Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

The LaaSting Truth of Life!

5 Dec

Life! Ah, that wonderful opportunity given to every single being – human or otherwise – to learn, do, know, share, care, enjoy and cherish through active engagement and experiences of every moment of our existence. What can one say about the marvellous Game of Life, with ample twists and turns that can rival any nail biting live sports event, other than the fact that most of us just meander through the Absurdity of Existence, without ever realising the true value of Living Life!

Kalachakra2From birth, the start of an Endless Beginning called Life (which isn’t in our hand), till death, the Middle of the Endless Beginning (which obviously isn’t in our hand either, unless we’re suicidal – even then the probability of ending Life is less than Fifty-50), we appear to be forever in limbo, either completely ignorant of this precious gift or totally unaware of the magnificence of the Dance of Life, all around us, every moment of our existence, just waiting for us to experience it, as it is. We invariably fail to learn the A-Z of Life and instead sweat and toil to live the Life as expected by others. What a wasted opportunity, for the Present becomes Past in Future in the blink of an eye and there’s no guarantee that realization may happen in the birth to follow, immediately after or the innumerable ones thereafter.

LingaBhairaviFret not, before you throw up your arms in despair and scowl “Holy cow, how the heck do I know the mo(o)ral of the Life story!” and conclude in typical human hurry “No we can’t!“, for Swamy has woken up to the fact that there’s a much simpler way, at least to make an attempt at comprehending Life the way it is, without the need for a convoluted theory or complicated formula, which is what we invariably end up discovering or inventing for anything and everything to do with Life. This insight on how to Light up your Life came to Swamy, when he was part of a series of events in the past few weeks that have opened his eyes wide with amazement (not bewilderment as many might expect or even pray for), at the sheer simplicity of it. It’s certainly not something he could lay claim to as a personal discovery, but just an awakening of the Element of Truth that has happened within, when it was time for it to happen. 

Monkay1Many a knowledgable soul among Swamy’s keen blog readers (a perplexing tribe that never fails to read but perennially stops short of commenting or sharing!) may’ve known about the four paths to realization, i.e., Bakthi, Gnana, Karma and Kriya or Raja yoga (nope, Swamy’s own SISA yoga won’t find a place in this elite list ever, despite you wishing for it – here are 8 reasons why wishing is just wishful). There have been many a realized being in this planet, whose lives evidently portray that each of these paths do work, like Skill Pills for Mukti, and are really the means to an end – the same end that’s also known as the ultimate and only Truth. Here are just a few of the many, who realized the Truth through 5-Why of Life and chose to light the path for any.

Disclaimer: The mapping of the extraordinary beings whose names adorn the following sections of this blog post with the four paths of Yoga is purely Swamy’s own interpretation based on his limited knowledge and not to be misinterpreted in any way as a decisive conclusion. The list isn’t conclusive either for there are many realized Masters who’ve never revealed themselves to the world!

krishna-gopisPrabhupada Baktivedanta Swami, the founder of ISKCON or Hare Krishna movement professed the path of Bakthi yoga that has millions renunciate their material way of Life and melt in Krishna consciousness. Swamy can never forget the sentence an ISKCON Swami (formerly an IT professional from Russia) told at the magnificent Palace of Gold temple at West Virginia, USA. When asked how he ended up as a priest at the Krishna shrine, he said, “Krishna is more beautiful than ‘C’ (a computer programming language)!” Surdas, Ramdas, Kabir, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a multitude of Nayanmars and Aazhvars are all proponents of this path, which exemplifies the simplicity of seeking the Truth through this path of devotion, for any and every being.

