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

Tattvabodha – Part 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart 3 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 3 discusses viveka (discrimination) and vairAgya (dispassion) in the ‘fourfold attainment’, sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti. There is also a hyperlinked Contents List, which will be updated as each new part is published.

Tattvabodha – Part 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart 2 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 2 provides an introduction to the series and begins the discussion of sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti. There is also a hyperlinked Contents List, which will be updated as each new part is published.

Vision Of Truth (sad darshanam) – Part 21

िये प्रकाशं परमो वितीर्य

स्वयम् धियो अन्त: प्रविभाति गुप्त: ।

धियं परावर्त्य धियो अन्तरे अत्र

संयोजनान्नेश्वर-दृष्टिरन्या ।। —२४

dhiye prakAsham paramH vitIrya

svayam dhiyo antaH pravibhAti guptaH

dhiyam parAvartya dhiyaH antare atra

sanyojanAnneshvara dRiShTiranya—24

dhiye = to the intellect; prakAsham = sentiency;  paramH = Supreme; vitIrya = lent;

svayam dhiyo antaH = Itself (being) inside the intellect;  pravibhAti guptaH = shines while being hidden; dhiyam parAvartya = having turned intellect;  dhiyaH antare – within intellect;  atra = here; sanyojanAt = by uniting; na Ishvara dRiShTiranya = Ishvara vision (takes place)not by anything else.

The supreme having lent sentiency to the intellect, shines while being hidden inside the intellect. Having turned the intellect, here, within the intellect, by uniting, Ishvara vision takes place not by anything else.

The organs and mind are material in nature, by themselves inert. The all-pervading consciousness also available in the mind, lends sentiency to them. They, by nature are extrovert.

Man, has a tendency of feeling inadequate in many ways. This makes him search for something to make him more fulfilled. He resorts to the external world through the mind and organs. This is innate to all and has to be deliberately changed.

The first step to changing is to discriminate between the real and the unreal. Coming to this stage itself takes along time. Years of conditioning has led man to believe he is getting happiness and peace from the world. He has time and again been credulous enough to believe so, never questioning it, accepting it as the norm. On the other hand, he has been incredulous at the fact that the truth is something diametrically opposite. Continue reading

Q.364 – Dispassion

Q: I think I understand “Dispassion” and it’s importance, I’ve read “even loathing for worldly objects”. But I do have some passions or so it feels like it. For instance, I enjoy fabric and sewing “alot” is this just Brahman? At times it feels like an addiction. I don’t think there are judgements againt whatever passion one may have?? I guess I am just a bit confused. I am I guess in the beginning of my journey.

A (Ted): The Sanskrit word for “dispassion” is vairagya. Vairagya is defined as “indifference to the results of one’s actions.” Thus, dispassion is not so much a matter of the absence of desire as it is a matter of not depending on the satisfaction of any desires one does harbor for one’s sense of wholeness, completeness, and wellbeing.

 As long as one is ignorant of one’s true nature as whole, complete, limitless awareness, one’s desires spring from a sense of incompleteness and inadequacy. In other words, discomfited by the mental, emotional, and physical limitations with which one seems afflicted as an apparent person, one feels that if one obtains certain desired objects, attains a certain desired status, achieves certain desired goals, accomplishes certain desired feats, or becomes established in a certain desired state of mind, then one will transcend the limited, inadequate, incomplete person one takes oneself to be and consequently become better or whole or even enlightened. Continue reading

Topic of the Month – buddhi

The mind in Sanskrit is antaHkaraNa. It is the seat of both thought and feeling. It derives from antar – within, interior – and karaNa, which means “instrument” or sense-organ. The mind consists of a number of separate functions – manas, buddhi, chitta and ahaMkAra. The buddhi is responsible for discrimination and judgement, perhaps nearest equated to the intellect in Western usage. It differentiates between pairs of opposites, particularly between transient and eternal. In terms of the ‘spiritual development’ of a man, it is the most important function of the mind, since it is able effectively to exercise control over all of the rest of the body-mind instrument. Without it, we are no better than animals, driven by primitive instincts and selfish, acquisitive urges. Continue reading

Discrimination

Spiritual seekers should be able to distinguish the essential from inessential in order not to waste time and energy with inessentials on their journey. Hence, the ability to discriminate is basic.

What exactly is it that helps us discriminate? Our senses inform us about the fact that a zebra is something other than a fish. The fact that the feeling of joy is something other than the thought that triggers that joy, is already a more subtle difference. However, both differentiations, indeed any differentiation, is made by using the function in our mind responsible for it, the buddhi. Continue reading