About Atman(Cont..)

How am I to look beyond the name and form? I do not see anything.

You are right. The teacher would suggest you look within before you venture out. Therefore, for now, do not try to see ‘Atman’ in all.

  • First, we should know what to look for?
  • Second, it doesn’t have a form; it cannot be described(like space).
  • Most importantly, you and I are also part of ‘All’. So, the search should start within.

You might worry that ‘Atman’ may vary from being to being. For example, the aloe vera plant sitting in the balcony might have less of ‘Him’ compared to ‘Him’ in me. Or the Himalayas would have more of ‘Him’.

Arjuna pretty much had the same doubt. To which Krishna answered: “Ajuna, I, Atman is equally disposed to all living beings(BG 9.29). Everything rests in me, as beads strung on a thread.”-Bhagavad Gita 7.7

Since he doesn’t have a form. How do I experience him?

Let’s apply the basic meditation here-Observing the Thoughts.

  • Sit with your eyes closed in a quiet place. why? Because we give way too much importance to our sense perceptions. So, shut them out for some time. Bhagavad Gita 8.12
  • You see your thoughts coming & going? Do not go with them however interesting they may seem.
  • Where are the thoughts appearing and disappearing? Watch that space that is helping the thoughts come and go. Hmm, interesting. That doesn’t have a form, either.
  • Now, what is that which is observing that space? Your eyes are closed but there is something which is witnessing the flow & intensity of thoughts.
  • If you have ever dreamed, you know that something was watching that dream too.  That is when you say I dreamt. Your body lay there like a corpse while dreaming. So, who was watching that dream?
  • Even in your deep sleep state, there is that thing which is observing nothingness(cessation of activities) Who is That?

Now our scriptures say, that ‘Observer’ who is observing all the three states is ‘YOU’. Unless someone is walking in and out of you, ‘That’ should be YOU 😉

Now we may realize, what do we mean by “Man having a body and mind”?

So, the ‘Man’ is Atman. He is not different from us but He is us.

I suppose we also understand who we are addressing when we use ‘I am’. And the Vedantic phrase “Nitya Shuddha Atman”.

Why am I Nitya? Because I do not come and go. I am there as an observer in all the states at all times.

Why Shuddha? Because the thoughts/emotions/dream/waking doesn’t taint me. They exist in Me. Like what we do under the Sun, doesn’t malign the Sun. Gita in 13.33 reiterates the same with another example of space.

I observe the mind & body in the waking state and the mind building a dream. I also observe when all the activities cease.

I am there. I am That.

As my teacher would put – we are like the Musk deer which spends its entire life searching outward for its own scent. Completely unaware that the smell is from its own navel 🙂

Note: This is my understanding. I might never be able to understand another person, or for that matter, even my mind or body. Though we do not wish for situations/people in our lives to change yet they change and so do we. But you might notice that we are longing for permanence – our very nature.

We should not stay unhappy with what we get. We should find our happiness and trust me, that isn’t anywhere outside. Change is the only constant thing in this world and we are seeking the opposite. So…..

Bhagavad Gita:

Bahir antaśh cha bhūtānām Acharaṁ charam eva cha
Sūkṣhmatvāt tad avijñeyaṁ Dūra-sthaṁ chāntike cha tat// 13.16

Exists outside and inside all living beings, those that are moving and not moving. Subtle, and hence incomprehensible.  Always near yet at the unspeakable distance- such is imperishable He!

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About Atman…

When I was told by my teacher that I am neither the body nor the mind .. suddenly it felt strange, as if someone had stripped me of my Identity.

The more I pondered on it, the more desperate I became. The desperation was real. How would you feel, if you been told that you are not anything that you doubted you were? Doubted? This thought would have crossed any mind at least once- that how can I be both the body and the mind.
Now, I wanted to know who am I? How do I look? How did I end up fooling myself to be the body and the mind?
For a minute, I even doubted whether I really existed. That strange feeling of not knowing myself was disturbing. I thought if I didn’t know myself then how wrong was I interpreting everything that is around me.
When the inquiry deepens and when we start asking more questions about Self (mind you, not about the world nor about fixing worldly things) that is when the teacher would render his experience or for that matter the experiences of all those who had discovered their true self.
Teachings:
  • The first thing that you would be told is that Atman is self-luminous, Svayamprakasha.

