Sometimes when I give too much importance to my emotions then I see the quality of my life deteriorating. Activity of the mind becomes uncontrollable. Closing eyes seems to take you to the heart of the matter but only to increase the activity further. How do we break free from our tendency to identify ourselves with thing that we clearly know we aren’t?
In every human being, there is an aspiration to become better, more loving and more concerned about one another and the planet. But people are trying to work towards it from the wrong end. People are trying to be loving, they are trying to be good. When you look at yourself, if you are happy and joyful, naturally you are a very loving, generous, wonderful human being. This is true for everybody. On the other hand, when you are in a state of unhappiness, frustration or any other sense of unpleasantness within yourself, you may be nasty. There is no point trying to be loving, trying to be pleasant to somebody else.
Yesterday my colleague and I had a longish discussion on ‘free will’ and ‘determinism’ (Ok ok, don’t close the window, they are in fact the world’s way of communicating simple things. Look at these links  and . Don’t read in detail – just the first couple of lines will give you an idea of what they mean) and his conclusion was that ‘Illusion of free will is necessary for society to carry on’. Okay so at a fundamental level I don’t believe in either of them. And no this is not going to be a long post about my philosophy and all that. Just a word on how my experience transcended both the above-mentioned concepts!
To get to what is beyond our comprehension is not impossible. The technology is available. It’s our perception that needs to go beyond. “What is Real?”, as Morpheus asks in Matrix. See this video to get a clearer understanding of what spiritual leaders have been saying all through the existence of civilization:
There was a yoga course that I did in September 2005. Today I attended the first class of another programme by the same foundation. It is a good foundation to be involved with an enlightened guru leading the way – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. I had a couple of posts [1,2] on Sadhguru in the past. Yet to have the privilege of meeting him face to face. His CDs and DVDs are a very influential source by itself. I can imagine meeting him must be quite an experience of energy.
It was the year 1996. Hyderabad was the city. The then CM Chandrababu Naidu was on a Hyderabad beautification spree. One of the main items on his agenda was road widening. Too many encroachments and the roads had become too narrow for the growing volume of traffic. If he wanted investment to come into Hyderabad he had to make the infrastructure attractive and make it easier for people to move around within the city.
During his road widening spree, there was one thing that he religiously followed. He would go around demolishing everything in the way of his proposed wide road except places of religious worship. It could be a temple, mosque, church or a gurudwara, he would just leave alone that area of the road that’s covered by the structure and convert it into a roundabout. He did that to respect the beliefs and sentiments of the religions involved. He did not want to arouse riots in the city because of relocating a structure of religous belief. He never thought about demolishing any of them.
I only wonder why our central Government cannot have an ounce of sense while deciding to go ahead in demolishing the Rama Sethu (Adam’s Bridge)! It is connected too deeply to the sentiments of the Hindu religion. It is considered to be the bridge built by the vanarasena for Rama to cross over the sea to Lanka to bring back his kidnapped wife Sita.
Now questions like: Whether the bridge was really built by man or not? (Technically, the question should be ‘whether the bridge was really built by monkeys or not?’) OR Whether Rama existed or not? OR any other such inane question is irrelevant. Rama is a Hindu God and he needs to be respected for it. If there is something in this world that can be connected to people’s faith about Rama then it needs to be respected. You cannot go and demolish it straightaway. Apart from the sentiments, faith and belief of the Hindus, you also need to consider various other points.
In my opinion, the Government would be committing political harakiri by going ahead with the demolition. Even the US wants to preserve the Rama Sethu. [Link] And TN CM Karunanidhi (He leads a party called DMK that’s a part of the coalition government at the centre) isn’t quite helping matters by releasing statements like these. “Who’s Ram?”, he asks. Hey Ram!
I have had this debate with many people for long. I had always advocated tolerance towards all religions if not acceptance. But recent developments have left me and my faith in such a philosophy questioned. And as always, it is again Islam under the scanner.
More than the feeling of my philosophy being questioned I am wondering if I was totally wrong in the first place itself. As in was I wrong to include Islam in my list of ‘all’ religions to be tolerated? Were my friends who strongly opposed every bit of the religion right?
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.
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.