Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ramana Maharishi

August 20, 2013

Richard Feynman lecture on God

May 24, 2013

Kenyon College commencement address by David Foster Wallace

May 2, 2012

Quite a thought provoking speech, connecting many dots, by David Foster Wallace

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.

Understand consciousness

December 20, 2011

Interesting TED lecture of quest to understand consciousness

Transcending the mind

October 20, 2011

In my experience so far, the hardest challenge in life is to transcend one’s own mind. Mind acts (or rather pretends) as a friend, interpreting every happenings, and everything around me. But I wonder how much can I trust my own mind. As I innocently indulge in that comfort of being served by my mind, it blocks my vision with perceptions, takes me through a roller coaster ride, and blocks me from living the moment Now. I think, it is the very epicenter of great illusion.

Can one transcend the mind? Occasional ‘aha’ moments, as well as state of extreme happiness and despair, points to existence of ‘mind’less existence. What is interesting is the serene charm in such situations.

Refreshing charm of ‘aha’ moments and state of extreme happiness must be obvious for many but is that true for state of extreme despair as well? I think so. As adage goes ‘necessity is the mother of discovery’, my experience is that such states too are good in that it brings forth new solutions. For instance, Gandhiji may have born but may not have such an influential life without colonial rule. Deep within what appears to be an unsurmountable problem lies the seed of a great new future.

In my understanding, it is this challenge of transcending the mind is essence of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Each one helps you transcend mind differently, and choice of method depend on individual’s inclination.

I was caught between two conflicting views in my early attempts in understanding and following Karma Yoga. On one side is ‘worldly’ success which is achieved only through significant and focussed effort. Though one may argue that luck plays a role, nothing is ever achieved without any effort and no effort goes totally unrewarded. On other side is popular invocation to work without expecting results.

What I have learned over years is that true joy is not in achieving but in the process; not in the event of getting what you expect but rather in the act of doing. After all, any achievement is only an event and after that, it is history and one has to move on. I have come to conclude that it is about engaging oneself so much into action that mind has no role to play. Mind gradually disappears, leaving you in absolute unqualified peace.

My philosophical pursuit and my experiments with Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga seems to tell me that each of these Yogas are apparently different means to the same end. I said apparently because even the differentiation seems to be blurring.

Karma Yoga is about acknowledging inevitability of action (not futility of action, as it is often made out/appears to be), and performing action can be with full commitment and dedication. In its true form, such an action is not driven by achievement of a desired object, position or relation but the very joy of action. A scientist involved in a scientific research of his interest, a true musician participating in a concert, an artist working on his masterpiece, an athlete in action etc are not so much driven by achievement as much by the joy of action. In its purest form, one transcends mind and its reasoning, through Karma, and starts enjoying the very existence for its own sake.

In Jnana Yoga, one becomes aware of deceptive game of mind and, thus, tends to disconnect from mind. Generally, this happens through disillusionment brought in with hard experiences in life. Contemplations on hard experiences, one realizes that every object of desire, and every relation, tend to give pain just as it does happiness. That is, happiness (or sorrow) does not exist in objects, positions and relation outside of you but rather it is within yourself. With this realization, one would consciously stop listening to the mind, and gradually mind loses its influence.

Bhakti Yoga is about surrendering mind totally to a supreme power, so that it has no influence in daily existence, and living life in control of that supreme power just every other being in the world. Does such a power exist? I think, answer is irrelevant

Ramana Maharishi

March 23, 2011

Practices of Bhakti Yoga

December 14, 2010

As mentioned earlier, Bhakti Yoga appeals to my heart. Also, I find certain specific practices of Bhakti Yoga helping me practise it more effectively. These practices are described in Puranas

I was introduced to some of these puranas in my pre-teens and early teens. It was customary for elders to read such religious books and devote their life entirely to Bhakti Yoga. But my maternal grand father was not able to read in his old age. I used to fill the void sometimes by reading it out for him.

