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6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 8.

Thirupathi Sri Venkatesvra Temple



The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



Then, of course, something is mentioned about the breathing process – a little of it is mentioned in the Bhagavadgita, and there are larger details in other yoga texts like Patanjali and Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, etc. As far as you students here are concerned, I would advise that you need not go deep into these technical matters of pranayama as it has been described in the Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, etc., because, for your practical purposes, it would be enough if you breathe normally by a daily practice of consistent and harmonious deep inhalation and exhalation than merely breathe shallow; you don't breathe deep, for various reasons. For fifteen minutes or twenty minutes or even half an hour in the morning and in the evening you may stand up, or even sit down, and throw your arms out by breathing deeply, slowly, gradually, in an open atmosphere, if possible, or in e…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 7.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :




The place of meditation therefore should be, as far as possible, free from nearness to those objects, persons, and circumstances which may draw your attention, either by like or dislike. So here you are free to choose any particular place for your meditation, under this given condition. A suitable time also is necessary – it is not that you will be able to sit for meditation at any time during the day; and you are here, again, your own judge. The mind should be amenable to this task of concentration of consciousness. It should not be repellent – it should not be revolting for any reason. You should not be hungry, you should not be annoyed, you should not have a commitment to be attended to a few minutes afterwards, you should not have to catch a train in half an hour, or you should not have a court case tomorrow. These things are distractions; they have to be dealt with in their own way – and as long as they are not fulfilled or handled in an inte…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 6.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



In the process of pratyahara, the earlier or earliest stage of meditation, there is a need, first of all, to be conscious of what things there are which will distract your attention. What are your loves and hatreds? What are your inner tensions or frustrations, longings? They have to be dealt with very carefully, as we deal with wild beasts when they are tamed in a circus, or as carefully as a physician will diagnose a chronic illness. Here you should not be in a hurry; it is better to go slow - slow and steady wins the race. You should not be too anxious and emotional or enthusiastic about it. Every step has to be a firm step, a reinforced step, such that you need not have to retrace your steps due to any over-enthusiastic movement in this direction. You have to know your strengths and you have to know your weaknesses also. Here you have to be your own judge, unless of course you have a very competent Guru who may be your judge. Where such a Guru…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 5.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



The grossest manifestation of reality may be said to be the five elements in the cosmological process; and until we reach this stage of vital contact with the five elements, we are cut off from reality in a very significant manner. At present, we are out of touch with reality. That explains our misery in life, our sorrows, and our difficulties even in understanding what the world is made of. Scientific analysis, even logical approaches, will not serve any purpose finally when the world of five elements, or the world as such, is considered to be a total alien to us from the way in which we are encountering the world at present.


To us, all people around us are aliens – the world is a foreigner, and it is an object of the senses. It is an object in such a way that it bears no organic connection with ourselves; and we study it, try to understand it, experiment upon it and observe it as something totally different from us, which is the error of pure, c…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 4.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :


Things invisible and unfelt are not necessarily non-existent. But, at a particular stage, when this concentration attains some maturity – gets fructified, becomes ripe – it calls, invokes or elicits the attention of everything in the world with which we are connected in our personality. The so-called obstacles in meditation are not inimical forces attacking us. In fact, there are no enemies in this universe. But, certain operations in the universe may look antagonistic to us due to our inability to reconcile ourselves to the modes of their working and the purpose for which they are operating; the defect is not in them but in ourselves. The forces of nature are also manifest in different degrees of density and, if you recall to your memories the earlier studies, you will realise that the forces around us are manifold in nature. In a way we may say it is a single force manifesting itself as manifold presentations or expressing itself in various form…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 3.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :


The process of meditation is not a struggle in the sense of a fighting with nature, or with what we call the odds of life; it is an establishment of a harmony, rather than a conflict with the powers that be, in which we are engaging ourselves. It is more an attitude of friendship by way of communion of feeling that meditation is, than an encounter with an enemy; though in the earlier stages all the opposing forces appear to be our opponents, enemies, and intruding factors. There are stages by which the senses and the mind have to be weaned from the points of distraction, and the highest method should not be applied when one is in the lower stage of evolution.


