Tag Archives: Guru

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

30 Mar

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

~a SwamyView insight

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Lockdown Learning is a new series of articles, through which #SwamyView on all things about ‘Life, the way it is’ is shared as insights, based on Questions raised by fellow humans, either seeking to comprehend something or simply expand their knowing.
This is the first article of the series.

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Questioner: Why was Buddha not convinced with any of the existing religions at that time? He did not choose to find enlightenment through Hinduism or even Jainism. He went ahead and created his own path… What could have made him feel that other religions don’t offer? I tend to agree that he did not start his own cult for fame or personal benefits.

First of all, let’s sweep aside all the misconceptions about Gautama the Buddha (he isn’t the only Buddha btw, every Realised Master that has ever been is a Buddha). We’ll refer to the great Master as GB from now on, to conserve some screen space.

Gautama_the_Buddha1sGB didn’t start a new organised religion. And no, it wasn’t a cult either. In fact, none of the Realised Masters to whom an organised religion’s founding is attributed to, ever actually intended to seed / start a new religion. That mostly happened after their time.

Vardhamana Mahavira (also a prince and grihastha with a child, his father’s name is ‘Siddhartha’ – not known to be related to GB though) didn’t found Jainism – he is just one of the Thirthankaras (not too different from Guru or messiah or prophet) in that religion, albeit one who is revered as God incarnation by the jains.

Jesus Christ didn’t found Christianity. And why would a ‘son of God’ propagate his own path, instead of his father’s, anyway? Jesus was in fact a jew, which means his religion (by birth and practice) was Judaism. And he was persecuted and executed by the Romans, who had their own belief system, with many a God. Incidentally, many jews don’t consider Jesus – referred to as Yeshu – as a messiah, let alone son of God, in Judaism. The organised religion attributed to him was founded by his disciples / followers, who believed his teaching, and the path based on those teachings, could offer salvation to the people.

Mahavira1Whereas, later day Gurus like Arutprakasa Ramalinga Vallalar, Ayya Vaikundar and Meivazhichalai Andavar actually ended up founding their own organised belief system akin to existing religions – Samarasa Sanmarga Sangam, Ayya Vazhi and Meivazhichalai, respectively. But even their systems have their roots firmly entrenched in Sanatana Dharma, which has been the ‘way of life‘ for several millennia, in this ancient culture. Vallalar’s magnum opus Thiruvarutpa actually has many verses in praise of Lord Shiva. He is known to have worshipped and sung the Lord’s praise in Kandhakottam, a popular Murugan temple in Chennai. Post his realisation, Vallalar simplified God as ‘jyoti’ (light), perhaps with the objective of eliminating the confusion caused by the vivid imagination of various God forms by devotees.  

TeachingofBuddhaGB chose the path of sanyasa, i.e. seeking the Truth through renunciation – of all materialistic attachments and worldly connections. It’s very much a path in the ancient culture of Sanatana Dharma, even now. Having been around two-and-a-half millennia ago, he must’ve certainly tried the methods and Sadhana (spiritual practices) of that time, which must’ve included severe penance, aka தவம். But at some point in time, during his journey along the spiritual path, he realised – to his utter dismay, most likely – that none of the known processes were offering the answer to what he was looking for (we’ll get to that in a few moments).

Shri Bhagavat Ayya, a contemporary living Master (in Tamilnadu), says that contrary to popular belief, Gautama the Buddha didn’t attain enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi tree, but actually self-realisation happened to him when he sat under the tree in an almost despondent state, after realising that none of the sadhana he tried yielded the result he desired. This is not that different from the enlightenment experience shared by many other Gurus. Self-realisation, aka enlightenment, happens by its own volition, to/within a sadhaka. All sadhana is just preparing the sadhaka for that happening. 

GB did indeed show a different path to his followers, based on his experience of Reality. In fact, that’s exactly what any other Realised Master (Guru) too has done. Every single one of them offered a path that’s a variant of the original, where the tailoring or refinement is based on his/her own experience of realisation.

Sadhguru1For example, the core sadhana offered by Swamy’s Master Sadhguru is the Shambhavi Maha Mudra. It’s said to have originated from Adiyogi Shiva himself. Yet, Sadhguru’s version is tailored to eliminate the step(s) that will rekindle the sadhaka’s memories of past lifetimes, because most humans of this era simply aren’t ready to or capable of handling the stark facts about their past births. Sadhguru also emphasises the importance of knowing / realising the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al, or ‘Life, the way it is’ as he terms it) through intimate direct experience and not based on how the scriptures or preachers describe it, since that’s the way he himself attained self-realisation, in this lifetime.

Incidentally, GB’s teachings such as ahimsa, renunciation, non-attachment, etc. are all very much part of Sanatana Dharma as well, one way or another. For example, the ‘yama and niyama‘ of Ashtanga Yoga (they are the first two stages of the eight-stage yogic path to realisation) elucidated by Patanjali Maharishi’s Yoga Sutras are nothing but a list of dos and don’ts, in terms of virtues essential for a seeker. Similarities such as these can be found in Mahavira’s jainism teachings as well.

GB didn’t include any kind of Gods in his teaching, possibly due to two reasons. And that’s purely speculation, of course. First, he didn’t find any God helping him attain enlightenment. That probably sounds pretty trivial, but it’s also a fact that none of the trinity, nor Devi, actually appeared to offer him self-realisation or salvation. But that isn’t surprising at all, since the manifest forms, i.e. Saghuna Brahmam of creator is typically left to the seeker’s choice. There are paths to realisation, using any form of God as the Paramatma, i.e. the supreme soul, with which the jeevatma (the individual being) aspires to attain union. So, a Devi upasaka chooses the path of Devi Shakti (the path of Tantra); a Subrahmanya upasaka chooses the path of the six-faced Lord Shanmukha (the choice of Siddhars such as Boghar and Pamban Kumaragurudasa Swamigal); a Vishnu upasaka chooses the path of the preserver among the Trinity (such as the path of Bakthi, chosen by the Azhvars); and the sadhaka who considers Adiyogi Shiva as the supreme soul chooses Shaiva Sidhanta or Yoga abhyasa (not for nothing is Lord Shiva known as both Adiyogi and Adi Guru – he predates all Realised Masters in this ancient culture). Alternatively, one can choose the formless ‘unmanifest’ form, i.e. the Nirghuna Brahmam as well, if one has got the guts and iron will to choose the abstract path to realisation. Sidhartha Gautama probably chose the formless or abstract form for his meditation is my guess.

Jiddu-KrishnamurtiSecond, he realised that despite believing in various forms of Gods and performing rituals to all of them diligently, people were still suffering. So he must have decided – most likely after his enlightenment – that it’s quite possible for anyone to be liberated from suffering (not just in this lifetime, but also permanently from the birth-death cycle), without actually having to believe in a(ny) form of God. If so, that would be a truly revolutionary approach to mukti, even during his time, preached by someone who himself is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Mahavishnu. That’s like God himself telling devotees that they don’t have to believe in him, yet they can attain the ultimate state possible for human beings! In fact, a contemporary world teacher such as J Krishnamurti too has eliminated the need for a(ny) God (or Guru, for that matter), in the pursuit of realisation of the Truth. JK neither identifies himself with any religion nor likes being called a Guru, despite the fact that he most certainly is revered by millions as a Realised Master, who isn’t that different from Gautama the Buddha himself!

Also, it may be surprising to know that there are quite a few Gods, or devatas in Buddhism, especially in the Tantric variants. Tara, for example is an important Goddess in Tantric Buddhist versions such as Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra in Sanatana Dharma has always been closely associated with Shakti, i.e. the Mother Goddess, who is considered the foundation or source of creation, according to Devi Bhagavatam and Devi Mahatmiyam. It’s quite understandable as Mother remains the sole source of creation, even in this digital era (even in a family of same-sex couple of two males, none of them can actually conceive, despite one of them being called ‘wife’). Moreover, depiction of Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara, the patron God or deity of Tibetan Buddhism with a thousand arms, quite possibly indicating the Sahasrara Chakra, (the opening, or blossoming rather – since it’s also referred to as the lotus with a 1000 petals – of which is an indication of self-realisation), also includes Sakhyamuni Buddha himself prominently. Oh btw, Buddhism hasn’t excluded karma either, and the reincarnation of beings due to that, unlike a few monotheistic religions. That idea has its roots in Sanatana Dharma goes without saying.

Buddhist_Gods

GB is once said to have gone into a deep state of meditation – most likely Samadhi – and narrated who he is, by recalling all his past lifetimes, right from the single cell organism from which possibly all life forms in creation originated. This is in perfect alignment with the teachings of Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, which elucidate on the source of creation as a primordial energy, i.e. Nirghuna Brahmam, one without form or attributes, or the unmanifest stillness (aka Shiva – ‘that which is not’), which eventually manifested itself into all of creation, i.e. the manifest universe and the beings inhabiting its worlds. In his realised state, GB simply perceived himself as that source of creation itself, from the very beginning of creation, and all its manifestations, till himself. This is exactly what the mahavakyas from Upanishads, viz., ‘Aham Brahmasmi‘, ‘Ayam Atman Brahman‘, ‘Ta Twam Asi‘ and ‘Pragnanam Brahma‘ state. In essence, he was expounding none other than the fundamental idea of Advaita, i.e. non-duality, which itself doesn’t require any reference to a particular form of God or deity.

Dhuni_Quote_1

So, there’s enough evidence to say convincingly that Gautama the Buddha’s findings and teachings weren’t so groundbreaking that they superceded every other religion or path that existed before. On the contrary, it’s quite easy to establish Buddhism as just another branch of the tree of Spirituality, that had been in existence long before GB came around. And that’s perhaps the primary reason why the religion whose founding is attributed to him, did not spread far and wide within Bharatavarsha itself, simply because most bharatvasis of that time must’ve been perplexed as to ‘what’s so new!‘ While he is certainly revered as a great Guru (Realised Master) in this culture, and even portrayed as one of Mahavishnu’s dasavatars (which directly links him to Sanatana Dharma), the fact remains that he is just one of the many Realised Masters who have treaded this land and guided thousands during and after their lifetime, to attain self-realisation and mukti (the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle spiral). He just happens to be one of the popular Gurus.

Now to that part of the question regarding why he offered a different path to his followers. The primary reason for that is the fundamental problem for which he set out to find an answer. “Why is there so much suffering in this world?“, upon witnessing suffering in the forms of old age, illness, death, etc., for the first time in his life. Safely assuming that he belonged to some variant of Sanatana Dharma, before his quest to find that answer, he must’ve been familiar with the various religious practices (vedic chanting, homams or havan, elaborate rituals for various deities, learning & contemplation using scriptures, etc.). Though legend has it that his father carefully shielded him from knowing about ‘normal’ life (of human beings) and any form of scriptural learning (since it was predicted by scholars that he will become a renunciate and great teacher, at the time of his birth itself), GB was a prince after all and must’ve been part of, or at the least witnessed, many such rituals sponsored by his father. Even the epics Ramayana & Mahabharata must’ve existed in some form during his time, so he must’ve certainly been aware that even incarnations of Gods go through suffering in human form.

So when he eventually set out to know the Truth, his quest was probably not to ‘liberate’ humanity from the karmic cycle (which he may or may not have been aware of, at the beginning of his quest to realise the Truth), but to find a way to alleviate their suffering instead. Finally, post self-realisation, he concluded and proclaimed that “Attachment is the root cause of all suffering.” So his teaching was naturally tuned to eliminate attachment of all kinds, so that suffering too can be eliminated eventually. This is also why Buddhism is perceived as the path for renunciates, i.e. monks who have taken to sanyasa, choosing to renounce all worldly attachments, just as GB himself did. And it certainly seems to have worked, especially during his time (he did travel and preach his path for many decades post attaining enlightenment), when he had thousands of monks as disciples, including his own child Rahula. Incidentally Mahavira also did the same thing (walking out of a life of luxury and family of wife and child), though his path is inclusive of both sanyasa and grihasta ways of life.

