Friday, 26 September 2014

who is the doer of actions ?


Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 7  part 7  

The  Gita  revisited  

Who  is  the  doer of  actions  ?

                     In  the  presence  of  the  sun,  the  earth  rotates   and  all  activities  in the  world  take  place  . The  sun  is  in no way  affected  by  anything that  happens  to the  earth  or  to  any  individual living  in the  world.  Similarly  , it  is  in the  presence  of the  Self  that  all  actions  take  place  . The  Self  is  the  silent  witness  and  is  never  the  doer  of  actions  and  neither  does  it  get  affected  by  anything  done by the  instruments  of  action  namely  the  body, senses  mind , 

                  The  laws  of  nature  govern  this  universe  . It  is  the  nature  of  the  earth  to  rotate   around  its  own  axis   and  to  revolve  around  the  sun  . It  is  the  nature  of  water  to  flow  , fire  to  burn  and  so  on. Similarly, it  is  the  nature  of  the  gunas  to  act  upon the  gunas  -  guna  guneshu  varthanthe  says  the  Lord  , which  compel  an  individual  to  do  sattvika,  rakasika  or  tamasika  actions. . It  is  the  nature  of  the  vasanas  to  prompt  the  individual   to  do  actions  which  produce  results  , which  again  create  more  desires  leading  to  fresh  actions  . This  cycle  of   vasanas - desires- actions- results  - fresh   impressions   and  more  desires  - actions  and  so  on  goes  on and  on  life  after  life  until  one  gets  liberated   from  ignorance  .  

                All  actions  take  place  in the  presence  of  the  Self  . It  is  due  to  ignorance  of  one's  true  nature  that  one  comes  to  identify  oneself  with  the  instruments  of  action  and  one  transfers  the  activities  on  to  the  Self  and  thus  becomes  the  doer  of  actions  and  the  enjoyer  of  results . The  Realised  Master  knows  that  he  is  the  infinite  Self   and   not  the  finite  body-mind-intellect   and  knows  that  the  Self  neither  does  actions,nor  prompts  actions  nor  prompts  others  to  do  actions. 

to  be  continued...

Friday, 19 September 2014

akartha and abhoktha


 Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section  7 part 6 

The  Gita  revisited

The  non -doer  Self  

          I  deeply  believe  that  I  am  the  doer  of  all  actions  -seeing,  hearing,  enjoying , thinking  and  so  on. It  is  simply  impossible  for  me  to even  imagine  myself  as  the  non-doer  Self. I  have  been  identifying  in the  past  and  I  continue  to  identify  myself  in the  present  with  my  body, mind  and  intellect  , so  the  chasm  between  the  doer  Self  and  the  non-doer  Self  seems  unbridgeable  . We  have  seen  earlier,  the  Lord  prescribes  the  performance  of actions  with  the  attitude  that  I  am  only  an  instrument  in the  hands  of  the  Lord  , that  He  is  the  primary  doer  , I  being  only  a  secondary  doer. . When  I  carry  this  attitude  with  me  while  performing actions  , I  become  a  mere  channel  for  God's  Will  to  actualise  . 'Thy Will  be  done  ' is  the  attitude  a  karma  yogi  carries  in and  through  all  his  actions. 
           This  attitude  of  being  the  instrument  of  the  Lord's  Will  , helps  us  to  remove  all  pride  and  selfishness  , personal  likes  and  dislikes  . Such  a  mind becomes  ready  for  realising  the  non- doer  Self. . The  Self  is  akartha  and  abhoktha  . ,  neither  the  doer  of  actions  nor  the  enjoyer  of  the results  of  actions. . The  Self  neither  wields  the  instruments  of  actions- the  body, senses , mind, nor  prompts  the  individual  to  do  any  action,  nor  creates  the  results  , nor  connects  the  results  with  the  individual  . The  Self  does  not  do  any  action- good  or  bad  , neither  is  it  the  sinner  or  the  meritorious  individual.

