Saturday, September 10, 2011

प्रेम ही आत्मिक ऊन्न्ति की कसौटी है

Love is the measure of spiritual progress:

Love and self-realization are so inter-related that they cannot be separated from one another. Some sages, particularly Narad Ji has gone to the extent declaring that self realization is not feasible without love. Tulsidas Ji did not even care for self-realization. Love to him was supreme.

All great teachers have said, "Love God." But, do we know what love is; if we did we would not be talking so much about it. Everyone says he can love, and then, in no time, finds out that there is no love in his nature. The world is full of the talk of love, but it is hard to love. Where is love? How do we know that there is love?

The first test of love is that it knows no bargaining. As long as we see someone love another only to get something in return, we know that it is not love; it is simply shop keeping, business. Whenever there is any question of buying and selling, it is not love.

The second test is that it knows no fear. As long as one thinks of God as a Being sitting somewhere in the clouds, with rewards in one hand and retributions in the other, there can be no love. Can anyone frighten one into love? Does the mouse love the cat? Does a thief love a policeman? Love is always the highest ideal. When one has passed through the first two stages, when one has thrown off all shop keeping, and cast off all fears, then one begins to realize that love is always the highest ideal. The philosophy behind ‘love being the highest ideal’ is that everyone projects his own ideal and worships that. This external world is only the world of suggestion. All that we see, we project out of our own minds. Ralph Woodrow Emerson puts it very concisely, “As I am, so I see.” Similarly, external things furnish us with suggestions, over which we project our own ideals and make our objects. John Stewart Mill observes,

“Matter is the permanent possibility of sensations.”

Lovers see this world as full of love and haters as full of hatred; brutes see nothing but strife, and the peaceful nothing but peace. The perfect man sees nothing but God. So we always worship our highest ideal, and when we have reached the point, where we love the ideal as the ideal, all arguments and doubts vanish forever. The ideal can never go, because it has become a part of my own nature. I shall only question the ideal when I question my own existence, and if I cannot question my own existence I cannot question the ideal. We always begin as dualists. God a separate Being, and I a separate being. Love comes between, and man begins to approach God, and God, as it were, begins to approach man. Man takes up all the various relationships of life, as father, mother, friend, or lover; and the last point is reached when he becomes one with the object of worship, the ideal.

The love of ideal and the ideal of love become one. The spiritual journey is complete – nothing more to say, nothing more to do.

यही है बो साँझ और सबेरा जिसके लिये तडफ़े हम सारा जीवन भर an old
Hindi song

Sunday, September 4, 2011


उपासना की नवीन शैली


(The following is a liberal translation of an article by PP Sri Dr. Brijendra Kumar Ji. This was prepared by Sri Pradip Kumar Ji for our 9/4/11 weekly Satsang).

The era we are living in has seen sweeping changes. It has awakened from sleep, got up and ready to move. It wants to move forward, the glory of past is alluring it; the vision of future is calling out to it, it dreams anew everyday and goes forth with realizing them. It is refining its intellectual skills day by day for the advancement of life, for the prosperity and happiness in life, for uplift of the society. Amidst these endeavors it also hears the talk of spirituality; it also hears that all its efforts will do no real good without spiritual knowledge. For striking this balance between spiritual and worldly needs it thinks about turning to UPASANA but based on what it has heard and seen it doesn’t even dare to follow the path of UPASANA.

We read in books, hear from sages that SELF cannot be realized without LOVE, Knowledge of Truth cannot be attained without cleansing of inner core. Everyone says - love God, purify mind, practice simplicity. But who wants discomfort for His sake. When in this attractive age of science where we are provided with new means of external pleasures on a daily basis then who would want to turn away from these external objects and choose to look inwards; who would want to purify and focus his mind? The reality of it is that we don’t even have a slight desire to seek UPASYA (object of worship GURU or GOD). Even after realizing the need of UPASANA (worship) we don’t want to become UPASAK (worshipper). Glitter of materialism and its colorful dreams have captivated us so much that searching UPASYA is becoming impossible. If UPASYA itself comes by seeking us then that’s a different matter. Today’s men unlike the seekers of past is not ready to wander in search of GURU. In fact he does not really understand its importance then what for should he bother? Some have fallen to the extent that they cannot even distinguish between right and wrong, they never have any remorse (GLANI) about their lives, then why should they seek the benefactor of fallen? In this strange mental state our world is actually wandering in darkness.