BhagavadGita2a

Intriguingly, the removal of attachment that is considered essential to alleviate suffering in humans, isn’t new either. If one goes back a few millennia before GB’s lifetime, to the time of the great Yogi Krishna Paramatma (an avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, no less – the eighth one, preceding Gautama the Buddha), one of the most popular shlokhas of his teachings (enshrined in the eponymous Bhagavad Gita – considered the holiest of Sanatana Dharmic scriptures by many, even now) elaborates on how one must perform ‘actions’ without any attachment to either the actor or the outcome. It’s none other than the verse

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur Ma Te Sango Stv Akarmani.” 

Lord Krishna basically told Arjuna to get on with waging the war (of Mahabharata, at Kurukshetra), without being overtly concerned about the outcome. He also emphasised that not participating in the war was certainly not an option. Arjuna was hesitant to do so, since those who he had to face, and beat – most probably kill – were actually family. His decision making was obviously clouded by emotions and his subjective intellect was on overdrive, projecting a dreary future scenario, based on the vast repository of past information stored in the mind. In other words, he was ‘suffering’ due to the ‘intellectual thinking’ arising out of his mind, based on the past data, projecting a future scenario, preventing necessary action in the present. Krishna Paramatma’s way out for Arjuna’s ‘suffering‘ conundrum was to consciously ‘not getting attached to the doership and the outcome of the action.’ In essence, he told Arjuna to get rid of his attachment in order to alleviate his suffering. GB seems to have merely repackaged that teaching a bit, to suit the needs of people of his time.

In a letter to one of his disciples, Swami Vivekananda quotes the Bhagavad Gita verse and says,

‘Despair not; remember the Lord says in the Gita, “To work you have the right, but not to the result.‘ ‘To work‘ essentially means to perform an action. Actions can be performed effectively only if the actioner takes the responsibility to perform them. Both responsibility and performance are shaken when the actioner worries more about the outcome than the action. The cause for this is attachment. Objectivity requires detachment. And objectivity is essential for staying focused on the action, until completion. To put it differently, performing an action is akin to being in a state of meditation. Meditation, unsurprisingly, is one of the primary tenets of GB’s teaching as well.

1000349_10202443379629792_1133605306_n.jpgDuring his lifetime, GB’s followers seem to have comprised predominantly of monks (of both predominant genders), who have renounced material life and chose the path of sanyasa. This is known as the Sanga, one of the primary tenets of GB’s 3-fold teachings (the other two are Buddha and Dhamma). He is said to have had thousands of disciple monks around him, many of whom are said to have attained enlightenment as well.

Sanyasa isn’t an easy path to choose, yet it is very much present as a choice in Sanatana Dharma as well. Post the Brahmacharya stage, one can choose to be a Grihastha (life of householder) or Sanyasa (life of renunciate). Alternatively, even those who choose to be a Grihastha, can later choose Sanyasa, after completing their Grihastha duties and going through Vanaprastha. Therein also lies the clue to why GB’s path didn’t find many grihastha followers in Bharatavarsha. Interestingly, there have been many Gurus in this ancient culture who remained Grihasthas, even after their enlightenment, and continued to teach and guide seekers.

Lockdown_Migrants1Today, during the nationwide lockdown enforced to protect the masses from getting infected by the deadly virus pandemic known as COVID-19, we come across many a news article or visual crying out loud about thousands of migrant workers walking or transported back to their hometown, highlighting their misery and suffering all along. It’s quite obvious that they endure a lot of suffering during their existence – not just during pandemics or natural calamities. Yet, a significant portion of such poor population hold dearly on to their ancient belief system, passed on through many generations, i.e. Sanatana Dharma in one form or another, and not willingly shift en masse’ to a different faith such as Buddhism (for example), which was founded from the quest of a great Master who set out to find the cause of such suffering and alleviate it. It’s a fact that they do find solace in their favourite form of God and trust their faith to survive their existence filled with one form of suffering after another. One need to only witness the millions (literally!) of padayatris who walk hundreds of kilometres, year after year, to Rishikesh and Gangotri, chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev‘ fervently, to comprehend the sheer power of their belief.

Have GB’s teachings eradicated suffering from the world? Obviously not.

Were there not such teachings aimed at alleviating the suffering of people, either before or after the Buddha’s existence? Of course there were many – by many a Realised Master, not too different from GB himself (though many may not be that well known – limited to a certain region or even a particular place).

The reason why so many belief systems and paths of seeking coexist only in this nation is that all of them lead the seeker (or believer) to the realisation of the same / singular Truth (about the Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation (from the suffering of repetitive birth-death survival spiral). Gautama the Buddha’s path and preaching were based on his own quest (to find a way to eradicate suffering) and ways of attainment (renunciation, meditation, etc). So are all the paths that were and still are in existence. Each Master teaches differently, yet they all guide their followers – seekers and believers alike – towards the same end state, that of realisation and liberation. That hasn’t changed for several millennia that have come and gone, and isn’t expected to change for several more to come. Teachers come and go, but their teachings continue to resonate with newer generations of seekers and followers. That’s why Gautama the Buddha is as relevant today as he was two-and-a-half millennia ago. Yet, the suffering that he tried to alleviate still pervades all sections of humanity even today, for which he (or any other Master, for that matter) can’t be held responsible.

Before we conclude this learning, two incidents in GB’s life are worth recalling, in order to truly comprehend this long-form response.

Buddha_and_Widow_taleThe first is a famous, oft-quoted, tale of a widow who requested GB to bring her only child back to life. Buddha, the ever-compassionate yet pragmatic realist, told her it can be done, adding an ‘if’ clause. He told her “If you can fetch a handful of grain (till or something similar) from at least one family in this village/town, which hadn’t seen any death whatsoever, and bring it to me, your child shall be brought back to life.” That poor grief-stricken woman went around, from door to door, seeking a handful of grain, but was left empty handed by the end of her seeking. For, there was not a single household in that place (or anywhere else, for that matter) that hasn’t seen death of a beloved member of the family. Everybody dies. And everyone connected to them grieves. That’s the harsh reality of existence. The woman realised that and became a disciple – monk, of course – of GB himself. This tale highlights one noteworthy aspect of the great teacher – his teaching was direct, bereft of any hard-to-comprehend fantastic expositions of Truth (typical of scriptures, puranas and ithihasas), and based on direct perception / experience of reality. That’s the primary reason it was so effective.

Buddha_first_sermonThe second, less known tale, has been shared by Sri M, a contemporary living Master, of the Nath yogi order (founder of ‘The Sathsang Foundation’). In his autobiography (two volumes titled ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master’ & ‘The Journey Continues’ – highly recommended, even for non-seekers), while recalling his many past lifetimes, Sri M narrates his experience of being in the presence of Gautama the Buddha. This happens during GB’s now-famous first sermon at Saranath, when the world was about to hear from the new Realised Master, for the very first time. Sri M in that lifetime belonged to a lower caste and GB passes through his place. Sri M offers him water, which GB accepts and drinks. Then he invites Sri M to be part of his sermon. Sri M, being a lower caste person, sits away from the crowd of curious people who assembled for the sermon, and listens to the Master. The crowd for the epic first sermon of the Buddha was less than twenty people or so, apparently. And Sri M says, in all his lifetimes (which includes him being part of the epic Mahabharata battle at Kurukshetra, witnessing the great Yogi Lord Krishna himself in action, as a woman then) he has never seen a being that was as compassion personified as Gautama the Buddha, the great Master who taught his path to less than two dozen people in his first sermon. Swamy had tears rolling down his eyes, involuntarily of course, while reading this passage in that book. But GB certainly fared better than Adiyogi, who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy, had just 7 sages to transmit his teachings, which is the firm foundation of all spiritual seeking, till date. Yet, look at how much Adiyogi is revered, worshipped and fervently followed even now. Size doesn’t matter, after all, certainly not in the spiritual realm!

So, in conclusion (at last..;), there’s no question that Gautama the Buddha is one of the greatest Gurus (Realised Masters) of this ancient culture. The fact that his teachings still prevail is proof enough for their effectiveness. But there’s no denying the fact that his teaching, and thereby the path which is based on his teachings, have their roots in Sanatana Dharma. Just as there are many tributaries to the mighty Ganga Maa, there have always been many spiritual paths / organised belief systems that branched away from Sanatana Dharma. The beauty of this culture is its acceptance of all such tributaries as well, alongside the eternal mother river. That’s why teachers such as Gautama the Buddha and Mahavira were neither persecuted nor prosecuted here, but accepted and revered as a Gurus, and had scores of disciples who chose to follow their paths and put their teachings to practice. That in essence is the greatest aspect of our culture, highlighted in the saying ‘unity in diversity!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Two Switches!

6 Jan

Two Switches!

~a Swamystery Blog


Every being that’s alive has two switches within ~ the self-start and the self-destruct

The beings with supposedly lesser senses, i.e. all the beings other than humans,  naturally know how to access and use the self-start switch, as and when required, since they are aware of its necessity for their very existence.

They are certainly aware of the actions they need to take, on a day-to-day basis, such as fetching food, finding a reasonably safe place to rest and avoid skirmishes with beings that aren’t known to be kind to them (Homo Sapiens feature at the top of their ‘unkind list,’ unsurprisingly). Despite the dangers lurking in every corner (including but obviously not limited to being hit by a speeding vehicle driven or ridden madly by a human, who is always in a hurry, for no particular reason or worse – getting shot or maimed by them), threatening their survival, such beings seem to live a content life, quite joyfully, and then leave peacefully, when their time’s up.

Human beings who simply can’t stop boasting about their extra – ahem, sixth – sense, apparently don’t know how to use that unique faculty wisely, to access the self-start switch to live joyfully and seek liberation. Instead, they are easily seduced beyond redemption by the self-destruct switch (may be it’s in shiny red colour that’s simply irresistible, a la the one baby Groot tries to press repeatedly, simply driving Rocket mad), considering how tragically hilarious their survival has turned out to be.

Two Switches! ~a Swamystery blog

We compete for every damn thing, day in and day out, yet we forgot how fun and enjoyable competition can be. Why should all competitors be bitter rivals, always trying to cut each other’s throat, at the earliest available opportunity, is something race horse would never be able to comprehend.

We are obsessively focused on pleasing fellow humans by being nice to them, believing how others perceive us is the most important thing for our survival. But the ever-rising flame of desire to please others that continues to devour any semblance of kindness left in us, like the raging Australian bushfire, is something even the billions of animals affected by that fire won’t understand.

We imagine information as knowledge and consider ourselves to be wise, with ready access to the trove of information, thanks to big G (no, not that hard-to-find heavenly G, i.e. Godji, but the easy-to-access internet G, aka Googleji). Pretty much any other species that’s cursed to cross our paths will most certainly shake their heads, shrug and scramble away in a tearing hurry, when they discover first-hand our educated stupidity.

We keep acquiring things during the entire, albeit brief, lifetime – including different versions of things we may already have. A broken bucket or utensil certainly needs to be replaced. But why are people so crazy to keep replacing a cellphone or tv or car that’s still working fine is something that would confound even the Creator!

