Spiritual Teachings #42 Hinduism

Spiritual Teaching from the Hindu Tradition

“The search after Truth is the one thing by which the shape of human life should be determined. Genuine desire itself opens the road to fulfilment.”    

Sri Anandamayi Ma

From “Practical Sadhana, from the Teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi” by Swami Sadasivananda Giri

The Spiritual Enemy Within – Pramada

In the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita a description of the battlefield and the warriors thereon reveal that the Kaurava’s legions number eleven, while the Pandavas only amount to seven.

     Sri Krishna further declares in the Gita that the odds of victory for right discernment and effort by Arjuna (symbolizing each one of us), even with such a one as Sri Krishna Himself as mentor and guide, were against Arjuna by a ratio of eleven to seven. The foot soldiers of the ego simply outnumber our virtuous tendencies.

     As we are against bad odds and are creatures of bad habit, our ego can impel us, even against our own will, to make bad choices. In all honesty, such bad choices cause us critical damage, resulting in lives of sorrow and misery. All our suffering comes from vainly seeking to appease the ego, an enemy whose appetite is insatiable.

     We cannot maneuver and progress towards victory over an enemy that outnumbers us, in such an inimical battlefield called the human mind, without soliciting real help. Without an experienced guide as the General of our forces, we may even court a fatal consequence.

     For those who have sought and found the real help of Bhagavan Ramana as their experienced guide, they hear his first and foremost rule of engagement as a familiar declaration: “Practice makes perfect.” We are also told that this process is not a quick fix, which instantly heralds liberation. Once the Maharshi was asked by a devotee:

     Devotee: “How long is the practice to continue?”

     The Maharshi replied: “Till success is achieved and until yoga- liberation becomes permanent. Success begets success. If one distraction is conquered the next is conquered and so on, until all are finally conquered. The process is like reducing an enemy’s fort by slaying its manpower – one by one, as each issues out.” 1

     By legitimizing and even deifying our ego’s habitual heedless indifferent distraction to God, and by labeling its urges as the ‘inner guru’ or ‘voice of our spirit’, we inevitably fall into the death grip of pramada, literally defined as the root cause of all pains and problems afflicting human beings.

     In the Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata epic, the blind King Dhritarashtra, who symbolizes the blindness of the ego, cynically asks the Sage Sanat Sujata: “What is death?” The Sage replies, “Pramada is death!”

     “Pramadam vai mrtyumaham bravimi”  

     (I call negligence itself death.) 2

     “Because fall by negligence is fall from one’s real nature, then forgetfulness arises, this ensues the sense of the “I” in the Anatman, the cause of all miseries. Sankara adds that forgetfulness confounds even a learned man through defects of intellect for Maya covers a man who is out-ward-bent even if he has annulled the Panchakoshas. Furthermore, if the mind, outward bent, strays away even in the least from its ideal, it will fall continuously; the one who has fallen comes to ruin then there is no going up. For a man of discrimination and in deep concentration on Brahman, there is no other death than Pramada or inadvertence.” 3

The actual conversations within the Mahabharata leave no doubt on this truth:

         Vaisampayana said: The wise and great-spirited King Dhritarastra

     Acknowledged the words that Vidura’d spoken,

     And wished to gain the highest insight

     He questioned in secret Sanat Sujata.

     Dhritarastra said: Sanat Sujata, I hear that you teach

     That indeed there is no death at all,

     Yet Gods and Asuras studied the Brahman

     To achieve non-death – so what is the truth?

     Sanat Sujata said: Some hold non-death comes about by the rite,

     While some maintain that there is no death.

     Now listen to me, king, while I explain,

     So that you may cherish no doubts about it.

     O King, both these truths are primordial!

     The death that the seers believe in is folly.

     I say to you distraction is death.

     It should be understood that the definitions of Sanskrit words are subject to philosophical intention, and thus are prey to individual bias. Therefore disagreement and even argument concerning proper meaning and usage are commonplace. Nevertheless, the most learned scholars agree that the ancient definition of the word pramada comes from its usage in this scripture. “Mada” means intoxication, when prefixed by “pra” it becomes intense intoxication to the degree of madness.

The ancient Saintly King Bartruhari, who became an enlightened Sage, used the word pramada in the correct spiritual sense indicated by the Sage Sunat Sujata. He proclaimed:

“Peetva mohamayeem pramada madiram unmatta bhootam jagat”

     “This world (its inhabitants therein) has become mad after having drunk the wine of negligence (pramada: laxity towards the spiritual goal), which being of the form of moha (delusion), has overwhelming power to delude you.”

     The Sage Sanat Sujata is indicating that the presence of pramada brings about a spiritual death. For the spiritual madness that at first manifests as a fever of willful and angry indifference to the consequences of inattention to and negligence of God, is rendered deadly when it becomes habitual. This madness and anger literally destroys our faculty of discrimination, which before our “disease of pramada” was our guiding light on the path to Godliness.

