VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem by D. Venugopal
Part 62 concludes the series with a short summary of the function of Vedanta in revealing the truth about the nature of the Self, the world and Ishvara; and the role that saMpradAya plays in achieving this. A list of addresses is provided to access the Arsha Vidya teaching via talks and books. There is a complete Contents List, providing links to the relevant material.
Our special thanks to Sri Venugopal for writing this brilliant and accessible summary of the teaching and allowing its serialization at the site.
NDM: When you say: “Who and what for does one set these standards? Are the standards not highly contextual, local, artificial and subjective? Does qualifying anything – vAsanA-s or actions – based on such purely judgmental aspects have any holiness? A society’s imposition of rules and regulations, howsoever high may be the value and whatsoever may be the morality and nobility, does not have Absoluteness. They may have a societal sanction but lack intrinsic Sanctity. Who to say right or wrong or good or bad? Things just exist. Nothing is positive or negative until a ‘thought’ interferes.”
But what about dharma? The natural laws of the universe or God as some would call it. Some vAsanA-s violate dharma, others do not. Such as a vAsanA for smoking cigarettes like Nisargadatta had, is an unhealthy vAsanA but it’s only going to injure his lungs at most. Someone like the American guru Adi Da had extreme vAsanA-s such as having sexual relationships with his students, physically and psychologically exploiting and abusing them. How does dharma play into this equation?
Ramesam Vemuri: ‘Dharma’ to me in the context of Advaita is synonymous to brahman, undefinable, ungraspable. The Sanskrit word for the “Natural Laws of the Universe or God” is ‘niyati.’ Thus these two words are not the same for me. Continue reading →
Advaita seeking is in three gradual stages: ShravaNa( Hearing), Manan (Contemplation) and NididhyAsanA (Meditation). In Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad sage Yagnavalkya says to his wife Maitreya: Self should be realized by ShravaNa, Manan and NididhyAsanaA; upon realization of the Self, all this is known.
ShravaNa means listening to vedantic teaching by a guru. It would also include reading vedantic literature and in the age of technological advancement, accessing the teaching offered by other sources. Contemplation means analyzing the teaching and grasping intellectually. All doubts should stand cleared at this stage. Next stage is meditation which enables internalization of the teaching and making it a living practice. No doubt, there is a wide gap between intellectual understanding and living practice, like two shores of a river. Having understood the enormity of task, the sages of yesteryear, out of compassion for the mankind, laid down the technique of vedantic meditation so as to swim across the river. Drg Drsya Vivek describes vedantic meditation. It is progressive and in conformity with vedantic teaching.
There are two broad categories of meditation, namely, internal and external. Each category is further divided in three stages, namely, savikalpa meditation with thought, savikalpa meditation with word and nirvikalpa meditation. It is noteworthy that the three stages follow in the same order. Thus it is six- fold method. Vikalpa means division. In savikalpa meditation, subject-object division and duality exist. In nirvikalpa meditation there is no such division and is non-dual. Continue reading →
NDM: When you say “he clearly understands the falsity of the cause-effect relationship and other such mechanisms and patterns conceived by the mind,” are you also referring to saMskAra-s and vAsanA-s and can you please explain what these are?
Ramesam Vemuri: That is right. Jivanmukta understands the unreality of samskAra-s and vAsanA-s too.
Let us see what these words stand for.
samskAra-s and vAsanA-s are the learned behaviors. If I wish ‘Good Morning’ to Mr. X, my samskAra (culture) expects an appropriate response from him. If I run away in disgust at the sight of a rotting carcass giving off unbearable stink or if a baby cries with fear on seeing a dark scary spider, it is as per the blueprint (vAsanA-s) of the learned behavior stored in the genes. Continue reading →
[John LeKay, Artist and Editor-Owner of the Non-duality Magazine (NDM) did a lengthy Interview (in two stages) almost a decade ago (July – August 2010) on the broad topic of Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti. The Conversation is not readily available now at the NDM Website (which is under renovation). John has, therefore, kindly permitted its republication and Dennis Waite, has very graciously consented to host the Interview as a Series of Posts at Advaita Vision Website because of the relevance of the topic even today. (A few words are tweaked here and there for better readability).]
NDM: Can you please tell me how you became interested in Jivanmukti?
Ramesam Vemuri: It is rather difficult to mark a specific date or relate my interest (in Advaita and Jivanmukti) to a particular event; it happened as a process of nature and nurture in the general atmosphere of Indian cultural milieu I grew up in. Perhaps it was smeared on to my brain cells even when I was a young boy! I was born and brought up in a family steeped in philosophy (my father was a Theosophist and author of several philosophical works). I had been fortunate to be exposed to Mr. J. Krishnamurti’s talks early in life (even before I could fathom their full import). Both these situations could be the triggers for my interest in Jivanmukti.
A Bhakta never closes his eye lest his beloved be lost from his sight.
A Yogi never opens his eye lest the vile world come into his sight.
A Vendantin, eyes open or shut, sees eternal Happiness in all the sights.
Quoting from the talk of an Advaita teacher on the message of the aitareya Upanishad:
“It is Consciousness that impels us to feel hungry. It is Consciousness that impels the food to let itself be eaten. Consciousness propels us to perceive the world and It commands the world to be seen by us. Our seeing becomes meaningless if there is no world to be seen. The appearance of the world is meaningless if there is none as the seer. Both are impelled in their actions by the One Consciousness. Continue reading →
Here is an excellent video from Swami Tadatmananda. It presents a lucid overview of Advaita and then examines briefly how the neo-Vedanta of Vivekenanda and the neo-Advaita stemming from Ramana Maharshi and Sri Poonja have discarded key prakriyA-s and thereby short-changed modern seekers. The video is just under 1 1/4 hours but is well-worth watching – easy on the eye and ear, enjoyable and informative.
Q: I have been reading Vedanta for a few years and have a question. We are always playing some form of role such as Employee, Worker, Husband, Son etc. My understanding is that Advaita tells us to let the role do its own work but you remain who you are which is the ‘Absolute witness’.
How do we practice this in our daily life? It seems difficult to have the same kind of energy when you are in that state.
A: What you are speaking of is karma yoga as preparation for j~nAna yoga. The aim in daily life is to respond appropriately to whatever is in front of you, perform the task with attention and do not be attached to the results. This is all a part of the process of acquiring discrimination, mental discipline and detachment. You need these in order to study Advaita (by listening to a qualified teacher explain the scriptures). It is not the purpose of any of this to acquire ‘good energy’ (whatever that means). Continue reading →