Swami Dayananda Interview (conclusion)

The following is the conclusion of an interview with Swami Dayananda Saraswati, conducted by John LeKay for Nonduality Magazine. That site is no longer available and the article was submitted by Dhanya. It is in three parts. Read Part 1

NDM: There are many modern advaita teachers out there today. Some of them communicate by silence or by looking into others’ eyes. Is it possible to communicate Vedanta by silence?           

            Swamiji: If Vedanta by silence, Kena Upanisad will be one page, empty. Brihadaranyaka Upanisad will be 50 pages total, empty – empty pages – by silence.           

            If you ask a question, and I am silent and look into your eyes, what will you do? You have to look into my eyes. If I don’t blink, you have to close your eyes. Because you get embarrassed, you close your eyes.           

            And then you have to think. Whatever question you asked disappears, or you try to find some answer, some something. That’s not an answer to the question. You get whatever answer you can get from your own interpretation. Each one gets his own answer.     

            Somebody asks me, “What is God?” I sit there. (Then Swamiji sits still staring straight ahead for a long time and everyone begins to laugh.)       

I have practiced this for a long time (laughter) without blinking. So what answer you will get? Each one will get his own answer, that’s all. If silence is the answer, we won’t have Upanisad.           

            With all the teaching, if people don’t understand, where is the question of silence? (Laughter)

NDM: Does a Vedanta teacher have to be enlightened?           

            Swamiji: You know there are two types of teachers, those who are in the process of knowing and sharing the knowledge, and those who know. Therefore no Vedanta teacher worth the name will teach without knowing the text. So they will teach the text.           

            So why should we judge whether he knows or not? If he knows, you will also know. If he is capable of teaching you – making you see – then he must be knowing. Otherwise he can’t make you see. So why judge? If he is ready to teach a text, you give the benefit of doubt to that person.

            If somebody says, “I’m running classes in Oracle,” you join, assuming that the fellow knows. And therefore if somebody says, “I’m going to teach Vedanta,” you join, assuming that he knows. And if he knows, he will make you know. If he doesn’t know, then he will pull you into the whirlpool. (Laughter)

NDM: Modern advaita teachers today charge money for sitting with the teacher. Like to sit with a teacher like this it would cost maybe $35 for an hour. So maybe they get 100 or 150 people together in a group. Then each person gives the teacher money. Traditionally, how do you do that?           

            Swamiji: (Laughs). You know, they have to survive, and this is India’s contribution to that fellow’s life. And so, for his livelihood, India has contributed something – some words, which are useful for him to earn his livelihood. And he earns his livelihood, and there are always blokes to subscribe to all that. And therefore, that’s fine. There is nothing wrong in it. He has to live his life. He has to pay his bills, and therefore he charges what he needs to take care. So teaching becomes his profession. He is an advaita professional. (Laughter).           

            What I say is that there is nothing wrong in it as long as he teaches properly. If the teaching is alright, what he does is fine, it’s okay. But if the teaching is not alright, then I don’t know what people pay money for.           

            But generally teachers don’t deny people – teachers in India, they don’t deny people who want to know. They don’t bring money in-between. Money is required perhaps, but money is never brought in between a true student and a teacher, no.

NDM: Why not?   

    Swamiji: “You give me this much money and I will give you…” Then you are trading atma – and you are not giving anything to that fellow. What you are giving is himself – for a price – and it’s not quantifiable. What is involved here is infinite. For infinite, you have to charge infinite. Therefore the value of this knowledge is not understood. If the value of this knowledge is understood, you will not trade. You will not make it a commodity – a tradable commodity.   

    When you teach a discipline of knowledge like astrology or yoga or something, you can charge. There is something you are giving, and so you can charge.

    But everything will pass if the teaching is proper.   

    The truth is – if the teaching is proper, you won’t charge. Now you can figure out what’s going on. (Laughter)  

NDM: The Taittiriya Upanisad 2.6. says, “The Lord in the beginning of creation desired, ‘May I become many, may I be born.’” What prompted the first desire?   

    Swamiji: There is no first desire because it’s a cycle. In a cycle there is no first desire. The unmanifest becomes manifest. The Lord became – abhavat. It is something like a sleeping person wakes up. The whole jagat was unmanifest, and it became manifest. That is a graphic description of that – some kind of a poetic description of that – ‘ sa akamayata bahusyam prajayeya [He wished: may I become many, may I be born.]   