We have concluded that ours is the only inhabitable planet in the entire vast, still expanding, universe (despite the known fact that we don’t even have the means to check out the notional periphery of our own galaxy – which happens to be just one among possibly billions) and anointed ourselves as the smartest species in existence. Whenever we actually manage to do interstellar travel and reach another inhabitable planet in a galaxy far far away, and explain to beings like Leia, Luke or Rey that we had to come there because we practically destroyed the only tiny planet we ever inhabited, they will be well within their galactic rights to annihilate us – the aliens – then and there, in order to preserve their own existence.

Yeah, we actually turned out to be a despicable species, despite the fact that we happen to be only one of the millions of species inhabiting this single tiny planet in some nondescript corner of one galaxy. We are a threat to not only our own existence, but also to those other millions of species that are content with what they have got on this planet and don’t nurture purposeless daydreams about finding another green planet a few million nautical miles away, because they haven’t really done anything stupid to destroy their home. And they certainly don’t deserve to perish along with this planet, because of a single species’ immeasurable and incomprehensible self-destructive nature.

Here’s a question that’s worth pondering ~ “When was the last time you actually read the contents of the printed material that are stuffed within the package of any thingamajig you’ve ever bought?” The answer from six-sigma of human population that has bought something or other in their lifetime that comes packaged will be “Never!” Go on and ask yourself that question and ask everyone you know the same. The answer will invariably be the same.

All of those unread printed material require trees to be cut, to make the paper on which they are printed. Now take a moment and think how many billions of tress we would’ve cut so far, for this utterly useless stupidity. The cartons in which that product was packaged and the labels too consume trees. So are all the wooden furniture that we cherish possessing for generations and the copious amounts of wood used in all kinds of construction. And toothpicks, chopsticks, matchsticks, notebooks, nonsensical fiction, newspapers, magazines… The list of things that use murdered trees as their source is seemingly endless.

And that’s just the tip of the titanic iceberg of our wanton destruction of the precious natural resources that we obviously didn’t create, but chose to use anyway, without a break, from time immemorial. Oh yeah, we are a despicable species… we don’t need a PhD in any science to figure that out

You’re supposed to observe 2 minutes of silence, repenting for the inexcusable sin of cutting billions of trees so far, even though you may not have done so personally

There’s some hope for redemption though, even in this bleak scenario, which of course is self-created by the shenanigans of the beings with a sixth-sense. Saving the planet and restoring it to its original glorious state is clearly beyond our ability, but limiting our flagrant robbery of the natural resources this planet is endowed with is certainly within our ability.

If we can start with something as simple as not cutting any more trees, for any kind of needs, then the planet is quite capable of self-restoration. In fact, as consumers, we should force all manufacturers who create any goods for our consumption to take a pledge to offer all product information – manuals, installation guide, warranty and safety information, etc. – only digitally, from this year onwards. That would be a worthy start to preserve the green cover that’s so critical for the sustenance of life in this planet.

There are obviously other things all of us can do… Not buying new gadgets to replace those that are still functional would be on the top of the list (YouTube reviewers be damned). If your cell phone still does all the things that you ‘need’ (not ‘want’) it to do, then you actually don’t need another one with the latest and greatest processor. Same goes for your headphones, speakers, tv, motorcycle, car, shoes, watches, clothing, etc. It’s as simple as that.

Practice this restraint, i.e. not buying something new that you may want but don’t really need, at least for a few months. Then suddenly you’ll realise that you’ve a substantial amount of money in your savings bank account. And real money is always useful, isn’t it – irrespective of whether you’re someone stuck in the survival plane of existence or seeker on the spiritual path.

Now that you’re less needy, and hence not so greedy, you may also realise that you’re a little bit more gentler and kinder than before. This happens when you stop chasing things to acquire for yourself all the time and instead start observing life that’s vibrantly happening all around you. This is when you start to unknowingly expand the boundary of your kindness by doing simpler things such as feeding a stray or two, offering clean drinking water for birds, simply listening to fellow human beings without any prejudiced judgement, volunteering at some place – orphanage, old-age home, ashrams doing worthy charitable activities for human well being, schools for people with limited physical abilities, animal shelters, and so on – where kinder hearts, minds and limbs are always required, and useful. The trickle of kindness will eventually turn into a pond of compassion that you never realised was always within you, waiting for meaningful expression.

Along this journey of self-discovery, which could turn out to be life-altering for some, you may also discover the long suppressed desire to know the Truth – about the Creator, creation, existence, et al. For many humans, this desire would’ve been suppressed for many lifetimes, due to the nature of their karma (accumulated actions of the past and the present). When this desire to know becomes a seemingly unquenchable thirst, and you start to silently scream for some kind of guidance, a Guru (Realised Master) will appear to guide you, towards self-realisation, aka enlightenment or knowing the Truth as an intimate direct experience. S/he will not only show the path towards realisation but also Mukti, i.e. the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle. That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of being born as a human being. Not showing off the umpteenth iteration of a particular model of uber-expensive cellphone, every time a new model is launched!

Since many of us lack the innate wisdom to choose the self-start switch within and end up choosing the self-destruct switch instead, inadvertently or otherwise, the Guru performs the role of the kick-start (remember those things in your first motorcycle, which was most probably a humble functional model), to restart the engine (our life energy, which is the source of our existence) and steer us along the right path (towards the destination of mukti). Receiving the guidance of a Guru (Realised Master) in any given lifetime itself is a blessing. With Grace (of Guru and the Creator, who are in essence one and the same), may the purpose of your birth as a human being be realised in this lifetime itself. Shambho! 

Be joyful & spread the cheer…
~Swamy | ‘@PrakashSwamy

P.S: I could’ve published this post on New Year’s eve, making it a worthy New Year Resolution for a few readers (only a handful read such posts regularly anyway.. heh.. heh..) and garnered a bunch of likes and even a few comments. But, with my Guru’s Grace, I’ve realised that the purpose of my writing is to simply share ideas, insights and inputs, without getting attached to the outcome of publishing. In essence, he has taught me how to transform karma (action) into Karma Yoga (purposeful action performed with total involvement, while remaining absolutely detached from the outcomes). Shri GurubyO Namaha.

Meditation and Distractions ~ Are they mutually inclusive, by design!

20 Jul

Meditation and Distractions ~ Are they mutually inclusive, by design!

~a Swamusings post by @PrakashSwamy

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Recently someone pinged Swamy and asked… 

Swamy have you written a blog on when people give trouble to you how can you keep meditating without reaction?” 

The honest response is “No” since Swamy isn’t a qualified Yoga / Meditation teacher and Swamy’s Guru has been very particular about his disciples not speaking / sharing about anything that’s not in their own experience, especially when it comes to teaching something to others. That’s why there has been no Swamystery or உயிர்மெய் blog post on yoga or meditation methods, techniques, etc. They may happen eventually (or not!), as and when Swamy is experientially qualified to share them.

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In that case, it’s quite natural for anyone to instantly question, “then how come you write so much about death, enlightenment, etc?” A valid question indeed, since neither has been directly experienced by Swamy, certainly not in this lifetime, so far! But there’s a logical explanation for that, even though logic isn’t necessarily as popular (or essential, for that matter) in spirituality as it is in social existence.

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As a seeker, particularly one who is blessed with the guidance of a living Guru (Realised Master), one is privileged to know about the intricacies and nuances of ‘Life, the way it is,’ aka Reality, which aren’t in the intellectual knowledge realm of those immersed in the survival plane of existence. This includes experiences such as death, enlightenment, etc., which are obviously not in the seeker’s own experience, but aren’t incredulous or alien to the seeker either, since the knowing happens through the sharing of Realised Beings and Masters, including one’s own Guru. 

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In the info-centric existence of the present day, those seekers who are digital migrants (there are quite a few ‘digital natives’ seekers as well, of course) and are endowed with the ability to communicate ideas and insights, feel comfortable sharing whatever little they know, primarily on social media, based on their learning from the many Masters that have graced this tiny planet, though they aren’t under any compulsion to do so. Swamy just happens to be a seeker whose thirst to know from many a Master remains unquenchable and is also willing and capable (hopefully!) of sharing such wisdom (acquired, mostly) that’s usually beyond the sensory perception based intellectual comprehension. With that context, we can certainly talk about meditation as well. 

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Here’s a revelation that may be a surprise to long term Swamy readers – Swamy doesn’t really practice any kind of formal meditation process, at least not on a regular basis! There can be many logical explanations for this, but they’ll all be irrelevant to you, the reader, since everyone’s quest for the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) is unique, though all seekers are seeking to realise the same Truth. But be assured that some additional light shall be shined on this later in this post itself. 

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In the yogic tradition, meditation isn’t considered as a process or method to follow but as a state of being. That means, one can become meditative but not really do meditation. While a seeker, over a period of time, may perform various kinds of sadhana (spiritual practices), including but not limited to meditation, which may continue as-is for long or change after a while, the objective is never to achieve perfection in a particular sadhana itself, but to use all of them effectively to attain a state of equanimity or balance, aka SamAdhi (சமாதி). This is a state of tranquil stillness, which isn’t affected in any way by anything happening around them. This is the non-expressive state of ShivA, whenever he’s not doing the other extreme, i.e. the ThANdava, which is nothing but exuberant motion / movement, an expression of the ecstatic state of eternal bliss (which, in essence, is Shakthi).

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All Realised Masters (Guru) remain in the state of Sahaja Samadhi (சஹஜ சமாதி) inward, all the time, though they may still be involved in worldly activities just like the rest of us, either actively or passively. This is the self-realised state, where the Master perceives everything in creation or the entire creation as a singular presence*, which is normally referred to as the Divine or God. Attaining this state is essential for a seeker to progress towards Mukti (ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle). Hence, most of the sadhana offered by a Guru to a(ny) disciple will be to make this happen. Each sadhana by itself may result in one or many outcomes (such as Siddhis or activation of a Chakra), but none of them are the ultimate destination by themselves.

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*This is the essence of the famous saying by BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, “There are no others!“, which was his response to a questioner who asked him, “When everyone in the Ashram is busy doing something or other, why are you always simply sitting or lying down (without seemingly doing anything)?” Since BhagavAn always remained in the state of Sahaja SamAdhi, there was no differentiation between himself and everyone else around him, at least not in his experience of oneness (with the Creator). 

Having said that, there are various dimensions of yoga, which include meditation techniques as well, which are useful to attain a sense of stable or still mind, leading to clarity in thinking, resulting in purposeful action. But all meditation techniques are essentially aimed at enabling the seeker to be a mere observer, of oneself, i.e. the amalgam of the body (physical dimension) and the mind (psychological dimension) that’s attached to many identities, such as name, religion, educational qualifications, wealth, social status, etc. The ultimate state of realisation is experiencing  the oneness of oneself and the supreme Self, when all the identities drop and there is no more duality (caused by ignorance, arising out of the limited intellect).

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When one becomes meditative, i.e. learns how to remain in a state of stillness*, the flow of thoughts in / from the mind may still happen, but one won’t do anything to either resist, stop or change them. Instead thoughts will simply flow** at will, as it is their nature, uninterrupted, like a stream. If and when deemed necessary, one can pick and choose from the flow of thoughts, any that are useful for purposeful action. Otherwise, one can simply observe their flow, without any re/action. 

*Attaining this state of stillness is the actual purpose of Asanas in yoga. “Sukham Sthiram Asanam” stated by Patanjali Maharishi in his Yoga SutrAs indicates this.

