May We Find the Way Together

May We Find the Way Together

om 1

Purpose of knowing Brahma

( ‘Bramha’, ‘Atman’ and ‘Self’ can be used interchangeably in this text. All denote the one and only Ultimate Reality.)

How and why should one know Brahma?

One who knows Atman does not grieve over different emotions and experiences that emerge, evolve and die as a result of the contact of senses with their objects.

These statements seem to convey that Atman is different from the senses. But it is not so. Atman is omnipresent.

Senses are subordinate to mind which is ruled by Intelligence. The intelligence is governed by Ego which serves the soul.

But the Atman, whose glimpse liberates mankind and grants immortality, is beyond soul. It pervades in whole existence but has no means of perception as there is nothing to perceive.

(Q) So something that does not perceive can-not be perceived?

(A) Atman cannot be perceived by senses. It cannot be seen by eyes. It can be glimpsed through mindful contemplation by self possessed intelligence that controls the mind. This knowledge liberates us from sufferings of mortality.

(Q) How can self possessed intelligence be developed?

(A) The absolute state of being is when the senses turn inward and become still along with the mind and when even the intelligence makes no attempt whatsoever.

This integrated state of being is called Yog. At that point the Yogi (one who attains such state) becomes centered, unaffected and quiet. Every  event rises and falls in this state of consciousness.

(A)Atman can not be grasped by speech, sight or mind. How can it be attained by people who affirm that It is?

(B) Atman can be attained through faith and knowledge. The knowledge is revealed to those who develop faith that It is.

One who perceives Atman gets released from all the desires of the heart and becomes emancipated from the mortality while still being in the physical body.

(Q) When do the desires get eliminated?

(A) Only this much is declared that when all the knots ameliorate or dissolve  in the heart while in this life, the mortal becomes immortal.

The thumbsize Atman is situated within the heart of all beings. It should be experienced by exercising discipline and patience, just as grass is peeled to reveal Culm.

Think of Atman as the purest nectar. Think of Atman as purest nectar.

Nachiketa, knowing all about Atman as elucidated by Yama, the god of Death, got established in Brahma and transcended dualities of  birth & death and Dharma & Adharma.

Anyone who conceives Brahma and understands the way to attain It would also achieve this status.

May the Lord protect and nurture both of us, the Teacher and the taught. May we together cultivate capability to achieve knowledge.  What we study should be light unto itself and not harbour malice.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

images

(thus concludes Kathopanishad)

The Inverted Tree of Existence

The Inverted Tree of Existence

inverted Ashwath

  • From the visible, we can deduce its invisible cause.
  • From the study of fruit, we try to infer the nature of the roots of the tree that bore that fruit.
  • In the same way, tracing from our knowledge of material world that we perceive through our senses, we try to determine the nature of Brahma, the causal origin of existence.
  • The Eternal Pipal Tree with its roots in the heaven and branches in the material world is Brahma, the purest light and nectar for immortal life. All the dimensions are within its confines and nothing can transcend it.

(Question) The knowledge of Brahma delivers us free from the fear of death. Though it is the substratum of all apparent reality, it cannot be perceived through the senses, therefore it does not exist. It follows that the whole material world has been created out of nothing.

(Answer) It is not so. The entire material world emanates and exists within Bramha.    The universe obeys Brahma just as fearful people do before the mightiest weapon which is ready to strike. People who know this fact transcend the cycle of birth and death.

(Question) Moved by the fear of Almighty Brahma, how does the world conduct itself?

(Answer) Frightened by Brahma, sun and fire emanate heat, Indra sends rain & breeze and death follows set rules.

  • Attaining knowledge of Brahma before death makes one free from the fretters of mortality. If it does not so happen, one continues to acquire different bodies in the transient worlds.It is so because Brahma is pristinely reflected in human body just as a face is seen clearly in a mirror. This clarity of experience is well neigh impossible in any other world except in the kingdom of Brahma itself.

