The Way of Meditation – Gita VI

The Way of Meditation – Gita VI

Man, to succeed in life, excluding the external factors beyond his control, from his individual self, need to have co-operation from his body, mind, intellect, ego and consciousness. When any one of these are out of control, then energies are frittered away and then one has to concentrate and work to bring the energies that are off under control. Of these mind is challenging. It controls the sense organs and when not in tune is controlled by sense organs. It often flirts from one subject to another thereby hampering focus which is essential for any action to succeed.  In this chapter 6 of Gita, Krishna shows the way of bringing mind under control by Meditation, the techniques there off and how this meditation is likely to lead one to freedom.

Krishna elucidates, the qualities of a meditator/yogi, the ideal physical environment for meditation, the food, attitude, practice requirements for meditation , for if any one of these is not ideal one is likely to be disturbed and  concentration becomes difficult. And ends it up with importance of meditation and the benefits there off. There by in this chapter Krishna shows us the way for our emancipation through the practice of meditation.

Let the man be lifted by his own self:

Man is his best friend and worst enemy. Self help is the best help. A man’s own self, and his discriminative knowledge is the only friend. Any external object, event, person that one gets attached creates attachment and bondage. But the man who has not control over himself, his self injures him, like any external enemy and for such a person there is no need for an external enemy. He who has conquered himself and is serene in mind is constantly absorbed in supreme self, alike both in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, in honour and dishonor is wise. Yoga of meditation helps man to uplift himself and one who accomplishes meditation becomes a Yogi.

Qualities of a Yogi:

Yogi is one whose heart, through knowledge and realization, is filled with satisfaction, who having conquered his senses, never vacillates, and to whom a clod, a stone, and gold are the same.  Yogi is one who has equal regard for well-wishers, friends and foes; for those who are related or indifferent to him, for the impartial and the malicious and even for the righteous and sinful. Now how does one get to that state of inner poise.

Way of Meditation

For some people meditation happens naturally. They can sit, pull their senses away from external objects, quieten the mind and turn consciousness inward with least resistance. Such people are also able to function effectively in the outer world.  They are able to organize their life, have purposeful life and carry calm demeanor not impacted by the happening around them. They can renounce their thoughts -all thoughts of imagination, planning for future and dreaming and be in the here, now.  Such a person is called Yogi.  Others need practice.

For meditation to happen one should always try to concentrate his mind, retiring into solitude and living alone, having subdued his mind and body and got rid of his desires and possessions. He must purify the mind the of past impression, agitations, ego-centrism and integrate the mind.

The Seat: In a clean spot having fixed his seat, a firm seat that is neither too high nor too low and being comfortable and sitting there, restraining the activities of his mind and senses and bringing his thoughts to a point, he should practice yoga for the purification of the self.

The posture: one should sit firm, holding his body, neck and head erect and still, and gaze steadily at the tip of his nose without looking around. When the eyes are withdrawn from sense objects, the mind becomes steady and the eye balls are still and the gaze is directed as it were to the tip of the nose. His breathing has to be measured.

Serene and fearless, chaste and celibate, with disciplined mind thinking of Brahman creator he has to meditate.

The Food: Yoga is for one who neither eats too much nor for him who eats too little. It is not for one who sleeps too much nor for him who sleeps too little. It is for one who maintains moderation in eating, sleeping and in every activity, he undertakes. Simply put no extremes. Body well provided for and under control. When that happens the bodily disturbances and distractions disappear and so also the thoughts of presence or absence of body.

Controlling the Mind: Mind by nature is restless and difficult to control. It is a friend if one has controlled it, else it is one’s enemy. The uncontrolled mind runs behind the pull of sense objects. Controlling one’s mind is the first step towards one’ release and not easy.  However, this can be achieved by practice and by detachment. Austerity, continence, discrimination and faith are also helpful. And last but not least one should persevere despite failures for control of mind being difficult is not likely to happen in the very first attempt or few attempts. So persistence is imperative.  An understanding that sensory enjoyments are likely to lead one to short time happiness with another side being pain and sorrow effort must the taken to detach oneself from engaging in excess of sensory pleasures and entertainment.

