could be somebody else. In the same manner, your duty is just to work without bringing into thinking that it is who you are doing and you are the enjoyer. When engaging in action, understanding that the circumstances and my inherence tendencies is making me do this, without getting impacted by the ego, you are free from the sorrow of individuality and not bound by the suffering born out of work.

Action, Inaction, Prohibited Action

In familiar parlance action means movement and inaction is absence of movement. Any action against law is prohibited action. Life means activity, a way to evolve, is dynamic and cannot even for a second cease to work. When life cases death occurs. So, action is inevitable.

Action is imperative if one lives. One cannot renounce action. Every action has a reaction and one has to bear the fruit of their karma.  However, any action that is performed without attachment, that I am the doer or for the fruits of action does not bind the soul.  Work is needed for purification of the self. Even if one is high up in the ladder in the society and can do without performing any work, it has to be done so that no wrong precedent is set for others still in the lower spectrum of evolution.

Action in inaction and Inaction in Action:

Performing action with an understanding that it is being done by body and mind, not induced by once nature, one self and the soul is not involved in it is inaction though action is being done. Here action essentially means those actions that is needed to be done and not the ones impelled by one’s desires, likes and dislikes and circumstances.  Similarly, when one thinks no action is being performed while say sitting, sleeping etc., it means no perceptible bodily action is taking place. It needs to be understood that the bodily action of breathing, digesting, circulation of blood etc. is happening involuntarily. Our mind may be busy in thinking, dreaming, extrapolating and visualizing. So seemingly inactive one is active.

And the man whose work is devoid of desires and purposes to enjoy the result of action, and whose actions are based on knowledge he is called a sage by the wise. Such a man, even when involved in worldly action performs it because he had to do it and to set example for others rather than for fulfilling his desires or expecting any results. If he is a renunciate he works to maintain his bodily functions only. Free from desire, with the mind and the self-controlled, having relinquished all  possessions doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.

Satisfied with that which comes to him by chance, or in course of nature, rising above the dualities or like and dislikes, pleasure and pain, hot and cold etc., being equipoise both in success and failure, working with such frame of mind even though he is working he would not be bound by the actions.

That man from whom all attachment is gone, from whom all cause of bondage, right and wrong has fled away, whose mind is ever fixed in wisdom alone, who acts  with a view,  to  the  performance of a sacrifice, his action with  its result is reduced to  nothing meaning does not create bondage arising out of action. Thus, work not prohibited in scriptures, work performed with the right knowledge of doing, without the desire for its action and with a sacrificial mindset frees one from the bondage arising out of such actions.

Know that, Brahman is the “Real, Consciousness and the Infinite”. He is cognized by all and is the innermost self of all.  It is instrument of action. He is all pervading. He manifests himself as an instrument of action, and the five forms actions and its accessories.

Work as a Yagna-Sacrifice:

Sacrifice is not limited to fire sacrifice or yagna alone as known in the traditional circle. It includes all work done with restraint, focus and effort. Thus, there are multiple ways in which sacrifice is performed.  Controlling one’s senses, Imparting knowledge one had gained to others, charity by donating wealth, following austerity, sacrifices by way reading, writing, acquiring knowledge, following scriptural vows are of different ways of sacrifice. Essentially all works that require discipline, excellence and renunciation of something is what is meant as Yagna here. It is work for work’s sake and duty for duty’s sake.

Controlling food, sensory intake, engaging in pranayama – Controlling one’s incoming and outgoing breath, and performing the sacrifices one is said to obtain freedom.

The sacrifices performed with material objects produces material effects, whereas wisdom-sacrifice does not. Therefore, sacrifice where knowledge is involved is superior to the sacrifice performed with material objects.  For, wisdom, which is the means to moksha comprehends all action.

Superiority of Wisdom:

Wisdom being the means to one’s freedom, Krishna says that it should be the basis for all actions. Then he describes why, how, from whom, with what mindset one gets to acquire wisdom. And what is this wisdom and benefit of acquiring this wisdom.

Approach the Guru, the teacher who is a realized self, with a sense of humility, enquiry and respectful mindset and by providing him service. Enquire what is the cause of bondage and how to get relieved from it.  And What is wisdom (Vidya) and what is ignorance and mistaken belief (Avidya). Guru can then impart knowledge of action, renunciation and wisdom.

Once this wisdom is obtained, clarity sets in and one will not be confused again as one is now. One is also able to perceive that all beings, all manifestation say from self to grass is of same Creator (Brahma), consciousness and the whole universe exists in oneself and one in the universe. There is a oneness, a unity of all things and all beings which is essence of Upanishadic wisdom.

With the right knowledge one can cross this samsara. While prarabdah karma, responsible for this life, that has commenced has to run its course, the result of future action, accumulated karma from actions of previous life that has not commenced (sanchita karma), yet to start and yet to fructify can be nullified by right knowledge.

Thus, the seeker of freedom, who has perfected himself by practice in yoga of action, knowledge and renunciation will attain peace and spiritual wisdom. On the other hand, the man who knows not  the Self, the man who has no faith in the teachings of his Guru, the main whose mind is full of doubts is  ruined.

Therefore, the man by practice of Karma Yoga has all his doubts and ignorance cleared and by knowledge acquires wisdom.  Hence Krishna commands – Arise! O Arjuna! Fight.  And thereby energizing us also to get out despondency and perform in this world with knowledge and wisdom.

