Once when Prahalad was out hunting, he saw a huge cobra relaxing comfortably without any worries.
Prahlad asked, "Who are you? How are you so content?"
The Cobra replied, "Even when the joy is overflowing within himself Man is not aware of it. As I am an ascetic, this has become my Nature. I just repose in a contemplative mood. If wealth, desire and righteousness do not help in attaining liberation, there is no use for them. Desire for wealth is the root cause of this unreal world.
"Look at the bee. It collects honey but others enjoty its taste. In the same way, people spend a lifetime accumulating wealth which is enjoyed by others. White ants build their house, the cobra lives in it. The crow builds the nest, the cuckoos leave their eggs in it. An old man marries a young girl, gives her all the wealth and comforts, but unfortunately a young man enjoys her. Parents give birth to their children, bring them up with all care and make them worthy by educating them. But e…
When you chase your shadow, it runs away from you. On the other hand if you go towards the light, the shadow will follow you. Even though we may have noble feelings, since the whole universe is in the shadow of the universal Supreme Being, the more we run after it the more it turns away from us.
It was a Sunday morning some years ago and, as was his custom, shunyayogi sat cross-legged before his home shrine, looking at his favourite deities with sadness.
The problem was that he had always cherished his intimate “connection” with them: he could talk to them, he could bow to them, he could feel them in his heart. But today, everything seemed changed. There was absolutely no feeling for them, no love, just a dull numbness and a hollow feeling in his chest. And, mind you, this was not the result of any other depressing cause in his life.
His feelings then are hard to describe. Let's say that he felt that his beloved personal deities had "deserted" him. A deep sadness engulfed him. Then, as shunyayogi sat there on his prayer mat, in silent despair, a line from a Hindi film song wafted across from a neighbour’s radio: Milegi na manzil tujhe bin khevaiya.
The astonishing thing was that neither the preceding line nor the succeeding line was heard, just this one line. Sha…
The mind of the Sage (jnani) never leaves Brahman (that is, Self). But the mind of the ignorant one (ajnani) is such that wandering in the world it suffers, and turning back to Brahman for a while enjoys happiness. What is called the world is nothing but thought. When the world disappears, that is, when there is no thought, the mind experiences bliss (ananda); when the world appears, it experiences misery.
Staying connected with the Source means being connected all the time, irrespective of whether one is enjoying pleasure or suffering pain in the moment. It is the peace of mind which the human being perpetually wants as ‘happiness’.
Paying too much attention to the pleasure and pain of the moment is what disconnects us from the Source, what separates ‘Me’ from the ‘I’, the identified consciousness from the Impersonal Consciousness, and thus makes us lose our peace of mind. It is the ‘thinking mind’ concerned with the fears, hopes and ambitions of the illusory future, that brings about the separation leading to the loss of the peace of mind. It is the ‘thinking mind’ which disturbs the ‘working mind’ concerned only with doing the job at hand in moment as efficiently as possible.
In order to remember what Advaita Vedanta tells us – We are THAT Source and not ‘this’ body-mind organism – all that one needs to do is remember, never to be unaware of the fact, that while it is ‘this’ which has …
"You often say, 'I would give, but only to the deserving.' The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you."
When you tell anybody that he or she is not the doer, there are two immediate reactions: ‘This is fatalistic’ and ‘If everything is happening by itself, why should I do anything?’
The problem is, even if you want to, you cannot not act.
Try out this experiment. You lock yourself in your bedroom and decide you will lie down on the bed and not to do anything at all. You think, ‘So everything just happens by itself, huh? We’ll see.’
Your experiment begins now.
Suddenly…you hear a tap dripping. You have decided not to do anything at all but your programming hates dripping taps. So you decide you will turn off the tap and then begin the experiment. You are just back in the room after turning off the tap and about to resume the experiment and guess what. You hear a child wailing. Now, the way you are built, you simply cannot bear to hear a child cry. So you decide you will quieten the child and then begin your experiment. You do that and then come back to resume your experiment. And then the…
The beauty of the Bhagavad Gita lies in its compassion for the spiritual seeker. Lord Krishna is the Guru, Arjun is the typical spiritual seeker. Arjun is in turmoil - full of doubts and questions and, like all seekers, burdened with a zillion misconcepts. Lord Krishna plays the perfect Guru - at times patient, at times cutting and at all times compassionate. He is a spiritual surgeon who cuts to heal. Fondly-held concepts are peeled away and the Way is pointed to again and again, from this angle and that, using down-to-earth examples. A glimmer here and a glimmer there till there is blazing light that annihilates the darkness of ignorance.
The other beauty of the Bhagavad Gita is, it serves you wisdom customised to your programming: if you are a bhakt (given to devotion) it will endorse and consolidate your devotion; if you are a karma yogi (given to action), it will urge you to go forth and act; if you are a gyan-margi (given to contemplation), it will make you contemplate deeply on …
Take parents, for instance. I read somewhere that you spend half your life ingesting your parents and the other half digesting them.
Take marriage. Each partner works so hard to realign the other’s programming to match one’s own. And then, if and when the other becomes more like one…why, they obviously become boring! How ironic: a romance that was born in resonance fizzles out as an echo.
