Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The]fundamental problem

What is it that I am really seeking through my various pursuits in life? What do I seek when I pursue money, pleasures, fame, name, power or heaven? Do I seek all these for the sake of themselves? If it were just for themselves, I would be satisfied when I fulfilled any given desire. However, I am only momentarily satisfied when I fulfill them. Soon I find myself with other set of desires. This way the desires I entertain may change in nature and in time. But one thing remains constant, in spite of all accomplishments I may have, me the unsatisfied and inadequate person, the person who would like to become somebody different from what I am at present. Why? Because I am conscious of myself and as a result of my relating with the world, I have a judgment about myself. My conclusion about myself is that I am limited,mortal,subject\tosorrow. I cannot accept myself as I am and therefore make attempts throughout my life to be acceptable to myself by pursuing different things. However, if I am an individual confined to this limited body, with limited powers to change situations, things and people in this vast universe, it seems impossible that I will one day become totally acceptable to myself and find a lasting fulfillment that does not depend upon any situation, any given place or time.
This preliminary inquiry into the nature of my pursuits leads me to the fact that there is no connection between what I want and what I do: I want to be free from being a wanting, limited, insignificant person. And my different pursuits in life have only the capacity to give me a temporary relief, in the form of momentary satisfaction and joy.
At this point, some will say, this is the reality of existence. Life is meaningless, you are a limited entity confronted with the immense forces of the world and you have to accept this fact of existence. You can give a meaning to it by your actions: just be an ethical person and try to excel in what you do, whether you are in business, arts, science or working in a company, contribute to the society as much as you can, but do not expect anything more than this from life. And do not forget to enjoy the small and big pleasures of life! But how can I accept this kind of reality and dismiss this intense aspiration for freedom from fear and sorrow, this fundamental search for everlasting fulfillment that seems to be at the core of my being 1 ?
Others will say, there is a heaven where you will enjoy eternally some special pleasures, provided that you behave well and follow the commandments of our scripture. But how can limited prayers and good actions that I do in this life produce an eternal stay in heaven? Since any limited action cannot produce a limitless result, eternal stay in heaven can not be acceptable to my reason 2.
Then the only possibility is that maybe the conclusion I have about myself is wrong. This is precisely what Vedanta says. It says that you are already what you are looking for, the limitless, the whole, you are already free from this sense of limitation, insecurity and lack. Logically, this seems to be the only solution: because if I am really a limited individual, no matter what I do, no action will ever produce the limitless I am seeking 3 . But if I am making a mistake about myself, and taking myself to be limited while I am in reality limitless, there is a solution! And it is in the form of knowledge of my true nature . This seems to be the only way out 4 !
It is interesting that most religions, philosophies, psychologies, etc. do not attempt to question this fundamental and universal conclusion that everyone has, 'I am a limited individual'. Often they confirm the conclusion about the limited nature of I and start their system of beliefs, school of thought or therapy with this in-built assumption. Keeping this paradigm, whatever solution they envisage, it can never solve my problem of being a limited individual.
Since Vedanta addresses the most fundamental problem that is universally faced by everyone, any discerning person will examine what Vedanta has to say about ones true nature.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


The End of Becoming

In the teachings of Vedanta we sometimes speak of 'the end of becoming.' What does the phrase, 'the end of becoming' mean?

The thing is, one cannot become what one already is. And what one already is, is what one wants to become. (So that's the good news.)

But one does not know that as yet. (The not so good news.)

However, that ‘not knowing’ can end. (The very good news!)

Let's say right now I don't know what I am. I know that I am. I know that I exist. I know that I am a conscious being. So, I know that I am a conscious/existent being.

But I don't know what that existence/consciousness, truly is. So, I take myself as limited. The mind, being the great labeler (as that is its job) takes whatever is handy (in this case the body/mind) to be me.

The mind takes my existent conscious self to be limited, and a product of, the body/mind and sense organs. What are the implications of taking my self to be the limited mind and body? (Not so good.)

I 'as though' (and it really is only 'as though') become subject to birth/death, disease, pain, old age, unhappiness, you name it! Not a pretty picture.

Even though it is only 'as though', that doesn't matter in terms of the effect this has on the mind. It's the scariest thing there is. Like even if I'm walking along a path on a dark night, and I take a crack in the road to be a deadly cobra, it doesn't matter to my mind what the reality is of what I'm seeing, if I don't know what the reality of it is. If my mind projects 'deadly cobra' onto the crack in the earth, and has no doubt about it, trauma will ensue.

And then, even when some kind friend, noticing my distress, shows me what is really there, and I see, "Oh, it is only a crack in the road," my heart may still be beating fast from the residual effects of the mental trauma caused by my totally incorrect conclusion.

Taking my existence/conscious self to be the body/mind is the most traumatic experience there is. There is nothing worse, and it is completely untrue.

But if someone walks up to you and says those words, I'm not sure that they would help. You would have to feel the person knew what they were talking about, and that they were not crazy or deluded, and be open to hearing and wanting to know what they had to say.

If all of the above criteria were met you might ask that person: "If you know that I am not the body/mind, and if you know that you are not the body/mind; if that is your direct experiential knowledge, is it possible that I can know the same thing? And, if so, how I can I know it? Can you actually prove to me and show me that what you are saying is true?"

Although there is nothing you can do to become who you are (because you are already that), there is something you can do to know who you really are.