RamanaMaharishiBhagavan Ramana Maharishi, the renowned saint of Thiruvannamalai, is probably the most popular renunciate of the Gnana yoga path that the world has known.Who am I?was his simple sutra, which when contemplated upon, while continuously looking inward, will eventually lead the seeker to realize the Truth. While appearing deceptively simple – the nature of Truth is such – many seekers have said this is the hardest path for realization. Jiddu Krishnamurti, whose works are in publication extensively around the world even now, and Nisargadatta Maharaj whose book I am That is considered a seminal treatise of the Truth, are the other famous proponents of this path of intellect.

krishnaLord Krishna, who is invariably – and inevitably – the center of the Bakthi yoga universe, is also the greatest proponent of Karma yoga, which is available to all in the form of that immensely popular and widely read, interpreted and quoted immortal scripture Bhagavad Gita. His enchanting Life, in its entirety, is said to be the best possible evidence available to any seeker on the sheer stupidity of the maya of Life, the way we know and live it, and the magnificence of Life, the way it is meant to be lived. Revered beings such as Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi are also exponents of this path, whose Life is their message to seekers. Swami Chinmayananda, a non-believer turned seeker with the grace of his Guru Swami Tapovanam, and Swami Sivananda, who guided him to his Guru, also belong to this path of action.

Dhyana1The last but not the least (in fact, it is probably the most) of the four paths is Kriya yoga, practiced and transmitted by many an enlightened Master from time immemorial in this once great nation, where seeking Mukti was the sole purpose of every single soul, once upon a time. Also known as Raja Yoga, this is considered the path of the kings among seekers, though once a seeker, one soon realizes there isn’t any difference between a prince and a pauper. Starting from none other than Adi Yogi Shiva himself, this path has been illuminated by many Masters across millennia, the Siddhas including sage Patanjali and Agastya muniGautama the BuddhaParamahamsa Yogananda (and his Guru lineage starting from Mahavatar Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya to Sri Sri Yukteswar), Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, have all attained enlightenment through this magnificent path of energy that requires utmost diligence through unwavering focus and practice. In fact, Paramahamsa Yogananda includes Jesus Christ too as an exponent of this mystic path.

Interestingly (or intriguingly – to us lesser mortals), many illuminated souls are also bridges between two or more paths or can even thought to be as a confluence of the many paths leading to the one Truth.

Adi_SankaraAdi Sankara, who singlehandedly revived this nation’s culture Sanatana Dharma, within a brief lifetime of 32 years can easily span across all four paths. He’s established Jyotirlingas and Shakti peethas for both Bakthi yoga (temples as places of devotion) and Kriya yoga (temples as consecrated spaces for energy processes); produced a voluminous work of verses and interpretation of scriptures that span both Bakthi (chanting for daily rituals and singing verses in praise of the divine) and Gnana (contemplation of truth through interpretation of sutras) yoga; performed incredible deeds at a superhuman pace, within an impossibly short duration as if there’s no tomorrow, exemplifying the power of Karma yoga.

BuddhaGautama the Buddha, who renounced a princely Life to meditate and contemplate upon the misery (and mystery) of Life, got enlightened through Gnana yoga. But he also created a step-by-step process based on his realization – the Dhammapada – for any seeker to realize the Truth, through diligent (almost dry) daily practice, which in essence is Kriya yoga. He’s said to have had thousands of enlightened beings around, all attaining realization through his path, during his lifetime itself!

Inner_Engineering3Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a contemporary Yogi, Mystic and visionary spiritual leader who founded Isha Yoga (Yoga of the Divine) to guide any seeker on the Kriya yoga path to self-realization, is a living Master who has created and put into action one of the finest examples of the blend of the four paths. Sadhguru has created the one-of-its-kind Dhyanalinga yogic temple (over three lifetimes), a perennial source of energy in the primordial form of Linga, at the foothills of Velliangiri mountains (also known as the South Kailash) through the ancient process of Prana Pratishtha (created by Agastya muni, one of the seven direct disciples – Saptarishis – of Adi Yogi Shiva), with the sole purpose of aiding any soul seeking liberation through transmission of powerful energy. He has also consecrated the Linga Bhairavi Devi temple, to aid the seekers of the Bakthi yoga path. His many publications – videos, discourses, books, blogs, et al – are handy guides offering striking clarity on all things about the Truth of Life for seekers of the Gnana yoga path. The multifarious activities – rural upliftment through free health and education, environmental nourishment and recharge through Green initiatives and cultural revival through promotion of arts, crafts and festivals, that happen within and outside the Ashram through the Isha Foundation, primarily through volunteering of meditators and seekers, is the best example of Karma yoga in action.