  • Uncontaminated human intelligence can perceive Brahma just like reflection in a mirror.
  • Brahma appears like a dream in land of ancestors where we go after death.
  • It appears like a reflection in water in land of gods.
  • But in the land of Brahma, it as clear as light and shadow (as actual object).

(a continued translation of Kathopanishad)

 

Searching for Atman

Searching for Atman

Finding the Bramha

( ‘Bramha’, ‘Atman’ and ‘Self’ can be used interchangeably in this text. All denote the one and only Ultimate Reality.)

Brahma is abstruse and extremely difficult to fathom. Still this section of Kathopnishad makes an effort to grasp its attributes.

This mortal body with eleven opening is the seat of eternal and omniscient Bramha .

The person who conceives it in thought does not grieve and transcends time & the cycles of cause and effect.

But how does the timeless, absolute and undivided Bramha reside in different bodies at the same time?

Bramha is the essence and movement of all lives. It is displayed in motion, brightness of sun, life breath of cosmic air, fire in the womb of earth and the elixir in water.

It is the power that inspires human beings and gods. It is the seed of Truth and all action. It pervades in space, water, earth, mountains, rituals and is their magnificent essence.

Coming to other identifiable characteristics, it is said that Bramhan drives Prana (forward or upward moving energy in beings which governs reception of inputs like food and sensations) and Apana (downward or outward moving energy which controls expulsions from the body), and is worshipped in the center of the heart.

Its withdrawal causes immediate death and destruction of body.

The argument that the life comes from physical and vital sheaths of the body is farthest from reality. All these sheaths are the destructible constructs over the essential foundation that is Bramhan.

Now Yama explains what it is like to die without having a glimpse of Bramha.

Unaware of Ultimate Reality and caught in the momentum generated by the extent of their knowledge and karma, most of the people are born in different life forms including the immobile ones.

When the life forces are asleep, this eternally pure and immortal Bramha remains awake and creates the objects of desire.

It contains the whole material world and cannot be transcended. This is decidedly The Absolute Reality.

Despite being explained a number of times, the knowledge of Atman does not get established in the minds of those scholars whose intelligence is swayed  by arguments of rationalists.

For them, the scripture reiterates that just as the energy (fire and air) enters the myriad lives and appears in their shape and form, Bramha also resides and appears as all the life forms and extends beyond them too.

This all pervasive Bramha includes the negative emotions like grief and fear too.
Just as the Sun shine reflects on all the objects to make them visible but the Sun remains unaffected by these objects, the Bramhs remains unaffected by the sorrow of the beings it resides in and extends beyond them too.

Eternal happiness is for only those prudent ones whose intellect perceives Atman as the Master of all forms of existence and which appears as many despite being one.

Eternal peace enjoins only the prudent ones whose intellect perceives Atman which alone fulfills all the desires and exists as the permanence within the impermanent & the mindful awareness in the conscious beings.

This experience of Atman or self realization is described as absolute bliss by the enlightened ones.

Can this Atman be glimpsed by our limited intellect?

It is said that the kingdom of Atman shines in its own effulgence. All the apparent objects are illumined by the light of either fire, electricity, stars, moon and sun. But these sources of light derive their luminescence from Atman alone.

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

 

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

Though the Atman is intrinsic to all matter, it remains hidden from us. We can have its glimpses only through mindfulness. Some may ask why mindfulness is necessary for self realization and what the obstructions in achieving that state are. This section also explains how we can establish ourselves in mindfulness after removing these impediments.

The organs of perception( powers to see, smell, touch, hear and taste) are trained towards external world. This way their potential for self realization remains suppressed. In pursuit of everlasting knowledge, the wise men restrain their perceptions from material world and turn them inwards to perceive the transcendental Atman.

Ignorance is the chief impediment to self realization because it drives sensory perceptions to external world.  Attention and attachment to visible and invisible pleasures of external world lead the unwise to  all pervasive web of death. The wise ones, knowing immortal Self, do not fall for transient pleasures.

It is told that the knower of Atmn (Bramhan) does not strive for any further knowledge. How can this Atmn (Bramha) be perceived.

