Archive for the ‘Absolute’ Category

Path to reach Self

January 9, 2013

It has been quite a few months since I have blogged here. It was so because it has been more of experience rather than concepts, ideas or thoughts that could be explained in words…. and it is not an experience of miracles or mysteries but simple wonders, pain and joy of every day life as we live the moment. I have also been reading, listening and learning, and reflecting on what I read, listened to and learned, all along.

My experience has been that the experiences on the way to reach Self is highly subjective, personal and sometime even deceptive. Curiously, what should otherwise be simple journey gets incredibly confusing by many layers of deception.

Of what I have encountered, perhaps most formidable one is my own Ego. Mysterious are ways and means of ego colors everyday experience, blinding the vision

There could be significant role for Guru, for good and bad. Guru can be guiding light, but what appears to be a guiding light may not lead you, unless it is the right Guru.

Equally important is reference documents, often called spiritual texts but then these are often interspersed with rituals. Many can be seen to end with mere rituals with no regard to the underlying spirit.

The real problem is not Guru or reference point as much as one’s own bias and inhibitions. Often, one tends to hold on to these blindly. These can be initial reference point to get started, or they can also be intermediate reference points. They can help and guide. Problem is only when one holds on, and become end in themselves. If you start revolving around it for too long, it is time to move on

Further, we have all along been trained and tuned to trust mind and intellect. Both mind and intellect base their inferences on experience through five senses. Five senses are limited by design. Mind and intellect too that dwelve on these too are limited, constrained being set in a wrap of fixed time and space apart from impressions and patterns of earlier experience coloring observation. In short, everything and everyone that one encounters is questionable, and the absolute truth is beyond all these layers of great illusion.

Essentially, journey is are purely personal and all experiences are subjective, with nothing to explain and no one else can know/realize what you experience

uddharedaatmanaathmaanam na aathmaanamavasaadayeth
aathmaiva hi aathmano bandhu: aathmaiva ripuraathmana

which roughly translates to mean ‘you are your friend, you are your enemy too. you need to lift and guide yourself’

Paradox of Negation

April 24, 2012

I found an interesting discussion on negation in one of blogs that I follow. I too find in my own exploration both importance of balancing negation with acceptance.

My experience in quest for absolute truth and self realization, two sides of the same coin, is that mind tends to latch on many falsehood, like a mirage. This illusion is so powerful that we tend to get quickly attached to this, mistaking it for the real. Probably, this is why Sankaracharya advocates Brahma Jnanavalimalanegation of all such illusions and directs attention towards the observer from the object of observation

drk drsyau dvau padaarthau stah parasparavilakshanam
drg brahma drsyam maayeti sarvavedaantadindimah

Roughly translates as: Distinction between eye (Observer) and vision (observation) are different. Vedanta declares that the observer is Brahma and the observation is illusion

He goes further, and concludes with:
brahma satyam jaganmithyaa jeevo brahmaiva naaparah
anena vedyam tat sat saastram iti vedaantadindimah

Roughly translates as: Vedanta declares that the correct knowledge can be gained, knowing that Brahma is truth and the world is illusion (creation of observer’s mind and five senses). Self is no different from Brahma.

Kasi Panchakam and Self Realization

March 31, 2012

Born and brought up in a somewhat conservative family, I had heard about Kasi even in my childhood.

Kasi is so much part of the tradition and culture that a ritual symbolic of pilgrimage to Kasi is part of Upanayana.

Yet it is common practice to talk ill of these pilgrim spots which is said to be spoiled by human filth. I have heard such talks even in the midst of pilgrimage to such places!

My ‘scientific’ mindset has been skeptical of purification of mind by the mere act of taking bath in a river. How can physical act of taking bath in a river, howsoever pure it is, cleanse the mind … leave alone the question of providing ‘moksha and liberation from cycles of rebirths

Philosopher in me was curious even as I tried to convince myself that there is something deeper, and I got a hint of that while reading ‘Kasi Panchakam’ composed by Sankaracharya…And, my quest continues…

My understanding of the message of key verse of’Kasi Panchakam’, which is written in admiration of Kasi, is as follows:

a) Verse 1
ManO Nivruthi ParamOpa Saanthi
Saa Theerthavaryaa Manikarnika Cha
Jnaanapravahaa Vimalaadigangaa
Saa Kasikaham Nijabodharoopa

Which roughly translates to mean (in my knowledge): (Self) withdrawal of mind leads to absolute peace. That space (within Self) is Manikarnika. Flow of knowledge is the pure and original Ganges. That Kasi is Self which is pure awareness.