Each one has to realise where one is positioned in this world. There should not be any kind of over-estimation of one's capacities, nor is there a necessity for under-estimation. It is a need for a careful observation of one's self in the true perspective of the position or the statio…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 2.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :




"Whatever we are" is an important sentence to be underlined, and we have to understand first of all what we are, which is another way of saying what 'self' means. We are to understand the self in every sense – in terms of the definition of it as gaunatman, mithya-atman, and mukhya-atman, to which we made reference earlier. So, our self is not merely the imagined location of our consciousness within the body, as it were, but everything that we are, even in an established relationship of ourself – spatially, temporally, socially and otherwise, together with our consciousness of this psychophysical organism – finally to culminate in the mukhya-atman or the primary Self, which is the universality of our essential being.


For the purpose of meditation, a proper place is necessary – Suchau deshe pratishthapya sthiramasanamatmanah. Suchau deshe: In a purified atmosphere, in a conducive environment we have to place ourselves comfortably i…

6. Meditation: A Discipline of Self-Integration : 1.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :




The discipline of yoga culminates in meditation, dhyana, which is the subject of the sixth chapter of the Bhagavadgita. The art of yoga is principally the process of self-integration by degrees through the levels of the constitution of one's personality, such that when we reach the point of meditation proper there is a total concentration of the whole of one's being in the direction of the whole of that which one aspires for through this discipline we call 'yoga'. Last time we noted that essentially this is a technique of communing the lower self with the higher self, and I endeavoured to briefly mention the characteristics of the higher self and the way in which we have to understand what this term means. It means many things, and in every sense of the term it has to be taken into consideration when it becomes an object of meditation – gradually by stages. We can today take up the practical side of it as enunciated in the sixth ch…

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 8. ( Last Part )

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



Thus, we are living in a world of 'Self', and not in a world of objects. The so-called objects are not our concern. They become our concern, they become even the objects of our awareness of their being there on account of the consciousness moving towards them and enveloping them, entering them, possessing them, and getting identified with them in some manner, which is the epistemological process in the perception of an object. We cannot even know that the world exists unless we move outwardly in space and time in the direction of another location where we place ourselves, for the time being, either in love or hatred, so that even there we are coming in contact with our own selves – only in a larger manner.


Thus, Ahamsarvamyadayamatma: All this universe is Self laid out before the experiencing consciousness, with which the self is identified, and vice versa. The whole universe is Self and the objects, so-called, are misconceived locations a…

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 7.

Sri Padmanabha swami temple Thiruvananthapuram Kerala, India.


The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :




You know very well why there should be withdrawal of consciousness from such contacts in the process of self-control, in the execution of the art of yoga. There is also the other false self, called the mithya-atman, which is the psychophysical individuality – this so-called 'I', this physical 'I', this body 'I', this psychic 'I', this sensory 'I', etc. "I am coming, I am seated here, I shall go there, I shall do this, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am happy, I am unhappy." When you make statements of this kind you are referring to a false self in which you are involved. This false self is called the mithya-atman, consisting of the five sheaths to which we have already made reference – the koshas, so-called. They are the physical, vital, mental, intellectual, and the causal – annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya, …

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 6.

Sri Padmanabhaswami Temple Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India



The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



In the language of the Vedanta, the Self is supposed to be understood by us in three ways – namely, the apparent self, which we seem to recognise in all objects of our longing or desire; a self which seems to be present in everything with which we are vitally connected, especially through our emotions, known as the gaunatman or the secondary self. The son loves his father, the father loves his son. We cannot say that the son is the father, or the father is the son. There is no intelligible explanation as to why the father should cling to his son as if he is his own self. However, the father loves his son as if the son is his own self, and the joy of the son is the joy of the father, the sorrow of the son is the sorrow of the father. Anything that happens to the son happens to the father. The birth and death of the son is the birth and death of the father, as it were, as we se…

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self-5.