**This free flow of thoughts is what is referred to as PravAham (பிரவாகம்) by Sri Bhagavath (ஸ்ரீ பகவத்). 

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So, in summary, the answer to the question is, a seeker (or ‘meditator’ as per the question) should focus on the meditation itself, i.e. the process of meditation (technique can be any, as they differ from teacher to teacher) instead of getting distracted by any kind of interruption. Since human nature is to be easily distracted by the environment and its various components, distraction-free meditation needs a tremendous amount of practice. That’s why pretty much all the Masters emphasise the need for daily practices. Also, humans inherently believe that they are so unique, even though in reality they aren’t. That’s why there are four distinct paths in yoga known as Karma, Bakthi, Kriya and Gnana, though they are used as a blend, complementing each other. Only a Guru (Realised Master) knows and prescribes the right blend of the four paths*, to each seeker, based on one’s karmic structure and individual characteristics in the present lifetime.

*One of the best examples of this is Swami ChinmayAnanda, who is a renowned Master. The Chinmaya Foundation founded by him is a thriving global organisation, guiding thousands of seekers, even now. When he, who was an avowed atheist (in his youth), reached out to Swami SivAnanda at RishikEsh (he had been in the presence of BhagavAn RamaNa Maharshi as well, before this happened), he was directed by Swami SivAnanda to Swami TapOvan at UttarKAshi. It was Swami SiVAnanda, a Realised Master with his own vast yoga organisation and many ordained monks, who initiated Swami ChinmayAnanda into the ascetic monk order (including giving his new name). But he right away knew that the new disciple isn’t cut out for his path of Karma Yoga (selfless service) and directed him to Swami TapOvan, who is a Master on the path of GnAna Yoga. The rest, as they say, is history. Such is the power of perception of Realised Masters.

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An important thing to keep in mind (pun obviously intended) is “Meditation isn’t meant for control of mind.” At all. On the contrary, meditation is an aid to remain dissociated from the mind and letting it go about its own business. In a way, it’s about one not minding the mind minding it’s own business, however convoluted it may sound. As a result, the mind will either quieten and become still or won’t be a distraction anymore, even if it continues its nature of churning out wave after ceaseless wave of thoughts. This isn’t too different from the state of an ocean, which is still deep within, but perceived as restless with ceaseless waves on its surface.

Also, when a seeker is in meditation, the focus must be inward. So, even if there’s an obvious distraction outward*, sensed by one or more of the five senses, it’s limited to the external environment only and has no bearing on the inner nature of the being. Without this conscious detachment, no amount of meditation, nor any number of techniques, will help one attain stillness, ever.

*Sadhguru used to tell his disciples that they should be able to do the “ShoonyA meditation,” uninterrupted, even when they are in a crowded bus terminus with all kinds of distractions including loud noises. That’s essentially the state of total detachment from external influences to remain steadily focused inward.

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As you may recall (if not, you can certainly go back to the top of the post and start re-reading, heh.. heh..), Swamy doesn’t do any kind of meditation per se’ in particular, at least not regularly. The reason for this is the practical realisation of his Guru’s teaching that any activity one performs can be a sadhana (and a meditation technique). So right from drying clothes on a clothesline to mopping the floor to preparing food (occasionally, of course) to reading books and articles (often, needless to say) to relishing the hot morning cuppa to decorating Devi in the puja room to writing and publishing content such as ArutkuRaL ~ GnAnappAl or DhinamOruPadhigam hymns or SwamyQuote or even blog posts such as this one, every single action performed during the day by itself can be meditative. And they actually are, if one learns to remain alert and aware*, while performing them with absolute involvement but remaining consciously detached from the outcome (and benefits, if any). That is nothing but Karma yoga in practice.

*As an example, there were – at least – three interruptions, while writing this post, in response to a question by an acquaintance. Despite the interruptions causing some distraction and delay (and irritable interruption to the ‘flow’), this post did get written in full, as intended, within the same day. And as soon as this gets published, it’s a thing of the past and it’s time to move on to be in the present moment, again and again. This is the experiential reality of this writer, time and time again.

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As Swamy’s Master Sadhguru‘s vibrant voice guides the meditator with the chant “I’m not the body; I’m not even the mind” during the simple guided meditation practice of Isha KriyA (available free online), the stage is set for the being within to become still, i.e. to attain a state of meditativeness, aka Sahaja SamAdhi. The location, environment, people, noise, etc. that are always present during the process are all immaterial and exist only externally, while meditation is the state of being attained internally. That’s the objective, for a serious seeker. Everything else is simply a distraction. Shambho! 

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamystery | SwamyQuote | உயிர்மெய் | Swamy on Facebook & Twitter

What’s In A 1000 Names ~ musings on Sahasranamam!

2 Mar
What’s In A 1000 Names!

~ musings on Sahasranamam (LalithA & VishNu)

A recent share by a family member on conducting ‘VishNu SahasranhAmam PArAyaNam‘ session at their home triggered an interesting discussion thread. Sharing it here, which hopefully offers some enchanting insights into two of the most popular Sahasranhamam sthothrams, i.e. LalithA SahasranhAmam (1000 sacred names of DEvi LalithA ParamEswari) and VishNu SahasrahAmam (1000 sacred names of Lord MahAVishNu).
‘Vishnu SahasranhAmam’ (விஷ்ணு சஹஸ்ரநாமம் ~ 1000 sacred names of Lord MahAVishNu) chanting for Swamy was initiated by his Upa Guru Sohamanandaji, during the ChAr DhAm yAtrA (YamunOtri-GangOtri-KEdArnAth-BadhrinAth). 👣

A daily practice at many Vaishnavite households (along with the ubiquitous SuprabhAtham), Vishnnu SahasranhAmam chanting continues to happen at SwamyHome, which, per religious / social norms (and spiritual practices, needless to say) is a Shaivite household (with the help of ‘பெரிய எழுத்து’ ~ bold letters edition by Giri Trading Agency, of course) every Saturday, after the daily chanting for Lord SkandhaGurunhAthan (Swamy’s Kuladheivam [குலதெய்வம்] ~ worshipped in the form of VEl [வேல்]). 😌 On Fridays, it’s the turn of Sri LalithA Sahasranhamam (ஸ்ரீ லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம்), needless to say 🔥🙏

Incidentally, ‘ஸ்ரீ லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம்’ (Sri LalithA SahasranhAmam) is said to have been chanted by Lord Hayagreevar (ஹயக்ரீவர் ~ Horse-faced Lord), who is an amsam or manifestation of Lord VishNu (not an avatAr, like Sri RAmA or Sri KrishNA). So it’s essentially a sthOthram by the elder brother praising younger sister (who was given away in marriage to Adiyogi ShivA)🙌, which is practically unheard of, but truly awesome. For those on the path of ShAktham (சாக்தம் [அ] சக்தி வழிபாடு [அ] தேவி உபாசனை ~ worship of the supreme reality as Shakthi, i.e. Mother or DEvi), it’s the child praising its mother, as all three primary Gods (and their consorts as well) are said to be created by the Divine Mother, for the sake of creation, with specific responsibilities, viz. Creation (Lord BrahmA), Sustenance (Lord MahAVishNu) and Transformation / Salvation (Lord ShivA).

The place where Lord Hayagreevar is believed to have chanted LalithA Sahasranhamam is enroute to Mount KailAsh, along the trekking path from the base camp. 👣

Swamy’s Upa Guru Sohamanandaji is a DEvi upAsakar (the form worshipped by him is DEvi ChinnaMasthA ~ தேவி சின்னமஸ்தா), so he has naturally started chanting LalithA Sahasranhamam during the trek to KailAsh (he was part of the same Isha SacredWalks group as Swamy, but hasn’t yet become Swamy’s Upa Guru, then), while crossing a particular spot. A Buddhist Monk who was going the other way stopped for a moment and told him “Horse face God chanted it here,” and pointed to some form of identification at that spot. 🙌 ShambhO 🙏

However, the origin of LalithA Sahasranhamam is said to be DEvi herself 🔥, since it’s practically impossible for any other being in creation to express Adi ParAshakthi’s (ஆதி பராசக்தி) magnificence in full🙏. With the possible exception of her other half, of course! 😂

Naturally, there’s an enchanting sthOthram on DEvi by none other than Lord ShivA himself, which is known as ‘Soundharyalahari’ (சௌந்தர்யலஹரி), which is essentially a husband’s praise of the enchanting beauty and virtues of his wife, with intimate details about her physique, mind, nature, etc.

The version of Soundharyalahari sthOthram that we’ve now is said to be an abridged edition, offered to us by Jagadguru Adi ShankarAchArya ✍

According to mythical lore, when the Jagadguru had the privilege of listening to the entire hymn (while having the darshan of அம்மையப்பன், obviously), he wanted to naturally share it with humanity. But when he was leaving KailAsh with the entire hymn (in which form is unknown, but that’s just a trivial detail), NandhikEswara (நந்திகேஸ்வரர்) apparently intercepted him and removed a whole bunch of verses that are considered too privy to be shared with anyone else. That makes Lord Nandhi the first censor board official! 😂🙏🙌
Here’s an(other) enchanting tale about VishNu Sahasranamam…

A lot of devotees know that VishNu Sahasranamam was chanted by Bheeshma PithAmah (பீஷ்ம பிதாமஹர்) while waiting to leave his body at an auspicious time (there’s a tale related to the actual event – of his inability to leave, despite his boon – which is covered well in the insightful Ratha Sapthami video by ஆலயம் செல்வீர் ~ Aalayam Selveer YouTube channel).
But only after the chanting was completed by Bheeshmar, everyone present there realised the significance of the hymn and regretted that no one recorded it for posterity. So, Lord KrishNa himself offered them the solution.
The Lord, the eighth avatAr (incarnation) of MahAVishNu, pointed out that since SahAdEvA (or NakulA, not sure which one, but most likely the former, who is an expert in many ShAstrAs, including Astrology, which alludes to him being the chosen one) is the one wearing a Spatikha mAla (ஸ்படிக மணிமாலை), he should be able to recall the hymn, in its entirety.

Spatikha apparently has memory that enables it to absorb nhAdha (sound / vibrations), which is the insight one can gain from this. 😇 Our limited knowledge is only about the cooling property of the gem. That’s how we ended up getting the enchanting VishNu Sahasranamam sthOthram. 🙏
So, is it any surprise that most (all!) those who do Vedic chanting and chanting of hymns regularly wear Spatikha mAla, in addition to RudrAksha mAla (whose purpose is vastly different)! 🤔🤘

Disclaimer: Swamy is just a seeker on the spiritual path, blessed to be guided by the Grace of a Guru (Realised Master) and experiential wisdom of a Upa Guru, and never claimed to be an expert on SanAthana Dharma. So, if you know more about these Sahasranamam chants, kindly share as comment and Swamy would be glad to learn.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Why is JK’s Teaching So Hard To Comprehend!

1 Nov

Why is JK’s teaching so hard to comprehend!

Recently a pal lamented “But to be honest i am not able to understand JK as much as Sadhguru.” Another acquaintance too has mentioned something similar. These two are part of a tiny distribution list that Swamy communicates to on WhatsApp, members of which receive regular (not daily, as Swamy is known to simply keep quiet for a few days, occasionally) posts on Spirituality – including those by Swamy – and rare ones on survival (valuable insights that Swamy comes across during his media grazing). This DL* is the remnant of what used to be the SwamyPals WhatsApp group (disbanded a while ago) and only those who have personally requested Swamy for inclusion have been added to this. Interestingly, the latest potential inclusion to the SwamyShare DL could be an auto driver, who over a half-an-hour ride ended up requesting Swamy for worthy things to know in and about Life, for which he has dedicated time late at night, after completing his auto rides for the day!
Now, back to the pal’s lament… 
I am not able to understand JK as much as Sadhguru.” 
This leads to the question, which happens to be the title of this Swamystery blog post.

