When the purpose of sAdhanA and the final destination of the soul is understood, there remain no more doubts in the sadhaka’s mind as regards the imperativeness of yoga sAdhanA. As we have discussed earlier, yoga is never a matter of choice for any one. It is the essential character of our very existence. Sri Aurobindo’s statement of ‘all life is yoga’ is more understandable in this context.
A birth has been taken. A life has been lived. Purusharthas i.e. the ordained behavioural pattern for living have been followed and all these have culminated in a state of superior awareness and gnosis, a few steps nearer to consciousness of satchidananda– the absolute truth, its realization and the ensuing bliss. Now comes the time in the life of the sadhaka to severe all connections with falsity and go for the pursuit of that final truth.
When the world of Maya has been revealed and understood, when the lessons have been learnt, there finally comes the urge to bid farewell to all things that supported and assisted the jiva thus far and then move on to the next stage in the spiritual journey.
Strange is the philosophy of spiritual life. When the objective is to cross over the river, on reaching the other bank, the boat which helped the sadhaka in bringing him this far has to be abandoned. No matter how grateful he may be to the boat, the attachment or moha has to be overcome and the boat discarded.
That is the story of Yagnavalkya as depicted in The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Yajnavalkya at the verge of entering into the next stage of life wishes to bid fairwell to his wives.
He refers to his two wives. Maitreyee and Katyayani. Two wives of very different disposition who have been part of his life assisting him in his spiritual progress so far. Katyayani, though comparatively not talked about much in the Upanishad, is the one who has taken care of the worldly needs of Yagnavalkya. Maitreyee, the other wife, is associated with the spiritual need beyond the worldly needs and the progress unto the other world. The roles of both the wives, important in their own ways are remembered in the Upanishad.
We all have this dual need in our lives. Both have to be taken care of for everyone’s sadhana. The fact of the presence of two spouses is not the point here. What is needed to be understood is that a sadhak needs assistance in both aspects – outworldly as well as inworldly as he goes along in his or her sadhana. All our inter- personal relationships that we encounter in life, as father, mother, husband, wife, children, friends, contacts etc are all there precisely for this dual need of ours to facilitate our spiritual journey. All relations that we have, fall into either of these two categories in the final analysis. With the support from all, every soul charts out its forward movement.
In the January 2003 issue of Ahwan we discussed about relationships in the context of spiritual growth, the true perspective of all relationships.
This concept of attachment through relationship is so profound in sanatan philosophy that it will bear recapitulation here.
What is the meaning of relationships in spiritual context? If I am a father to my son and my son and myself have been brought into this world at a certain time and space, then it means that my son needs my help for his spiritual development and I need my son for my spiritual development as much.
In this context all the relationships in the world – not only between humans but also between us and other creatures and other aspects of nature, assume a great sense of responsibility. If I as a friend of yours, have not been able to assist you anyway in your spiritual development or if a husband has not been able to help the wife in lifting her up spiritually – it is a great loss and waste. We have failed in our divine task. We have not understood the significance of our relationships.
If you are my friend, or son or father and we have been brought to each other’s proximity and thus brought together in this life, it is because you can help me best and I can help you best in your development. Why I did not have a different birth place? Why someone else did not come as my father or mother or wife? Why some one else did not take your place as my friend? Because, for both of us, there is no better arrangement than this, for our mutual development. None is replaceable or interchangable in this creation. If some one else were my father, daughter, wife or friend, that would not have fulfilled any body’s need (physical, mental as well as psychic) in the best possible way. Even if we dislike a spouse, hate a friend, detest the ways of a child, such situations are indeed the best for us to learn from. Nothing else is better for us.
When two created entities are bound by the ties of a relationship, it is for each other’s need to rise above. To be a true accomplice in the path of upward development and spiritual progress is a true test of relationship.
This great truth, though unpalatable and unacceptable to most ignorant people is purported to be established by the Upanishad through the Yajnavalkya- Maitreyee dialogue.
Na va are patyuh kAmAya patih, jAyAyaih kAmAya jaya, putrAnAm kAmAya putrah priya bhavanti…. Atmanastu kAmAya sarvam priyam bhavati.
Our true attachment and love for husband, wife, children, et all is not desired to be based on these inter-relationships of mutual attachment. The real purpose behind all affection, attachment, emotions and devotion is to serve, through these relationships the divine purpose of the Paramatma the Brahman for our spiritual development for the ultimate perfection of each other.
