Advaita for Mothers (Q. 323)

We are honored to have input from Swamini Atmaprakashananda, a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda  for this week’s question!

Q: My question is, as a mother is it ever possible to not be very attached to my child, and be a mother only by Dharma and karma, and ease from the clutches of Moha for my child. How do I do that? I would greatly appreciate if anything here can help me because I truly am looking for it, and struggling with the issue for a long time.

A (Sitara): Advaita does not really make a distinction between different kinds of attachment. While it is true that the bond between a mother and her child is especially strong, it still needs to be dealt with like all other kinds of attachment.

 So how to deal with it?

 First of all: Trying to overcome attachment by dealing with it directly will only work to a limited degree. So I recommend to deal with it both ways, as described below. Continue reading

Seeking – giving up pleasures? (Q. 322)

Q: I can see I need to live more austerely, and I am prepared to sacrifice much to bring about a more lucid and disciplined spiritual practice, but if I am honest, sacrificing those pleasures will have their cost and I will miss them. I would give up nearly anything to find a way forward, but I have heard that unless giving up pleasures is seen as so necessary it isn’t actually a sacrifice, it won’t produce any progress, making it pointless. I am confused. Living austerely definitely means sacrifice, and I could do it, but what’s the point in doing it if it won’t work? I hope I have been clear. If you could tell me what you think, I would be most grateful.

A (Sitara): Your emphasis on austerities and sacrifice indicates that you are influenced by a tradition other than Advaita Vedanta. While following dharma (an ethical lifestyle) has its place in Advaita Vedanta, it does not require austerities. It just means “be fair”, i.e. treat others the way you yourself would like to be treated. Also following a spiritual practice of meditation and prayer is thought of as beneficial for the seeker; but there is no need for much sacrifice here either, except for remaining with it even if sometimes inconvenient – having to get up a little earlier for example. Continue reading

saMskAra-s, svadharma and karma (Q. 320)

Q: I read about the above topics in your book and struggled with them, not only because there are a number of things to remember, but also because how exactly they function is complex.

 I thought about what you said regarding svadharma and how not going with it, with the example of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, would have been bad for ones karma and thought about Hitler.

 You might say that it was Hitler’s svadharma to do as he did and that to go against that, in other words, to be an ordinary politician or something for example, would have given rise to bad karma for him, the same way as going against his duty would have caused Arjuna bad karma, as explained by Krishna: ‘slay thy foes’. But then that seems unfair to him (Hitler), since surely his ‘bad actions’ (genocide, etc.) that his svadharma would have had him following would have brought him bad karma any way, so either way, things, from that perspective, looked pretty bleak for him? Then one might say that what Hitler did was not really his svadharma, but this I personally would agree with, as a ‘person’ cannot act outside of Brahman, that is, everything we do, feel, think is Brahman, so even Hitler’s ‘evils’ were also Brahman? Continue reading