Although you don't know it now, you can know it, because you are here to be known. The truth is here to be known. It is only a matter of having someone, whom you trust and who is skillful, logically point out to you certain incontrovertible facts about yourself and the nature of your experience, and then giving your mind time to assimilate those facts. Then you yourself will recognize the truth.

The end of becoming is knowing that you never could, and never have, become anything in the first place other than what you already are. And what you already are has never been subject to becoming ever.

When the Gordian knot of ignorance (taking my self to be the body/mind) slips apart, then I see, Wow! This existence consciousness which I am, never becomes, never changes, is ever the same, and it is the most wonderful constant 'me' that I have always loved in every changing moment.

It is what I always wanted to be! And what I always wanted to be, I am! Amazing!

There is nothing that I can do to become my self, because I am already my self, and the recognition of that is called freedom!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


What is Humility?

Humility is defined differently at different levels. Mother Theresa expresses humility through selflessness. The ultimate expression of humility is the realization of no-self.

Because humility is defined differently at different levels, it would be good not to use a profound definition when explaining it to someone who is incapable of understanding that level. This includes those who remain stuck in conventional thinking. To do so is to invite misconceptions and other disordered results.

Mother Theresa tried to live every moment in the will of God. “Thy will be done on earth …” The fruits of her actions she also attributed to God alone. That’s why she called herself the “pencil of God.” This selflessness is true humility because it is very close to Truth.

Where there is true humility there is only God. True humility is selflessness. The truth is the self is not real, only God is real. Hence the poem:

Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself,
And there isn't one.
Wei Wu Wei

Humility is selflessness. Selflessness is God.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Self-Knowledge, known in India as the Atmabodha, is a short composition of 68 verses attributed to the great Indian philosopher Shankara. With this composition Shankara tries to serve all those who are ready to understand the Truth, which means they must be ready to break all ties and desire Liberation.
Below is a quick summary of the content in Shankara's treatise (these paragraphs are not verbatim):
Only direct Knowledge can be the cause for Liberation. Action by itself cannot destroy our illusions and delusions. It is because of our ignorance that we appear to be finite. When ignorance is destroyed by Knowledge, the Self reveals Itself by Itself, like the sun when the clouds are removed. Right practice leads to Knowledge.

The world is like a dream: It appears to be real as long as we are ignorant of the Truth. When we are awake the world has disappeared like a dream. The world is like the illusion of silver in an oyster shell. All forms exist in the imagination of the perceiver. The world is to the all-pervading Awareness of God like the bracelet is to gold. As long as we admire the form, we do not see the gold. If we see the gold we do not admire the form.

All characteristics are superimposed on the all-pervading Awareness. The gross body is formed out of five subtle elements. The subtle body is made of five pranas. The Awareness takes on characteristics in the same way as a crystal may take on the color of something that is red, blue, or green.

Through discrimination, the seeker has to isolate the pure innermost Self from the mental coverings. The Self is only reflected in the clear mind. The Self, as pure Awareness, has to be seen as being distinct from body and mind. Like the moon appears to be moving when clouds are moving, so the Self appears to be active when mind and the senses are active.

The nature of the Self, as pure Awareness, is Eternity, Purity, Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss. When the Self gets confused with body and mind it is overcome by mortal fears. The Self regains fearlessness by realizing the Truth about Itself.

Awareness does not need another instrument, like the mind, to be aware of Itself. The Self is not this or that but Itself. The Self is without attributes and action. The Self is changeless, eternal, pure, and free. The Self is pure Awareness as God is pure Awareness. Pure Awareness is without a second.

He who has attained the Supreme Goal dwells as the embodiment of Infinite Consciousness and Bliss. The practice that destroys ignorance is constant meditation. Because of ignorance the ever-present Awareness is not recognized. The seeker who has realized the Self sees the entire universe as the Self.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Humanity's most ancient wisdom text is the Brihadâranyaka Upanishad, the "Great Forest Secret Teaching." This remarkable Sanskrit oral scripture from nearly 3,000 years ago in northern India, the first of hundreds of Upanishads and other wisdom texts, was the first scripture ever to clearly reveal the great Divine Truth of nondual spirituality:

"The Âtman (Absolute Self) alone is to be meditated upon, for in It all are one… By It one knows all this…. Whoever knows thus, 'I am Brahman/Reality' becomes this all. Even the gods cannot prevent his becoming thus, for he becomes their Self…. This Divine Self is a world for all beings—gods, seers, ancestors, humans, livestock, and tinier creatures…. All the vital breaths/energies, all worlds, all gods, and all beings spring from this Âtman. Its inner meaning (upanishad) is 'the Real behind the real, or Truth of truth.'… When there is some other thing, then one can see the other, smell… taste… greet… hear… ponder… touch… perceive the other. [But in Self-realization] one becomes the single ocean, the nondual Seer. This is the Brahman Reality…. This is the highest goal, the highest treasure, the highest world, the greatest bliss…. A verse says: 'When all desires dwelling in the heart are banished, then a mortal becomes immortal; he becomes Brahman here (in this life).'… Knowing that immortal Brahman, I am immortal. Those who know the life behind breathing, the eye behind seeing, the ear behind hearing, the mind behind thinking, have realized the ancient, primordial Brahman. With the (intuitive) mind alone must one realize It. In It there's no diversity; one goes from death to death seeing diversity in It. This un-showable, constant Being can be realized as One only. The Self is taintless, beyond space, unborn, vast, and immovable. Let a wise aspirant directly realize this insight, not just reflect on tiresome words."