In my view, these puranas encapsulate great philosophical wisdom, presented in the form of story telling. It also embeds, at specific points, certain practices which may be adopted in daily life. That is, it appeals as a simple story on one side. At the same time, it holds gems of philosophical wisdom, as well as specific practices which could be used to adopt these in daily life for a discerning reader.

Of these practices, I have found practices of Bhakti as particularly interesting and effective.

i) Sravana

This is listening stories, songs etc which enhance devotion and devotional experiences. I have personally found these to have a special effect on the mind, instilling confidence

ii) Kīrtana

This is singing in praise of God. It could be as an individual or a group. I have found this helping to break out of inhibitions and stay focused

iii) Smaraṇa

This is thinking about God.

I believe there is only one God, all powerful, ominipotent and all pervasive. I believe that, true to Advaita philosophy, God is within me and in oneness with me. Yet, I find it difficult to think about God without a specific form and characteristics. I think this is where concept of personal God comes in; some form which we can easily connect with

iv) Paada sevana

This is about rendering service. What service? Service of mankind; helping anyone who is in need and whom you can help. The spirit is, Naraseva is Naraayanaseva. That is, serving man is serving God

Many perceive Bhakti Yoga as devotion to the exclusion of everything else. In my view, it is not necessarily so. Prahlada, who is considered to be an epitome of Bhakti, is believed to have lived king, fulfilling his duties in its full earnestness. That is, Bhakti does not call for negation of Karma. Rather it just means devotion to God and a complete surrender to his will.

v) Archana

This is worshiping God. It is generally done with an image of God, or any symbol that represents God. It is done according to some pre-defined rituals

vi) Vandana

This is about paying homage to God. It is also done, in general, to a personal God yet it involve God beyond all confines. That is, God is perceived to be Avyakta (without any form or shape) yet at the same time Vyaktaroopa (with specific form and shape, depending on the personal God)

vii) Daasya

This is about submission in service of God.

Is there difference between Paadasevana and Daasya? In my view, the difference is in the mind. Paadasevana is only an act while Daasya is an attitude. In other words, Paadasevana is an act that is performed and ego might still exist when rendering service. But, in case of Daasya, one declares himself as servant of God and indicates conscious effort to

viii) Sakhya

This is about considering God as a friend.

In this case, one considers everyone is friend, God in everyone and, thus, God is a friend

ix) Aatmanivedana

This is a complete surrender of the self.

This is a stage of experiencing oneness with God whether distinction vanishes, and Bhakti is beyond definitions and relations.

I can perceive what this stage could be but, honestly, I have not reached a stage where I could practice this

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

Fear Vs Respect!

November 22, 2010

Fear and Respect, surprisingly, are words often used synonymously. For instance, have you not heard of people talking about being ‘god-fearing’ instead of being ‘god-believing’?

Fear is a negative feeling coming from a position of weakness.

It comes either out of guilt or sheer helplessness. Fear gets exploited everywhere. In the places of work, workshop, with friends and even at home.

It is often externally induced and manipulated.

Fear terrifies you of consequences and stops you from an action. Fear blocks your mind and hinders free thinking. Fear is demanded by the weak from the weak. Fear comes out of ignorance; not knowing what is in other person’s mind, what is to happen next, what if ……

Respect is a positive feeling, comes from a position of strength.

It is a natural phenomenon caused in the context of certain observed values which are appealing. It is internal to the person and not prone to external manipulations.

You respect a person when you see a person (or an entity) better in some aspect; may be knowledge, power, position, money… be it whatever, it energizes your mind and propels you into action.

Respect is commanded by the strong and respect is given by the strong. Respect comes knowledge; knowing you, knowing your choices, knowing others and knowing the world

Fear breaks; Respect mends.
Fear hurts; Respect heals.
Fear suffocates; Respect motivates.
Fear arrests; Respect enables.

For a better life, better family, better business, better world, nurture respect always and everywhere.

Eliminate fear always, everywhere