Posts Tagged ‘Vedanta’

This is part-II of the series ‘The Quest’. First part can be accessed here (Part I)

In earlier post I tried to show the complex side of ‘The Quest’ – Search of the meaning, in this post I am making a humble attempt to see the simpler side (though through a bit complex explanation).

At the grassroot, it is somewhat apparent that the ultimate aim (as stated in religious scriptures, Vedanta, philosophy, etc.) is the state of bliss! Absolute happiness!

If you refuse to believe what you have not seen and experienced yourself, you should dwelve into your past experiences and see what has brought you a good amount of happiness if not absolute bliss. And how can you identify such experiences than other infinite experiences you have had – It’s by observing emotions. Such moments evoke extreme emotions within. You would still remember them vividly, no matter when they actually happened.

If I were to list some such experiences (purely personal view based on my personal experiences):
1. Extreme performances by others in sports, arts, music, work, etc. – Kind of things that touch your heart within, where it is apparent that nothing better could have been achieved and when personal excellence and divinity manifests in person through his act.
2. Perfection at work – when you have performed to best of your capabilities and are convinced that it’s the best that you have achieved. When output is beyond any compromise.
3. Acts of humanity and selfless service – When you get touched by sincere concerns of people around. When you see people helping others selflessly. When you see/read in Schindler’s list that ‘He who saves a single life, saves the entire world’.
4. Acts and examples of grit, determination – When you set a clear goal and failures after failures you still continue to pursue that and eventually you achieve it.
5. Sudden relief of prolonged stress – Mostly happens when you have lot at stake and when you want something from deep within (passion) like positive examination result where you have prepared for years, successful surgery in case of complicated medical condition
6. When you enter into the ‘flow’ psychological state – When you are absolutely absorbed in activity at hand and loose sense of time and space like playing video games, painting, arts, etc. (Wiki: Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity)

Well, I can list few more but don’t think it’s needed any more, as I can now clearly see the pattern emerging.

Is it so that the things that really matters (to reach that blissful state) are – humanity (pts 3 and 5 above) and personal excellence (pts 1,2,4, 5 and 6)

A. Serve humanity – selflessly – do good to others – save a life – save the world – till there is even a single being hungry in your premises, your whole religion is to feed him (Adapted from Swami Vivekananda) – Vedanta
B. Personal excellence/perfection – Achieve your highest potential – be the best you can – squeeze out all good within – be productive – don’t stop – don’t give in – don’t submit – use all your forces – be ONE with your work – to attain this you need to be loving what you are doing – so listen to your heart – give your best without any expectation – Karma yoga – Philosophy – Vedanta

Cannot we see it all emerging (and converging)? – Everything leads us towards the same pattern, doesn’t matter how we attempt to understand/explain this – bottom-up or top-down; choose what suits you best. ‘The Truth’ emerges from one source ‘the heart’ and converges into another one ‘the perfection’, ‘Perfection’ which can also be called manifestation of the Truth.

[On a side note: The aim and nature of whole existence is to move towards absolute perfection, as we can see in evolution of species, cultures, etc. (ref: ‘The powers of the mind’, Complete works of Swami Vivekananda on Wiki, a must read).]

So true, you can reach perfection only/mostly in things where you have got a lot of interest i.e. where your heart lies. In hindsight this looks so obvious.

It’s complicated yet so simple! Isn’t it!?

‘Listen to your heart!’

Keep It Simple Stupid! (KISS)

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Osho says keep the question open and keep clinging to it. He says that when the answer strikes, you would know it but you would not be able to frame it or tell it to anyone. This is somewhat mystical. As such, if I am to share my experience, I would say that there are lot many things I have been reading, understanding, contemplating and writing privately (Yeah, all about meaning and philosophy of life). Things are more clear than they were some time back. These philosophies individually, makes a lot of sense. But it is at this time bit difficult for me to combine them and comprehend the whole picture. And somewhere I know that all of this connects somewhere into one single bigger thing. So, there are these pieces of philosophy (I would say truth) and experiences which make perfect sense. But where and how of the bigger picture is the question. I know it will appear to me eventually, just that it might take some time. I need to live with the question open.

And life is about that. You dwelve deeper into it and it becomes more complex and I believe it would become more and more complex. Until one day, a point will come where it will just strike as a bolt and everything will be crystal clear. Till then the aim is to see, read, percieve, believe and keep questioning whatever is coming to you. Keep the quest alive. Keep it complex stupid! (KICS!)