           The  Self  is  the  witness  consciousness  in  whose  presence  all  actions  , good  , bad  or  ugly , happen . The  Self  is  never  the  doer  of  actions  and  ever  remains  unaffected  by  the  actions  that  take  place  in its  presence. . The  Self  is  never  the  enjoyer  of  the  results  of  actions  . Success  or  failure  ,  honour  or  dishonour  , accolades  or  brickbats  , do not produce   joy  or  sorrow  on  the  non-doer  Self. . Then  the  question  arises  , 'Who  is  the  doer  of  actions  ?.  Answers  in the  next  page  !

to  be  continued....

Friday, 12 September 2014

The three obstacles


Practical  steps  to spirituality -  section 7  part 5  

The  Gita  revisited  

The  three  obstacles .

          In    the  pursuit  of  spiritual  knowledge  , a  sincere seeker  does  face  certain  obstacles  and  he  has  to  guard  himself  against  falling  into  their  trap. . The  three  obstacles  that  he  would  have  to guard  himself   from ,are  ignorance,  being  faithless  and  doubting  .  The  scriptures  declare  that  the  one  who  is  ignorant,  faithless  and  doubting  can  never  attain  the  highest  goal  of  human  life - that  of  the  realisation  of  the  Self. 

          The  ignorant  person  has  a  firm  belief  that  he  is  the   finite body  and  that  the  goal  of  human  life  is  to  eat, drink  and  be  merry   ,for  tomorrow  he  might  die  and  that  he  is  the  finite  mortal  being. . He  sees  no  higher  purpose  or  goal  in  life.  The  faithless  denies  the  existence  of  God  but  he  does  have  faith  in  his  own  intellect  which  denies  the  existence  of  God  . Scriptures  say  that  the  one  who  has  no  faith  in  the scriptures,  the  Guru  ,  or  in the  existence  of  God  ,cannot  realise  God  or  Truth.  Lastly, the  one  who  doubts  the   very existence of  God  ,  or  the  scriptures  as  the  valid  source  of  knowledge  (    a  pramana  )  ,  or  doubts  the  ability  of  the  Guru  to  impart  spiritual  knowledge  , does  not  gain  doubt free  knowledge. The  doubter  falls  in between  the  believer  and  the  non- believer   and  is  not  sure   if  God  exists  or  does  not  exist. 

            The  Guru  gives  the  shishya  the  liberty  to  question  , enquire  and  get  all  his  doubts  cleared  so  that  his  knowledge  becomes  firm  and  doubt  free. Vedanta  does  not  expect  the  student  to  accept  the  information  provided  by  the  teacher  as  a  gospel  truth  only  because  the  knowledge  is  being  given  by  the  teacher  himself. . A  student  is  expected  to  verify  each  and  every  word  that  is  presented  to  him  all  for  himself  ,so  that  it  becomes  a  living  truth  for  him and  finally  takes  him  to  the  road  to  realisation  of  the  Self.  While  the  ignorant  , the  faithless  and  the  doubting  remain  agitated   and  unhappy  and  can  never  make  any progress  whatsoever  spiritually  , the  one   who  is  doubting  by  nature  destroys  himself .

to  be  continued.....


Monday, 8 September 2014

Approaching the Guru


Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 4 

The  Gita  revisited  

Approaching  the  Guru  

                           Is  a  Guru  needed  ?  Only  a  Guru  can  remove  our  ignorance  by  imparting  knowledge  of  the  Self. . The  Guru  should  be  a  '  Shrotriya  Brahma  Nishta  " . It  is  said  that  a  Guru  appears   to  fulfill  the  sincere seeker's  thirst  for  knowledge. Only  a  qualified  shishya  can  gain  Self- knowledge  which  is  subtle    and  therefore  this  knowledge  has  to  be  imparted  by  a competent  Guru   to  a  competent   student , who is  fit  to  receive  this  knowledge. . A  student  should  approach  the  Guru  with  the  following  right attitude. 

