ADVAITA DIALOGUE FOR BEGINNERS (Concluded) 801 to1008
801. S: My praNAms to those seers who saw all this.!
802. G: Let us get on with our analogies. Water in mirage and Silver in mother of pearl are both of one kind.
803. S: In both cases the appearance is well-known and repetitive. In both cases there is no medium involved.
804. G: But in the case of the reflection in a mirror the mirror happens to be the medium.
805. S: Am I allowed to do some more analysis of these analogies?
806. G: Go ahead.
807. S: Rope appears as a snake. Better lighting shows it as only rope.
808. G: So also Brahman appears as the universe. A Guru gives the better light by pointing out the Truth.
809. S: OK. After you have told me the Truth and I have understood it, still I see only the universe, not Brahman. Why?
810. G: To see this you have to go to the analogy of the water in the mirage or the silver in mother-of-pearl.
811. S: I see. In both cases even after knowing the Truth, the same wrong appearance stares me in the face.
812. G: But even here there is an objection. You can’t use either the water in the mirage or the silver in the mother-of-pearl.
813. S: You mean the water will not quench my thirst and the silver will not get me any money?
814. G: Yes. But the water in the universe quenches my thirst. And the silver in the universe gets me money.
815. S: Well, that means the analogies are not perfect.
816. G: In fact there is no perfect analogy. Still let us continue our study. Now go to the dream analogy.
817. S: What about it?
818. G: In the dream, there is (dream) water which will quench your (dream) thirst.
819. S: I think I am missing something.
820. G: If the universe, which is only an appearance, satisfies many of your needs, the dream also is of the same kind. Whatever thirst you have within the dream, there is water in the dream that quenches your thirst. The silver in the dream gets you money in the dream. So the dream analogy is a fairly close analogy to the reality or unreality of the world-appearance.
821. S: Is it why there is so much talk about the operational world being just a dream from an absolute point of view?
822. G: You said it right. From the absolute point of view.
823. S: Are there other features of the dream analogy?
824. G: There is something unique. That the dream is not real dawns on us when we wake up from the dream. The dreamer, when he dreams, takes it to be totally real. There is no guru coming in the dream and telling you that it is all only a dream and that you should better wake up from the dream into the outside world. On the other hand, in the operational world of reality, though we take the universe to be real and existing. we have our guru telling us that this is a dream from the absolute point of view and we have to wake up from this ‘dream’ of a world! He himself lives beyond the ‘dream-of-the-world’ stage, yet he comes ‘down’ from his absolute level into our ‘dream’ and talks to us in this ‘dream’ of ours about the Truth that is beyond this ‘dream’! Without the dream analogy in our culture, it would be almost impossible to comprehend the Guru’s teaching that the Truth is beyond this visible operational world of reality!
825. S: Fantastic! There is so much about the dream analogy!
826. G: Now we are ready to go to the mahAvAkyas.
827. S: Are we taking them up one by one?
828. G: No. I am going to discuss only one of them. “tat tvam asi”.
829. S: I have heard this comes in Chandogya Upanishad and belongs to Sama Veda.
830. G: Right. ‘That Thou art’ is the meaning.
831. S: Do I take it that we are going to establish this by reasoning?
832. G: No. This declaration is not an objective fact or experience that can be inferred from other knowledge or reasoning.
833. S: Is it then an intuitive experience?
834. G: That is what our elders say.
835. S: Who is the ‘Thou’ in the mahAvAkya? I see the word ‘That’ represents Brahman.
836. G: ‘Thou’ is the inherent substratum in every one of us without which we just don’t exist.
837. S: Then it is our inner Self, the Atman.
838. G: But here it appears to have been given an individuality of its own, since ‘Thou’ is being addressed.
839. S: This individual ‘thou’ being identified with the unqualified infinite Brahman is rather perplexing.
840. G: It is not the identification of a finite something with the infinite Brahman. Whenever a person A seen now is identified with a person B seen long ago, we are not saying that the external features, like names, dresses, mannerisms, and various temporary identification characteristics of A and B are the same. We are only saying that the essential persons behind the two are the same. So also, discarding the temporary characteristics of both ‘thou’ and ‘that’, we try to look only at the essentialness in both. The ignorance (avidyA) associated with ‘Thou’ is the temporary characteristic of ‘Thou’. The feature of being the cause (mAyA) of the universe is the temporary characteristic of ‘That’. The essential commonality arises by looking at ‘Thou’ minus its ‘avidyA’ and at ‘That’ (=Brahman) minus its ‘mAyA’.