I, Atman does not require any proof to be proven. I am right there but you do not see me because you are too distracted. For example, we do not see the space or akasha around us(it doesn’t have a form) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there(it is in our experience). Likewise, you do not see yourself nor you see your self in others but you experience yourself and that needs no proof.

  • Atman is the Only Reality, SAT/Existence

Also, Atman is not an effect of a cause and it does not appear all of a sudden from somewhere. IT is just there and everything exists because of That.

Vedanta gives examples of the mud in the pot; it was always there in the pot. Gold in the gold ornaments etc. The body cavity which contains internal organs isn’t different from the space outside the body. Space which is so invincible yet so strong and extremely important for existence perhaps is the closest proof that Atman can exist likewise.

Since the real identity hasn’t been strengthened yet, there is a possibility of the above information to be misconstrued. You might just confuse your old pseudo self to be that Atman. To break that notion, Bhagavad Gita comes forth with the below message.

  • The names and forms are in me; I am not in them.(Bhagavad Gita 7.12, 13.17)

alphabet-alphabet-art

The letters are on the paper. Can you say the paper is in the words?

The 29 States and 7 Union Territories are a part of India. Do we say each state is a different India?  You cannot say there are multiple Indias as there are multiple states. The essence of India is in each state because India is one entity; the states are part of India. There is no two, in reality, India is One. Similarly, the names and forms are in the Brahman, the beings with the names and forms are unmanifest before their birth, manifest in life and again unmanifest on death. Basically, nobody is going anywhere or rightly put, there is no two things to come and go.

Sumi, in a black or pink dress, would still be Sumi. The dress does not change Sumi. Likewise, there is one Brahman, who wears different attires and is addressed differently. Long story short, we should learn to look beyond that names and forms.

to be continued…….

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Concept Of Bondage & Liberation

If you are a seeker & a beginner, you would be first told that “You are not the body or the mind or the Intellect but you are pure Awareness/Consciousness. Also, that everything here is just a play of Consciousness and Only ‘IT’ prevails.” Even Krishna gave the highest truth to Arjuna before he started with his discourse(Chapter 2, Shlok 11-21). He had to get into the details because of Arjuna’s incapability in comprehending what was told. Many of us are like Arjuna and that is why Gita is still relevant today.

Though every teacher introduces you to yourself yet it gets messed up because it doesn’t go unfiltered. And each student is different and therefore each has a different way of introducing the idea into life. I was unaware of the number of filters that I build unconsciously and it restrained every information coming my way.

In spite of listening to numerous discourses, the whole idea didn’t sink in or rather didn’t flow like the way I wanted. It doesn’t happen overnight, it might for some but it takes time. I kept thinking where am I stuck but now I realize that the idea of duality enticed me equally then.

And that is something that does not agree with Advaitam. There is no place for duality, but nevertheless let the inward search continue. Slowly but steadily, it will take you through its lovely paradoxes into a beautiful culmination. It might look like it is contradicting itself but when understood it is pure science. It tells you everything is in me but I am not in them. I am everything but I am independent. Though ‘You are That’, you still have to earn that experience.

Within the awareness is where the whole life is staged and every bit of that drama is nothing but ‘That’. Since our attention is drawn to the characters, we fail to see the actor, one who is playing all the characters. Though we theoretically understand that we are ‘One’, for that idea to flow easily, it takes endless attention unto our ‘self’.

The drama is him, life force is him, characters and ideas are him, actors are him, the whole act is him, the audience is him, the stage is him and you are him.

So, where is the problem, you may ask? There is no problem if we received the knowledge and stayed like that. Since the idea of individuality and Oneness cannot coexist, we have to let go of one. But strangely our own small selfish creation stops us from experiencing the ultimate.

The wave is made to understand that it is nothing, but water in the form of a wave. And the foam, bubbles and the rest are all but water too. The only thing which is stopping the wave from being the water is the wave’s obsession with its form. That needs to stop then there is neither samsara nor mukti.

