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.

* * * * *

25th April, 2017

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering T.S.Eliot III

II of the FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Eliot – East Coker

Everything is Cyclical

In my beginning is my end.

In succession

Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,

Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place

………

Houses live and die: there is a time for building

And a time for living and for generation

And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane

And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots

And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls

………..

 

Limited value of Knowledge

Knowledge, At best, only a limited value

In the knowledge derived from experience.

The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,

For the pattern is new in every moment

And every moment is a new and shocking

Valuation of all we have been.

We are only undeceived

Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.

……….

Do not let me hear

Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,

Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,

Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire

Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

………

 

In order to arrive there,

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.

………..

You have right only to work – This is the essence of what Krishna says in Gita

For us, there is only the trying.

The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from.

As we grow older

The world becomes stranger,

the pattern more complicated

Of dead and living.

Not the intense moment

Isolated, with no before and after,

But a lifetime burning in every moment

And not the lifetime of one man only

But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,

A time for the evening under lamplight

(The evening with the photograph album).

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter.

Old men ought to be explorers

Here or there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,

The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters

Of the petrel and the porpoise.

In my end is my beginning.

  • Abridged FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Eliot

Life, Struggle, Evolution and Liberation in the words of Vivekananda

What is Life

Life is the unfoldment and development of a being under circumstance tending to press it down, and the environment not allowing it to express itself. Life is a tremendous potential power that is trying to express itself against the circumstance and environment that is thwarting it from expressing it fully. So in order to succeed in this fight against environment and circumstances the power is shedding itself, dying now and taking new bodies again and again and evolving with each birth. Like waves on ocean, what differentiates one wave from the other being, nothing but its form that in turn is differentiated by time, space, causation which is dependent upon the waves themselves so is the life of every one of us.

Struggle leading to Evolution

The awakening of the soul to its bondage and its effect to stand up and assert itself is called life. Success in this struggle is called evolution. The eventual triumph when all slavery is blown away is called liberation, freedom or salvation. Everything in this life is struggling for freedom for one in bound by nature, name, form, time, space, and causality and one does not realized one’s true self. One strains against these bonds one by one, becomes conscious of the self becomes aware of the innate grandeur which leads to liberation.

In physical level this fight is characterized by the continuous struggle of whole humanity against the so called laws of nature with the man succeeding in the end. In the mental level the struggle continues in the form of fight between the animal man and spiritual man, between light and darkness, and all types of dualities from which man needs to overcome to become victorious.

Evolution

A man is great among his fellows in proportion as he can sacrifice for others. Mans’ struggle  is in mental sphere. A man is greater in proportion as he can control his mind. When the mind and its activities are perfectly at rest then the consciousness manifests itself. The struggle which is observed in the animal kingdom for the preservation of the gross body obtains in the human place of existence for gaining mastery over the mind or for attaining the state of balance. Physical improvement is necessary for how will one struggle with mind as unless the physique is strong.

Without a knowledge of the truth there will be no life worth living. Life will be a desert and will be vain if we cannot know beyond. So if man rests content with the present and gives up all search into beyond, mankind will have to go back to animal plane again. It is this enquiry into the beyond that makes the different between man and animal.

The looking upward and seeking perfection are what is called salvation and sooner a man begins to go higher the sooner he raises himself towards this idea of truth as salvation. It does not consist in the amount of money one has, nor the dress one wears or of the house you live but the wealth of one’s mind, intellect and spiritual power that decides the man’s evolution. This is what makes human progress, that is the source of all material and intellectual progress, the motive power behind the enthusiasm that pushes mankind forward. It is not sensual pleasure but knowledge that is the goal of life.

All world is a play

The world is a playground. A drama theatre. The creator is playing, he is the producer and director and all of us are his crew. Each one of us is assigned a different role, put in different garb and led into the world. A beggar now, king in the next and saint in the succeeding play. Thus we are putting on different garb to let the creator spin his plan.

When the baby is at play, she will ignore that calls of her mother and once she finishes she rushes back to her mother. Similarly, when our play in this world is over and done with we want to move from here to here after. Then all our toil will be of no value. Our family, name, fame, wealth, joys and sorrows, success and failures will be no more and the whole life will seem like a show. We shall see only the infinite rhyme joining an endless and purpose less going not knowing where to.  Only this much shall we say our play is done.