     Sri Krishna clearly states this truth in Chapter 2:63 in the Bhagavad Gita:

     “From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination; from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.”

     This is not to be defined as forgetfulness of the Self, unless one admits to a willful and belligerent forgetfulness. It is clearly distraction, willfully averting our attention from the consequences of bad habits.

     Realization of the Self, as declared by Sri Ramana Maharshi to be the sole goal of life, comes when we overcome and conquer the obstacles that stand before us as enemies in the guise of seemingly insignificant habits. Therefore Bhagavan declares in no uncertain terms:

     “The obstacles that hinder realization are habits of the mind (vasanas), and the aids to realization are the teachings of the scriptures and of realized souls.” 4

     The secondary meaning of pramada is procrastination and a distracted laziness, it means not taking any immediate action to rectify this most soul-stripping heedlessness.

     One may say: “God’s grace is always there, so somehow I will get back on my spiritual feet.” But the fatality of staying “dead level” without motivation to rise up comes upon us as pramada gives birth to its only-begotten son. This offspring of pramada is known in Sanskrit as duragraha. Duragraha means the adamant determination to do that which you know you should never do.

     The compound spiritual fracture of being indifferent to God and habitually partaking in negative action with utter disregard for the negative consequences creates a karmic bloodletting fatal even to the strongest constitution. 

     Regardless of whatever label we choose to call this effort of removing bad habits, whether it be deemed purification, removal of defilement, awakening, being in oneness or even becoming still, it should be known that Bhagavan said it is “effort that instills purity” and stressed that without it the goal of vichara (enquiry) will not be reached.

     In direct reference to this Sri Muruganar, one of the foremost direct disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi, heard the following profound statement from Bhagavan and recorded it that our doubts might be cleared:

     “Know that the wondrous jnana vichara is only for those who have attained purity of mind by softening and melting within. Without this softening and melting away of the mind, brought about by thinking of the feet of the Lord, the attachment to the “I” that adheres to the body will not cease to be.” 5

     Can this “thinking of the feet of the Lord”, prescribed by Bhagavan, be anything other than exactly what it says? Therefore, should we not get busy here and now to “fight the good fight” for spiritual attainment?

     Let us leave our battle cry to the General of our forces:

     Devotee: “Are we to keep anything against a rainy day; or to live a      precarious life for spiritual attainments?”

     Maharshi: “God looks after everything.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teaching #37 Hinduism

Spiritual Teaching from the Hindu Tradition

“The search after Truth is the one thing by which the shape of human life should be determined. Genuine desire itself opens the road to fulfilment.”    

Sri Anandamayi Ma

The Lord, Who is in all things, Is NOT in all thoughts!

“Of the strong, I am the strength devoid of desire and attachment, and in (all) beings,

I am the desire unopposed to Dharma, O Arjuna!” Bhagavad Gita 7:11

“I am that strength which is necessary for the bare sustenance of the body.

I am NOT the strength which generates desire and attachment for sensual objects

as in the case of worldly-minded persons.” Swami Sivananda Saraswati Commentary

This most important verse within the Gita, is also to many the most overlooked and disregarded. For those who fall into this category, the reason is obvious. And their anger when contradicted is also most telling.

In our “modern” times, the fast-food approach to spirituality and religion is a most sought for commodity. This mind-set, technically referred to as Neo-Advaita, is in traditional scripture referred to as pramada – spiritual death. Although the Gita’s fundamental philosophy declares that the Atman does not ever die, the human capacity to reveal and awaken the consciousness of the Atman can be crippled unto death.  

The ancient Saintly King Bartruhari, who became an enlightened Sage, used the word pramada in the correct spiritual sense indicated by the Sage Sunat Sujata. He proclaimed:

“Peetva mohamayeem pramada madiram unmatta bhootam jagat”

     “This world (its inhabitants therein) has become mad after having drunk the wine of negligence (pramada: laxity towards the spiritual goal), which being of the form of moha (delusion),

has overwhelming power to delude you.” 1

The Sage Sanat Sujata is indicating that the presence of pramada brings about a spiritual death. For the spiritual madness that at first manifests as a fever of willful and angry indifference to the consequences of inattention to and negligence of God, is rendered deadly when it becomes habitual. This madness and anger literally destroys our faculty of discrimination, which before our “disease of pramada” was our guiding light on the path to Godliness.

Sri Krishna clearly states this truth in Chapter 2:63 in the Bhagavad Gita:

     “From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination;

from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.”

This is not to be defined as forgetfulness of the Self, unless one admits to a willful and belligerent forgetfulness. It is clearly distraction, willfully averting our attention from the consequences of bad habits.