Shiva_AdiGuruThere are many who continue to draw parallels between Sadhguru and Osho (Bhagwan Rajneesh), for both of them have shared extensive insights into many aspects of spirituality that were considered mysterious and mystical, from their own personal experience of the Truth, thereby simplifying the seeking of those who long to realize the Truth. Both have also devised the technology and techniques to put into practice the ancient science of Yoga, said to have been unraveled by Adi Yogi Shiva, who in turn transformed into Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy to share his knowledge and wisdom with his significant half Shakti first and the Saptha Rishis (who in turn spread them far and wide across the planet) later. The essence of this science was then documented by Yogi Patanjali in the form of Yoga Sutras.

Thinking_ChimpComing back to where this post has originated (and compelled by the need for this to be concluded – as this is just a blog post and not one of the many books that Swamy contemplates to eventually write and publish), i.e., the eye-opening experiences of Swamy in the past few weeks, happened in a series of events or programs in which he volunteered or participated.

First was a 7-day Isha Yoga program conducted in his neighbourhood. Second was a 4-day Leadership development program conducted by two Lions of their domain – RamCharan and Sadhguru. Third was a couple of highly competitive international sports events that his son (a professional Chess player of some repute) was part of. Fourth was the final stage of a Coaching certification training program. And fifth was a Marathon run in which he has participated, along with a few friends, fellow seekers and his significant half.

Kailash8For the first event, Swamy has volunteered for the entire duration of the program for the first time (he has done so for only a day or two in the past). Having been initiated into the spiritual path on March 1, 2009 (that has progressed till the 7-day Samyama program and Kailash-Manasarovar yatra this year), through the same program conducted at his workplace, it should’ve been quite normal to be part of that program again, albeit in a different role. Having to wake up before dawn for seven straight days, complete the daily practices and then rush to the program venue for volunteering should’ve been taxing, but wasn’t. It was a ‘be there and do what(ever) is required at that point in time’ kind of activity, with no material benefits for the effort, which should’ve been demotivating, but wasn’t. Inexplicably, instead of being disenchanted at the prospect of performing simple tasks at the behest of the Swami (an ordained Brahmachari from Isha ashram) who conducted the program and his co-teacher (a resident of the ashram), Swamy ended up realizing the bountiful nature of his Master’s boundless grace by just being present during the program, doing any and every activity that was requested of him. Unsurprisingly, he has resolved to volunteer for more such programs in the future!

20131124_075227For the second event, which was paid for and attended by luminaries from many industries and professions, Swamy volunteered expecting to be part of the core group that hobnobbed with the who’s who of Indian business world. In typical Isha way (Sadhguru’s deflating-the-ego-balloon acts have to be experienced to be believed), he was asked to be part of the Dining team, that served food for all the participants, three times a day for four days. Now, dining doesn’t mean only serving food, but also moving, organizing and cleaning food, thrice a day. Invariably, most of the time post serving food, one won’t get to taste many of the delicacies served to participants but has to settle down for whatever is left and other simpler food that are made exclusively for the volunteers. The physically tiresome activity was the least of the bother, while being amidst a bunch of cheerful volunteers that included bubbly Isha Home School senior students, radiant ashram residents and the majestic presence of the Master himself on many occasions during the four days. At the end of it, what dawned upon Swamy is the fact that being useful doing what’s needed at any point in time is a lot more precious than being valuable based on one’s professional experience, only during some points in time.

AK_Hyd_Tournament2For the third set of events, Swamy was a mere observer – of a decade long journey gaining acceleration at a crucial point in time, decisively driving towards the desired destination. Jr. has just secured his first IM (International Master – a title awarded to professional Chess players with an ELO rating of 2400 and 3 such norms, gained in as many or more top level tournaments) norm with some more altitude to scale, but his game has suddenly transcended to an altogether different level, boosting the confidence of the collective family that includes his beloved Mother with a steely determination and fierce focus and talented + committed Coach who seeks to scale the peak of Chess eminence through his ward. As the long cherished dream of an entire family that chose a different path for their offspring (amidst many a raised eyebrow that rose in utter disbelief of what was perceived to be a mindless act of thoughtless souls) nears its culmination in the form of Swamy Jr. earning the coveted title of GrandMaster in the game of Chess, Swamy couldn’t help wondering how it was all made possible through selfless sacrifice of all those who’ve been part of the eventful and exciting journey.

