Ramakrishna Ashram | Discourse on kathopanishads Part IV

August 15, 2006 at 7:25 pm

Continued from Part III

Extending the from the types of “sukhas” quoted in the Gita, to the types quoted in the “Kathopanishads”. There are three types of “Ananda”s.

Vishayananda: Vishaya (Poisonous things) + ananda (Happiness) = Happiness that we find in doing mundane tasks referred to as poisonous things.

Bhajanananda: Bhajan (hymns sung in the praise of God) + ananda (Happiness) = Happiness that is derived from singing hymns in the praise of God.

Brahmananda: Brahman (The Lord) + ananda (Happiness) = A state of Happiness where one is united with one’s own Divine Self. It is in this state of “Brahmanandam” that Ultimate Happiness lies.

For a person to perceive an object there needs to be sunlight (or light). And there is a limitation to our sensory perceptions since there are physical limits. The limitations vary from species to species. Human eye, for example, cannot see clearly beyond a few metres whereas the eagle’s eye can see clearly upto several kilometres. The human eye can not perceive things in the dark whereas the cat/ owl can. Our eyes are not built that way. Physical dimensions of our sensory perception have limitations. And there is another added limitation without which we cannot perceive at all – “The Mind”. Our mind can influence our perceptions completely.

Coming back to the first part of the sloka that’s being understood it means that in the state where the sun does not shine and a person cannot perceive an object but preceives the “Ultimate Happiness” is this state of “Brahmanandam”. Where the sun, moon, stars or even flashes of lightning are not present, only those minds “Antahakarana”, that are free from all internal blemishes can perceive the Ultimate Happiness.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “Pure mind and pure Atman is one and the same”.
He was responding to a question from a devotee who spoke thus, “How can I perceive something that’s transcedental through this mind?”.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa replied, “This mind keeps hovering around everywhere. mind when completely still is no longer ‘Mind’. Our mind depends on our daily habits. The highest reality is something that has never been defined. It cannot be defined. If it can be confined to any ‘naama-roopa’ [Names and forms] then it is not the highest reality.”

During the ritual of “Mangalarthi” in the Ramakrishna Ashram Temple we all sing “Namo nama prabhuvakyamanaateetha”.
It can be broken into “Namo Nama Prabhu Vakya Mana Ateetha”.
Which means “I bow to you (Namo) O Lord (Prabhu) who are beyond(Ateetha) names (Nama), sentences (vakya) and mind(Mana)”.
These are the highest lines of praise that can possibly be. A Britisher on hearing these was lamenting how it took him hours to explain or make some one understand the deeper meaning of these words. Whereas in the Hindu way of life, it is a daily part of our lives. We sing them everyday. “Bhaja Govindam” that represents the highest truth that the Vedanta has to offer is sung with a simple arrangement of tabla and a harmonium.

All this means that the Hindu way of life was designed to achieve the “Bhajanandam” mentioned in the Kathopanishads. Through that we just had to take the next step that is towards “Brahmanandam”. Sometimes during the stages of “Bhajanandam” the highest reality dawns on us but it goes off at a tangent because our minds are not fully prepared to receive it. All other realities/ forms of light that we come across are borrowed realities/ forms of light. This consciousness that we are trying to understand is the basis of and for Life.

Sometimes we see a star in the night sky. We also notice that it wasn’t there yesterday. So, we give it a name and celebrate its deiscovery. But it’s also possible that the star might not exist at all in reality. The star might have been present millions of years back and it’s light might have been visible to us today. And our sensory perceptions only allow us to perceive, understand and believe it in a way that it’s present even today. Hence, senses do not give us access to the Highest Reality.

Everything that we see is Brahman. Why we do not see Brahman is the subject of spirituality.

Swami Vivekananda was once asked, “Why do you make us believe that God is not visible to everyone? Why do you hypnotize us into believing that we are all ignorant?”
For which Swami Vivekananda replied, “I am in fact dehypnotizing you. I am creating an awareness in you that there is a world outside what we can perceive through our senses.”

Spiritual Life is to know that which is beyond ouselves and begins with reforming ourselves. Spiritual Life is about cultivating an attitude of Divinity and through that bringing a change to oneself.

Ramakrishna Ashram | Discourse on kathopanishads Part III

August 13, 2006 at 8:25 pm

This discourse was given on Sunday, August 13, 2006. In this article I have tried to include my learnings or my questions wherever possible.

How is the highest reality to be perceived? Knowing the ultimate reality is not similar to knowing something through your senses. It is something that is much beyond. And knowing it will give you “Paramam Sukham” unlike happiness from sensory perceptions. For example: A man sees an apple tree. He is happy because he perceives apple to be a good thing. But when a man sees a posionous tree, his happiness doesn’t exist. Like this, happiness derived out of sensory perceptions are short-lived and temporary.

“Paramam Sukham” is the peace that surpasses all happiness. Let us first try to understand what “sukha” is all about? In the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 18, Lord Krishna is discussing about the various kinds of sukhas.