Realization of the Self, as declared by Sri Ramana Maharshi to be the sole goal of life, comes when we overcome and conquer the obstacles that stand before us as enemies in the guise of seemingly insignificant habits. Therefore Bhagavan declares in no uncertain terms:

     “The obstacles that hinder realization are habits of the mind (vasanas), and the aids to realization

are the teachings of the scriptures and of realized souls.” 2

The secondary meaning of pramada is procrastination and a distracted laziness, it means not taking any immediate action to rectify this most soul-stripping heedlessness.

One may say: “God’s grace is always there, so somehow I will get back on my spiritual feet.” But the fatality of staying “dead level” without motivation to rise up comes upon us as pramada gives birth to it’s only-begotten son. This offspring of pramada is known in Sanskrit as duragraha. Duragraha means the adamant determination to do that which you know you should never do.

The compound spiritual fracture of being indifferent to God and habitually partaking in negative action with utter disregard for the negative consequences creates a karmic bloodletting fatal even to the strongest constitution. 

Regardless of whatever label we choose to call this effort of removing bad habits, whether it be deemed purification, removal of defilement, awakening, being in oneness or even becoming still, it should be known that Bhagavan said it is “effort that instills purity” and stressed that without it the goal of vichara (enquiry) will not be reached.

In direct reference to this Sri Muruganar, one of the foremost direct disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi, heard the following profound statement from Bhagavan and recorded it that our doubts might be cleared:

     “Know that the wondrous jnana vichara is only for those who have attained purity of mind by softening and melting within.

Without this softening and melting away of the mind, brought about by thinking of the feet of the Lord,

the attachment to the “I” that adheres to the body will not cease to be.” 3

Can this “thinking of the feet of the Lord”, prescribed by Bhagavan, be anything other than exactly what it says? Therefore, should we not get busy here and now to “fight the good fight” for spiritual attainment?

Let us leave our battle cry to the General of our forces:

     Devotee: “Are we to keep anything against a rainy day; or to live a      precarious life for spiritual attainments?”

     Maharshi: “God looks after everything.”

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teachings #31 Hinduism

“The search after Truth is the one thing by which the shape of human life should be determined.

Genuine desire itself opens the road to fulfilment.”    

Sri Anandamayi Ma

From The Science of Yoga by I.K. Taimni

“Dealing with the habits and tendencies which interfere with the practice of Yoga.”

Sadhana Pada, Verse 33

33. When the mind is disturbed by improper thoughts constant pondering over the opposites (is the remedy).

     In dealing with the subject of Yama-Niyama, Patañjali has given two Sūtras which are of great help to the practical student of Yoga. The first of these which is being considered gives an effective method of dealing with the habits and tendencies which interfere with the practice of Yama-Niyama. The student who tries to practise Yama-Niyama brings with him the momentum of all kinds of tendencies from previous lives, and in spite of his resolve, the undesirable habits and tendencies in which he has indulged assert themselves strongly and force him to act, feel and think in ways which go against his ideals. What is he to do under these circumstances?

     He should ponder constantly over the opposites of the undesirable tendencies when these latter trouble him. In this Sūtra the author has given one of the most important laws of character-building, a law which modern psychology recognizes and recommends in dealing with problems of self-culture. The rationale of this technique for overcoming bad habits and undesirable tendencies, whether they relate to action, feeling or thinking lies in the fact that all evil tendencies are rooted in wrong habits of thought and attitudes and, therefore, the only effective means of removing them completely and permanently is to attack the trouble at its source and alter the thoughts and attitudes which underlie the undesirable manifestations.

     As is well known, an undesirable mental habit can be changed only by replacing it by a mental habit of an exactly opposite kind— hatred by love, dishonesty by uprightness. New and desirable mental channels are created by the new thoughts in which mental energy begins to flow in ever increasing measure, starving and gradually replacing the undesirable habits of thoughts and the wrong attitudes which are derived from them. The amount of mental energy required and the time taken will depend naturally upon the strength of the undesirable habit and the willpower of the Sādhaka, but if he puts his heart into the work and perseveres the thing can be done

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teachings #26 Hinduism

On the States of Samadhi and the Signs of a Sadhaka

explained by Sri Anandamayi Ma in “Mother as Revealed to Me”, by Bhaiji

Sri Anandamayi Ma

Spiritual-Teaching.org

When Mother was approached with a prayer to let us know the various stages of sadhana, She indicated four levels:

(i) Concentration of intellectual powers on a focal point. It is like setting fire to dry fuel. When wet wood has been dried by the heat of fire, the flames blaze up brightly, Similarly when by the force of contemplation of the Divine, our mind is released from the mist and moisture of desires and passions it becomes light. It is a condition of mental purity which induces in certain cases a state of silent merging into a particular mood or into an excess of emotion and agitation beyond one’s power of control. All these moods emanate from one supreme existence but only in special directions.