Today we need someone who can wake these people from their slumber of ignorance; Saint and SADGURU should go door to door and call them rather than waiting for them to show up at their door steps. In today’s difficult circumstances UPASYA will have to search the seekers, he will have to himself worship them, from time to time attract them towards himself; somehow win over their hearts. The saint, the sadguru must uplift them by his compassion and strength. He will have to show his love and high-mindedness instead of considering their worthiness. New era desires this; it is the greatest demand of the day. Only those saints, those GURUs, those missions who can do this will be able to open the doors of UPASANA, world is waiting for them, era is calling upon them. What has been said in KATHOPANISHAD applies “The self is realized neither through discourses nor by intellect, nor by listening a lot; rather it could be realized only through those whom it accepts because to him that Self reveals its true form”. It is an established fact that the saints are god in human form; if they reveal themselves then we can get some sense of god. From the mouth of true saints are uttered the words of god, love of god is reflected in their daily life, from their knowledge comes true knowledge. If we find true saints then UPASANA will happen.

According to yoga philosophy, “Yoga or self realization occurs when Chitta (the field of consciousness) is liberated from its Vrittis (patterned and restrictive various instabilities and spinning). Then the mind abides in the domain of Nirodha (innate clear essentiality - in clarified spaciousness devoid of any conditioned bias, tilt, or spin)”. But that is no child’s play. It is considered the greatest human exertion, but ironically human exertion doesn’t really work in the matters of self-realization. Queen Meera, Blind Soor, Nimai, Shankar, Lord Buddha and countless others; all the devotees were called by that flute player (Lord Krishna, GURU) himself. According to “Only those to whom you reveal yourself may know you” someone had drawn them to him, someone has shown a glimpse of self to them. That is if once one had seen the other side this side doesn’t interest him anymore. As if in the state of trance the UPASAK runs to the UPASYA, but before this happens who wants to put his life on line? What worldly comforts were not available to queen Meera? What was not afforded to Nimai? Buddha had all the comforts but as soon as they got that glimpse, as soon as they realized what was missing, they left everything and didn’t want anything but to be with him.

Today we need precisely that. We cannot on our own move our attention away from others to call upon him; we cannot practice the ASHTANGA YOGA, Chant, austerity, and pilgrimages also don’t suit us, we need someone who is able to transform us by his own power so that we start worshipping him. A Persian poet has put it aptly: “My heart is so occupied with the thought of my beloved that the thought of my own being has escaped my mind”. The truth is also this: ego or our sense of being does not go by itself, it goes only after the self is realized. If a powerful GURU implants the thought of god in our heart then the whole process will be completed; then the passion to meet him will continue to grow day by day and the goal of UPASANA will be achieved. We need this new style, new method.

In our SATSANG this new method is being used. Param Pujya Guru Maharaj’s boundless kindness has given birth to this new method. Here seeker is not asked to chant or practice austerity, neither is the seeker asked to follow difficult process. Seeker is merely asked to spend 15-20 minutes every morning and evening in the company of SAT devoting rest of his time attending to his duties and living a comfortable life. In this system along with the efforts of seeker, power of the guide also helps. Using his own powers GURU uplifts the seeker, moves him forward, removes the obstacles from his path, cleans his inner core and helps in concentrating the seeker’s mind. And one day delivers him at the door steps of god. In this new method seeker only needs to establish connection with the GURU: this connection is initially established in person and later can be done just by thought. In our system main focus is on inner SATSANG, by doing just this, in very few days seeker turns inward and attains those powers that are not attained by years of difficult practices by those who go it alone using only their own power. All this is achieved with relative ease and quickly with the help of almighty power of GURU. From time to time SATSANG programs are organized at various places where seekers can practice in larger groups. The message has reached and helped many in India and around the globe. By the grace of PUJYA GURUDEV (PARAM SANT Shri Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahaya Ji) world has received such an easy, effective and powerful system that there seems to be no impediment to self-realization. We all should take advantage of this system.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What is Sanskar? How it is Created?