Why is JK’s teaching so hard to comprehend!

It’s not just this individual seeker (the respondent certainly is one, but not as overtly as Swamy, for obvious survival reasons ;), but a lot of people, who may or may not be seekers, who find it really hard to understand / comprehend JK’s teaching. 😂 Simply because they’re doing what they are always known to do – try to comprehend whatever information one has access to, using one’s senses – at least some of the six, so that the information makes sense. But spirituality was never about making sense – especially through the senses!
JK is Jiddu Krishnamurti, who had taught – primarily through public speeches, worldwide – the way to realise the self, i.e. true nature of a being, for almost 3/4th of the 20th century. He continues to remain a popular teacher of self-realisation through direct perception of reality, with ardent followers present globally, till date, a few decades after he left his physical form. The Krishnamurti Foundation continues to spread his – almost agnostic – message to seekers of truth by publishing books (of excellent quality), audio and video (plenty are available on YouTube). They also run the famous Rishi Valley school.
8bf4a6706656fa4177aceda3e74b517aJ. Krishnamurti is essentially a teacher of Advaita Vedanta, though he himself would not like to be associated with any kind of existing method/model/process (though direct perception of reality” is an ancient method for realising the Truth and there had been many practitioners – and possibly Masters as well – for several centuries before him) and refrained from being identified with a religion (though he was born a Hindu), possibly even nationality (he was obviously Indian, by birth, but lived in Ojai, California and travelled extensively, worldwide) and wasn’t known to quote or refer to any particular scripture (though he must’ve been quite knowledgeable in many, due to his ‘preparation’ by the Theosophical Society – to be a new Messiah, no less, which he eventually dissociated from) during the multitude of speeches and interactions, for getting his message across.
With JK, the method / process of self-realisation is through “direct perception of reality”, which is a hard way because one must use one’s mind itself to transcend the mind. 🤔 It’s like knowing what a knife is for, i.e. the dual purpose of it, and consciously using it only to cut things and not beings, not because someone told so but because of one’s own knowing. And with JK, there’s no masala or drama at all, i.e. no worship, no bhajans, no meditation, nothing at all. He speaks about Truth & Reality from his direct experience and persistently requests the listeners to experience it along with him, instead of just listening to him and trying to comprehend whatever he is saying. There have been many instances when he actually laughs (very subtly, of course) at the listeners’ inability to ‘experience’ whatever he was communicating and even tells them so. In essence, he actually discourages anyone from trying to understand / comprehend what he is saying, because reality / truth can only be experienced by the individual being and not comprehended, since that experience is beyond the limitations of the subjective human intellect. 
Let’s take this one for example, to understand (ha.. ha..) how futile it is to comprehend, but how easier it would be to experience and simply know!
This is nothing but the mahavakya “Aham Brahmasmi,” i.e. “I’m the Brahman.” It’s the realisation that the individual being (you, me, anyone…) is in reality the supreme truth/reality/consciousness or creator/God. The Creator is indeed the Creation. The unmanifest Brahman is the manifest Being. He is essentially stating the ancient Truth and emphasising that one must experience this Truth oneself and no one – not even one’s Guru – can offer that experience. 
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once told a questioner “There are no others.” 
Sadhguru consistently reminds seekers that “the creator is within each and every creation.” 
Jesus told followers “the kingdom of God is within you.” 
JK told “In oneself lies the whole world…”
They we/are all essentially saying the same. A Master can only point the Seeker in the right direction and offer guidance and tools to reach the destination. It’s only the seeker who has to strive and reach the destination. That’s why the ultimate experience is known as self-realisation aka enlightenment.
Let’s take another example to understand (ha.. ha.. again) this.
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We usually presume that fear arises out of not knowing something. One is afraid of ghosts because one doesn’t know anything about them – not in one’s own experience. All that one knows about ghosts is from horror fiction and films. If and when one actually experiences a ghostly presence, and realises that it doesn’t (or couldn’t) really harm anyone (because the ghost or a being without physical form is left only with tendencies / vasanas and can’t translate them into action – at least not by themselves), then one will be at peace with the idea of ghost, because now one knows what it is. Unfortunately, pretty much all human beings in existence only know the book and film ghosts. That’s the known, not the unknown. When one actually gets to know a ghost, then the known idea of a ghost inevitably crumbles. So, the human challenge is not really ‘not knowing’ something but the acceptance of ‘not knowing,’ from one’s own experience. 
Sadhguru prepares his followers for this acceptance by saying, “What you know you know; what you don’t know, you simply don’t know!”
Ramana Maharshi questions those who lament to him about their suffering, “Who is suffering?”
Now ponder the same thing, by replacing ghost with God. Try it – it’ll be fun 🙂
Alright, let’s do one last analysis before concluding this post. This is essential to know how all the Masters are essentially communicating the same thing, but differently.
 
Humans willingly adhere to what can be termed as ‘template living.’ They prefer to ‘fit in’ rather than ‘stand out,’ in a society that is built with rules. It makes them feel comfortable and offers some kind of assurance that they are part of something bigger than themselves, i.e. the society, which accepts them as a part of it, when they comply with the living guidelines to be part of it. It’s the society that decides what one knows and what one need not. Education, which is a primary criteria to be part of the society, is designed to teach students only what the society wants them to know. Tests are created to ensure the students don’t lose focus on the content and stick only to that. Education is limited to only studying and has no room of learning, because learning will lead to knowing. And knowing will liberate a human being from the clutches of the society, which obviously the society doesn’t like. Put succinctly, society is the ocean that expects the water drops to believe and behave as a part of the ocean and not know that they are indeed the ocean.
That’s why the ancient sages stayed as far away as possible from the society that thrives on survival – in forests and mountains, in order to pursue various paths to know the Truth. They were alone, but weren’t lonely, because they were already one with The One or striving to be. They consciously remained untainted by the writ of the society, remaining free – by choice, of course – of the comforts that ‘template living’ offered. That’s exactly why even the emperor had to seek their counsel, by inviting them to their kingdom to guide and teach. Modern day sages such as Sadhguru have created such an environment in the form of tremendous spaces of energy, for serious spiritual seekers to be free from the boundaries of the societal template, at least for some period of time, to experience “Life, the way it is.” 
Be it the ancient sages or teachers such as JK or Masters such as Sadhguru, they are saying and doing exactly the same things, for exactly the same purpose – liberation of an individual being from the chain of the known to experience the unknown Truth. They persist in pointing out that what one thinks as truth is merely the known, i.e. some version of the truth as told by someone possibly based on their experience, and the Truth one truly needs to seek can only be known by the individual.
If one really delves deeper into JK’s teaching, it’s nothing but the path of GnAna yoga 😇. And there haven’t been many Gurus (Realised Masters) for this path, except for a few such as BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Papaji, Ramesh Balsekar (Nisargadatta Maharaj’s disciple), Alan Watts (all in the past) and even fewer like Mooji (disciple of Papaji), Eckhart Tolle (he quotes JK in detail, but isn’t a disciple, since JK discouraged the Guru-SishyA model itself) and Sri Bhagavath (who is offering an even simpler approach to realisation).
Best of without communication quotes 38 best Ramana Maharshi Quotes images on PinterestGnAna yoga too is an ancient path to the Truth (alongside Bakthi yoga, Karma yoga & Kriya/Raja yoga) but without many Gurus to guide, the number of practitioners has always been minuscule. In Buddhism, the Zen Masters are considered true Masters of this path, but this isn’t that active – or even widely known, for that matter – in MeraBharatMahan. Since Osho aka Bhagavan Rajaneesh has spoken / written extensively on Zen, he too can be considered as a Master of this path, though he wrapped it up in a more colourful way (which ended up enticing scores of western disciples, who were obviously enthralled by the eclectic mix of his teaching).
Incidentally Adi Shankaracharya has written extensively about GnAna yoga 🙏 in books such as Atma BodhA, Tathva BodhA, Aparokshanhuboothi, VivEka ChoodaamaNi, etc.📚 and Masters such as Swami Chinmayananda have spoken and written interpretations for these, and also taught them to seekers, during their time. It would be of interest to some of you to know that Adi Shankaracharya, who is revered as an avatar of the Adi Guru Lord Shiva himself, has done extensive work on all the four paths to realise the Truth. He also gave an effective course-correction for Sanatana Dharma (aka Hinduism) and rejuvenated its practices (creation of 6 ways of worship, establishment of 4 mutts for spiritual guidance to seekers, etc), which is one of the reasons it is prevalent and active even today.
SQ-4Sadhguru (Founder of Isha Foundation; Padma Vibhushan awardee; Bestselling Author; extremely popular SocialMedia personality; Living Master / Mystic / Yogi of the ancient kind, and also Swamy’s Guru) refers to the same as experiencing and living “Life, the way it is,” i.e. acceptance of Reality as it is, without applying our intellect (which is text-bookish and very limited, anyway) to comprehend it. 😌 Since, as a contemporary Master, he’s fully aware of the nature of the present generation of humans (watch his YouTube videos right away, if you haven’t experienced his magnificent presence yet), he’s crafted several Methods (Kriyas & meditations), Tools (Dhyanalinga, Lingabhairavi, Yantra) and Initiatives (Isha Vidhya, Project GreenHands, Rural Rejuvenation, Gramotsavam, Rally For Rivers, etc) to prepare millions of global followers to a level where they may actually be ready to perceive Reality, as it is. 😇 He is also working simultaneously to create a group of monks and teachers – of both genders, of course – and establishing energy spaces that are conducive to the spiritual practices, to ensure this path to Truth remains active even after his physical existence is done with.
SQ-SpiritualityIrrespective of whether you’re a seeker or not, if you’re enticed by JK but find it hard to comprehend, don’t despair. You should actually be glad that the seeking within is becoming an unquenchable thirst, which is necessary for a Guru to happen to guide you in this lifetime itself (Guru shopping just doesn’t work, period). Instead of worrying, try watching / listening to Mooji or Ekhart Tolle, (who are both westerners btw – in case you’re wary of Indian Masters) who are Living Masters of GnAna yoga path, who get JK’s message across to the listener differently. Or, there’s Sadhguru himself, who has spoken at length about pretty much everything in existence, which is available to anyone interested on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podomatic, etc. You don’t even have to be a seeker or Isha meditator to know – it’s all free! 🙌😌🙏
*DL aka Distribution List is different from a Group (in apps like WhatsApp). It’s a one-way communication tool, which a group of people belonging to a DL will receive the message simultaneously but can respond to the sender only individually. A Group is more of a forum where everyone can share and respond.
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy
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A Root Cause Analysis of Life ~ Part 2/3

