Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Only a rare few seek spiritual knowledge

HARI  OM 

Practical steps to spirituality - section 7 part 31

The Gita revisited  

Only a rare few seek  spiritual knowledge 

                        In  the  modern  times  , we find  that  we can  get  along with others, build a successful career,  get  married  and  carry  on lots  of activities  , all  these  even  without   having  any  spiritual  knowledge. So  no one feels  the need  to  pursue  the path of knowledge   to meet  their  daily  needs  .  Hence  as  and when  someone gets  interested  in spirituality  ,we  call them  escapists   or  failures  in life. . Yet a few  others  who  understand  the  importance  of this  pursuit   think  that  this  pursuit can  be taken  when  they retire  from active  life  because  they  will then have  nothing else  to do in life.  And  some  others  give  importance  only  to the performance  of  rituals  without ever  enquiring    why they  are doing them  .

                      There are a rare few  who  are not  satisfied  with  the philosophy  of 'eat, drink and make merriment  ',but want  to know  the answers  for  many  questions  regarding themselves, the world, and  God   and whether  there is a  higher  purpose  in life  ,if  so  , what  .  They are the  ones  that  seek  spiritual  knowledge   ,as  Lord  Krishna  tells  in the  Gita  that  they  have  carried  forward  their  quest from their  previous  lives. and  are born  in conducive  environments  and  families  to continue their journey forward .. Even if a few get interested  in the pursuit of Truth  , we might say  ,may be only a few come to know God.  This could be because  the  others are not blessed  with the right Guru to lead them in the right direction  ,even  if they have had an interest in this pursuit. Or  may  be  ,half way through their  journey  ,they  got distracted  and  had squandered  the available time  and energy  in  worldly pursuits  . Some  in the course  of the spiritual journey  do sometimes  develop  some  extraordinary  powers  (  siddhis  )  but get carried away  by  exhibiting these powers  to gain  popularity   and  the  truth remains that their spiritual  growth  stops then and there.  So  it  is the  rarest  of the rare  that  is endowed  with the  capacity and  sincerity  to  make the  real  efforts  to reach  the  ultimate  destination.

                      Those  of  us  who are  already  in the pursuit of Truth   and  have the  blessings and  guidance  of  the  Guru   , I do not see  any reason why  we cannot   attain  Self-knowledge  in this very  life. . Let  us  not  waste  this  precious  human  life  gifted  to  us     in seeking  worldly pleasures  . Let us keep  reminding ourselves  that the  only mission  in life  is to know  ' who  I  am  '.Let  us  make  a strong  new year  resolution   in 2015  to  keep  this  fire  , the  urge  to get  moksha  , burning  withing  our bosom   ,so  that  all  our  activities  will  be directed  only  towards  reaching  our  ultimate destination.    I  wish  all  readers  a successful  journey  in this  direction   in the  coming year   

to be continued....
                                                                                                                                            

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Jnana and vijnana

HARI  OM  

Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 30 

The Gita revisited 

Jnana  and vijnana  

                 Some  great thinkers  opine  that  the  Gita is divided  into three  sections   which  explain the  mahavakya  "  That  thou art  ". The  first six chapters  explain  the  term  "  thou  "  ,  the  next  six chapters  about  "  That  '  and  the  last  six chapters   explain  the term  " art  "  , the  relation between   the thou and   That  . . So  it becomes  important  for the seeker  of  knowledge  to  know  about  himself, who  he  is,  what  is  his  identity  and  what are his  duties  and  so  on. . Then  it becomes  important  to  know about the  world  he lives in.  and  finally  it becomes  important  to  know  about  the  nature  of  God  and  what does  He  do    and  His  relation with the  world   he has  created   and  with the  individuals  . In  short  , spirituality tries  to find an answer  about  the  individual (  jiva  ),  the  world  (  jagat  )  and  God  (  Iswara  ).  Lord  Krishna  promises  Arjuna  in the  beginning  of the seventh chapter  that  He  would  impart  total  knowledge  (  jnana  )  and  wisdom (  vijnana  ) about  Himself   and   the  world   and  knowing  which  nothing  more  remains  to  be  known  by the  seeker. 