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25th April, 2017

The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us -III

continued from previous post…..

  1. Pingala: There was a dancing girl named Pingala, she was tired of looking for customers. As time went by no one came and she became anxious and frustrated. At the height of frustration she gave up her wait for customer and went to sleep. At that moment it also dawned on her that she does not need anyone for her happiness and bliss, decides to give up her pursuit of wealth and pleasing customers. She teaches that abandonment of expectation from people leads to contentment and infinite joy. Also with Atma contained in oneself there is no need to search outside for happiness and contentment.
  2. The kurara bird (hawk):A hawk carrying a prey was attacked by other birds like crow, eagle and other larger animals eyeing for same prey.  After some fierce fight, the bird carrying the prey, out of fear for its life,  let it fall so that other birds immediately went after the prey  allowing the original bird that had the meat to escape. From this one learns that there is intense competition and aggression in the world to acquire  material objects and for worldly pleasures. One who yearns for it is likely to come into contest and clash with fellow being who also compete for the same leading to avoidable aggression, strife, worry and stress. By balancing, managing and controlling ones wants one can save himself much of the unhappiness, have  and enjoy peace of mind.
  3. The child:Two children fight for some time. Their parents intervene to end the fight and they end up being enemies for life. But the children who were fighting initially  after some time forget and start playing together again. This is because they are free from ego and innocent. Be like a child to be happy.
  4. The young girl:There was a young girl who was doing work with hands full of bangles. During work it jangled against each other and was making noise. Since she had guest then, she did not want them to know that she was doing work. So, to reduce noise she removed all bangles except two. This reduced the noise to a great extent, but still was making noise, then she removed one more and was wearing only one in each hand. This way she could work without making noise and desist other from knowing what she was doing. So too, when many people live together, there will be noise, clashing of interests, disturbance, discord, dispute and fighting. Even when there are only two people difference of opinion and resultant discord is bound to be there. So, the ascetic is better of living in solitude. This is what the maiden working with hands full of bangle teaches one.
  1. The arrow maker: Once there was an arrow maker who was so absorbed in his work of making a straight arrow that he did not notice the king’s procession passing by. Then I learnt that to produce excellent result focus is necessary.
  2. The snake: The snake never builds a place for itself. It moves around and changes its place and sheds it outer skin. Thus it is able to lead safe life. An ant though puts effort and makes ant hill and later that is taken by snakes. Likewise, the householders endure difficulty in building and running their house by themselves while ascetic lives free by roaming around and not being rooted in one place. Thus one should know that people aspiring for carefree life should live lite, know his true self, and understand that at the end of his life time one will shed this body and get a new life as per one’s actions in this life time.
  3. The spider: The spider weaves its web from the thread in the form of a fluid. After sometime, it gathers up the web into itself. Thus the God projects the whole world during creation phase and after sometime, withdraws it into itself at the time of dissolution. The individual soul too takes birth in the body as per its past action, and in alignment with its inherent tendencies acquires intellect, mind, sense organs and bodies of action. Its latent tendencies direct the role play and actions while in this world and space. And at the end of allotted time-frame, death occurs when the soul again withdraws its senses, mind, and tendencies acquired in the life time and leaves the body. Thus, birth and death, creation and dissolution happens is what one learns from Spider.
  4. The wasp/Caterpillar: Wasp trapped a weaker insect in his hive. This insect took on the mentality of a wasp out of intense fear of the wasp, and thus became a wasp in its next life. This illustrates how one attains in the next life what one’s mind is fixed upon. You are the company you keep and what you think you become is what one learn from caterpillar. Good thoughts, company and action will lead one to higher level/birth.

Thus are the advise of Dattatreya to Yadu on what he has learnt from nature around him and how inculcating it in his life has made him blissful.

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The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us -II

continued from earlier post…..

Of the following 24 teachers from around us we saw The earth, Air, Sky, Water, Fire, Moon, Sun, and Pigeon in the previous post. In this let us see what the stories of python, sea, moth, honey bee, elephant, honey collector, deer and fish teaches us.