841. S: In other words Thou minus avidyA is the same as That minus mAyA.!
842. G:The temporary characteristics that we discard in favour of the essentials are called ‘taTastha-lakshhaNas’.
843. S: And the essential ones?
844. G: They are called ‘svarUpa-lakshhaNas’. Those of the Supreme are: Existence, Knowledge and Bliss.
845. S: What does the understanding of these and the mahAvAkyas do? Is understanding enough?
846. G: Neither is it enough nor is it easy. You have to have Guru’s Grace for it. And then you have to live it.
847. S: In what way?
848. G: By seeing God everywhere. You must be able to see the wood and not the elephant in the wooden elephant.
849. S: But the elephant is there!
850. G: Certainly. When you play with a child, yes. But when you are with yourself, the elephant is a burden.
851. S: But I am told that so long as there is the ego in me I cannot have this divine perception; is that right?
852. G: Yes, we are all born with certain vAsanAs carried from our past lives.
853. S: These vAsanAs are in our mind only.
854. G: But mind is nothing but thought-flow into several channels according to the strength of our vAsanAs.
855. S: Some of the channels must be good and some of them must be bad.
856. G: Our ancients have classified two of them to be good and thirteen to be bad.
857. S: What are the two good ones?
858. G: ShraddhA and Bhakti. ShraddhA is Faith in the divine content of Man.
859. S: And of course Bhakti is Dedication and Devotion to that divine content.
860. G: But because of our bad vAsanAs the thoughts usually tend to flow into one or more of the thirteen channels.
861. S: What are the thirteen? I guess one of them is the ego.
862. G: Actually it is the most important. It is the captain of the gang of thirteen.
863. S: And the other twelve of the gang are ...
864. G: Can’t you guess?
865. S: I have heard about KAma, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada and MAtsarya.
866. G: Yes. Lust or Desire, Anger, Greed, Delusion, Arrogance and Jealousy. These are well-known.
867. S: What are the other six?
868. G: rAga, dveshha, IrshhyA, asUyA, dambha and garva.
869. S: rAga is Attachment and dveshha is Hate. What do the others denote?
870. G: IrshhyA is the uncomfortable awkward feeling that ‘all these miseries are happening only to me!’
871. S: The word ‘asUyA’ – is it not the same thing as mAtsarya?
872. G: No. asUyA is what downplays the legitimate positives of the other person, and enjoys that downplaying.
873. S: But then what is jealousy, mAtsarya?
874. G: It simply cannot brook the rise of the other person.
875. S: Then there is garva, which is pride. But I am not so clear about dambha.
876. G: It is show of importance and projection of oneself by assuming an explicit credit role even when it is not due.
877. S: What is the role of Ego in all this?
878. G: It is always in the background but is the motivator and agent of every thought-flow of the mind.
879. S: Well, that does’nt seem to be terrifically wrong.
880. G: It is wrong because it is what makes you think you are the doer of everything.
881. S: But I have been advised by you to have the attitude of ‘I am not the doer’ and ‘I am not the experiencer’.
882. G: It is Ego that prevents you from cultivating that attitude.
883. S: In what way?
884. G: Ego claims every thought. It is itself actually a superimposition by our Ignorance (avidyA) on the Self within.
885. S: Is this what they call ‘adhyAsa’?
886. G: There are actually two kinds of this superimposition.
887. S: Two kinds?
888. G: An attachment to the BMI and an attachment to everything one calls mine.
889. S: The first is the thinking of the Ego: ‘I am the BMI’; and the second makes it say: ‘This is mine’.
890. G: The first is ‘tAdAtmya-adhyAsa’ and the second is ‘samsarga adhyAsa’.
891. S: Both kinds of adhyAsa have to be eradicated, I would suppose.
892. G: Yes, for this eradication, an internal war has to be waged through spiritual disciplines.
893. S: Are you referring to disciplines like ‘yoga’?
894. G: I am referring to what is called ‘yoga-sAdhanA’ which means ‘control of the senses by spiritual regimen’.
895. S: Does Meditation come under this? You remember we postponed this discussion earlier.
896. G: Yes, dhyAna (Meditation) is the internal face of this yoga-sAdhanA.
897. S: What is the external face?
898. G: It is tapas, consisting of austerity of speech, of body and of mind.
899. S: I remember to have seen them defined by Krishna in chapter 17 of the Gita. Shall we talk about Meditation?.
900. G: Meditation is the art of stilling the mind so that it is motionless like a lamp placed in a windless spot.
901. S: Every time I try it I fail miserably.
902. G: Meditation to be successful has to have a parallel life-long ethical preparation called yama and niyama.
903. S: Are these not moral codes of conduct and of spiritual observances?
904. G: Yes, like non–violence, truth, non-stealing, purity, contentment, absence of desire to possess, etc.
905. S: I am told, when the mind stays still, in that silence and peace, the Light of the Self shows up.
906. G: That is only a way of saying. What happens is: The mind rests in the Atman.
907. S: So there is nothing to see?
908. G: It is the unusual feat of the Atman ‘watching’ itself, as it were. It is the natural state of equilibrium and bliss.