Path to the freedom

Liberation is not attained by the weak. It needs setting aside all theories and dogmas. It needs one to be conscious of our dignity, reflect calmly every day, by oneself, the acts and dealing of us with others and find out that one is not just being an intermediate specie between an animal and man, which we are when all our energies are spent in eating, sleeping, procreating and struggling to live and die and trouble by the desires, hatred and jealousy.  The path to freedom requires one to shed weakness and control our mind, thought, and intellect which is acquired by cultivating the right attitude.

  1. I am here to play

We are here to play. What was started with hope became a task amidst play and terrifying somewhere along the way. How do we avert it? Like we see a painting a terrible one, but not affected by it. We may even enjoy it, comment upon its techniques, wonder about it, all despite the picture being a horrible scene. That is because of not internalizing it, not being part of it, merely of being a witness and not being attached to it. That is the secret to living – The feeling “I am the spirit”, “I am the witness” and when something sad or evil thought occurs saying “I am the spirit. Nothing external can touch me. I am ever blessed and has no reason to suffer”. “This universe is my museum and I am looking at successive paintings. They are of all shades, good and evil but yet are outside of me and these event have no impact on me”.

  1. Balanced Mind

The balanced mind does more work. The less passion there is better the work. The calmer the one better it is for one to deliver more work. When feelings are let loose more energy is wasted, nerves become weak, mind is disturbed and because of this wasted of energy in many fronts one is able to deliver only less work. The energy that ought to have gone out as work is spent as more feeling which counts for nothing. The man for whom nothing can make angry accomplishes much more than one who gives way to anger, hatred or any other passion.  It is the calm, forgiving equable, well balanced mind that does greatest amount of world.

  1. Control Your Thoughts

By renunciation and practice is the mind brought under control. Like waves in a lake, thoughts and sense impression keep rising and continue in mind. From these waves raise desire. From these desires comes will and that will then get translated into various action through body. Like waves are endless so also desires, thoughts and actions. Hence mind is always being tossed by countless impressions of wants. The mind has to be divested of all disturbances or modifications, taken back to the earlies state of calmness such that there is no trace of various modification and desires. Then will consciousness manifest.

  1. Meditate on this

“I am neither the body, nor the mind, nor the intellect then who am I”. Then only one will be established in the real nature of the soul/atman. The atman is everything. You are none other than the relative consciousness born in this world to experience, work and enjoy. You are the only reality, the all-pervading atman. If and when you realize this, then only you will attain peace.

Liberation

Everyone from creator down to blade of gross is advancing towards the realization of his real nature. And none can escape the rounds of birth and death until he realizes his identity with Brahman. Getting the human birth, when the desire for freedom becomes very strong, along with it comes the grace of a person of realization and then man’s desire for self. Knowledge becomes intensified

Each soul is potentially divine, the goal is to manifest divinity within by controlling nature, both external and internal. We do this either by work, or worship, by mind or intellect, by one or all of these and be free.

Break your chain and be free. The strong shall inherit the world.

***

Notes from – I am a voice without a form – Thoughts of Swami Vivekananda” – Published by Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad, India

Meditation – by “Osho”

Meditate

 

Be silent,

close your eyes.

Feel your body to be completely frozen.

No movement.

Gather yourself in.

Just like an arrow,

move deeper and deeper within yourself.

Soon you will reach the one-hundred-foot pole

from where begins the journey into space.

Take a jump without looking back.

It is our space; it is our origin.

 

This awareness is your very nature;

you can forget it but you cannot lose it.

It cannot be stolen.

It is your very center.

Relax, but go on entering

deeper and deeper into yourself.

The body remains far away, miles away,

the mind remains miles away.

You are just a silent watchfulness,

a peace that passeth understanding,

a bliss that no word can express.

This is your ultimate nature.

 

Be silent, close your eyes.

Feel your body to be completely frozen.

Now look inwards.

Collect all your life energy just like an arrow

and without stopping anywhere go straight

forward to the center of your being.

This moment you are the buddha.

This moment you are the glory of being.

This moment all that is yours will be revealed to you,

all the secrets, all the miracles.

This Everest of consciousness is

Your ultimate nature.