The Earth The Air The Sky Water Fire Moon
Sun Pigeon Python Sea Moth Honey Bee
Elephant Honey Thief Deer Fish Prostitute Pingala Kurara Bird
The Child Young Girl Arrow Maker Serpent Spider Wasp
  1. Python: Python does not roam around looking for food instead waits for food to come to him and eats whatever comes it way, be it sufficient or not. It teaches us to accept whatever one comes across in the life, taking sufferings, hardships, miseries in life, joy, happiness, wealth in ones stride. Be rest assured and content with one’s state and be peaceful, you will get what is needed.
  2. Sea: Sea is deep. Sea is Clear. Sea cannot be crossed easily. Can’t churn it. Because of monsoon or the rivers emptying in it, sea does not swell or shrink. A sage, like sea is clear minded, unmoved amidst the tribulations of life. His wealth of knowledge is available to all those who associate with him.
  3. Moth: A moth is captivated by the radiance of flames, gets attracted, approaches flame, gets burned and dies. Thus being attracted by the outward look of things, we get deceived and fall prey. Man is foolishly gets tempted by the illusory pleasures of the visual sense and gets caught in the ceaseless cycles of birth and death. The wise one, understand the illusion of the sensory world and controls it and thereby obtains freedom.
  4. Honey Bee: A honey bee obtains honey from all flowers, without harming the flower and within the limit. Also note that the honey bee does not drink honey but it gets killed for it by honey gatherers. Thus a wise man should be able to know how, where and how much obtain necessary things, without harm for the self and the giver, without being greedy.
  5. Elephant: A bull elephant is captured by using female elephant as bait. Thus is man/woman gets lured by infatuation and sex and uncontrolled and unrighteous attraction to opposite sex is harmful is what elephant teaches one.
  6. Honey Thief: Honey being greedy collects honey, stores it, does neither eats it by self or allow other honey-bees to eats it. And one fine day it looses it to honey collector. Similarly man accumulates wealth by hard work, over a period of time, by umpteen sacrifices, forsaking enjoyment, and may lose it suddenly to fire, flood, treachery, tax, or if he were to die to his heirs or third party if issue less who may use of misuse his wealth. Thus being greedy leads one to loss is what honey bee teaches
  7. Deer: The deer is very fond of music and is very much attracted by it thus is trapped by hunter using music. It is trapped by the sense organ of listening – the ear. Thus excessive passion and sensory pleasure of listening to music and dance is thus harmful is what Deer teaches.
  8. Fish: The fish in search for food, due to greed is caught by the tasty bait and dies. Similarly, man meets his destruction by his craving for delicious food. Among the senses, tongue is the most powerful and difficult to control, and once controlled it makes it easy for one to manage other sensory pleasures. Learn to eat healthy and balanced food and be saved. Control your tongue, the sense organ for taste is what one learns from Fish.

To be continued

The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us

Life comes in various shapes, sizes and flavor. We share this world with natural elements of earth, space, fire, air, water, animals, plants, minerals and people. Of course there are supposed to be unknown elements and let us leave it out. We interact with them. A man who learns from his own experience leads a miserable life. the one who learns from others also leads a average life. The one who learns from anything and everything around us leads an exemplary life.

There is a converstation between “Dattatreya”, a Sage, and “Yadu”, a King in “Bhagavatham” where Dattatreya, when asked,  explains the reason for his happiness to the king, that it is because he has learned about the world from his Surrounding, Nature, and 24 Gurus follows it, he is happy, though from worldy point of view he might be considered a impoverished.

Now what are the 24 teachers around us. They are:

The Earth The Air The Sky Water Fire Moon
Sun Pigeon Python Sea Moth Honeybee
Elephant Honey Thief Deer Fish Prostitute Pingala Kurara Bird
The Child Young Girl Arrow Maker Serpent Spider Wasp

The Twenty-Four Gurus:

1.Earth: We use and abuse earth. We dig it out, load it, scorch it, dirty it and what not. Yet it provides us the plant, minerals, water bodies for our survival. It brings us stability. It is patient. Despite doing all this it supports us. Thus people may insult us, cheat us, ignore us do whatever may be keeping patience and not taking on us and not worrying about it helps us keep our mind stable and worry free. Learn the art of patience, performing ones duty, forbearance and helpful tendencies from Earth.

2. The Air: The air has no smell but carries the scent from the surroundings be it good and bad. But it is not tainted by it. The aromatic smell of flowers, spices, perfume or bad smell from dump yard, pollution does not affect the inherent quality of air. Same way the air goes into pipe in one but the sound that comes from it is varied. The cow is of different color but the milk is of white. Likewise the Atma-soul in all of us is Real, Happy and Eternal and is not affected by the happening to the person.

3. The sky: The sky is vast. Atma is so. Though the sky extends everywhere and everything rests within it, it does not mix with anything. The sky is never implicated or affected by the blowing action of the wind, water, rain, thunder or clouds. In the same way the living entity, the atma, is never affected though it may enter a body of material elements, the life.

4. Water: Water is essential for living. It is needed for our livelihood – drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, extraction, factory production etc. It is a great coolant and provides taste for food. It is a wonderful cleanser. The great seers of the world are like water. The yogi like that cleanses all the people who come in contract with him. Essentially that in being touch with great people everyone achieves greatness. Connecting with good people, help one in providing direction in leading the life.

5. Agni: The fire has beauty. It Illuminates.It is not easily reachable. Anything you put in it digests. It burns everything it comes into contact. It is impartial to shape, size and type of product. The Yogis and great people have charisma akin to Fire. He is not impacted by his company or the food he eats. He is able to maintain his purity under all conditions. Like fire he comes into contact with people for some time but he goes back to his work. He helps those who approach him also to achieve greatness. Similarly Atma is not affected by the body it takes, works based on it and comes and goes. From fire  learn to glow with the splendor of Self-knowledge and austerity.

6. Moon: The moon waxes and wanes but because of that the moon is not any less. So also the person who is born gets modified throughout his life – Being, born, change, growth, decline and death. And because the body is changed it is incorrect to assume the soul also gets transformed. Soul remains inviolate. As the man changes his cloths the Atma drops the body when it is not able to support him and gets into new one.

7. Sun: Sun is the cause for water cycle and clouds but it never takes credit for the same. The sun in the pond seems like moving but it does not. Sun Illuminates. Same way the soul and a Yogi does not take credit for the acts of body. The Atma seems to be affected by the acts of body but it is not.