My understanding is: True Kasi is within Self, and pilgrimage to Kasi is journey within Self. Withdrawal of mind leads to a blissful state which relieves you of all influence of great illusion. Divine knowledge/enlightenment that flows in that state is Ganges and self-aware existence of Self is Kasi. Cremation of body in Manikarnika represents destruction of Ahamkara, the illusion of subjective experience of mind that emerges out of identifying with body as self

b) Verse 2
Yasyaamidam Kalpithamindrajalam
Charaacharam Bathi ManOvilasam
Sachitsukhaikaa Parmatmaroopa
Saa Kasikaham Nijabodharoopa

Which roughly translates to mean (in my knowledge): The Self, which has imagined this illusion of world through mind, is of the same form (is the same as) Paramaatma. I am the Kasi which is that self-aware existence of Self.

My understanding is: Self which has imagined (through mind) the illusion that we experience is, in fact, that pure self-aware existence and I am that kasi.

c) Verse 3
Kaasyaam Ki Kaasathe Kaasee
Kasee Sarvaprakaasikaa
Saa Kasee Vidithaa Yena
Thenapraptaa Hi Kaasikaa

Which roughly translates to mean (in my knowledge): Kasi is illuminated in Kasi. Kasi illuminates everything else. Only those who have seen that Kasi can reach Kasi.

My understanding is: As discussed earlier, mind withdrawn leads to the blissful experience of self-awareness. This experience illuminates and brightens everything else (as great illusion withdraws). This experience can be realized only in that state, and only those who have realized that reach the true Kasi (realization of Self)
I have left out a couple of verses here which elaborates this further

A point to ponder: Getting the priorities right!

April 22, 2011

Basics of life are obvious but hardly noticed till it is too late. A little care, a little attention towards self can go along way in making life truly better

Sankaracharya’s Eka Sloki

March 15, 2011

I chanced upon an Eka Sloki from Adi Sankaracharya, while listening to some lectures on Advaita/Vedantic philosophy. Sankaracharya has successfully encapsulated the essence of Vedantic philosophy in this single (eka) Sloka

Eka sloki goes like:
Kim Jyothistava Bhaanumaanahani Me Ratrau Pradeepadikam
Shyaadevam, Ravideepadarshanavidhau Kim Jyothiraakhyahi me
Chakshuhtasya Nimeelanaadisamaye Kim Dheehrdheeyo Darshane
Kim Tatraahamatho Bhavaanparamakam Jyothihtadasmi Prabho

It is presented as a dialogue between a teacher (Guru) and student (SIshya), in response to a question by the student on realization of self.

Dialogue translates as:
Guru: How do you see (What is that light/power which helps you see?)
Sishya: I see with the help of sunlight
Guru: How do you see in the night?
Sishya: I see with the help of a lamp
Guru: Let that be so. How do you see the light? How do you see (your visualizations) even before you open your eyes?
Sishya: It is with my intellect
Guru: What helps you see (know) that intellect?
Sishya: This is me (me as pure consciousness)
Guru: (Indeed) You are that supreme light
Sishya: I realize that I am

Disclaimer: Translation is limited by limitations of my own understanding, power of explanation and loss of meaning due to translation (for instance: words used like Jyothi translated as light and dhee translated intellect are compromises made for want of better choice

Though simple and profound, only a very few gets to truly understand vedantic philosophy. It is still harder to explain because it is not (to be) understood by intellect but rather experienced by being, and being aware of that experience.

As Lord Krishna has pointed out in Bhagavat Gita:
Ascharyavat Pasyati Kaschitenam Aascharyavatvatathi Tateva Chaanyah
Aascharyavatchaenamanyah Srunoti Sruthuaapienam Vednachaeva Kaschit
Some sees it and marvels
Some speaks about it in awe
Some listens to it and wonders
but hardly anyone knows it

I salute the master for this brilliant piece of gem.

