Vedanta the Solution – Part 51

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem by D. Venugopal

Part 51 explains the roles of action and knowledge in attaining mokSha. Shankara provides the reasoning why the function of karma is to purify the mind while j~nAna removes the ignorance that prevents the realization that we are already free.

There is a complete Contents List, to which links are added as each new part appears.

Q. 370 – nirvikalpa samAdhi

Q: Should a person have compulsorily experienced nirvikalpa-samādhi in order to know that he has a mind which is prepared for jñāna? In other words, is experience of nirvikalpa-samādhi a must as a sādhana?

Responses from VenkatMartinTed, Shuka and Dennis

A (Venkat): Nirvikalpa-samAdhi is an experience of the absence of objects, for a finite period of time, which the experiencer eventually exits to re-perceive the world.  As it is not permanent, it is not real.  Any temporary experience that is witnessed cannot be a pre-requisite for j~nAna – since j~nAna is the permanent dissolution of the illusory I-thought.

“Abiding permanently in any of these samadhis, either savikalpa or nirvikalpa, is sahaja. What is body consciousness? It is the insentient body plus consciousness. Both of these must lie in another consciousness which is absolute and unaffected and which remains as it always is, with or without the body consciousness. What does it matter whether the body consciousness is lost or retained, provided one is holding on to that pure consciousness? Total absence of body consciousness has the advantage of making the samadhi more intense, although it makes no difference to the knowledge of the supreme.” – Sri Ramana Maharshi Continue reading

Bhakti and j~nAna are the same

“Of all the means to liberation, devotion is the highest. To seek earnestly to know one’s real nature – this is said to be devotion.” – Shankara, Vivekachudamani.

“Devotion consists of supreme love for God. It is nectar. On obtaining it, man has achieved everything; he becomes immortal; he is completely satisfied. Having attined it, he desires nothing else. Having realized that supreme Love, a man becomes as if intoxicated; he delights only in his own intrinsic bliss.” – Narada, Bhakti Sutras.

Just as the Self and the soul cannot be separated one from the other, neither can j~nAnI and bhakti be spearated; though mutually exclusive, they co-exist as complements in everyone. And as our knowledge grows, we must learn to adapt our vision of the world to accept and embrace apparently contradictory views. We must learn to feel comfortable with the notion that a quantity of energy is both a wave and a particle; that our lives are determined, and that we are free; that our identity is both the Whole and the part. We are the universal Self; we are the one Consciousness – and we are also the individualized soul, which consists of the mind and its own private impressions. We are the Ocean – but we are also the wave.

The Supreme Self, Swami Abhayananda, O-Books. ISBN: 1905047452. Buy from Amazon US, Buy from Amazon UK. Review Link

Bhakti Is the Basis of Brahma-jnan

By Ted Schmidt

One of the chief critiques often hurled at Vedanta is that it is merely intellectual, that it is dry and devoid of heart. This critique, however, is wholly unjustified. In fact, the very foundation of Vedantic self-inquiry is bhakti, or devotion.

It should be understood, however, that truly speaking love, the purest form of which is devotion, is not in its essence the exhilarating emotion it is romantically portrayed as and in whose name intimate relationships of diverse character are universally pursued. Love is simply focused attention. On an exoteric level (i.e., within the context of vyavaharika satyam, the seemingly dualistic empirical reality), we love what we pay attention to. In other words, the focus of our attention betrays or indicates what we love. On an esoteric level (i.e., from the perspective of paramarthika satyam, absolute reality or pure awareness), we can simply say that we are love, that, in fact, love is all there is. For love is attention, and attention is awareness. And since what we are in essence—what indeed everything is in essence—is awareness, love is the essential nature of reality, the “substanceless substance” that is the universal self.

Thus, even dry old pedantic Vedanta is love.

In practical terms, love lies at the heart of Vedanta as well. Only by virtue of focused attention will one be able to imbibe and assimilate the teachings that reveal the true nature of reality. For one thing, the non-dual nature of reality is counter-intuitive due to the fact that maya, or ignorance, projects such a convincing virtual dualistic reality. Additionally, the overlay of conditioning that we as apparent individuals are subjected to from every sector of the apparent reality—parents, school, community, church, government, and media—is so intense that we need a strong constitution, what Vedanta calls mumukshutva, a burning desire for freedom from ignorance, in order to withstand and overcome the constant barrage of obstacles that we as seekers of self-knowledge inevitably face on our quest for understanding and truth. This burning desire can only be characterized as love. In fact, it is essentially the self, limitless awareness, whose nature is love, seeking to know itself through the vehicle of the antahkarana (i.e., mind or intellect) of the apparent individual with whom it has become associated due to the power of maya. Therefore, self-inquiry is nothing but the self engaging in an apparent love affair with itself, an affair that is consummated by the knowledge that negates any and all sense of separation and reveals the singularity of all existence.

It is in this sense that jnana and bhakti are one.

Topic of the Month – bhakti

The topic for July 2014 is bhakti.

Along with many others, I used to think that there were 3 paths to enlightenment: karma, bhakti and j~nAna. I now know better! There is only one ‘remedy’ for saMsAra j~nAna, since only knowledge can eliminate ignorance. But karma yoga is valuable for mental preparation and bhakti is an attitude that should prevail throughout. It is also excellent as a starting point for many. We also need to differentiate bhakti and upAsana

Please submit your quotes, short extracts or personal blogs on this topic!

GK: III-40 and Some (Mis)Conceptions

During the mid-part of the last century when we were in our adolescence, the most common ambition of an average educated Indian was to go abroad. So we used to have a fancy to learn some foreign language. I tried Chinese but could go hardly beyond two pages of a book I bought from the Higginbotham’s.  Deutche (German) was the next attraction because that was still the Lingua franca for Science in those days. I forgot all of what I learnt but one thing that stuck to me was a charming quote which expresses the German spirit of approach in developing their expertise. It goes something like this:

“Es gibt nichts Praktischeres als eine gute Theorie.“

(My thanks to Sitara who was kind to correct my initial wrong wording and also for letting me know that it was Immanuel Kant who said it).

The quote means that “there is nothing more practical than a good theory.”

IMHO, the statement is a delight to every theoretician and undoubtedly very dear to all those oriented to jnAna mArga (Self-inquiry). Continue reading