When some people proclaim that ‘love for each other is most important’ and ‘love is God’ etc. it should be understood that it is not the emotional attachment between two physical bodies that is meaningful love. Unless that love ignites in you the consciousness of Brahman and assists you in realization, it is only a temporary infatuation. Only fools get deluded by such emotions.
Even the great devotion that we show towards achievers in different vocations, even the enlightened ones, even the great sources of knowledge like the scriptures, our devotion to great teachers, to every creature in the creation including humans, animals and all, do not hold water unless these emotions lead us to our primary purpose of re-uniting with Paramatama, the satchidananda, the Brahman.
Mother Teresa used to say, when she washed the wounds of a leper she felt like nursing Jesus. In a way that explains how every action of ours, both benevolent and harmful should be viewed at. Unless our emotions are raised to that level it only acts like another form of bondage. Instead of taking the soul forward it further entangles us to the world. We also have the example of JadaBharat. Though a person of great knowledge and a saint, his blinding emotions towards his pet deer only resulted in his taking a rebirth to look after the deer.
This is what the great dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyee teaches us.
Such a hypothesis is not to advocate a fatal resignation but rise above and understand the underlying purpose and orient ourselves for a better ideal. If we do not make the best use of, it is another matter. But God never fails to provide what is best for us.
In the final analysis nothing is desirable for the soul except Brahman and Brahman alone.
The help and assistance amongst the jivas is also essentially mutual. Each one gives as he takes. Inter-supportiveness amongst all without selfishness or cavil, is the divine rule. Parasparam bhAvayantah shreyam param avApsyatha. By mutual support each gets the benefits – said the Bhagavad Gita.
When Jagnavalkya wished to bequeath all his worldly possessions to Maitreyee, she instead asks for immortality or amritatva. Material possessions being of very limited worth is what every soul whose consciousness is awakened realises. There are riches far greater and more satisfying than the desire for luxurious living. What will one do with a fleeting moment material pleasure?
But when she asks for amritatva or immortality, it is not a deathless existence that she seeks. Immortality in sanatan philosophy is not a non-interrupted life for enjoying the world.
We discussed the true meaning of immortality which is the state of ‘existence while remaining ever conscious in knowledge of Brahman consciousness. (Please refer ‘Understanding deathlessness or Amritattva Parts 1 to 4 in AHWAN February to May 2005 issues).Life or existence and Brahman consciousness are interwoven.
Those who are fully conscious of Brahman are truly immortals and not those who simply exist for long years.
When the purpose of all life is to reach out to that state of highest gnosis- the consciousness of Brahman-, then if the individual is not striving to know Brahman, then he is simply uselessly alive.
Any association unrelated to the bliss of supreme knowledge (which is Brahman) is of no consequence. Nothing is as worthwhile as Brahman. To wish for living with all the world’s wealth but without aspiring to acquire the true knowledge is not an existence befitting the human birth.
Maitreyee does not seek wealth. She asks for knowledge of Brahman. And Yajnavalkya explains how all the enticing diversions in their multiplicity are all centred in that one and only Brahman. All the diverse things that dazzle us can be had if we have the consciousness of Brahman. A soul which has realized the truth about Brahman is rich with possession of everything including a blissful life.
Can we see any practical significance in this dialogue?
We all have a Maitreyee within us. It is that aspect of our intellect or viveka that does not find satisfaction in any falsehood. We have to engage ourselves in dialogue with that Maitreyee. That is wisdom.
Based on lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty
QUESTIONS FROM READERS
QUESTION 1 FROM SRI VIDUR JYOTI
Since this complete has come from that complete is it appropriate to pray that “may his or her soul rest in peace?”
ANSWER: Your observation is very right. In Sanatan philosophy a prayer for the departed soul, like ‘may the soul rest in peace’ does not exist. As expounded in our scriptures, including the Kathopanishad and others, the soul’s journey to its final destination through progressive evolution is firmly established leaving no room for doubts. It is one of a continuous developmental progress without any halt.
SanskAra or ritualistic activity at all-important events of our life is an integral part of Sanatan dharma (Hindu religion). And so is the mrta sanskAra – the rituals that follow after a death or when the soul discards this body. Thereby we pray for the welfare of the soul.
