Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Knowledge and its need

What is need for spirituality?? Will not sensual pleasure derived from external sense objects be enough??
A seeker should know the answer to the above questions clearly.

Spirituality is not something different from normal living. Spirituality is not taking to ascetism and doing intense tapas in a forest or in the Himalayas. Spirituality is trying to find out the real and permanent thing which in turn will give one eternal bliss and as to how life should be lived amidst external sense objects & distractions.

It is utter ignorance which has been handed down through traditions and generations which makes one scream and become afraid when the word SPIRITUALITY or the word Upanishads or Vedanta are heard. These are all due to misconceptions about spirituality and Vedanta.

Vedanta doesn’t advise anyone to leave his home and go to a forest to do meditation, but Vedanta tells one to live happily in the world (amidst all sensual pleasures). The greatest Vedantist quoted in the scriptures were all householders only like Vasistha, Viswamitra, Janaka, Ambariksha among others.

Thus, Vedanta is not a science of sanyaas and which has a prerequisite of Sanyaas – but Vedanta is that which leads one to be detached even while having attachments. Vedanta makes one a sanyaasin even when he is working in the society.

The external sense objects are always changing and impermanent. Thus, these objects cannot confer eternal and permanent happiness to the seeker. The happiness that one derives from these external objects are temporary and will only lead to more and more sorrow (when happiness is got from ice cream –the expectation increases and next time if ice cream is not got, then the memory of happiness got before will lead to sorrow!!!!). Thus, only by seeking the permanent and real thing can a person get eternal bliss or permanent happiness. Spirituality is that science, it is that mirror which shows one the ultimate reality and how it can be achieved.

Thus, spirituality is not just for the special few well versed in Sanskrit and scriptures, for the very few bearing sacred thread, for the few who have tufts in their hair or for the few who have taken to ascetism. Spirituality alone can confer eternal and permanent bliss to the seeker.

Spirituality mainly deals with knowledge part of the Vedas called Upanishads or Vedanta.

If we analyze into the sorrow that is derived from the external sense objects, we will realize that those sorrows are the creations of the mind alone. The objects themselves don’t give any sorrow but it is in the mind that the thought of sorrow and happiness are present. The same seeker when in the state of deep sleep where nothing other than himself is perceived rejoices in eternal bliss. This shows that eternal bliss is not different from the seeker & it emanates from the seeker only. When we again analyze this bliss and the temporary happiness in the person, we will realize that the happiness comes because the wrong notions of body and mind are not present in deep sleep. But at this moment, the individual considers himself as the body with a name and form. Thus starts the journey of sorrow. Since the individual “I” has got limited to a form, others become different from this individual. Thus likes and dislikes are created due to attachment and aversion towards others (which again was created only through the limitation of the individual). These likes and dislikes in turn cause sorrow and happiness.

But if we think deeply, this “I” is neither the body nor the mind. It is beyond the body and mind. It is that which sustains the body and the mind. It is that which sustains both the gross body in this state of waking and subtle body in the state of dream. This “I” is of the nature of Consciousness. It is very clear that when “I” am there, the world is there. “I” am aware or conscious of myself. This Consciousness is thus my very nature. This Consciousness is also of the nature of Existence and Bliss.

When this reality that “I am Consciousness” is known, then the world disappears as an illusion – the world becomes an illusion in the reality of Consciousness because it is Consciousness which makes the world existent – without Consciousness there is no world at all. When thus the non-dual Consciousness, one without a second is known – then there is nothing to get attracted to or averted to. Thus there are no likes and dislikes & thereby no sorrow and happiness. The state becomes very much like deep sleep where also there is no duality and hence bliss inherent in the Self is rejoiced. But in deep sleep, there is a veil of ignorance which makes one unaware of the bliss in that state. But when this ultimate reality is realized in this state, there remains no ignorance left as ignorance is nothing but forgetfulness of one’s own nature of Consciousness.

Thus, Sankara says in Aparokshanubhuthi
Ajnaana prabhavam sarvam jnaanena pravileeyathe
Everything arises out of ignorance and vanishes when knowledge dawns.

Here one may ask will then knowledge exist apart from oneself after ignorance vanishes???
This also Sankara answers in Atmabodha
Ajnaana kalusham jeevah jnaanaabhyasaat vinirmalam
Kritvaa jnaanam svayam nashyet jalam kathakarenuvat

Jeeva or individual endowed with ignorance becomes pure through the practice of knowledge. Once knowledge is complete, it itself vanishes as the Kathaka powder (used to cleanse water) vanishes after purifying the water.

Thus, we can conclude that it is due to ignorance that all problems have arised – ignorance of one’s own nature, ignorance about the illusory nature of the world, ignorance about the reality that there is nothing but Consciousness alone and the world is also Consciousness alone – and this can be removed only through knowledge and no other means.

Any other means like devotion, action etc. are helpful only in purifying the mind – all these are born out of desires which again comes out of ignorance about one’s own real nature of PERFECTION (where desire can never arise). Thus, that which is born out of ignorance can never remove ignorance. Ignorance can be removed only through knowledge (knowledge about the ultimate reality which is one without a second and which is the only thing present).

Sankaracharya, according to the scriptures, says that there are four qualifications required for a person who wants to know the Self. These are called Saadhana Chatushtayam (four-fold qualifications).

These four are
Viveka or Discrimination between real and unreal
Vairagya or Dispassion
the six qualities of Sama (mental calmness), Dama (control of sense organs), Uparama (withdrawal of sense organs from their external sense objects), titiksha (endurance), Sraddha (faith in the scriptures and Guru’s words), Samadhana (mental equilibrium achieved through establishing the mind in the Self)
Mumukshutvam or burning desire for liberation

These four are not mere words or just concepts put to fit into a philosophy. A person who has these four qualities realizes the Self the moment the Guru tells him TAT TVAM ASI or THAT THOU ART. This itself shows the importance of these four qualifications which are essential if a person has to realize the Self, if a person wants to pursue knowledge which is the final means to realization.

These four qualifications are not separate and independent but they are dependent on one another. If a person follows one or two of these, the others follow suit.

Viveka is knowing the illusory world apart from the Self or Consciousness which is the reality or substratum of the illusory world (even as dream world is an illusion in the dreamer). When a person gets this discrimination, he naturally gets attracted to the real thing of Self (because only real thing can give permanent and eternal bliss). This makes him dispassionate towards the worldly objects. As a result of these, he gets the desire for liberation – to be liberated from this illusion of the world. This in turn takes his mind away from sense objects (which is Uparama and Dama) – thus he gains mental calmness. Thus, he remains always established in the truth of the scriptures (which shows that he has the qualities of Samadhana and Sraddha).

Thus, all these four qualifications are not independent but dependent on one another.

One’s own face is not seen if the mirror is not clear. Similarly the Self or Consciousness (which is one’s own real nature) cannot be known or realized clearly if the mirror of mind is not pure and without any movement or thoughts. Thus, anyone can read the scriptures and know the ultimate reality that “TAT TVAM ASI” – but mere knowing it intellectually is not realization. Realization dawns only when ignorance is removed through purification of the mind (which causes the ignorance). Therefore, one has to practice these qualities in order to be able to apprehend the ultimate reality of Consciousness – one without a second. And only then will the realization dawn on the individual that the world, the scriptures, the knowledge everything is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Consciousness which is his very nature.

Let us all try to practice atleast one of the above four qualifications and therefore become eligible for realizing the Self (one’s own nature of Consciousness).


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