The first one is of the lowest kind “Tamasika“. It is born of delusion, sleep, laziness and miscomprehension. People who live in unhygenic conditions and are happy about it are examples of such kind.

Probably, people like me who sleep at any given chance are also of this

Let us take the example of the Lord himself, who once took the form of a pig (Varaha avtaara) and began deriving so much of happiness in that form that he forgot to come back to his original form. Lord Krishna had to remind him to come back to his original state.

The second one is of the mediocre kind “Rajasika sukha“. Happiness emerging out of an element of restlessness and lot of activity. Any type of “sukha” that is aimed to satisfying our greed, anger, vendetta or some such emotional extremity. This kind of happiness “sukha” is characterized by the taste of nectar at first and poison towards the end.

The third one and the highest kind “Satwika sukha”. This sukha is characterized by poison at first, but nectar at the end. Something that begins as a very difficult job but slowly we attain pleasure in it because of something that we discover in it that is more than the sensory pleasure. When we discover something more than the senses can sense then that kind of happiness is “satwika sukha”.

A fitting example of “satwika sukha” would be that of chewing the amla fruit. it gives a distinct bitter taste at first, but if you are able to bear with it then there is the sukha of the sweet taste that it leaves in the mouth towards the end.

Another example is that of a student studying for his exams. There are so many things to distract him from his studies. A film on the television or a film magazine or something that will give him immediate pleasure are all more attractive to him than studying for his exams. He doesn’t understand that if he studies well now, he will be able to derive more happiness later in his life. If he bears with the poison of hardwork now, he will be able to enjoy the nectar of the results later on.

A person who understands this basic premise of postponing immediate happiness is a mature person. He has understood the principle of “satwika sukha”. It is a thought requiring utmost maturity in a person. A person who doesn’t understand this becomes a source of unhappiness for everyone around him. A person who doesn’t understand this gets into bad habits and other escapist activities qutoing immediate pleasure. These are the people who become anti-social elements.

Ramakrishna Ashram | Discourse on kathopanishads Part II

August 6, 2006 at 8:34 pm

Continued from Part I

Achieving Divinity is:

To recognize the Eternal amidst the ephemeral
And to recognize that force or power that gives the fruit of actions
effortlessly alongwith grace.

This power to achieve Divinity is recognized by “Dheera“. Eternal peace is for those who recognize the underlying Unity.

“Dheera” is a very familiar word to one who is familiar with Sanskrit Holy scriptures. “Dhee” means higher intellect.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has an interesting similie to distinguish higher intellect from intellect. An intellect which is used for simple things like calculating profit and making money is like “thin curd”. Chchaas in hindi, Majjige in Kannada, Majjiga in Telugu and Mor in Tamil. An intellect that is focused on achieving God is like “thick curd”. Dahi in Hindi, Mosaru in Kannada, Perugu in Telugu and Thayir in Tamil.

“Dhee” appears in the Gayatri Mantra also. “..Dheeyo yonaha prachodaya aath“.

Somebody once asked a learned monk, “What is the immediate benefit
of living a morally upright life?”

The monk answered, “It sharpens and brightens the intellect. Thus making
it ready to achieve Divinity”.

To achieve the higher intellect we could start living a morally upright life.

“Dheera” is a person who has turned his attention within to make the discovery of inner Reality. “Dheera” is one who is a “viveki” (One with the power of discrimination).

The Mind is an interesting thing if you can call it one. It has the ultimate power of discrimination. But that power is dependant on the atmosphere in which the Mind is. Outside that atmosphere the mind might not be able to attain the same level or power of discrimination.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to give a simple example to illustrate this: A sail boat in ordinary condition can be easily directed with the help of changing the direction of sails. But when the wind is blowing heavily, it is tough to control the direction of the boat.

Similarly the wind of Senses hijacks the “Buddhi” to somewhere else. Senses are the means to identifying the external world. Once the senses become our Master, we become their slave. Senses are like Horses tied to a chariot controlled by a charioteer called “Buddhi”. If the horses begin driving the Chariot then the charioteer should start controlling. But usually, it doesn’t happen. The horses go where they want, the charioteer just follows.

Wherever the “Buddhi” dominates the power of will is seen. It is the “Buddhi” – the Power of discrimination to be cultivated to attain the higher intellect. The greater the Self-Control, the Greater the Buddhi.

People are generally heard saying, “Kathopanishad says God is everywhere, then why cannot we see God?” In simple words, not everybody can see God. We are not competent “Yogyata” to see God. We need to develop the competence to see God. When a person has developed that “Dhee” – intellect and courage – only then can he make the search of Shashwatha Shantihi – Eternal Peace.

In their ignorance people make the sin of considering, the changing as the Unchanging, impure as the Pure, Source of unhappiness as happiness and loss of Eternal Reality is mistaken to be Eternal Reality (meaning that Body is considered to be The Aatma) .

The Original Sin is to consider the Body as the Aatma. After this sin happens, everything else just follows. Once a person is into this Sin, he gets only ephemeral happiness.

