A guru once said: “It’s not a detachment of the body and of the mind, but a detachment from the body and from the mind.” I say it is neither. Keep your humanity. Do not feel you need to detach it in any way. Humanity and Divinity are one. They are not two. In fact, Humanity and Divinity, Nature and Infinity are all the same. They are four principles of the One Truth.
What we need to detach from are our ideas and partial pictures of the body and of the mind. Those pictures that have given us only a partial view of our world and, therefore, skewed ideas of the world upon which we have built our lives. We have encased, imprisoned ourselves within their walls with no windows or doors to Reality, only walls filled with false images that tell us whom we are supposed to be and what we should believe. None of them speak to us of the One Truth.
We don’t need another Bible, another Koran, another Sutra or another Gita. We don’t need another Hail Mary, another mantra, another koan or another puja. What we need is to look at those walls and question their false pictures – both pictures that we ourselves have taken and those fed to us by our families, our religions, and our societies at large.
Not look from above, which skews are view even more, but by sinking ever lower and lower for a view of each that is whole and complete. And not only look but listen as well. Listen to those voices that have ordered, praised, criticized, forced and cajoled us to shape the lives we now lead. Question their reality.
Listen also to Nature for she speaks in the many tongues of Truth and its simple vestiges: the sound of the wind and rain, the rush of a river, the gurgling of a brook, the roar of the ocean, the cry of a new-born, the ebb and flow of the breath, the deafening silence of a winter snowfall. These are all the Voices of God.
There is no need to see God everywhere. Instead see purposefulness, sensitivity, affinity and kinship. These are all synonymous with God, just as the terms Brahman, Allah, Christ and Tao. See them in your fellow humans as you look deeply into their eyes, realizing they perceive, think and feel just as you do. See them also in other living beings, in the birds of the air and in the four-leggeds that surround us. See their purposefulness. See their sensitivity to Nature. See how they have affinity for their offspring and kinship with their environment. Hear it in their voices that call out to us. Then see them in inanimate things: a rock, a mountain, water flowing down a hillside. See them in a simple table and a chair. See how the rock is an expression of the mountain, which, in turn, is an expression of the One Truth, which, in turn, is exactly what we are. See how water flows freely down that mountainside taking soil and minerals with it to nourish the many micro-organisms that flourish beneath the rock as the water flows around and under it. See the perfect kinship between a table and a chair. See their purposefulness in relation to the plates of food, or the books or the game boards and the people that utilize their levelness and steadfastness in so many ways.
Indeed, this world is not foreign to us, nor us to it. Not if we view it correctly. Not if we don’t separate ourselves from Nature. Not if we open our hearts along with our senses. Not if we cherish our Humanity along with our Divinity.

Written at Chinmaya Vibhooti, Kolwan, India

 

As the word ‘philosophy’ implies (from ‘philo-’ meaning love and ‘-sophy’ meaning ‘true knowledge’), all genuine enquiry is a love affair with Truth. And reason – in particular the higher reason – is just a means through which love works, to express itself in the affair.
But, since reason is only a means of expression, it is subject to love and not the other way around. The workings of love are not subject to reason and cannot rightly be directed or described by reason. The only proper use of reason is to question false beliefs, in search of the One Truth which is loved beyond all else. It’s only through such all-consuming love that every last remaining trace of falsity may be surrendered, on the way to truth.
Just how love works, through this surrendering enquiry, is not a subject to which reason properly applies. When a sadhaka’s love for truth is genuine enough, that love for truth manifests itself in the form of a karana guru, within or without and of sadhanas or investigations which are thereby discovered. A ‘karana guru’ is a teacher (guru) who is at one with ‘karana’ – the inmost source within each sadhaka. Love for such that which teaches, whether internal or external, is the highest devotion.

Love is the feeling or sense of oneness with another. If you correctly understand yourself not to be beyond body, senses and mind, but to embrace them as a living organism at one with all of Nature, your love for another will also be for that same humanity, that oneness with Nature. Because there are not two Natures and two selves, but only One, and love is its nature.
If your understanding is incorrect, and you divorce the humanity in yourself and in the other, replacing it with some pious attitude of Godliness, then your ingenuine love will turn to hatred upon any slight.
Genuine love, on the other hand, absorbs everything into you, the so-called good with the bad, the humanity with the divinity and hence duality dies, transformed into objectless love.