In some other faiths the prayer is for peaceful resting of the soul until perhaps the final judgment day. Although some modern Hindus subscribe to this thought and talk in the same language, the true Sanatan concept is quite different. Praying for an inactive resting for the soul is no blessing really. We believe in continuous service to The Lord, lives after lives, deaths after deaths, births after births, as a necessary requirement for our progress towards our ultimate goal. The only peace that we crave for is the permanent peace with Satchidananda, as our final reward. But then again, when this peaceful state is reached, where is the existence of the soul? It has already merged with the Supreme Soul – the Paramatma. Therefore the real blessing for the soul at this transition or transmigration is to remain ever worthy of Lord’s confidence to be able to carry out his tasks with better competence and credit.
The Hindus have a beautiful thought for this. They pray for the soul’s Sadgati the progressive movement of the soul for the better or towards the truth. We pray for a better environment and higher birth for the soul so that it can continue to serve The Lord’s purpose with dignity and merit and continue its progress beyond. Both the constituents ‘Sat’ and ‘gati’ in the word have significance. Not only we are talking of the right progress to a higher plateau but also emphasizing on movement and not stagnation. Movement towards what? Towards further development.
If the concept of sadgati is understood, then grieving and mentally dragging down the departed for our own sake does no good to the departed soul. He needs all positive vibrations sent out by way of prayers to the Lord for his higher growth.
The rest are all taken care of by the Lord.
(Further suggested reading in AHWAN issues– ‘Understanding our own position’ – July 2000 issue, ,Question of continuous development’ – August/Sept 2000 issue and ‘The concept of Many Births’ in the October/November 2000 issue) Every death and every life is for the betterment of the soul. It is not for us to grieve or keep track of the departed soul. He is in the hands of the Lord who knows what is best for him.
QUESTION 2 FROM SRI YOGESH KHARE
When we are asked to ignore someone doing harm to us, forgive him and not to retaliate, is it at all practical? Is it not tantamount to endorsing evil?
Dharma does not ask us to remain unconcerned to evil. It lays down guidelines to our conduct when confronted with evil for our own as well as other’s good.
Let us analyse the four things referred to in your question-. harm done to us, retaliation, forgiveness, and endorsement of evil.
Whenever we are faced with apparently injustice causing physical or mental harm, normally anger is the first emotion that swells up within us. Anger is a state of temporary madness. A lunatic has no wisdom. If we are seeking a solution to a bad situation the steps that we have to take must be well calculated and wise. In an atmosphere of madness how can one think straight? If one can not think straight how can a right decision be taken?
Harm or evil does not come out of the blue. It is a built up situation and invariably with the contribution of both sides. Confronted with any bad situation, wise men always think of their own role in perpetrating whatever has resulted in. When one does that introspection, he immediately refrains from vengeful retaliation and that is also the first step to restraint, forgiveness, self correction and opens the right path of action.
It is true that acting rightly in a bad situation is not always easy. That is the inherent human weakness borne out of ignorance. But dharma also says not to worry. To whatever extent one practices the right conduct great many bad situations are averted. When more practice creates a habit more benefits accrue. No body becomes a saint overnight. But it is within every one’s power to become a lesser devil. Swalpasya api dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat. A little practice of righteousness averts great calamities.
Talking of endorsement of evil, there again dharma does say that you remain unconcerned with evil. But to dwell in a bad situation and abandon the path to your higher priorities is foolishness. Bad situations come in life with the only purpose of delivering a message, a lesson to learn. Therefore one must take due cognizance of all evility. But the wisdom lies in freeing oneself from its influence. There is more to life than getting stuck in a bad situation, remain stuck in their grip and forget your onward movement.
Take a real life example. A person is getting ready in the morning to go to his work where an all important meeting is scheduled. He pressurizes his wife or cook for a quick breakfast. In the confusion he may find in his plate burnt toasts or half cooked food which invokes immediate anger. Should he spend long hours to vent his displeasure on the cook or wife discussing the situation? The right thing to do is to take steps in preventing a re-occurence, plan out rectification of defects in the kitchen gadget etc at the right time and come out completely from the effects of the situation and moves on because an event of higher priority awaits him at his work place.
All of us have a higher objective of life awaiting us. To dwell unnecessarily on mundane matters without learning our lessons from them and halt our progress towards a higher priority is not wisdom .