Camels have this desire for thorny plants for food. Whenever they eat those plants they are happy that they are eating what they wanted. But those thorns prick their mouth and they start bleeding. This is ephemeral happiness.

He, who has the ability to discriminate the Eternal from the ephemeral, destructible from the indestructible and is able to find Nitya amidst Anitya is the one will experience Shashwatha Shantihi eternal peace and not the others.

Ramakrishna Ashram | Discourse on kathopanishads Part I

August 6, 2006 at 7:35 pm

After a long time I attended the discourse at Ramakrishna Ashram on Kathopanishads by Swami Atmashraddhananda. Here is a write-up of whatever I understood there. Swamiji started off with reading out the sloka and then started explaining it in his inimitable style of raising questions and answering them.

Those who have not known the (nitya in sanskrit)Reality of eternal truth will never find peace – eternal happiness in other words. As long as we think that Reality and we are something different we will never see it. Reality is inside us, rather reality is us and we are reality. This Reality is permanent, it has no beginning and has no end. Hence it is the ONE. Eternal peace is for those who see the Reality and not for those who discriminate.

Spirituality is a quest for the Reality. It begins with the question “Is there something Real in this world?” and finding the answer is the end of the journey. Let’s take the learning curve of a child for example. He begins with an understanding of the moving and the non-moving. A cat moves and a table doesn’t. Pleasurable and not-pleasurable is the next stage. Here he does not think whether it is beneficial or not, it is all about pleasure. Next stage is Good or Bad. And so on there are various stages. But very few people can come up with the question of Real or Unreal.

More often than not, when a person undergoes a very strong experience is when he comes to this question of Real and Unreal. For others it is just between pleasant and unpleasant. For others it is all matter(that which can be sensed through our senses). But as per our Upanishads and other Holy writings of the Hindu Religion and according to the Lord Yama, it is Nitya from which everything has come. All material is a form of thought. The Upanishad thought varies from the mechanistic thought in this manner about Nitya.

He, who has the ability to discriminate the Eternal from the ephemeral, destructible from the indestructible and is able to find Nitya amidst Anitya is the one will experience Shashwatha Shantihi eternal peace.

A small story to better understand eternity and the ephemeraless. The Lord of Rightenousness Yama wanted to teach the Pandavas a lesson. While under exile, the Pandavas wandering in the forests felt thirsty and so they rested under a tree. Yudhishthira instructed Nakula and Sahadeva to find if there was any water source nearby.

Nakula and Sahadeva climbed to the top of trees and surveyed the surrounding. They couldn’t find any water per se but they saw a certain kind of trees that grew only near water sources. This also points to the knowledge of flora and fauna that the people of those times had. They inform Yudhishtira about the same and they proceed towards the spot to find a lake.

In the meantime, Lord Yama has taken the form of a stork and is standing nearby the lake. Sahadeva proceeds to get water for all of them. Then the stork speaks. Ok, let’s just assume that they understood each other’s language if you find a stork speaking to be so illogical. It is an altogether different topic that we don’t understand a fellow human being’s language itself! A stronger indication of the harmonious living between the flora and fauna and the human beings.

The stork says, “I will ask you a few questions. After you answer them
successfully, you may take water from here and go”.

But Sahadeva is in such a thirsty state and also seeing his family members state he just ignores the stork and bends down to collect water. As soon as he comes in contact with the water, he falls down dead! The same fate befalls Nakula, Bheema and Arjuna.

After waiting for an inordinately long time, Yudhishtira himself makes it to the lake and encounters the stork. Immediately he realises that it’s not an ordinary stork. And he pauses to take the quiz voluntered by the stork. This quiz is the famous “Yaksha Prashna” that we have come to know of. One question in that quiz was related to eternity and ephemralness.

The Stork (in-the-form-of-Lord Yama) asked, “What is the latest
Yudhishthira answers, “People die daily around us yet no one believes that
he is going to die”

Later on, Lord Yama shows his true form to Yudhishtira after being pleased with his answers. And also brings all his brothers back to life.

The point here is that, we are Eternal (Nitya). But this Body is not. We realize that we are eternal but restrict the understanding to our body-mind consciousness and hence we are fearful. When we approach Divinty we become fearless. Identification with Anitya is why we never see the Eternal Truth.

Continued in Part – II.