So, what’s up today? Just, another regular day. But, before I start my usual day… there are few things that ‘I’ need to understand. How should ‘I’ spend this day? What should ‘I’ be doing today?

Why is this ‘I’ still so predominant in life? Why? Vedanta says that we should be unattached. Mera (mine), apna (ours), main (‘I’) and aham (ego) should be given away. This is how we should be… unattached to our worldly possessions, relationships, etc. and looking at all human being and humanity as one. This state is very difficult to attain. However, not impossible and one can achieve this in this very life. Look at some examples of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc for inspiration. They devoted their complete lives to one goal and that was to serve humanity. That should be the guiding reason behind everything. That alone can give us immense potential. Goal is to realize the potential within and use it for benefit and upliftment of all. This is how things should be.

Now, higher philosophy tells us not to stick to the learning alone. We have to utilize this knowledge, understand our hidden potential and should go all-out to service humanity. We should not keep learning / understanding all this and keep mum. We should in fact use all this knowledge to uplift ourselves and benefit others. Procrastination and fear are two hurdles that are to be challenged and worked upon.

What to do then? What exactly should we take up as next steps? I think answer lies within each heart. All knowledge, readings, research, philosophies are just guiding maps which eventually leads you there – to your heart and soul within. As Steve Jobs said that, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” And so, when should we do that? What is the best time – should we start doing this after attaining financial independence, after reaching some personal goals, after reaching some good position in work, etc.? What is the right time? We should do that right this moment. Though, one needs to be at certain level of understanding and consciousness to understand all this, but we can’t wait for eternity or for next month or next year. (Man can reach this state of consciousness by continuous reasoning and/or through belief/faith. Chose your calling but ‘end’ remains the same.) We should start working on things this moment. What we need to do should be done NOW itself. Close your eyes… think that in the end you are going to die… leaving behind all that is there to you, of you and with you… what is important then is to work for humanity and even if you are able to improve few lives your work is done. Touch as many lives as you can. Don’t wait! Just do a little introspection in a silent place and try to cut-off from all noise. Just you and your heart alone. There you can listen to your heart and that is when your heart can give you clues. Open up to those hints. Fear none! You are super human! You yourself are the One! You can achieve anything! Direct yourself and your energies to a cause higher than your own self. You can unlock the potential within. That alone is the purpose of life – “To unlock the highest potential within and direct it to service humanity”. Period.

Last 6 months have been very important in my life and in my understanding of life. I can clearly see that some understanding, ideas, philosophies as stand now are in complete contrast to the ones I used to hold 6 months back.

It started with an intense project with aim of starting a web based company in 90 days. In the end I could not achieve that because of some technical and financial roadblocks. Nevertheless, the project taught me great many things which are required in any business. And more than that, the greater benefit it did was to take me back onto the path of introspection. And throughout this time i.e. from end of October ‘12 till today I am into such a wonderful world of philosophy, Vedanta and life that I am much changed a person now. Standing now with more clear sense of what is important in life and which direction I should move. Though there are still many doubts and I know things would become more clear with time, but I would say that I have got the sense of which direction to take.

Some of the changed philosophies/understandings as they stand now are:

  1. It is about GIVING to ALL (karma) – your home, society, etc. (In total contrast to my previous article ‘To give or not to give’)
  2. It is about giving (karma) without attachment to result (fal/fruits) i.e. giving unconditionally.
  3. It is about giving to your best capability, giving the best you can as an individual. (So, it becomes important to find your calling, your area of interest as it is where you could most develop your skills and use it for benefit of all) – Be the best in whatever you do / choose to do.
  4. Money is not the goal. Money can’t be considered as the measure of success. (Contrast to my previous article ‘Money it’s (not) a gas’)
  5. Success (and money) can’t be pursued it ensues – Success is just a byproduct.
  6. The truth lies within. A person can by yoga (practice of either one or all – Karma, Jnana (Gyan), Bhakti, Raja) understand the ultimate truth – The oneness, The unity, The Brahman.
  7. Man is most powerful, his soul is divine and he can achieve anything. As Swami Vivekananda summarized Vedanta’s teachings:
    •  Each soul is potentially divine.
    •  The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal.
    • Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free.
    • This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details
  8. Man moves through various levels of consciousness (find it in four Purusharthas, Maslow’s hierarchy, or any other theory) and to understand the potential within one has to move up from level of basic needs to higher consciousness. Only then one can have the will and power to understand religion, philosophy or self-realization.
  9. If we can raise the level of consciousness of people around… if we can prepare them for self-realization – we are doing larger good. Personal salvation is great but still a selfish thought. Perfect unity can be achieved only when everyone attains self-realization. (This is what Swami Vivekananda mentions in conversation with his disciple)
  10. To sum up practical application of all these:
    • Understand where your interest lies, because that is where you are happy and can achieve your highest potential.
    • Utilize your potential to the fullest to create things, do things and help people… GIVE your best without attachment to result (name/fame/money/success)
    • Help people around to reach next level of consciousness, in any way you can – sharing wealth, sharing thoughts, creating employment, imparting skills, etc.
    • Establish a link between above three.

