YogavAsiShTa vs. Bhagavad-Gita

A question that is often asked of me is why YogavAsiShTa is not as popular as Bhagavad-Gita.

[Frankly, I am not sure if that is true and if so why it is so. I spell out a few of my thoughts to start a healthy discussion.]

 In my own case, it was Bhagavad-Gita that I was first exposed to, even as a teenager, and it was much later in my life after my pate turned bald and the few hairs that remained acquired a silver gray hue, that I happened to study YogavAsiShTa. I can say with certitude that both books must have been equally present in my house when I was growing up with my parents. Could it be that my parents somehow conspired to see that I did not get access to read the YogavAsiShTa in my youth because of my mother’s apprehension or belief in an adage that was popular in those times that one who reads YogavAsiShTa would surely fling the family life and retire to a forest as a Sannyasi (renunciate)? Continue reading

Are There Signs of Realization?

Question: What are the signs of realization?

Answer: In Sanskrit a person who is ‘realized’ is called a jnani (someone who knows), or better yet, someone who has recognized that the truth of the individual self, and the truth of the entire world of name and form is one ‘thing’ alone.

One thing that is not a thing, not an object of cognition, yet intimately known as ‘I’—changeless, ever present, limitless, unaffected by the changing circumstances of duality, and at the same time, the underlying reality of all changing things. Continue reading

Q. 428 A dialog on getting to know brahman

Q: I’m struggling (a lot) with ‘believing in’ Brahman.

I realize the problems inherent in this struggle: (1) It’s probably futile in my early stage of Advaita studies; (2) Brahman is beyond mind, so any attempt to truly apprehend it is doomed to failure. And yet I persist. 😉

I can walk with Advaita Vedanta through all the Neti-ing – I/Truth am not this, not this – but when Advaita makes the leap to IS THIS … I shake my head and turn away. Brahman seems like an abstraction born of fear/uncertainty, like other similar abstractions such as Heaven, The Ground, The Truth, etc. (I am not saying I know that Brahman IS an abstraction born of fear, rather that it seems to me that it could be.)

So I keep looking for analogies, things I can/do or ‘believe in’ that might be similar enough to Brahman that I could relax into it a bit.

Today I thought: Perhaps Brahman is (quasi-)synonymous with Nature? Nature – ‘everything that is’ – is all-encompassing in a way that suggests Brahman to me. Science’s take on Nature is conceptual, but the essence of Nature is, I think, not conceptual.

So: ‘Everything that is’ + non-conceptual – this sounds Brahman-esque to me. Yes? No? Continue reading

Ramayana

This November, attend a stage production like no other! Chinmaya Mission UK brings you…The Ramayana. Through dazzling drama, dance and music, discover the mysticism and significance of one of India’s greatest epics. There will be three shows.

Dates/venues:
Leicester – Peepul Centre: Saturday 4 November 2017, 3.30-6.30pm
Central London – Logan Hall: Friday 10 November 2017, 7-10pm
Harrow – Elliot Hall: Sunday 19 November 2017, 3.30-6.30pm

More info at – www.ramayanaplay.com

Desire

There is one desire which is considered to be benign, and that is the desire for moksha. A person who desires moksha wants something to change. He or she does not know what moksha is but that person has recognized ‘the problem.’ Continue reading

Shirley Now

When I was a little girl, in summer camp, there was a game we play called, “The Wonder Ball.” I really enjoyed this game.

We would stand in a circle, and pass a large ball to the next person while singing this song:

“The wonder ball, goes round and round,
to pass it quickly you are bound.
If you’re the one to hold it last,
the game for you is Shirley Past.
You Are Out!” Continue reading

Q.407 Why not commit suicide?

Q: Since the world as perceived by our senses is mithyA, and we are Brahman, any suffering or pleasures that we derive during the ‘vishva’ or ‘taijasa’ state are mere illusions. As this realization dawns, I am forced to conclude  that living or dying (both concepts being associated with the vishva state) are meaningless.

Rather than meditating etc, and deciding to live life as it is with the knowledge that it is mithya, why shouldn’t someone just end his existence in this state? He is Brahman anyway and it doesn’t matter if he lives or dies in an illusory world borne out of his senses.
Rest assured, this is more of a rhetorical question, to understand if any of the proponents of vedanta have addressed this.

The very act of my writing to you is in itself irrelevant in the broader context.

A: This is the sort of question that Ramana or Nisargadatta would answer with the question ‘Who is asking?’

The point is that the world and its vicissitudes are real for the jIva. Hence the teachings about karma and rebirth. If the jIva ends his/her life before gaining Self-knowledge, there will be rebirth according to the accumulated karma. Also the pleasures and sufferings during waking and dreaming are not illusions; they are mithyA – a world of difference! It is only from the vantage point of absolute reality that you can say that living and dying are meaningless. The unenlightened do not commit suicide as a result of believing that their lives and the world are real. The enlightened do not kill themselves even though they know that their life as a jIva is not real. Indeed, they KNOW that their true self cannot be killed!