18 Principles of a Spiritual Life | Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

August 4, 2006 at 11:24 am
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is both visionary and practical. At the dawn of the new millennium, he calls for a return to the timeless values common to all religious traditions as a means to resolving conflict in the world today. He recognizes that this begins with individuals who embody those values in their own lives. In guiding people around the globe to finding this life for themselves, Sri Sri offers the eighteen principles of the spiritual path.
When attention is given to the spiritual aspect of one’s life, it brings responsibility, a sense of belongingness, and compassion and caring for the whole of humanity. Spirit upholds and sustains life. It makes you strong and solid. It breaks down the narrow boundaries of cast, creed, religion and nationality and gives you an awareness of life present everywhere. It is only through this awareness, this uplifting of consciousness, that wars can be eliminated and human rights restored in the world today.
How can these things be achieved? What are the main principles of a spiritual life?
The first principle of the spiritual path is to have confidence in yourself. Without confidence, achievement does not come. Doubt is what opposes confidence. Once you eliminate the negative, you will see that the positive has already happened. When doubt clears, confidence is there. So to gain confidence, you must understand what doubt is.
If you observe the nature of doubt, it is always about something positive. You never doubt what is negative. You know this from your experience. You doubt someone’s honesty, but you never doubt dishonesty. You doubt the goodness of other people, but you never doubt their bad qualities. If someone says, “I love you very much,” you say, “Really?” But if someone says, “I hate you,” you never say, “Do you really?”
Understand your doubt as questioning the positive and having confidence in the negative, and know that if you are having doubt, there must be something good present. Approached in this way, doubt gives you a means to move ahead. I am not telling you to drop your doubt. Doubt as much as you can! Give it your 100%. That will help you through it. Once you cross this barrier of doubt, then further progress comes.
Stop Blaming Others and Yourself
The next principle is to stop blaming others and yourself. The spiritual journey is a journey to the Self, and when you are engaged in blaming yourself, you will not want to approach the Self. You will not be attracted to that. Without this movement toward the Self, toward spirit, you have a journey toward matter. The joy you get from matter is tiring. The joy you get from spirit is uplifting.
You will find negative qualities within yourself, but you don’t need to blame yourself for them. Whenever you blame yourself, you are bound to blame the other, because self-blame cannot stand for too long. You will find reason to escape from it by hooking it onto someone else. This causes hatred to arise. And whenever you blame someone else, you are preparing again to blame yourself. There is so much blame being given today that it is dampening the consciousness of the whole world.
Praise Other and Yourself
The third principle is praise yourself and praise others. Praising others goes a step beyond not blaming others. Praising kindles spirit and the presence of spirit is uplifting to yourself, to the other, and the entire environment. In praising yourself or another, a space is created within you that is filled with joy.
If you can praise yourself, you won’t need praise from others. Often we think that praising ourself is ego, but, in fact, ego cannot praise itself. Rather it hopes for praise from others. And understand that all praise goes to the Divine anyway. If you say you have beautiful eyes, who made them? Every praise goes to the Divine, the Maker.
The act of offering praise expands consciousness. Something inside you opens up. Blaming shrinks consciousness. Since the spiritual dimension is an expansion of consciousness, of the mind, we do not want to counter that by blaming. Sincerely offer praise to someone and see how you feel.
Sincerity is the fourth principle. In all things, be sincere. Do not fool yourself and do not try to fool anyone else. You are not on the spiritual path for anyone else’s sake. Spiritual seeking without sincerity is empty. It brings no benefits. With sincerity, it brings peace, happiness and joy you can find in no other way on this planet.
The fifth principle of the spiritual path is responsibility. The spiritual path is not escape from responsibility, but taking responsibility. However much responsibility you have taken for your life, by that much you are on the path. If you think it is difficult to manage what has been given to you to do, more will be given! People mistakenly think that being spiritual is an escape from hard work. No. The spiritual path is marked by effective and dynamic activity.
Let Go of the Past
The sixth principle of spiritual life is the ability to let go of the past. See the entire past as a dream. Then you come to the present moment. You will find it is not necessary to make an effort to be in the present. The moment you let go of the past, your mind comes to the present on its own.
In the present moment, spirit is kindled—even a little spark is made into a glow. When you cling to the past, the spark is covered with ashes. Be in the present and blow away the ashes of the past.
You need to know how to create a harmonious environment around you. You may think that your environment creates you, but in truth, you create your environment. See that what is, is. The acceptance of what is has two aspects. The first is the acceptance of the present moment as inevitable. It has happened as it happened. If you want it to be different, it can only become different in the next moment. Only when you accept what is and become calm, can you effectively change anything.
The second aspect is to accept other people as they are. Whatever behavior they are exhibiting, see that it is the best that they have to offer in that moment. Be analytical. Look for possible explanations for their actions. And simultaneously take responsibility for your own. In this way, acceptance becomes dynamic and your environment becomes harmonious.
Confirmation of Your Own Death
The eighth principle of spiritual life is confirmation of death, the understanding that you are going to die one day. Because there is something deep within us that does not die, we may not fully comprehend the fact of our own death. The confirmation of death can bring you to the present moment. It can take you out of all the small temptations that keep you away from the present. Once you know that you are going to die, then the future will not haunt you.