 

Few of the things that have helped me to get to these understandings during last 3 months (Oct – Jan) are writings and references on: Purpose of life, Vedas, Vedanta, dharmashastra, karma yoga, gyana yoga, rajas yoga, life and writings of swami vivekanand, some references to Bhagvad Gita, Viktor Frankl, various self-help articles, Hindu mythology, life and preaching of Buddha, Autobiography of mahatma Gandhi etc. to name few.

While going through ‘Complete works of Swami Vivekananda’ on wikisource, I came across this conversation between him and one of his disciple. Found it really interesting to share and to keep handy for future reference.

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Disciple: How is it, Swamiji, that you do not lecture in this country? You have stirred Europe and America with your lectures, but coming back here you have kept silence.
Swamiji: In this country, the ground should be prepared first; then if the seed is sown, the plant will come out best. The ground in the West, in Europe and America is very fertile and fit for sowing seeds. There they have reached the climax of Bhoga (enjoyment). Being satiated with Bhoga to the full, their minds are not getting peace now even in those enjoyments, and they feel as if they wanted something else. In this country you have neither Bhoga nor Yoga (renunciation). When one is satiated with Bhoga, then it is that one will listen to and understand the teachings on Yoga. What good will lectures do in a country like India which has become the birthplace of disease, sorrow, and affliction, and where men are emaciated through starvation, and weak in mind?
Disciple: How is that? Do you not say that ours is the land of religion and that here the people understand religion as they do nowhere else? Why then will not this country be animated by your inspiring eloquence and reap to the full the fruits thereof?
Swamiji: Now understand what religion means. The first thing required is the worship of the Kurma (tortoise) Incarnation, and the belly-god is this Kurma, as it were. Until you pacify this, no one will welcome your words about religion. India is restless with the thought of how to face this spectre of hunger. The draining of the best resources of the country by the foreigners, the unrestricted exports of merchandise, and, above all, the abominable jealousy natural to slaves are eating into the vitals of India. First of all, you must remove this evil of hunger and starvation, this constant anxiety for bare existence, from those to whom you want to preach religion; otherwise, lectures and such things will be of no benefit.
Disciple: What should we do then to remove that evil ?
Swamiji: First, some young men full of the spirit of renunciation are needed —those who will be ready to sacrifice their lives for others, instead of devoting themselves to their own happiness. With this object in view I shall establish a Math to train young Sannyâsins, who will go from door to door and make the people realise their pitiable condition by means of facts and reasoning, and instruct them in the ways and means for their welfare, and at the same time will explain to them as clearly as possible, in very simple and easy language, the higher truths of religion. The masses in our country are like the sleeping Leviathan. The education imparted by the present university system reaches one or two per cent of the masses only. And even those who get that do not succeed in their endeavours of doing any good to their country. But it is not their fault, poor fellows! As soon as they come out of their college, they find themselves fathers of several children! Somehow or other they manage to secure the position of a clerk, or at the most, a deputy magistrate. This is the finale of education! With the burden of a family on their backs, they find no time to do anything great or think anything high. They do not find means enough to fulfil their personal wants and interests; so what can be expected of them in the way of doing anything for others ?
Disciple: Is there then no way out for us?
Swamiji: Certainly there is. This is the land of Religion Eternal. The country has fallen, no doubt, but will as surely rise again, and that upheaval will astound the world. The lower the hollows the billows make, the higher and with greater force will they rise again.
Disciple: How will India rise again?