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala, and Karma Yoga

December 4, 2010

I think I went to Sabarimala in 1991 for the first time, if I remember it right. I have been going almost every year since then, barring a couple of exceptions here and there.

It has always been a spiritual experience for me as much as it being religious practice. I have always found the pilgrimage to symbolize the essence of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Sanyasa Yoga; all combined into one, depending on the perspective through which I look at

I shall detail on how I see the pilgrimage as representing Karma Yoga in my point of view, in this blog post, taking up others some other time.

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala represents working towards a lofty goal, ultimate happiness and union with God. Happiness and well-being is not just for oneself but rather for everyone else as well.

Journey commences with a ritual called ‘Kettunira” in which coconut is filled with ghee. It is cleared of its water and it is filled instead with ghee. This coconut is now called ‘mudra’, which roughly translate to mean ‘symbol. This coconut is a symbol of myself, cleared of its routine digressions to stay focused on my goal.

From this moment onwards, my goal is only one, that is to reach the Ayyappan temple at the peak of Sabarimala

Journey is hard due to various factors. One of the factors that make journey hard is uphill climb, barefoot, with a bag containing mudra. Being used to living in the comforts of moden urban life, there are times when I felt I just cannot move on.

When I look around, I see many others as well some of whom are much worse off but still pulling on with undying spirit to reach the destination. I realize that life is not a rat race. It does not so matter how slow or fast I go, what is key is that I move on.

Journey is seldom alone. We travel as a team, helping each other. Achieving goal is better and easier when we are working as a team.

I believe, the recipe for success in everyday life too is likeminded people coming together and working as a team towards their common goal. We see ourselves in every one, and we see everyone in ourselves, and call each other Swami or Ayyappa, in the true spirit of Advaita philosophy.

As we climb the holy 18 steps to reach sannidhanam, we see the message Tat Tvam Asi (That Art Thou). That is, a realization that the God, and ultimate happiness, that we seek are within ourselves, not outside of us.

We submit the ghee in mudra to the God, in total surrender of ego, and burn the coconut shell symbolizing realization of the Self beyond confines of the body and related perceptions

Then, we commence our return journey.

Every goal, howsoever lofty that be, is part of history once it is achieved. One has to leave it behind, and continue the journey to set yet another goal and get going

Defining my world of philosophy – Thinking aloud

November 27, 2010

Many have asked me why do I think and write about these topics, which are generally referred to as ‘philosophy’.

Is it not sufficient just to live this life? Isn’t action more important than thought? May be true. Or, is thoughtful action better than mere action? Honestly, I do not know. Or, rather, I don’t care.

I have asked this question to myself, many times over. Why do I keep thinking about all these? Reply was ‘it is like asking a river why does it flow?’. Well, we could attribute flow of river to force of gravity. But then, why force of gravity? May be, because of gravitational field. Then, why gravitation field? At some point, we need to accept that it is so because ‘that is how it is’.

Why does a musician compose or sing a song? Why does poet write poems? Why does a painter paint? It is an urge, an irresistible urge from within. I write, not because I have all answers; probably, not even some of them yet.

I am not knower of truth but rather a seeker of truth. Of all I have read and heard what comes closest to my heart is Karma Siddhanta, as explained in Bhagavat Gita and Ashtavakra Gita, and notion of ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ of vedanta philosophy. That is, I am part of the infinite, indivisible, indestructible spirit, and I am that.

As a child I used to watch the sky above, and wonder about vastness of sky above, multitudes of stars. As I grew up, I learned about vastness of universe of which I am a very trivial existence.

In my early days of scientific quest, adventures of mankind to get smarter than his world made me believe in eventual success of man over nature. But, as man is getting closer to annihilating himself, I started looking at the world within because the actual threat to him is from within

A world that begins and ends with me, a world of emotions, perceptions and inspirations, a world illuminated by an all pervasive, all-powerful spirit. I moved from the notion that ‘world is a stage, and all of us are actors’ to ‘I am the stage where the drama is being played’.

I am the ocean in which waves of emotions, perceptions and inspirations rise, move, clash, join and fall, with the winds of change. Yet, it is an peaceful existence of quiet confidence and strength deep within, unattached and infinite

Lessons from history

September 7, 2010

This is in response to a discussion in Google Buzz on ‘what in life will keep you happy and satisfied forever as an individual?‘.