Impermanence of Life
The ninth principle is the impermanence of all that exists right now—the impermanence of situations, circumstances, emotions and people around you. Knowing that all this is impermanent raises the level of spirit. You can act with more energy, enthusiasm and vigor. We think that if we recognize that everything is impermanent, it will bring down our enthusiasm and lead us to a state of apathy. No. The correct understanding of impermanence kindles spirit. Whenever spirit is kindled, you feel uplifted. Enthusiasm and dynamism are present.
Trust the supreme and infinite Intelligence which has formed this entire creation, from the
cosmic display to the interplay of genes and atoms and molecules. Just in the arrangement of electrons, something becomes a flower and something else becomes a stone, something is gold and something else is charcoal.
See that there is a basic substratum, an underlying intelligence, a unity, in this entire creation. And see that it is lively. We don’t see the universe as a living thing. We see only matter everywhere; in our eyes only objects appear. We know there is a magnetic field in creation, but we often see it as a dead field. Pure consciousness, that which is the basis of mind, that of which you are a part and everyone else is a part, is such a field and it is alive. Understanding, accepting and trusting the Intelligence which creates and sustains all things is the tenth principle of spiritual life.
Unity in Creation
When the human mind is stressed and tense, it judges, discriminates, loves this, doesn’t love that, makes boundaries. And in so doing, it removes itself from existence. This removal of existence from the flow of existence is called separation, but it is only apparent. Separation from existence is not possible. If a portion of a circle is removed, there is no longer a circle. See that you are part of existence, a fragment of the expression of the supreme Intelligence, the unifying force which underlies all of creation, all that is. This is the eleventh principle.
Your Nature is Love and Peace
When you understand the unity in creation, you don’t have to make an effort to love others. Love is your nature. Love is what there is. Nothing other than love exists. See that love is not an action that you do, not a moral obligation that you must carry out. See that you exist in love and everything else exists in love.
And know that peace is also your nature. At any moment, in any place, you can just sit and let go, knowing inside you there is a pure clear space, vast and deep. That inner space is what you are. When you feel this, you are in touch with your spiritual dimension.
“I have come from peace, I am in peace, I’ll go back to peace. Peace is my origin and my goal. I am peace, I am space, I am love” This inner affirmation or experience makes you a seeker. Knowing that your nature is love and peace is the twelfth principle.
The thirteenth principle of spiritual life is finding a balance between activity and rest—between enjoying your world and coming back to your self, and finding a balance between silence and speech. If you kept silent all your life, never uttering a word, you would not necessarily be living the spiritual life. You have been given speech. You have been given talents and abilities. Make right use of these things you have been given and balance that with meditation, the self-referral aspect of your consciousness.
Self Enquiry
Self-enquiry is the next principle of spiritual life. Start with awareness of the feeling of your own body —your own skin, the feeling of your skin under your garments, and under the skin your muscles and nerves and then bones. Do not be insensitive to life, like an animal who only eats, drinks and sleeps. Observe every sensation. Have the keenest awareness. In knowing your own body, you will come to know spirit—that which is different from the body.
Dispassion and Maturity
Keen awareness comes with maturity, or you could say, with dispassion. Maturity and dispassion come together. You cannot be mature and not be dispassionate also. Dispassion is often wrongly understood to be a flat, dull state of mind or a negative mood. It has the connotation of being aloof and disinterested. This is not true. In dispassion, you are aware; you are intimate with yourself. In maturity there is no fevershness. In maturity there is royalty, there is freedom, there is understanding, there is mystery. This is the fifteenth principle of spiritual life, gaining dispassion and living maturely.
Appreciation of Beauty
The sixteenth principle of spiritual life is to acknowledge the beauty in creation, the beauty in every person, the beauty within you, and to know this beauty in the nature of spirit. The mind runs after beauty, appreciates beauty, but there is a difference between appreciating beauty and wanting to possess it. In wanting to possess beauty, we lose our dispassion.
Know it is spirit that is beautiful. Wherever you perceive beauty, spirit is there. If someone is beautiful, it is because of the spirit in them. A dead body is never beautiful. Attributing beauty to spirit and differentiating that from matter takes you a long way on the spiritual path.
Worshipfulness and Honor
The appreciation of beauty brings worshipfulness. You worship beauty, you adore it. Adoring and worshiping everything in creation as a reflection of the Creator is the next principle of spiritual life.
And honor everything. Honoring is more than an emotional response. It is an attitude. It indicates a balanced understanding of life. When respect and love are both present, that brings honor. When there is honor, the mind is one hundred percent present and a sense of sacredness comes. Love and respect bring honor and honor brings sacredness. You cannot feel for something and not feel its sacredness. Sacredness brings alertness in the consciousness. Awareness comes.
Life is Imperishable
The final principle of spiritual life is knowing that life is imperishable. This is totally contradictory to the principle of knowing that life is impermanent, that everything is perishable. Now we say that life is imperishable; nothing can happen to it. Truth is always contradictory.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization, and is the inspiration behind numerous charitable organizations focused on service and the promotion of human values. In 1982, Sri Sri began to teach Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique that eliminates stress and brings one completely into the present moment. Today this program is taught in over 142 countries around the world as part of the Art of Living Course. More information is available at www.artofliving.org.

