Belief versus Faith pending understanding

sraddha kidrsi? guruvedantavakyesu visvasaha sraddha

Of what nature is sraddha?  Trust in the words of the teacher and Vedanta is sraddha.

Quoting from Swami Dayananda’s commentary on the above verse from Tattvabodha:

Visvasa is trust, faith, in the words of Vedanta, vedanta-vakyesu.  What is that trust here?  That they are a pramana, a means of knowledge.  You give the status of pramana to the words of Vedanta.  You do not look at them as theory, speculation or philosophy, but take them as words that are an independent means of knowledge.  That is called visvasa.”

Dhanya’s thoughts:

This type of faith is considered to be one of the qualifications for the gain of self-knowledge. There is a beautiful saying in the Bhagavad Gita that Swamiji quotes a lot ‘shraddhavan labhate jnanam.’  (Chapter 4, verse 39). Continue reading

Ecstatic Spiritual Practices


293065_10151161696282265_71803492_n-2
Who doesn’t like to get high? Let’s face it getting high is what we human beings live for. Getting high can also be called getting happy. Getting very, very, very happy. People pursue a high in all sorts of ways, from negative ways like drinking alhohol and taking drugs, to more positive ways like spiritual practices such as ecstatic chanting and dance.

When we do spiritual practices like ecstatic chanting and dance we feel we are entering another ‘zone,’ a place that is not available to us in ordinary life. We may feel we are progressing on the spiritual path. We may even assume that the goal of spiritual life is to always feel as high, or even higher, than when we do when we engage in ecstatic practices. Continue reading

Q.345 – The Purpose of Life, part 4

Go to Meenakshi’s answer to this question

Part 4 – Dhanya’s answer to this question

Q345: What is the purpose of life?

 If, as stated in Advaita, we are actually in a state of sat-chit-Ananda and we are actually this ‘Self’ already, why have these ‘illusions’ and this ‘ignorance’?

 How can we believe in lila? What could be its purpose? There is no convincing answer – I am sure you will concur.

This then raises my more fundamental query. This ‘Self’ on which reams have been written – what is the proof that such a ’Self’ exists?

 The root problem is that in the end, even Advaitic teachings finally rely on ‘blind faith’ to put their point across. There’s nothing wrong in having faith. All religions ask for blind belief in the almighty to get you your promised ‘Kingdom of God’. It’s only in Advaita that folks try to push their case by saying: “No, it’s not pure faith, it’s by reason and discourse that we reach the truth etc”.

 To quote Gaudapada in his Mandukya Upanishad kArikA, “That which is stated in the scriptures ‘and is supported by reason’ is true  and nothing else”. The ‘reason/discourse’ argument for following Advaita is pure bunkum, in my opinion. It relies on blind faith not on a deity, but in an obscure ‘Self’.

 And even if reality is non-dual, why this seeming duality? Why does this mithyA of life exist? Continue reading

All One

When you have a dream at night, the dream comes from you, is sustained by you, and resolves into you; and yet when you wake up in the morning, nothing has happened to you.

Your being was the very being of the dream. The material of the dream was your being. Even the intelligence was your intelligence. Continue reading

If You Doubt You’re Out

More than 30 years ago I spent a brief time in a spiritual scene which had all the hallmarks of a cult. The leader famously used to say, “If you doubt you’re out.” What that statement meant was that if you voiced a doubt about the many questionable things that were going on, you would be forced to leave.

‘If you doubt you’re out’ is a kind of interesting statement in my opinion; and from the point of view of trying to understand that nature of reality the statement itself might be interpreted in different ways. Continue reading

The Ego

The following was written in reply to a correspondent of mine who observed that people often act from ‘a basic egoic condition.’

Although some people may occasionally criticize others for acting from ‘the basic human egoic condition.’ I think it’s important to understand that the ego–at least according to the teachings of Vedanta–isn’t a bad thing to have.

The basic human egoic condition in Vedanta is known as ‘self-ignorance,’ or in Sanskrit ‘ajnanam.’

It’s important to note that self-ignorance is considered to be a condition of birth and not the fault of anyone who has it. Everyone, every single living being has self-ignorance, or that being wouldn’t have been born in the first place. The only living beings that don’t have self-ignorance are the ones who have self-knowledge. And these are considered to be quite rare individuals.

What is the definition of the ‘ego’ in Vedanta. First of all it is known in Sanskrit as the ‘ahankara,’ the aham ‘I,’ kara ‘maker.’ The ego, or ahankara, is considered to be a type of thought, which is the hallmark of self-ignorance. Continue reading

What a Wonder!

The teachings of nonduality are very popular in the West these days. One of the reasons I feel many people are attracted to these teachings is because they assume the teachings circumvent or do away with the idea of ‘God.’ I mean if there is only one thing here, one thing that truly exists, that does way with the troublesome God concept, right?

The word God itself is used and defined so variously these days as perhaps to be rendered useless anyway. However, when one examines the dual world of experience, there is one thing that cannot be denied. It seems to be put together and functioning in an intelligent manner. Continue reading

Now, Now, Now

There is a picture that is making the rounds on Facebook of an old fashioned clock, and each number on the clock face is replaced by the word ‘Now.’

Although this is a fun picture to share, I wonder if in some ways it doesn’t give the wrong impression.

Is there a now, and then another now, and then another now, as if each now is different and separate from the other? Is there a now, now, now, which flows along in time and which changes, or in reality is there only the Now? Continue reading

One What?

Neem Karoli Baba, my first guru and inspiration on the spiritual path, famously said, “Sub ek,” which means ‘All one.’  I, as perhaps many of us, who heard and contemplated the phrase throughout the years, had my own concept of what that phrase meant.

Many drops, one ocean; many petals, one flower; many sunrays, one sun; many parts, one whole.

It was not until I encountered the teachings of Vedanta that I came to understand what Maharaji in fact most likely meant by ‘sub ek.’

From the perspective of the teachings of Vedanta, sub ek, does not mean many drops one ocean, what it means is the truth of the drops and the truth of the ocean is one alone.  One water.  The reality of the drops and the reality of the ocean is water.

It means that in reality there are not many separate things that actually exist.  There is only one thing that really and truly exists, upon which everything else depends for its apparent existence, and Tat Tvam Asi, You are That.

So what is this That, this one thing, that everything is and you are?

What is the one common denominator in the world of name and form?

Isness, existence.  In Sanskrit satyam.

Think about it.  Do you ever in your entire experience not exist?

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:  “There was never a time I did not exist, neither you, nor these kings.  Nor will any of us cease to exist in the future.”

(Chapter 2, verse 12)

Things—objects—which exist and are subject to coming and going in terms of time and space—come and go in existence itself.  That existence, which is only one and never ceases, that existence you are.

The recognition of one’s very being as that existence is called ‘jnanam’ or ‘self-knowledge.’   You are That right now, but take your Thatness to be a product of the body/mind, and it isn’t.

Is there ever a time you do not exist?  What is your experience?  You always are.

“Always I am (sat)

Always I shine (chit)

Never at any time am I not beloved to myself (ananda)

Therefore it is established that I am that One alone,

The meaning of the word satchitananda”

Advaita Makaranda (The Nectar of Nonduality) Verse 2