On this path there is no specific meditation

The whole life is meditation – 24 X 7

 

Sitting, standing, walking; waking, sleeping,

meditation continues just like a thread in a garland of flowers.

Let your life be a garland with a consciousness

connecting every action, every movement, every mood,

and it will bring a total transformation.

You will be a new man

Each meditation will take away something false from you

and will bring some new, fresh quality.

Slowly, slowly a day comes when your whole life

becomes the life of a Buddha.

 

Be silent. Close your eyes.

Feel your body to be completely frozen.

Gather all your energy inwards.

Look, almost like an arrow,

searching deep for your center of being,

because your center of being is also

the center of the universe.

One who knows it becomes a Buddha.

Deeper and deeper…

This moment is precious.

You are very close to your own being

and to the being of the universe.

Realizing it is going to transform your whole life.

Without any fear… because it is your own territory,

it is your own space.

Nobody can enter here.

It has been waiting for you for millions of lives.

Just penetrate it and you will

find the greatest blessing showering on you.

 

 

Relax, let go of the body and the mind.

You are just a watcher.

The mind may be creating some dust,

the body may be feeling uncomfortable.

You are simply a watcher.

Don’t get identified, because this body will change,

this mind will change.

A thousand times they have already changed.

Only this watcher is your treasure, which always

remains… eternity to eternity.

Lao Tzu calls it Tao.

Buddha calls it Dhamma.

Whatever the name,

this is your pure existence.

 

It opens the doors of all the mysteries –

mysteries that you can feel, but you cannot say;

mysteries that you can sing, you can dance,

you can live, but you cannot say.

This is the world of Zen.

 

Now you can come back,

but come back not the same as you had gone in.

Come back much more solid,

much more integrated,

much more centered,

and then sit silently for a few moments

as a Buddha.

 

For the meditator there is no tomorrow.

***

Excerpt from “The Language of Existence” by Osho, Transcript of his speech later adapted into book.

P.S. – Osho is a remarkable person. One who can talk sublime and tripe in the same breath. If one has patience, can sift and slice through his writings one is sure to get great wisdom like pearl hunting, like lotus from mud pond.

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

 

 

 

 

Cosmos and Man

Tree of life, circle of life, river of life are some of the terms used for the journey of life that is comprised of permanent change!, ups and downs, meandering, expansion and constriction, soaring and souring in the dump, of colours of spectrum and of all in between shades. As above so below, the famous saying shows the close relationship between the cosmos and mankind where both man and nature are needed for the survival of each other and nature more so for man. The Chinese creation. Mythology explains this as below.

According to one of the Chinese mythology of creation, the god of creation is “Pangu”, who creates our earth and separates earth and Sky out of darkness and chaos.  First there was a cosmic egg in which he was growing. He comes out breaking the egg, where by out of the material thrown out and up the sky is formed and earth by that which was thrown down, further creating yin and yang, spirit and matter, sky and earth. He grew the world, got tired and died. From his body the world and all the elements in it and human body grew as below.

From his breadth – wind and clouds

Voice – thunder and lightning

Eyes – sun and moon

Arms & Legs – 4 directions

Trunk – mountain

Flesh – soil and the trees in it

Blood – rivers and veins

Hair – gross and herbs, skin

Bones and teeth – stones and minerals

Sweat- rain and dews

Hairs in the head – stars in the sky

Moods and emotions – weather

Thus was the world created and human beings came later. The similarly between man, the world and all things in the world are unmistakable. It is also apparent that the man who is born from nature, grows with the help of nature, akin to nature, who is sustained by nature when at the end of his life dies, becomes fossilised and morphs and merges into mountains, trees, minerals, rainfall and so on. Thus man and nature become indispensable to each other and more so nature to man.

Considering the billions of years it has taken for the cosmos to evolve and vast ness of it, its complexity, its interrelatedness man as an individual is just a speck and looks insignificant. That he is like any other element, plants, and animals and other life forms with slightly advanced consciousness.

But many a men live their majority of their life unconsciously.  The challenges of life are various and as many as the number of men present. By overcoming the known, unknown and random obstacles man is able to lead his life successfully until he becomes oneness with nature.

