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Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (1870 – 1953) Reestablished Vedic Wisdom in Northern India

Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati

Born in Gana India, Rajaram left behind his family’s householder life style at the age of nine to seek spiritual wisdom and enlightenment. He renounced worldly pleasures and left in search of a more permanent peace.

After visiting many spiritual masters and living with some for short periods of time, he became a disciple of Swami Krishnananda at age 14. He finally had found a living example of absolute bliss consciousness in human form.

As part of his training he lived in caves nearby his master’s ashram, coming out only to visit with Swami Krishnananda on occasion. He spent his time in deep meditation.

At the age twenty five it was time to leave the caves behind and move into the ashram to be with his guru 24/7.

At the Kumbh Mela festival in 1906 Rajaram was formally ordained by Swami Krishnananda, and bestowed the title Sri Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj. He was 36 years old at the time.

After the passing of Swami Krishnananda in 1936, Brahmananda Saraswati spent years in the forest enveloped in silence and bliss.

1,200 years ago renowned spiritual luminary Adi Shankara (788 – 820) established four principle seats (monasteries) of learning in India, to maintain his revived reinterpretation of Hindu scriptures.

Shankara established one in India’s north, south, east and west …

Geography Math (monastery) Location
North Jyotirmatha Peetham Jyotirmath, India
South Sringeri Sharada Peetham Karnataka, India
East Govardhana Peetham Puri, India
West Dvaraka Peetham Gujrat, India

The North seat, the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, is the principal of the four maths (monasteries). The seat was unoccupied for 108 years because a qualified Acharya was not to be found.

Tenure Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath residents
1696-1703 Shivanand Swami
1703-1717 Balkrishna Swami
1717-1750 Narain Updendra Swami
1750-1763 Harishchandar Swami
1763-1773 Sadanand Swami
1773-1781 Keshav Swami
1781-1823 Narain Tirtha Swami
1823-1833 Ram Krishna Swami
1833-1941 EMPTY

Brahmananda Saraswati was approached on several occasions to occupy the empty spiritual seat of Jyotirmath. At age 70 he finally relented and told a committee he would accept the position. On the day that the installation ceremony was to take place, he was nowhere to be found. He left two days earlier in the hope that perhaps all that commotion about the seat would go away.

But shortly thereafter he was installed as the Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and remained there seeing visitors and attending to disciples, until his passing in 1953.

Among the many disciples that Brahmananda Saraswati had was Mahesh Prasad Varma, later known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Moments before Brahmananda Saraswati passed away, he told Mahesh, “What I have taught you also contains the knowledge of the technique for the householder.” That inspired Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (http://meditationandspiritualgrowth.com/?p=964) to bring that meditation to the world in 1959 as TM (Transcendental Meditation).

Swami Brahmananda Saraswati

Here are the words of Brahmananda Saraswati …

“There is no distance or separation with Paramatma (God).

Learn to make full use of the human body. One should not waste this chance.

When the mind realizes God, it is permanently established there and does not desire other things.

The aim of life is to stop the mind from involvement with this world.

The dawn comes to dispel the darkness of night, allowing us to enjoy the light of the sun (which is self-illuminating). Spiritual teachings destroy ignorance and therefore remove darkness, but they cannot throw light on the inner Self, for the Self is Light.

The people struggle hard to gain valueless baubles of daily living, day in and day out. It is said: Gain one thing to gain everything – try to gain everything and you will gain nothing.

If you want to catch the shadow, catch the real thing and automatically the shadow will be in your hands. Leaving the real, if you run after the shadow, the faster you run, the faster it will run away from you. That is why, to run after shadowy wealth and fame is foolhardy. Catch hold of the real – Paramatman – and all these will come by itself to be under your command. Remember, that remembering Paramatman is always highly profitable. Whatever time you put into this, you will get back with multifold interest.

As long as one has to live, live peacefully. It is certain; the work here can never be completed. So do not make much out of doing. Work as it is, is a waste. Lead this life with a peaceful mind, doing your duty and always remembering Paramatman.

Nobody wants your mind in this world, and the mind is not satisfied with anything of the world. The mind is not fit for the world, or the world for the mind. When the mind realizes God, it is permanently established there and does not desire other things. From this we can understand that God alone is fit for the mind and nothing else.

Do good works without hesitation. The Jiva has been experiencing samsara for many, many births. It is only natural, therefore, that its tendencies have become worldly. To turn its tendencies toward Paramatman and away from samsara requires some effort. In reality, the aim of life is to stop the mind from involvement with this world. If one engages in spiritual practice and in thinking and speaking about God, the mind will start dwelling on Him and after some time it will withdraw from the world on its own.

In our daily affairs we should adopt a strategy of quickly attending to good works and things related to the Divine. Should any wrong thought arise, on the other hand, we should try to postpone it to another time by saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow, or the day after next.” In this way, wrong action can be continuously postponed.

To be born a human is more fortunate than to be born a deva (angel or Divine being).  Taking birth as a deva is considered comparable to taking birth as any other life form. Birth as a deva is attained by those who perform certain sacrifices and karma, etc. associated with divinity, with the intention to enjoy divine pleasures. The minds of the devas wander incessantly because of the abundance of enjoyable things in the heavenly realms, and hence they cannot perform purushartha (Divine action – action in accord with the cosmic evolution and individual destiny). For this reason, the human birth is considered superior, because here, by doing as much purushartha as possible, one can eventually merge with God.

A human being is like a lump of pure gold, whereas devas are like pieces of fine jewelry. Having been perfected as jewelry, their progress is complete, and they cannot be further improved. On the other hand, gold which has not yet been crafted by the jeweler, has unlimited potential. Hence the birth of a human being is said to be the very best birth for action.

To get a human body is a rare thing—make full use of it. There are four million kinds of births which a soul can gather. After that one gets a human body. Therefore, one should not waste this opportunity. Every second in human life is very valuable. If you don’t value this, then you will have nothing in hand and you will weep in the end.

Because you’re human, God has given you power to think and decide what is good and bad. Therefore, you can do the best possible kind of action. You should never consider yourself weak or a fallen creature. Whatever may have happened up to now may be because you didn’t know, but now be careful.

After getting a human body, if you don’t reach God, then you have sold a diamond at the price of spinach.

For this reason, the human birth is considered superior, because here, by doing as much purushartha as possible, one can eventually become one with God.

Having attained this birth, one should not act carelessly, but should conscientiously perform the best purushartha. Fulfilling one’s own dharma while keeping faith in Paramatma is the greatest purushartha. Strive to become one with God in this lifetime. Have firm faith in the Vedas and shastras and keep the company of those wise people who also have faith in them. Only then will the purpose of your life be fulfilled.”

The difference is the same as the difference between rice and paddy. Remove the skin of the paddy and it is rice. Similarly, remove the covering of Maya, and the Jiva will become Brahman.’

The one who has come, has to go. Nobody can stay here. Every moment keep your luggage packed. Nobody knows when death will call. The warrant of death is like the arrest warrant.

If you are not cautious, you cannot escape from falling. It is the nature of samsara-river (worldliness); it will always try to take you downwards. Involvement with the senses makes man multifaceted. Being multifaceted and with involvement with vasana makes it very difficult to have the ability [kshamata] to discern. So it is essential to be cautious always.

It is a waste to make much of your activity, so try to live quietly as long as you have to live.

The Creator is Vishvambhara. He shoulders the duty to sustain and protect us. And so, he will make arrangements. Without having faith in His support, if you depend on your intellect and cleverness, deceit and craftiness, you will lead a life of turbulence and the future path will also be darkened.

As is the cloth, so is the price. For carrying on the short-lived activities of the work, employ your short-lived body and wealth. Mind is a permanent thing, which remains with you always. Even in the other world it will continue to stay with you. Therefore connect it with a permanent thing, God, being the eternal existence in animate and inanimate things, is the only permanent thing of the highest order. Therefore connect your mind with Him. If the mind is satisfied with wealth, wife or children, why does it go elsewhere? Because if cannot stick onto anything. From this it is clear that it is not satisfied with anything of the mundane world. It runs after things, taking them to be good and desirable, but after a short while it leaves them.

Do good works without hesitation.

There are three types of protection and service: The highest is like a tortoise; the middle is like fishes; and the lower is like birds.
The turtle does not keep his eggs near. The fish does not go near its eggs. The bird protects its eggs by covering them always, sitting on them.
In the manner of the tortoise, the Great Spiritual Guru helps, protects and guides his sincere disciple by concentration and observation of the behavior of his disciples. By the blessing of the Guru the life of disciple become purposeful and develops faster on the (path of) Spiritual Progress. [Abr. Brahmananda]

Divine union can be realized by the practice of Yoga.

Every moment is the power of the Supreme to be realized and remembered.

Paramatma is one, and is present everywhere and in every time. Absolute bliss consciousness (Satchidanada) cannot be broken and is Knowledge Incarnate.

Real victory is that, after which there can never be a reverse. Nobody can call himself a victor forever merely by crushing an external foe, because such foes can spring up again. A real victory is achieved by bringing under control the internal foes. A check over the internal enemies is therefore the only way of conquering the external enemies forever, because we should bear in mind that it is our own internal enemies which create the external enemies.

These inner enemies are ambition, anger, greed, false attachment, vanity and jealousy. It is this hexagon sitting inside us which makes a cat’s paw of anything in the outer world in order to create enemies for us. Therefore if anybody wants to enjoy peace and happiness through victory over all enemies, then he should raid the very source of all physical enemies – the subtle hexagon living in us. Destruction of enemies by root is not possible without breaking up this hexagon (ambition, anger, greed, false attachment, vanity and jealously). This is axiomatic.

It is not too difficult to win over the hexagon. But people take it to be impossible without giving thought. Most of them hold the belied that only a perfect saint who has renounced all worldly concerns can break up the inner hexagon. This belief is based on complete ignorance. A renouncer renounces the very cause of the hexagon, so in his case the question of conquering the hexagon does not arise at all. A victor over the hexagon is one who maintains his worldly attitudes but does not allow himself to be subordinated by them. Let the enemy have an occasion to strike, but let him find that he cannot do so because he finds you too strong for it. Only then can he be treated as defeated. Mere engagement in bonafide worldly activities is no hindrance in keeping the inner hexagon in a state of subjugation.

One can become a mahatma wherever one lives. No one becomes a mahatma by simply wearing ochre clothing or by applying some marks to the forehead. Dress and other externals will not lead to the ultimate good, whereas faith will certainly lead to it. The state of a mahatma is determined by the state of mind. So stay wherever you are, but change the direction of your mind. Think less about samsara and think more about Paramatma.

Nowadays people think a great deal about things they should not waste their time on. One should primarily contemplate Paramatma; instead people contemplate worldly objects. That is why they are unable to experience peace and happiness. If you apply your vital breath to worldly activities and enjoyment of the senses, then your lungs are like the bellows of a blacksmith. Hence take care of your vital breath and apply yourself to Paramatma. First generate faith. You already have sufficient faith in money. That is why you are able to think about it. When you have faith in Paramatma, then you will start contemplating Him.

You must realize that money and all the objects of samsara will remain here, while you have to carry out your future journey alone. Prepare for that future journey at this very moment. Increase your faith in higher goals, and increase your love for that ever-blissful Paramatma. Show superficial interest in the things of the world, which will always remain here, and place primary faith in the ultimate goal, which will remain with you. Once you discover that a tantalizing heap of money was actually created by a magician, the temptation to take it will wither, and you will no longer covet it. Like the magician’s money, all the objects and relationships of samsara are transient. Therefore, carry out all daily affairs according to social expectations, but do not reserve a place for these things in your mind. Keep your mind free for the imperishable Paramatma, whose very essence is bliss. Always keep Bhagavan in your mind and never transgress the bounds of propriety – this is what is means to be a mahatma.

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Close your eyes and meditate. Know the timeless reality.

Posted by on December 1st, 2013 Comments Off on Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (1870 – 1953) Reestablished Vedic Wisdom in Northern India

Meher Baba (1894-1969) Sufi Master, Mystic, and Avatar of our Age.

Meher Baba

Merwan Sheriar Irani was the second of six children, born to a Persian family in Poona, India.

As a young boy he liked to read poetry and participate in sports. He spent hours with his friends playing their favorite past time game, cricket. At the age of thirteen he started a boys club, where they kept up to date on current events, developed public speaking skills, and collected money for the poor.

Merwan graduated from High School and then attended Deccan College. One day on the way home from school he noticed an old lady sitting under a tree. Perhaps she was 100 years old. She motioned to him to come over. He was curious to see who she was. Then Hazrat Babajan (a Sufi Master holy woman) gave him a kiss on the forehead.

His life changed in an instant. He was dazed and barely made it home in one piece. His consciousness filled with the splendor of blissful eternity. By evening he realized God within himself.

He spent the next several years under the tutelage of a variety of spiritual Masters. When he was twenty seven he left his current master, Sadguru Upasni Maharaj, and headed out into the world to travel and teach. He spent time helping the poor and opened a boarding house for those with no place to live.

In 1925 he went into silence, never to verbally speak again. He communicated with the world using sign language and an alphabetic board. As such he was sometimes called the silent Guru.

In 1927 Meher founded his first ashram and living center, based on the Sufi tradition. His students gave him the name Meher Baba, which means “Compassionate Father” in Persian.

Meher Baba traveled around the world several times. In the west he taught in Australia, the United States, and England (1931). He wrote many books. Thousands of people flocked to be by his side or just to catch a glimpse of him.

He observed silence for the last 44 years of his earthly life.

Note: Sufism is the mystical arm of Islam. However, in recent years their shrines, temples, and followers have come under attack by Islamists in Pakistan, Iran, Kurdistan, Syria, and other countries. Please pray for their safety and well being.

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The Seven Realities:

Existence, Love, Sacrifice, Renunciation, Knowledge, Control, and Surrender.

I give no importance to creed, dogma, caste, or the performance of religious ceremonies and rites but to the understanding of the following seven Realities:

1. The only Real Existence is that of the one and only God, who is the Self in every finite self.

2. The only Real Love is the love for this Infinity (God), which arouses an intense longing to see, know, and become one with its Truth (God).

3. The only Real Sacrifice is that in which, in pursuance of this love, all things-body, mind, position, welfare, and even life itself are sacrificed.

4. The only Real Renunciation is that which abandons, even in the midst of worldly duties, all selfish thoughts and desires.

5. The only Real Knowledge is the knowledge that God is the inner dweller in good people and in so-called bad, in saint and in so-called sinner. This knowledge requires you to help all equally as circumstances demand without expectation of reward; when compelled to take part in a dispute, to act without the slightest trace of enmity or hatred, to try to make others happy with brotherly or sisterly feeling for each one; and to harm no one in thought, word, or deed-not even those who harm you.

6. The only Real Control is the discipline of the senses to abstain from indulgence in low desires, which alone ensures absolute purity of character.

7. The only Real Surrender is that in which poise is undisturbed by any adverse circumstance; and the individual, amidst every kind of hardship, is resigned with perfect calm to the will of God.

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Selfishness:

Selfishness comes into existence owing to the tendency of desires to find fulfillment in action and experience. It is born of fundamental ignorance about one’s own true nature. Human consciousness is clouded by the accumulation of various types of impressions deposited by the long course of the evolution of consciousness.

These impressions express themselves as desires, and the range of the operation of consciousness is strictly limited by these desires. The samskaras, or impressions, form an enclosure around the possible field of consciousness. The circle of samskaras constitutes that limited area in which alone the individual consciousness can be focused.