20131129_164408For the fourth event, Swamy was part of a group of enthusiasts, who’ve embarked on the journey of learning and qualifying to be Coaches, who can help clients discover the path to their destiny, by seeking and discovering the answers to all their question within. Unlike a Mentor, who guides by sharing the essential answers by digging deep within one’s own vast experience, a Coach is barred from offering readymade solutions from personal experience. Being a Coach is mastering the art of active listening and astute questioning (something that every human loves to do, but isn’t really capable of doing with the requisite finesse or panache) and tying oneself down willingly to just that. In a way, it is conditioning oneself to forget what one knows well, for the duration of each coaching session at least, and help the client unearth precious gems of Truth, hidden deep within his or her own self.

20131201_085652For the fifth event, a popular annual Marathon race in the city of his residence, Swamy participated despite a battered knee that wouldn’t allow him to run (the result of a sports accident and the aftermath of its [mis]treatment and corrective surgery by two doctors from the opposite ends of the medical spectrum during his high school days). He chose to participate for supporting Isha Vidhya – an education initiative by Isha Foundation for providing free matriculation education to rural children – and simply walked the 10 km distance instead (his significant half also walked alongside for the first few kilometres). At the end, what mattered was just being part of the event supporting a noble cause and not the longer time taken to complete the race.

Sadhguru-Prana-Pratishta-1-500x375As an astute reader (all those who care to read Swamy’s post indeed are ;), you may’ve already noticed the common thread tying the five events that appear disparate but are beaded together intricately (ahem, not for nothing is Swamy considered an exponent of the art of connecting the dots – oops.. time to say yes to no and deflate the “i”nflated ego :O). It is the act of being selfless, for a cause (a personal or common goal), giving wholeheartedly whatever is required to further the cause, while thinking less and less of one’s own self. Like a lamp; a candle; a ladder; a flower; a fruit; a tree; a dog; a cow; mother earth; the sun; every Guru that has graced this universe showering their boundless grace ever so benevolently on any who was in need; and so many other such magnanimous ones that exemplify the utter pointlessness of being selfish, especially in the illuminating light of being selfless, not for the sake of others, but for the fact that one can be so and there is always a need for the ones who choose to be so.

Thinking2In essence, all the five events had the same thing in common. Less of the self, which is as close to being totally selfless (something that animals – not just pets, mind you – have mastered from time immemorial, despite their perceived handicap of having one less sense than us humans) that a normal being can get to. And this self becoming less and less significant obviously happened in stages, over a period of time. That inevitably led to the realization that Less is More, when it comes to knowing Life the way it is. The less one thinks of oneself, the more the joy of helping others is, that could bring Joy Drops streaming down while doing so. And volunteering is one of the best (and possibly the easiest) ways of giving oneself totally to others’ cause, thereby offering oneself the opportunity to grow From Ordinary to Extra Ordinary. Volunteering is the way to experience the enchanting non-linear nature of Life, by offering one’s own Life as a Service (LaaS – for the jargon oriented and challenged alike). That, my dear reader, is The LaaSting Truth of Life!

.

Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
Connect with Swamy | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ LinkedIn | Pinterest | Tumblr
உயிர்மெய்

ஸ்வாமியின் தமிழ் பதிவுகள்

G.Sairamesh's Blog

Business of helping people Prosper & Grow

Coach4excellence's Blog

Committed to the business of helping people to effectiveness & growth!

Joshi Daniel Photography

Images of People Photoblog

E-Learning Provocateur

A blog by Ryan Tracey

Donald H Taylor

This is an archive blog. Please visit donaldhtaylor.co.uk

Leadership Freak

Empowering Leaders 300 Words at a Time

Been there, Seen that

Unraveling Life’s mysteries, one blog post at a time!