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


Meditative Monday

Hari OM

I gaze through the window. Thick fog is brightened in one small patch with the oranges and reds aflame in the leaves and berries of a Rowan. 

That becomes my focus. My breathing slows, deepens, and thoughts narrow, finding descriptions for the beauty before me. Internal praise in the ways of PrkRti, how Nature knows and accepts and moves along without complaint. Contemplation on remaining bright in the darkest of days, simply by being one's own true self. 

Tomorrow, it is possible the sun will shine, but the oranges and reds aflame in those leaves will remain as they are, untouched by the extremes of the environment. They will move through their phases at their own pace, and finally, those leaves will fall and become the nourishment for that from which they sprang.



Saturday Satsang

Hari OM

We cannot transcend the vāsanās by merely suppressing the instrument (body, mind and intellect) since the cause which produces them, namely the vāsanās, can never be annihilated by destroying the effects. As long as the vāsanās, our habitual thought patterns and values, are powerful, the equipments will assert themselves time and again even if we succeed in suppressing them for a while.

Exhausting the vāsanās is the spiritual practice by which the ego rediscovers its essential nature of freedom and peace. This unwinding of the vāsanās cannot be successfully undertaken merely through meditation at a fixed time each day.

Unless we are careful in our contact with the world at every moment at our body, mind and intellect levels, the unwinding cannot be completely successful.

Through meditation, no doubt, the subtle vāsanās are wiped out. But the grosser ones can be loosened and removed only in the fields of activity where we reaped these vāsanās. Hence niṣkāma karma (acting with detachment, without selfish, desire prompted motives) is absolutely unavoidable.

When we identify ourselves with the higher in us, the lower is automatically controlled. This is a natural law of life. That which is superior controls regulates, governs, and orders the lower. Thus, the intellect with its desires governs the moods of the mind, which in its turn controls the sense organs; and the sense organs regulate the play of the sense objects around the individual.

That which lies higher than the intellect is the Self, Consciousness. When a person succeeds in identifying himself with the Spirit in him, all his intellectual restlessness, emotional cravings, and physical appetites wither and fall away like petals from the flower upon the emergence of the fruit.

The subtlety of his awareness and feeling increases, and he recognises life's oneness in its different manifestations.




Thursday Thoughts

Hari OM

Do you, I wonder, have an interest in what brought me here to you? Over on the 'magazine' blog that I call Doses of Wild YAM, I have been building up a series of memoir posts, reflecting on my relationship with Advaita and my time at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, the gurukula of Chinmaya Mission in Powai, Mumbai.

It has been eight years already since departing that place after the most intense, satisfying, confronting yet strengthening experiences one could imagine. It is deeply personal - yet is also universal, which is why I am working through it now. 

Which is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected. It is almost impossible to extricate the personal effects without delving to some degree into the philosophy and that is a hurdle for readers who do not necessarily wish to (or can) follow some of the reasoning. The thought processes are not always clear - perhaps even to this writer! Yet I persist, for it is cathartic and I think that a large part of any such experience is about the sharing of it. The thinking out loud and ruminating on those effects and any delayed settling of the experience. 

Indeed, it is part of saadhana. So it is being done. If it is of interest, and you are not already familiar, you can take up the reading of it from this index page.



Whispering Wednesday

Hari OM

विद्याभ्यास


On Tuesday for a good few weeks ahead now, I will be sharing with you a 'library list' - the study schema as devised by Gurudev to best work one's way into the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. The English word study has been whispering away at me since deciding to embark on that list. We have that word as well as the word read. How else to describe the process of learning?

You will not be surprised to learn there are several words in Sanskrit for the process of inculcation - ah there's a good word in English! Indeed, as I typed it I realised that this was the closest we have to the word shared above, which is one of my personal favourites - VIDYAABHYAASA. It quite literally means 'knowledge practice.' Elegant, practical and fully descriptive of what we are at when we take up a subject to delve deeper into it and - hopefully - grow from that experience as we gain understanding and insight. 

Long before knowing this word itself, it described the imperative need within me to constantly seek. Though that, too, could be described by mumukshutvam - having the 'hair on fire' to gain knowledge.

Do you have mumukshutvam, the drive for vidyaabhyaasa?



Textual Tuesday

Hari OM

The schema of study devised at Chinmaya Mission is the subject of this post each week. To see all texts referred to, click the label below ("SuggtdReading").

It is worth pointing out (again) that the majority of these texts gain benefit from being read within a study group situation and if you would like to take up such an opportunity there may well be one close to you. Just contact your local CM centre. There is no harm in reading alone - though in the same manner that reading a maths or physics or biology text, there will come a point where the complexities and interconnections and all the subtleties might escape notice or risk being misinterpreted. Not only that, sharing views and thoughts on a text with others is great fun!

Anyway, the next text in line for reading after Kindle Life is BHAJA GOVINDAM. (That link is to the index in 'chapter one' of AVblog, where the original discourse posts have been sorted in reading order.) This text was covered in some depth on the earlier blog and you are encouraged to take a look. 

The shlokas were mainly written by Sri Adi Shankara himself, but it is considered that some verses were added by one or more of his four closest disciples. The prompt to compose these verses came, it is fabled, when Bhasyakaara came upon some pundits just blindly teaching by rote some Sanskrit grammar whilst clearly not paying attention to the meaning and intention of the words. This great Mahatma and teacher was greatly disturbed at how the texts got twisted and wrongly used, not to mention that there was a total lack of application of the philosophy behind the texts, that being Advaita. It might be said then, that this is a hymn of reprimand!

After the initial tirade of what is being done wrong and how to see that for ourselves, we are then given warnings and pointers for self-improvement. It is a rousing and entertaining text as much as an instructive one!!!


Meditative Monday

Hari OM

Gurudev's words here point to relaxation within in order to improve our meditative quality...

"Take your time, or time will take you and drain away your strengths. Take a minute, maybe two, throughout your busy day for slowing down to meditate on something beyond the worldly problems and things. Find a quiet place and wait with a receptive heart. ⠀⁠
⠀⁠
Why the worry? What is the hurry? Take your time and roam — picking from the wayside fields that which heals your within. Take some time to walk on grass, to look at flowers, to admire the trees, wondering and pondering upon the wonders stretched around you, up to the horizon! ⠀⁠

Slacken your pace just so that you may see the view. Take your time, or time takes you. Employ time, or else time will employ you; in the former, you are the master of time; with the latter, you are a slave of time, your employer.⠀"

- Swami Chinmayananda