The things we see, the words we hear, the words we speak, the things we touch, the things we smell—these leave an impression on our Antahkarana, the inner core. This impression, this tiny spot, this mark on our Antahkarana (inner core) is the seed of Sanskar. Whenever the same experience of seeing, speaking, listening, smelling and touching is repeated, the miniature spot, or the seed of Sanskar, expands to take the form of a minute line. Further repetition of the same experience transforms the minute line into a thick and heavy line. And this is known as Sanskar.

Let us talk briefly about Antahkarana. It was implied earlier that Sanskars are stored in Antahkarana. Swami Vivekananda defines Antahkarana as, “The organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the discriminative faculty (Buddhi), and ego-sense (Ahamkara) form the group called Antahkarana (Inner Core). They are but various processes in the mind-stuff, called Chitta. The thought-waves in the Chitta are called Vrittis (literally ‘whirlpool’).” Manas as the recording faculty receive impressions gathered by the senses from the outside world. Buddhi as the discriminative faculty classifies these impressions and reacts to them. Ahamkara as the ego-sense claims these impressions for its own and stores them up as individual knowledge.

Now, coming back to Sanskars; the tiny spot, the impression gathered through senses on our inner core was the causal body of Sanskar. The minute line, which was formed by repetition of the impression gathered through sense organs on our inner core, becomes the subtle body of the Sanskars. And the thick and heavy one which is further repetitions of the experiences becomes the physical body of Sanskar. Since creation, going through the cycles of rebirths, we have created an infinite number of those thick and heavy lines. They are stored in our inner core. When the mind gets in contact with them, they liven up in front of the mind in their true forms. This way, the mind sees a creation inside and gets busy playing with them. As long as these lines, these Sanskars remain, success would remain a dream. These Sanskars must be destroyed, must be uprooted for success.

It is these Sanskars that maintain the cycle of rebirths – just as strongly rooted addiction drives a man to take a drug, over and over again, irrespective of his conscious disinclination and the efforts of his moral will. We may say and sincerely believe, that we are tired of the world with what Sankaracharya Ji called “pairs of opposites” – pleasures and pains – “the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree” – but, in fact, we are not. As long as these tendencies are present, our addiction to return and plunge again and again into sense-experience is a lot deeper than we comprehend. Except for brief moments of our physical and spiritual hangovers, transient and temporary fits of disgust and repentance, this recurring process of craving and aversion continues. The desire to postpone death and cling to life is one of the greatest obstacles of enlightenment. To cling to life is to cling to normal sense consciousness, thereby shunning the super consciousness within which the Atman is known, Self is realized. And this is our invitation to rebirths – warmly accepted and obliged by nature.

These Sanskars are the Mala and Avarana of the inner core. Because of these the Yogis have the Viksepa. Therefore, we must demolish these. They must be uprooted. Our inner core has light, has joy, has truth but the Self is hidden by these Sanskars. It is like a precious gem hidden underneath garbage and filth. Its sparkle is blocked by itself. If we are to look for that gem, if we want to find that gem, we will need to remove the heap of garbage; we will need to cleanse the place. Only then, we can have it. As the cleaning process progresses, we get closer to it, and we start getting glimpses of its radiance and joy. Guru Maharaj says that when all the filth has been removed, when no trace of impurity remains, you will become a Saint, a complete Yogi, a Mahatma; this is Self-realization, this is Nirvana; in fact this is everything.