8. Pigeon: Once in a family of pigeons, the father sees its wife and children are caught in hunter’s net and goes to free it, fails and it also gets caught in the same web. This is because of the excessive attachment, for the father pigeon thinks that without them life is not worth living. Had it thought for moment that it is difficult to free them it would not have attempted this and thus saving self. So also, we, the human beings get muddled into life because of our excess attachment. Attachment is bondage. The right way, learning from pigeon would be to love and yet be not excessively attached. Loving yet being discriminatory and detached our life would be peaceful.

  • to be continued

24 Gurus from Bhagavatam

 

Arjuna’s Dilemma – Gita I

“Vande Guru Paramparam”

The Bhagavad Gita, “Song Celestial” has been a guiding force for man. It is born out of quandary, in the war zone, amidst action, inaction and numbness. Arjuna the great archer the world has ever produced, eulogized for his valor is at loss: How can he fight a war – a war with his relatives, teachers, kinsman; with whom he is to enjoy his kingdom when he wins the war and when he wins the war it would be at their demise. What do one do with kingdom, luxuries and life thus obtained? If such a war is won is it worth it. At what cost: when this thought comes to his mind he is in a dilemma. He wants to stop the war and call a truce. To fight or not to fight is the raging war on his mind. He is putting forth his doubts and questions that plague his mind to Sri Krishna.

Gita is a dialogue that happens then between prince Arjuna and Krishna who is to be the charioteer to him in the Mahabharata war being fought between Kauravas and Pandavas. The conversation is mind opening dialogue where the profound philosophy of life is enumerated in 18 chapters and 700 slokas. The Gita is supposed to have answers to all the ills that plague the mankind. It has also had profound impact on western philosophers, scientists and vedantins. The question that arises is can a song advised to a warrior in the battle ground be applied to ordinary folks. What are the lessons that Gita proposes for ordinary human beings to lead a healthy life? This is the doubt that arises in common man.

The first chapter of Gita known as “Arjuna Vishada Yoga” discusses the questions that arises in the mind of Arjuna. While Arjuna laments about not needing to fight the war considering the consequences of it and leaving the warfront, the central theme of issues raised by him are generally faced by each one of human being, whatever be their place, role, status, time etc. For aspiration, desire, Loss, illness, pain, suffering, sorrow- No one is immune to it. No vaccine for that has been found yet. But yet life must continue. For the sake of living, dead and living dead.  Do one continue to wallow in their personal misery, debating who is big, yours or mine, or get over it, face it boldly and overcome it.  This depends on how we respond to sorrow. Some overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, grieves, mourns, laments, beats his breast and becomes bewildered. Or one overcome with pain, his mind exhausted, comes to search outside. This was exactly the scenario in which Arjuna finds himself to be and raises the questions to Krishna for answer.

Some of the questions that Arjuna addresses to Krishna explains the scenario of every one of us faces in life. That is what makes the Gita the first philosophy and psychology book.

  1. How do we face the obstacles, problems, sorrow, suffering that we face in doing our duty and living in this world, whatever may be our age, role, status, aspirations, field of operation and country to name a few?
  2. How do we address the conflicting, emotions, desires, thoughts that rage war in our minds? How do we control the mind that runs riot?
  3. What happens when the problems that we face or not due to any external enemy from across the border, or even our house, ourselves but our own – starting from body, mind, intellect, our possessions, family and relations.
  4. What happens when one has to face demonic qualities of hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, and harsh speech of our own or our enemies. What is the effect. How do we handle it?
  5. How do we keep our spirits high or rather remain in equanimity in all circumstance, good and bad and indifferent?
  6. Do I allow my senses to run free? And when that happens mind follows senses and intellect the mind and all of them creating havoc. How do I rein them in and keep them in control?
  7. How can we remain fit enough to fight the battle? As weak man is not capable of fighting the battle
  8. How do we battle between compassion and justice? Should our enemy be vanquished or do be become nonviolent and let him go especially when compassion is more as a sign of run-away emotion.
  9. It is known that dejection has to fill the heart before compassion can enter. How do one handle the transformation state.
  10. How do one decide? Does one go after what you desire or what is good?
  11. What should one do in the mental state of dejection be it cause of physical, mental, or intellectual reasons.
  12. How do one purify mind and intellect. How to overcome weakness. Become bold.
  13. Will I succeed is overcoming sorrow. How do I vanquish the mental anguish of having to fight a war with my near and dear?
  14. How do we overcome ambiguous thinking, and gain knowledge and the discriminative capacity – the capacity to judge what is right and what is wrong
  15. How do we equip ourselves to execute our appropriate duties that we face in life effectively?

For a man action, struggle, effort, engagement, work and striving decides the life, growth and evolution. Without these one is in a state of inertia, a comfort zone where status quo is maintained. In comfort no growth happens. Yet in a state of movement life is a constant struggle and uncertain. And evolution is to happen whether one wishes or not. Under these condition how does one live. How does one be and what is the purpose of this life is what Gita teaches.

******

P.S: This is the first in series of article where I try to write my understanding of Gita. And Gita being profound, subjective is the reason why it has attracted many philosophers and commentaries. Nothing is like original. So I would recommend you read the original. Following are some of the References that I would be using.