Brahmarpanam brahma havir brahmagnau brahmana hutam
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma-karma-samadhina//
Ch 4, Shlk 24

The same one is the one who is playing it, watching it, directing it, producing it and staging it.

Yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam ca mayi pasyati
Tasyaham na pranasyami sa ca me na pranasyati// Ch 6, Shlk 30

Sarva-bhuta-sthitam yo mam bhajaty ekatvam asthitah
Sarvatha vartamano ‘pi sa yogi mayi vartate// Chp 6, Shlk 31

Image: Photographer Clark Little ventured out at sunrise to capture this stunning shot on North Shore in Oahu, Hawaii

Destiny- Never Blame God

Nobody is lucky here, God says.

Everything we gain here is nothing but the fruits of our actions( Karma phala) of this life or the previous lives, i.e. Karma through our Thoughts, Speech and Actions.

Although we have no control over the karmic fruits, we are given the choice to choose our actions. Every moment in life is a choice and we are allowed to make a decision. Then, how can anybody be responsible for the consequences? Most of us make the decision based on our past alone. When each of us is given an opportunity to exercise free will then why should we repeat the same pattern over and over again.

Know that they are your actions and God is not to be blamed. He is not directing your life but has given you the freedom to both write and direct your own life. Gita strongly denies his involvement clearly in Chapter 5, shlok 14 and 15. He states while the Tri-Gunas are doing their job according to their nature, you out of ignorance choose to identify with their work and thus get stuck with the sense of doer-ship. He asserts firmly that both virtuous deeds or otherwise do not involve him.

Na kartṛitvaṁ na karmāṇi lokasya sṛijati prabhuḥ
Na karma phala saṅyogaṁ svabhāvas tu pravartate

Nādatte kasyachit pāpaṁ na chaiva sukṛitaṁ vibhuḥ
Ajñānenāvṛitaṁ jñānaṁ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ

This, of course, does not mean that we keep indulging in all activities without bringing any change in our behaviours and then debate that they are nothing but the Gunas in action. Spirituality is about purifying and transcending one’s mind and we should not fool ourselves in the process

And, Self-realization is hard to attain and definitely not a mockery. Now THE MIND has a biased stance towards the body. Until the MIND understands, acknowledges and identifies with the truth after conducting sufficient inquiry into the laws governing the human life, will ‘IT’ attain stability.

Image: On the way to Baba Mandir

Atman Diaries- The Nyagrodha Tree

The conversation between father Uddalaka and son Svetaketu, as narrated in Chandogya Upanisad.

As was the customary in those days, Svetaketu was sent to an ashram for his education and when he returned after the completion, Uddalaka asked him, “What did you learn while in the Ashram, my son?”

“I learned everything that can be known, father,” Svetaketu answered .

When Uddalaka heard this, he became silent and thought, “What pride! Such conceit is born only out of ignorance. My son has not yet grasped the essence of the supreme knowledge of Atman which brings humility.”

He asked Svetaketu to fetch a fruit of  the Nyagrodha tree.  Shvetketu picked a fruit from the tree and brought it to his father.

“Break it, son, and look inside,” suggested Uddalaka.

“What do you see?” Uddalaka questioned.

“These extremely fine seeds, father,” replied Svetaketu.

“Of these, please break one and what you see inside?” asked Uddalaka.

“No! There is nothing there” responded Svetaketu.

seed
Nyagrodha Seed

Then Uddalaka said to his son, “My dear, that subtle essence which you do not perceive, from that very essence this great Nyagrodha tree exists. That, Svetaketu, is the Atman, that subtle essence, this whole world has for its self. That is the truth. The Atman pervades the universe, and, my son, you are a part of that universe.”

Uddalaka explains how the world which has the name and form arises from Pure Being which is subtle and doesn’t possess name and form .

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Knowing My Self

Someone who read my posts asked me a question, thought it would be interesting to blog it. I was asked if I had ever experienced a marred self-image and if meditation helped me recover?