  • inspiration from “Understand Chinese mythology” by Teresa Moorey

Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part V

On Facing Sorrow

Learn how to suffer. I do not say seek sorrow! but when it comes, and stands in evitable in your path, receive it like a friend. Learn to appreciate its austere beauty, to seize its secret knowledge: study its hidden works, and in place of revolting against it, or resting inert and stunned under its action, associate your will with the aim fixed by sorrow, and seek to draw from it all the profit it can offer to a spirit or a heart. Force yourself to be an example for others, and by your acceptation of it, your courage, and your confidence in the future, render it more acceptable to other eyes. In a word, make sorrow beautiful! Harmony and beauty are universal laws, and in this ensemble sorrow has its aesthetic role.

Elevate yourself by higher views and hopes : see in it the supreme remedy for all the woes of earth. You who bend under the burdens of your trials, you who walk in the silence, no matter what comes, do not despair. Remember that nothing comes in vain, or without cause. Almost all our sorrows come from ourselves in the past, and they open the paths to heaven for us. Suffering is an initiation. It reveals the serious inspiring side of life. Life is not a frivolous comedy, but often a poignant tragedy. It is the struggle for the conquest of spiritual life, and in this struggle we must employ all that is great within us—patience firmness—heroism—resignation. Those old allegories of Prometheus and the Argonauts, and the sacred mysteries of the Orient, had no other meaning. A profound instinct makes us admire those whose existence is a perpetual combat with sorrow, a constant effort to climb the abrupt heights which lead to virgin summits and unviolated treasures. We do not admire only the heroism which brings forth the enthusiasm of crowds, but also that which strives in obscurity against privations, maladies, and miseries, all that detaches souls from material ties and transitory things. They strengthen the character for the combat of life—develop force and resistance—take from the soul all that weakens it—elevate the ideal to the pinnacle of force and grandeur. This is what education should adopt for the essential objective.

Let us open our souls to the breath of space, and lift ourselves to the limitless future. This future belongs to us! our task is to conquer it

  • This concludes the five part series (Notes) on “sorrow and suffering” by Leon Denis

Excerpt from “Life and Destiny”, Leon Denis (1846 – 1927), Translated by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Leon Denis On Sorrow and Suffering – Part IV

On Sorrow as an evolutionary tool

Suffering is a rudimentary method of animal evolution. Through it they acquire the first dawning of consciousness. It is the same with human beings in successive incarnations. If, one were exempt from suffering, man would remain inert—passive, and ignorant of profound moral truths. Our aim is onward ! our destiny is to march toward the goal without stopping by the way. The joys of this world immobilise us, they retard us; then sorrow comes and pushes us forward. As soon as there opens for us a source of pleasure, for instance in our youth, love and marriage—and we lose ourselves in the enchantment of these blessings, almost always soon afterward an unforeseen circumstance arises, and the blade of sorrow is felt.

In the measure that we advance in life, joys diminish and sorrows increase. The body becomes heavier —the weight of years more burdensome. With most lives, existence commences in happiness and ends in sadness. With age, the light grows dim, dreams vanish—sympathies and consolations lessen. Graves thicken about us; then come the long hours of inaction and suffering. They oblige us to enter into ourselves, and to review our lives. This is a necessary trial for the soul, in order that before it quits the body it may acquire a clear-seeing judgment of the events of its terrestrial careers. So when we curse the hours of age, which are in appearance desolate and sterile, we ignore one of the greatest benefits which nature has offered us. We forget that sorrowful old age is the crucible wherein the soul completes its purification. At this moment of existence the forces which during the years of virility we dispense in every direction in our exuberance, concentrate and converge toward the profound depths of being, awakening the consciousness and procuring wisdom for the man of maturity. Little by little harmony is established between our thoughts and the exterior radiations, and the inner melody chords with the melody divine.

On ending of suffering

Suffering will be necessary as long as man does not think and act in harmony with eternal law. It  will cease as soon as the accord is established. All our evils come from what we do in opposition to the currents of divine life For a long time to come, earthly humanity, ignorant of these superior laws, unconscious of duty, will have need of sorrow to stimulate it on its way and to transform its primitive and gross instincts into pure and generous sentiments. For a long time man must pass through the bitter initiative before arriving at knowledge of himself and his goal. At present he thinks only of using his faculties to combat physical suffering—to augment riches and well-being on the material plane, and to render earthly conditions of life agreeable.