Yama replies: Nothing remains to be known after Self Realisation because the Atmn is the substance and medium of all perception through touch, smell, taste, appearance, sound and sensuous pleasures.

Atmn is extremely subtle and obscure. The omnipotent Atmn throbs in both the states of dream and wakeful reality. So the knower of Atmn does not fall in grief.

Atmn beholds life force, and in it cause & effect and time-all exist together. One who knows such Atmn does not even wish to protect it. This Absolute existence dwell within each life.

Prayerful austere practices lead the Knowledgeable to perceive Hiranyagarbha, the seed of cosmos, which is the primeval source of creation. This seed precedes the elements’(water,fire,air,earth and space) coming to existence.

This Hiranyagarbha is Atmn or Bramha. This is what Nachiketa seeks to know.

From Hiranyagarbha arises The Life Force along with the Elements and it resides within the sacred recess of cosmic intelligence. This primary life force is called Aditi.

The direct perception of Hiranyagarbha through cosmic intelligence is preserved by mindful meditation, prayer and sacred actions just as an expectant mother cares for her womb by proper diet and conduct.

This Life force is the ambit of material existence marked by food, speech and abode of gods etc. The Sun rises and sets within its confine only.

Yama clarifies that this material world is not different from the Bramha. He reiterates that the selfsame Atmn exists within the mortal body, life and also beyond it. One who sees Bramha as separate from apparent life existence, gets caught in the mire of birth and death.

The mind trained by Teacher and Scripture can achieve consciousness of Atmn before it(mind) establishes in Universal Existence. There are no separate constituents of Existence. It is one and undivided. People who do not see it as whole are condemned from death to death.

Still this primeval existence is represented in a thumb size space in heart region. Knowing it as what rules over chronological time, one becomes free from fear of destruction of body.

This thumb size element, the Bramha, remains like a smokeless flame and is not confined by limit of time.

People see different phases of the rivers from their emanation from mountains till their final merger at separate points and come to believe them as unrelated to one another. In the same way, the unaware people think of myriad lives as distinct from one another.

The knowledgeable one’s vision penetrates beyond the external attributes and perceives the universal existence throbbing in all the creations.

The wisdom of such exalted minds equipped with unified vision becomes pure as the clean droplet added to vessel of pure water

 

Instrument, Investigation and Impact

Instrument, Investigation and Impact

Instruments

There is a series of channels leading to the most sublime knowledge. The instruments of investigation gradually get finer in precision as the observer probes deeper. The sequence of these agencies in the order of increasing subtlety is given as follows;

Organs of perception > objects of perception > Mind > intellect > Soul > indivisible matter > Self (Atman).

This Self or the Atman is the loftiest, finest and fundamental state of existence.

Pervading in whole material universe, this Atman can not be observed. It only lends its glimpses to people of flawless perception through their lightening sharp intellects.

Method

The discreet seeker should sublimate the faculty of speech into the mind and then merge it in the effulgence of intellect.

The ignorant should arise, awake and approach enlightened ones to  seek this knowledge.

(Because) The prudent ones say that this way is extremely difficult to negotiate and is as dangerous as a sharp  edged razor.

Effect

Atman is beyond sound, touch, form, smell and taste. It is eternal, everlasting and does not diminish with time and space. It is more exalted than soul and perfectly still.

One who knows the Atman is saved from the clutches of death.

The wise ones who speak about or listen to this sacred knowledge are universally praised.

 Our ancestors get eternally blessed if we read this scripture as tribute to them.

(to continue)

Please give your opinions


Distinct Destinations

Distinct Destinations

Until here we discussed about the opposite attributes of Vidya (Knowledge) and Avidya (ignorance), but we did not define them on the basis of their impact and effect on our  lives.

The Knowledgeable ones say that there are two distinct elements (like sun and the shadow) residing in the   sacred alcove reserved in the deepest recess of mind inside the body. Their development follows the pattern of actions performed by the person.

We pray that we should be able to know the Fire (Yagya for different outcomes) which is the bridge to worldly achievements for the performers of action and the Word ( which grants freedom from all fears) which is the final refuge for ones who wish to transcend the material world.