Above, Sanskars were treated the same as impurities (Mala, Avarana and Viksepa). It was also implied that self realization is not possible in the presence of even a trace of impurity. It follows then, that removal of impurities and destruction of Sanskars will run concurrently. Actually, the tool for removal of impurities, destruction of Sanskars, and unwinding the wheel of Karma which leads to Self-realization is the same—Sadhana.

A few words about the doctrine of Karma: there are three types of Karma: 1. the Karma created in the past or in some previous life, which is bearing fruit at the present moment; 2. the Karma which has already been created and stored up, so that it will bear fruit in some future life, and 3. the Karma which we are now in the process of creating by our actions or thoughts. Of these, the already existing Karmas are beyond our control; we can only wait until they have worked themselves out, and accept their fruits with courage and patience. But the Karmas which we are now creating can be avoided. Not by ceasing to act – that would be impossible, even if it were desirable – but by ceasing to desire the fruit of action for oneself. If we dedicate the fruits of action to God, we shall gradually unwind the wheel of Karma. Non-attachment, dedicating the fruits of action to God is the only way to unwind the wheel of Karma.

Guru Maharaj in Ten Basic Principles of Sadhana puts us on the path to learn non-attachment by telling us, “Do all worldly work in a spirit of service – not to rule or own, and live in the world as a guest.” This will stop creation of new Sanskars. This will stop the wheel of Karma. Unwinding the wheel of Karma which also means the non-creation of Sanskars will depend on how well we master non-attachment and dedicating the fruits of actions to God.

Now, what about the other two kinds of Karma, the Karma which has already been created and stored up, so that it will bear fruit in some future life; the Karma created in the past or in some previous life, which is bearing fruit at the present moment? Are we condemned to suffer through cycles of rebirths? The answer comes from Guru Maharaj, “Absolutely not.” We do not have to go through cycles of rebirth; we can demolish the other two types of Karma, we can uproot stored Sanskars, and we must. It will be done through Guru Maharaj’s gift to us—Satsang and Sadhana.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Barriers in Concentration

The most consistent complaint about concentration (Dharana) is that the harder an aspirant tries to achieve it, the more difficult it becomes. This is justified to some extent, by an applicable law of physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The greater the force with which a ball is thrown in the air, the harder it falls. Similarly, the more pressure we exert on our mind for concentration, the opposite reaction takes place. However, when looked deeply into this assertion, lack of courage and lack of understanding turn out to be the main causes of encountering problems in concentration.

The nature of mind (Manas) is dynamic. It will not remain still. When an aspirant tries to change its behavior from dynamic to static, and wishes to see it stand still, a struggle erupts between the forces (determination to tame the mind) of aspirant and the forces (the dynamic nature) of mind. Working towards winning this struggle is termed practice (Abhyas). It is of paramount importance for the aspirant to keep a watch on the thought waves erupting in the mind during practice. There are two types of thought waves: the useful ones and the adverse ones that keep exploding into mind. The adverse ones should not be allowed to enter the mind, and if they do enter the mind, they must be forced out. There are certain techniques to get rid of these unwanted distracting thought waves. However, they may not be explained correctly in a written format and may be learned by asking in person. When good thoughts, such as meeting with the Guru, attending Satsang, thoughts about sages or scriptures and the like arise, do not try to stop them. These good thoughts will propel the aspirant on the road to progress because the good thoughts will force out the bad thoughts. The nature of the mind is such that it will not occupy two thoughts at the same time; therefore, opposite thoughts can never co-exist. In this way freedom from one (i.e. bad thoughts) is accomplished.