24 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 2/3

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You may read Part 1 of “A Root Cause Analysis of an Aspect of Life!” here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/a-root-cause-analysis-of-life-1-3/

~~~~~~~~~~~

I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this?

Procrastinate, by definition means, “delay or postpone action; put off doing something.” So the questioner implies the delay in translating thoughts (remember, there’s no good or bad) into purposeful action. And the source of thoughts, as surmised from the question itself, is teachings from many Gurus, which are essentially experiential wisdom, shared by them for the benefit of seekers.

Let’s take one such wisdom – from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru – to understand the situation better.

With every breath, we are one step closer to the grave. Now is the time to explore a dimension beyond body and mind.” ~Sadhguru

SG1Sadhguru is a Realised Master with millions of followers across the globe. So drops of wisdom such as this quote have a significant impact – at least at thought level, if not in action – on many of his followers. Swamy’s comprehension of this phenomenal quote is…

Every moment that is not spent on pursuit of truth (on the spiritual path) is a wasted opportunity, in the brief lifetime of a human being. So, this very moment is the right time to start your sadhana, to attain self-realisation (and liberation, eventually).

Someone else may comprehend it differently. Irrespective of how it is comprehended, this pristine pearl of spiritual wisdom will immediately trigger some thoughts in the reader’s mind, which will inevitably gain acceleration and travel faster than the speed of light (sorry Einstein, the mind doesn’t give two hoots about physics rules), in all kinds of directions, triggering more and more thoughts in turn. Within a few moments, one would’ve simply forgotten both the trigger and the original thought. As a result, this will become one of those billions of lost thoughts, that never get translated into purposeful action.

img_0729.jpgSo, it’s amply clear that “I procrastinate” isn’t the result of any Guru’s ‘good thoughts,’ but caused by the nature of the mind itself. The mind simply goes about its bus(y)iness of generating wave after wave of thoughts, some of which may’ve been triggered by the sayings of a Guru. By trying to follow the perennial flow of thoughts, the reader / seeker simply loses track of even those thoughts that have the potential to translate into purposeful action. This results in the person feeling remorseful for not doing anything about them.

What’s the way out of the muddy remorse pit? To initiate action, of course.

What should a follower of Sadhguru do, upon reading the aforementioned quote? To start the sadhana (spiritual practice) right away.

IMG_20160131_100258How to go about it? The marathon runners* are useful as an example for this. They are typically part of a group or team, members of which run together regularly. It keeps them focused on the activity (long distance running) by inducing discipline through a common schedule and location. Similarly, a seeker could join a group of diligent practitioners, who perform their sadhana regularly. The key is to make it a habit, just like brushing one’s teeth in the morning; taking shower / bath; reading ToI while sipping a piping hot cuppa filter kaapi (coffee) and so on, without being reminded by someone on a daily basis. Over time, one may actually start feeling remorseful for not doing the sadhana daily, instead of not starting it at all.

Social media groups can also helpful in sustaining the sadhana, as many of the spiritual groups share posts on not only the Master’s teachings (blogs, videos, programs…) but also group events for practitioners such as sathsang, which help in staying connected with the Master and his/her teachings and also receive practice corrections from the qualified practitioners.

Maskmovie4Though humans are prone to procrastination, they don’t resort to it when it comes to instant gratification. Tasks related to survival always happen on time – sometimes even ahead of time – because they gratify one’s immediate needs and wants. Eating – at least – thrice a day; ordering stuff or paying bills online; sharing opinion on events and people; cribbing about the inhuman boss; offering unsought advice for, well, anything; complaining about service quality… things like these happen on a daily basis, without any kind of reminder from anyone.

But when it comes to one’s own inner well-being, it can always wait, till whenever! No amount of advise can change this, as the change has to be specific action(s) initiated by the individual. A Guru can only show the path and offer guidance for traversing it, based on his/her own experience. It’s entirely up to the seeker to follow that guidance and proceed / progress with the travel. After all, it’s for one’s own salvation and not the Guru’s (who is already self-realised, anyway). So the solution simply is Nike, ahem, “Just Do It.”

Guru_Swamy3

If a farmer wants a bounty from his farm, s/he has to tend to the crop regularly, diligently.

If a student has to score high and secure a seat for higher education in a premier institute or gain employment with a prominent employer, s/he must study regularly, diligently.

If an investor plans to gain wealth from the financial market, s/he has to invest regularly, diligently.

If an actor or writer aims at being on top of the trade, s/he must act in blockbusters or write bestselling books, regularly, diligently.

If an organisation wants to be on the forefront of the industry, it must continue to train its employees on the cutting-edge technology and relevant processes, regularly, diligently.

So, for a seeker, there is no other option but to put the Guru’s teachings into practice. That too right away. Now. And sustain the practices, till the purpose is realised!

Mull these musings for a few days and look forward to Part 3/3, i.e. the concluding part!

*Two of Swamy’s younger brothers and a sister-in-law are professional Marathon runners. Swamily also participates in the annual Chennai Marathon, to support the Isha Vidhya rural education initiative.

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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A Root Cause Analysis of Life – 1/3

13 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 1/3

Disclaimer: This 3-parts post isn’t a root cause analysis of Life itself, but just one aspect of it, i.e. inability to translate thoughts into action. Oh btw, unlike in the past^, this time all 3 parts will certainly get published in quick succession, as the post is more-ore-less completed already, but being shared in three parts just to help readers comprehend and – hopefully – contemplate!

An acquaintance of Swamy, who happens to be a meditator, recently reflected thus…
I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts. I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this? Due to this character I have lost more but still I do the same…🤔

This is the natural state of existence, for most humans – seeker or not. Survival is just a series of one insurmountable challenge after another for most, and they invariably end looking up to others (typically those who are successful and popular) for whatever they could get – guidance, advise, counsel, quote, motivational speech, experience sharing, training, books, etc. – to get better, be successful, overcome difficulties, etc. The situation isn’t that different on the spiritual path either, where there are so many choices for a seeker to completely go bonkers.

Sheep13While there is no specific answer or solution to this conundrum, one of the many possible options is succinctly captured by the emoji that the questioner used, at the end of the question, to indicate the thinking or pondering that’s going on. That so-called sixth sense is the only additional tool at the disposal of the Homo Sapiens, which unfortunately isn’t utilised effectively by them to liberate themselves from the BAUHumbug mundane existence. Unlike humans, who for whatever strange reason consider themselves as a superior species despite their incorrigible destructive nature, the remaining species on this tiny planet are quite content with their simple existence, as their lives remain uncomplicated by unnecessary thinking.

In the IT services industry, in which Swamy too had spent pretty much his entire phase of over two decades of survival, there is a popular process known as the “Root Cause Analysis,” to figure out what is causing a particular problem, with the objective of resolving the issue, by applying a temporary fix first (in order to ensure business continuity) and eventually a permanent fix (for preventing recurrence of the problem) as well. There are obviously many tools to perform this analysis (Ishikawa or Fishbone, 5-Why, etc)  but all of them are aimed at the same aforementioned purpose – analysing, understanding and resolving an(y) issue that impacts business continuity.

614px-Cause_and_effect_diagram_for_defect_XXX.svg

Image courtesy: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram

Unfortunately, just like any other myopic perspectives of humans, about anything in life, this root cause analysis process too is focused only on the challenge at hand. Hardly a handful of people who are conversant with the process and the tools, ever use it to gain a larger perspective – at either the business level or at the industry / domain level. That’s why there are so many specialists who keep efficiently utilising the process at a rudimentary level, repeatedly, and very few (if any!) generalists who can effectively use the process to identify, analyse, contemplate, comprehend and craft solutions for real life situations, of which business / work is only a minuscule part.

Anyway, for the sake of the questioner, let’s keep the rant against the incorrigible human nature aside and focus on the situation at hand, by breaking down the reflection / long question into smaller parts, so that each of the components can be analysed to comprehend the whole.

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart

Why do humans read / hear / view what others have said?
To know what the others are supposed to have already known, would be the obvious answer. After all, humans are self-certified experts in taking the easy way out, for practically doing anything in a lifetime!

A Guru – an authentic one who has attained self-realisation, not one of those self-proclaimed character artists – shares his/her experience of Truth (about creator, creation, existence, et al) and offers ways or methods to seekers who strive to attain the same experience. In ancient times, it used to be done in person (ashrams were created primarily for this purpose) but in the perennially busy times that we are present in, it’s being done with the help of all available modes of communication – books, podcasts, videos, blogs, programs…

GuruPurnima1

Guru PUrNima, a day of reverence to all the Realised Masters who have chosen to show the path to realisation to fellow humans, is celebrated worldwide on 27-July-2018.

Unlike the ‘information is power’ survival where even those without any practical experience can be quite successful with acquired knowledge, spirituality is all about knowing, i.e. the actual inner experience of the seeker.

When a seeker accesses the experiential knowing shared by a Guru, it should be for the purpose of attaining the experience and not merely to know about the experience. So, seeking is not about the activity of reading / hearing / viewing the knowledge shared, but about putting it to use, in terms of actions (commonly known as sadhana), with the objective of attaining the same experience as one’s Guru.

In that context, it’s wonderful that the questioner has mentioned “nothing is hitting the heart.” Irrespective of whether it’s expressed with awareness or not, the questioner is actually pointing out how a Master’s teachings can be really effective. The heart referred here is not the blood pump that keeps the physical form ticking, but the spiritual heart known as the Hridhayam. It’s the seat of the divine aka soul. It’s where the creator is present, within each and every piece of the magnificent creation.

When a Guru’s teachings are put to practice, whatever experience happens is always internal. For example, hundreds of books talk about the primal energy of Kundalini and how to raise the dormant coiled serpent from the MUlaadhaara chakra at the base of the spine towards Sahasraara chakra on the top of the skull. To read any of them would naturally be exciting and the reader will exclaim “whoa, I didn’t know such a phenomenal power is hidden within myself.” But after reading the book, one either moves on to another book (must use Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription effectively!), may be share a review on GoodReads (which about 3 followers may read on social media platforms and 1 compulsive liker may actually “like”) and then get back to one’s BAUHumbug* existence.

The serpent simply can’t be risen by reading books and needs to be practised under the watchful guidance of a qualified teacher. And those who have actually experienced the rise of Kundalini within themselves, will hardly ever share that experience as a “how-to” guide for aam janata, since the experience could be vastly different for someone else, depending on many parameters, and is potentially dangerous to the person who tries it as DOI experiment.

So, “nothing is hitting the heart” does not mean one being vexed at not having a heart attack, but feeling disappointed at not experiencing something inward. That’s actually a very good feeling to have – especially for a seeker, since the journey along the spiritual path is always about self-realisation, i.e. the realisation of Truth that happens within oneself, as an intimate – and intense, needless to say – direct experience, within oneself.

Unfortunately, the questioner isn’t going to let us remain elated with this revelation for long and instantly deflates us by extending his reflection thus…

