Archive for the ‘Ancient Wisdom’ Category

Talks with Ramana Maharishi

May 21, 2013
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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’

Explaining Maya

April 28, 2012

An interesting video explaining Maya, the great illusion; a consequence of ignorance

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.

Vairagya Satakam, and detachment

April 2, 2012

In my philosophical pursuit, I came across Vairagya Satakam of Bhartrhari, which literally translates to mean ‘100 verses on detachment’. Personally, I find it to be a very powerful statement of disillusionment and detachment.

Detachment and disillusionment is something that always fascinated me right from my childhood. It is probably easier to practice in absolute renunciation as in Sanyasam but hard to practice in day to day life of Grihasta. Yet it is not impossible as story of Janaka, as explained in the context of Ashtavakra Gita indicates. Again, as I look around, I believe there are quite a few people who lived in the same spirit in recent times, and are living now as well.

An interesting verse from Vairaagya Satakam’ is:
Bhoge Rogabhayam Kule Chyutibhayam Vithe Nripaalaat Bhayam
Maane Dainyabhayam Bale Ripubhayam Roope Jaraayaat Bhayam
Saasthre Vaadibhayam Gune Khalabhayam Kaaye Krithaantaath Bhayam
Sarvam Vasthu Bhayaanvitham Bhuvinrinaam Vairaagyamevabhayam

It roughly to mean (in my knowledge):
When we indulge in pleasure, deep down we run a fear of missing it. When we belong to a socially respected group/family, we are afraid we might loose it sometimes. When we are rich, we are afraid of (too concerned about) money being apportioned by authorities. When we are a respected person, we are wary of situation which compromise respect. When we are powerful, we fear defeat (from someone more powerful or deceitful). When we are young and smart, we are afraid of aging. When we are scholar, we are afraid of being defeated in debates. When we are well off, then we are afraid of vandals (bad elements who are out destroy your peace), When you have good health, you are afraid of death. Fear is associated with everything and only detachment is the refuge.

This may sound too negative in the first reading. On a closer reading, it should be obvious that what is denounced not riches, knowledge, health, position etc but rather too much of attachment to these. Such attachments prevent you from enjoying the very moment now as well as the true joy. As a result, we end up in a self defeating a rat race.

It is clear in the lines:
Bhogaa Na Bhukthaa Vayameva Bhukthaah
Thapo Na Thaptham Vayameva Thampthaah
Kaalo Na Yaatho Vayameva Yathaah
Thrishnaa Na Jeerna Vayameva Jeernaah

That is:
We have not consumed worldly pleasures, they have consumed us (our life). We have not done any Tapas but we burned out ourselves. Time has not gone but we are gone. Desire has not been reduced but we are reduced.

Understanding Dharma

March 17, 2012

Dharma is a word that is quite often used in different contexts to mean different things. It is seen, quite often, to be taking definition of ‘duty’. Going through some spiritual/religious text recently, I came across an interesting interpretation of Dharma, reportedly from Bhavishya Purana

It reads as below:
Chathushpaadohi Dharmasya
Jnaanam Dhyaanam SamoDamah
Aathmajnaanam Savaijnaanam
Dhyaanamadhyatmachinthanam
Manasthirathvam Cha Samah
Damasthvindriyanigraham

This roughly translates to mean:
Dharma has four parts: Jnaanam, Dhyanam, Samah and Damah. Jnanam is realization of Self (Aathmajnaanam). Dhyanam is spiritual contemplation on Self (Aadhyatmachinthanam), which helps in the process of Self realization (and its continued sustenance). Samah is control on, and stable balance of, mind (Manasthirathvam) and Damah is control on senses (Indriyanigraham)

Unravelling human mind

October 31, 2011

Interesting perspective into human mind. These seems to be pointing to direction of Self being integral part of cosmic consciousness, a theme central to vedantic self realization


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.

Defining ‘success’

December 21, 2010

Success is a magic word. It is a word that inspires, motivates everyone into action. But then, what is success? Can success be defined? It is very abstract and generic level but takes on specific meaning in a context. Success is different for different people. It differs depending on the context. Then, does it make sense to define and discuss on a generic note? I think, Yes and I am discussing it here at a very generic level.

My intention is to bring out certain subtle points which often get overlooked. These points related to how everyone of us look at success. There are certain patterns, irrespective of context, and it helps to understand these patterns.

Success has two dimensions. One external and another internal.

Success from external perspective: External World around defines your success, and that of everyone else. This is often done in comparative than absolute terms. In this perspective, success is defined and measured in terms of certain key parameters. These key parameters are wealth, power, influence, and knowledge.

Wealth is usually considered as amount of money and other assets. These helps to acquire other necessities and luxuries of life.

Power indicates your potential on effecting changes in your own life and that of others. These changes may be positive or negative. That is, it may lead to a pleasant or unpleasant experiences for self and others, as the case may be

Influence, on the other hand, is how others can effect changes in your life. These changes also may be positive or negative, and may lead to a pleasant or unpleasant experiences for self as well as others.

Knowledge holds potential to generate wealth, power and influence. Other parameters are also inter-dependent but not to the level that of knowledge. Again, potential varies depending on the nature of knowledge itself. That is, certain knowledge helps better than others.

Success from internal perspective: Haven’t you seen people hailed as successful yet burning within? More often that not, it is the result of a rat race. Point to ponder is, how dear and important is the goal for you. It is a very personal question. It can be answered only the individual concerned, and it must be. True success, can be (and, must be) defined only from that perspective.

Traditionally, Purushardhas are used to measure success, from internal perspective. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha constitute Purushardhas.

Dharma is from philosophical, social and spiritual standpoint. It stands for righteousness and value based living. It is founded on love and compassion towards others. It is, sometimes, said that world has become too competitive to afford such a living. But my personal experience is that nothing can equal joy coming out of value based living. One does not have to forgo everything else for it. The key is to strike a balance.

Artha is from materialistic and financial perspective. It stands for wealth and related assets. Many philosophical and spiritual discussion slight importance of wealth. Yet the fact remains that it plays a major role in daily life. You need money to acquire knowledge as well as to help others. One needs to work for acquiring and retaining wealth. Yet, it is equally important to realise that money is not everything. That is, money, in itself, cannot buy everything in the world.

Kama is a word used synonymous to lust, especially, in sexual context. But, here, it has a larger meaning. It pertains to all from sensory desires. I have seen many philosophical and spiritual discussions deriding Kama. But its role in life of a common man mandates every serious discussion to accept its influence . It is often these desires that helps one to set goals and work towards it. The real problem is not desire itself but rather too much of attachment to it.

Moksha is a state beyond all these. It is spiritual bliss when one rises above all these.

While these are discussed here at a generic note, it would be meaning only if individuals relate it to their life, analyze and define their success, realign their goals and work towards them. These changes from individual to individual, context to context. That is, the same person may drastically change the relative importance of these over a period of time; say, in a span of ten years