Then take children. We want them to be like us, see them as an extension of our own egos. We preen when they look the way we do; we gloat when they like what we like and when they do we what we do the way we do it. Then comes payback time. With horror we realize they picked up not only what we considered the best in us but also what we hated most about ourselves. And guess what, they are around all the time to remind us of it. (Of course the tangy irony in this is: having ingested us, the poor darlings are trying so hard to digest us!)
Every spiritual seeker will tell you about the ecstasy and the misery of the flip-flop: a period of lucid clarity and being-ness followed by a spell of dark doubts and denseness.
And of course the seeker wants one and not the other. His misery is compounded by the fact that the more he wants the lucid state to continue, the quicker it slips out of his fingers. The more he strives to get it back, the further it flees from him.
Nothing in existence is without purpose - though the purpose may be one that the mind cannot fathom or the 'me' ever know it. So, it follows, that the flip-flop serves a purpose too.
The key word here is acclimatization.
Console yourself with this concept: The flip takes you to a new base camp; the flop acclimitazes you to that stage of your seeking.
It was six thirty in the morning. The three school-going brothers were sleeping on separate divans in their room.
Their father believed only asuras (demons) slept on after sunrise and he had his sadistic devices for waking them up: bhajans on All India Radio, switching off the fan at seven in summer...
Today it was the radio.
Filtering through their sleep was DV Paluskar's bhajan (devotional song) 'Thumak Chalat Ramachandra' playing on Bombay B radio station. Someday MS Subbalakshmi would seep into their sleep, on other days bhajans by Purshottamdas Jalota and Sudhir Phadke.
The boys slept on, doggedly fighting off the bhajan intrusion with hastily reworked endings to their ongoing dreams. They slept on, oblivious to the new programming that was being inputted into their existing programming.
It was late into the night in Vrindavan, near Mathura. Four young sannyasins – two couples – from the bhakti marg (the path of devotion) were huddled around the bed of their sadguru who had chosen to take samadhi – in this case, to give up his body.
The two young men were brothers. They were both gold medalist engineers from VJTI, a prestigious engineering college in Bombay, and had been very successful businessmen when their heart led them to sannyas. Fortunately, their young wives too had been simultaneously touched by vairagya (dispassion, non-attachment) and were as keen to take sannyas. They had already found their guru and he had summoned them to Vrindavan. So they wound up their business and households and began, in August 1954, their new spartan life as sannyasins with their loving and spiritually demanding guru.
They had spent three intense years with their father-mother-mentor-sweetheart guru and now…he has departing.
It was a little after midnight when their guru breathed his …
This is the story about the well-known sage, Tukaram, narrated by Ramesh Balsekar this morning:
Tukaram was a bhakt, an ardent devotee, of Lord Panduranga. Day in and day out he would pray to Panduranga,"My Lord, you may grant enlightenment to whomsoever you want. All I want is the opportunity to worship you incessantly.”
Then, when the Final Understanding happened, Tukaram rushed to Panduranga: “You thief! You knew you and I were one yet you extracted so much bhakti out of me!”
There was a simple practice at Swami Nityanand’s ashram at Vajreshwari. When devotees offered him fruits, Swamiji would pass them on to one of his disciples so that they could be cut and offered to all devotees as prasad.
One day it so happened that the disciple forgot to cut and distribute one particular lot of fruits to the devotees. Worms devoured them instead.
The disciple rued to his Master, “Guruji, the fruits went a waste.”
Swami Nityanand replied, “They went to who they were meant for.”
The boy is around ten, it is evening time and his mother is taking him over his Gujarati homework – Gujarati is not his mother tongue, merely his second language at school. She is reading something from the textbook when she pauses and remarks in Hindi, “Kan kan mein Bhagwan.” (In every atom, there is God).
The scene changes. It is night time and the child is sitting on the floor next to his mother. She has finished her kitchen chores and is wearing a pale lilac sari. The sari has a special reassuring fragrance, a wonderful subtle blend of her sweet body sweat, her talc and the almost imperceptible traces of kitchen spices. She is yet again helping him with his homework. At some point he hears her say, “Uski marzi ke bagair ek patta bhi nahi hil sakta.” He vividly remembers her saying this, though he cannot remember the context in which she said it. “A leaf cannot flutter unless it is His will.”
As he grew up, went to college, began working, ran headlong into heady pleasures and lacera…
It is a simple question, but the answer is profound. The answer carries with it ramifications that will undo core beliefs about who you think you are. With just a little watching, you may discover that the answer to the question is not known until the thought arises. If this is true, what does that mean for who you think you are? Because the next thought is not and cannot be known until it is already present, some questions may arise…
• If I don’t know what the next thought is going to be, who comes up with it?
• If I don’t know what the next thought is going to be, how can I know what choices are going to be made?
• If I don’t know what choices are going to be made, who does?
• If I don’t know what choices are going to be made, am I making them at all?
• If I didn’t make the choice, where did it come from?
• Have I ever made a choice about anything?
Proceed with caution. These thoughts can lead to the end of you!