  1. Sri Gita Rasa Ratnakar, by Swami Akhandananda Saraswatiji Maharaj, Satsahita Prakasan Trust
  2. Commentary on Bhagavad Gita, Swamy Krishnananda, The Divine Life Society
  3. Bhagavad Gita, Swamy Nikhilananda, Ramakrishna Vivekananda Central
  4. Holy Gita, Swami Chinmanayananda
  5. Gita Home Study Course, Swamy Dayananda Saraswati
  6. The Bhagavad Gita, Swami Chitbhavananda, Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three states of Mind

The Man, the Mind and the world  

The senses together with mind, intellect, ego and consciousness makes the world of man. The eyes, ears etc. connect with the external object, send in the details of it to the mind which then connects with intellect and ego or personal experiences to produce the conscious knowledge about the object of visualization, hearing etc. Thus the real world is in the action, reaction of mind to the external objective world. Thus the world is not what is outside but what is in our perception, our decoding of it and our reaction to it. The real sense of self is beyond all that. This makes the mind as the most important instrument in the hands of the man. If the man is willing to stand up with and work the mind, then he becomes intelligent. If he is not able to control it then it falls apart and bound to lead him to destruction.

The Hinduism and Yoga philosophy understands this and is particular about the various tendencies, characteristics, attitudes of mind and how mind can be cultivated for more informed life and happiness. This commentary is an effort to understand the various characteristics of mind, its effect, its modification and ultimate selection of attributes that one needs for the appropriate stage of life.

Mind and its tendencies per Vedanta

The mind is said to be in three states or gunas  namely, Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. Gunas in Sanskrit means quality, attribute, virtue, or characteristic. These thress gunas operate in man in his mind/thought/action in various proportions. In fact, these three characteristics make up the world. Everything that is manifested such as space, time, knowledge, action, result, material goods, the situation is a composition of these three attributes. The interaction between these qualities leads to the evolution of man. All the three gunas are important and cannot operate in isolation and yet they have been graded as per the benefits that accrue to the man because of these traits.

Three states of Mind

Now what are the qualities of each of these states. Each of them has some inherent attributes associated with it, acts on person in certain way and there are ways to overcome it.

Tamo Guna: It is a state of ignorance.  Tamo guna represents a state of darkness, inertness, a state where ones memory is weak and who is indifferent. Inertia, coarseness, heaviness, obstruction and sloth are some of the qualities of people with dominance of tamo guna. Tamas is the state of ignorance, darkness, laziness, indulgence and brute force.  It is lowest of the three forces/gunas. It promotes darkness, dissolution, death, destruction, sloth and resistance. It is also a guna or quality that is needed to counter evil. It is the lowest, heaviest, slowest and most dull like an earthen pot. It is devoid of the energy of rajas and brightness of sattva.

Tamas is due to ignorance, poverty, backwardness, illiteracy, disease, malnutrition, poor health, bad habits and resultant weak mind. It results in ignorance and heaviness as it opposes knowledge and lightness and produces the nature of sorrow and sadness that leads to a state of being bound by the circumstances.

Tamas can not be countered by sattva but has to be changed by engaging in action which is a rajasic quality.

Rajo Guna :

It is a state where is mind is full of passion and motion. The leading attribute of rajo guna are  quality of energy and activity. Dynamism, activity, excitement and pain and pleasure are the leading characteristics of the people dominated by this quality. Rajasik people are action oriented, who have strong belief in their doership, individualistic, and blinded and attached to the results of their action. Ideal example for rajo guna dominated person are business men, soldier and politicians. They are driven by their sense organs and mind and like to enjoy life in its fullest possibility. They love food that is pungent, sour and gives pleasure to senses.  In terms of color red depicts them well.

Rajas is the state of activity whose chief motives are power and enjoyment. When one is in this state, the mind makes him restless, a workholoic, seeker of new sensations and variety. He has a passion for new places, person, objects, activity, music, books, travel, food and enjoyment in general. They are extraverts. They tend to be judgemental and seeing both good and bad and hence are affected by pain and pleasure to a great extent.  It is worldly, achievement oriented mind always in search of something and hence in continuous state of activity and agitation arising out of it. Rajo guna is needed whenever any action is to be carried out. The down side of this need for uncontrolled activity is unfixity of mind affected by distractions that prevents a person from being focused in an activity for a long time there by creating obstacles in reaching desired results.

Rajo guna when combined with tamo guna results in actions that is detrimental but still needed to wake up people from their state of apathy and darkness.  And when rajo and sattva guna is combined the result is beneficial to everyone. Rajo guna in its own tends to be activity for selfish gain and when combined with sattvik tendencies would result in collective goodness. The activity driven state when finds an outlet that is uplifting, purposeful, pure and beneficial goal the outcome is bound to be liberating. If on the other hand one tries to control the restlessness by artificial means it is likely to find outlet in some other means that could be detrimental. So well directed and controlled activity is essential for peace and happiness.

Intensely active mind is known to take a satvic turn and history is repeat with such examples

Sattva Guna:

Sattva is the quality of purity and light. It is a state where one is not attached to the result despite performing, where one has faith in self and poise, fineness, lightness, illumination and joy are the qualities. Knowledge is the prime mover here and saint, sage are the people in whom Sattva is said to be dominant. Sattva people are said to like food that is wholesome, pure and easily available and their color is white.