                      Pranipatena  is  the  first  thing a  student  should  do  on  approaching  a  Guru. . He  falls  at  the  feet  of  the  master  (  dandavat)  , and  this  shows  total  surrender  and  humility  on his  part. . Secondly , he  should  be  ready  to  do  Seva  to  the  Guru  whom  he  loves  and  respects. . He should  receive  the  knowledge  imparted  exactly  as  it  is  given    by  the  Guru  without  any  distortions  . . Paripreshnena  ,  asking  meaningful  questions  relevant  to  the  subject  of  enquiry  on  Self  - knowledge  by  the  student  is  important. . A  student  should  not  ask  stupid  questions  out  of  curiosity  or  about  worldly  matters  . We  have  seen  in  the  first  chapter  ,while   Arjuna  was  pouring  out  his  grief  , the  Lord  did  not  start  His  discourse  . It  was  only  in the  second  chapter  , when  Arjuna  approached  the  Lord  as  a  disciple   and  surrendered  and  asked  for  knowledge  that  the  Lord  taught  the  Gita  to  him  .

                 A  few  more  fine  attunements  are  needed  by  the  student  when  he has  approached  the Guru.  He  should  have  complete  faith  , shraddha  , in the  validity  of  the  scriptures   as  pramana,  faith in the  existence  of  God  , faith  in  the  Guru's  ability  to  impart  this  knowledge  and  lastly  he  should  have  faith  in  his  own  ability  to  understand  and  gain  this  knowledge  . . The  Lord  says  "  shraddhavan  labathe  jnanam. "  .  " Faith  in  the  greatness  of  the  Guru  could  be  the  saving  Grace  for  one  who has  no  faith  in the  existence  of  God  ,   the  scriptures or    himself " says  Adi  Sankara  .The  student  must  be  ready  to  carry  out  the  wishes  of  the  Guru   and    to  act  on  what  he  has  understood.   Gaining  Self  - knowledge  involves  preparing  one's  mind  through  spiritual  practices  and  thereafter  through  sravana,  manana  and  nidhidhyasana  , one  gains  this  knowledge. . Lastly  , it  also  becomes  important  for  the  disciple    to  learn  to  control  his  senses  ,so that  he  can  focus  his  mind  on the goal  of  Self - Realisation.

to be  continued....

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The highest yajna


Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 3  

The  Gita  revisited  

The  highest  yajna. 

             Lord  Krishna  glorifies  Self- knowledge  as  the  best  and  the highest  among   all  spiritual  practices that were talked  of  in the previous page. . All  yajnas  , except  Brahma  yajna  , are  only  indirect  means   to  Realisation   as  they  all  give only    purity  of  mind  to  the  seeker  to  make  him fit  to walk the  path  of  knowledge. It  is  only  Brahma  yajna  that  leads  the  seeker  directly  to  Self- Realisation. Brahma  yajna  is  that  spiritual  practice  that  involves  the  offering  of  oneself  into  the  fire  of  the  Supreme  Truth  (  Brahman  ). . The  seeker  meditates  on  Brahman  as  being  one  with  the  Pure  Self   and  this  meditation  finally  leads  one  to  the  Realisation  ,"  aham  brahma  asmi  ".

           We  find  that  all  spiritual  practices  involve  both  knowing  and  doing. , while  Self- knowledge  involves  only  knowing  which  ends  all  ignorance  prompted  doings. In  Self  - knowledge  , there  is  no  becoming  , only  being  what  you  already  are. In  most  spiritual  practices  , like  bathing  in  the  Ganges  washes  away  our sins   but  the  sinner  still  remains  , whereas  Self  - knowledge  washes  away  even  the  sinner  - the  doer  of  the  sins. . There  remains  no  doer  to  commit  any  more  sins. . All  actions  fructify  into  results  leading  to  more  desires  and  then  more  actions  while    Self  knowledge  puts  an  end  to  all  actions  and  all  results  and  the  concomitant  vasanas  get  exhausted. 

          Man  commits  sins  time  and  again  , since  he  continually  does  actions  both  good  and  bad. . Some  sins  seem  too  strong  to  be  washed  away  . Self - knowledge  on the  other  hand  , helps  us  cross  the  ocean  of  actions   as  both  good  and  bad  still  accrue  only  to  the  doer.  , the  Self  being  the  non- doer  is  beyond  sin  and  merit   and  so  no  sin  or  merit  accrue  to  the  Self  . We  all  know  that  a  sinner  like  Ratnakar  could  transform  into  the  sage  Valmiki  only  through  Self  -knowledge. 

to  be  continued....