dhyAna and samAdhi are quite fascinating, pretty alluring and romantically inspiring terms for an aspirant on the spiritual path. They are almost always spoken in a tone that creates an awe. They sound mysterious, other worldly and ethereal. Many stories are told in the Purana-s about highly revered Sages lost in deep meditation or samAdhi to the extent that they were unaware of their own body being buried in heaps of sand or eaten away by critters and crawlers. Hair-rising narratives too are often reeled out about the powers that dhyAna and samAdhi lead one to – clairvoyance, multiple accomplishments (aNimAdi siddhi-s), infinite longevity (ciranjIvatva), visitations to subtler worlds inaccessible to normal human beings and so on. There is hardly a spiritual Guru who does not harangue about the glories a seeker will be bestowed through practicing dhyAna and samAdhi. Some teachers would even make these as a pre-requisite before any true ‘knowledge’ is imparted. As a result, the words dhyAna and samAdhi acquired varying meaning. Teachers too historically used or interpreted them in different ways. We shall attempt to take a synoptic view particularly from a Non-dual perspective what these terms connote and their role and relevance for a seeker who has adopted the jnAna mArga (The Knowledge Path) in his/her pursuit of liberation.
Over the past few months, we have had several posts following which there were discussions in which some participants attempted to argue that knowledge was not the direct cause of enlightenment. Alternative suggestions have been that enlightenment comes with nirvikalpa samAdhi or that one has to pursue some course of action, such as asking ‘Who am I?’.
I argued that neither of these were the case; that ONLY Self-knowledge could give enltightenment. This is primarily because ignorance is the cause of saMsAra and knowledge, not action, is opposed to ignorance. And I said that I would endeavor to find quotations from scripture or from Shankara to support this contention (since some participants were not prepared to accept arguments from such as Swami Dayananda).
Below, I have compiled a brief list of some of those quotations and hope these should be adequate to convice readers that the above is the stance of traditional Advaita and it is supported by clear, reasoned argument. Continue reading →
Professor Sri Kuppa Venkata Krishna Murthy, Chairman and Managing Trustee of I-SERVE, the Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas, has kindly given permission for Advaita Vision to serialize his 6-volume ‘Musings on Yogavasishta’. Written in Telugu, the work has been painstakingly translated by our Dr. Ramesam Vemuri and published by Avadhoota Datta Peetham.
Rather than reproducing successive extracts from the books each month, as has been done with our other two serializations, the books themselves will be made available for download in PDF format. Each part will be associated with a page at the main website, which will contain a Contents List for that volume. Links to all of the volumes will be provided on a general Contents Page.
The third part to be published is Part 2 (THE CONDUCT OF A SPIRITUAL ASPIRANT). (We began with Part 7 of the Series as it provides an overall summary of the Non-dual teaching and is a better introduction than simply jumping in at Part 1.)
Part 11 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.
The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.
Part 11 looks at the five organs of action and the nature of the causal body.
There is a hyperlinked Contents List, which is updated as each new part is published.
[7:175] The function of knowledge of the real is to promote (constant) remembrance of the fact that’ world is unreal; that of the fructifying karma is merely to provide the jIva with experience of pleasure and pain.
vidya-rabdhe viruddhyete na bhinna-viShayatvataH
jAnadbhir apyaindra-jAla-vinodo dRRishyate khalu
[7:176] The knowledge of the spiritual truth and the fructification of prArabdha karma refer to different objects and are not opposed to one another. The sight of a magical performance gives amusement to a spectator in spite of his knowledge of its unreality. Continue reading →
Q: In your answer to Q. 12 (http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/q_and_a/q_and_a2.htm#q12), you said: “At the level of appearance, yes, there is only causality to account for actions. But this does not lead to passivity. Darwinian selection naturally inculcates competition, ‘development’ and ‘progress’. And there is no escaping the fact that we feel as though we have free will. We feel good when we get what we want and bad when we don’t. All of this stuff will carry on regardless but there is no need to feel negative about it. It really is all quite amazing, isn’t it? It is all arising within you, for your enjoyment, as it were!”