Slowly, the pacification of good thought waves

The idea that we ultimately need to overcome even those thought-waves which are “good”, “pure”, and “truthful” may at first seem shocking to a student who has been trained in the Western approach to morality. But a little reflection will show him that this must be so. The external world, even in its most beautiful appearances and noblest manifestations, is still superficial and transient. It is not the basic reality. We must look through it, not at it, in order to see the Atman. Surely, it is better to love than to hate, better to tell the truth than to lie, better to share than to hoard. But the thought-waves, which motivate the practice of these virtues, are nevertheless disturbances of the mind.”
Swami Prabhavananda in commenting on Patanjali Yoga Sutras

will also transpire, and we will go beyond the reaches of both thought waves. The nature of mind will transform to the extent that at the order of the aspirant it will become static from dynamic, and will be under the control of the aspirant. This will be the state of meditation. Our spiritual discipline practices so far have led us to the state of concentration. With the mind pacified and devoid of thought waves, we now enter the state of meditation, which would transform itself into the state of super consciousness.

The mind possesses a kind of magnetic power which attracts like sets of thought waves and repels the unlike sets of thought waves. If for some time, say a few days, we are on alert and do not let other than beneficial thoughts enter our mind, we do not let any other thoughts arise in our mind. This will result in molding our mind in such a way that it won’t like and hence, won’t allow the bad or harmful thoughts to enter. Furthermore, it will allow and therefore attract only beneficial or good thoughts. The environment or atmosphere is full of thought waves, and these waves are traveling all the time. The mind works like a receiver and accepts those thought waves for which it has tuned itself. So, a mind that is trained for pure and beneficial thought waves will allow and receive similar thought waves. A mind that is not trained will allow and receive filthy and harmful thought waves. The atmosphere is full of both kinds of thought waves ready to enter the willing mind. For that very reason, good people are always being reinforced with good thoughts, whereas the opposite happens with not so good people.

As it happens, some minds are very sensitive receivers. Their acceptance capabilities are far greater than others. Others readily influence these minds. They are always willing to follow the advice or copy the behaviors of others. This is a weakness of immense proportions as it reflects an inability to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, and it amounts to following blindly. We have to become strong enough that thoughts of others do not affect us; rather, our willpower influences them. We have seen that the associations of great souls with masses have changed for better the lives of hundreds and thousands; however, the purity of these great souls remains untouched by the association with the masses. This state of remaining unaffected comes only after having acquired strength. We have to get that kind of strength; otherwise, there is no doubt of us falling flat on our faces. The practice of concentration delivers a matchless might to the mind. The aspirant armed with this might gains control of thought waves roaming around the universe. He allows and receives the good ones and leaves the rest for others.

The great sage Patanjali says, “To be free from the thoughts that distract one from yoga, thoughts of an opposite kind must be cultivated.” In this aphorism, he advises that when thought waves, whether internal or external, cause distraction in the practice of concentration, do not put up a fight. The fight would have an adverse reaction: The more you fight, the more vigorous the reaction — resulting in unnecessary waste of time and energy. When we get inundated with distracting, harmful thought waves, do not fight. Instead, invite thought waves of the opposite nature. Fill your mind with the right kind, opposite of the distracting and harmful thought waves, and have your full and undiluted attention to the invited thought waves. By doing so, the distracting thought waves give way to the right ones, and the aspirant develops a pure and clean mind.

For those who are not able to perform the above-described process, there is another technique that might work. Pay no attention to the distracting thought waves, internal or external. They are uninvited guests. Don’t welcome them. Ignore them. Keep doing your job. By not paying attention, by ignoring the intruding, unwanted, and distracting thought waves, they leave on their own just like uninvited guests. They get the message of being unwanted. By doing your job, it is meant to focus on your objective. By developing this attitude of ignoring all extraneous thoughts, in a relatively short time, the mind becomes such that it won’t allow and won't receive any distracting thoughts.

It is a matter of everyday experience that commonality provides pulling power. Whatever matters or thought waves you have created your mind of, they will attract the same type. The proper thing for you to do is to feed it, strengthen it with good matters (good thought waves), and deny it of bad matters (bad thought waves). The goodness will come to it naturally and life will become fruitful. The ocean of thought waves is around us. We should take the jewels and not touch the salty water. We should fill our glass with clean water so that there is no room for anything else to get in.