Swamiji: Do you not see? The dawn has already appeared in the eastern sky, and there is little delay in the sun’s rising. You all set your shoulders to the wheel! What is there in making the world all in all, and thinking of “My Samsâra (family and property), my Samsâra”? Your duty at present is to go from one part of the country to another, from village to village, and make the people understand that mere sitting idly won’t do any more. Make them understand their real condition and say, “O ye brothers, arise! Awake! How much longer would you remain asleep!” Go and advise them how to improve their own condition, and make them comprehend the sublime truths of the Shâstras (scriptures), by presenting them in a lucid and popular way. So long the Brahmins have monopolised religion; but since they cannot hold their ground against the strong tide of time, go and take steps so that one and all in the land may get that religion. Impress upon their minds that they have the same right to religion as the Brahmins. Initiate all, even down to the Chandâlas (people of the lowest castes), in these fiery Mantras. Also instruct them, in simple words, about the necessities of life, and in trade, commerce, agriculture, etc. If you cannot do this then lie upon your education and culture, and lie upon your studying the Vedas and Vedanta!
Disciple: But where is that strength in us? I should have felt myself blessed if I had a hundredth part of your powers, Swamiji.
Swamiji: How foolish! Power and things like that will come by themselves. Put yourself to work, and you will find such tremendous power coming to you that you will feel it hard to bear. Even the least work done for others awakens the power within; even thinking the least good of others gradually instils into the heart the strength of a lion. I lore you all ever so much, but I wish you all to die working for others—I should rather be glad to see you do that!
Disciple: What will become of those, then, who depend on me?
Swamiji: If you are ready to sacrifice your life for others, God will certainly provide some means for them. Have you not read in the Gita (VI. 40) the words of Shri Krishna, “ हि कल्याणकृत्कश्चित् दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति —Never does a doer of good, O my beloved, come to grief”?
Disciple: I see, sir.
Swamiji: The essential thing is renunciation. With out renunciation none can pour out his whole heart in working for others. The man of renunciation sees all with an equal eye and devotes himself to the service of all. Does not our Vedanta also teach us to see all with an equal eye? Why then do you cherish the idea that the wife and children are your own, more than others? At your very threshold, Nârâyana Himself in the form of a poor beggar is dying of starvation! Instead of giving him anything, would you only satisfy the appetites of your wife and children with delicacies? Why, that is beastly!
Disciple: To work for others requires a good deal of money at times, and where shall I get that?
Swamiji: Why not do as much as lies within your power? Even if you cannot give to others for want of money, surely you can at least breathe into their ears some good words or impart some good instruction, can’t you? Or does that also require money?
Disciple: Yes, sir, that I can do.
Swamiji: But saying, “I can”, won’t do. Show me through action what you can do, and then only I shall know that your coming to me is turned to some good account. Get up, and put your shoulders to the wheel—how long is this life for? As you have come into this world, leave some mark behind. Otherwise, where is the difference between you and the trees and stones? They, too, come into existence, decay and die. If you like to be born and to die like them, you are at liberty to do so. Show me by your actions that your reading the Vedanta has been fruitful of the highest good. Go and tell all, “In every one of you lies that Eternal Power”, and try to wake It up. What will you do with individual salvation? That is sheer selfishness. Throw aside your meditation, throw away your salvation and such things! Put your whole heart and soul in the work to which I have consecrated myself.
With bated breath the disciple heard these inspiring words, and Swamiji went on with his usual fire and eloquence.
Swamiji: First of all, make the soil ready, and thousands of Vivekanandas will in time be born into this world to deliver lectures on religion. You needn’t worry yourself about that! Don’t you see why I am starting orphanages, famine-relief works, etc.? Don’t you see how Sister Nivedita, a British lady, has learnt to serve Indians so well, by doing even menial work for them? And can’t you, being Indians, similarly serve your own fellow-countrymen? Go, all of you, wherever there is an outbreak of plague or famine, or wherever the people are in distress, and mitigate their sufferings. At the most you may die in the attempt—what of that? How many like you are being born and dying like worms every day? What difference does that make to the world at large? Die you must, but have a great ideal to die for, and it is better to die with a great ideal in life. Preach this ideal from door to door, and you will yourselves be benefited by it at the same time that you are doing good to your country. On you lie the future hopes of our country. I feel extreme pain to see you leading a life of inaction. Set yourselves to work—to work! Do not tarry—the time of death is approaching day by day! Do not sit idle, thinking that everything will be done in time, later on! Mind—nothing will be done that way!