Alan Jacobs, President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK, died last month. Well-known and respected in the Advaita community, he was the author of nearly 30 spiritually-related books, from a contemporary, free-verse rendering of the Bhagavad Gita to a compilation of material from Ramesh Balsekar.
I only met Alan a couple of times so am not qualified to write any eulogy. I will leave that to Paula Marvelly, who knew him for many years. I can however, agree entirely with her summary: “Alan was the quintessential English man of letters and a perfect gentleman. I shall always have an enduring image of him sporting a Panama hat, cravat and cane, with a cup of tea near to hand”. Continue reading →
The links to purchase are below. Prices from Amazon are currently as follow:-
UK: Book – £28.99 (normally £32.99); Kindle – £14.75 (normally £16.31);
US: Book – $35.65 (normally $48.95); Kindle – $18.44 (normally $20.02).
One of the five great sayings (mahavakyas) of Vedanta which proclaims the highest truth of Non-Duality or Advaita is “Thou art That” – Tat Tvam Asi, occurring in the Chandogya Upanishad in 6.8.7. Here “Tat” refers to Brahman/Self. So in the most common sense rendering of the statement, it means – “You are Brahman”. This saying is not saying, “You must ‘become’ Brahman”. What it says is that one is already Brahman. Such is the case and one just has to know it to be so.
I had to bold and italicize the last lines of this paragraph because even when it is clearly stated, people are not able to overcome this notion of “becoming”. This is seen in the most advanced ‘practitioners’ of Advaita. In fact this notion of “becoming” is actually Maya, which keeps one tied to doership. This Maya is extremely hard to overcome, a fact which was anticipated and stated, both by Gaudapada and Shankaracharya, whom I shall be quoting in articles coming subsequently in this series.
In fact, this sense of Maya or “becoming” or “doership” is so powerful and so blinding that even after the Mahavakya says this to be the case; even after I shall show that all forms of doing are Maya; after giving all forms of quotes, logic and arguments: the notion of Maya/becoming/doership is very hard to root out. The Bhagavad Gita gives words to this predicament in the verse,
Among thousands of men, one perchance strives for perfection; even among those successful strivers, only one perchance knows Me in essence
From the (as if) paramartha level, the level where one thinks and talks about ultimate Reality, can one (correctly) say anything positive about brahman? E.g. Brahman is … <whatever>. Or is it only correct to negate that which is not brahman (neti neti)?
Thanks to you guys for helping me see that I am going around in circles with my attempt to fathom Brahman. I often enjoy circling, the repetition is soothing. But it slows down the forward momentum of my path.
So for now I’ll put my Brahman obsession on the back burner. If Brahman comes up in my studies, I’ll think of it in the way that has given me least trouble over the years:
Brahman is what-really-is.
Dennis suggested my next stop be Swami P’s commentary on the Vivekachudamani. Onward ho!
The knowledge that the Self is akartA is Karma SanyAs. Renunciation of work refers to giving up the sense of doer-ship. There is a simple and effective method to get over the notion of doer-ship. Krishna advises Arjuna to dedicate all works to the Him while abiding in the Self. It enables one to get rid of the sense of doer-ship and to remain detached, i.e., no expectations and no desires. Selfish action creates mental disturbances called vritties which again propels rAjasik action. Action dedicated to the Lord is ego-free. Ego-free action arrests creation of vritties. Continue reading →
Theoretical Physicist Prof. Sean Carroll talked on “The Mysteries of Modern Physics” at the Cambridge University two weeks ago (on Jan 24th 2020).
Much of what he talked for three fourths of the time is the popular stuff about the Classical and Quantum theories of Physics. I found the last 15-16 mins more interesting when he discussed “The Arrow of Time” and the possibility for the existence of life.
From the POV of Non-duality, the latest thinking he is working on is something to look forward to. It is about the emergence of spacetime from Quantum Mechanics and the concept of Entanglement giving raise to Geometry and Energy. The word pair Geometry and Energy strike a chord reminding us the famous vAcArambhaNa shruti (6.1.4, chAndogya). They bring to our memory the other Vedantic word-pairs:
Krishna instructs Arjuna to perform action, i.e., engage in war and fulfill the obligatory duty. By performing work without attachment, one realizes the Supreme. He gives His example. There is nothing in the world for Him to achieve, yet He engages Himself in action. For, otherwise all other people would follow Him and the creation will be destroyed.
A person who is content with whatever comes by itself (without desiring for it), who is free from delusion and jealousy, who is equipoise in both success and failure, is not bound by action even by performing actions. The mind is focused on the work. It is a working mind as distinct from thinking and wavering mind. As a result the work becomes skilled. Attachment to the fruit of action creates impressions on the mind called samskArs which is the cause of cycle of birth and death. Attachment smacks of selfishness and egoism. Conversely, detachment creates no samskArs and one becomes free from the cycle of birth and death. Detached, karma yogis perform works for purifying the mind, e.g., sacrifice, charity and penance. Continue reading →