What is Success in Life?

May 1, 2006 at 1:49 pm
Success in Life

There was a talk on “What is Success in Life?” by Swami Dayananda Saraswathi yesterday at K.L.N. Prasad Auditorium, Hyderabad. I will try to articulate the 40-minute speech here. The learned and well-versed Swamiji laced his speech with characteristic humour and made it sound quite down-to-earth. Though I felt he could have avoided unnecessary swipes at other religions, as my uncle said after the speech, “Somebody needs to protect Hinduism too”. Maybe it’s true. I am thinking.

The Chief Guest of the evening, Hon’ble Justice L. Narasimha Reddy tried interpreting the topic in his way and gave his ideas on it. He said, “Success is something that is achieved on meeting Goals. An individual fixes a goal before starting out and at the end if he has achieved whatever he had set for himself, then success is achieved.” Fair enough we thought. We applauded.

Then Swamiji began.

What is Success? You have a desire. You achieve it. If the means of achieving that desire are within the confines of Dharma, then it is a success. That’s all. That’s why you need people like hon’ble Justice! [Pointing to the chief guest of the day!Audience is impressed. Laughter all around. Appluase follows!]

In life, we play multiple roles. A father, an employee, a son, etc. There are homes in which “Father is coming” is announced as if some ghost is coming. And as if on cue, the children rush into their rooms hiding from their father. Everybody is running to take shelter somewhere. The only person to come out is ‘the dog’ of the house! Ah! What a success! [Audience is in splits! Applause follows!] In some cases, even the dog runs for shelter! [More laughter, more applause!] With the tail in between its legs! [Laughter! Applause!]

There are some religions where it is preached, “Don’t have any desires. Be desire-less. The state of desireless-ness is happiness. Between the fulfilment of one desire and the beginning of another desire is defined as happiness.”

Don’t have any desires is like saying,”You are having an headache? Cut off your head!”. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Now you laughed. What desire did you fulfill you tell me?! You were happy, you laughed. Sometimes, happiness can also be achieved by not fulfilling any desire.

Have desires. It is healthy to have desires. If you have desire you will experience failure. You will learn how to come out of it. You will grow as a person. But make sure the means to achieve your desire is within the confines of Dharma.

We, human beings, have two things to do. We have to survive, and take care of ourselves to follow Dharma. Because there are predators all around. Be careful. They are waiting to prey on you.

But we have one more thing to do. “Make-up”. If we don’t have hair, we do some farming on our head to help hair growth. If we have some hair left, then we need to comb it from one side to another. If we have to hear a swamiji speak we need to comb our hair, put on a good dress and come. So, that means we have three things to do. Survive, take care and make-up! [Audience is almost on the floor laughing!]

What is Dharma you might ask. The Dharma being referred to here is Samanya Dharma. Lord Krishna has said, “I manifest myself in the form of desire in you. I am desire”. But before that he says, “I manifest myself in you as Samanya Dharma”.

What is Samanya Dharma? In order to have a desire you need to examine if it falls under the confines of Samanya Dharma. It is something like the “Law of Gravitation” that a baby monkey knows. Have you ever seen a Mother monkey tell it’s baby monkey, “See, you will need to hold on to me tightly. Otherwise gravitation will pull you down and you will fall”. Have you ever seen a baby monkey ask, “What is gravitation?”!

Similar to the knowledge of gravitation to a monkey, is the Samanya Dharma to a Hindu. Why is it called “Samanya”? Because it is “Samana” to all. “Samana” means common to all. It exists in everybody. In Hinduism, ends does not justify means. Never. The means have to be as righteous as the end being achieved.

Finally, success is following Dharma to achieve a desire.
[Applause! Applause! Applause!]

Rising above self, using technology for common good

September 26, 2005 at 10:00 am

A nation is not its land and buildings—it is its people. If we as a nation have to rise and be empowered, the first and the foremost thing we need to do is to empower the people.

Empowerment does not mean amassing of material wealth, or technology, but is entirely an inner process, a spiritual process. Without the necessary sensitivity, inner balance and the faculty of discrimination in individuals, widespread negativity and perversions creep in. This is how a human being or an entire culture sinks to its depths.

Never before has mankind been as comfortable as it is today. The kind of comforts and conveniences that even kings did not have a hundred years ago are now available to the common man. Today our pursuit for these is so vigorous that the very life of the planet is being threatened. Yet, it cannot be said that we are any happier than our forefathers. This is because people try to create an outwardly perfect life, but the quality of our lives is based upon our interiority.

Modern technology has tremendous capability for both—creating well-being or total destruction. Without bringing in the dimension of spirituality that brings an experience of all-inclusiveness in individuals, it will surely bring destruction not just to humanity but the planet itself.

After all, whatever every human being is doing, whether it is pursuing money, or pleasure or God, he is only seeking his own well-being. Spirituality only expands this innate urge to include the whole humanity within oneself. This is the only way that human well-being can happen.

Developing the spiritual core of humanity does not mean propagating any particular religion. Unfortunately, today most religions have been reduced to mere belief systems. And belief systems are bound to conflict with one another. Spirituality means to raise the body, mind and spirit to its true potential. Once this is established other challenges can be handled rather effortlessly. When we strive to create human beings functioning at their ultimate potential then his general well-being is naturally take care of.