Lust, greed, anger:

The chief forms in which the frustrated ego finds expression are lust, greed, and anger. Lust is very much like greed in many respects; but it differs in the manner of its fulfillment, which is directly related to the gross sphere. Lust finds its expression through the medium of the physical body and is concerned with the flesh. It is a form of entanglement with the gross sphere.

Greed is a state of restlessness of the heart, and it consists mainly of craving for power and possessions. Possessions and power are sought for the fulfillment of desires. Man is only partially satisfied in his attempt to have the fulfillment of his desires, and this partial satisfaction fans and increases the flame of craving instead of extinguishing it. Thus greed always finds an endless field of conquest and leaves the individual endlessly dissatisfied. The chief expressions of greed are related to the emotional part of man. It is a form of entanglement with the subtle sphere.

Anger is the fume of an irritated mind. It is caused by the thwarting of desires. It feeds the limited ego and is used for domination and aggression. It aims at removing the obstacles existing in the fulfillment of desires. The frenzy of anger nourishes egoism and conceit, and it is the greatest benefactor of the limited ego. Mind is the seat of anger, and its expressions are mostly through the activities of the mind. Anger is a form of entanglement with the mental sphere. Lust, greed, and anger respectively have body, heart, and mind as their vehicles of expression.

Road to happiness:

Selfishness inevitably leads to dissatisfaction and disappointment because desires are endless. The problem of happiness is therefore the problem of dropping one’s desires. Desires, however, cannot be effectively overcome through mechanical repression. They can be annihilated only through Knowledge. If you dive deep in the realm of thoughts and think seriously for just a few minutes, you will realize the emptiness of desires. Think of what you have enjoyed all these years and what you have suffered. All that you have enjoyed through life is today nil. All that you have suffered through life is also nothing in the present. All was illusory.

It is your right to be happy, and yet you create your own unhappiness by wanting things. Wanting is the source of perpetual restlessness. If you do not get the thing you want, you are disappointed. And if you get it, you want more and more of it and become unhappy. Say “I do not want anything” and be happy. The continuous realization of the futility of wants will eventually lead you to Knowledge. This Self-knowledge will give you the freedom from wants that leads to the road to abiding happiness.

Love and Service:

The dawn of love facilitates the death of selfishness. Being is dying by loving. If you cannot love one another, how can you love even those who torture you? The limits of selfishness are created by ignorance. When a person realizes that he can have more glorious satisfaction by widening the sphere of his interests and activities, he is heading toward the life of service. At this stage he entertains many good desires. He wants to make others happy by relieving distress and helping them. And though even in such good desires there is often an indirect and latent reference to the self, narrow selfishness has no grip over good deeds. Even good desires may, in a sense, be said to be a form of enlightened and extended selfishness; for, like bad desires, they too move within the domain of duality. But as the person entertains good desires his selfishness embraces a larger conception that eventually brings about its own extinction. Instead of merely trying to be illustrious, arresting, and possessive, he learns to be useful to others.

Deep Sleep:

Every time you go to sleep you are unconsciously united with the infinite Reality. This unification involves the extension of unconsciousness over consciousness. It thus bridges over the chasm between the unconscious and the conscious. But being unconscious of this union, you do not consciously derive any benefit from it. This is the reason why, when you wake up again from deep sleep, you become aware of the same self, humdrum individual; and you begin to act and experience exactly as you acted and experienced before going to sleep. If your union with the supreme Reality had been a conscious union, you would have awakened into a completely new and infinitely rich life.

Spiritual advancement:

The gulf between the clouded consciousness of average humanity and the fully illumined consciousness of a Perfect Master is created by samskaras that give rise to egoism. These can be removed through perfect character, devotion, and selfless service; but the best results in this direction are attained through the help of a Perfect Master. Spiritual advancement consists not in the further development of consciousness (for it is already fully developed in man), but in the emancipation of consciousness from the bondage of samskaras. Although, in essence, consciousness is the same in all the different states of existence, it can never be consummate unless it can reflect the knowledge of Infinity without the least shadow of ignorance, and also cover the whole extent of creation illumining the different spheres of existence.

Through opposites to beyond opposites:

Like the shuttle of the weaver’s loom, the human mind moves within two extremes, developing the warp and the woof of the cloth of life. The development of spiritual life is best represented not as a straight line but as a zigzag course.

Take the function of the two banks of a river. If there were no banks, the waters of the river would disperse, making it impossible for the river to reach its destination. In the same way, the life-force would dissipate itself in endless and innumerable ways, were it not confined between the two poles of the opposites.

These banks of the river of life are best looked upon not as two parallel lines but as two converging lines that meet at the point of Liberation. The amount of oscillation becomes less and less as the individual approaches the goal, and completely subsides when he realizes it. It is like the movement of the doll that has its center of gravity at the base, with the result that it has a gradual tendency to become steady in the sitting posture. If shaken, it continues to swing from side to side for some time; but each movement covers a shorter span, and in the end the doll becomes stationary. In the case of cosmic evolution, such subsiding of alternation between the opposites means Mahapralaya; and in the spiritual evolution of the individual, it means Liberation.

Analysis of human experience:

There are two aspects of human experience-the subjective and objective. On the one hand there are mental processes that constitute essential ingredients of human experience, and on the other hand there are things and objects to which they refer. The mental processes are partly dependent upon the immediately given objective situation, and partly dependent upon the functioning of accumulated samskaras, or impressions, of previous experiences. The human mind thus finds itself between a sea of past samskaras on the one side and the whole extensive objective world on the other.

Human actions are based upon the operation of the impressions stored in the mind through previous experiences. Every thought, emotion, and act is grounded in groups of impressions that, when considered objectively, are seen to be modifications of the mind. These impressions are deposits of previous experiences and become the most important factors in determining the course of present and future experience. The mind is constantly creating and gathering such impressions in the course of its experience.

When occupied with the physical objects of this world (such as the body, nature, and other things), the mind is, so to say, externalized and creates gross impressions. When it is busy with its own subjective mental processes, which are the expressions of already existing samskaras, it creates subtle and mental impressions. The question whether samskaras come first or experience comes first is like the question whether the hen or the egg comes first. Both are conditions of each other and develop side by side. The problem of understanding the significance of human experience, therefore, turns around the problem of understanding the formation and function of samskaras.

The samskaras are of two types, natural and nonnatural, according to the manner in which they come into existence. The samskaras the soul gathers during the period of organic evolution are natural. These samskaras come into existence as the soul successively takes up and abandons the various subhuman forms, thus gradually passing from the apparently inanimate states (such as stone or metal) to the human state, where there is full development of consciousness. All the samskaras that cluster around the soul before it attains the human form are the product of natural evolution and are referred to as natural samskaras. They should be carefully distinguished from the samskaras cultivated by the soul after the attainment of the human form.

The samskaras that get attached to the soul during the human stage are cultivated under the moral freedom of consciousness with its accompanying responsibility of choice between good and bad, virtue and vice. They are referred to as nonnatural samskaras. Though these post human samskaras are directly dependent upon the natural, they are created under fundamentally different conditions of life and are, in their origin, comparatively more recent than the natural samskaras.

This difference in the length of the formative periods and in the conditions of formation is responsible for the difference in the degree of firmness of attachment of the natural and nonnatural samskaras to the soul. The nonnatural samskaras are not as difficult to eradicate as the natural, which have an ancient heritage and are therefore more firmly rooted. The obliteration of the natural samskaras is practically impossible unless the neophyte is the recipient of the grace and the intervention of a Sadguru, or Perfect Master.

Spirituality covers the whole of life:

The life of the spirit is the expression of Infinity and, as such, knows no artificial limits. True spirituality is not to be mistaken for an exclusive enthusiasm for some fad. It is not concerned with any “ism.” When people seek spirituality apart from life, as if it had nothing to do with the material world, their search is futile. All creeds and cults have a tendency to emphasize some fragmentary aspect of life, but true spirituality is total in its outlook. The essence of spirituality does not consist in a specialized or narrow interest in some imagined part of life but in a certain enlightened attitude to all the various situations that obtain in life. It covers and includes the whole of life. All the material things of this world can be made subservient to the divine game; and when they are thus subordinated, they become auxiliary to the self-affirmation of the spirit.

Body not necessarily hindrance to spiritual life:

The value of material things depends upon the part they play in the life of the spirit. In themselves they are neither good nor bad. They become good or bad according to whether they help or hinder the manifestation of divinity through them. Take, for example, the place of the physical body in the life of the spirit. It is a mistake to set up an antithesis between “flesh” and “spirit.” Such contrast almost inevitably ends in an unqualified condemnation of the body. The body obstructs spiritual fulfillment only if it is pampered as having claims in its own right. Its proper function is rightly understood as ancillary to spiritual purposes.

Detachment does not mean indifference:

However, those who would live the life of the spirit must remain detached in the midst of worldly things without becoming cold or indifferent to them. Detachment should not be misunderstood as lack of appreciation. It is not only compatible with the true evaluation of things but is its very condition. Craving creates delusion and prevents right perception. It nourishes obsessions and sustains the feeling of dependence upon external objects. Detachment promotes right understanding and facilitates perception of the true worth of things without making consciousness dependent upon external objects.

To see things as they are is to grasp their real significance as parts of the manifestation of the One Life, and to see through the veil of their apparent multiplicity is to be free from the insistent obsession for anything in its imagined isolation and exclusiveness. The life of the spirit is to be found in comprehensiveness that is free from clinging and in appreciation that is free from entanglement. It is a life of positive freedom in which the spirit infuses itself into matter and shines through it without submitting to any curtailment of its own claims.

Spiritual understanding not born of blind imitation:

Spiritual understanding, which is the complementary aspect of the life of the spirit, must be distinguished from worldly wisdom, which is the quintessence of the conventions of the world. Spiritual wisdom does not consist in the unquestioning acceptance of the ways of the world. The ways of the world are almost always the collective effect of the actions of materially inclined people. Worldly people consider something to be right and make it right for persons of similar inclination. Therefore the blind following of conventions does not necessarily secure wise action. The life of the spirit cannot be a life of uncritical imitation; it must have its basis in the true understanding of values.

Love pervades the universe:

Life and love are inseparable from each other. Where there is life, there is love. Even the most rudimentary consciousness is always trying to burst out of its limitations and experience some kind of unity with other forms. Though each form is separate from other forms, in reality they are all forms of the same unity of life. The latent sense for this hidden inner reality indirectly makes itself felt even in the world of illusion through the attraction that one form has for another form.

Lower forms of love:

Human love is encircled by a number of obstructive factors, such as infatuation, lust, greed, anger, and jealousy. In one sense, even these obstructive factors are either forms of lower love or the inevitable side results of these lower forms of love. Infatuation, lust, and greed might be looked upon as perverted and lower forms of love. In infatuation a person is enamored of a sensual object; in lust he develops a craving for sensations in relation to it; and in greed he desires to possess it. Of these three forms of lower love, greed has a tendency to extend from the original object to the means of obtaining it. Thus a person becomes greedy for money or power or fame, which can be instruments for possessing the different objects that are craved. Anger and jealousy come into existence when these lower forms of love are thwarted or threatened to be thwarted.

Divine love and human love:

Divine love is qualitatively different from human love. Human love is for the many in the One, and divine love is for the One in the many. Human love leads to innumerable complications and tangles, but divine love leads to integration and freedom. In divine love the personal and the impersonal aspects are equally balanced; in human love the two aspects are in alternating ascendency. When the personal note is predominant in human love, it leads to utter blindness to the intrinsic worth of other forms. When, as in a sense of duty, love is predominantly impersonal, it often makes one cold, rigid, and mechanical. A sense of duty comes to the individual as an external constraint on behavior, but in divine love there is unrestrained freedom and unbounded spontaneity. Human love in its personal and impersonal aspects is limited; divine love with its fusion of the personal and the impersonal aspects is infinite in being and expression.

Dynamics of love:

Love is the reflection of God’s unity in the world of duality. It constitutes the entire significance of creation. If love were excluded from life, all the souls in the world would assume complete externality to each other; and the only possible relations and contacts in such a loveless world would be superficial and mechanical. It is because of love that the contacts and relations between individual souls become significant. It is love that gives meaning and value to all the happenings in the world of duality. But while love gives meaning to the world of duality, it is at the same time a standing challenge to duality. As love gathers strength, it generates creative restlessness and becomes the main driving power of that spiritual dynamic which ultimately succeeds in restoring to consciousness the original unity of Being.

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Practice meditation every day to imbibed the essence of Meher Baba’s life and glorious teaching.

Posted by on May 28th, 2012 Comments Off on Meher Baba (1894-1969) Sufi Master, Mystic, and Avatar of our Age.

Sri Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982) Spiritual Luminary

Sri Anandamayi Ma

Born in 1896 in a small Bangladesh village (Kheora), Nirmala Sundari Devi entered this world enlightened.

Her name Anandamayi, which means “bliss permeated mother,” was given to her in the 1920’s by her disciples. She taught thousands as a guru, while many saw her as a pure manifestation of God.

Here are Sri Anandamayi Ma’s words on spirituality:

Who is it that loves?
Who is it that loves and who that suffers?
He alone stages a play with Himself.
The individual suffers because he perceives duality.
Find the One everywhere and in everything
and there will be an end to pain and suffering.

Joys and Sorrows:
Joys and sorrows are time-born and cannot last.
Therefore, do not be perturbed by these.
The greater the difficulties and obstructions,
the more intense will be your endeavor to cling to His feet
and the more will your prayer increase from within.
And when the time is ripe,
you will gain mastery over this power.

Aspects of God:
God is without form, without quality as well as with form and quality.
Watch and see with what endless variety of beautiful forms
He plays the play of his maya with Himself alone.
The lila of the all pervading One goes on and on in this way in infinite diversity.
He is without beginning and without end.
He is the whole and also the part.
The whole and part together make up real Perfection.

Acquire a firm will and the utmost patience.

To believe in Him under any particular form is not enough. Accept Him in His numberless forms, shapes and modes of being, in everything that exists. Aim at the whole and all your actions will be whole.

As you love your own body, so regard everyone as equal to your own body. When the Supreme Experience supervenes, everyone’s service is revealed as one’s own service. Call it a bird, an insect, an animal or a man, call it by any name you please, one serves one’s own Self in every one of them.

Give yourself up to the wave, and you will be absorbed by the current; having dived into the sea, you do not return anymore.

Try to treat with equal love all the people with whom you have relations. Thus the abyss between myself and yourself will be filled in, which is the goal of all religious worship.

Indeed, everything is possible in the state that is beyond knowledge and ignorance.

Enquire: “Who am I?” and you will find the answer. Look at a tree: from one seed arises a huge tree; from it comes numerous seeds, each one of which in its turn grows into a tree. No two fruits are alike. Yet it is one life that throbs in every particle of the tree. So, it is the same Atman everywhere.

All creation is that. There is beauty in the birds and in the animals. They too eat and drink like us, mate and multiply; but there is this difference: we can realize our true nature, the Atman. Having been born as human beings, we must not waste this opportunity. At least for a few seconds every day, we must enquire as to who we are. It is no use taking a return ticket over and over again. From birth to death, and death to birth is samsara. But really we have no birth and death. We must realize that.

There is a sense of play, a deep delight, and the constant remembrance of the One.

God is within everyone, but man goes out in search of Him. This is what constitutes God’s Play and God’s Creation.

Suffering is sent to remind you to turn your thoughts towards That which is real – to God who will give you solace.