(ii) Concentration of one’s emotional powers. It brings in a state of bodily inertness, of absorption in one holy sentiment arising out of one, indivisible supra-mental state. At this level the body may be likened to a burnt charcoal with the fire apparently gone out. In this state the devotee passes hours together in a state of outer inertness; but in the core of his heart surges up an unceasing current of sublime emotion. When this state matures the sentiment draws mighty powers from the All-Soul, and just as a vessel overflows when too much water is poured into it, it spreads out over the wide world in a mighty sweep under the intense pressure of expansiveness.

(iii) Fusion of the inner and outer life. This state is just like that of a burning coal. Fire pervades every atom of the inner and outer sheaths; —all are aglow with one Divine Light. The devotee lives, moves and has his being in one blissful ocean of Light.

(iv) Full concentration, when the devotee loses all consciousness of duality—of the functioning of the three gunas [trigunas] . It is like the state of coal burnt to ashes. There is no distinction. of the inner and the outer, of here and there, it is a state of absorption in the Supreme, of All-Oneness. Vibrations of thought, feeling or willing vanish altogether. It resembles the perfect tranquility of a sleeping lake under a blue sky.

On one occasion, I asked Mother,—”What are the signs of a sadhaka ? (one who strives hard for spiritual uplift) Mother said, “When a devotee reaches a certain level of mental purity, he may behave like a child, or become unresponsive to worldly stimuli like a clot of inert matter, or violate all canons of social life like one insane, or at times be swayed by flashes of higher thought or emotion and pass for a saint. But through all these varying modes of life his aim remains fixed upon his central target. If at this stage he forgets his final aim his progress is arrested there.”

“But if with intense effort he strives on and on towards his goal, all his activities will center round his supreme objective. You will always find that even though he looks like a mass of inert matter, quite indifferent to external stimuli, he is full of cheerfulness and bliss as soon as he regains physical consciousness. Gradually as this joyous mood settles down in him all his relationship with men and things becomes imbued with a spirit of joy and happiness, so as to make him lovable and adorable to all. His inner and outer life becomes an expression of the One Supreme Bliss.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teachings #26 Hinduism

From The Science of Yoga by I.K. Taimni

“Dealing with the habits and tendencies which interfere with the practice of Yoga.”

When the mind is disturbed by improper thoughts constant pondering over the opposites (is the remedy).

     In dealing with the subject of Yama-Niyama, Patañjali has given two Sūtras which are of great help to the practical student of Yoga. The first of these which is being considered gives an effective method of dealing with the habits and tendencies which interfere with the practice of Yama-Niyama. The student who tries to practise Yama-Niyama brings with him the momentum of all kinds of tendencies from previous lives, and in spite of his resolve, the undesirable habits and tendencies in which he has indulged assert themselves strongly and force him to act, feel and think in ways which go against his ideals. What is he to do under these circumstances?

     He should ponder constantly over the opposites of the undesirable tendencies when these latter trouble him. In this Sūtra the author has given one of the most important laws of character-building, a law which modern psychology recognizes and recommends in dealing with problems of self-culture. The rationale of this technique for overcoming bad habits and undesirable tendencies, whether they relate to action, feeling or thinking lies in the fact that all evil tendencies are rooted in wrong habits of thought and attitudes and, therefore, the only effective means of removing them completely and permanently is to attack the trouble at its source and alter the thoughts and attitudes which underlie the undesirable manifestations.

     As is well known, an undesirable mental habit can be changed only by replacing it by a mental habit of an exactly opposite kind— hatred by love, dishonesty by uprightness. New and desirable mental channels are created by the new thoughts in which mental energy begins to flow in ever increasing measure, starving and gradually replacing the undesirable habits of thoughts and the wrong attitudes which are derived from them. The amount of mental energy required and the time taken will depend naturally upon the strength of the undesirable habit and the willpower of the Sādhaka, but if he puts his heart into the work and perseveres the thing can be done.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you alway be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teachings #21 Hinduism

The first presentation on Saranagati  (Surrender) concluded with an understanding of the nature of surrender as being a concentrated and definitive movement of the mind and heart towards God. Sri Krishna extolled us to “Fly unto Him, and take refuge in Him alone”. Sri Ramana Maharshi’s guidance gave us the conviction to “abide by the will of God and not make a grievance of what may not please you, for distress often leads men to faith in God. Therefore you must only trust God. 1

Without doubt, these words are full of Truth and inspiration. But, as is often said in the scriptures of both East and West: “Inspiration is one thing, the effect it has on our life and sadhana is quite another.” Soothing words do soften the sorrow of the human heart, but too often their effect fails to translate into lasting progressive movement towards God. Even if we are truly motivated to “Take wings and fly to the shelter of the bosom of our heavenly Father”, we remain human by inheritance, and thus a sybarite by nature. One may be really very zealous in his austerities and vows in the beginning, but if one is not on a very proper guard, slowly the vigor will be relaxed, comforts will creep in the mind and man will be caught very miserably. For this very reason, an understanding of the nature of “surrender” pales in significance when compared with an exact knowledge of “What “saranagati” practically is, and more importantly, how it is done?”