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Now, the second part of this reflection highlights some serious misunderstanding of the practical side of spirituality, which is putting the ancient methods and processes (shared by Gurus, of course) into actual practice, in real life situations. After all, Yoga, the ancient science of Life, isn’t just an austere practice to be done in isolation but is a way of living that needs to be applied in day-to-day living, by the practitioners. That’s why there is so much emphasis on sadhana (practice or performance of a spiritual process) in spirituality. In fact, nationwide missions like SkillIndia should take a cue from yoga, for the practical application part, in order to be really effective.

Inner voice cries hoarse: “digression… digression…”

fb_img_1531370637666Thoughts can potentially lead to actions, but not necessarily always. If one tries to translate each and every thought into action, simply surviving in this world itself would become harder than scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen, and sherpas. Thoughts simply keep flowing by themselves, like the waves of the ocean. Over time, one not only loses count of their number, but one also learns that it’s practically impossible to do something with each wave. There are waves that one can let kiss one’s bare feet and then there are those one could surf. Perhaps there are even some that may trigger enchanting poetry. The rest can only be observed. And they never cease to flow.

The questioner smartly chooses to follow only “good thoughts.” Hmmm… but how does one determine a thought is good or bad? It’s still just a thought anyway. Unless it is translated into an action, with a defined purpose, aimed at a specific outcome, it’s impossible to determine the value of any thought. Only when the outcome is experienced, its usefulness can be ascertained, based on the social situation that one is part of. Something that is useful / beneficial for an individual or society, in a harmless way, is deemed good. The opposite of that is branded as bad.

But good and bad are just classifications based on the subjective intellect of an individual or collective. They are mere perspectives and will vary from person to person, just like any other perspective. For terrorists, mass murder is just a means to an end, which makes them believe killing others is good. For the rest, murder is obviously bad and mass murderers are unadulterated evil, personified. While those who are murdered gladly excuse themselves from the pointless debates on their murder, the rest of the populace is always ready and willing to debate the good vs bad of murders and murderers to death, literally (on the multitude of channels that guarantee the proverbial “15 seconds of fame” for anyone who is willing to flex his/her vocal chords to express one’s opinion about anything, relevant or not).

img_0719.jpgIn reality there is no such thing as a ‘good thought’ or a ‘bad thought.’ Thoughts are, well, just thoughts. Everyone has got a boatload of them and some even admire themselves as being “Thought Leaders,” in practically every aspect of living. Irrespective of whether one fancies oneself as a leader or not, one can only translate one’s own thoughts into actions. And thoughts that translate into action are either useful or not. Neither can all useful things be deemed good (e.g. guns) nor can any useless thing be classified bad (e.g. floppy disk).

A Guru has no interest in either regulating someone’s thoughts or making someone follow his/her (the Guru’s) thoughts. And s/he doesn’t really care about the goodness of her/his thoughts, for a real Guru is fully aware of the utter futility of trying to interrupt or control the natural flow of thoughts. A Guru will actually be keen on enabling a seeker to understand that futility, experientially, by offering one or more sadhana (spiritual practice). So, it is obviously left to the individual – seeker or not – to observe one’s own thoughts and identify those that really need to be translated into action and act accordingly. The rest will mind their own business, within the mind itself!

Let’s look at that first sentence one last time, so we can move on to the rest of the question (parts 2 and 3 are waiting to be shared, impatiently)!

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Here’s the summary of insights that may help you, dear reader, to ignore most of the thoughts triggered while / after reading this and act upon only those that are valuable / useful.

  • Listening to what a Guru (Realised Master) shares is wonderful, because it is experiential wisdom
  • Knowing that a Guru’s teachings are meant for the spiritual heart and not the silly mind is great and will help the seeker focus inward
  • Thoughts simply flow by themselves, like the waves of the ocean, and they are neither good nor bad. They can be triggered by listening to a Guru as well
  • It’s practically not possible to follow all the thoughts that arise in the mind, which will only make anyone who attempts that go insane
  • One can pick and choose the thoughts and translate them into purposeful action for a specific outcome. The often over-hyped sixth-sense is meant for this purpose
  • A Guru is fully aware of the futility of following (any)one’s thoughts and hence will only encourage seekers to effectively utilise some of the thoughts for purposeful action, and enable them with practices (sadhana) for that purpose

You may take a well-deserved tea/coffee/juice break now. But just don’t start another series of waves, ummm… thoughts, by debating this with your break companion(s). Simply enjoy the beverage instead!

^There are a few multi-part blog posts that Swamy has started but yet to complete. Some on purpose and some for no reason. Or, may be it’s just procrastination! ha.. ha..

*BAUHumbug = “Business As Usual Humbug”, a term in Swamyctionary (which itself is another term coined by Swamy, supposed to mean ‘Swamy’s dictionary,’ i.e. collection of words coined by Swamy) that’s often used by him to depict the pretentious superficial survival focused existence of the species to which he too unfortunately belongs to!

… rest of the post will be shared in parts 2 & 3, as soon as at least 1 person cares to read this part and attempts to reflect upon it (thank goodness, that gives Swamy sufficient time to procrastinate :D)!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Obstacles on the Path ~ 1 of n!

3 May
A pal (surprise… there are still a few left 🤓 and, no they aren’t the faceless friends – of the Facebook kind) recently asked this question to Swamy…
When your loved ones in the family misunderstand and the saga continues what do we do? Say a beloved son thinks father as enemy… wife thinks the husband as pshycho and there are people who dont understand you… how to react? While you know you are ok… and they are in dofferent plane

!

Every seeker faces this dilemma, irrespective of whether they’re a serious seeker on the spiritual path, striving for mukti (ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death cycle) or a survivalist who is testing the waters of the spiritual ocean, before taking the plunge (which might even take a few lifetimes). Presuming the questioner is a seeker at some level, let’s look at the situation. 👣

The confusion and/or conflict arises when either side sees the other side (person) only from their perspective. Incidentally, this is what most humans do – look at everything (and everyone) from their perspective only and expect others to behave, act, perform according to their expectations.
In the child’s or spouse’s perspective, the seeker is still their version of the person and expected to fit into the template of a father or husband, just like the millions of householders out there.
Expectations like this, however silly they may appear to be for a seeker, are the glue holding the social fabric together. So, if the seeker is to at least meet their expectations (known as MA in the annual performance appraisal process of Swamy’s last employer – read about that challenge in The Bucket List here – highly recommended by cardiologists), one must wear the facades of the template father and husband, as long as one remains an active member of the social setup that one is part of – family, community, religion, etc.
Seeker or not, one’s family, relatives & friends always get jittery, when they see even a slight variation in the socially accepted template for an ideal father or spouse or friend or even colleague, for that matter. So, the onus is on the individual to balance one’s religious / spiritual pursuits and the expectations of those who are dependent on or connected to one.
Until one reaches a stage where the facade wearing role (father, son, husband, manager, etc) can be eliminated, without disturbing the balance of the householder’s expectations and seeker’s necessities, playing the assigned role(s) in this dramedy is inevitable. But instead of looking at this role play as a punishment and suffer through it, one can learn to simply enjoy playing the role, because it has a template after all. Simply sticking to a standard template, with a little bit of inoffensive variations that reflect one’s personality (another social trap), is all it takes to sail through conflict-free (or at least limited conflict) social survival.
Also, since this is a BAUHumbug routine, which will repeat every single day of existence, it is important not to ‘react’ to such situations and instead respond. This is an essential behavioral trait a seeker must cultivate and nurture, so that the pursuit of Truth doesn’t come to a grinding halt but continues, even when one is still within the social trap.
In order to not react but respond to situations, one must learn to not ride on the back of the trotting mind all the time. The mind is the fuel that keeps the ego fire burning. Ego is the foundation of one’s individual identity. So, if one goes by whichever path the mind chooses to (it can and will trot along a million different directions, in random) traverse, one must at least be aware that any path chosen by the mind is to protect the individual identity. In other words, mind focuses solely on self-preservation.
Interestingly (or intriguingly) that’s exactly what’s happening in the other person(s) as well. So, when one’s child, spouse, friend, colleague or partner expects one to be in a certain way (remember ‘role play‘), they do so simply because it is essential for their own self-preservation.
If everyone involved in any situation is a seeker, who has treaded the spiritual path for a while and thereby is aware of this mind game (pun intended), then all of them will simply respond to the situation, with purposeful action focused on a meaningful outcome, not bothering about how the action or outcome will impact their identity / ego. But neither is everyone a seeker nor or they all guided by a Guru’s (Realised Master) Grace. So, it is essential for the seeker, at the least, to be fully aware of this, to ensure the response from their side effectively douses the reaction fire from others, in any situation.
When the seeker remains a pleasant being, at all times, only responding with appropriate (and necessary, needless to emphasise) action, in any situation, those who are connected to the seeker will start observing the change, eventually. They will also see that the seeker remains not only unperturbed by their shenanigans, however hilarious or horrendous they may be, but also doesn’t hold any malice towards them at all. Observing this behaviour over a period of time and realising that this is no facade, has the potential to change even those around the seeker. But then again, the seeker isn’t supposed to have any such expectations about others anyway!
If the seeker is firm on the pursuit of Truth, then with Grace, one will naturally attain that balance (of social expectations vs spiritual aspirations), until one is free to pursue one’s journey, without all the bondages. 🙌

Be Joyful 😌 & Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Life Math!

23 Mar

Math is fun only for a select few, historically. Even for the great BhArathi, the MahAkavi, it was “கணக்கு, பிணக்கு, ஆமணக்கு,” something that was not just a struggle but even bitter. So, it isn’t that hard to imagine how Math is for lesser mortals. If it’s that complex a subject in the academic syllabus, then how complicated it should be in Life? Is it any wonder the species that never tires of boasting about it’s extra 6th sense, keeps on failing to score even the bare minimum pass score in “Life Math!”

1+1 is never equal to 1.
That’s why lovers who marry, even after several years of being in love, are shocked to find they are still 2 distinct individuals and can’t merge into 1 being, as they’ve imagined. Nor can business or any kind of partners. When neither is willing to let go of one’s distinct sense of identity, the individual will remain as 1 and 1+1 will always be 2.

1/2 + 1/2 = 1

Lord ShivA, aka the One (he’s Mahadeva, i.e. God of Gods, after all) knew this (obviously) and was prudent to merge his spouse (kind of hard to say who is the better half among the PurushA & Prakriti) into himself and become ArdhanhAreeswarA (part ShivA & part Shakthi), when it comes to walking the talk, i.e. offering an experiential learning opportunity on how the Life Math is done (he happens to be DakshiNAmUrthy, the Adi Guru, as well), but the Homo Sapiens aren’t capable learners, apparently.

But even if we take a few lifetimes to elevate ourselves to contemplate & comprehend the Adiyogi’s teachings, t

here are a couple of ways the life math can be made to work

, in this lifetime itself.

1×1 = 1.

But for this math to work in life, both the 1s have to collaborate & work together to create the force multiplier effect. Unfortunately, the individual 1s mostly stop with the force and keep multiplying it.

This works well, at least for a while, in business partnerships, since partners usually bring different skill sets and capabilities to the table. Remember the 2 Steves who created the fruit company (ahem, that would be Apple).

1/1 is also =1.

But for this equation to happen in life, either of the two 1s should be willing to go down, i.e. let go of their individual identity or ego. Every husband & wife knows – by experience, obviously – that’s just a fantasy or fantastic dream.

This is how a Guru-sishyA relationship works though. Neither does a real Guru (Realised Master) show of his Allness, ever, disseminating all that s/he knows to any sincere seeker, nor does the disciple mind getting chiselled pertinently, until s/he loses any sense of individual identity left.

1+0 is always equal to one.