To find the Beloved is to find my Self, to discover that God is my very own, wholly identical with myself, my innermost Self.

Joys and sorrows are time-born and cannot last. Therefore, do not be perturbed by these. The greater the difficulties and obstructions, the more intense will be your endeavor to cling to His feet and the more will your prayer increase from within. And when the time is ripe, you will gain mastery over this power.

Real silence means there is actually nowhere else for the mind to go.

Just as fire burns away all dross and rubbish, so the three fold suffering purges man’s heart from all impurity and results in a growing single mindedness in his search after Truth. When he becomes deeply conscious of his weakness and tormented by the thoughts of his undesirable impulses and distressing characteristics, when afflictions like poverty, bereavement or humiliation make him feel his life is futile, then and then only does he develop real faith and religious fervor, and becomes anxious to surrender himself at the feet of the Supreme Being. Suffering should therefore be welcomed. Never does the soft moonlight appear more soothing than after the scorching heat of a summer day.

With Paramahansa Yogananda - on right

My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body.
Before I came on this earth I was the same.
As a little girl I was the same.
Ever afterward, though the dance of creation changes around me, in the hall of eternity I shall be the same.

A wealthy merchant went on a business trip. A thief in the disguise of a businessman joined him, intent on robbing him at the earliest suitable occasion. Every morning, before leaving the inn which they happened to have put up for the night, the merchant would count his money quite openly and then put it into his pocket. At night the merchant went to sleep seemingly without suspicion. While he was asleep the thief would frantically search through all the belongings of the merchant without being able to find the money. After several nights of frustrating searching, the thief finally in resignation confessed to the merchant his true intention and pleaded with him to tell him how he was able to hide his money so successfully. The merchant replied casually: “I knew from the very beginning what you were up to. So, every night I placed the money under YOUR pillow. I could safely sleep, knowing full well that that would be the one place where you would never look.”
God is within everyone, but man goes out in search of Him. This is what constitutes God’s Play and God’s Creation.

One should think of oneself as a purely spiritual being, as Self luminous, poised in the Bliss of the Self.

God is without form, without quality as well as with form and quality.
Watch and see with what endless variety of beautiful forms
He plays the play of his maya with Himself alone.
The lila of the all pervading One goes on and on in this way in infinite diversity.
He is without beginning and without end.
He is the whole and also the part.
The whole and part together make up real Perfection.

The same inexpressible Truth is experienced in two ways: as Self-luminous Silence, or as the Eternal Play of the One.

When you recognize the existence of God, He will reveal Himself to you as compassionate, or gracious, or merciful, in accordance with your attitude toward Him at the time.

All this, which is His creation, is under His dispensation, in His presence and is He.

The sovereign and universal remedy is the contemplation of the One. To think only of Him and to serve Him at all times is essential for every human being.

Your body, which is part of and depending on this illusory world, is on the other hand the expression of a hidden inner process. You are yourself the many, appearing in various aspects, forms and modes. Each one of them exists in fact to fulfill a particular need. Yours is the give and take of the universe, yours the need, and yet you your­self are the fulfillment that hidden inner process is generated by you.

Human-birth — does it not ordinarily mean experiencing desire, passion, grief, suffering, old age, disease, happiness, pain and so on? Yet it is man’s duty to bear in mind that he exists for God alone— for His service and for the realization of Him.

To say, “I do not know, I do not understand” is only ignorance. It is this veil of ignorance that causes agony and misfortune.

Man must go out in search of That which is concealed behind the world. He should choose an abode that will make it easy for him to proceed to his true Home.

Force of character is man’s great strength. If he uses it in his dealings with the world he will indeed be victorious in most direc­tions.

Worldly life is no doubt a battle-field. By becoming conscious of one’s spiritual wealth one must strive to emerge triumphant from the battle.

To remain calm and at peace under all circumstances is man’s duty. To form a bad opinion of a person just because one has heard some gossip about him is wrong. Hostility, condemnation, abusive language, ill-feeling and so forth, even if kept con­cealed within one’s mind, will and must fall back on oneself. Nobody should ever harm himself by harboring such thoughts feelings.

To perform one’s worldly duties is a good thing. At the same time, one has to be mindful of man’s real Duty.

What is perceived in this world is in the nature of a dream, similar to what one sees in dreams. The only difference is that the former takes place in the waking state and the latter during sleep. Albeit I am always with you, mother.

How much karma from former births remains yet to be worked out! Just as when, for example, someone has ruined his digestion by indulging in excessive and unrestrained eating; even though he later adopts a frugal and well-regulated diet, the results of these wise measures will not be noticeable straight away. Thus: whatever be the nature of one’s actions at the time, one has also simultaneously to enjoy and suffer the accumulated consequences of one’s previous conduct. In God’s creation there is perfect justice. Generally speaking, man is born into this world in order to reap the pleasant results of his good deeds as well as the outcome of his wrong-doing. What about the consequences of any impropriety or injustice he commits at the present time? He will of course have to endure them. Man enjoys the fruit of his accumulated former good works, but he will also have to suffer the effects of evil deeds. The Almighty’s Will is being fulfilled. Man must foster the desire to perform right action. Even the impossible becomes possible by God’s Will. Let His Lotus-feet be your sole refuge.

No two days pass alike. Do not allow yourself to be overcome by despair. Have complete trust in Him in spite of everything.

To Him you should call out in happiness and in pain. If you have fallen to the ground, use it is a lever to raise yourself up again, for it is man’s duty to exert himself, no matter what he undertakes.

He Who has given you what you possess in this world — wealth, distinction, youth —appeal to Him for his own sake.
You cannot? Why? You will have to! Verily, man can do all things. Who can say what He will give to whom and through what? Everything is His, entirely His. What did you bring with you at birth? Were you not empty-handed? And all you have acquired — is it yours, really?
All is His and whatever happens is His Will. Endeavour to maintain this attitude. Saying: ‘It is mine’ you grasp at everything— this is the way to court sorrow. Call out to Him because all is His. To yearn thus for Him is real prayer.
All that the world can yield — what is its worth? Have you not discerned down the years the inevitable course of events? In His store-house, where there are riches, relations, the vigour of youth, there are also old age, death, disease and poverty. You will have to experience them all. In this world there is no room for undisturbed ease; don’t you see that there is distress at every step? Does it not dawn on you even now to whom you belong? This serious illness of yours, is anyone suffering~ it for you? Can anyone even share it? Why all these worries?
All is His; all is He ; to leave everything to Him must be your sole endeavor. Invoke His Name, meditate on Him; ever abide in the remembrance of Him. Not praying for anything that is of this world, strive to abandon yourself without reserve to Him. In Him no want of any kind exists, no pain, no agony — in Him is all attainment, the summit of fulfillment, rest, repose, tranquility.

Life’s journey is bound to proceed inevi­tably in the manner you describe. Search in every home and see how many people can be found who have never known bereave­ment. This is why the only way out of this misery is by the path to Self-Realization.

Having obtained the great boon of human birth, do not waste a single moment. Plants, trees, animals and birds also live for some time and after generating other plants, trees, animals and birds of their own species, pass away. If you too live in a similar manner, what difference is there between them and yourself? Everyone should make a strenuous effort not to leave this world with a “return ticket.”

What this body always says is: Become a pilgrim on the path of immortality. Shun the road that leads to death; tread the path of immortality. Bring to light that you are imperishable, immortal.

The true progress in one’s spiritual experience depends on the sincerity and intensity of one’s aspiration. The measure of a person’s spiritual advance will be reflected in the manifestations that are vouchsafed to him of his Ista (object of worship), who will by no means remain inaccessible or separate from His devotee, but let Himself be contacted in an infinite variety of ways.

Realization must be all comprehensive, all embracing, and one must recognize one’s Self in everything.

§§

The world is blessed by the eternal presence of Sri Anandamayi Ma

Posted by on December 17th, 2011 Comments Off on Sri Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982) Spiritual Luminary

Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950), advocate of Non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jnana yoga

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Venkataraman Iyer was born on the 30th of December to a Brahmin family in India (Tiruchuzhi). As a young boy he enjoyed sports and other pastimes of youth.

Venkataraman went through a spontaneous enlightenment transformation when he was just seventeen years old.

At first he told no one about his spiritual alteration. But after two months he decided that a change was needed. He wanted to further evaluate and explore his newfound state of egolessness. So he left home on August 29, 1896, and traveled by train to the town of Mombalappattu. Shortly thereafter he arrived in Tiruvannamalai, his final destination. Venkataraman settled at the sacred hill of Arunachala.

One day he was visited by a sincere seeker named Ganapati Sastri. Ganapati said, “All that has to be read I have read. Even Vedanta Sastra I have fully understood. I have performed japa (repetition of a holy name) to my heart’s content. Yet I have not up to this time understood what tapas is. Hence have I sought refuge at thy feet. Pray enlighten me about the nature of tapas.”

For 15-minutes Venkataraman sat silently and did not respond. Then he explained, “If one watches whence this notion of ‘I’ springs, the mind will be absorbed into that. That is tapas. If a mantra is repeated, and attention directed to the source whence the mantra-sound is produced, the mind will be absorbed in that. That is tapas.”

Out of gratitude Ganapati then composed a poem of several stanzas, and shorted the name Venkataraman to Ramana. Venkataraman was thereafter known as Sri Ramana Maharshi.

There at the foot of Arunachala Sri Ramana Maharshi established an Ashram, took on some disciples, and regularly met with traveling guests to share his knowledge and inspire their spiritual journey.

Here are excerpts from the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

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Venkataraman’s experience of enlightened transformation …

One day while sitting quietly in his Uncles house Venkataraman unexpectedly was filled with terror and fright. He felt that death had come to claim him. He was in good health up to now and so was perplexed as to why this was happening.

He lay down stretching out his hands and legs. He held his breath and closed his eyes.

Venkataraman later related …

“The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: ‘Now that death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying?

This body dies . . . But with the death of the body am I dead? Is the body I?

The body dies but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.’

All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth which I perceived directly. . . From that moment onwards the ‘I’ or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death had vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on.”

§§

From “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharishi …

Question: How do we go to sleep and how do we wake up?
Maharishi: Just at nightfall the hen clucks and the chicks go and hide themselves under her wings. The hen then goes to roost in the nest with the chicks in her protection. At dawn the chicks come out and so does the hen. The mother-hen stands for the ego which collects all the thoughts and goes to sleep. At sunrise the rays emerge forth and are collected again at sunset. Similarly, when the ego displays itself, it does so with all its paraphernalia. When it sinks, everything disappears with it.

Question: What about bringing down divine consciousness from above?
Maharishi: As if the same is not already in the Heart? “O Arjuna, I am in the expanse of the Heart,” says Sri Krishna “He who is in the sun, is also in this man”, says a mantra in the Upanishads. “The Kingdom of God is within”, says the Bible. All are thus agreed that God is within. What is to be brought down? From where? Who is to bring what, and why? Realization is only the removal of obstacles to the recognition of the eternal, immanent Reality. Reality is. It need not be taken from place to place.

One Mr. Ramachandar, a gentleman from Ambala, asked where the Heart is and what Realization is.
Maharishi: The Heart is not physical; it is spiritual. Hridayam = hrit + ayam – This is the centre. It is that from which thoughts arise, on which they subsist and where they are resolved. The thoughts are the content of the mind and, they shape the universe. The Heart is the centre of all. Yatova imani bhutani jayante (that from which these beings come into existence) etc. is said to be Brahman in the Upanishads. That is the Heart. Brahman is the Heart.

Question: What is this Self again?
Maharishi: The Self is known to everyone but not clearly. You always exist. The Be-ing is the Self. ‘I am’ is the name of God. Of all the definitions of God, none is indeed so well put as the Biblical statement “I AM THAT I AM” in EXODUS (Chap. 3). There are other statements, such as Brahmaivaham, Aham Brahmasmi and Soham. But none is so direct as the name JEHOVAH = I AM. The Absolute Being is what is – It is the Self. It is God. Knowing

Question: Why are there good and evil?
Maharishi: They are relative terms. There must be a subject to know the good and evil. That subject is the ego. Trace the source of the ego. It ends in the Self. The source of the ego is God. This definition of God is probably more concrete and better understood by you.

Question: So it is. How to get Bliss?
Maharishi: Bliss is not something to be got. On the other hand you are always Bliss. This desire is born of the sense of incompleteness. To whom is this sense of incompleteness? Enquire. In deep sleep you were blissful: Now you are not so. What has interposed between that Bliss and this non-bliss? It is the ego. Seek its source and find you are Bliss.

There is nothing new to get. You have, on the other hand, to get rid of your ignorance which makes you think that you are other than Bliss. For whom is this ignorance? It is to the ego. Trace the source of the ego. Then the ego is lost and Bliss remains over. It is eternal. You are That, here and now.… That is the master key for solving all doubts. The doubts arise in the mind. The mind is born of the ego. The ego rises from the Self. Search the source of the ego and the Self is revealed. That alone remains. The

Question: What is the best way of living?
Maharishi: It differs according as one is a Jnani or ajnani. A Jnani does not find anything different or separate from the Self. All are in the Self. It is wrong to imagine that there is the world, that there is a body in it and that you dwell in the body. If the Truth is known, the universe and what is beyond it will be found to be only in the Self. The outlook differs according to the sight of the person. The sight is from the eye. The eye must be located somewhere. If you are seeing with the gross eyes you find others gross. If with subtle eyes (i.e., the mind) others appear subtle. If the eye becomes the Self, the Self being infinite, the eye is infinite. There is nothing else to see different from the Self.

He thanked Maharshi. He was told that the best way of thanking is to remain always as the Self.

§§

From “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharishi, in the afternoon …

Visitor: What is the object of Self-Realization?

Maharishi: Self-Realization is the final goal and it is the end in itself.

Visitor: l mean, what is the use of Self-Realization?

Maharishi: Why should you seek Self-Realization? Why do you not rest content with your present state? It is evident that you are discontented with the present state. The discontent is at an end if you realize the Self.

Question: What is that Self-Realization which removes the discontent? I am in the world and there are wars in it. Can Self-Realization put an end to it?

Maharishi: Are you in the world? Or is the world in you?

Visitor: I do not understand. The world is certainly around me.

Maharishi: You speak of the world and happenings in it. They are mere ideas in you. The ideas are in the mind. The mind is within you. And so the world is within you.

Visitor: I do not follow you. Even if I do not think of the world, the world is still there.

Maharishi: Do you mean to say that the world is apart from the mind and it can exist in the absence of the mind?

Visitor: Yes.

Maharishi: Does the world exist in your deep sleep?

Visitor: It does.

Maharishi: Do you see it in your sleep?

Visitor: No, I don’t. But others, who are awake, see it.

Maharishi: Are you so aware in your sleep? Or do you become aware of the other’s knowledge now?

Visitor: In my waking state.

Maharishi: So you speak of waking knowledge and not of sleep-experience. The existence of the world in your waking and dream states is admitted because they are the products of the mind. The mind is withdrawn in sleep and the world is in the condition of a seed. It becomes manifest over again when you wake up. The ego springs forth, identifies itself with the body and sees the world. So the world is a mental creation.

Visitor: How can it be?

Maharishi: Do you not create a world in your dream? The waking state also is a long drawn out dream. There must be a seer behind the waking and dream experiences. Who is that seer? Is it the body?

Visitor: It cannot be.

Maharishi: Is it the mind?

Visitor: It must be so.

Maharishi: But you remain in the absence of the mind.

Visitor: How?

Maharishi: In deep sleep.

Visitor: l do not know if I am then.