Can any thing achievable make any one happy and satisfied for ever? I doubt. happiness and satisfaction as states of mind based on some possessions can be but momentary, given the fickle nature of mind. Anything achievable implies that it is not with you now and hence external to you. What is external to you must be lost either from possession or in value, or both, just as it is achieved. Therefore, any feeling attributed achievement of anything external to you cannot stay with you for ever.

I am reminded of the famous anecdote about Alexander the Great.. Story goes like: Alexander had set out to conquer the work; towards end of his life, it is said that he instructed his people to put my hands outside his coffin; that is, he is leaving behind all his acquisitions.

Let me clarify lest I get misinterpreted. I am not vouching on authenticity of the story but seems plausible. I am not denouncing worldly materialistic achievements either. I respect every human effort behind every accomplishments in the world. I respect the human spirit that make things happen. I salute the indomitable spirit of Alexander, the great Macedonian King. I believe, what he achieved (what is that? may be, I shall write on my perspective on that at some other time) was far greater than what he sought to.

My reading of history tells me that he hardly ruled over the vast area that he conquered, in a true sense. Whatever he has done, was it right or wrong? Was he successful or not? I am not venturing into all that because I do not think it is right. I believe, every individual must choose their life and no one else has any right to comment on it.

I do not subscribe to the theory that every thing is Maya (a great illusion) and one should strive to get out of it. Yes, I accept the illusion and I prefer to live it, enjoy it, rather than running away from it.

What I am trying to practice, and advocate, is a holistic perspective. When what you do, what you work for, what you achieve is in sync with the person that you are, life is a great experience. Follow the role models of Maryadapurushotham Ram, Playful Krishna, benevolent Christ, …. but seek within to know yourself, choose a life in accordance with that, work for betterment of self, those around you and the world at large; let your actions be guided, and powered, by the force within.

Happiness and satisfaction if you find within self, and in the moment NOW (not attributed to anything external), shall stay with you.

Bandhura Kaanchana Koottilaanenkilum Bandhanam Bandhanam Thanne Paaril (Cage is a cage even if cage is made of gold)

Knowing the unknowable

August 26, 2010

What is truly me does not change,
What changes is not me
What is truly mine is never lost
What was lost was never mine

I seek thee in me
I seek me in thee
Now I see, now I don’t
I know but I know not

My experiments with self realization!

July 29, 2010

As we seek to work with, control, and enjoy the big world outside, hardly ever take time into introspect and see a bigger world within; fiefdom of deceptively simple but deviously complex entity called mind. All attempts to reach towards self realization that I know of are attempt to go even beyond the mind, principal perpetrator of the great illusion.

My initial attempt, in all its childish innocence, towards self realization started at a very early stage of pre-teens with a fascination for Sanyasayoga, a path of renunciation. Years of guidance from my friends and mentors influenced me to agree that path of renunciation is tricky. That is, dividing line between escapism and true renunciation is very thin. I accepted that it is probably inappropriate to detach even before attaching!

Since then, my experimentation revolved around Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga. Common experience across my various attempts is a realization that the force that stops me from the realization is myself.

On the path of Karma yoga, what I found as deceptive is the pride about my possessions, and about ownership of action and achievements, works deep within me as motivator for further action. It continues till it reaches a point of trivializing my actions and achievements; it comes to a point none of it, by itself, is of any consequence! Hard lesson that I learned over a period of time!! Not exactly a new learning but surely a realization in itself!

On the path of Jnana yoga, what I found as deceptive is the pride about my knowledge! It works deep within me till it reaches a point of trivializing the very knowledge that I struggled hard to attain; knowledge, by now, has become a commodity or rather I made it a commodity! Possession like any other possession!! Another hard lesson that I learned over a period of time!! Not exactly a new learning but surely a realization in itself!

On the path of Bhakti yoga, what I found as deceptive is the pride about my devotion, with and without rituals; Bhakti yoga inexplicably taking shades of Jnana yoga! I am yet to seek out as did on Karma yoga and Jnana yoga but I can foresee the patterns of entrapment and I am almost back to Karma yoga on the lines of Zen

Caution: These notes are written from the perspective of curious, perpetual learner that I am rather than from the perspective of a practitioner or Guru; I have no claims of being either