“Thoughts of an opposite kind must be cultivated.” This second half of the sentence of the Sutra must also be understood for daily activities in this manner. When we look at someone’s weaknesses, this generates bad thoughts in us, which in turn lead us to hatred. Right then and there, we should think of any good deed or any good quality about that person and continue thinking. If the mind is in turmoil over some worries or problems, think of the protector of all, think of the Supremacy of the Mother, surrender yourself to Her and don’t let go until your mind has been calmed. It applies to most other situations. The best medicine for distracting thought waves is to fill the mind with superior thought waves, joyful events, and association of persons of Peace. The first thing in the morning that you might do is immerse yourself in the thoughts of your Guru and feel, “My Guru is in front of me and looking at me, protecting me, knows all good and bad about me, knows all about my sorrows and joys. He surely will remove all my predicaments and quandaries.” If we do this, then the entire day will be filled with Peace and joy. A few things, which need to be completed, may get done through the Guru’s potency. But the Guru should also be absolute, whole, an illuminated soul. Maharshi Patanjali says about the Guru, “Or by meditating on the heart of an illuminated soul, that is free from passion.”

Guru Maharaj’s Message: Is It Still Relevant?

The Satsang and Sadhana, as presented to us, by Samarth Guru Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji date back to over three quarters of a century. Since that time, the world has gone through colossal physical changes. The sun’s energy has been harnessed in the form of nuclear energy. Man has set foot on the moon. Distance has become blurred. Travel which previously required weeks or months and sometimes even years, now takes only a few hours. Instant communication, unimaginable to the average person a mere 15 years ago, is widely available through mobile phones, instant messaging and email. And so the list of innovations goes on, some major, some minor, but what is undeniable to all—is that things have changed a lot. Cataloging even the major changes of the world could easily fill the pages of a book.

Amid all of these changes, certain things have not changed over the same time period. In fact, they have never changed. Those unchangeable were spoken by the Buddha more than twenty-five centuries ago when he spoke of Four Noble Truths:

I. The Noble Truth about Suffering,

II. The Noble Truth about the Cause of Suffering,

III. The Noble Truth about the Cessation of Suffering

IV. The Noble Truth about the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.

What is The Noble Truth about Suffering? “Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, sickness is suffering; death is suffering, likewise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Contact with the unpleasant is suffering, separation from the pleasant is suffering; unsatisfied desire is suffering. In a word, the five craving-producing aggregates of mind-and-body (corporeality, feeling, perception, predisposing mental formations, and discriminative consciousness) are suffering.”

In his monumental work, Sadhana Ke Anubhava Guru Maharaj states in the first few pages that, “Everyone has just one goal – Stay in Peace. Our entire efforts are directed towards that goal – to find peace and happiness. We spend our whole life spans, as far and as long as we can think, accumulating items of pleasure: wealth, homes, summer homes, designer clothes, luxury cars and sports cars--to name just a few. We spend our entire lives looking for comfort. We go through cycles of rebirths without satisfying this incessant craving for comfort. In fact, the more we try to gratify the wishes of these senses, the more violent their demands become. We never seem to figure out that what we are looking for is not where we are searching; it is somewhere else. We are moving like the blind that cannot see the road, and that have no sense of direction. Through ignorance and idiocy, we keep looking for happiness in those objects which have failed to provide more than fleeting pleasures in the past. Because they are fleeting, we keep getting sorrows in place of happiness. We are always in a state of stress. At times, we get the briefest glimpse of happiness, but that is like lightning in the darkness of night, it is transient, momentary. This way, we, the residents of Physical Sheaths, keep floating aimlessly through misery, gloom and despair. We keep falling on our face, but do not wake up. This is where we are.”

In this one simple paragraph, Guru Maharaj has addressed the Buddha’s first two noble truths; The Noble Truth about Suffering, and The Noble Truth about the Cause of Suffering by revealing that our misguided search for happiness through objects may provide temporary comfort but ultimately lead to further sorrow. Further, he has also told us point blank that whatever we are doing to reach our goal – attainment of peace – is not working. We will come to Guru Maharaj’s teachings later.

