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!

Image: Internet

 

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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…….

Image:  Internet

 

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

Reasoning Mind & Intellect

I’ve been training myself to eat more consciously without distractions, trying to taste what I relentlessly cooked. It went well until the day when a good movie and hunger arrived at the same time. My mind said “why don’t we eat while watching television, only for today” and we did that. After that, for the next couple of weeks, we ate with the tv or the computer on.

The mind argued; it’s not a big deal. I am still eating. With or without the distraction, the food is going to the same place.

Have you come across such silly reasoning? Here are a few 😉

  • I can afford to pay the bills. So I will have the air conditioning on even when it is raining.
  • I am not going to be there when the Earth goes out of the water. So, I will have the faucet on while I am brushing and thinking for good 15 minutes every day.
  • What will my friends think if I do not have a paper dispenser in the kitchen? My mom’s gen used reusable kitchen towels. Our’s don’t.
  • Housework is not my thing. But I do not mind spending a lakh for my gym membership.
  • I am putting 20 hours at my work each day and I don’t mind trading my sleep for more money. I’ll take a pill to shut my head, for a couple of hours, if it needs rest.
  • We do not have the time to cook. So, the family eats processed food.
  • I am a spiritual person but I still have a long list of requests waiting on God’s approval.
  • I know, my people and I come with an expiration date but I will take care of it when the day arrives.

I guess this is a concomitant of a dumb society heading south. Today we have vitamin deficiencies, global warming, restless and uncoperative mind, unhappy lives and fake gurus…

We have more money than our parents but we aren’t any happier. And if we continue being this, then we are preparing our mind for more pain.

The mind is like a child, if we act upon its every need then it wouldn’t be able to take a ‘no’ for an answer. You can make your way with the machines and technology but can you get your way with another human? Maybe not.

You will get more ‘no”s than ‘yes”es. Well! Then you would have an inadaptable Mind and an unwilling Human to deal with. But the truth is, we humans can bring realistic change any day- if we have a guiding intellect and a reasoning mind.

Bhagavad Gita says in Chapter 2 verse 41, that uncultivated Intellect is many-branched and is useless but those of the yogis are focused. How do we understand this shloka in this context? If we want to be a yogi, we need discipline in life. Though a large part of society is conforming to a popular way of life, we still need to walk the right way. It might be popular and common practice but it might not be right. So, we need to cultivate the intellect with the proper knowledge to guide the ever confused mind.

Vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
Bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam//  

Image: the internet

 

Is Attachment Unhealthy?

Naiva Kincit Karomiti Yukto Manyeta Tattva-vit

The human body is home to trillions of bacteria and viruses but they aren’t harmful until they find the right breeding ground. In the same way, the concept of attachment is already embedded in our system, waiting for the right time to develop.

For it to develop, it doesn’t need a human on the other end. It can be your smart phone or an operating system, like the movie ‘HER’. Watch it if you haven’t. Maybe our future gen is heading there.

Alright, so what is the problem with ‘attachment’?

Side effects are the problem. To name a few – possessiveness, controlling, sorrow, aversion, frustration, anger, hatred etc.

Some say what the heck, attachment makes life worth living. Few say attachment is the root cause of all our miseries. Others say it is impossible to live without it. Whatever is the thought process, we still do not have an antidote for the adverse effects.

Besides, the scriptures are not talking about attachment towards a person, in particular, but are addressing us to stop clinging to our beliefs, ideas, identities & thoughts.

We can make an argument that those very identities drives us and how are we to be without them? I agree.  All that we need to do is to realize that whatever drives the body is not us but are just a series of memories. This understanding will slowly weaken the attachments we have towards them.

Why do we have to do this?

If you truly understand whatever you have here is been loaned to you for a period of time including your body, would you not live with that knowledge. Or would you prefer living in willful ignorance?

I know it is easier said than done because we do not even realize. This is how I practice. Starting from my body to the people I live with – I am always thankful that I have them and they help me experience this world but I remind myself that they are there ‘now’ and that they have a life too.

Whatever I do, I engage in it with total involvement and that is when I enjoy the role I play. Just like how we play a video game, we know that it is neither us nor ours but we still give everything to that.