For clarification of this most essential question let us now rely further on Bhagavan and the Bhagavad Gita as our Guru, as our “Spirit of guidance.” Taking their hands of Guidance and Blessing, may we proceed onwards to the “further shore”.

“Blessings on your journey to the further shore beyond darkness!”

(Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.6)

A visitor once asked of Bhagavan: “What is self-surrender?”

Bhagavan replied: “It is the same as mind-control. The ego submits when it recognizes the higher authority of the Atman. This is the beginning of surrender…  “Complete surrender to God means giving up all thoughts and concentrating the mind on Him. If we can concentrate on Him, other thoughts disappear. If mano-vak-kaya karmas, i.e., the actions of the mind, speech and body, are merged with God, all the burdens of our life will be on Him.” Bhagavan continued with a quote from the Gita:

ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate tesam nityabhiyutanam yogaksemam vahamy aham

“Lord Krishna told Arjuna in the Gita,

Those men who worship, directing their thoughts to Me,

Whose minds do not go elsewhere;

For them, who are constantly steadfast,

I secure what they lack and preserve what they already possess.

(Bhagavad Gita IX, verse 22)

Bhagavan continues and explains: “Arjuna had to do the fighting. So Sri Krishna said, ‘Place all the burden on Me, do your duty; you are merely an instrument. I will see to everything. Nothing will bother you.’ But then, before one surrenders to God, one should know who it is that surrenders. Unless all thoughts are given up there can’t be surrender. When there are no thoughts at all, what remains is only the Self. So surrender will only be to one’s Self. If surrender is in terms of bhakti, the burden should be thrown on God, and if it is in terms of karma, karma should be performed until one knows one’s own Self. The result is the same in either case. Surrender means to enquire and know about one’s own Self and then remain in the Self. What is there apart from the Self?” 2

Here, very definitely, Bhagavan is guiding us towards a practice of what will culminate within an effective meditative process of Atma Vichara. Many of the most learned Sanskrit scholars define “vichara” as a process primarily of “reflection” and secondarily as “enquiry”. We can see the efficacy of this within the guiding words of Bhagavan above in relation to “surrender”.

In order to, “Place all the burden on God, and do our duty merely as an instrument, for God will see to everything”, we surely must ‘somehow’ invoke and perceive THAT VERY PRESENCE. Otherwise, how in heaven or on earth are we to “throw our burden on the Lord” if we do not know the place where to drop off the delivery!

The followers of all religions uniformly face the same dilemma; how is God to be found? All who seek to solve this ‘mystery of life’ find guidance in the saints. It is not essential to become a saint in order to find God, nor is it necessary. What is essential is that someone did it, and through their compassion they shed ‘light on the path’ that we may follow as we proceed onwards toward attainment.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teachings #16 Hinduism

Sri Anandamayi Ma

Spiritual-Teaching.org

A Timeless Moment with Sri Anandamayi Ma

from “Mother As Revealed to Me,” from Bhaiji”s Matri Darshan

     I have heard from Mother’s lips that when all the thoughts of the devotee flow in one stream towards God, all the sense objects come under its influence. At that stage even the fall of a leaf from a tree creates ripples in the field of his consciousness. During the earlier stages of Mother’s life whatever happened in the outside world found response in Her nature spontaneously.

     After Her deep trance as soon as Mother recovered Her normal serenity, many yogic activities manifested themselves automatically; at that time one could hear some indistinct humming sound emanating from Her. A little later rumbling notes like the surging of sea-waves lashed by a storm followed; thereafter an uninterrupted, supremely melodious flow of divine truths emerged from Her lips in the shape of numerous Sanskrit hymns. It seemed that from the eternal sky Divine truths were taking shape in sound symbols through Mother’s speech. Such flawless pronunciation, such free flow of melody touching the inmost core of the listeners, received added charm from the Divine radiance of Her face. Even learned Vedic scholars could hardly have acquired Her free and easy mode of expression in spite of their best training and practice.

     The richness of meaning in all these spontaneous utterances of Mother has been a surprise to savants; the language, in which the verses were couched, could not easily be comprehended and therefore it was not possible to write them down fully and accurately.

     Four such sacred hymns that could be taken down in parts have been recorded. We approached Mother for verification and correction. Her reply was: “There is no trace of them now in my mind; they will be attended to later if necessary.”