And in your answer to Q.22 (http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/q_and_a/q_and_a3.htm#q22) you said: “At the level of the phenomenal, all proceeds according to cause and effect (or the laws of Ishvara if you prefer!). Also, there appears to be free will (although I have argued – and believe it to be the case – that the evidence is that there is no free will even at the level of appearance). Again, at the level of appearance, there are clearly individuals (jIva-s) and they are affected by all of the influences (including their own apparent volition) according to the cause-effect laws.”
(My italics to highlight what triggered my question.)
If there’s only causality to account for actions, there should be no space for free will, as all of my actions are causal. And if there is just a feeling that we have of a free will, then there is no free will. To put it in other words, if there is no free will, how can I actually do mumukShutvam (if desire also is a kind of a free will)? For intense Longing for Liberation to happen, I should be blessed with Free Will.Continue reading →
Q: I have tried several spiritual paths and I was always stopped in my search by this question: How do we explain suffering?. Why does all pervading, partless, actionless Consciousness create, allow, dream of Auschwitz? Surely Consciousness could do better than this?
A (Ted): Your question is certainly understandable. It is the same question just about everybody has at an early stage in their spiritual understanding. It is based on a fundamental erroneous assumption we make about the nature of reality due to the conditioning we receive either directly from religion or indirectly from the religious beliefs that undergird the generally accepted perception of reality that informs the society.
Our mistaken assumption is that awareness is an anthropomorphic (i.e. human-like) entity who has some overarching personal agenda and is orchestrating—or at least overseeing—the activities and events transpiring in the world with a vested interest in their nature and results. But this is not the nature of awareness.Continue reading →
1) utpAdya – a result in the form of a product, like a pot.
2) Apya – a result in the form of reaching, like going abroad or to heaven.
3) saMskArya – a result in the form of removal of impurity and imparting a good qualiity.
4) vikArya – a result in the form of modification, e.g. milk to yoghurt.
Making, reaching, purifying and modifying are the four results obtained by karma. mokSha (enlightenment) is not a product because it is nitya (eternal). It cannot be reached because it is you. It cannot be purified because it is free from blemish. It cannot be modified because it is one whole. Hence, nitya-mokSha is not a product or by-product of karma.
muNDakopaniShad (Vol. 1), Swam Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Centre. ISBN 81-903636-3-8.
The mind… will re-act from the past (in any situation in life), because whenever it is faced with something in the moment, in the now, in rush all these memories, all these experiences. And whether one likes it or not, it is a purely mechanical process; we may think we are in control, but that is entirely illusory. Thus, there is no fresh response, no appropriate action; it is always the memories and the past experiences that dictate the action, which is therefore not really an action at all but a re-action.
One cannot, but act. After all, isn’t that regarded as living?
I act, I get into trouble. Verdicts are passed about my actions, that it is right and wrong, whether I ask for it or not. Based on my actions, judgments are made and sentences pronounced that I am a selfish person, etc. That hurts me and makes me feel guilty. Makes me unhappy.
Therefore, can I be without acting? No. Even to maintain the body, one has to act.
Then how to ensure that I always act the rightful way? Bhagavad-gītā, 3.08, Kṛṣṇa says “niyatam kuru karma tvam, karmajyāyo hi akarmaṇah. – do what is to-be-done, for action is better than inaction”.
How do I know what is to-be-done? Śāstra – scriptures are the source – but then reading / understanding / arriving at its purport seems to be a life time endeavor. Can you please give me a simpler thumb rule?
Ok – here you go. I shall give you two.
1 1. Don’t do unto others, what you don’t want done to you, and viceversa.
2. 2. All actions are related to the role. Always remember that you are playing the role. What is to-be-done will always be evident if you remember you are playing the role. What is to-be-done becomes blurred when we confuse the role with the actor, and the actor’s likes and dislikes start influencing what’s to-be-done by the role that he plays.
Am I different from the role? Well, yes, but that’s another topic. 🙂