The Chrysalis (Part 2)

Read Part 1

The original metaphor seems to come from the Taittiriya Upanishad. (It is also outlined in the Sarva-Sara Upanishad and the Paingala Upanishad.)

 Here are some extracts from Swami Nikhilananda’s translation of the Taittiriya:

 II.1.3.  From the Atman was born AkAsha; from AkAsha, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth; from earth, herbs; from herbs, food; from food, man. He, that man, verily consists of the essence of food. This indeed is his head, this right arm is the right wing, this left arm is the left wing, this trunk is his body, this support below the navel is his tail.

 II.2.1. Verily, different from this, which consists of the essence of food, but within it, is another self, which consists of the vital breath. By this the former is filled. This too has the shape of a man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter. prANa, indeed, is its head; vyAna is its right wing; apAna is its left wing; AkAsha is its trunk; the earth is its tail, its support. Continue reading

Visit to India – 7th and final part

On the following morning, after breakfast in the hotel, Ravi took us to the magnificent palace of Mysore (it was rebuilt in 1897) where we spent the rest of the morning – well over two hours. One picture is worth one thousand words, so better not to try to describe what we saw and contemplated in awe while following a long row of visitors. The pavement of tiles was slightly cold and I had almost gotten over my viral throat infection, so I had to content myself with the thin socks I was wearing hoping I would not get a pneumonia (it did not materialize subsequently). We bumped into a group of teachers from Kerala which were exultant just for being there – quite apart from the contrasting colored lights reflected in glass in some of the rooms, and the splendor of the place itself. We also exchanged a few words with an elderly couple… everyone was happy. Continue reading

#2 – When Religion is the stepping stone to Spirituality!(12 mins)

OM!

Before getting started with spirituality, let’s discuss ‘Religion’, because of which I am where I am and love being today!

Religion to me is like that teacher who places a nut with its hard shell in the hand and tells us to “believe” that there is something in it. When the nut is shaken out of curiosity, there may not be anything immediately perceptible in the case of a very tightly packed nut. At such point, 1 of 4  reactions is possible:

  1. One rejects it because the inside is not immediately known/perceptible-atheists.
  2. One becomes so obsessed with the nut itself, its shape, colour, beauty and thus becomes “nut obsessed” that they even forget the possibility of something existing inside of the shell-extremely religious folks whose entire life is consumed by and ends at religion.
  3. The nut obsession itself is pushed so far that the obsessor himself turns into a nut (hehe sorry I simply couldn’t hold that back)-religious fanatics who won’t stop short of even killing.
  4. Holding the nut long enough in the hand based on some initial belief induces curiosity and questioning to the point where there is a frantic search for a tool to crack open the shell to look at what’s within it. Philosophy is that tool to crack open the nut and voila, the core is exposed-those driven into Philosophy through initial instillation of belief/faith by religion.

Points 2, 3 and 4 above clearly indicate a grounding in some belief without which the nut would have been discarded, as in 1.

It is only when that core of the nut is exposed that its very purpose is served! Similarly insist the wise, Religion has served its highest purpose only when it has led to the core of it, God!

Continue reading

The Chrysalis (Part 1)

This is the first of a 3-part blog that I originally posted to Advaita Academy, on the subject of the pa~ncha kosha prakriyA, probably better known to most as the metaphor of the ‘Five Sheaths’.

Simplistically, this is the idea that there are various levels of identification of ‘Who I really am’ with aspects of the body-mind and that these have to be recognized and dropped so that I can realize my true nature.

However, because of the way that this idea is sometimes presented, there is often a serious misunderstanding on the part of the seeker who, taking the metaphor in a more literal sense, mistakenly believes that the self is literally ‘covered over’ by these ‘layers’ and somehow has to be ‘uncovered’, like some Russian doll. This misunderstanding may be reinforced by the notion of the Self being ‘hidden in the cave of the heart’ – another potentially misleading idea that I have discussed before. Continue reading