909. S: When described like this it seems not difficult.
910. G: Don’t think so. Because the vibrations of the mind have to be controlled, monitored and anchored to one spot.
911. S: It certainly is a slow process.
912. G: Yes, Krishna says: ‘Little by little let him attain to stillness by the intellect held firmly by the will power’.(Gita:6-25).
913. S: But what about the flow of thoughts that must be going on?
914. G: Just watch the thoughts. Do not probe into the question how or why that thought came. Do not analyse the positives and negatives of the subject matter of the thought lest that process generate new thoughts. Don’t get into this chain reaction of thoughts. Don’t also try to make a mental note of all the thoughts that pass through your mind now. Just watch the thoughts come and go. Just be a watcher. Don’t get attached to any of the thoughts. Don’t take possession of the thoughts. That is where you fall as the prey of the ego. Don’t ever get into the content of any of the thoughts. Just keep watching. Think not that you are watching. Just be. One by one thoughts will come and also disappear like waves which rise and then fall. One thought after another, it will keep coming ... and going. The next thought may delay a bit to appear. Don’t expect it when it delays. Don’t be ready to recognise it when it comes. Automatically the thoughts will become more and more feeble. Don’t think about anything. Stop thinking.
915. S: Thank you, Guruji, you have given me a blow by blow recipe of what I should practise.
916. G: But not to think about anything is, however, not a mechanical process.
917. S: Then what do we do?
918. G: Go over in the mind the meaning of a mahAvAkya or a spiritual statement by seers like Ramana.
919. S: You mean, repetition of a mantra?
920. G: No. In fact when you sit for meditation you might perhaps have started with a japa of a mantra.
921. S: That is very straightforward.
922. G: Then continue that japa until it becomes a silent japa, with the involvement of the total personality, heart and soul.
923. S: Should we stop the counting, now?
924. G: Nothing should be done as a stepwise effort. Each stage should slip into the next stage smoothly.
925. S: Even the stopping of counting?
926. G: Yes. Gradually the japa itself becomes a nididhyAsanA – contemplation on the spiritual truths.
927. S: Does nididhyAsana have to be only on the mahAvAkyas? Can we not take some simple truths for contemplation?.
928. G: ‘But for fire things cannot burn; But for the Consciousness within, can inert mind be sentient?’. Even this will do.
929. S: Is this how we are expected to be convinced of the Upanishadic truths of non-duality?
930. G: For the understanding of the Upanishadic truths, there is nothing like nididhyAsana.
931. S: I never realised that meditation could involve such contemplation.
932. G: Slowly the nididhyasana will come to be done without any effort or thought, with the mind resting in the Atman.
933. S: But I have heard it said that the culmination of meditation is samAdhi.
934. G: Don’t worry about it. When your mind is still, you are already enjoying the bliss of the Atman.
935. S: Where does this bliss come from?
936. G: It comes from the Infinite reservoir of Bliss which is the Atman.
937. S: This is the Bliss that great seers like Ramana talk about?
938. G: For such sages like Ramana or a Sadashiva-Brahmendra, they are naturally in that state ever.
939. S: Great souls!
940. G: They are called jIvan-muktas -- (Liberated even while living).
941. S: So advaita envisages liberation even before the demise of the body?
942. G: It does. That is one of the distinguishing marks of advaita.
943. S: But then by what reason do such people also suffer?
944. G: That is because of the remnant of prArabdha that is yet to be experienced.
945. S: But I thought jIvan-muktas have no experience that the BMI usually has.
946. G: You are right. Whatever experience they seem to go through is only by their BMI.
947. S: Oh Yes, they must be already in identification with their Inner Self.
948. G: So in that sense they may be said to have no experience of prArabdha.
949. S: What about their experience of this universe?
950. G: For them what they see is all Brahman. They see the screen, not the movie!
951. S: But Sages like Ramana have talked to individuals in their individual capacity.
952. G: This only means that if they want, they can hold back their Brahma-bhAva and descend down to our plane.
953. S: What is this Brahma-bhAva (being in Brahman)?
954. G: I can tell you only what such sages have said about it. “It is a divine perception of equanimity – an equanimous view of every being in the world as the same self as the one that dwells in them. It is a blissful experience, called Brahma-Ananda. Therein there is no more knowledge, no more ignorance, no perceiver, nothing perceived, no perception. It is something devoid of the triple – knower, knowledge and the known. Such enlightened persons do not see this world, they do not see anything. All they see is the godliness of Infinite Love and the loveliness of Omnipresent God. In their world, there is no self, no non-self; everywhere only grace and love. They have no limitations of time, none of action, no merit, no demerit, no happiness, no sorrow, no darkness. It is a permanent unalloyed illumination. It is the massive Light of Consciousness. No up, no down, no high, no low, no peak, no valley. It is a state transcending all speech and thought.” – Quote from a lecture by Shri Kripananda Varrier, in Tamil.