One of the four hymns is:

(This entire passage is in Sankrit in the Devanagari script.) The translation is given below:

‘Thou art the Light of the universe and its controlling and guiding spirit. Do thou appear in our midst! From Thee a cobweb of worlds is spreading out at every moment. Thou art the dispeller of all fears; do Thou appear before us! Thou art the seed of the universe; Thou art the Being in whom I reside. Thou art present in the hearts of all these devotees. Do thou, whom I find present before me, banish the fears of all created beings. Thou art the embodiment of all gods and much more. Thou hast come out of me and I am the epitome of the created world. Let us contemplate the very Foundation of this universe, through Whom the world seeks liberation. Thou standest on Thy own eternal basic nature. Thou hast come out of the Pranava the seed-word and base of all existence and the truth of all. The Vedas are but sparks from Thy eternal Light. Thou dost symbolise the heavenly couple, Kama and Kameshvari who are dissolved together in all-permeating Bliss Supreme and signified by Nada and Bindu when differentiated for keeping up Thy Lila. Do Thou dispel the fears of the world!

“I seek refuge in Thee. Thou art my shelter and final resting place. Draw Thou my whole being into Thine. As the Deliverer Thou dost appear in two forms—the liberator and the devotee seeking liberation. By me alone are all created in my own image; by me all are sent into the world; and in me all find final refuge. I am the final cause indicated in the Vedas by Pranava ( Omkara), I am Mahamaya and Mahabhava all in one. Devotion to me is the cause of Moksha (liberation). All are mine. To me Rudra owes all his powers and the self-same I sing to the glory of Rudra, who becomes manifest in all actions and in their causes”.

     From this translation it will be evident that Mother’s thought-body has expressed itself in speech for the welfare, peace and progress of the world. Her boundless love and compassion for all living beings radiates in all directions and She sits Supreme at the centre embracing the universe.

Jai Ma!

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Teachings #11 Hinduism

On The States Of Samadhi And The Signs Of A Sadhaka

“The search after Truth is the one thing by which the shape of human life should be determined.

Genuine desire itself opens the road to fulfilment.”    

Sri Anandamayi Ma

When Mother was approached with a prayer to let us know the various stages of sadhana, She indicated four levels:

(i) Concentration of intellectual powers on a focal point. It is like setting fire to dry fuel. When wet wood has been dried by the heat of fire, the flames blaze up brightly, Similarly when by the force of contemplation of the Divine, our mind is released from the mist and moisture of desires and passions it becomes light. It is a condition of mental purity which induces in certain cases a state of silent merging into a particular mood or into an excess of emotion and agitation beyond one’s power of control. All these moods emanate from one supreme existence but only in special directions.

(ii) Concentration of one’s emotional powers. It brings in a state of bodily inertness, of absorption in one holy sentiment arising out of one, indivisible supra-mental state. At this level the body may be likened to a burnt charcoal with the fire apparently gone out. In this state the devotee passes hours together in a state of outer inertness; but in the core of his heart surges up an unceasing current of sublime emotion. When this state matures the sentiment draws mighty powers from the All-Soul, and just as a vessel overflows when too much water is poured into it, it spreads out over the wide world in a mighty sweep under the intense pressure of expansiveness.

(iii) Fusion of the inner and outer life. This state is just like that of a burning coal. Fire pervades every atom of the inner and outer sheaths; —all are aglow with one Divine Light. The devotee lives, moves and has his being in one blissful ocean of Light.

(iv) Full concentration, when the devotee loses all consciousness of duality—of the functioning of the three gunas [trigunas] . It is like the state of coal burnt to ashes. There is no distinction. of the inner and the outer, of here and there, it is a state of absorption in the Supreme, of All-Oneness. Vibrations of thought, feeling or willing vanish altogether. It resembles the perfect tranquility of a sleeping lake under a blue sky.

On one occasion, I asked Mother,—”What are the signs of a sadhaka ? (one who strives hard for spiritual uplift) Mother said, “When a devotee reaches a certain level of mental purity, he may behave like a child, or become unresponsive to worldly stimuli like a clot of inert matter, or violate all canons of social life like one insane, or at times be swayed by flashes of higher thought or emotion and pass for a saint. But through all these varying modes of life his aim remains fixed upon his central target. If at this stage he forgets his final aim his progress is arrested there.”

“But if with intense effort he strives on and on towards his goal, all his activities will center round his supreme objective. You will always find that even though he looks like a mass of inert matter, quite indifferent to external stimuli, he is full of cheerfulness and bliss as soon as he regains physical consciousness. Gradually as this joyous mood settles down in him all his relationship with men and things becomes imbued with a spirit of joy and happiness, so as to make him lovable and adorable to all. His inner and outer life becomes an expression of the One Supreme Bliss.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #37

How To Escape From Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and Limiting Patterns?

Attachments

by Jayaram V

Have you ever wondered what could be the most important cause of all your problems? Why do certain things greatly concern you or bother you while you may not care for other things? Why are you excessively attracted to some objects and people in your life while you may not feel the same towards others? Some people spend their lives defending or working for a cause which to others may look a mere waste of time.