The Creation Myth

  We all know that the shruti predominantly adopts the model of adhyAropaapavAda (superimposition – sublation) in imparting the incommunicable Advaita message. There are other types of models and prakriyA-s also available in the scripture and tradition but they do not seem to be as popular. The adhyAropaapavAda model superimposes an “imagined” or illusory creation on the really real Reality and as the student ingests the core Advaitic teaching, the superimposition is sublated. We find, however, that the shruti spends more time dealing with diverse aspects of the superimposed creation (birth, sustenance, death, action, fruits of action, rebirth etc.), the sublation being left to the ingenuity of the student as s/he reaches her/ his final understanding. One teacher estimates that Shankara in general devotes 90 percent of his time in most of his works on expiation of the Advaita doctrine and the attendant practices, leaving only a minor part on sublation and the outcome of the practices. This situation in some quarters has given rise to an insistence that the shruti teaches creation and that we have to take only the shruti vAkya-s and Shankara’s commentary on them as the pramANa (reference standard) for understanding the Advaita message forsaking other methods and vAkya-s in the scripture. Is that the intention of shruti?  What is the final position of the shruti about creation from an Advaita perspective? Continue reading

#1 – A journey into the Truth that you Are what you seek!(11 mins)

OM!

When life takes us from Seeking to Searching!

Life is a constant seeking for happiness and contentment by all (no exceptionso) in the following fields:

  • Securities (arthA)- wealth, property, better paying jobs, etc.
  • Pleasures (kAmA)- luxury car, mansion, exotic vacations, expanded friend circle, etc.
  • Religion (dharmA)- accumulating brownie points through worship, good deeds, etc. to take us to a Heaven after death

In the quest for preferably uninterrupted happiness through all transactions, all the time, everywhere and through everyone and everything we come in contact with, the early part of life frantically engages us in secular actions one after another mainly in the fields of pleasures and securities. As age and maturity catch up, some discerning peope start failing to see consistent happiness in material objects and relationships and slowly turn towards God and devotion, still seeking happiness there though! This shift now drives them to indulge in more sacred actions than secular like social service, pilgrimages, fasts and other austerities. Many don’t feel complete even after having sought Religion. They might have everything in life and yet continues an unexplained, nagging itch in the heart which wants something more. That itch may turn to questions– “Why do I seek relationships to make me feel loved, complete and happy?” “Why do I need the world(which includes situations, behaviour of people, etc.) to be a particular way for my happiness?” “Is this ever-changing physical body the real “I”?” “Why am I not comfortable with the idea of death and losing people I love?” “What is God?” “Is my purpose here just to eat, sleep and procreate or is there a greater meaning to all this?”

This seeking process doesn’t follow a specific linear order of progression for all but is an average blueprint for man’s general behavioural progress!

Continue reading

Beginner Series – Blogs on advaita vedAntA!

OM!

Namaste🙏 and welcome! I am Priya, a humble seeker and privileged student of advaita vedAntA under the  tutelage of Swami Paramarthananda. Having benefitted greatly from a changed life perpective that the beautiful teachings of vedAntA have granted me, I wish to share the liberating knowledge with others who may be interested.

I propose to take you on a journey, one that is fun, full of exciting twists and turns with many new things to learn and discover, through a series of blogs. Every other trip we’ve been on so far has left us with beautiful memories. This is one journey that will change inside out the very One making the memories! Be ready to be introduced to a new, upgraded version of yourself at the end of this journey! Ready yourself for the biggest change of your life!

This journey will be in the form of blogs written in simple language incorporating everyday examples. The highest, most profound and subtlest teachings of the self and God as expounded by the vedic vision of advaita vedAntA will be unfolded here. The word “unfolding” is of significance here! Many of us spiritual seekers in the initial phase of enthusiastic spiritual seeking read and listen to matters pertaining to spirituality in a very random fashion from literally all over the place. While this is certainly not bad, such randomness is not very fruitful and productive in terms of the results it yields. Afterall, the very idea we pursue spirituality is to effectuate change in the way we live and react rather than it simply remaining as an intellectual collection of new jargon in our already crowded, busy minds. Just as a folded, ironed shirt has to be carefully unfolded in order for it to be usuable, spiritual teachings, if they have to be of good use to us mentally and emotionally, necessarily HAVE to be unfolded and received in a very systematic manner and that is the aim of these blogs.

Whom are these blogs for?