I am still in the process but I am convinced that everything I thought I was is not me. When they(mind, body, identity, roles) are not me, the things or people that come along cannot be mine either.

By doing every activity with this knowledge of who is doing, makes me more human. Giving credit where it’s due, for example – Mind is thinking, Sumi is working etc ;). It may sound funny but if you think about it, you would realize that it is true.

And if you practice, it will make things easier for you and for others living with you. The whole thing would make you more inclusive, happy, livable, prepared and mindful. Try it but always start with self-study.

Srimad Bhagavad Gita:

Kayena manasa buddhya kevalair indriyair api
Yoginah karma kurvanti sangam tyaktvatma-suddhaye//

The yogis, like all of us, perform their duties with the help of the senses, body, mind and the intelligence but only for the purpose of purification and not for attachment.

Naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit
pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan//
Pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan//

‘I do nothing at all.’ thus should be the knower of Reality.
In YOGA, contemplate, even while sleeping, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking aloud, eliminating, receiving, opening the eyes, closing the eyes, the knower of Reality understands that the senses are operating in the realm of the object of the senses.

 

 

 

Three Stories and Life

If you have a teacher who knows when and how to impart knowledge to the students then indeed you are truly blessed.

Being spiritual is not being serious or being uninvolved. It is about balance and being consciously & completely involved. Only when you are consciously and truly involved, you would notice the transient nature of life. And with that knowledge, you could ensue satvic Vairagya and can practice Udaseenatha in your worldly affairs.

“Anapeksha shuchir daksha udaseeno gatavyataha sarvarambha parityagi yo mad bhaktah sa me priyaha

Three stories that changed the way I think. All of them were told to me to address the questions at different times.

This is my life, how can I not stress?

The First is the story of King Janaka who calls his counsellors for an impromptu meeting at an unearthly hour because he dreamt being a beggar. His questions were

“Am I a King or “Am I a beggar? which is true ?”
“Is this dream state true, or is the waking state true?

Both the states are pretty convincing, isn’t it? When dreaming that seemed as real as life itself. He was confused as he had everything that he has in the waking state( I mean, in his dream, he had a body, sensory organs, mind, a story line, emotions, vulnerability, drama, feelings, people, ego etc)

We also dream but we never question. If that seemed real then maybe this also holds the same prominence as the other one. Perhaps the dreams are the way of Nature to shake us from the very shackles that we build around us by being so serious about this life here. We live as if we are here forever. I am not asking to be reckless but we don’t have to be dead serious. what if this life is nothing more than a dream?

If this is a more like a dream, then how do I live it?

The second story is that of a monk who refrains from even looking at a woman, carries a beautiful girl and helps her cross the river. Once they are on the other side, he puts her down, she thanks him and leaves. After a long walk, he reaches his hut only to be questioned by the other monks.

To that his answer was “I left her there itself. But it looks like you are still carrying her in your mind.”

If everybody could read the other person then we might stop looking for each other. We carry so much filth in our mind and turning spiritual is to clean that first and then learn to be in the “now.” Everybody has an offbeat drama unfolding before them each moment, nobody can teach us how to live them. There is no code, no norm, no structure but what matters is our “Intention” behind our actions.

Where am I stuck?

The third story is that of a holy river which confronts a huge obstacle in its path which splits that river into two separate streams. One branch flows towards the right was considered “holy” and worshipped by people. The other abstained and was considered not so holy.

Ganges splitting two streams

The river with time got two different names and identified itself to be separate and disremembered that it was One. (Just like the belief of goddess Lakshmi and Alakshmi)

We are just like that river, we identified with the common belief. We forgot what we were before we landed into our mother’s tummy. When we came out we were taught and told that we are this and that and slowly we got identified and attached. Maybe before the crash landing, we were one. All the identities in this journey can be ours but Can it be us?

Don’t you think we should take some time to dwell into these? What if we wake from this too and realize that it was only a dream? So much of sweat, agony, stress, jealousy, wrongdoings and all this for just a DREAM.

What if life is not a dream? We still came with an expiration date. And, trust me, we will not remember a thing of this life even if we come back. So witness the ride while you are here 🙂

Inception.jpg