Archive for the ‘Zen’ Category

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.

The famous speech of Swami Vivekananda

January 17, 2011

Jatilo mundee lunchhitakesah, Kaashaayaambara Bahukritaveshah
Pasyannapi cha na pasyati moodho-Hyudaranimittam Bahukritaveshah

Just as cautioned by Sankaraacharya in Bhaja Govindam, plenty are those who adopt an ascetic form with matted locks, shaven head, dressed in saffron clothes, etc purely for a livelihood. They may appear to know the absolute but they truly don’t. These turn out to be disguises and deceptions for getting their own desires. (It is not so much the external appearances but rather the internal state that matters)

It reminds me a zen story which I heard long back which goes:

One day there was an earthquake, so hard that even many of the monks were terrified. Master took all monks to a safe place, the strongest part of the temple. After a while, the earthquake stopped and peace was back. Then, the master explained how he as a master has demonstrated how to avoid panic and stay cool even in the face of adversity. Yet, he admitted that situation was so grim he had to drink a large glass of water before he himself could regain poise. One of the monks smiled, and said: “That wasn’t water, Sir,  but a large glass of soya sauce.”

Quite relevant is words of Lord Krishna in Bhagavat Gita which goes as below:

Karmendriyaani Samyamya Yah-Aasthe Manasaa Smaran

Indriyaarthan Vimoodhaatma Middhyaachara Sah Uchyate

The one who claims/attempts to control his senses without control on the mind (which drive these senses), he is a fool who confuses himself and is only a pretender

In such context, it is hard to find a true leader, a true master, a true Guru

I came to know of Swami Vivekananda as I read out stories about him to my grandfather in childhood. He inspired me then, and he inspires me still. I read about his speech from The World’s Parliament of Religions 1893 and I am hearing it now.

I am glad that technology preserved it for us to hear it even after a century has gone by

Salute to a true Guru!

Essence of Karma yoga

December 6, 2010

I have heard many philosophers in India propagating the idea that our every day experience and world around is the great illusion, or Maya. I refuse to believe that the world is an illusion.

My view is, our experience of the world is largely dictated by perceptions of the mind. Often, mind acts as a veil, and therefore perceptions are taken as the truth.

For instance, we perceive that earth is flat as we walk on it. Yet we know that the truth is far away from it. In case of earth we know now the reality through advancement of science but in most other cases, mind deceives effectively.

The truth, and what we perceive as truth, may not be the same
. This act of deception of our own mind, I believe, is the great illusion.

There is no emotion now attached to perception of earth being flat. But remember, that Galileo Galilei (Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution), was convicted for challenging the prevalent geocentic view. With many of our everyday perceptions, there is emotion and a potential for explosion when the perception is challenged

My understanding of Karma, as I have explained in earlier blogs, is to escape from the trap of great illusion through spirited action, directed towards a goal; not to escape from having to act. Karma yoga is not an excuse for idling as some make it out to be

It is not possible for anyone to do nothing at all, and be alive. At the minimum, one needs to breathe. I believe, Karma yoga is beyond just that. It is somewhat like an active state of action without action

When you must anyway act, put your best effort. Nothing worthwhile in the world is ever achieved without such spirited action, and passion is critical for such action.

Karma yoga is about everyday life, where we setting a goal, and passionately working towards it. It is also about holding on to what we believe as right and living by it, yet at the same time appreciating that another person may have diametrically opposite view. Appreciation of a reality that day for me in India is night for some one on the other side of the globe.

Karma yoga, for me, is also about tolerance as much as it is about spirited action

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

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter XI

November 19, 2010

World around, and everything in it, as we see would change (hard to accept sometime but that is a fact; change is the only constant!) because change is its very nature. (What is perceived as) fortune and misfortunate, pleasure and pain, birth and death happens. (There is nothing, seriously, anyone can do about these. It may be hard to accept , and many have tried to sugarcoat it. Yet the fact is world around does not go by your dictates or wishes).

(When you hold on to anything, there is subjective perception and it hurts sooner or later). Do not hold on to anything. Realize that neither you are the body nor you have a body. Then, for you, everything becomes a simple experience of a pure consciousness, pure awareness.

Cosmic beauty reveals itself as a realization. Realization of God, and that God created the world and everything in it. Everything that we perceive, including God, is only a perception. The only reality is self.

There is nothing to gain or lose. There is nothing to be happy or sad, There nothing to do or not to do. (It does not mean inaction. It is, in fact, the most powerful form of action)

These reminds me of a zen story that I heard sometime back which goes as follows:
Once upon a time, a someone approached Zen master and asked him to write something for his family to keep for years to come.

Master wrote: “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”

The man became very angry asked the master: “I wanted you to write something good for my family. Why have written something so bad?”

Master replied: “If your son die before you die, it would be very sad experience for your family. Again, if your grandson die before your son, that would also be very sad. Everyone has to die one day or other. If everyone in your family die in the order that I described, for generations after generations, then that is a natural order of life. That, in itself, is a reason for being happy. If it does not, it is unfortunate”

Idam Na Mama

September 29, 2010

I heard a story about Ramana Maharishi which goes like this: One of his disciples came to him one day and exclaimed that he saw God. Ramana Maharishi asked this disciple who was there before the God became visible, who was there after….It appears to me that the suggestion is to seek the observer within

Despite all invocations against the great illusions of life, I prefer the living in the thick of it all. Despite all cautions against susceptibility of human mind, I love its pleasures and pangs

Oru Thaarakaye Kaanumbol Athu Raavu Marakkum
Puthumazha Kaanke Varalcha Marakkum
Paalchiri Kandathu Mrithiye Marannu , Sukhiche Pokum

Words roughly translating to mean:
Forgets darkness of night in the beauty of even a lone star
Forgets droughts in the glory of rain
Forgets death on innocent smile of a child

Courtsey: Poet Sugathakumari

Mind defines, and defines subjectively. Mind presents the world through veil of definitions. Mind colors the observation of reality .

Beyond the veil, within me, is Sat-vic observer observing Rajas-vic do-er:

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

Life is a responsibility! Life is fun!!

August 24, 2010

Some say, life is a responsibility; responsibility to God, responsibility to parents, responsibility to society and what not! Some say, life is fun, a pure joy, an experience to be enjoyed as you live through. I think both the schools of thought are right. It is not one or the other; rather one and the other. That is, a responsibility and fun at the same time.

Life of a man is an experience of consciousness; it is a self conscious existence. That is, a man is aware of his actions. That is, he is aware why he does what he does and why he does the way he does. With this consciousness comes the responsibility. Responsibility to the self to make the most of his existence, and enjoy. And, a man is not an end in himself but rather a social being. He craves for a sense of belonging, and for support of fellow men; human achievements are never single handed though it might appear so many times.

What defines a great life? Often, I find definitions going on just of the dimensions, dimension depending on the perspective while, for me, life is a multidimensional experience