955. S: Oh God, what an elevating experience just to hear about it!
956. G: Now let us come down to terra firma and start winding up.
957. S: One loose end still. You have not said anything about those two good channels: ShraddhA and Bhakti.
958. G. Thanks for reminding me. Without these two channels of the mind, none could hope to rise spiritually.
959. S: But all the while we have been talking only of the need to realise the One Brahman which is omnipresent.
960. G: That is right. But how is that realisation ever to be achieved?
961. S: Does not advaita hold the view that you need only to remove your ignorance in order for the Realisation to spark?
962. G: Yes, like the story of the ‘tenth man’ thought as lost, but it is actually yourself; for you missed to count yourself !
963. S: Is it therefore a question of sparking of the Truth from within?
964. G: True. But that sparking needs a crystal clear mind with no spots – and, the Grace of God!
965. S: Which means, without bhakti, we’ll never see the end of samsAra?
966. G: Certainly. It is by bhakti, says the Lord, you come to know Me as I am, what I am and Who I am.
967. S: Yes, I know how it ends: And knowing Me in real terms, you straightaway enter into Me.
968. G:Yes. However one may contemplate into His mystery, His greatness and true nature are known only by His Grace.
969. S: But then, there is this great debate about what is the correct route – Bhakti or jnAna?
970. G: That is not the great debate about. The debate is about whether the path of jnAna admits or needs bhakti.
971. S: I don’t see the point of the debate. How can a divine goal admit of a path which denies faith in that divinity?
972. G: You have understood rightly. Nor can faith in that divinity deny a path that seeks a knowledge of the goal.
973. S: In other words, whether it is the Bhakti path or the jnAna path, both needs the other.
974. G: The debate arises because Shankara has said many times: Moksha is only by Realisation of the Ultimate.
975. S: Shankara himself was a great devotee, with temple worship, stotras and all!
976. G: Great advaita preceptors like Madhusudana Saraswati and Appayya Dikshidar have also been ardent devotees.
977. S: There is not a single propagator of advaita who is not also a strong devotee of God.
978. G: So let us wind up now with a famous shAnti-mantra. “saha nau avatu” - Let us be protected together.
979. S: This certainly is an expression of total surrender to the Supreme.
980. G: “saha nau bhunaktu” –Let us enjoy together. What would you interpret this as?
981. S: I am not clear, Guruji, please help me!
982. G: Well, remember the last shloka of the 11th chapter of the Gita?
983. S: The Lord says there: Be engaged in works for Me, Have Me as your refuge and so on; then you shall reach Me.
984. G: Why not say the rest : “mad-bhaktas-sanga-varjitaH; nirvairas-sarva-bhUteshhu ...”
985. S: Be My devotee; Be clear of all attachments; Have no hate of any being.
986. G: I reminded you of this shloka because this one shloka is the summum bonum of all spiritual teaching.
987. S: And therefore of the entire Gita. Right?
988. G: Yes. There are five advices here. Each is a major teaching of the Gita. And they exhaust the Gita.
989. S: I understand four of them. But how does the “No hate” advice get classified as a major teaching of the Gita?
990. G: Because total absence of hate can come only by an equanimous view of things.
991. S: And is that the brahma-bhAva of the Gita?
992. G: Yes, of course.
993. S: Why did you bring this up when we were on the “sahanAvavatu” shAnti mantra?
994. G: Good question. There are five sentences in that shAntimantra also. And there is a beautiful correspondence!
995. S: Let me see. “sa ha nAvavatu”: This talks of protection and so corresponds to “Have Me as refuge” in the shloka.
996. G: “sa ha nau bhunaktu” talks of enjoyment. Enjoyment is only in the Worship of the Lord. So ...
997. S: It corresponds to “Be My devotee” in the shloka of the Gita.
998. G: Now let us come to “saha vIryaM karavAvahai”.
999. S: Let us share our power together, Let us work together.
1000. G: This is Working one’s svadharma without any self-interest.
1001. S: So it corresponds to “Be engaged in Works for Me” of the shloka.
1002. G: “tejasvina-avadhItamastu”. This is about education. Let our experience be bright.
1003. S: This must correspond to the Yoga-sAdhanA part of the shloka, namely “Be clear of all attachments”.
1004. G: You said it right. Unless we do our works in a detached fashion productivity would not be optimal.
1005. S: Finally “mA vidvishAvahai” : Let us not hate.
1006. G: Clearly this corresponds to “Have no hate of any being” of the shloka.
1007. S: Wonderful, Guruji, My PraNAms. Om Shri Gurubhyo namaH.
1008. Guru and Shishhya (together): Om shAntiH sHAntiH shAntiH.