The 1 is the individual, with many an identity, including but not limited to, name, education, status, title, religion, region, etc. S/he imagines being unique & distinct. That’s the mind trap, but it’s a very attractive & deceptive trap, in which the individual is willing to remain, for lifetimes.

Tonnes of Karma keeps piling up and the repetitive birth-death cycle goes on and on…

The 0 is the divine that’s within the individual, not a digit without any value, but one that’s absolute. That’s exactly why the 0 added after any numeral increases its value manifold.

That 0 waits patiently for the 1 to first realise it & then merge with it or dissolve into it. When that happens, when the realisation dawns upon the individual self, when the creation realises the magnificent presence of the creator glowing silently within the creation, every single being in existence – not just the individual, then the 1 becomes the 0. That’s also when, 1 and 0, which were 2 before, transform into 1, i.e. The One!

😇

AUM PUrNam-adah PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

😇

AUM That (divine / creator / real Self) is complete / whole; This (individual / creation / non-real self) self is complete / whole; Everything (in existence) manifests from that which is complete / whole (all of creation are manifest forms of the unmanifest divine or NhirguNa Parabrahmam).
(even) When (this – individual) whole is taken from (that – divine) whole, that which remains is (still) whole (omnipresent divine that is infinite & all pervading in nature).
AUM peace.. peace.. peace..

Be Joyful 😌& Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Upa Guru ~ demystifying the valuable but unknown Guide’s role

3 Aug

Upa Guru ~ demystifying the valuable but unknown Guide’s role

It’s always amusing to see the perplexed look on people’s faces – seekers or not – whenever Swamy mentions Upa Guru! Oh btw, it’s not a fancy spiritual term that Swamy has invented, but has been there in active usage from time immemorial, in the magnificent culture of SanAthana DharmA.

Most people know (or at least pretend to) the oft used terms in spirituality such as Guru, Sadhguru, Sathguru, Satguru, GurunhAthar, Master, GnAni, et al. This, despite the fact that Guru being one of most abused (trust me, it’s gone way beyond misuse) terms that’s been made synonymous with expert today, which is downright ridiculous, considering the exalted position the term Guru occupies in SanAthana DharmA!

Guru_Swamy3

Just the way there is yOgA, i.e. the ultimate union of individual self with the divine or supreme self (not to be misunderstood with mere AsanAs, which is but a mere wave in the vast ocean of yOgA) and Upa yOgA, i.e. preparatory or sub-yOgA (which is usually done before starting the regular yOgA practices), there’s also Guru or Sathguru aka a Realised Master / Spiritual Teacher (one who has experienced the union with the divine, having realised the Truth of existence through direct perception of reality and chose to guide seekers on the spiritual path*) and Upa Guru or Upaguru aka spiritual guide (consciously not using the term ‘secondary’ or ‘assistant’ as English has acute limitations when it comes to accurately reflecting the meaning of many magnificent Sanskrit terms) who can be a stepping stone or guidepost or user-manual (who is like a Guru – sometimes even an apprentice / disciple of a Sathguru, but need not necessarily be a realised one and typically more accessible as well).

* There have always been many self-realised beings who didn’t choose to actively guide others. Though enlightened, they are not Masters. Seekers may still benefit by merely being in their presence. To guide others or not is a choice of any realised being and there’s nothing right or wrong about either, as Spirituality clearly is beyond the binaries of materialistic living.

Does one really need a Guru on the spiritual path? Yes, without a doubt, unless you’re a once-in-a-generation/century exception like Bhagavan RamaNa Maharishi.

Does one really need one or more Upa Gurus? Not really, but an(y) additional guidance (that’s more accessible, needless to say) on the pursuit of Truth doesn’t hurt, isn’t it!

While the Guru-sishyA (Master-disciple) relationship is pretty much always one-to-one (even if a seeker happens to be part of larger group of disciples of the same Guru), the UpaGuru-follower / disciple relationship can be many-to-one, i.e. it’s possible for a seeker to have more than one Upa Guru.

SQ0Now, if you haven’t even got a Guru yet (remember to not confuse Guru with Expert, though s/he is most certainly, in a different dimension of existence), you may be utterly perplexed, which is perfectly understandable. And be assured that it’s not up to you to search for and find a Guru, because s/he isn’t someone you get to choose, like a gadget you compare and buy on Amazon (or Flipkart, if you’re an overt patriot and are extremely patient to bear with their annoying adamant insistence on installing their app on any mobile device). All you can do is, provided you’ve decided to test the waters of the vast (and, needless to say, extremely deep) ocean called spirituality (not to be confused with religion, at all), is to start pondering your existence and long for the answers for a few (or many) Whys that may spring forth, from such pondering.

When that longing becomes unbearable (trust me, it will, eventually – even if it doesn’t happen in this lifetime), i.e. when your thirst to know the Truth reaches a point where you must get it quenched, then a Guru will happen (in your Life, obviously). And then, inevitably, you’ll start wondering why the heck you’ve longed for him/her to happen, in first place, as you begin to comprehend the real role of a Guru, in a seeker’s Life… ha.. ha..!

Anyway, before you get scared and choose to lock your desire to know deeper inside the mind locker, let me throw some more light on this – spiritually speaking, of course.

SG1Sadhguru (yep, that’s his name, which incidentally resonates with the spiritual term used to define anyone like him), YOgi, Mystic & visionary Founder of Isha Foundation, is Swamy’s Guru. A realised Master, he “happened, as Guru” in Swamy’s Life, who never really sought a Master, until the moment. When his Master happened, on a typical traffic-choked sultry evening in Chennai (inside the safe confines of an air-conditioned training room, of course – through an introductory video, not in person), Prakash Ramaswamy, Director (in a global IT organisation), as he was known to many at that time, who happened to be a successful professional filled with the self-assured arrogance of any such successful professional, simply fell like a tree that got uprooted in a flash flood! Today, more than 8 years after his “Guru happened,” humbled beyond belief (especially to those who’ve been with / known him during his corporate career), he simply refers to himself as Swamy, a non-descript name that can be anybody. Or nobody!

Confounding matters further, Sadhguru never made any claims to being Swamy’s Guru (or for any of the millions of Isha meditators like him worldwide, for that matter). Despite having been initiated into the ancient KriyA yOgA practice of ShAmbhavi MahAmudrA by his Master in 2009 (in a corporate program conducted in his office itself), Swamy has been in his Guru’s close proximity only thrice (during the 7-day SamyamA or Silence program in 2013, YantrA ceremony to receive DEvi Linga Bhairavi yantrA in 2016 (the first anniversary of Devi’s arrival at SwamyHome is celebrated on 04-Aug-2017, Friday & you’re most welcome to join the celebrations) and the Sathsang during KailAsh-MAnasarOvar yatrA in 2013, when he received prasAdham directly from the Master) during all these years. And he hasn’t directly interacted or spoken with his Master even once! At least, not yet.

AnandaAlai-SadhguruSpot-20thJune2014-2From the moment Sadhguru, his Master, has “happened” in his Life, till this very inevitable moment, Swamy never had any doubts about who his Guru is. Such is the clarity of a seeker, whose Master has found him/her (it’s never the other way around)!
You may cherish reading all that Swamy has written about his Master here…

Guru DEvO MahEswarA
http://swamyverse.blogspot.in/2013/07/guru-devo-maheswara.html

SOhamAnandAji, aka Samir Parekh anna, a person like you and Swamy, is Swamy’s Upa Guru (only one, as of now). An elite corporate consultant & trainer by profession, he’s a GrihasthA (householder) with a wonderful spouse (she must be, it can’t be any other way) and two children.

PBY4A deeply spiritual soul that’s been blessed by many Masters, including Swamy’s Master Sadhguru (& ParamAchaAryA Sri ChandrasEkarEndra Saraswathi of KAnchi KAmakOti Peetam & Swami ChinmayAnandA, the founder of the ChinmayA mission, who he considers as his Guru & Swami AthmapriyAnandA of Ramakrishna Mission & Guruswamy NatarAjan of Akhila Bharata Ayyappa Seva Sangham & probably a few more Masters as well…). He’s a DEvi upAsakar (worship of DEvi Shakthi as the ultimate reality) and an ardent SabarimalA yAtri for several decades. Well-versed in the sacred scriptures and rituals of SanAtana DharmA, he guides a group of seekers such as Swamy on their spiritual pursuit.

UpaGuru1Though Swamy & his Upa Guru SOhamAnandAji were part of the KailAsh-MAnasarOvar yAtrA (organised by Isha Sacred Walks) in 2013, their spiritual connect didn’t get activated until a few years later. Eventually, SOhamAnandAji took Swamy on yAtrAs (Pancha BhUtha Sthalams, SabarimalA & ChAr DhAm), guided him on DEvi worship (for NavarAtri pUjA) and gave him Mantra DeekshA / UpadEsA as well. Swamy, being an intellectual (yep, yet to get around that enchanting mind trap!), always had a zillion questions about everything and his Upa Guru, until now, seems to not only have the appropriate answers for all but also doesn’t mind sharing them from time to time. And, to the grey-haired millennial Swamy’s delight, his Upa Guru is accessible even on WhatsApp!

upaguru2.jpgNeither is SOhamAnandAji Swamy’s Guru, nor does he even bother to claim to be Swamy’s Upa Guru. But his role in enabling Swamy’s progress on the spiritual path, in pursuit of self-realisation is so valuable that Swamy has to elevate his spiritual practices to an entirely different dimension / level, if he has to get such ongoing guidance from his own Master (which is obviously Swamy’s limitation, not his most benevolent Guru’s)! And the Upa Guru too happened in Swamy’s Life, just in time, only with the Grace of Swamy’s Guru!

With that luminosity shredding the wraps of ignorance a bit to seep some light into the dark cavern of your all-knowing mind, on this sublime subject, let’s also look at how the Upa Guru’s role is perceived / defined by a few others, who too were blessed to have one or more, in their Life.

Here’s an insight by Ram Dass, who is a disciple of the world famous Realised Master Neem KarOli Baba, known popularly as MaharAjji, on “Sathgurus and Upagurus.

NeemKaroliBabaThe Sat Guru is somebody who beckons from beyond. He’s somebody who’s all finished. The Upa Guru is anybody or anything along the way that points to the path that helps you along a little. So that even your enemies are often your Upa Gurus because they wake you up to a place you’re not, which helps you to get free of that place, which helps you get on with it.

You may read the entire article on “The Need for a Guru” by Ram Dass here…
https://www.ramdass.org/need-guru/

Here’s what Thakur RAmakrishNa ParamahamsA said about Upaguru

Ramakrishna_ParamahamsaThe Guru is only one, but Upa-gurus (secondary gurus) may be many. He is an Upa-guru from whom anything whatsoever is learned. It is mentioned in the Bhagavata that the great Avadhuta (a great yogi) had twenty four such Upa-Gurus.

You may read about the “THE AVADHUTA AND HIS UPA-GURUS” by RAmakrishNa ParamahamsA here…
http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/parables/1_files/1-169.html

Here’s the perspective on Upaguru by a seeker named Elizabeth (who, incidentally quotes Ram Dass, in the article) that certainly resonated with Swamy…

Sometimes the upagurus come from the past.  They are seeing you through the filter of their own past and have reappeared for something on their own journey.   In such people, we perhaps get a teaching that reminds us why we are seeking to better align, why we have sought to shift and change old patterns.  We might also meet in an upaguru who has been part of our past someone who has shifted and grown and inspires us to go further on the path, sharing it for a while.  Those who are parts of our life for a long time, I think generally serve as both teachers and teachings, and we are the same for them.

You may read the entire article “Sathgurus and Upagurus, Teachers and Teachings” here…
https://rosegardenyoga.com/2011/01/satgurus-and-upagurus-teachers-and-teachings/

GuruPurnima1By now, hopefully, you should have a fair idea of the role of the Upa Guru, who is like a catalyst that’ll potentially accelerate the seeker’s progress on the spiritual path, that could become a reality in a seeker’s search for Truth. Sometimes, even before a Guru happens. Or it could be the other way around, like in Swamy’s spiritual journey, when the Upa Guru happened, with the Guru’s boundless benevolent grace.

Either way, there’s no denying the fact that it’s an immensely valuable role, to lead / guide a seeker’s progress on the long-winding spiritual path. Like a teacher in the academic space, who teaches you how to learn (not just study) something effectively. Or a mentor in the cut-throat corporate world of survival, who helps you navigate the career maze. Or an all-knowing uncle (or aunt) in the family, who inadvertently became your role-model, by sharing the secret recipe for circumventing / avoiding marital disharmony. Or a friend, who just knew how to wriggle out of any seemingly impossible situation and doesn’t mind sharing that knowledge. Or a D-I-Y expert who showed you the ways to do something better and swifter…

IMG_20170704_111911Now that you know who an Upa Guru is, it shouldn’t be that hard – hopefully – to be open to getting guidance from one (or more) who had been there and done that and willing to share the pearls of wisdom for your own progress. The key to finding, one or more, is for you to be open and humble, keeping aside your limited intellect (it is & will remain so) and presumptions about Life (you’ve no idea what “Life the way it is”, is). Happy journey – on the spiritual path that is!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy  

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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