This is part two of the adventures in Advaita Vedanta... will you travel with me a while?

Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

Equal to the attentive watchfulness implied by pratiikshate (yesterday's post), there is shravanam - alert and attentive listening. More on that over time, but whilst thinking upon this connection, it occurred to me how many folk simply do not listen to actually learn anything - or at the very least honour the speaker and taking on board properly all that is said before asking questions.

So many people come to philosophical discourses, in particular, but subjects of any form really, with the idea that they themselves carry a certain level of expertise and, therefore, they have nothing else to learn. Many attend meetings of all sorts of notions they have set in their own cement and simply cannot crack themselves open to allow in a little more knowledge. 

That is a shame, don't you think?

Whispering Wednesday

Hari Om

Asking for a guiding word for today, the inner whisper brought forward -

प्रतीक्षते(pratiikshate) and its 'mirror', प्रतिक्षते (pratikshate)

The meaning is actually required for you to apply in looking at these two words! 

The first, with the prolonged and hardened 'ee' sound, translates as 'watch for', 'regard', 'concern' and all three can be applied in the context of 'look carefully and attentively'.

The second, with the softer sound like that 'hit', translates as 'behold', 'perceive', 'look at', 'wait'... and half a dozen other nuances. 

Why the difference in the placement of the 'iikara and ikara' characters? Emphasis. Simple. The second of the two variations has a greater number of translatable applications as it is the way in which most of us use our eyes. How often we look at stuff. All the time, indeed. 

But how often do we SEE something or someone? Really see it. Let them hold our attention fully so that we can accurately report what was seen? 

A little exercise today; find an object or a piece of art which you look at every day in the pratikshate manner. You know it is there because your eye falls upon it quite often. Now, find ten or fifteen minutes to gaze upon it with your fullest attention. Don't stint on the time. Honour that item with your intention to imprint it upon your memory. Then, before going to bed, take a piece of paper and pen or pencil and note down in either words or images, things that you remember about that item. As many details as you possibly can. Make a note to yourself the things you found in that 'search' today that you had not noticed about the chosen object prior to this exercise in being alert and attentive. Resolve to repeat the exercise in a week's time...

Then wait for the whisperings as the object becomes ever better known and understood from this exercise... 

Textual Tuesday

 Hari Om

This third shloka from the Vivekachoodamani makes it very clear that there is a certain privilege to being born as a human critter. After all, think of all the other possibilities! Gaining life at all, when one considers the enormity of the universe, is something of a rare quality, so even a blade of grass has a degree of status in the overall picture of "life". 

Then there is the hierarchy with which we are all familiar. Mankind stands the prime predator and most adaptable of species, thus has not only thrived but overtaken the planet.

Spiritually, there is yet further hierarchy. Not all within our species is equal in that regard. There are those who deny any spiritual element to life, others who prevaricate not wishing to commit either way and then those who accept the spiritual element but then divide themselves still further. Some wish to hand everything over in an almost superstitious manner, taking no responsibility for their own fate. Others acknowledge their involvement but look to their priests and teachers for absolution. 

Then there are those who know that connection with the divine is entirely in their hands and set out to walk that path. They develop mumukshatvam - the burning desire for liberation (from the bindings of Maya). 

Once they have been grasped with this desire, they are likely to find the teachers appear to guide their path; and even among these few, are the even rarer still, the students who find themselves in the presence of a true master. 

The masters are actually plentiful. However, they are not demonstrative. They have the ability to hide in plain sight. Only when the student is ready will their paths cross and the full extent of the master's care be felt. That student also must be prepared to unscramble themselves, to unlearn all that came before in order to learn the whole... and the master will challenge, test, tease, cajole, break down and build up that student from the well of True Love.

It is a truly blissful thing. 

Meditative Monday

 Hari Om

ध्यानवत् (dhyaanavat) - to be intent upon spiritual meditation.

Meditation is perceived (interpreted?) in a number of different ways; focused attention, deep thought, contemplation and so forth. All these things are true. 

For purposes of the act of meditation in Vedanta, however, each of these aspects is but a step toward the ultimate goal. True dhyaanam takes us to a point beyond thought, into a state of raw consciousness in which everything else is negated. 

To attain that level of detachment takes much practice, working through all the stages and challenges that arise from within us. There are many people who cannot meditate. The idea of stilling the monkey mind is just too much. It takes effort and the lure of Maya is too strong, misdirecting the focus. The rewards of the practice too numinous to fuel the desire for dedication.

It is an interesting phenomenon that even in regular practice, one must go through all the arguments inside with that mischievous river of thoughts. Each time adding another brick in the dam to stem the flow.

What is important is to not project any expectation. Rather, in sitting in dhyaanavat, simply acknowledge the intent. Keep acknowledging that at each time of sitting for this purpose. Concentrate on the intent - the promise to yourself to attempt the process. There will be advances and there will be retreats. There will, occasionally, be real breakthroughs and one is left elated... where care must be taken not to think the task is done. 

Sit again. Acknowledge the intent. Proceed.

Sunday Statements

Hari OM

Again, we are reminded that in claiming a spiritual nature, we must safeguard the truth of it through how we apply our thinking and in the expression of our activity... 

Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

Satsang is the drawing close to the teacher/leader in order to listen to some of the finer points of the philosophy (or matter under discussion and study). In our case, that is Advaita Vedanta/comparative religion. It is of particular importance to those with a serious interest in the subject matter and it is understood that there can be no loss from the listening/reading from the masters of the 'craft', only gain. No matter how advanced we are in our study and practice. 

It is the daily application, in life, of the principles of the philosophy we choose to follow that makes the difference between it being mere 'lip service' and intellectual hubris, or a methodology by which we can raise ourselves, and possibly those we meet along the way. 

Daily practice, be it formal in the manner of morning prayers, puja, attendance at class or a satsang, or be it through our daily activity, seeking only to be the hands of service in our tasks, is what is known as saadhana. It is possible, even with as simple a job as washing one's clothes, to make of it a sacred thing. How? By focusing the mind fully on the task, by acknowledging the fortune that there is water to be used for the task, and by knowing the honour of having clothes to clean. In that, we also allow time to think of those who have neither of these so readily to hand. 

Every action has the potential to be made sacred. Every thought, indeed. This is what is hinted at in Gurudev's quote here. That we should know ourselves as being The Spirit, and not just the words of a text, or a tick list of chores. Live the tasks. Love the tasks. Life will give back.

Freedom Friday

Hari OM

This is the day of the week where it may be decided not to post. A day of freedom from writing, from thinking... well, maybe not the latter. 

Most faith traditions hold up a 'day of rest' or 'sabbath'. There is no such thing in the Hindu week - for every day is sacred! The need for rest and respite is fully recognised, however, and one of the things that needs to be achieved in my own saadhana is the self-permission to NOT do something as much as to keep doing lots. 

Therefore, if something of interest or value arises that doesn't fit into the theme of each of the other days on this blog, it may well appear here. On the other hand, we all may be relieved that I choose to remain silent. Randomness provides freedom and I embrace that!