So what is self-image? It is simply how I see my self.
Actually, we all have a clear sense of self, a sense of ‘I’ but when we are asked to pinpoint and describe ‘I’ then it gets difficult. Many times we do not know how to heal our selves as we are unsure what to work on. Think of it, when asked to better our selves, we work on our career or body image or relationships thinking this is where our self lies. In reality, they belong to us but can they be us?

Many ancient Hindu philosophers and scriptures claim that we are living a life of mistaken identity, a pseudo self which is transient and impermanent.
At times, Body = I Mind = I
They state the ‘I’ present during the dream, waking and deep sleep states is called ‘Atman’ which is distinct from the mind and body. And, until the above identifications with the inner & outer body stop, we cannot be at peace. So, their advice is to know our real self and avoid any emotional scars which can damage our self-image.

I had my own encounters with emotions, felt helpless, the more I talked about it to others, those impressions seemed to get stronger. If I wasn’t seeking help outside then the thoughts that I wished to avoid kept coming back with vengeance. I felt my inside was that of a battlefield and I turned hostile.

That is when I started paying attention to my thoughts, till then I barely knew what crossed my mind.  My mind was troubled by its own thoughts just as the silkworm bound by its own thread. I started observing my thoughts, the more my mind entertained those negative thoughts the more they surfaced. When sublimated, they took another form, but still existed.

Say someone knocks at your door and you do not respond to it then what happens? Whoever it is, have to go back after trying to get your attention, isn’t it? If we do not give the thought a thought, it has to go back. But it will return and knock again many a time, simply stop giving it any more power. Eventually, it will die down. Trust me, any such experiences in life will only leave you empowered with a better understanding of the mind.

Meditation may not be possible for someone with a low esteem. We need to fix that first. Learn to forgive you. To err is human, so learn from the experience and move on. Try giving; start taking responsibility your emotional needs and that will breed confidence.

Contemplating on any object is meditation but if you wish to understand and meditate upon the SELF then you have to approach a teacher. Spiritual books can gain a lifetime of knowledge but you may still miss the deeper meaning. He/she will help you put the principles into practice. For example, ‘Live in the present moment’, isn’t as simple as it may sound and nothing will change overnight. Be patient and practice until it gets hard-wired.

Though you are already That TRUTH/God(whatever you wish to call), ignorance will stop you from being that.  So, you should consciously trash your old knowledge and instill new ones and allow them to seep in. This sure is an investment of your time and energy but you deserve to know who you really are 🙂

Who Am I? Who Are You?

Aham atma gudakesa sarva-bhutasaya-sthitah
Aham adis ca madhyam ca bhutanam anta eva ca //
                                                                               Bhagavad Gita 10.20

I am the Self, O Guḍākeśa, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

According to Bhagavad Gita, the one who asserts itself as ‘I’ in every Body is a part of One Cosmic Being, Atman.

It is our choice to think of SELF as either a conditioned Finite Being or an Infinite One. Whatever we choose will pave way for our experience here, bitter or better.

What surprises me the most is the fact that we identify our self with everything we have or to everything we do, that can be our body, profession, societal status, family name etc but our identity with SELF.

Could I be the Atman that the Scriptures and Seers speak of?

If you really ask yourself this question, which already for some may sound bizarre yet if you continue to entertain this thought, you will realise that we are all connected. What makes us think we are different from others are our Individual behaviours. And they spring from different beliefs and thoughts. If not for our choice of thoughts we could easily identify our self to be ONE in many bodies.

Regardless of gender, religion or status, for a human being, it is the intangible assets that shape reality. The friends we keep and the thoughts we harbour will together define our personality. Otherwise, deep down we all are the same.

Although thoughts define us, we are independent of thoughts because we create them. Examine your thoughts closely, you can entertain or curtail a thought that arises in your mind. Think of it, you have the capacity to build a thought, to make it as complex as you wish and your body will respond to it.

We entertain all kinds of thoughts, can we not build this one? Growth should happen in all spheres, physical, emotional and spiritual. If building this thought can bring growth emotionally and spiritually then why not?

So, it is never too late to observe our thoughts and make a conscious effort to build new ones until we believe in them.

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