Sri  Padmanabhaswami  Temple  Thruvanantapuram  Kerala  India



The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :

Fourthly, there is a philosophical or a metaphysical reason behind the impossibility to come in contact with real happiness in this world, that is, the perpetual rotation of the very constituents of prakriti: sattva, rajas, and tamas. What we call happiness is the preponderance of sattva, the equilibrating power of nature – which we rarely pass through in experience in life on account of our being mostly under the pressure of a desire which is unfulfilled, which is nothing but rajas acting, distracting our attention. There is a perpetual other-consciousness, an awareness that things are outside, which keeps us in a rajasic mode. Rajas is a condition of consciousness where it is forced to be aware of things other than its own self – duality-consciousness, separation-consciousness, object-consciousness – and all these things attending upon this consciousness …

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 4.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :




Secondly, there is anxiety attending upon the desire to enjoy or possess the objects of sense. There is restlessness of mind before one comes in contact with the object of one's longing, distress regarding the possibility or otherwise of one's success in obtaining one's objective: "Will I succeed, or will I not succeed?" This is the agony and the anguish that attends upon the desire to come in contact with an object. But once the contact is established and there is a conviction that the object is under one's possession, there is another anxiety – namely, "How long will it be with me? I may be dispossessed of it." Because subconsciously we know that no object can be possessed by us for a long time, much less forever, there is a subtle, distressing feeling at the root of our personality, even during the process of the so-called enjoyment of the object of sense. So there is no unadulterated happiness even when we are…

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 3.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



The senses are to be withdrawn from their contact with the objects. The objects are to be shut-out from their relationship with the senses: Sparshankritva bahirbahya. Here, there is something interesting for us to know. The necessity to sever sensory contact with external objects arises on account of a basic error involved in this contact. All contacts are wombs of pain, says the Gita in another place: Ye hi samsaparsaja bhoga dukhayonaya eva te advantah. The desire of the mind to come in contact with objects through the senses arises on account of the mistaken notion that pleasure rises from the objects. As milk is oozed out from the udder of the cow, it appears that objects ooze out satisfaction, joy - nectar seems to be milked-out of the objects by the senses through their contact. This is a gross mistake; there is no such thing taking place. The joys of life arise on account of a circumstance quite different from what we imagine in our minds, ou…

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 2.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



Thus, the reality of the world seems to be a process rather than being as such. So we are many a time told that man needs to be – he never is; we are to be yet. This is a slant given to the conditions of life in certain discourses of the Buddha, a point made out in Buddhist philosophy concerning the transient nature of things - which has been given a metaphysical touch by certain modern thinkers like the well-known Alfred North Whitehead, a physicist-turned-philosopher, who speaks like Buddha and speaks like Acharya Shankara, speaks like Hegel, speaks like Einstein, and speaks like Plato, from many angles of vision. What we learn from all these discussions and analyses is that this world we live in is not a permanent home of any person. We are located in a particular condition of a process, which is incessantly active, which never rests, and which moves without sleep because of the fact that the relationship of the finite to the Infinite is an indes…

5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self : 1.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :


Chapters four, five and six of the Bhagavadgita in a way dilate upon the discipline that is required in the practise of yoga. Some aspect of it I touched upon yesterday, and the study we made already is the foundational character of spiritual discipline, in a sense. Spiritual discipline, which may be considered to be almost the same as what you regard as self-control, is a many-sided, spiritual effort. The whole of yoga is self-restraint and a simultaneous self-recovery. It is dying to live, as Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say many a time. The process of vairagya and abhyasa constitutes a sort of dying, for the sake of a living in a higher sense. This dying is not a loss – you will bring back to your memories what I told you yesterday – it is a gaining of the originality of things by awakening from one's involvement in the phenomenality of things. Thus, a rising of the spirit from this world involvement is not a loss of contact or relations…

4. Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice : 8. ( Last Part )

We are not likely to understand the meaning of it because we are accustomed to identify self with our personality: 'yourself', ' myself', 'himself', 'herself', 'itself'. These grammatical words that we use suggest a wrong meaning of the term 'Self'. Self does not mean a person or a thing, though it is associated with a description of persons and things, yourself and others. The word 'Self' actually means the non-objective status occupied by everything in the world. Here is a sentence on which we have to bestow deep thought. A non-objective status which everyone enjoys and everything enjoys - this is called the Self. The Self is that which cannot be externalised, cannot be objectified, cannot become other than what it is; it cannot know itself as an 'other'. It is not an 'other' – it is just what it is. 