In every society, it is necessary that there is at least a handful of people whose passion in life is beyond their own well-being. Every society needs those individuals who will go on planting mango trees without thinking whether they will get to eat the fruits or not. Of all the degenerations we have suffered, this is the most damaging, as the nation has been deprived of its greatest strength—producing exalted beings who are rooted in a different dimension of existence and whose very presence is a blessing to the planet.

One example that the world is familiar with and whose fruits we continue to eat is Gautama Buddha. As a prince, perhaps he would have had a few more wives and children and ruled over his little kingdom, but as an Enlightened Master in many ways he has changed the course of life on the planet. We value this culture not because we happened to be born into it, but because this culture had perfected the technology of producing such beings.

When I was twelve or thirteen years of age I happened to come across some literature in which Swami Vivekananda said ‘‘Give me hundred truly dedicated people and I will change the face of this country.’’ At that time it seems there were three hundred and thirty million people in this country, but he could not find a hundred truly dedicated people. I thought what a tragedy!

A man like Vivekananda, he’s a phenomena, he doesn’t happen every day. When he comes, we could not even give him a hundred people in this vast country. It seemed like a great tragedy for this culture and this country. From that day I always thought in my life I must create at least those hundred people the man dreamt of. For twenty years I have gone around working for this and today, I can proudly say, that we have created many people who place the well-being of the world around much above their own—life or death, these people will fulfill what has to be fulfilled.

Today, I can proudly say that in homes and the marketplace alike we have created people whose vision and experience of life is rooted in the harmony and unboundedness of life rather than any narrow perception of the limited. I can proudly say that it is not just the urban and the privileged, but even the impoverished, whose struggle for existence is a daily process, that are able to walk the inner path to well-being. But this is far from fulfilling what is needed.

There was a time where in a society a few people were spiritual and the rest of the people just went to them for blessings and sustained their lives. Today, with the tools of science and technology we have brought ourselves to a self-threatening situation that everybody in the society needs to turn spiritual, otherwise there is no survival for this world. With the kind of equipment, and capabilities that we have, it just takes one fool to blow it up. And there are any number of those fools standing in the queue to get to the top.

So spirituality is no more a fancy pursuit. It is an absolute necessity for our own survival and the planet’s survival that every human being brings in the spiritual dimension into his life. Unless some sense of oneness touches the people, especially to the leadership in the planet, then self-destruction is a live threat.

Skeptics are quick to ask, ‘‘Is such a thing possible?’’ I want to tell them, do not think of the future of the world on the basis of existing realities. Existing realities on the planet could be changed in a moment, because existing realities do not take into consideration people’s will, they do not take into consideration people’s commitment, they do not take into consideration the love in their hearts.

Existing realities are just looking at the number of people that died on the planet today, the number that were slaughtered today, the number of bombs that exist on the planet, but statistics cannot consider what is beating in the human heart. If only we can stoke that, if only we can stir up what is happening in individual hearts, miracles are possible.

It is not far away, we just need to work for it. With the spiritual legacy of this land, with the spiritual processes that are available to us today, it is definitely a possibility. If we dedicate ourselves to making this happen around us, we can see in our own lifetime something tremendous and dramatic happening on the planet.



Katha Upanishad – Discourse by Swami Atmashraddhananda

September 25, 2005 at 6:53 pm

As promised, the next post regarding the discourse by Swami Atmashraddhananda on Katha Upanishad on our blog.

Please click on “Reference” to take you there. Thanks.

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Speaks

September 9, 2005 at 10:00 am

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a realized master, yogi and profound mystic from Southern India. He embodies the universal truths of the great spiritual masters, both East and West, who transcend any religious divide. Through public talks and yoga programs, he teaches a unique perspective to all seeking a higher expression of life, inner peace, health and fulfillment. Following are his comments on some spiritual concepts and present concerns:


Yoga: Yoga is a complete spiritual path by itself and not just a workout to tone up one’s body. It is a path that breaks all bondages establishing joy and peace as a moment-to-moment experience and ultimately leading to the liberation of the Self.

Yogic Science: Just as there exists the physiology of the human body as understood by modern science, there also exists a complete and complex energy system of the human body, which is understood in great depth by yogic physiology. If the nadis (energy pathway s ) could be revealed to the eye, the body would appear as a highly complex network of energy.

Self-Mastery: Every experience you go through is just an expression of your energy. If you’re angry, it’s a certain expression of your energy. You’re happy, it’s another expression of the same energy. You’re loving, it’s another expression of the same energy. If you have some mastery over your own energies, you can express your energy as you wish. You will see that you will naturally become a joyous being because now your energies find a conscious expression.

Human Compassion: If you have found true value within yourself, then whatever you do is simply what is needed for the situation. You’re not doing it to fulfill yourself. There is no desperation in your action. Your action is just an expression of your divinity.