Maharishi: If you were not how do you recollect yesterday’s experiences? Is it possible that there was a break in the continuity of the ‘I’ during sleep?

Visitor: It may be.

Maharishi: If so, a Johnson may wake up as a Benson. How will the identity of the individual be established?

Visitor: I don’t know.

Maharishi: If this argument is not clear, follow a different line. You admit “I slept well”, “I feel refreshed after a sound sleep”. So sleep was your experience. The experiencer now identifies himself with the ‘I’ in the speaker. So this ‘I’ must have been in sleep also.

Visitor: Yes.

Maharishi: So ‘I’ was in sleep, if the world was then there, did it say that it existed?

Visitor: No. But the world tells me its existence now. Even if I deny its existence, I may knock myself against a stone and hurt my foot. The injury proves the existence of the stone and so of the world.

Maharishi: Quite so. The stone hurts the foot. Does the foot say that there is the stone?

Visitor: No. -‘I’.

Maharishi: Who is this ‘I’? It cannot be the body nor the mind as we have seen before. This ‘I’ is the one who experiences the waking, dream and sleep states. The three states are changes which do not affect the individual. The experiences are like pictures passing on a screen in the cinema. The appearance and disappearance of the pictures do not affect the screen. So also, the three states alternate with one another leaving the Self unaffected. The waking and the dream states are creations of the mind. So the Self covers all. To know that the Self remains happy in its perfection is Self-Realization. Its use lies in the realization of Perfection and thus of Happiness.

Visitor: Can it be complete happiness to remain Self-realized if one does not contribute to the happiness of the world? How can one be so happy when there is a war in Spain, a war in China? Is it not selfishness to remain Self-realized without helping the world?

Maharishi: The Self was pointed out to you to cover the universe and also transcend it. The world cannot remain apart from the Self. If the realization of such Self be called selfishness that selfishness must cover the world also. It is nothing contemptible.

Visitor: Does not the realized man continue to live just like a non-realized being?

Maharishi: Yes, with this difference that the realized being does not see the world as being apart from the Self, he possesses true knowledge and the internal happiness of being perfect, whereas the other person sees the world apart, feels imperfection and is miserable. Otherwise their physical actions are similar.

Visitor: The realized being also knows that there are wars being waged in the world, just like the other man.

Maharishi: Yes.

Visitor: How then can he be happy?

Maharishi: Is the cinema screen affected by a scene of fire burning or sea rising? So it is with the Self.

The idea that I am the body or the mind is so deep that one cannot get over it even if convinced otherwise. One experiences a dream and knows it to be unreal on waking. Waking experience is unreal in other states. So each state contradicts the others. They are therefore mere changes taking place in the seer, or phenomena appearing in the Self, which is unbroken and remains unaffected by them. Just as the waking, dream and sleep states are phenomena, so also birth, growth and death are phenomena in the Self which continues to be unbroken and unaffected. Birth and death are only ideas. They pertain to the body or the mind. The Self exists before the birth of this body and will remain after the death of this body. So it is with the series of bodies taken up in succession. The Self is immortal. The phenomena are changeful and appear mortal. The fear of death is of the body. It is not true of the Self. Such fear is due to ignorance. Realization means True Knowledge of the Perfection and Immortality of the Self. Mortality is only an idea and cause of misery. You get rid of it by realizing the Immortal nature of the Self.

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From “Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharishi,” compiled and edited by Prof. Laxmi Narain, 2009:

Contact with Ramana Maharshi can change our outlook and convince us not only of the reality but also of the immense utility of spiritual values. He does not believe in propaganda of any kind, nor does he lecture to any of his numerous admirers and devotees. Most of the time he sits silently transforming the hearts and minds of those who are privileged to be near him. By the living example of his intensely methodical and practical life he helps and reforms us. His plain, simple and unsophisticated philosophy vividly reflected in his day-do-day conduct serves as a key to unlock the mystery of life and solves in a practical way some of the complicated social, political and economic problems that confront us today.

He enjoins on us that there is only One Self, One Life which is vibrant in every atom, One Light which is vibrant in every creature, One Love that embraces all in Oneness. According to Sri Ramana, unless you realize purity and goodness in yourself, you cannot do anything really good to ‘others’.

The Sage of Arunachala is really a spiritual scientist, who has adopted the scientific method of approach to Truth by investigating the realm of the Unknown with the aid of his intuitive genius, which has assimilated reason. He has attained self-realization through his own self effort and intensive introspection. He is the greatest of modern Sages of India.

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From “Maharishi’s Gospel,” first published on the occasion of the 60th Jayanti of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi, 27th December 1939

Maharishi: Meditation is your true nature. You call it meditation now, because there are other thoughts distracting you. When these thoughts are dispelled, you remain alone — that is, in the state of meditation free from thoughts; and that is your real nature, which you are now trying to gain by keeping away other thoughts. Such keeping away of other thoughts is now called meditation. But when the practice becomes firm, the real nature shows itself as true meditation.

Guest: Other thoughts arise more forcibly when one attempts meditation!

Maharishi: Yes, all kinds of thought arise in meditation. That is only right; for what lies hidden in you is brought out. Unless it rises up, how can it be destroyed? Thoughts rise up spontaneously, as it were, but only to be extinguished in due course, thus strengthening the mind.

Guest: Does not death dissolve the individuality of a person, so that there can be no rebirth, just as the rivers discharged into the ocean lose their individualities?

Maharishi: But when the waters evaporate and return as rain on the hills, they once more flow in the form of rivers and fall into the ocean; so also the individualities during sleep lose their separateness and yet return as individuals according to their samskaras or past tendencies. Even so it is in death; and the individuality of the person with samskaras is not lost.

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Quotes from Sri Ramana Maharshi

Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.

You and I are the same.
What I have done is surely possible for all.
You are the Self now and can never be anything else.
Throw your worries to the wind, turn within and find Peace.

Relative knowledge pertains to the mind and not to the Self. It is therefore illusory and not permanent. Take a scientist, for instance. He formulates a theory that the Earth is round and goes on to prove it on an incontrovertible basis. When he falls asleep the whole idea vanishes; his mind is left a blank. What does it matter whether the world remains round or flat when he is asleep? So you see the futility of all such relative knowledge. One should go beyond relative knowledge and abide in the Self. Real knowledge is such experience, and not apprehension by the mind.

Nearly all mankind is more or less unhappy because nearly all do not know the true Self. Real happiness abides in Self-knowledge alone. All else is fleeting. To know one’s Self is to be blissful always.

Bliss is not something to be got. On the other hand you are always Bliss. This desire [for Bliss] is born of the sense of incompleteness. To whom is this sense of incompleteness? Enquire. In deep sleep you were blissful. Now you are not so. What has interposed between that Bliss and this non-bliss? It is the ego. Seek its source and find you are Bliss.

Mind is consciousness, which has limitations. We are originally unlimited and perfect. Later on we take on limitations and become the mind.

Meditation depends upon the strength of mind. It must be unceasing even when one is engaged in work. Particular time for it is meant for novices.

When one makes the mind stick to one thought, the mind becomes rock-steady and the energy is conserved.

There is no death nor birth. That which is born is only the body. The body is the creation of the ego. But the ego is not ordinarily perceived without the body. It is always identified with the body.

If a man considers he is born he cannot avoid the fear of death. Let him find out if he has been born or if the Self has any birth. He will discover that the Self always exists, that the body which is born resolves itself into thought and that the emergence of thought is the root of all mischief.

The mind is only a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts have their root in the I-thought. Whoever investigates the True “I” enjoys the stillness of bliss.

When the mind is left without anything to cling to, it becomes still.

The inquiry “who am I” turns the mind introvert and makes it calm.

There is no mind to control if you realize the self. The mind having vanished, the self shines forth. In the realized man, the mind may be active or inactive, the self remains for him.

Meditation helps concentration of the mind. Then the mind is free from thoughts and is in the meditated form.

Meditation is sticking to one thought. That single thought keeps away other thoughts; distraction of mind is a sign of its weakness; by constant meditation it gains strength.

When we turn the mind inwards, God manifests as the inner consciousness.

See who is the doubter, who is the thinker. It is the ego. Hold it; the other thoughts will die away – the ego will be left pure. See the source from where the ego arises and abide in it. That is pure consciousness.

The “I” thought is said to be the sum total of all thoughts. The source of the “I” thought has to be enquired into.

The mind of one meditating on a single object becomes one-pointed. And one-pointedness of mind leads to abidance in the self.

Real attainment is to be fully conscious, to be aware of surroundings and the people around, to move among them all, but not to merge consciousness in the environment. One should remain in inner independent awareness.

You cannot deny your existence in sleep. Nor can you deny you were happy then. You are now the same person speaking and raising doubts. You are not happy according to you. But you were happy in sleep. What has transpired in the meantime that happiness of sleep has broken down? It is the rise of the ego. That is the new arrival in the jagrat (waking) state. There was no ego in sleep.

The birth of the ego is called the birth of the person. There is no other kind of birth. Whatever is born is bound to die. Kill the ego: there is no fear of recurring death for what is once dead. The Self remains even after the death of the ego. That is Bliss – that is immortality.

Once the current of awareness of the self is set afoot, it becomes everlasting and continuous by intensification.

Realization is to get rid of the delusion that you have not realized.

The mind is intangible; in fact it does not exist. The surest way to control it is to seek it. Then its activities cease.

There is no difference between the dream and the waking state except that the dream is short and the waking long. Both are the results of the mind

The seer and the seen together constitute the mind. See if there is such a thing as the mind. Then, the mind merges in the Self and there is neither the seer nor the seen.

Wrong knowledge is the false identification of the Self with the body and the mind. This false identification must go, and then the Self alone remains.

Good thoughts keep off bad thoughts. They must themselves disappear before the state of realization.

Realization is for everyone; realization makes no difference between the aspirants. This very doubt, whether you can realize, and the notion “I have­ not realized” are themselves the obstacles. Be free from these obstacles also.

The state of being is permanent; things in the world are not. They are fleeting phenomena passing on the screen of being consciousness, which is eternal and stationary.

The ultimate truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said

Truly there is no cause for you to be miserable and unhappy. You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend the non­existent limitations. But if your spiritual practice itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them?

Realization is our true nature. It is nothing new to be gained. What is new cannot be eternal. Therefore there is no need to be doubting whether we would gain or lose the self.

A realized one sends out waves of spiritual influence in his aura, which draw many people towards him. Yet he may sit in a cave and maintain complete silence.

Turn the mind inward and cease thinking of yourself as the body; thereby you will come to know that the self is ever happy. Neither grief nor misery is experienced in this state.

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Sri Ramana Maharshi is an inspiration and source of profound knowledge to every seeker on the path toward eternal blissful existence.

Read his words, contemplate the teachings, and meditate to become a living embodiment of the timeless essence of life.

Posted by on October 5th, 2011 Comments Off on Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950), advocate of Non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jnana yoga

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), Bringing the East and West together

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was born (Narendra Nath Datta) to an aristocratic Bengali family in Calcutta, India. His father was an attorney and his mother a woman of faith and strong character.

Narendra found out that he loved and excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. He also practiced meditation. While attending Calcutta University and struggling with doubts about the existence of God, he decided to visit Sri Ramakrishna who was staying at the local Kali Temple. Upon meeting he asked Sri Ramakrishna the simple question, “Sir, have you seen God?” And without a moment’s hesitation Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have. I see Him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intenser sense.”

Narendra was impressed by that answer and the calming authentic kind nature of Sri Ramakrishna. Shortly after that encounter Narendra became a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He studied Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) and other disciplines.

After his masters passing Narendra led Ramakrishna’s students and established a new monastic brotherhood. In 1887 he took the formal vows of sannyasa, thereby assuming new name Swami Vivekananda. He believed that serving his fellow man was an effective way to worship God.

He started to travel throughout the Indian continent and in 1893 found himself at the “Parliament of the World’s Religions” in Chicago, USA. This turned out to be the watershed moment for all western civilization, as Swami Vivekananda introduced Eastern religious thought and practices to the New World.

In 1897 Swami Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, a philanthropic and spiritual organization. He continued to travel and teach in the United Stated and in Europe. India also rediscovered it spiritual roots.

Before his Mahasamadhi he wrote: “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body, to cast it off like a worn out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere until the whole world shall know that it is one with God.”

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RESPONSE TO WELCOME

At the World’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago, September 11, 1893

Sisters and Brothers of America,

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:

As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:

Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons winding their way to the same goal.

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WHY WE DISAGREE
September 15, 1893

I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, “Let us cease from abusing each other,” and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.

But I think I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

“Where are you from?”

“I am from the sea.”

“The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.

“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”

Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?”

“What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!”

“Well, then,” said the frog of the well, “nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out.”

That has been the difficulty all the while.

I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in the future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.

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THE ATMAN: ITS BONDAGE AND FREEDOM

(Delivered in America)

According to the Advaita philosophy, there is only one thing real in the universe, which it calls Brahman; everything else is unreal, manifested and manufactured out of Brahman by the power of Maya. To reach back to that Brahman is our goal. We are each one of us that Brahman, that Reality, plus this Maya. If we can get rid of this Maya or ignorance then we become what we really are. According to this philosophy, each man consists of three parts — the body, the internal organ or the mind, and behind that, what is called the Atman, the Self. The body is the external coating and the mind is the internal coating of the Atman who is the real perceiver, the real enjoyer, the being in the body who is working the body by means of the internal organ or the mind.

The Atman is the only existence in the human body which is immaterial. Because it is immaterial, it cannot be a compound, and because it is not a compound, it does not obey the law of cause and effect, and so it is immortal. That which is immortal can have no beginning because everything with a beginning must have an end. It also follows that it must be formless; there cannot be any form without matter. Everything that has form must have a beginning and an end. We have none of us seen a form which had not a beginning and will not have an end. A form comes out of a combination of force and matter. This chair has a peculiar form, that is to say a certain quantity of matter is acted upon by a certain amount of force and made to assume a particular shape. The shape is the result of a combination of matter and force. The combination cannot be eternal; there must come to every combination a time when it will dissolve. So all forms have a beginning and an end. We know our body will perish; it had a beginning and it will have an end. But the Self having no form, cannot be bound by the law of beginning and end. It is existing from infinite time; just as time is eternal, so is the Self of man eternal. Secondly, it must be all-pervading. It is only form that is conditioned and limited by space; that which is formless cannot be confined in space. So, according to Advaita Vedanta, the Self, the Atman, in you, in me, in every one, is omnipresent. You are as much in the sun now as in this earth, as much in England as in America. But the Self acts through the mind and the body, and where they are, its action is visible.

Each work we do, each thought we think, produces an impression called in Sanskrit Samskaras upon the mind and the sum total of these impressions becomes the tremendous force which is called “character”. The character of a man is what he has created for himself; it is the result of the mental and physical actions that he has done in his life. The sum total of the Samskaras is the force which gives a man the next direction after death. A man dies; the body falls away and goes back to the elements; but the Samskaras remain, adhering to the mind which, being made of fine material, does not dissolve, because the finer the material, the more persistent it is. But the mind also dissolves in the long run, and that is what we are struggling for.