The real 'you' or the 'I' is what we call the 'Self'. This 'I' cannot become a &#…

4. Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice : 7.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita :


Detachment is a success that we achieve in freeing our consciousness from involvement in any kind of objectivity – whether it is the form of intense liking or intense dislike, or finally even in the complacency that things really are outside. The initial step or stage in self-control would require us to free ourselves from emotional involvements, either in the form of intense like or intense dislike. But even if we are emotionally free and there is no great passion for things either positively or negatively, we may yet be unfit for the higher requirements in yoga. A mere good man need not necessarily be a fit person for yoga, because while goodness is a great thing indeed, a highly valued thing, it is itself not sufficient because yoga is super-ethical – it goes beyond the morality of mankind. It is not merely goodness, charitableness and a humanitarian feeling, though all these things are wonderful in themselves. So, when there is a freedom achieve…

4. Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice : 6.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :


The world of sense-perception is conditioned by space-time and the various categories of the psychological process; while the thing, the person, the being, the substance as it is in itself, is behind this curtain of space-time. Our real being also is behind this curtain of the psycho-physical individuality. Thus we are living in a phenomenal world, both subjectively and objectively. The thing-in-itself, as they say, the substance as such, eludes the grasp of this phenomenal process - thus no man can see God, and the intellect of man is not fit enough to contact reality. Unless we develop a mechanism within our own selves to go deeper into this large area of phenomenality – subjectively as well as objectively – the plumbing into one's own self is also the plumbing through space and time. Modern science says the inward, subjective, subatomic philosophy of quantum theory is identical with the spatio-temporal theory of relativity – Tat tvam asi: Tha…

4. Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice : 5.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



This again brings us to the point of the cosmological scheme. We can know, to some extent, what we are, by placing ourselves in the cosmological scheme, and we do not require instruction of any kind in this context, because the moment we know how we have come, we can also know where we are sitting. Our duties become explicit and perspicacious the moment we know our condition and the atmosphere in which we are living. The control of one's self – sense-restraint, self-control – is the restraint of consciousness, finally; it has little to do with our physical limbs. It is not tightening the legs, plugging the ears or closing the eyes physically speaking, because our joys and sorrows are the outcome of a movement of a consciousness in a particular way. Thoughts are joys and sorrows; so joys and sorrows are nothing but thought processes, which is another way of saying the whirling of consciousness in a particular manner. Our individualised consciousn…

4. Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice : 4.

The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :



Again, I wish to bring to your memories our earlier studies concerning the structure of our personality and its connection with the outer world – namely, that internal to the body we have other types of apparatus like the sense organs, the pranas, the mind and the intellect, which have a tendency to affirm the physical individuality of the person, and affirm also all the attachments and aversions consequent upon this affirmation in respect of the outer world of persons and things. 



So, one kind of yajna or sacrifice would imply self-control, a restraining of the movement of the senses of the mind and the intellect, because an unrestrained set of senses, uncontrolled mind, and unsubdued intellect would mean a personality that is engulfed in a desire for spatial contact with persons and things outside, while really, persons and things are not outside. 



The reason for self-control arises because of the fact that the usual perceptions of the senses are er…

4. Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice : 3.

Guruvayur Temple Snnidhi - East  : Kalyana Mandapam-s



The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita  :  




It is also not easy to understand what this higher Self means; nor can we know what the lower self is. Though we may repeat these words again and again, and to some extent know their literal meanings, their practical suggestiveness is hard for the mind to grasp. The higher Self is not a spatially located, ascending series, but a more intensely inclusive and pervasive nature of our own self – something like the superiority of the waking consciousness over the dream consciousness. The waking mind is not kept over the dreaming mind, as one thing kept over another thing. The superiority, the transcendence of one thing over the other, or one thing being higher than the other, should not and does not suggest a spatial distance, but a logical superiority which is to be distinguished from spatial transcendence as someone sitting over another person's head. The cosmological scheme, to which we have m…