                 Jnana  is  knowledge  or  information  about  all  aspects  of a topic  , vijnana  is  giving  a  deeper  insight  into the  topic. Jnana  is   general    knowledge  ,while  vijnana  is  specific  knowledge   like  a  general  physician   having a general  knowledge about medicine   and a  specialist  having specialised knowledge  about   say  eye,  nose  and so on  . . Jnana  is  scriptural  knowledge   and  living that  knowledge  becomes  vijnana  . . Jnana  is  knowledge  of  the various  aspects  of the  world  , but  to  know  it  along  with its  ultimate  cause   is  vijnana. . While  jnana  is  to know  that  God  exists  , vijnana  is  going one step  further  to  know  that  He  and  I  are  essentially  one .. Jnana  is to know that  God  is the  ultimate cause  ,vijnana  is  to realise  that  I am  that  infinite  Self  , the  ultimate  cause  . Thus  jnana  is  just the  intellectual  understanding   of who  I am  ,while  realising  myself  as  That  is  vijnana  . . Once we  know  both  jnana  and  vijnana  , there remains  nothing  more  to  be  known like  knowing  that  all  gold  ornaments  are made  of gold  , one  automatically  comes  to  know  the  toe ring, ear ring,  the  nose ring  and  so  on as  gold  only. 

to  be  continued....     

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Listening to the Guru

HARI  OM 

Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 29

The  Gita  revisited. 

Listening to the Guru 

                          Lord  Krishna  is  urging  Arjuna  to truly listen  to  the Lord's  teaching  . Listening  directly  to the  Guru's  words  is  very important  in the  spiritual path even in the present times , even  though  CDs  , e- classrooms  , online  learning   are  all  available  to  the  modern  student of Vedanta. . Yet  they can never  take the place  of   listening directly  to the  words  that  come from the Guru sitting   in front  of  him . Vedanta  deals  with  subtle  subjects  and  only a  Guru  can explain  the  correct  meanings  of  the  scriptures  ,so  that the  student  comes to  understand  them  in the  proper way. 

                         Scriptures  say  that  even  mere listening  with a prepared  mind  can  lead  to  Realisation  of  the Truth. (  sravana  matrena  jnanam  bhavati  )  . Towards  the  end  of the  Gita  , we  find  Arjuna  confessing  to  the  Lord   after  listening  to the  Gita  that  his  doubts  have  been  dispelled,  and his ignorance  and delusions  have  been  destroyed. . Hence  sravana  is a very important   subtle  spiritual  practice  (  antaranga  sadhana  )  . It  is said in the scriptures  that  manana  and   nidhidhyasana   are needed  only  when  realisation  does not take  place   through sravana  . . Such  is the  power  of listening  to  the  Guru.  I have  understood  the  importance  of listening directly to the Guru's words  from my own  experience  with   Gurus  while  attending vedanta classes  in Mumbai   and  I now continue to attend  Upanishad classes  . I can write  with confidence  that  before I met my Gurus  ,when  I was doing  self study,  my knowledge  of the scriptures  was only superficial  and  sometimes  I even  misunderstood  certain facts  discussed  in the  scriptures.  I am indeed  indebted  to  my Gurus   for guiding me in the right path  and helping me understand   the texts  without any  misunderstandings  

                    Listening  to the  Guru  requires  the  student  to  listen  with an open  mind   and with good  intentions  to understand   and  realise  the  Truth  . Secondly  ,he  should  be  ready  to  do what all  needs to be  done  to  understand  the teaching  to realise the Truth . Thirdly  , he should have  love  for  the  knowledge   and  the  teacher   and  lastly   a great  respect  for the  knowledge   and  faith in the  teacher.

  to  be  continued.....  

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sama darshana

HARI  OM 

Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part  28

The Gita revisited

Sama darshana 

                 A man  of perfection has sama darshana  , the  vision of oneness  for  all of  God's creations  . He  is a realised master who sees  the  infinite Self  in all  and  all  in the Self.  And  because  he has  realised  his  oneness  with all  , he now has the  vision  to  see  God  in all  and all  in  Him  . . He  speaks  but little  but whether  he is in solitude  or  amongst a crowd  ,his  mind  is  always  centred  in the Self . Since he identifies himself with all,  he  considers others joys and sorrows  as  his  own . He  gives  due respect  to all  , never  hurting  or  harming others  even  verbally. . He  has the  vision  of  equanimity, equality and  balance.

               For an  ordinary man  on the  street  , his  joys  and  sorrows  depend  on others  , on  the  circumstances  he  is  placed  , while  a  man  of perfection  remains  calm and poised  under all  circumstances  of  his  life. . He  does  not put a subjective  value  on  things  as  he sees  things  as they are. . He  remains  totally  unaffected  by the  presence  or  absence  of  things  or  people  around  him. . He  has  no  preferences  ,hence  he  accepts  all  that  he  comes  across  in life  . . He  gives  importance  to  each  and  everything  that  he  uses  in his  daily  life's  activities   and  gives  due respect  even  to  objects  of  daily  use. . Human  relationships  are   complicated  ,hence  difficult  to  maintain .. But  that is  not  so  for a man  of perfection. He  has  total  acceptance  of  all  the  events  that  happen  in his  life  (  he  still  has  to  go through  his  prarabda  karma  )   and  of  all  people  he  has  to  deal  with  in the  course  of  his  life's  activities. . He  has  total  acceptance  of  all  and  has  no  prejudices  or  expectations  from anyone  . He  is  a happy  man  who loves and respects  all.

to  be  continued....