In this connection, the best illustration that comes to my mind is that of the whirlwind. Different currents of air coming from different directions meet and at the meeting-point become united and go on rotating; as they rotate, they form a body of dust, drawing in bits of paper, straw, etc., at one place, only to drop them and go on to another, and so go on rotating, raising and forming bodies out of the materials which are before them. Even so the forces, called Prana in Sanskrit, come together and form the body and the mind out of matter, and move on until the body falls down, when they raise other materials to make another body, and when this falls, another rises, and thus the process goes on. Force cannot travel without matter. So when the body falls down, the mind-stuff remains, Prana in the form of Samskaras acting on it; and then it goes on to another point, raises up another whirl from fresh materials, and begins another motion; and so it travels from place to place until the force is all spent; and then it falls down, ended. So when the mind will end, be broken to pieces entirely, without leaving any Samskaras, we shall be entirely free, and until that time we are in bondage; until then the Atman is covered by the whirl of the mind, and imagines it is being taken from place to place. When the whirl falls down, the Atman finds that It is all-pervading. It can go where It likes, is entirely free, and is able to manufacture any number of minds or bodies It likes; but until then It can go only with the whirl. This freedom is the goal towards which we are all moving.

Suppose there is a ball in this room and we each have a mallet in our hands and begin to strike the ball, giving it hundreds of blows, driving it from point to point, until at last it flies out of the room. With what force and in what direction will it go out? These will be determined by the forces that have been acting upon it all through the room. All the different blows that have been given will have their effects. Each one of our actions, mental and physical, is such a blow. The human mind is a ball which is being hit. We are being hit about this room of the world all the time and our passage out of it is determined by the force of all these blows. In each case, the speed and direction of the ball is determined by the hits it has received; so all our actions in this world will determine our future birth. Our present birth, therefore, is the result of our past. This is one case: suppose I give you an endless chain, in which there is a black link and a white link alternately, without beginning and without end, and suppose I ask you the nature of the chain. At first you will find a difficulty in determining its nature, the chain being infinite at both ends, but slowly you find out it is a chain. You soon discover that this infinite chain is a repetition of the two links, black and white, and these multiplied infinitely become a whole chain. If you know the nature of one of these links, you know the nature of the whole chain, because it is a perfect repetition. All our lives, past, present, and future, form, as it were, an infinite chain, without beginning and without end, each link of which is one life, with two ends, birth and death. What we are and do here is being repeated again and again, with but little variation. So if we know these two links, we shall know all the passages we shall have to pass through in this world. We see, therefore, that our passage into this world has been exactly determined by our previous passages. Similarly we are in this world by our own actions. Just as we go out with the sum total of our present actions upon us, so we see that we come into it with the sum total of our past actions upon us; that which takes us out is the very same thing that brings us in. What brings us in? Our past deeds. What takes us out? Our own deeds here, and so on and on we go. Like the caterpillar that takes the thread from its own mouth and builds its cocoon and at last finds itself caught inside the cocoon, we have bound ourselves by our own actions, we have thrown the network of our actions around ourselves. We have set the law of causation in motion, and we find it hard to get ourselves out of it. We have set the wheel in motion, and we are being crushed under it. So this philosophy teaches us that we are uniformly being bound by our own actions, good or bad.

The Atman never comes nor goes, is never born nor dies. It is nature moving before the Atman, and the reflection of this motion is on the Atman; and the Atman ignorantly thinks it is moving, and not nature. When the Atman thinks that, it is in bondage; but when it comes to find it never moves, that it is omnipresent, then freedom comes. The Atman in bondage is called Jiva. Thus you see that when it is said that the Atman comes and goes, it is said only for facility of understanding, just as for convenience in studying astronomy you are asked to suppose that the sun moves round the earth, though such is not the case. So the Jiva, the soul, comes to higher or lower states. This is the well-known law of reincarnation; and this law binds all creation.
People in this country think it too horrible that man should come up from an animal. Why? What will be the end of these millions of animals? Are they nothing? If we have a soul, so have they, and if they have none, neither have we. It is absurd to say that man alone has a soul, and the animals none. I have seen men worse than animals.

The human soul has sojourned in lower and higher forms, migrating from one to another, according to the Samskaras or impressions, but it is only in the highest form as man that it attains to freedom. The man form is higher than even the angel form, and of all forms it is the highest; man is the highest being in creation, because he attains to freedom.

All this universe was in Brahman, and it was, as it were, projected out of Him, and has been moving on to go back to the source from which it was projected, like the electricity which comes out of the dynamo, completes the circuit, and returns to it. The same is the case with the soul. Projected from Brahman, it passed through all sorts of vegetable and animal forms, and at last it is in man, and man is the nearest approach to Brahman. To go back to Brahman from which we have been projected is the great struggle of life. Whether people know it or not does not matter. In the universe, whatever we see of motion, of struggles in minerals or plants or animals is an effort to come back to the centre and be at rest. There was an equilibrium, and that has been destroyed; and all parts and atoms and molecules are struggling to find their lost equilibrium again. In this struggle they are combining and re-forming, giving rise to all the wonderful phenomena of nature. All struggles and competitions in animal life, plant life, and everywhere else, all social struggles and wars are but expressions of that eternal struggle to get back to that equilibrium.

The going from birth to death, this travelling, is what is called Samsara in Sanskrit, the round of birth and death literally. All creation, passing through this round, will sooner or later become free. The question may be raised that if we all shall come to freedom, why should we struggle to attain it? If everyone is going to be free, we will sit down and wait. It is true that every being will become free, sooner or later; no one can be lost. Nothing can come to destruction; everything must come up. If that is so, what is the use of our struggling? In the first place, the struggle is the only means that will bring us to the centre, and in the second place, we do not know why we struggle. We have to. “Of thousands of men some are awakened to the idea that they will become free.” The vast masses of mankind are content with material things, but there are some who awake, and want to get back, who have had enough of this playing, down here. These struggle consciously, while the rest do it unconsciously.

The alpha and omega of Vedanta philosophy is to “give up the world,” giving up the unreal and taking the real. Those who are enamored of the world may ask, “Why should we attempt to get out of it, to go back to the centre? Suppose we have all come from God, but we find this world is pleasurable and nice; then why should we not rather try to get more and more of the world? Why should we try to get out of it?” They say, look at the wonderful improvements going on in the world every day, how much luxury is being manufactured for it. This is very enjoyable. Why should we go away, and strive for something which is not this? The answer is that the world is certain to die, to be broken into pieces and that many times we have had the same enjoyments. All the forms which we are seeing now have been manifested again and again, and the world in which we live has been here many times before. I have been here and talked to you many times before. You will know that it must be so, and the very words that you have been listening to now, you have heard many times before. And many times more it will be the same. Souls were never different, the bodies have been constantly dissolving and recurring. Secondly, these things periodically occur. Suppose here are three or four dice, and when we throw them, one comes up five, another four, another three, and another two. If you keep on throwing, there must come times when those very same numbers will recur. Go on throwing, and no matter how long may be the interval, those numbers must come again. It cannot be asserted in how many throws they will come again; this is the law of chance. So with souls and their associations. However distant may be the periods, the same combinations and dissolutions will happen again and again. The same birth, eating and drinking, and then death, come round again and again. Some never find anything higher than the enjoyments of the world, but those who want to soar higher find that these enjoyments are never final, are only by the way.

Every form, let us say, beginning from the little worm and ending in man, is like one of the cars of the Chicago Ferris Wheel which is in motion all the time, but the occupants change. A man goes into a car, moves with the wheel, and comes out. The wheel goes on and on. A soul enters one form, resides in it for a time, then leaves it and goes into another and quits that again for a third. Thus the round goes on till it comes out of the wheel and becomes free.

Astonishing powers of reading the past and the future of a man’s life have been known in every country and every age. The explanation is that so long as the Atman is within the realm of causation — though its inherent freedom is not entirely lost and can assert itself, even to the extent of taking the soul out of the causal chain, as it does in the case of men who become free — its actions are greatly influenced by the causal law and thus make it possible for men, possessed with the insight to trace the sequence of effects, to tell the past and the future.

So long as there is desire or want, it is a sure sign that there is imperfection. A perfect, free being cannot have any desire. God cannot want anything. If He desires, He cannot be God. He will be imperfect. So all the talk about God desiring this and that, and becoming angry and pleased by turns is babies’ talk, but means nothing. Therefore it has been taught by all teachers, “Desire nothing, give up all desires and be perfectly satisfied.”

A child comes into the world crawling and without teeth, and the old man gets out without teeth and crawling. The extremes are alike, but the one has no experience of the life before him, while the other has gone through it all. When the vibrations of ether are very low, we do not see light, it is darkness; when very high, the result is also darkness. The extremes generally appear to be the same, though one is as distant from the other as the poles. The wall has no desires, so neither has the perfect man. But the wall is not sentient enough to desire, while for the perfect man there is nothing to desire. There are idiots who have no desires in this world, because their brain is imperfect. At the same time, the highest state is when we have no desires, but the two are opposite poles of the same existence. One is near the animal, and the other near to God.

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THE REAL AND THE APPARENT MAN

(Delivered in New York)

Here we stand, and our eyes look forward sometimes miles ahead. Man has been doing that since he began to think. He is always looking forward, looking ahead. He wants to know where he goes even after the dissolution of his body. Various theories have been propounded, system after system has been brought forward to suggest explanations. Some have been rejected, while others have been accepted, and thus it will go on, so long as man is here, so long as man thinks. There is some truth in each of these systems. There is a good deal of what is not truth in all of them. I shall try to place before you the sum and substance, the result, of the inquiries in this line that have been made in India. I shall try to harmonize the various thoughts on the subject, as they have come up from time to time among Indian philosophers. I shall try to harmonize the psychologists and the metaphysicians, and, if possible, I shall harmonize them with modern scientific thinkers also.

The one theme of the Vedanta philosophy is the search after unity. The Hindu mind does not care for the particular; it is always after the general, nay, the universal. “What is that, by knowing which everything else is to be known?” That is the one theme. “As through the knowledge of one lump of clay all that is of clay is known, so, what is that, by knowing which this whole universe itself will be known?” That is the one search.

The whole of this universe, according to the Hindu philosophers, can be resolved into one material, which they call Akasha. Everything that we see around us, feel, touch, taste, is simply a differentiated manifestation of this Akasha. It is all-pervading, fine. All that we call solids, liquids, or gases, figures, forms, or bodies, the earth, sun, moon, and stars — everything is composed of this Akasha.

What force is it which acts upon this Akasha and manufactures this universe out of it? Along with Akasha exists universal power; all that is power in the universe, manifesting as force or attraction — nay, even as thought — is but a different manifestation of that one power which the Hindus call Prana.

This Prana, acting on Akasha, is creating the whole of this universe. In the beginning of a cycle, this Prana, as it were, sleeps in the infinite ocean of Akasha. It existed motionless in the beginning. Then arises motion in this ocean of Akasha by the action of this Prana, and as this Prana begins to move, to vibrate, out of this ocean come the various celestial systems, suns, moons, stars, earth, human beings, animals, plants, and the manifestations of all the various forces and phenomena. Every manifestation of power, therefore, according to them, is this Prana. Every material manifestation is Akasha.

When this cycle will end, all that we call solid will melt away into the next form, the next finer or the liquid form; that will melt into the gaseous, and that into finer and more uniform heat vibrations, and all will melt back into the original Akasha, and what we now call attraction, repulsion, and motion, will slowly resolve into the original Prana. Then this Prana is said to sleep for a period, again to emerge and to throw out all those forms; and when this period will end, the whole thing will subside again. Thus this process of creation is going down, and coming up, oscillating backwards and forwards. In the language of modern science, it is becoming static during one period, and during another period it is becoming dynamic. At one time it becomes potential, and at the next period it becomes active. This alteration has gone on through eternity.

Yet, this analysis is only partial. This much has been known even to modern physical science. Beyond that, the research of physical science cannot reach. But the inquiry does not stop in consequence. We have not yet found that one, by knowing which everything else will be known. We have resolved the whole universe into two components, into what are called matter and energy, or what the ancient philosophers of India called Akasha and Prana. The next step is to resolve this Akasha and the Prana into their origin. Both can be resolved into the still higher entity which is called mind. It is out of mind, the Mahat, the universally existing thought-power, that these two have been produced. Thought is a still finer manifestation of being than either Akasha or Prana. It is thought that splits itself into these two. The universal thought existed in the beginning, and that manifested, changed, evolved itself into these two Akasha and Prana: and by the combination of these two the whole universe has been produced.

We next come to psychology. I am looking at you. The external sensations are brought to me by the eyes; they are carried by the sensory nerves to the brain. The eyes are not the organs of vision. They are but the external instruments, because if the real organ behind, that which carries the sensation to the brain, is destroyed, I may have twenty eyes, yet I cannot see you. The picture on the retina may be as complete as possible, yet I shall not see you. Therefore, the organ is different from its instruments; behind the instruments, the eyes, there must be the organ So it is with all the sensations. The nose is not the sense of smell; it is but the instrument, and behind it is the organ. With every sense we have, there is first the external instrument in the physical body; behind that in the same physical body, there is the organ; yet these are not sufficient. Suppose I am talking to you, and you are listening to me with close attention. Something happens, say, a bell rings; you will not, perhaps, hear the bell ring. The pulsations of that sound came to your ear, struck the tympanum, the impression was carried by the nerve into the brain; if the whole process was complete up to carrying the impulse to the brain, why did you not hear? Something else was wanting — the mind was not attached to the organ. When the mind detaches itself from the organ, the organ may bring any news to it, but the mind will not receive it. When it attaches itself to the organ, then alone is it possible for the mind to receive the news. Yet, even that does not complete the whole. The instruments may bring the sensation from outside, the organs may carry it inside, the mind may attach itself to the organ, and yet the perception may not be complete. One more factor is necessary; there must be a reaction within. With this reaction comes knowledge. That which is outside sends, as it were, the current of news into my brain. My mind takes it up, and presents it to the intellect, which groups it in relation to pre-received impressions and sends a current of reaction, and with that reaction comes perception. Here, then, is the will. The state of mind which reacts is called Buddhi, the intellect. Yet, even this does not complete the whole. One step more is required. Suppose here is a camera and there is a sheet of cloth, and I try to throw a picture on that sheet. What am I to do? I am to guide various rays of light through the camera to fall upon the sheet and become grouped there. Something is necessary to have the picture thrown upon, which does not move. I cannot form a picture upon something which is moving; that something must be stationary, because the rays of light which I throw on it are moving, and these moving rays of light, must be gathered, unified, coordinated, and completed upon something which is stationary. Similar is the case with the sensations which these organs of ours are carrying inside and presenting to the mind, and which the mind in its turn is presenting to the intellect. This process will not be complete unless there is something permanent in the background upon which the picture, as it were, may be formed, upon which we may unify all the different impressions. What is it that gives unity to the changing whole of our being? What is it that keeps up the identity of the moving thing moment after moment? What is it upon which all our different impressions are pieced together, upon which the perceptions, as it were, come together, reside, and form a united whole? We have found that to serve this end there must be something, and we also see that that something must be, relatively to the body and mind, motionless. The sheet of cloth upon which the camera throws the picture is, relatively to the rays of light, motionless, else there will be no picture. That is to say, the perceiver must be an individual. This something upon which the mind is painting all these pictures, this something upon which our sensations, carried by the mind and intellect, are placed and grouped and formed into a unity, is what is called the soul of man.