Success in Yoga –  When the well controlled mind practices meditation, resting on self, free from longing for objects – seen or unseen, belonging to this world or the next, then one is said to have attained yoga.  Yoga is not possible for one who cannot control himself. And the test of Yoga’s validity lies in one’s seeing results through actual experimentation.  Thus by practice alone can one attain Yoga. And the path being difficult, if one fails in his path, he would still be benefited. For having tried, the knowledge stays with him.  And by virtue of his practice he can take it up from there towards perfection anytime in this life or here after.

Benefits of yoga of Meditation – Yoga is a unique state of self-realization. When meditation is practiced thus, with subdued mind, one attains the peace and subsequently freedom and bliss. The mind is completely tranquil, passions are quieted, free from stress and strains and becomes one with Brahman.

In deep meditation sense object are pulled in and merge with mind. With mind also rested and calmed becomes steady. In that state cognition alone functions and that is when self is realized. When mind is under control, focused, calm, seeing the real self one experiences boundless joy that is beyond the sensory perception can bring in. One is able to go beyond pain, transcends sorrows. As a result of this realization of Brahman and oneness with Brahmans, one attains a state where he is able to see himself in every one and in everything and vice versa. He realizes Unity, Brahman and oneness with Brahman. The result of this knowledge is liberation.

Thus is the way of Meditation, imparted by Krishna in sixth chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

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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

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

 

Role of Action and Destiny in Success

All men are subjected to and governed by destiny and action. Our actions do not become successful either by action or destiny alone and need both for success. Action when destiny is not auspicious and absence of action when time is right, is not likely to be successful. Thus for human success action and destiny has to go hand in hand like timely rain in well prepared soil.

Sometimes, destiny acts on its own without waiting for action. It is also impelled by destiny that one takes up certain work at times, exerts and that leads to success. However, it is seen that the work of competent man, even when well directed, is without the concurrence of destiny does not produce the expected results at times. This makes some respond that action and intelligence are of no use and tend to be idle, and work without intelligence.

Normally, any act done produces a result depending upon the effort. It is also seen that no action leads to misery. A person obtaining something without effort and person who exerts not obtaining something is an exception. Action is needed to support life. Action is needed for happiness. Action is needed for experiencing the world. Action is always carried out aiming for some good and if it succeeds or fails in producing the expected results it is still accepted as no action or idleness is detrimental. However, world denounces one who seems to enjoy luxuries of life without obtaining it by sustained effort and is derided by society. Thus intelligent people do not subscribe to any benefit that is not result of once action rather they believe that it is injurious to one.

Efforts become unproductive only under two conditions.  One when destiny supports but no action and the other when action take place but without destiny. Without exertion no act in this world will become successful. When an action is undertaken with dedication, combined with knowledge and skill, blessed by gods and destiny it is sure to result in success. Also those actions undertaken with the advice of counsels, elders, knowledgeable people and well-wishers is likely to produce result. On the contrary, when a person undertakes any work without the advice from counsels, moved by passion, anger, fear and avarice it is likely to fail. Taking the counsel of wicked, foolish, cunning and those not wishing us well, acting without foresight, ignoring the advice of well-wishers is also likely to lead to failure.

Thus a man guided by expert counsel, well-wishers, elders should undertake action that is well thought, skillful and exert for it to becomes successful. If those men whose acts do not succeed even after the application of exertion, should without doubt be regarded as afflicted by destiny.  Thus having put the best efforts possible such man has nothing to ponder upon and is happy for his effort.

 

Adopted fromMahabharata”, Book 10, Sauptika Parva, Kisari Mohan Ganguli Translation from Sanskrit