So also bhakti or devotion is a mental attitude directed to an object, generally an ishta-deva [a chosen form of God]. This by itself does not give the ultimate result, moksha. Moksha [liberation] is impersonal. To attain moksha, the goal of bhakti has to be impersonal, not simply for one’s self but for the liberation of the entire dharmic field. By first understanding ourselves and our shared humanity, we come to understand the Nature of God. But the Truth about God is the very Truth about ourselves, obtained in the deepest of all examinations of our beliefs and unnatural tendencies. Therefore, the highest of all love is the love of Enquiry, vicara marga, a love that enables one to persist beyond the nagging desire for the superficialities of life and a true devotion toward that which is Real, that which is the Truth of all Nature.
This is real bhakti, which establishes one in Atma. This is mukti (liberation). This is vastu-tantra, the outcome of Truth. Shri Shankara defines real bhakti of the highest order as follows (in Viveka-cudamani, 31): moksha-sadhana-samagryam bhaktir eva gariyasi
sva-svarupa-’nusandhanam bhaktir ity abhidhiyate
[Among all ways of seeking to be free, it’s love that is the best, one must agree.
To question one’s own truth, to ask what’s there, that is the love of those who ask with care.]

Written at Chinmaya Vibhooti, Kolwan, India

Identity Theft

 

 

Identity Theft!

Is such a thing even possible? Can anyone ever steal your true identity? Think about it.

What does an Identity Thief steal anyway? Your name?

And what’s in a name?

Are YOU in your name? Does an Identity Thief steal YOU?

What about your LIFE? Is your life somehow tied to your name? Does an Identity Thief steal your LIFE?

Does an Identity Thief steal your very existence? Will you disappear the instant an Identity Thief steals your name?

Does an Identity Thief steal your consciousness? Will you fall over dead or go into a coma when the Identity Thief steals your name?

Yet, we make so many false associations with that term – identity, meaning to be what a person or thing is or, to put it in everyday terms, who we are.

Here are some of the things we have come to identify with: our name, our family, our nationality, our religion, our occupation, our political and social organizations. Yet, none of these are who we truly are.

Then who are we?

There is only one real way to answer that question. Drop all of the above false identities. In essence, you must be willing to become your own identity thief.

Take away all associations with your name, your family, your religion, your nationality, your occupation and political and social organizations. What remains is who you truly are.

Sit quietly and ask yourself: Am I my name? My family? My religion? My nationality? Or, are these something that were given to me or put on me by either my family or society in general. Or, perhaps by my own doing as in the case of occupations and political and social organizations.

Your real identity is that which you always were, are now, and will be in the future. It does not change. You may change your name, your occupation, your political and social affiliations, even your religion or citizenship. But you can never change who you truly are. No thief, no matter how ingenious or masterful can steal your true identity.

Written at Chinmaya Vibhooti, India, January 12, 2017.

heart

The term heart is often mentioned in Vedantic scriptures.  However, the term is not used in a physiological sense but rather in a psychological one as in the heart of the issue or the heart of a nation. In Advaita Vedanta heart has a very specific metaphysical meaning but also many divergent explanations of that meaning that one might just as well concentrate on the physiological heart.

There is, however, one definition that perfectly elucidates the Vedantic meaning of heart.

In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, Verse 15, referring to the line, “I am seated in the hearts of all,” H. H. Swami Chinmayananda wrote:

“The term HEART in philosophy means ‘minds which have been trained to entertain constantly the positive qualities of love, tolerance, mercy, charity, kindness, and the like.’ A peaceful, joyous settled in tranquility, alert and vigilant to receive higher intimations is called the ‘heart.’

The Infinite ‘DWELLS IN THE HEART’ means, though He is present everywhere the Lord is most conspicuously self-evident, during meditation, in the HEART of the meditator.”

So, as Gurudev has pointed out, the term heart refers to the mind and a very special kind of trained mind.  And Vedanta tells us that the mind is not a part of the body.  Many associate the term mind with the brain, which is in the body. Both body and brain are composed of gross physical matter. The mind, however, is composed of subtle matter, and, if anything, one could say the body and its brain exist within the mind and not vice versa.

pain-and-suffering

When adversity befalls us, some rail against it in anger, some crumble under its weight in anguish, still others turn away in denial as if ignoring the pain will make it disappear.

Rare are those who accept it fully and attempt to deal with it. Rarer still are those with the courage to look into it very deeply, to see adversity for what it is, to see who it truly belongs to.

Do you own it? Is it your pain? Your misfortune? Your anguish? Or are you merely the observer? The One that watches joy and sorrow come and go. The eternal witness that observes the play of opposites as they appear and disappear upon the screen of life.

Or are you the sufferer who owns the pain, identifies with the pain and becomes the pain, the sufferer.

The choice, my friend, is yours.

11/06/16
Yesterday, I posed this question in a Vedanta study group: What happens to an enlightened being who contracts serious Alzheimers disease? Is it even possible for this to happen to a realized master? The consensus of the group was that it could not happen since the nature of realization is to transend the mind. Therefore, any disease of the mind cannot affect an elightened being because they are beyond the mind. However, since the mind is necessary to reflect upon the Self, pure awareness, a jiva who contracts this disease prior to enlightenment cannot gain realization in this particular lifetime.

As we know, the prarabdha karma still must be experienced even after realization. Many realized masters have contracted various forms of cancer and the like. So, what about Alzheimers and its effects?

Your thoughts on this and other posted topics is always very much appreciated.