Crime and Aggression:
Suppose right now you’re pursuing your happiness very vigorously and I stand in your way. You will want to kill me, or somehow get me out of the way. It’s a natural instinct in you. See, we’re labeling some people as criminals. All that they’re doing is pursuing their happiness very vigorously, so vigorously that they are not concerned with what is happening to people around them.

Global Unrest: Today, you see people who have more comforts than they could have ever dreamed of. An average citizen possesses today what even kings and queens couldn’t afford a hundred years ago, but still you see people are so distressed. This is simply because they expend so much effort and energy throughout the day attending to worldly matters, they find there is no inner peace and they become desperate. There is desperation everywhere. As society becomes more and more affluent, you will see people becoming more and more distressed, desperate and hopeless. Like never before we have comforts outside, but like never before we are uncomfortable inside.

Peaceful Possibilities: Forces of love/compassion and anger/hate are always functioning in the world. It is a seesaw game. The question is, which end of the seesaw do you want loaded? If we are really on the brink of a terrible situation, it is all the more important that the spiritual process is applied more vigorously. Ultimately that is the only thing that can maintain sanity in the world.

Spiritual Liberation: The very process of spirituality–and really the whole of spirituality–is to become in such a way that if I just sit here, I’m complete by myself. I don’t need to become anything or make myself into something else. If I simply sit here, all the world is within me. I am so absolute that all existence is within me.

Universal Consciousness: That which is unbounded, that which is omnipresent, cannot be understood with the mind. It can only be experienced. You can merge with it, you can be one with it, you can experience the joy of being with it, but it is not something that you can grasp with your mind. If people really want to know the truth, they must come to terms with what they do not know. It’s difficult for people to say “I don’t know,” but “I don’t know” is the only beginning for knowledge.

The Nature of Mind: The mind is fluid; you can make anything out of it. How it is shaped simply depends on how it is influenced. You have accumulated this mind in bits and pieces. Your mind is just your background. Consider what kind of family, education, religion, nation, society and world you’re living in. That’s the kind of mind you have.

Awareness: Now, what faculty do you have to look into yourself? You look at the mind with the mind. One part of the mind is looking at another part of the mind and trying to correct it. That will never happen. The mind is like a thief. It will go on deceiving you. It will create the problem; it will offer the solution. It will take the solution and create a deeper problem. It is an endless trick. So looking inward you need some other kind of faculty. You need to evolve something else within you.

Meditation: Unfortunately meditation is being handled like it is a technique. In Isha yoga meditation is not taught as a technique. It is a way of empowering a person to become naturally meditative, because meditation is not an act, it is a quality. You can become meditation; you cannot do meditation.

In this society the word meditation doesn’t mean anything anymore. If somebody is sitting with their eyes closed, in English we say they’re meditating. With your eyes closed, you could be doing so many things. There is japa [ recitation of mantras ], tapa [ asceticism ], dharana [ continuous concentration, one-pointedness ], dhyana [ meditation ], samadhi [ equanamous mind when the subject and object merges ], shoonya [ conscious non-doing ], or you might have simply perfected the art of sleeping in a vertical posture. When I say meditation, I’m referring to dhyana. Dhyana is about attaining to the absolute stillness within you. When you’re totally still, all that you have thought about yourself until now will evaporate. There is a clear space inside of you that is not of the mind but is beyond the mind. You have transcended the duality of the mind and you are absolutely still.

Meditation is the only way to freedom from all the stress that man is going through because this dimension of life is not of the mind. All the stress and struggle of this world is of the mind.

Sadhguru has served as delegate to the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, the Alliance for the New Humanity, and is an active supporter of the World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. His initiatives for world peace and his outreach programs for life-term prisoners, impoverished children and rural rejuvenation in southern India are internationally renowned.

Over the past decade, Sadhguru’s programs have impacted people from all walks of life, cutting across boundaries of gender, race, nationality, and religion. Today, Isha yoga flourishes as a transformational practice for participants from all over the world.

Discourse on 28th aug – Final part

September 1, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Sloka 19:

The knowledge of “Atman” is called “Paramartha”. If we desire to see God, we struggle to see God. How do we do it? The tremendous desire to know God should come into the mind. Once this comes in, desire for petty things go off.

Neither anything nor any person exists apart from the “Brahman”. It’s the truth of the “Brahman”. You must be able to see God in samadhi and outside world also. There are many in the outisde world shrouded under the cover of names and forms. What does it matter if a person is from a certain caste, certain religion, etc.? This is a higher state of mind. Hence Swami Vivekananda called Americans as “Brothers and Sisters” during a time when people from overseas were called “untouchables” or vaishyas!

You should be able to see God with both open and closed eyes. God is inside and outside as well. As long as we refuse to recognize the “Atman” of other people, we haven’t achieved a higher state of mind. Unless we have realized the highest truth we will keep coming back to this world. He that sees many in this world of one is still in ignorance.

(As told by Swami Gautamananda in the discourse on “Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” Chapter 4, Section 4, on 28th August, Sunday at RK Math, Mylapore, Chennai)

We shall continue this discourse in the early part of next week.

Tomorrow: Character building Religion