    One beautiful thing is that He is the creator and the creation is non-separate from Him – asrjata abhavat – two words. Asrijata means ‘created.’ Abhavat means ‘became.’ So both the creator and the creation are one and the same because He became the creation. 

    So He thought of the world, and then the world was there along with space and time.   

    Let us put it that way. Whatever He thought of – the sun – the sun was there. And so this is how the creation is really speaking. If you analyze the creation, it is nothing but Isvara’s knowledge, and it is His own knowledge. This is a very big topic. That’s why I said that it is not simple consciousness. It is all-knowledge consciousness. So with reference to the world, it is all-knowledge consciousness. You don’t need anything else.   

    In the Taittiriya that is what is being said. That in a cycle of creation – what was there before – He visualized as the creation. That’s how it is described.

NDM: Before creation – before this – before the manifested creation… 

    Swamiji: It was unmanifest. The creation was there unmanifest. 

NDM: Unmanifested? 

    Swamiji: Like in a seed, a tree.

NDM: Okay, with that seed, how is it nirguna [without attributes] if it has a seed in it? 

    Swamiji: It’s all there. All the attributes are there – undifferentiated attributes. All the attributes of the jagat – the world – are there. Like in a seed, the tree is there, the twig is there, the leaf is there, the flower is there, the fruit is there, roots are there, all these are there, but undifferentiated, in a software. This is a software. Whole thing was unmanifest – software – of the previous manifest form. In a cycle the previous jagat is now in an unmanifest form. Again, it will become manifest. Then it becomes unmanifest like your waking up from sleep. Nirguna is the truth of this mithya jagat manifest or unmanifest. Nirguna is satyam [truth].

NDM: Okay, so then this cycle is going to end at some point.

    Swamiji: This cycle will go on forever until the one who looks at the cycle wakes up. So till then the cycle will go on.   

NDM: Oh, for the individual.   

    Swamiji: Yeah, for the individual, the cycle will end. The cycle will end after getting this knowledge that the whole thing is myself, and therefore this is a big long dream.   

 NDM: But why the dream in the first place? Why the dream?   

    Swamiji: This is how Isvara is. He didn’t create anything. If He created, I can ask Him, “Why did you create?” He didn’t create – this is how the truth is.   

    Really speaking, there is only one reality. Therefore the fun is that there is subject, there is object. That is the fun.

    And reality is really a fun reality. (Laughter) It’s a very fun loving reality. They talk like that, “lila kaivalyam [merely play]”, a fun-loving reality. It’s not an ordinary reality. That’s why we all love funning. We all love fun because reality is fun-loving. The serious people are samsaris [worldly] really. (Laughter)   

NDM: So could you say it’s like a joke?   

    Swamiji: You can understand it as a joke…it’s a glory. Why not we say, “It’s a glory?” Reality has glory. Iccha sakti, jñana sakti, kriya sakti.  It has all these powers of desiring, knowing and doing, making. That’s how reality is. When this is the reality, I cannot ask the question, “Why are you like this?”   

    “This is how I am. What do you want me to be? Why do you want me to be any different? What do you think in the different thing I will be better? You tell me.” (Laughter)   

NDM: Thank you, Swamiji

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About Dhanya

Dhanya developed an interest in Hinduism and Eastern philosophy in the early 1970s. In 1973, she traveled to India in search of a guru to guide her on the spiritual path. While there she encountered disciples of Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings of bhakti and karma yoga which influenced her life from then on. She studied Vipasana meditation for some time with S.N. Goenkaji beginning in 1974. In 1991 she met HWL Poonja, whose words sparked a desire in her to understand the teachings of nonduality. Subsequently she met other advaita teachers, including Jean Klein and Sri Ranjit Maharaj, who were great sources of inspiration to her. In 2002 she met her current teacher, Dr. Carol Whitfield, a traditional teacher of Advaita/Vedanta and a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Having found a teaching and a teacher with whom she has a deep resonance and who clearly and effectively elucidate the means for self-knowledge, Dhanya now lives in Northern California, where she studies Vedanta and writes on the topic of nonduality.