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Why do good people suffer ?

HARI  OM  

Practical  steps to spirituality- section 7 part  27

The Gita revisited 

Why do good people suffer ?

                                 Let us first examine  what we really  mean  by flourishing  and suffering . . For the man  on the street  , flourishing and suffering mean the presence  or absence  of worldly comforts  , pleasures, name,  fame,  power or possessions  . The general  belief  is that  good people suffer  and bad people prosper   and  that  it is not necessary  to do  or  be  good  . 

                                 A person who values  good , feels  good  by doing good deeds  . For such a person  compromising  with the values  he cherishes  would amount  to  suffering  . . We  all  are familia with  the story  of the  child  Prahlad  . Even  though  he  was  tortured  by his  father  by various means  for taking the  Lord's name , yet  for  him  forsaking  the  Lord's  name  would have been  a greater  suffering. . In  India's  independence  movement  , thousands  went through  great  suffering  , but  for  them  to remain as  slaves  under the  British  amounted  to  a greater  suffering. 

                           If a  person expects  comforts  , pleasures  and  recognition  from  his  goodness  then  it  means  that he  does not have  real  value  for  goodness  but  only  for  all  the  comforts, pleasures  and recognition he  cherishes  . Such a person is not really  good  but  only  seemingly  good   and  he  might even  be willing to  make  compromises  with  values.  Such a  person  is  not  good  enough  or  a  potentially  bad  person. . The  potentially  bad person  suffers  when  he  has to make  compromises   in trying  to  be  good  . 

                       Every person under the sun   faces  problems  whether  he  is  good  or  bad. Each person has   to go through  the  result  of all  his past   good and bad karmas . Hence  whether  one  is good  or bad  now,  he  has  to  go through   conducive  or  non- conducive  situations  in life  . His  good  actions  in the  present  do not cancel  out  his  past  bad  actions  .and  hence he has to go through  the  sufferings  for  his  past bad actions. . The  important  point  we  seekers  must  remember  is  that  by  being  good  in the present  helps  to face  bad situations with courage  . Lord Krishna  urges  us    to  be  good  and  do  good  . The  good we  do   is never  lost  ,says the  Lord. and  the  bad  we  do  is  also  never  lost   and  will  come  back  to  visit  us  for  sure. 

to  be  continued.....

Sunday, 14 December 2014

he continues from where he left

HARI  OM  

          Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 26

The  Gita revisited

He  continues from where he left 

               Arjuna wants  to know what happens  to a person ,though possessed  of faith  but  cannot  control his mind   and  what happens  to him when  the  mind has fallen  away from yogic  practice  ,without having reached  its perfect state  . Arjuna wants  to  know  if  that person has lost  in his pursuit  of  his goal  of Self- Realisation  ,like  a wandering  cloud , with no  solid footing  in either this  world  or in the  other  . In short  ,what  happens  to a person  who  is  short  of  achieving his  goal  in this  life  ,is  what  Arjuna  is  curious  to  know from the  Lord. 

             The  Lord  says  that  such a  person's  sincere efforts  never goes waste  . A   sincere seeker  is  anxious  to  know  what  will  happen  to  him  ,who has  given  up  all  pleasures  and  comforts   to  attain the  bliss  within  but  nevertheless   does not  attain  the  goal  of  Self  - Realisation  , would he  be  losing  both  the  worlds  . The  second  anxiety  of  the seeker  is  if  he  happens  to  die  before  attaining  his  goal  ,will  all  his  efforts  go waste  .   and  thirdly  ,if  he were  to get distracted  from the  path of meditation  due to  some  external  or  internal reasons  , will  all  the  efforts  undertaken  all  through  his  life  become  useless  . 

               The  Lord  says  that  nothing   that he does   in the  here and  now   or  has  done  in the  past   is  ever  lost  . He   continues  his spiritual  journey  from where he left  in his  previous  life. Nature  helps  him   by  making him  take  birth  in such a  place  and  family  ,where  all  circumstances  are  conducive  for  the  continuation  of  his spiritual  journey  . He  is  born   in a   pious or  aristocratic family  or  he  may  be born  in a  family  of wise people  . The  circumstances  of his  life  then  help  him   to  regain the  yogic intelligence that was  cultivated  in his previous life   and  go on to  continue  once  again the  striving  for  perfection  . Due  to  his previous practice  , he  is  carried  along  in the  present  life  spontaneously   towards  his  goal  . The  Lord  says  by  constantly   trying   and  by controlling  his  mind  , the  yogi  purged  of  all  evil  impulses  in him   and  made perfect through  many  births  , finally  attains  the   supreme  goal  . 

to  be  continued....

