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.

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

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)

Understand consciousness

December 20, 2011

Interesting TED lecture of quest to understand consciousness

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


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

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

Ramana Maharishi

March 23, 2011

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.