Sattva is the state of serenity, calmness. It is not the apparent state of calmness and laziness of tamas. It is rather an active state and like the calmness on the top of lake where in ripples have stopped post the creation of ripple when a stone is thrown in.   It is a state where mind is controlled and unaffected by the thoughts emanating from and the actions of external world. It is where the mind is not affected by the dualities of pain and pleasure. It is a state where patience and desires are under control. It is a state where mind is steady unaffected by the turbulence created by the external world and internal deliberations on it. It is a state of awareness where in one knows that the world is in mind and ultimate peace is in mind. There is no dualities in the world and that there is only one creator and everything else is the different manifestation of the same. It is ultimate state where and which leads to liberation.  It leads to a state of great knowledge, of pure and determined will and a state of being-consciousness-bliss. Sattvic virtues are patience, generosity and Sattva guna is developed by prayer, thinking, good company, meditation, light food, discrimination and self-learning.

The result of such state of mind is that because of its steadiness one is able to get rid of ignorance and gains knowledge. He gains freedom from the pain and pleasure syndrome comes from the activities. The mind is able to enquire into various aspects of the world and is able to take impartial and superior decisions, though it is not the ultimate aim of it. The mind that delights in itself ultimately and becomes capable of engaging in focused activities for a longer duration is the character of mind in Sattva dominated persons. It is the mind that is capable of turning out outstanding work whatever may the field in which one is engaged.

Sattva to be effective has to manifest on its own accord and should not be forced.

The result of tamo is carelessness and laziness, rajo is anger and sense of balance or equilibrium is from the result of sattva state dominating.  Rajas is akin to life force in one and Tamas is the physical body and Sattva is the natural state of mind a state where the externalities have no effect and the state where mind is calm, conscious and happy.

-by Karparation

Knowledge acquisition as in Upanishads

“Knowledge is Infinite. What we know is very little.”

 

Knowledge as pure consciousness is infinite. What we know collectively and individually is limited and unknown is humongous. And knowledge has various names, forms, levels and types in all variety of subjects. World over trillions is being spent in the name of education. Corporations are spending in billion for training and knowledge management. Multiplicity of mediums, tools, technology and techniques are in vogue.  How effective are we in it? Are we learning right and learning the right subjects? Is there an order and process to acquire knowledge?

India has a rich tradition by way of Vedas and Upanishads.  Vedas and Upanishads are the fountain of knowledge both secular and spiritual. For they are prior to the times when philosophy and science and arts with is various sub divisions became a separate subject of study on their own.  The “Chandogya Upanishads” seventh chapter which goes by the title “Bhumaiva Sukham” meaning “completeness is happiness”, has a beautiful exposition on learning and knowledge acquisition.

It starts as dialogue between Sage Narada and Sage Sanatkumara where in Narada requests Sanatkumara to teach him for which Sanatkumara asks him to tell what he knows and beyond that he will teach.  Narada replies saying that he is well versed in phenomenal knowledge or secular knowledge of maths, science, astronomy, arts and art forms, architecture, politics, economics and so on. He understands that while these knowledge helps him to make a livelihood, acquire name and fame, wealth, and power it is not capable of giving him lasting happiness and peace of mind. What is the knowledge that by which one can go beyond, sorrow, ignorance and delusions?  Sage Sanatkumara replies that what he has learnt is only the theoretical knowledge in the forms of words, objects and thoughts pertaining to the physical world. However, one has to have self-knowledge to gross over the worldly problems. But then prior to acquiring self-knowledge there are different stages of knowledge that one has to acquire before self knowledge could be acquired. Thus begins his instruction for acquiring secular knowledge.

Meditation or worship as a technique of acquiring knowledge

Meditation or worship is an intellectual and internalized concept, as in this context is, different from the earlier notion of, as a form of physical worship, actual sacrifice and offerings to god. It is a state of heightened concentration where whatever is meditated upon is completely identified, absorbed with self and unified with as one identifies self-consciousness with one’s body.

To consciously superimpose or invoke a superior, or extraordinary thought or ideal in an ordinary object and venerating it as higher is called worship. Worshipping lord Shiva in the form of an idol, Jesus in the form of cross, or god in the form of fire, space, direction, nation in the form of flag are some of the examples. Such conscious impositions of higher in the lower and meditating on its attributes makes it easier for the mind to concentrate, focus, devoid of distractions and conflicts such that mind is able to imbibe the qualities of the idols in us.  As it depends on the person who is invoking it, the success of meditation is purely personal depending upon the strength of worship, time frame, period and sincerity. Depending upon what one is idealizing and practicing, the meditation can give him the worldly accomplishments of success, prosperity, fame, comforts and also other capabilities.

Knowledge starts as Names and forms

Every form or object has a name.  The names are much wider in scope than the object or its form. For example, when we see a particular ‘rose’, all the attributes of rose and the experiences in general of rose comes to our mind. And the name and form are generally not separable.  Thus when a name is mentioned the form associated with it manifests. Thus when the words and meanings are acquired and one who meditates on it, all the worldly power thereof can be obtained. However, mind being what it is it seeks to learn something beyond name and forms once it is known. If we recollect, when a child first learns to talk, he gets immense pleasure in identifying the objects around him and calling them by name. or when one learns any subject or language one starts with learning the words and terms specific to the field of study and starts identifying and associating it with objects around him.

Power of Speech

The first knowledge is that of names and forms, and is available as words. However, since speech proceeds words, and being the cause of words, it is superior to words.  All the knowledge originated in the form of sound/speech.  Speech is a powerful form to communicate thoughts. By the power of speech business is won or lost, relationships thrive or wither away, knowledge is acquired and communicated. There are infinite possibilities.