A metaphor of chariot is used here to distinguish these two ways in terms of vehicle, journey and final destination of this mortal life.

The body is the chariot, intellect is the charioteer, mind is the bridle or leash and the soul is the Riding King.The Wise compare the faculties (organs of sensory perception and action) to the horses and the objects of perceptions to the way on which the chariot moves. They say that the soul acting in conjunction with the intellect, mind, body and faculties is the enjoyer of this world.

If intellect is indiscreet in nature and the mind is turbulent, the faculties go wild just as horses can not be tamed by an incompetent charioteer working with weak leash and bridle.

But if the intellect is discreet and self possessed and the mind calm, the faculties follow its command just as the disciplined horses obey the instructions of a skilled charioteer adeptly controlling the bridle.

Scriptures tell us about what becomes of the first kind. One who does not strive to know, whose mind is not disciplined and whose conduct is flawed, does not qualify to know about the Atman. He is resigned to the material world.

But the second kind, who is knowledgeable, possess a composed mind and bear excellent conduct, firmly gets positioned in Absolute after successfully traversing the worldly path.

(to continue)

ॐ The All Pervading Reality

ॐ The All Pervading Reality

Nachiketa: O Lord, If you are pleased and I am deserving, kindly tell me about what you perceive as distinct from Dharma (virtuous way of life that should be upheld even in situation of conflict) and different from adharma (which is not Dharma) too…… tell me about  what is beyond the mechanism of cause and effect….tell about what transcends time defined by past and future.

Yama: (explaining the attributes of the Reality)

  • (Aum) is posited as Absolute by the Veda.
  • (Aum)  is the final destination of practitioners of all methods of penance and austerities.
  • (Aum) is the ultimate achievement for all those who lead pious life after life in quest of knowledge.

The Word   depicts All Encompassing Truth. Knower of this Word gains everything she/he wishes for.

  is the Ultimate Reality and also the substratum of material Universe.

Achiever of this Position becomes one with Atman and is universally acknowledged and worshipped as the Enlightened One.

(Leaving description of commensurate rewards in this world for lowly and average worshippers of Onkar to other scriptures, Yama proceeds to describe the method to perceive Atman who resides in Onkar.)

Atman, the ever-intelligent consciousness, is neither born nor does it die. It does not come into being from other constituents or through conversion of its former self. It is unborn, eternal, ever present and never ending. It is not destroyed with the death of body.

If the assassin thinks that he has destroyed the Atmn with the body or the victim thinks that his Atmn has died too, both have no clue about Atman. The Atman neither kills nor gets killed.

Nachiketa: Then how can a seeker of Truth know the Atman?

Yama: Even smaller than the fundamental particle and still massive than cosmic proportions, Atman resides in the deepest alcove of our heart. The disciplined one who tames one’s organs of perceptions and turns them inward, perceives It clearly and moves beyond sufferings.

 Someone, whose perceptions and points of reference lie in the material world, is unable to even imagine about Atmn. For them it is difficult to conceive something that is stationery and moves to the farthest places at the same time, something that is dormant, still pervades everywhere.

Who else but I can know the Divinity that is abound in bliss but is still alert and aware.

(Now Yama elucidates how the knowledge of Atman can end sufferings)

The knowledge of Omnipresent and All pervading Atman, who resides in physical bodies but still not limited by them, who moves in transient material but is still eternal and permanent, leads the beholder to freedom from the grief.

Even though the Atman is singularly unyielding to common perception, persistent effort can lead to its knowledge.

This knowledge can neither be achieved through study of Veda, listening to scripture nor through contemplation.

Atman graciously reveals itself on its own volition to one who surrenders/ pledges oneself to It.

Besides, this knowledge cannot be glimpsed by one who causes injury to others, whose faculties are  governed by attachments and  whose mind is not quiet and equipoised.

The Disciplined one who doesn’t fit in aforesaid description can establish oneself in the Atman where all distinctions merge and where the death becomes a plaything.

( to continue)