Sunday, 7 December 2014

How to control the mind ?

HARI  OM 

Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 25

The Gita revisited 

How  to control the  mind ?

                We  have  seen  Arjuna  saying  to Lord Krishna  that  the  mind being restless  by  nature is  difficult to   be controlled. and  hence  how  can   such a  mind  meditate  on the  Self . The  Lord  had  given  certain  external  and inner  preparations  that  have  to  be  done  at  the  seat  of  meditation. . The  Lord  agrees  with  Arjuna  that  the  mind  is  restless  but  He  adds  that  it  is  difficult  to  be controlled     only by  one  whose  mind  is  not  in his  control  and  that  by  practice  and  dispassion  ,the  mind  can  be  brought  under  his control.  The  two  most  important  prerequisites  for  successful meditation   are  discrimination  (  viveka )  and  dispassion  (  vairagya  ). These  are  the two  wings  that  help  the  mind to  fly  high in meditation 

              By  a  diligent  practice  of  discrimination  , of  the  right  from the  wrong  , the real  from the  unreal and  owning up  our  true  essential  nature   and  through  detachment  from  what  we  are  not(  we  are  not  the  finite  being  which  we  falsely  believe  ourselves  to  be ), we  can  surely  make  progress  in  controlling  the  stubborn  mind  and  meditating  on the  Self. The  seeker  has  to  time  and  again  remind  himself  of  his  true  nature   and  through  studying,  reflecting   and  discussing  with  like  minded  people  the  Truths  given  out  in the  scriptures  , he  can  make  it a  habit  to  come  to  think  of  himself  as  an  infinite  being  . The  meditator  must  always  remain alert   to  keep  his  mind  peaceful  

           Restlessness  cannot  be  the  real  nature  of  our  mind  because  the  mind  does  get  to  enjoy  moments  of  peace  , calmness  and  concentration  . Restlessness  of the  mind  is  caused  by  anger, greed  , jealousy  and  so  on  ,while  compassion  and  love  make  the  mind   calm and  peaceful. . For  all  practical  purposes  , we  can  make  an  inventory  of  all  the  situations  in our  life  that  create  agitations  in our  mind  and  then  learn  to  deal  with  them  in a  positive  way ,so  that  our  mental  agitations  get reduced  and  the  mind  then learns  to  remain peaceful  free  from   all  agitations 

to  be  controlled 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

causes for mind's restlessness

HARI  OM  

Practical  steps to spirituality- section 7 part 24

The Gita revisited

Causes  for mind's restlessness.

                   The  mind  becomes  restless  due  to  some  of the  following reasons. . When  we lose our objectivity   and come  to  identify  with a  thought, the  mind  then gets  agitated  . As  long as  we can  view  events  and  circumstances  of  life  objectively  ,we  remain  calm  but  the  moment  we lose  objectivity  and  come  to  identify  ourselves  with  people  and situations   , restlessness  in the  mind.gets created. . Secondly  ,the  mind  comes to justify  all  our  negative  thoughts  and  in  the  process  we  strengthen them  and  create  restlessness  in the  mind. . Thirdly  ,when  the  mind , like  a  child  constantly  condemned ,  loses  its  self  confidence   and  turns  rebellious  and  violent  . Lastly  a  mind  that  is  not  ready  to  face  its  own  weaknesses  tries  to  escape  from  facing  the truth  by  taking to  drugs  , alcohol   and  so  on  to  forget  itself. 

                   What  is  the  remedy  for  treating  the  mind  of  its  restlessness  ?. The  remedy  lies  first in  unconditional  acceptance  of  whatever  we  are   and  of  all  the  people  around  us  and  of  all  the  circumstances  in  our  life.  Only  this  cheerful  acceptance  can  calm the  mind  . Such a  quietened  mind  can  then  respond  to  life's  situations  in  a  positive  way. . We  should  train  our  mind  gently  but  firmly   to  listen  to  the  call of  our  intellect   and  remain alert  at  all  times. . Scriptures  advocate  spiritual  practices  like  japa  and  tapa  to  discipline  the  mind  . Each  one  of  us  has  to  find  out  the  best  possible  method  suitable  for  us  to  tackle  the  naughty  mind.  And  we  must  learn  to  practice  that  method  that  suits  us  to  quieten  our  mind  especially  in meditation. 

to  be  continued....