Many people worship wealth and pursue materialistic goals as if having status and recognition in society is more important than anything else. In contrast you may come across people who go to the most difficult and dangerous places in the world to work for the poor and the helpless. What motivates an ascetic person go the Himalayas or a village boy become an industrial tycoon? Why do people become caught in repetitive patterns of behavior and habitual thinking, which seem to shape their lives and destinies and from which they may find it difficult to escape?

Thousands of years ago the philosophers and spiritual masters of India suggested that human behavior was motivated by attachments. By attachment we mean any strong attraction or aversion that you may feel towards particular things. It is an invisible, physical or mental bond (bandha or pasa) between you and the object of your attachment, also known as clinging, which influences your thinking, behavior and actions. Whether you have emotional issues, problems in your profession, or difficulties in your relationships, you can trace them all to your attachments. They determine the general direction of your life, and how you perceive the world and relate to it. Each person is caught in a web of such attachments and live their lives according to their dictates.

Your attachments grow with you. In the early days of your life you may have fewer attachments, like attachment to comfort, your parents, mother’s breast, milk, or food, and pleasant sounds, but as you grow they multiply in proportion to the experiences you go through and the objects that you deal with. You may be aware of some of them, but many remain hidden and unknown but influence your thinking and actions, which manifest in your life as habits, relationships, likes and dislikes, daily routines, rigid behavior, belief system, and cultural or religious preferences.

Many social problems of today such as regionalism, racism, religious fanaticism, and nationalism can be traced to the attachments people form to their group identities or collective ego. Some attachments that are positive are conducive to self-growth. For example, attachment to religious duty, virtue, spiritual practices, truth, excellence and the like inculcates righteous conduct and helps individuals to grow spiritually. On the contrary, attachment to sexual pleasure, material comforts, power, wealth, status, and the like results in materialism, vice, aggression, violence, selfishness, egoism, and vanity. For a person seeking liberation (moksha or nirvana), all attachments are harmful because they lead to karma, bondage, and suffering

Attachments drive you towards your goals or keep you safe from those that you want to avoid. However, as you are caught between the duality of attraction and aversion to things, your attachments also limit your freedom to be yourself or live your life according to your will and full potential. Whether you are rich or poor, and whether you lead a disciplined life or not, your attachments are the prime driving forces in your life. What you do and experience in your life are largely in their hands. Some of the attachments are so deeply hidden and natural to your behavior that you may not even know that you are manifesting your destiny and self-fulfilling prophecies under their influence, while you may be conveniently blaming others for your problems and shortcomings.

Your attachments are real. To know them, you do not have to believe in religion, karma, or rebirth. With some effort and analysis you can see their play in your life and how they limit your ability to live freely or act spontaneously according to the situation rather than according to your fears, desires, or expectations. Your attachments are responsible for many afflictions and emotions of your mind. They not only limit your choices but also influence your attitude and expectations, and thereby prevent you from taking risks or being objective and effective.

Because of them you may also feel vulnerable to certain situations, emotions, people, and relationships and fail to act effectively. They create in your mind many emotional states, habits, daily routines, beliefs, habitual thoughts, attitudes, preferences, prejudices and expectations towards specific ideas, concepts, ideologies, tasks, tastes, people, names and forms, values, and belief systems, which may potentially excite you, disturb you, upset you, or emotionally make you vulnerable to certain objects, events and situations.

For example, if anyone makes a negative remark about you, it may disturb you for long, and the feeling may persist even if you try to forget it. In some cases it may lead to restlessness, loss of sleep, worry, or anxiety. If you carefully examine, you will realize that it happens mostly because that remark touched something that you deeply value. It may be your attachment to the notion of who you are, your ability, esteem, or why others should appreciate you or respect you. It may be because of your attachment to a past memory or an old belief.

Every habit that you cultivate is the result of one or more attachments only. Your love or dislike for a nation, norm, ideology, political system, religion, or value also arises from your attraction or aversion the things in your life. Once you develop them and harbor them in your mind, they control your life and destiny. As time goes by, they gain strength and leave strong impressions in your mind, which over a lifetime morph into latent impressions (samskaras). According to our scriptures you next life is shaped by the latent impressions that you carry with you into your next life.

It is therefore necessary to become aware of your attachments and deal with them. If you are having emotional problems, or if you are stuck in daily routine and unable to make progress in your life, you must pay attention to your attachments and reduce their influence. For example, you might have noticed that success and mobility are interrelated. Successful people tend to be adventurous and are not afraid to move from one job to another, one place to another, or migrate to another country. They are successful because their mobility gives them an opportunity to break free from their attachments, daily routines and mental habits as they adapt to the new challenges and the new environment. They may not be able to overcome all their attachments, but at least they are more flexible in their choices and preferences.

The root cause of your attachments is the desire for something or the other. If you want to get rid of your attachments you must examine your desires and how they are influencing you by creating in you attraction and aversion towards certain objects. Once you identify the objects that are responsible for your attachments and the feelings and sensations they generate, you can work on them to reduce their influence. You can also cultivate detachment as an antidote to overcome your attachment or cultivate a strong will.