We have seen that it is the universal cosmic mind that splits itself into the Akasha and Prana, and beyond mind we have found the soul in us. In the universe, behind the universal mind, there is a Soul that exists, and it is called God. In the individual it is the soul of man. In this universe, in the cosmos, just as the universal mind becomes evolved into Akasha and Prana, even so, we may find that the Universal Soul Itself becomes evolved as mind. Is it really so with the individual man? Is his mind the creator of his body, and his soul the creator of his mind? That is to say, are his body, his mind, and his soul three different existences or are they three in one or, again, are they different states of existence of the same unit being? We shall gradually try to find an answer to this question. The first step that we have now gained is this: here is this external body, behind this external body are the organs, the mind, the intellect, and behind this is the soul. At the first step, we have found, as it were, that the soul is separate from the body, separate from the mind itself. Opinions in the religious world become divided at this point, and the departure is this. All those religious views which generally pass under the name of dualism hold that this soul is qualified, that it is of various qualities, that all feelings of enjoyment, pleasure, and pain really belong to the soul. The non-dualists deny that the soul has any such qualities; they say it is unqualified.

Let me first take up the dualists, and try to present to you their position with regard to the soul and its destiny; next, the system that contradicts them; and lastly, let us try to find the harmony which non-dualism will bring to us. This soul of man, because it is separate from the mind and body, because it is not composed of Akasha and Prana, must be immortal. Why? What do we mean by mortality? Decomposition. And that is only possible for things that are the result of composition; anything that is made of two or three ingredients must become decomposed. That alone which is not the result of composition can never become decomposed, and, therefore, can never die. It is immortal. It has been existing throughout eternity; it is uncreated. Every item of creation is simply a composition; no one ever saw creation come out of nothing. All that we know of creation is the combination of already existing things into newer forms. That being so, this soul of man, being simple, must have been existing forever, and it will exist for ever. When this body falls off, the soul lives on. According to the Vedantists, when this body dissolves, the vital forces of the man go back to his mind and the mind becomes dissolved, as it were, into the Prana, and that Prana enters into the soul of man, and the soul of man comes out, clothed, as it were, with what they call the fine body, the mental body, or spiritual body, as you may like to call it. In this body are the Samskaras of the man. What are the Samskaras? This mind is like a lake, and every thought is like a wave upon that lake. Just as in the lake waves rise and then fall down and disappear, so these thought-waves are continually rising in the mind-stuff and then disappearing, but they do not disappear forever. They become finer and finer, but they are all there, ready to start up at another time when called upon to do so. Memory is simply calling back into waveform some of those thoughts which have gone into that finer state of existence. Thus, everything that we have thought, every action that we have done, is lodged in the mind; it is all there in fine form, and when a man dies, the sum total of these impressions is in the mind, which again works upon a little fine material as a medium. The soul, clothed, as it were, with these impressions and the fine body, passes out, and the destiny of the soul is guided by the resultant of all the different forces represented by the different impressions. According to us, there are three different goals for the soul.

Those that are very spiritual, when they die, follow the solar rays and reach what is called the solar sphere, through which they reach what is called the lunar sphere, and through that they reach what is called the sphere of lightning, and there they meet with another soul who is already blessed, and he guides the new-comer forward to the highest of all spheres, which is called the Brahmaloka, the sphere of Brahma. There these souls attain to omniscience and omnipotence, become almost as powerful and all-knowing as God Himself; and they reside there forever, according to the dualists, or, according to the non-dualists, they become one with the Universal at the end of the cycle. The next class of persons, who have been doing good work with selfish motives, are carried by the results of their good works, when they die, to what is called lunar sphere, where there are various heavens, and there they acquire fine bodies, the bodies of gods. They become gods and live there and enjoy the blessing of heaven for a long period; and after that period is finished, the old Karma is again upon them, and so they fall back again to the earth; they come down through the spheres of air and clouds and all these various regions, and, at last, reach the earth through raindrops. There on the earth they attach themselves to some cereal which is eventually eaten by some man who is fit to supply them with material to make a new body. The last class, namely, the wicked, when they die, become ghosts or demons, and live somewhere midway between the lunar sphere and this earth. Some try to disturb mankind, some are friendly; and after living there for some time they also fall back to the earth and become animals. After living for some time in an animal body they get released, and come back, and become men again, and thus get one more chance to work out their salvation. We see, then, that those who have nearly attained to perfection, in whom only very little of impurity remains, go to the Brahmaloka through the rays of the sun; those who were a middling sort of people, who did some good work here with the idea of going to heaven, go to the heavens in the lunar sphere and there obtain god-bodies; but they have again to become men and so have one more chance to become perfect. Those that are very wicked become ghosts and demons, and then they may have to become animals; after that they become men again and get another chance to perfect themselves. This earth is called the Karma-Bhumi, the sphere of Karma. Here alone man makes his good or bad Karma. When a man wants to go to heaven and does good works for that purpose, he becomes as good and does not as such store up any bad Karma. He just enjoys the effects of the good work he did on earth; and when this good Karma is exhausted, there come, upon him the resultant force of all the evil Karma he had previously stored up in life, and that brings him down again to this earth. In the same way, those that become ghosts remain in that state, not giving rise to fresh Karma, but suffer the evil results of their past misdeeds, and later on remain for a time in an animal body without causing any fresh Karma. When that period is finished, they too become men again. The states of reward and punishment due to good and bad Karmas are devoid of the force generating fresh Karmas; they have only to be enjoyed or suffered. If there is an extraordinarily good or an extraordinarily evil Karma, it bears fruit very quickly. For instance, if a man has been doing many evil things all his life, but does one good act, the result of that good act will immediately appear, but when that result has been gone through, all the evil acts must produce their results also. All men who do certain good and great acts, but the general tenor of whose lives has not been correct, will become gods; and after living for some time in god-bodies, enjoying the powers of gods, they will have again to become men; when the power of the good acts is thus finished, the old evil comes up to be worked out. Those who do extraordinarily evil acts have to put on ghost and devil bodies, and when the effect of those evil actions is exhausted, the little good action which remains associated with them, makes them again become men. The way to Brahmaloka, from which there is no more fall or return, is called the Devayana, i.e. the way to God; the way to heaven is known as Pitriyana, i.e. the way to the fathers.

Man, therefore, according to the Vedanta philosophy, is the greatest being that is in the universe, and this world of work the best place in it, because only herein is the greatest and the best chance for him to become perfect. Angels or gods, whatever you may call them, have all to become men, if they want to become perfect. This is the great centre, the wonderful poise, and the wonderful opportunity — this human life.

We come next to the other aspect of philosophy. There are Buddhists who deny the whole theory of the soul that I have just now been propounding. “What use is there,” says the Buddhist, “to assume something as the substratum, as the background of this body and mind? Why may we not allow thoughts to run on? Why admit a third substance beyond this organism, composed of mind and body, a third substance called the soul? What is its use? Is not this organism sufficient to explain itself? Why take anew a third something?” These arguments are very powerful. This reasoning is very strong. So far as outside research goes, we see that this organism is a sufficient explanation of itself — at least, many of us see it in that light. Why then need there be a soul as substratum, as a something which is neither mind nor body but stands as a background for both mind and body? Let there be only mind and body. Body is the name of a stream of matter continuously changing. Mind is the name of a stream of consciousness or thought continuously changing. What produces the apparent unity between these two? This unity does not really exist, let us say. Take, for instance, a lighted torch, and whirl it rapidly before you. You see a circle of fire. The circle does not really exist, but because the torch is continually moving, it leaves the appearance of a circle. So there is no unity in this life; it is a mass of matter continually rushing down, and the whole of this matter you may call one unity, but no more. So is mind; each thought is separate from every other thought; it is only the rushing current that leaves behind the illusion of unity; there is no need of a third substance. This universal phenomenon of body and mind is all that really is; do not posit something behind it. You will find that this Buddhist thought has been taken up by certain sects and schools in modern times, and all of them claim that it is new — their own invention. This has been the central idea of most of the Buddhist philosophies, that this world is itself all-sufficient; that you need not ask for any background at all; all that is, is this sense-universe: what is the use of thinking of something as a support to this universe? Everything is the aggregate of qualities; why should there be a hypothetical substance in which they should in here? The idea of substance comes from the rapid interchange of qualities, not from something unchangeable which exists behind them. We see how wonderful some of these arguments are, and they appeal easily to the ordinary experience of humanity — in fact, not one in a million can think of anything other than phenomena. To the vast majority of men nature appears to be only a changing, whirling, combining, mingling mass of change. Few of us ever have a glimpse of the calm sea behind. For us it is always lashed into waves; this universe appears to us only as a tossing mass of waves. Thus we find these two opinions. One is that there is something behind both body and mind which is an unchangeable and immovable substance; and the other is that there is no such thing as immovability or unchangeability in the universe; it is all change and nothing but change. The solution of this difference comes in the next step of thought, namely, the non-dualistic.

It says that the dualists are right in finding something behind all, as a background which does not change; we cannot conceive change without there being something unchangeable. We can only conceive of anything that is changeable, by knowing something which is less changeable, and this also must appear more changeable in comparison with something else which is less changeable, and so on and on, until we are bound to admit that there must be something which never changes at all. The whole of this manifestation must have been in a state of non-manifestation, calm and silent, being the balance of opposing forces, so to say, when no force operated, because force acts when a disturbance of the equilibrium comes in. The universe is ever hurrying on to return to that state of equilibrium again. If we are certain of any fact whatsoever, we are certain of this. When the dualists claim that there is a something which does not change, they are perfectly right, but their analysis that it is an underlying something which is neither the body nor the mind, a something separate from both, is wrong. So far as the Buddhists say that the whole universe is a mass of change, they are perfectly right; so long as I am separate from the universe, so long as I stand back and look at something before me, so long as there are two things — the looker-on and the thing looked upon — it will appear always that the universe is one of change, continuously changing all the time. But the reality is that there is both change and changelessness in this universe. It is not that the soul and the mind and the body are three separate existences, for this organism made of these three is really one. It is the same thing which appears as the body, as the mind, and as the thing beyond mind and body, but it is not at the same time all these. He who sees the body does not see the mind even, he who sees the mind does not see that which he calls the soul, and he who sees the soul — for him the body and mind have vanished. He who sees only motion never sees absolute calm, and he who sees absolute calm — for him motion has vanished. A rope is taken for a snake. He who sees the rope as the snake, for him the rope has vanished, and when the delusion ceases and he looks at the rope, the snake has vanished.

There is then but one all-comprehending existence, and that one appears as manifold. This Self or Soul or Substance is all that exists in the universe. That Self or Substance or Soul is, in the language of non-dualism, the Brahman appearing to be manifold by the interposition of name and form. Look at the waves in the sea. Not one wave is really different from the sea, but what makes the wave apparently different? Name and form; the form of the wave and the name which we give to it, “wave”. This is what makes it different from the sea. When name and form go, it is the same sea. Who can make any real difference between the wave and the sea? So this whole universe is that one Unit Existence; name and form have created all these various differences. As when the sun shines upon millions of globules of water, upon each particle is seen a most perfect representation of the sun, so the one Soul, the one Self, the one Existence of the universe, being reflected on all these numerous globules of varying names and forms, appears to be various. But it is in reality only one. There is no “I” nor “you”; it is all one. It is either all “I” or all “you”. This idea of duality, calf two, is entirely false, and the whole universe, as we ordinarily know it, is the result of this false knowledge. When discrimination comes and man finds there are not two but one, he finds that he is himself this universe. “It is I who am this universe as it now exists, a continuous mass of change. It is I who am beyond all changes, beyond all qualities, the eternally perfect, the eternally blessed.”

There is, therefore, but one Atman, one Self, eternally pure, eternally perfect, unchangeable, unchanged; it has never changed; and all these various changes in the universe are but appearances in that one Self.

Upon it name and form have painted all these dreams; it is the form that makes the wave different from the sea. Suppose the wave subsides, will the form remain? No, it will vanish. The existence of the wave was entirely dependent upon the existence of the sea, but the existence of the sea was not at all dependent upon the existence of the wave. The form remains so long as the wave remains, but as soon as the wave leaves it, it vanishes, it cannot remain. This name and form is the outcome of what is called Maya. It is this Maya that is making individuals, making one appear different from another. Yet it has no existence. Maya cannot be said to exist. Form cannot be said to exist, because it depends upon the existence of another thing. It cannot be said as not to exist, seeing that it makes all this difference. According to the Advaita philosophy, then, this Maya or ignorance — or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, “time, space, and causality” — is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as anyone thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane. Today it has been demonstrated that you and I, the sun, the moon, and the stars are but the different names of different spots in the same ocean of matter, and that this matter is continuously changing in its configuration. This particle of energy that was in the sun several months ago may be in the human being now; tomorrow it may be in an animal, the day after tomorrow it may be in a plant. It is ever coming and going. It is all one unbroken, infinite mass of matter, only differentiated by names and forms. One point is called the sun; another, the moon; another, the stars; another, man; another, animal; another, plant; and so on. And all these names are fictitious; they have no reality, because the whole is a continuously changing mass of matter. This very same universe, from another standpoint, is an ocean of thought, where each one of us is a point called a particular mind. You are a mind, I am a mind, everyone is a mind; and the very same universe viewed from the standpoint of knowledge, when the eyes have been cleared of delusions, when the mind has become pure, appears to be the unbroken Absolute Being, the ever pure, the unchangeable, the immortal.

What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go? In a certain school a number of little children were being examined. The examiner had foolishly put all sorts of difficult questions to the little children. Among others there was this question: “Why does not the earth fall ?” His intention was to bring out the idea of gravitation or some other intricate scientific truth from these children. Most of them could not even understand the question, and so they gave all sorts of wrong answers. But one bright little girl answered it with another question: “Where shall it fall?” The very question of the examiner was nonsense on the face of it. There is no up and down in the universe; the idea is only relative. So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.

How is it that the whole world believes in going to heaven, and in dying and being born? I am studying a book, page after page is being read and turned over. Another page comes and is turned over. Who changes? Who comes and goes? Not I, but the book. This whole nature is a book before the soul, chapter after chapter is being read and turned over, and every now and then a scene opens. That is read and turned over. A fresh one comes, but the soul is ever the same — eternal. It is nature that is changing, not the soul of man. This never changes. Birth and death are in nature, not in you. Yet the ignorant are deluded; just as we under delusion think that the sun is moving and not the earth, in exactly the same way we think that we are dying, and not nature. These are all, therefore, hallucinations. Just as it is a hallucination when we think that the fields are moving and not the railway train, exactly in the same manner is the hallucination of birth and death. When men are in a certain frame of mind, they see this very existence as the earth, as the sun, the moon, the stars; and all those who are in the same state of mind see the same things. Between you and me there may be millions of beings on different planes of existence. They will never see us, nor we them; we only see those who are in the same state of mind and on the same plane with us. Those musical instruments respond which have the same attunement of vibration, as it were; if the state of vibration, which they call “man-vibration”, should be changed, no longer would men be seen here; the whole “man-universe” would vanish, and instead of that, other scenery would come before us, perhaps gods and the god-universe, or perhaps, for the wicked man, devils and the diabolic world; but all would be only different views of the one universe. It is this universe which, from the human plane, is seen as the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and all such things — it is this very universe which, seen from the plane of wickedness, appears as a place of punishment. And this very universe is seen as heaven by those who want to see it as heaven. Those who have been dreaming of going to a God who is sitting on a throne, and of standing there praising Him all their lives, when they die, will simply see a vision of what they have in their minds; this very universe will simply change into a vast heaven, with all sorts of winged beings flying about and a God sitting on a throne. These heavens are all of man’s own making. So what the dualist says is true, says the Advaitin, but it is all simply of his own making. These spheres and devils and gods and reincarnations and transmigrations are all mythology; so also is this human life. The great mistake that men always make is to think that this life alone is true. They understand it well enough when other things are called mythologies, but are never willing to admit the same of their own position. The whole thing as it appears is mere mythology, and the greatest of all lies is that we are bodies, which we never were nor even can be. It is the greatest of all lies that we are mere men; we are the God of the universe. In worshipping God we have been always worshipping our own hidden Self. The worst lie that you ever tell yourself is that you were born a sinner or a wicked man. He alone is a sinner who sees a sinner in another man. Suppose there is a baby here, and you place a bag of gold on the table. Suppose a robber comes and takes the gold away. To the baby it is all the same; because there is no robber inside, there is no robber outside. To sinners and vile men, there is vileness outside, but not to good men. So the wicked see this universe as a hell, and the partially good see it as heaven, while the perfect beings realize it as God Himself. Then alone the veil falls from the eyes, and the man, purified and cleansed, finds his whole vision changed. The bad dreams that have been torturing him for millions of years, all vanish, and he who was thinking of himself either as a man, or a god, or a demon, he who was thinking of himself as living in low places, in high places, on earth, in heaven, and so on, finds that he is really omnipresent; that all time is in him, and that he is not in time; that all the heavens are in him, that he is not in any heaven; and that all the gods that man ever worshipped are in him, and that he is not in any one of those gods. He was the manufacturer of gods and demons, of men and plants and animals and stones, and the real nature of man now stands unfolded to him as being higher than heaven, more perfect than this universe of ours, more infinite than infinite time, more omnipresent than the omnipresent ether. Thus alone man becomes fearless, and becomes free. Then all delusions cease, all miseries vanish, all fears come to an end forever. Birth goes away and with it death; pains fly, and with them fly away pleasures; earths vanish, and with them vanish heavens; bodies vanish, and with them vanishes the mind also. For that man disappears the whole universe, as it were. This searching, moving, continuous struggle of forces stops for ever, and that which was manifesting itself as force and matter, as struggles of nature, as nature itself, as heavens and earths and plants and animals and men and angels, all that becomes transfigured into one infinite, unbreakable, unchangeable existence, and the knowing man finds that he is one with that existence. “Even as clouds of various colors come before the sky, remain there for a second and then vanish away,” even so before this soul are all these visions coming, of earths and heavens, of the moon and the gods, of pleasures and pains; but they all pass away leaving the one infinite, blue, unchangeable sky. The sky never changes; it is the clouds that change. It is a mistake to think that the sky is changed. It is a mistake to think that we are impure, that we are limited, that we are separate. The real man is the one Unit Existence.

Two questions now arise. The first is: “Is it possible to realize this? So far it is doctrine, philosophy, but is it possible to realize it?” It is. There are men still living in this world for whom delusion has vanished forever. Do they immediately die after such realization? Not so soon as we should think. Two wheels joined by one pole are running together. If I get hold of one of the wheels and, with an axe, cut the pole asunder, the wheel which I have got hold of stops, but upon the other wheel is its past momentum, so it runs on a little and then falls down. This pure and perfect being, the soul, is one wheel, and this external hallucination of body and mind is the other wheel, joined together by the pole of work, of Karma. Knowledge is the axe which will sever the bond between the two, and the wheel of the soul will stop — stop thinking that it is coming and going, living and dying, stop thinking that it is nature and has wants and desires, and will find that it is perfect, desire less. But upon the other wheel, that of the body and mind, will be the momentum of past acts; so it will live for some time, until that momentum of past work is exhausted, until that momentum is worked away, and then the body and mind fall, and the soul becomes free. No more is there any going to heaven and coming back, not even any going to the Brahmaloka, or to any of the highest of the spheres, for where is he to come from, or to go to? The man who has in this life attained to this state, for whom, for a minute at least, the ordinary vision of the world has changed and the reality has been apparent, he is called the “Living Free”. This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.

Once in Western India I was travelling in the desert country on the coast of the Indian Ocean. For days and days I used to travel on foot through the desert, but it was to my surprise that I saw every day beautiful lakes, with trees all round them, and the shadows of the trees upside down and vibrating there. “How wonderful it looks and they call this a desert country!” I said to myself. Nearly a month I travelled, seeing these wonderful lakes and trees and plants. One day I was very thirsty and wanted to have a drink of water, so I started to go to one of these clear, beautiful lakes, and as I approached, it vanished. And with a flash it came to my brain, “This is the mirage about which I have read all my life,” and with that came also the idea that throughout the whole of this month, every day, I had been seeing the mirage and did not know it. The next morning I began my march. There was again the lake, but with it came also the idea that it was the mirage and not a true lake. So is it with this universe. We are all travelling in this mirage of the world day after day, month after month, year after year, not knowing that it is a mirage. One day it will break up, but it will come back again; the body has to remain under the power of past Karma, and so the mirage will come back. This world will come back upon us so long as we are bound by Karma: men, women, animals, plants, our attachments and duties, all will come back to us, but not with the same power. Under the influence of the new knowledge the strength of Karma will be broken, its poison will be lost. It becomes transformed, for along with it there comes the idea that we know it now, that the sharp distinction between the reality and the mirage has been known.

This world will not then be the same world as before. There is, however, a danger here. We see in every country people taking up this philosophy and saying, “I am beyond all virtue and vice; so I am not bound by any moral laws; I may do anything I like.” You may find many fools in this country at the present time, saying, “I am not bound; I am God Himself; let me do anything I like.” This is not right, although it is true that the soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man. Every moment of your life you feel that you are free. We cannot live, talk, or breathe for a moment without feeling that we are free; but, at the same time, a little thought shows us that we are like machines and not free. What is true then? Is this idea of freedom a delusion? One party holds that the idea of freedom is a delusion; another says that the idea of bondage is a delusion. How does this happen? Man is really free, the real man cannot but be free. It is when he comes into the world of Maya, into name and form, that he becomes bound. Free will is a misnomer. Will can never be free. How can it be? It is only when the real man has become bound that his will comes into existence, and not before. The will of man is bound, but that which is the foundation of that will is eternally free. So, even in the state of bondage which we call human life or god-life, on earth or in heaven, there yet remains to us that recollection of the freedom which is ours by divine right. And consciously or unconsciously we are all struggling towards it. When a man has attained his own freedom, how can he be bound by any law? No law in this universe can bind him, for this universe itself is his.

He is the whole universe. Either say he is the whole universe or say that to him there is no universe. How can he have then all these little ideas about sex and about country? How can he say, I am a man, I am a woman I am a child? Are they not lies? He knows that they are. How can he say that these are man’s rights, and these others are woman’s rights? Nobody has rights; nobody separately exists. There is neither man nor woman; the soul is sexless, eternally pure. It is a lie to say that I am a man or a woman, or to say that I belong to this country or that. All the world is my country, the whole universe is mine, because I have clothed myself with it as my body. Yet we see that there are people in this world who are ready to assert these doctrines, and at the same time do things which we should call filthy; and if we ask them why they do so, they tell us that it is our delusion and that they can do nothing wrong. What is the test by which they are to be judged? The test is here.

Though evil and good are both conditioned manifestations of the soul, yet evil is the most external coating, and good is the nearer coating of the real man, the Self. And unless a man cuts through the layer of evil he cannot reach the layer of good, and unless he has passed through both the layers of good and evil he cannot reach the Self. He who reaches the Self, what remains attached to him? A little Karma, a little bit of the momentum of past life, but it is all good momentum. Until the bad momentum is entirely worked out and past impurities are entirely burnt, it is impossible for any man to see and realize truth. So, what is left attached to the man who has reached the Self and seen the truth is the remnant of the good impressions of past life, the good momentum. Even if he lives in the body and works incessantly, he works only to do good; his lips speak only benediction to all; his hands do only good works; his mind can only think good thoughts; his presence is a blessing wherever he goes. He is himself a living blessing. Such a man will, by his very presence, change even the most wicked persons into saints. Even if he does not speak, his very presence will be a blessing to mankind. Can such men do any evil; can they do wicked deeds? There is, you must remember, all the difference of pole to pole between realization and mere talking. Any fool can talk. Even parrots talk. Talking is one thing, and realizing is another. Philosophies, and doctrines, and arguments, and books, and theories, and churches, and sects, and all these things are good in their own way; but when that realization comes, these things drop away. For instance, maps are good, but when you see the country itself, and look again at the maps, what a great difference you find! So those that have realized truth do not require the ratiocinations of logic and all other gymnastics of the intellect to make them understand the truth; it is to them the life of their lives, concretized, made more than tangible. It is, as the sages of the Vedanta say, “even as a fruit in your hand”; you can stand up and say, it is here. So those that have realized the truth will stand up and say, “Here is the Self”. You may argue with them by the year, but they will smile at you; they will regard it all as child’s prattle; they will let the child prattle on. They have realized the truth and are full. Suppose you have seen a country, and another man comes to you and tries to argue with you that that country never existed, he may go on arguing indefinitely, but your only attitude of mind towards him must be to hold that the man is fit for a lunatic asylum. So the man of realization says, “All this talk in the world about its little religions is but prattle; realization is the soul, the very essence of religion.” Religion can be realized. Are you ready? Do you want it? You will get the realization if you do, and then you will be truly religious. Until you have attained realization there is no difference between you and atheists. The atheists are sincere, but the man who says that he believes in religion and never attempts to realize it is not sincere.

The next question is to know what comes after realization. Suppose we have realized this oneness of the universe, that we are that one Infinite Being, and suppose we have realized that this Self is the only Existence and that it is the same Self which is manifesting in all these various phenomenal forms, what becomes of us after that? Shall we become inactive, get into a corner and sit down there and die away? “What good will it do to the world?” That old question! In the first place, why should it do good to the world? Is there any reason why it should? What right has any one to ask the question, “What good will it do to the world?” What is meant by that? A baby likes candies. Suppose you are conducting investigations in connection with some subject of electricity and the baby asks you, “Does it buy candies?” “No” you answer. “Then what good will it do?” says the baby. So men stand up and say, “What good will this do to the world; will it give us money?” “No.” “Then what good is there in it?” That is what men mean by doing good to the world. Yet religious realization does all the good to the world. People are afraid that when they attain to it, when they realize that there is but one, the fountains of love will be dried up, that everything in life will go away, and that all they love will vanish for them, as it were, in this life and in the life to come. People never stop to think that those who bestowed the least thought on their own individualities have been the greatest workers in the world. Then alone a man loves when he finds that the object of his love is not any low, little, mortal thing. Then alone a man loves when he finds that the object of his love is not a clod of earth, but it is the veritable God Himself. The wife will love the husband the more when she thinks that the husband is God Himself. The husband will love the wife the more when he knows that the wife is God Himself. That mother will love the children more who thinks that the children are God Himself. That man will love his greatest enemy who knows that that very enemy is God Himself. That man will love a holy man who knows that the holy man is God Himself, and that very man will also love the unholiest of men because he knows the background of that unholiest of men is even He, the Lord. Such a man becomes a world-mover for whom his little self is dead and God stands in its place. The whole universe will become transfigured to him. That which is painful and miserable will all vanish; struggles will all depart and go. Instead of being a prison-house, where we every day struggle and fight and compete for a morsel of bread, this universe will then be to us a playground. Beautiful will be this universe then! Such a man alone has the right to stand up and say, “How beautiful is this world!” He alone has the right to say that it is all good. This will be the great good to the world resulting from such realization, that instead of this world going on with all its friction and clashing, if all mankind today realize only a bit of that great truth, the aspect of the whole world will be changed, and, in place of fighting and quarrelling, there would be a reign of peace. This indecent and brutal hurry which forces us to go ahead of everyone else will then vanish from the world. With it will vanish all struggle, with it will vanish all hate, with it will vanish all jealousy, and all evil will vanish away forever. Gods will live then upon this earth. This very earth will then become heaven, and what evil can there be when gods are playing with gods, when gods are working with gods, and gods are loving gods? That is the great utility of divine realization. Everything that you see in society will be changed and transfigured then. No more will you think of man as evil; and that is the first great gain. No more will you stand up and sneeringly cast a glance at a poor man or woman who has made a mistake. No more, ladies, will you look down with contempt upon the poor woman who walks the street in the night, because you will see even there God Himself. No more will you think of jealousy and punishments. They will all vanish; and love, the great ideal of love, will be so powerful that no whip and cord will be necessary to guide mankind aright.

If one millionth part of the men and women who live in this world simply sit down and for a few minutes say, “You are all God, O ye men and O ye animals and living beings, you are all the manifestations of the one living Deity!” the whole world will be changed in half an hour. Instead of throwing tremendous bomb-shells of hatred into every corner, instead of projecting currents of jealousy and of evil thought, in every country people will think that it is all He. He is all that you see and feel. How can you see evil until there is evil in you? How can you see the thief, unless he is there, sitting in the heart of your heart? How can you see the murderer until you are yourself the murderer? Be good, and evil will vanish for you. The whole universe will thus be changed. This is the greatest gain to society. This is the great gain to the human organism. These thoughts were thought out, worked out amongst individuals in ancient times in India. For various reasons, such as the exclusiveness of the teachers and foreign conquest, those thoughts were not allowed to spread. Yet they are grand truths; and wherever they have been working, man has become divine. My whole life has been changed by the touch of one of these divine men, about whom I am going to speak to you next Sunday; and the time is coming when these thoughts will be cast abroad over the whole world. Instead of living in monasteries, instead of being confined to books of philosophy to be studied only by the learned, instead of being the exclusive possession of sects and of a few of the learned, they will all be sown broadcast over the whole world, so that they may become the common property of the saint and the sinner, of men and women and children, of the learned and of the ignorant. They will then permeate the atmosphere of the world, and the very air that we breathe will say with every one of its pulsations, “Thou art That”. And the whole universe with its myriads of suns and moons, through everything that speaks, with one voice will say, “Thou art That”.

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It is my hope that you are inspired by the words and deeds of Swami Vivekananda.

Blessed be.

Posted by on June 26th, 2011 Comments Off on Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), Bringing the East and West together

Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati (1916-1993), Vedanta Scholar and founder of the International Chinmaya Mission

Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati

Balakrishna Menon Balan (1916-1993) was born in Ernakulam (India) to a devout Hindu family. After childhood and adolescence he enrolled at Madras University where he graduated in 1939.  Balakrishna then continued his education at Lucknow University studying English Literature.

One of his first jobs was with “The National Herald” as a field reporter.  Although he covered mostly local stories, he decided to take a trip to Rishikesh (India) to the ashram of Swami Sivananda.  His intention was to write a critical article exposing the fraudulent lives of Hindu monks.  Instead, he was transformed by Sivananda’s words and presence.  The spiritual quest was ignited in his heart and mind.  He left the paper and was shortly initiated as “Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati,” a new disciple of Sivananda.

After several years in the ashram with Swami Sivananda his beloved guru instructed him to leave and become a student of Swami Tapovan Maharaj.  There he stayed and studied for 8 years.

In 1952 he left the Himalayas (Rishikesh) to begin teaching the knowledge of Vedanta to the world.  He quickly became one of the most renowned and revered exponents of the Bhagavad Gita, Vedas, and Upanishads.  He is credited with reviving spirituality and cultural values in India.

He established the International Chinmaya Mission; today with over 300 centers for learning.

During his 42 years of service to humanity he spread the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta, as delineated by Adi Shankaracharya, throughout the world.

His life was full of love, tireless service, and the quest to bring the priceless knowledge of life to anyone who would listen.

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Here are some of his ideas, as expressed through his many books and lectures.