The world is in dire need of love, peace, satisfaction, compassion, contentment, kindness, unity, happiness. Today we are living life focussed on the most superficial differences which results in dividing us more and more. As long as we continue to stay divided at the level of race, colour, Religion, language, etc. any chances for happiness, untity and peace will only be a far cry. Spiritual study is the means of going past the differences even while living in them, by effectuating shift in the very way we think by teaching us to turn our awareness towards the unifying factor that connects us all. Such study is beyond the scope of Religion which still is at the realm of difference. That means, anyone with an open enough mind ready for change, belonging to any group, culture, country, sect, race or religion is welcome to join the journey.

Why read my blogs?

No, I am no learned teacher but an enthusiastic seeker and student as much as you are. That means I have  the same questions and doubts that you have! By writing these blogs, from my standpoint I stay completely immersed in the teachings which helps my understanding and assimilation better while from your standpoint I will raise the same kind of doubts and questions that might pop up in your mind. There is absolutely no taking away or replacing the process of receiving these profoundly subtle teachings from an Enlightened teacher!

I am blessed with a compassionate preceptor who gives me the teachings and also am fortunate to have plenty of time to devote to spiritual study. Into seemingly simple, short blogs, many many hours of study and contemplation go. I am happy to consolidate my efforts into blogs which might run to be about 12-14 minute reads every 10 days initially and then every 15 days as things start getting hotter! That gives a busy person enough ‘catch up time’ to take it in before the next blog is published. You don’t have to scramble and search the internet for more spiritual information, they will come to you in the right sequence as they came to me, at the right time! advaita vedAntA texts are in Sanskrit(what is considered the Mother of all Languages) and I will provide Sanskrit equivalents in red wherever appropriate. In the blog, points that I would normally consider important enough to highlight while studying will appear in green. The title will be followed by an average reading time in brackets to indicate how much time will approximately be needed for the blog.

Join me on a journey like none other and experience for yourself all the wonderful possibilities that lay ahead!

OM! Peace!

Picture credits:pixabay.com

Trip to India – part 6

 

Next day, Monday, it was decided to visit Holenarsipur, a village about 1½ hour from Bangalore, where the main centre or karyalaya had been built, as it was detailed in part 4 of this travelogue. First, our taxi driver and friend (by now) Ravi, drove us to the house of a second Ravi, the one who is in charge of the first karyala of Bangalore. The latter  presented us to his wife – both of them living in a comfortable and well-furnished house – and had tea along with a congenial conversation, where we talked about our country, Spain, and the circumstances that brought us to India. I congratulated the lady of the house for her good taste and the beauty of her two daughters (we only saw them in two photographs on the wall of the room where we were sitting – that is, the sitting-room). After one hour or so, we proceeded to Holenarsipur on a fairly narrow road not lacking a number of not-quite threatening shallow pot-holes and medium to small-sized stones. To our driver, Ravi, this was normalcy itself. Continue reading

Shankara and Mind

In his comments on the post ‘SamAdhi Again (Part 2)‘, Venkat said: “Dayananda has nothing useful to say about realisation. All of his statements are his mundane interpretations that don’t reconcile to anything that the great masters from Gaudapada and Sankara have said.”

And “Could you provide a couple of quotes from Sankara to support your Dayananda comment:
“Therefore, the knowledge is that I am thoughtfree (nirvikalpa) in spite of the experience of vikalpa . . . mithyA is not a problem – it is useful; mind is useful and that is all there is to it””

This attitude was also supported by Shishya in his comment on the same post: “I think Venkat put it very well.”

Accordingly, I have collected together a number of quotations that support the contention that only knowledge (and not action or samAdhi etc.) produces enlightenment; that ‘enlightenment’ is nothing other than Self-knowledge arising in the mind; and that the mind continues after enlightenment. These quotations demonstrate that those readers who have been criticising Swami Dayananda and his followers have been doing so unjustly.

*****

A. Bhagavad Gita bhASya

2.21

“(Similarly) the same Self, which is in reality beyond all changes of state, is called ‘enlightened’ on account of discriminative knowledge separating the Self from the not-self, even though such knowledge is only a modification of the mind and illusory in character (and implies no real change of state).

2.56

“Moreover that monk (i.e. man of realization) is then called a man of steady wisdom; when his mind is unperturbed; when his mind is unperturbed by the sorrows that come on the physical or other planes; …and has gone beyond attachment, fear and anger.

and BG 2.55 says that a stitha praj~na is a man who drives away all desires that crop up in the mind. Continue reading