Therefore, pay attention to your attachments and how they shape your life. By understanding them, you can free yourself from the limiting factors of your life and extend your personal space as well as freedom. You can learn to be independent, objective, open, focused, flexible, creative, and spontaneous, free from habitual thought patterns, irrational beliefs, prejudices, hidden agendas, negative emotions, and strong likes and dislikes. You can improve your effectiveness and efficiency by freeing yourself from the fears and concerns that prevent you from exercising your will or pursuing your goals. You can become unstuck by freeing yourself from whatever that has been holding you back and preventing you to be yourself or use your full potential and creativity, and get on with your life.

Finally, remember that anything that worries your or upsets you is because of your attachments. If you want to stay in control and be free from them, you must weaken their hold upon you.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis

Spiritual Essays #35

A World Without Mirrors and Milestones

Reflection

by Jayaram V

In the spiritual world knowing is a happening, not an effort. In that knowing there is no certainty or security. If you think you know, you may not know. Jayaram V


You are always someone in a context, in a relationship or in comparison to something. Without it, you do not know what you are and how you measure up. Your knowledge also rests upon many assumptions and beliefs. Take them away from the equation, and you will have a hard time drawing valid conclusions about yourself.

Truly speaking, your self-knowledge is mostly assumptive rather than factual. From an existential point of view it is not a problem at all since you can live your whole life without knowing much about yourself. Are not the animals able to live without much self-awareness? However, difficulties arise when you step out of your comfort zone and probe your consciousness to know your true nature.

What is the best way to do it? In the perceptual world, you rely upon both objectivity and subjectivity to ascertain any truth. In doing so, you try to remain free from bias and logical errors. Scientifically, there is no other way to know the world. However, with regard to self-knowledge this approach may not be much helpful unless you pay attention to it with non-judgmental awareness. Here you have to rely more upon your subjective experience and become a mirror to things rather than look at them in the mirror of your mind.

There are many types of subjective experience. In some you are aware of your awareness, as you engage your mind and senses in the process of knowing. However, as your practice of calming your mind and senses deepens, you may enter a state of pure subjectivity without awareness, judgment, observation, analysis, comparison, and relationship. It is an indeterminate state, which is beyond the grasp of your mind and intellect. Let us dwell upon this state and why it cannot be objectified.

magine you live in a world without a mirror. Imagine in that world nothing is reflected and nothing works like a mirror to produce a mirror image. In such a world how can you see yourself and know how you look or what distinguishing features you have? You may see parts of your body and make some assumptions about them. You may also learn from others how they perceive you, and how you appear to them. However, since you do not have any mirror or reflecting surface, you cannot subjectively validate that knowledge. You have to fully rely upon others to create your self-image.

You do not have such a problem in our world because you can see your reflection in a mirror, or rely upon a photograph, video camera, motion picture or any image capturing device to look at yourself. In addition, you may also rely upon other’s opinion about you. Through introspection, meditation, observation, you may also subjectively gain insight into your behavior and personality.

However, objectivity is not very helpful if you want to go beyond your mind and senses to know yourself. In the transcendental states, you have none of the physical or mental means to observe yourself or know yourself. The transcendental world is a world without reflections, and duality. It is free from forms and totally self-existing without a second, where you do not experience otherness or any relationship. There you have to rely upon your own intelligence to be aware and awake, without the senses, mind, and memory.

Since there is no duality no one can really explain to you what happens in a transcendental state. It is true even for those who have experienced self-realization or god-realization. They cannot clearly articulate their experience or hold that state in their wakeful consciousness. Therefore, usually a sage does not confirm whether he had entered the state of Self or Brahman. Others may know about it from his words, behavior, conduct, mental brilliance, but he may choose to remain silent about it. He may speak to you about the state, but he may not show particular interest in letting everyone know about his own experience.

Ordinary people enter the state of non-duality every day during deep sleep. They do not know it because their minds and senses remain asleep and their memory remains inactive. Deep sleep is a subjective experience without any subject. When spiritual people enter a similar state through meditation, they experience the same predicament.

However, since it is a culmination of willful self-effort the experience brings a sudden shift in their awareness and transforms them whereby they do not have to struggle to control their lower impulses or manifest their higher nature. For them detachment and dispassion arises naturally as they become free from desires, attraction and aversion, attachments, confusion, delusion, evil thoughts, and worldliness. As they tap into their higher wisdom, they experience a new found sense of freedom, without expectations, want, worry and anxiety, which ordinary people experience in their waking hours.

It is the miracle of self-realization, and the highest of all perfections (siddhis). If you want to know whether a yogi has experienced self-realization, look in him for those qualities. When you see them in a seer or a guru, or even a seemingly ordinary person, know that that person has tasted the stateless state of Supreme Brahman and reached the culmination of spiritual perfection.

*****

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis