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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.

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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 🙂

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

17 Nov

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

Most music aficionados stick to known types of music. Their daily commute, long drives out of town and private listening hours (if any) pretty much overflow with the same kind of music, if not the same performers too.

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Some are open to listening to different kinds of music. They explore and discover the odd gems, but still predominantly listen to the familiar ones.
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Few actually explore various genres of music and expand their sound scape, continuously…

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As a typical born-and-brought-up Madrasi (all South Indian people – from 4 vastly different states and a UT – are madrasis to the rest of India 🤣, all of which the madrasis simply refer to as North India, irrespective of whether it’s located in the east, north or west 🙄), Swamy’s terra firma in music is carnatic, naturally – both vocal & instrumental. But because of his slightly pronounced inclination towards instrumental music (thanks to legends such as Kunnakkudi, Kadri, Umayalpuram, etc.) 🎺🎻, simply due to his lack of multilingual skills (to comprehend the meaning of hymns, songs, bhajans) he also warmed up easily to western (yep, the videshi west) instrumental music as well (Kenny G, Yanni, Miles Davis, Joshua Bell, the Orchestras, Lindsey Sterling, etc.). 🎼🎹🎧
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Surprisingly, despite choosing to remain in his motherland after spending only a few years outside (unlike many of his pals who chose to settle down on the supposedly ‘developed’ side of the world 🤦‍♀️), his exposure to Hindustani music remained limited to the occasional sitar, santoor or flute album, mostly accompanied by Zakhir Hussein on the Tabla 😂. And then there’s Hariharan’s ghazals, of course (Hariharan is not only well known in the southern movie industry, but he himself happens to be a Madrasi, just like Shankar Mahadevan).

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All that changed, with his exploration – albeit a cautious one – into the hi-res audio space. While looking for hi-res / lossless audio to test his audio gadgets, Swamy ended up discovering quite a lot of musicians, from both sides of the world.

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Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

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Here are a few (ex)samples…
Swamy has never heard about Lorde, until listening to and getting instantly enchanted by her voice, on a song included in an audiophile music playlist, on YouTube (of all places)! She’s like Adele, yet different.
Madrasana was familiar territory but with a twist – a performer on his/her own, sans accompaniments, in a well organised setup. And this channel creator / patron is a former hotshot executive in the IT services industry, where Swamy too spent his entire career span.
And then there’s Darbar, which is the perfect gateway for someone like Swamy to explore the vast (and obviously enchanting) Hindustani music terrain. Filled with fantastic single tracks by a plethora of astoundingly talented performers (many of whom Swamy hasn’t even heard of until now), it’s a channel worth a watch, ummm… Listen (both, actually)!

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

22 Oct

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

One of (many, needless to say.. heh.. heh.. 😂) Swamy’s interests is music, of pretty much all kinds. Classical music (of the Bharat kind) & instrumental music (of the global kind) have always been a big draw, though an occasional new ARR movie composition or vocals such as Adele too are listened to with equal joy.🎧

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Despite all that, Swamy hasn’t ventured into audiophile territory for a long time, even when he was earning a reasonable amount of pay, primarily due to the cost (of listening equipment) and secondarily due to lack of awareness. Lately though, some (sizable, considering the limited financial inflow of an early retiree, but certainly not outrageous 👀) investment went into personal hi-res audio equipment.

Swamy’s entry-level audiophile equipment – all sourced through Amazon India, mostly during the innumerable number of sale events they keep hosting – consists of hi-res certified 1More Triple Driver earphones, the மூர்த்தி சிறிது கீர்த்தி பெரிது kind of KZ ES4 earphones, the uber popular AudioTechnica M50x headphones and a hi-res audio music player + DAC – the FiiO M3K. And of course, there’s the punching-way-above-its-size Signature Acoustics Phoenix Hi-res Bluetooth audio transmitter/receiver (yep, I’m fully aware of the jargon dropping here 🤷🏻‍♀🤪). Oh yeah, couple of Bose speakers are in the mix as well, though one of them is constantly on strike (one of those rare CD players) a la public sector bank employees and the other one suffers from the typical portable speaker limitations (how about one from Marshall sir – umm, frankly, the endless Amazon sales keep tempting me for a while)!

Audiophile1

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Equipment aside, the sad fact about hi-res audio is its availability & affordability, especially in MeraBharatMahan! 😳🤐 Tidal is a well-known streaming source but both availability & cost will be like those forbidden fruit company iThings. Also it may not have much of desi music selections. Locally available services such as Amazon Prime Music, Jio Saavn, Ghaana, et al don’t overtly specify the quality of audio, so one can never be sure.

The other choice is to be ultra patient and rip all the original audio CDs (remember those – like any true-blue music lover, Swamy too has plenty of originals!) at higher bit rates and create one’s own collection, which will obviously take a lot of time, considering the tremendous amount of manual intervention required and the not-so-fast speed of the USB connection to the external CD drive (many of the new laptops have entirely eliminated internal CD drives, a la the fast vanishing 3.5mm audio jack on modern smartphones). Let’s take a breather here… 😵

 

HiRes Equipment2

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So, Swamy was obviously delighted, when he came across a notable hi-res collection of well known (‘heard’ would be more apt) musicians such as AR Rehman, Ilayaraja & such, while looking for hi-res audio files to test the new USB DAC, the FiiO K3, connected to the Obage OE-2425 stereo speakers & of course the head/earphones, on… wait for it… YouTube! 😌🎼🎧

Here’s the channel that does something audio enthusiasts on this side of the world only dream about – a sizable hi-res collection of popular Indian music (no carnatic music yet… ah, man 🙄😖). There may be others, but this is a good place to begin the hi-res journey. Try it – preferably with a good quality head/earphone or pair of speakers & you’ll know what is being elucidated here.😌🤙

The Mastering Project – Hi-Res Indian Music

HiRes Audio Channel YouTubeC

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Oh btw, Swamy is practically an illiterate, when it comes to the nuances of music (despite much of the Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns being musical, by flow).🙏But when has that ever stopped an enthusiast from exploration anyway! 🎧😌🤘

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Swamy listening on 1More Triple Driver earphones

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamusings #1 ~ Ah, that fresh morning cuppa!

30 Jun

Swamusings ~ the new blog series by Swamy that’s a breeze to read, reminisce, reflect & relate/respond to…

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Swamusings #1 ~ Ah, that fresh morning cuppa!

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Was wondering for a while when this was going to happen… 🤔
And it finally did, today!👍

Ah, at last, an App for a very unique Indian need – that fresh morning cuppa…
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Living in MeraBharatMahan is an entirely different ball game compared to the western way of living, which most entrepreneurial ventures and their apps cater to. Implementing them as-is for akhand Bharat simply won’t work as expected, not just because of the extreme diversity, but also due to the nano cultural nuances, that date back to many a millennia, which the entrepreneurs of considerably young western societies (in terms of culture, not age of people) have no clue about and choose to ignore in their zest for rapid global expansion. 🙄 Oh, the twenty something millionaires and their billionaire dreams…
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Buying milk afresh and systematically preparing and enjoying copious cups of aromatic filter coffee or adharat chai, first thing in the morning (and many times a day, afterwards 😜), is a very unique Indian thing – practically a habit ingrained in the Indian psyche. From the long gone days of zero-carbon-footprint milkman who brought it in aluminium (oh yeah, it’s pronounced with an ‘i’ you ithings-obsessed forbidden fruit man’i’acs) cans and delivered it at every customer home to the reusable glass bottle days to the abominable single-use plastic sachet days of now (take that you – still – plastic-packet-delivering quasi-government entity that’s yet another commercial wing of the plastic-ban-implementation-attempting government), getting fresh (hopefully, who is going to check with the cows!) milk everyday is a must-do activity in many a middle class household, upper or otherwise.

Even today, in established residential localities, one can see uncles and grandpas buying milk sachets from the same vendor (for a few decades, at the minimum – despite the persistent ‘absolutely no customer service whatsoever’ motto of quite a few Aavin vendors, aka that quasi-government entity), during their morning walks. Who gives a damn about the walk – other than the family doc – it’s the current affairs chat with age-old pals and the fresh milk that’s important 😂.

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While this walking/talking/milk buying ritual is happening outside, there’ll be another ritual happening inside the houses to which the fresh milk is headed, in parallel (or is it simultaneously). With the ubiquitous M.S. Suprabhatham bgm (thou may upgrade the device that emits that enchanting evergreen voice to a smartphone+bluetooth speaker combo, but thou shalt not replace the song/chant, ever), lamp(s) get lit in the puja room, with a dash of fragrant smoke from agarbatti and/or sambrani, and the coffee maker starts the warm-up routine to delight the household souls, as unfailingly as the sun that rises to warm and light up the world.

The filter may be a generation or two old brass (பித்தளை) or eversilver (chrome) one or one of those electric coffee makers made by Preethi, Prestige, Philips and the like. The he elders disapprove of this modern thingamagig of course, but have grudgingly allowed it to take over the beloved kaapi filter’s place, in many households. But the coffee brand and the blend is so sacrosanct (Cothas in Swamily, at present – post the strong recommendation from Swamy’s Chithappa, who himself is a long term coffee connoisseur) to each family that even attempting to change it is tantamount to treason.

During his childhood, Swamy remembers visiting the friendly neighbourhood coffee (powder) maker ‘LR Swamy Coffee’ in SS Colony, Madurai, whenever the routine purchase of freshly ground coffee-chicory blend was done by some senior family member. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that a significant part of that entire street was always filled with the bewitching aroma of coffee, all day long. In fact, there was even a hand-operated mini-grinder at Swamy’s grandparents’ home (where his primary education years were spent), which was used to make freshly ground coffee powder at home. While many families in that neighborhood may’ve eventually moved on, it won’t be a surprise if LR Swamy Coffee is still around, grinding aromatic coffee afresh, for a handful of diehard nostalgic customer fans.

As soon as the milk arrives, it gets boiled with froth in a few quick minutes (when the walker impatiently scans the headlines of newspapers – full reading cannot proceed just yet) and a small cupful of milk is offered first to the family deity in the puja room. Next, the aromatic coffee decoction (which, in the western world, is called coffee, btw, heh.. heh..) gets mixed with the right proportion of milk, in multiple tumblers seated inside dabaras. Depending on each coffee connoisseur’s insulin generation capacity & capability, either excess or the right or less or no amount of sugar is added to each tumbler. Then the back and forth pouring between the tumbler and dabara happens a few times, before the piping hot first cup of frothy coffee of the day gets delivered to its connoisseur, who starts relishing it sip by sip. And thus, yet another day dawns in the (typically South, but mostly some parts of Tamilnadu and Karnataka) Indian household. A similar ritual happens in the chai consuming households, obviously.

Oh, for the uninitiated (in what’s collectively known as South Indian culture, which is obviously a misnomer, for the four South Indian states are as different as Madras Filter Kaapi and Kerala Kattanchai), traditional coffee preparation is on/near the very top of the must-learn things list of a new bride, who is keen on blending in with her new family (you are denied the opportunity to accuse Swamy of misogyny for he is the one who typically performs this morning ritual @ SwamyHome 😂). The manni / maatruppen (daughter-in-law) who masters the magical art of making the perfect family coffee is pretty much guaranteed to become the new superstar of a typical tradition-bound South Indian family, overnight, err… overday!

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Now that an app is available for home delivery of fresh packaged milk, daily, the uncles and thathas can have their daily morning cuppa, without having to venture out of the comfort of their abode – if they choose to, that is. To entice many of them, the SUPR app not only assures to deliver fresh milk (as fresh as processed milk can be, of course) daily but also throw in a few sachets of free milk. While Swamy can’t endorse the app without actually trying it (now you know for a fact why none of the SwamyView reviews can be fake), be assured that he is one of those South Indian coffee connoisseurs, for whom the daily morning fresh – and strong, and hot – cuppa is as important as the daily Kriya.

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P.S. The multitude of ‘Kumbakonam Degree Coffee’ food stalls that dot the GST (that would be ‘Grand Southern Trunk,’ not that notoriously popular all-encompassing tax) road aka NH47, at least until Vizhuppuram, that serve coffee in brass dabara-tumbler are mostly nondescript tea stalls that learnt to milk the decoction coffee nostalgia (pun very intended) of travellers,quite successfully. While some of them are quite good, others should just stick to selling chai and Bru coffee, instead of insulting genuine filter kaapi lovers.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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/

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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.”

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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.

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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…

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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

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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

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