From the book Kindle Life:

Independence is the very essence of manhood and he who has disengaged himself from his slavish dependence upon the world of objects for gaining his flashes of joy, is truly independent.  Others are only being who, like feathers in the summer breeze, are tossed about hither and thither by the problems and challenges of the world…

Man being essentially divine by nature, the call of the higher is in the bosom of every one of us, but while facing the challenges of life, we know not the right direction to turn in…

Man, the roof and crown of creation, has the unique capacity of quieting his mind without helplessly depending upon the objects around him.  But this capacity now lies dormant in him and he, unaware of it, foolishly tries to procure happiness through the objects of the world which have only a false glitter of joy.  They can give, indeed, no enduring and lasting satisfaction…

There are two distinct and separate paths in life, namely, “The Path of the Pleasant” (Preya) and “The Path of the Good” (Shreya).  Man is confronted with the choice of taking on one of these paths at every single moment of his life.  The path of the Pleasant, as the name suggests, pleases, fascinates and entices man to take it.  Whereas, the path of the Good, which is based on sound religious precepts and injunctions, is resisted by the human mind.

The path of the Pleasant which caters to man’s self gratification provides immediate pleasures, but ultimately, petrifies into enlarging ripples of disappointment and sorrow.

In sticking contrast, the path of the Good is detested in the beginning but, later on, it leads to greater happiness and sense of fulfillment…

The mind and intellect of man, like the yoke and the white of an egg, need to be carefully tended and nurtured in the warmth of Mother Sruti (Scriptures) in order that they may develop and usher him into a freer and ampler existence.  But when they are neglected, his personality degenerates and creates disturbances and chaos for him and his society.  It is, therefore, necessary for us to put forth our efforts in the direction indicated by the scriptures to enable us to grow inwardly and help in bringing about, a progressive and healthy society…

In the mechanism of human action, the propelling force behind our desires, thoughts and actions originates from our innate inclinations and tendencies, called by the term Vasanas.  Though our activities appear to be defined by our tendencies, man has the unique capacity, which is denied to all other living creatures, to exercise his self-effort in choosing his actions.  By a persistent and prolonged application of this great faculty, every human being can erase his inherent tendencies and reach the pinnacle of Perfection…

There is nothing wrong with our times.  It is a wonderful era of glorious achievements.  And yet man, sitting in the midst of plenty and prosperity, is undergoing stress and strain and can find no peace or happiness in life.  The Religious Masters studied this sad paradox and discovered that man’s mental make-up was the cause of all trouble.  They also provided a remedy by prescribing certain fundamental values and virtues of life.  These, when practiced and lived, enable man to master his mind and mastery of the mind is mastery over the world …

Our life of harmony with the ampler scheme of the Cosmos brings to our heart an inward peace and poise.  When poise is maintained within us, problems and challenges vanish like midst before the rising sun …

A man must know his real identity if he desires to maintain a proper and healthy relationship with the world at large.  Every human being is constituted of a physical, a mental and an intellectual equipment and the Conscious Principle which lends sentiency to these equipments.  Human development culminates in finding one’s identity with the Conscious Principle – the Spiritual Core of one’s personality…

Godhood is experienced in the state of thought extinction.  It is a state of being when the mind is totally transcended.  Divinity is the very nature and essence of man; but, it lies covered under the encrustation of thought.  When the thoughts cease to erupt, man attains Godhood.  Religion indicates different paths to the Reality; it prescribes various techniques for the extinction of thoughts by quieting and transcending the mind…

The Vedas are four in number, namely, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana.  Each Veda is divided into three sections and these are called Mantra, Brahmana and Upanishad (Aranyaka).  In the Mantra portion we find the ecstatic admiration of Nature’s beauty expressed in lyrical poetry by these contemplative seers.  The Brahmana portion deals with rituals and sacrifices; they are meant for mental integration and self-purification.  The last portion contains the philosophic wisdom known as Vedanta…

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From the book Meditation and Life:

Men cannot rest content without knowing.  To know and understand seems to be the most virulent of appetites man is ever suffering from.  Thus from the very dawn of history man has been seeking to know and understand , to investigate and discover greater fields of knowledge regarding the world of objects as well as the world within himself.  Systematized knowledge of the world outside, constituted of things and beings perceived by his senses, form the subject-matter of science, while the inquiries pursued and the discoveries made in the world within himself, when codified into a systematic science of life, become philosophy.

Having discovered and understood the illimitable number of varied objects and beings, science in her maturity turns her gaze, enquiring for the fundamental unit of matter.  In the 18th century scientists discovered that the unit of matter was the atom and that there were something like ninety nine different elements in the world…

The diligent Risis [sic] continued their enquiries as to the source of thoughts in man.  As a result they came to discover that thoughts are directly controlled by the desire in us.  Desires are the volcano from which the thought-lava erupts and flows out scorching the field into activity.  The quality and texture of the desires determine the thoughts in the bosom; and the thoughts, we have found, are transcribed and echoed in our actions…

We have so far found that in our self-forgetfulness which is called “ignorance” we acquire our desires; desires generate the thought-currents; thoughts expressed in the outer world of actions; and actions in their reaction either thicken, or remove the misunderstanding in ourselves regarding our own Self…

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Love and Work …

Love is the heart of religions, the theme of all classical works of art and literature and the song of all devotees. Scientists know only what love does… not what love is. Love can indeed empty our asylums, perhaps all our prisons, may be all our hospitals. People suffer in life due to lack of love. Love is to human hearts what sun is to flowers! Love grows with knowledge of the beloved. To love, therefore, is to know… yet, to know is not necessarily to love.

We may often give without love, but we can never love without giving. Love is at once noun and verb… Love is something to be sustained and fulfilled, by loving. By loving alone can love be made to grow and thrive. And our work is love made visible! When love is made to manifest, work is done. When we work only to produce profit or wages, work becomes crushing, sweating, joyless labor.

With love in our heart, let us put forth effort and flood the world with our work!

Find Love, Not Fault …

It takes two to make a quarrel. Also, it takes two to make up (patching up) after quarrel. Without invoking love, this can never be accomplished.

Flood your mind with love, look into the eyes of the other and embrace the person with whom you had quarreled. Words are not necessary. Both will have eyes flooded and joy tears will wash away all quarrels for the time being. Try this. You will find this true every time. This is the power of love. This is the strength of love!

Faults become thick when love is thin. When love rises to swirl around us, and when we review in this clear light of love, the very faults get transformed into the essential beauty in them. This is the magic touch of love, the miracle played by love.

When our hearts are full of love, life is a smiling valley of beauty and joy, romantic and divine!

Open Up and Receive …

Very often we hear some people complaining that “nobody loves me.” The world is full of love. But generally our hearts are not open for the love to gush in to us. And the door of your heart ever remains closed. Nobody other than you can ever throw it open, for the door of your heart cannot be locked from outside and it can be open only from within. You alone are in your heart. You unconsciously got locked in and you cry out to others to open up and release you. Nobody can. Stop crying. Find the handle and turn – Lo! It has opened, and you get immediately a blast of the life-giving reviving breeze of fragrant cool love from all around. Open up and receive all love.

Balance Head and Heart …

In life to handle yourself, use your head but to handle others, use your heart. Be strict and intelligently critical about yourself and your own weaknesses and follies. But to manage others, be critical, but cushion your words and attitudes with love. Love is the greatest persuasive power we know in life.

This love that we have, needs constant giving – and as we give away, it gets replenished from His infinite Source. But if you refuse to give love, the stagnant love in your own heart putrefies and the crawling worms start eating up your own heart!

Cease to give love, we cease to have love – this is the strict law of love.

Give, Give, Give, and Give again love to all.

Enjoy the Chase …

Strive on! With tireless enthusiasm, strive on to reach your goal. Without the goal, the best in you can never come out to expression. As we stride out to accomplish any chosen goal, no doubt, Lord tests us by heaping many apparently impossible hurdles in our direct path to our goal.

But, with enthusiasm, fearless of the obstacles, smiling in full self-confidence when we dash towards the goal, all the seemingly terrible obstacles move away as shadows!! This is Lord’s grace. If you have ears to hear your can then listen to the peals of His roaring laughter applauding your faith and courage!!

In life, the glory lies not in the quarry, but in the chase… The success is not in the trophy won but in the race run…

Do it in spite of Odds …

Recently, I met an old couple who had lived 53 years of married life! They had their tiffs, quarrels, mutual screaming’s at each other. Yet, they lived joyously and saw their children get educated, becoming independent and now they are living happily with their own growing families.

The old couple have grandchildren, great grandchildren and two great-great grand children. As I was talking to them, we went back in time and I asked what made him marry her. After a moment’s pause, the toothless lips parted in a mischievous smile, and his bony hand moved quietly to hold the wrinkled and knotted fingers of the lady and said, “I married her and we remained in marriage so long because we have so many faults in common.” The old lady admiringly smiled in to his face.

I asked her if she has an explanation for their long married life; she shyly looked in his eyes and slowly reminded me, “Swamiji, we like someone ‘because’, but we love someone ‘in spite of’”. I was silenced. I came away wiser carrying with me the picture of the old grandsire shaking his head in admiration for the old lady!!

Savor the Fragrance of Forgiveness …

Forgiveness is the secret beauty in any spiritual seeker’s life. Not to forgive is to maintain the passions bottled up in us and then we are never empty enough to lift ourselves in our soaring meditations.

Forgive liberally your enemies…. In fact, nothing can annoy them so much! They expect you to kick back and so have planned to break your ribs with return kicks. All these planned onslaughts become empty and hollow when you just forgive them! Many enemies become true friends when lavishly and lovingly forgiven!

Forgiveness is the fragrance which crushed tulasi leaves on the fingers that crush them in a thoughtless act!

Sandalwood perfumes even the axe that hews it down! The more we rub sandalwood against a stone the more its fragrance spreads. Burn it, and it wafts its glory in the entire neighborhood.

So is the enchanting beauty of forgiveness in life!

Nurture Friendship …

Cultivate friends! To have a friend is to make life easier and richer. A friend is a present that you give yourself. But you cannot pick up a friend, nor purchase a friend. We have to discover a friend.

Friends are made by many acts: and friends are lost often by single thoughtless act. You must grow up to deserve a friend… to have friends you must have friendliness in you: selfless and loving, with deep concern for others.

Perhaps dogs are lovable and become friends because they wag their tails… rarely their tongues. Learn to speak softly, always words of love and affection, then friends multiply. In short, the ability to love and express it in action are the requirements in gathering more and more friends. In fact, “love in action” is the heart of all religions.

Who is a friend? He who comes to you with love and cheer, when all others have left you is a true friend! Such a true friend is discovered not by searching outside for the right person to be friend, but by your growing to be the right person, to deserve a friend!

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The Art of Listening …

We can learn a lot from every event in life. Just as the honeybee has the special instrument (proboscis) to extract the very essence in the flowers, human beings have a special faculty (power of discrimination) to maintain the quality of life by learning the art of true listening.

Listening is the channel most often used for “learning.” It is a vital communication function; it improves our ability of understanding, self-awareness and self-application.

Effective listening is not mere “hearing.” In fact, we all know from our personal experiences that mere hearing – or poor listening – can very well result in:

• Frustration
• Indifference
• Misunderstandings
• Misleading judgments
• Embarrassment
• Poor human relations
• Many other psychological blocks and maladjustments

Yes, listening has become almost a forgotten skill. Very often we are led to believe that speaking represents action and power, while listening connotes weakness and apathy. We find that resistance to listening tends to be the cultural norm!

Sometimes, we pay attention to what interests us, and block out larger areas of reality. Another block to listening occurs when we form an opinion about the level of what is being said. We label the information ahead of time as unimportant, too boring, too complex, or as being nothing new. Due to such internal distractions, we become biased listeners, and our minds are tuned out rather than tuned in!

Some people fake attention – just to please the speaker! Some have the habit of interrupting when others are talking. Personal problems sometimes manage to creep into our minds – diverting our attention – while someone else is talking. Fatigue is another limiting factor in listening, as listening takes concentration and effort. It is easier to daydream and let our minds become preoccupied when our energy level is low.

A semantic barrier is very common in most of us. No two persons have exactly the same meaning for the same word or expression. We evaluate an individual’s competence and motivation through our semantic filters. We make judgments about people, based on our varied beliefs, knowledge, education, upbringing, what we understand, and what we see and perceive.

In short, the blind spots are within us. The angularities or the changing moods of the mind are barriers to effective listening. The barriers are caused by:

• Faulty memories
• Shades of ego
• Tendencies and attitudes
• Beliefs
• Images of past experiences
• Prejudices of the past
• Likes and dislikes
• Expectations and anxieties for the future

Only when we become aware of our blind spots will we be able to understand and reshape our beliefs, values, and attitudes. Therefore, it is necessary to train the mind to widen its perspective and see things in an objective way.

Let us have a “listening mind” – a mind that is open, unprejudiced, objective, alert, attentive, and relaxed.

Let us have a “balanced outlook” – enjoying spiritual strength, inner stability, mental beauty, and physical perfection.

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Quotes from Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati,

Universe is a cosmos and not a chaos. There exists a mental affinity; a scientific law; a rhythm of mental relationship in which the entire living world is held together, in one web of love.

Love is a consistent passion to give, not a meek persistent hope to receive. The only demand of life is the privilege to love all.

Be strict and intelligently critical about yourself and your own weakness and follies. But, cushion your words and attitudes with Love. Love is the greatest persuasive power we know in life.

We may often give without love, but we can never love without giving.

Love is the heart of all religions; the theme of all classical works of art and literature; the song of all devotees. Scientists know only what love does, not what love is. Love is to human hearts what the sun is to flowers.

We like someone because; we love someone in spite of…

Flood your mind with love. Look into the eyes of the other and embrace the person with whom you have quarreled.

To give love is true freedom; to demand love is pure slavery.

Success or achievement is not the final goal.  It is the ’spirit’ in which you act that puts the seal of beauty upon your life.

To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness.

Do the best and leave the rest.

Efficiency is the capacity to bring proficiency into expression.

Brood less, smile more and serve all.

The tragedy of human history is decreasing happiness in the midst of increasing comforts.

The highest form of grace is silence.

Out of purity and silence come the words of power.

The cultured give happiness wherever they go. The uncultured whenever they go.

Faults become thick when love is thin.

Introspect daily, detect diligently, negate ruthlessly.

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I was privileged to meet Swami Chinmayananda in 1972 when he was on a United States tour.   I can warmly say that he was one of the first (of many) spiritual teachers that I studies with.  He was a charming eloquent speaker, and prolific writer.   I read more than a dozen of his books.

Swami Chinmayananda will always hold a special place in my heart.  He introduced me to the wonders of meditation and the intriguing field Vedanta, and mind/body/spiritual growth.

To learn more about the Swami’s teaching just type “Swami Chinmayananda” or “Chinmaya Mission” into Google search.

Meditation is a key for unlocking Self Realization.  Vedanta provides knowledge along the path.  Both the subjective (meditation) and objective (knowledge and learning) approach to spiritual growth should be embraced.  Meditation provides experience, and knowledge validates the experience.

The kingdom of the Self is overshadowed.  Sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are projected onto the screen of the mind and taken as real.  They eclipse our true unbounded eternal nature.  Close the eyes and partake of the nectar of silence.  Remain not beguiled.  Remove the veil between self and Self.  Let every heart beat the rhythm of the cosmos, in joy and eternal splendor.

Posted by on April 23rd, 2011 Comments Off on Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati (1916-1993), Vedanta Scholar and founder of the International Chinmaya Mission