By meditating on that speech one gains mastery over it. The power of speech is improved by truthfulness in it, silence, speaking only when needed, avoiding unnecessary speech, sweetness and gentleness of the words uttered and speaking for the benefit of all.

Mind Power

Mind is superior to speech.  Speech is a process. There are four stages before speech is manifested. It first starts as un-manifest potential, beyond words and thought outside of us.  In the second stage idea takes into to shape in the mind.  In the third stage express is formed in the mind just before speaking.  And in the final stage speech is out of us by the coordination of various organs of the body through vocal cord and mouth. As mind is the cause of speech and proceeds speech, and speech is the effect of mind, mind is superior to speech.

Mind is the cause behind thinking and desire. Mind is the notion behind the self. All the world is created and experience in the mind. Mind is the cause of all names, speech and action. So mediate on the mind. By meditating on mind, one achieves all powers possible by mind.

Mental powers thus gained can be enhanced by living a righteous life, practicing self-contentment and other spiritual powers.

Supremacy of Will (Sankalpa) power

Sankalpa is defined as – power of conception, ideation, intent, desire, volition, resolution, and one pointed determination to achieve something. A vedic sankalpa generally comprises of time, location, constituents, lineage, purpose, wish, desire, target, action to be performed and nature of action. (So who says we thought of the concept of project plan, manifesto and so forth!!!!) it is about setting a positive intention to achieve something.

Man’s discriminating ability, the desire and will to do something is the basis for functioning of the mind. And hence superior to mind power. The will as sacred formulae, the mantra, when intoned with earnestness, appropriateness and correctness will result in action. The entire cycle of creation happens by will. By God’s will are the five elements created and sustained. The heat of the sun causes rain, which produces crops and food and from that sustenance, prana or the vital air, is obtained and by breath action is carried out and from that world is created. The willing creates the whole world and hence worship will.

One who meditates on will gains all the power related there off and is capable of gaining and experiencing wealth, power, fame and all that one intends.  He also acquired the bodily wealth of health body, robust mind, good sense organs, capacity to enjoy without outside obstacles. These though are of temporary nature by virtue of action being limited in its nature and that anything limited can created only things with limitedness.

Cultivation of Intelligence

Intelligence is superior to will, for only when one understands, he will, then he intends in mind which results in speech and name and form. Intelligence is that presence of mind, discriminating capacity, contextual understanding and decision making skill. Hence its greatness. An intelligent man is well respected in the society.

Capacity for Contemplation

Contemplation is greater than intelligence. The whole universe as in earth, heaven, water, mountains, divine beings, man, women, animate and inanimate contemplate and share the results there off. He who contemplates obtains multitude of knowledge. He then becomes free to act. The result of contentment is tranquility, stillness, steadfastness and contentment. Once mind is healthy, it further leads to health body, keen mind both of which enables one to perform well and achieve in the external world. Internally it leads one to a state of ultimate absorption, thoughtlessness resulting in peace and mastery over one’s subject of study.

Capability to Right Understanding

Understanding is superior than contemplation for contemplation is only effective when one understands the subject better for without understanding it is likely to lead to disastrous results. Only by understanding the world all that is in the world the sciences, the scriptures, and the knowable, various aspects of nature, plants, of animals etc, can be studies and research undertaken such that the laws governing them could be known.

The understanding of any knowledge, scriptures etc is gained by listening to the teachers, by self-study and reflection, by discussions with colleagues, and through the passage of time, experience and practice. One who meditates and understands all the scriptures and secular knowledge attains all the powers possible by understanding.

Thus are the various forms of intelligence one being superior to the other. By succeeding in gaining these knowledge one elevates himself to acquire the material wealth and becomes ready for the next stage of gaining self knowledge.

Based on “Bhumaiva Sukham”

Ref: “Bhumaiva Sukham” – Notes on Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 7, by Swamini Vimalananda, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust Publications, 2003

“Sanatsujatiyam” – The story of US

“Sanatsujatiyam” is a chapter from udyoga parva in Bhagavatam, a well known Indian epic, of the same time period as that of Bhagavat Gita. While Gita is about the dialogue between  Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the battle field, Sanatsujatiyam is the teaching of Sage Sanatsujata  to Dhrutarashtra, the blind King and the father of Kauravas who are one of the main protagonist of Mahabharata war.

The Questions

Sanatsujatiyam answers some fundamental  philosophical questions that has been in our mind from time immemorial and raised by Dhrutarashtra in this case.

What do we do to go beyond all sorrow and will we be able to look with equanimity upon gain and loss, desire and hate, old age and death, joy and sorrow, hunger and thirst, fear and fearlessness, merit and sin, decline and rise the essential dhwandhas or the duality that are the conflicts of life.

Which are the cause of transmigration and how to attain liberation from these.

Is there death are there is no death.

Who are we. What is “Brahman”? How do we know Brahman which is our essential nature. What do we do to regain our essential self.

The man thinks himself to be body, mind and senses.we are active, doing things constantly trying to avoid pain and enjoy pleasures and result is facing miseries and failure to attain freedom which is the goal of life. We are born and we die again and again continuing this life cycle only each time under different body, name and circumstances. But then question arises. Is there death. Or what is death. Who is the real person behind these names and forms.

what is the knowledge that would make man immortal free from the duality of the world. Can enlightenment be reached and death be conquered by performance of Vedic rituals. Could it be done through combination of ritual and knowledge. Seers are of the view that there is death and no death. How can these contradictory views can be realised.