QUESTION 3 FROM SRI W WEERASEKERA
Why some people are instantly liked and some are disliked for no apparent reason?
ANSWER: Spiritually speaking, all emotions are projections of mind. Liking and disliking that we invoke in others are actually our own emotions projected from within. Statements like some one is good and some one is not, are never true. While judging others, most people almost always do not critically see. When we look at a person, very often an opinion beforehand has already been formed, and we expect the other person to conform to that impression.
Liking and disliking being mutual, how often we see a person with a clean, unbiased mind? My own state of mind is the mirror on which the picture of the person I meet is reflected. Therefore the quality of my mirror always determines the other’s character. The actual truth may be entirely different. Normally we never – repeat never – make a fair assessment of any person. That is why our impression of a person, good or bad, is never permanent.
And since all of us choose our actions based on this falsity, we never are permanently happy about our interpersonal relations.
But, spiritual awareness asks a person firstly to clean his within before he looks at the impression the other person makes on him. He always knows that if a negative reaction is the result, both parties are responsible. The old adage that nothing ever is one sided is always true.
Wise saints have a way of handling this. When confronted with a person, they never rush to respond openly or inwardly. They always have a calm response to any one who they meet. Not that they are cold towards any one. They would rather send out positive vibrations. But their reaction to any one is always a paused, calm and benevolent and controlled one. This gives them time to wipe out any negativity towards the other, even if they do not get any positive vibrations back. Any emotionally charged quick reaction is more likely to be wrong than right.
Every action or reaction by the wise is guided by the superior intelligence that is within us and ever ready to guide us. Only a fool ignores the guidance and acts on his own. This pause gives always time to listen to this inner voice. If one is sincere with his inner self, in the beginning one may not realize but through practice one always reaps the benefit. In that moment of pause, one’s own contribution to a negative situation always flashes back. The futility of showing your dislike becomes apparent. Then, walking away from a retaliatory reaction with a smile, works wonders.
A saint neither develops liking or disliking but searches for the ‘understanding’ with a clear mind of his own.
QUESTION 4 FROM SRI PARTHIV PRADHAN
Why and how we get attracted to Brahman? Since Brahman is never fully understood how that incomplete and somewhat vague idea gets hold of us in the first place?:
ANSWER: As The Bhagavad Gita says, all who go after Brahman can be identified into four catagories: the ones in distress, the ones seeking knowledge, the ones after worldly resources and the ones who are endowed with wisdom. Since out of these a great majority belong to the distressed type, I shall limit my answer to that category.
The experience is somewhat similar to the experience of weary and tired traveler who pines for the oasis or inn. He may not have the knowledge of what exactly the inn will offer, but he is intensely aware of his own tiredness, his thirst and hunger and all the miseries of the journey and craves for a resting place. He thinks that the inn shall provide him the comfort because he has heard so. That is what the scriptures have done. Scriptures are the recorded experiences of our seers who have traveled themselves. But ofcourse their experience is their’s and each sadhaka must have his own experience of Brahman.
While the indications from our scriptures with this recorded experience is a guide, the real driving force is the weariness, thirst, hunger and miseries of travel experienced by the traveler. This is where the miseries and unhappiness of our lives contribute positively to our development. People often get frustrated by the miseries of the world. But for a sadhaka who understands himself, his actions and the divine world process, this is seen in a different perspective. The more he suffers, the more he pines for the end of misery.
When life is smooth and easy going, the determination to go ahead is not strong enough. A sadhaka sees the dangerous allurement of a worldly happy life. He cuts himself free from its shackles. The desire to end the misery and attain peace is always uppermost in his mind and he wastes no time. He hears Brahman beckoning.
The scriptures continuously drive home this point. Do not see happiness with myopic eyes. Do not get crest fallen in the midst of misery. Indirectly it is the misery of life that will push you towards Brahman and the enjoyment of life will delay your journey. Learn the lesson from both. A sadhaka must do precisely that.
That is what Lord Krishna explains in The Bhagavad Gita: YA nishA sarva bhutAnAm tasyAm jAgarti samyami yasyAm jAgrati bhutani sA nishA pasyatah muneh
What every one thinks of as the darkness of night, the understanding man sees through that darkness. Amidst the enjoyment of the world he sees the lurking danger.
Hopefully we all should guard ourselves from the mindless indulgence of pleasure and regard the miseries of life with a deeper understanding.
A little contemplation helps. .
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