Who are we and when do we die are some of the questions asked of  Sage Sanatsujata and he replies to them as follows.

Who are we

The scriptures say ones real nature is liberation. We are divine beings. We are on vacation in this world.  The death happens when we forget that and fall from that state to this life. This forgetting of the natural state is the cause of all our problems in this life and the start of Karmic activities of production, attainment, modification and purification.

Ignorance is the cause of bondage and knowledge is the cause of liberation and we are all deluded because of this sheath of ignorance

The Atma or the soul residing in a person is beyond body and mind and beyond and continues in three states of waking, dream and deep sleep of a person. Since one is Atma there is no birth and death.

Body identification and doership is the cause for miseries of life. The man who is created from water, five elements, has gross body that embodies soul in his heart which is purely consciousness, and wrongly identifies himself with gross body. This body identification creates  self-not self concept and that leads to all sorrows, joy, misery and worry again based on his karma. Body identification leads to samsara in other words this circle of life of desire fulfillment, old age, decay and death. The five sense organs, the five organs of action, mind and intellect twelve in all are the cause of externalities and by withdrawing them internally the cause of transmigration is avoided and bliss is attained.

When any activity has to be carried out it has to be done with total detachment, without the feeling of ” I ” am doing it and expectation of result. Thus when mind is pure and free from desire and emotions of anger, greed, jealousy etc self knowledge and realisation happens. If one thinks the body is real and there are these unfulfilled desires at the time of death then the soul carries them along with it and comes back again and again. Hence no liberation from this cycle of life or samsara. When sense objects and desire arising from sense organs are understood to be transient and ephemeral leading to more karma and sorrow and overcome liberation is achieved. Raising above the body level and keeping the mind content and calm which happens when there is no thinking or no mind, or when activities of the mind ceases then path to liberation opens.

The  Brahman

The Brahman is that which is beyond cause and effect, all pervasive, beyond the reach of speech and mind that which is present in every being and object in the universe.it is experienced as pure consciousness. The Brahman has no form. It is infinite and not confined into any space and not made up of five elements. It can not be negated and is beyond ignorance. It is subtler than the subtlest and bigger than anything imaginable. It is that from which all in the universe emerges and  and at the end time of universe everything merges with it.  The entire universe shines because of the light of the Brahman. All the universe is established in it.

The person who is born in this world, the self, is the manifestation of Brahman and the self is a non-dual, infinite consciousness and bliss. The knower of self knows it as Brahman and who knows it becomes immortal.

Know Brahman

It is the creator, the supreme being who creates the entire universe out of five elements – fire, air, Earth, water, and ether- in everything and everyone and transmigrates. Who makes him do that and for what purpose and what happens when that action ceases is the play of creation. It is Brahman the being, pure consciousness and bliss.

The Brahman can be attained by truth, rectitude, humility, control of the senses, purity of mind and knowledge and keeping out pride and delusion.

Avoid these

As to the question if one can escape the consequences of sinful acts if he has learnt the scriptures the answer is no and that the fruits of good and bad activities have to be experienced separately and that one does not negates the other. The Brahman can be obtained by tapas which is rigour, penance and austerity. As it is affected the qualities of desire, anger, lust, greed, ignorance, pleasure from sense objects, cruelty, casting aspersions delusion, complaining, worry, covetousness malice, envy and hatred aspirant should avoid these qualities. Also one should avoid sense gratification, prosperity at the cost of others (note the qualifier here), lamenting giving away of gift after it is done, willing to face humiliation for gain, lack of discrimination, boasting and  ill treating one’s spouse.

Pride and the qualities that amplify it are also to be avoided by one.

Cultivate these qualities

One who knows Brahman is a brahmana. (Note – it is by qualities and not be birth). And the twelve great qualities of brahmana are speaking truth, speaking what is good for others, controlling ones mind, studying scriptures, caring for well being of others, proprietary, not talking about faults of others in public, self control under all circumstrances and control of senses. Thus those who have achieved these qualities would be in a position to attain great knowledge and success and position in this world.

Control of senses is effective when along with above qualities one is not quarrelsome, respects all, not lamenting about past or worrying about future, equanimous in all circumstances, Knowledgeable, not causing injury to others, detached and spiritualistic.

Practising the above leads one to happiness.

Know thy self

An object is identified by words only if it has some quality as name, form, action, and relationship with some other objects. As the self does not have any of these qualities it cannot be described but only perceived as pointed by Vedas. Self can be realised by giving up sense objects, which is done by withdrawing senses, being quite, away from all actions and by contemplation and meditation. Brahman is the source of all names and forms and self is Brahman. So knower of the self knows the source of everything in the universe. Attaining Brahman, the ultimate reality, pure consciousness, bliss (sat, chit, ananda) that is happiness, and that is the goal of life. And those who attain the knowledge of self are liberated.

Thus one who knows himself to be Brahman had no death. It is unborn and is the self of all moving and unmoving. By meditating on this he is fulfilled. Brahman is immortal and all beings are born from it and merge into it. Brahman is the self, not self and all that exist and exist not.

-Karparation

Ref:

-“Sanatsujatiyam” translated by S N Sastri

  • Discourse by Shri Swami Anubhavananda Saraswati on Sanatsujatiyam – available on YouTube

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