“We go through cycles of rebirths without satisfying this urge for comfort”, could very easily qualify for an aphorism (Sutra). “Satisfying this urge for comfort”, is the reason for continuation of rebirth. Guru Maharaj in this one, seemingly simple sentence, has invoked the theory of Sanskars, the doctrine of Karma, and the concept of Impurities. We may say, and sincerely believe, that we are tired of a dichotomous world with unfulfilled desires, with what Sankaracharya Ji called, a ‘pair of opposites’ – pleasures and pains – “the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree” – but, in fact, we are not tired at all. This is reflected by our tendencies to return and repeatedly plunge into a sense-experience cycle. It is an addiction that is far deeper than we can comprehend. Except for brief moments of our physical and spiritual hangovers, transient and temporary instances of disgust and repentance, this recurring process of craving and aversion continues. The desire to postpone death and cling to life is one of the greatest obstacles of enlightenment. To cling to life is to cling to a normal sense-consciousness; thereby shunning the superconsciousness within which the Atman is known and self is realized. And, this is our invitation to rebirths – warmly accepted and obliged by nature.

It should be noted that the other Two Noble Truths: The Noble Truth about the Cessation of Suffering, and The Noble Truth about the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering were alluded to in Guru Maharaj’s statement, “We never seem to figure out that what we are looking for is not where we are searching; it is somewhere else.” While we are all looking to Stay in Peace, the erroneous portals through which we have been searching have not led to fruitful results.

So, is Guru Maharaj’s message still relevant? To paraphrase the great philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, this is not a proper question because it assumes that a link exists between changes in the material world and those that are unchangeable. Everyday experiences reveal an absence of any linkage between the Universal Truths about Sufferings and development in the material world. Guru Maharaj’s teachings are about emphasizing the Universal Truths and conquering human sufferings. He shows us the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering in a very simple and straightforward manner. And, that’s where its relevance lies. It was relevant then. It is relevant now. And, it will remain relevant tomorrow and forever.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Means of Soul Development

(आत्म-उन्नति के साधन)

(Following is a liberal translation of an article written by Guru Maharaj, and published in the August 1937 issue of Sadhan. Sri Pradip Ji read this in our recent weekly Sunday satsang. Some of our friends who had attended the satsang on web and audio conference asked us to translate and post it on our website.)

This article is a follow-up of Guru Maharaj’s article published in the July 1937 issue of Sadhan. In the first paragraph, Guru Maharaj tells us, “Scriptures tell us that the Atman (soul) is everlasting, indestructible, and indeterminable; never is this One born and never does It die; this One is eternal, pure and unchangeable. The question arises as to if the Atman cannot be degraded, how can It be elevated? What is meant by (आत्म-उन्नति) Soul Development? This question has arisen in many minds without a satisfactory answer. Today, we will reflect on this question as to what is (आत्म-उन्नति) Soul Development. And, what are its (साधन) means?”

The first two lines of the second paragraph reads, “You know that Prakriti (Primordial Matter) is composed of three modes: 1. Sattva, 2. Rajas, and 3. Tamas. Humans are also made up of three entities: 1. Atman, 2. Mind, and 3. Body, and all of our activities are conducted through these.” Prior to the liberal translation of the article, I will expand briefly on these two aphorisms.

Sankhya tells us that Prakriti is indiscrete and defines it as having the perfect balance of materials. In the primal state before any manifestation, there was no motion, but perfect balance. This Prakriti was imperishable because decomposition or death comes from instability. Again, according to the Sankhya, it is the primordial materials from which the universe is made of.

In Particle Physics, an elementary particle is understood not to have substructure; that is, it is believed not to be made up of smaller particles. If an elementary particle truly has no substructure, then it is one of the basic building blocks of the universe from which all other particles are made. In the Standard Model, the quarks, leptons, etc. are considered elementary particles. Historically, electron, proton, neutron and even whole atoms were once regarded as elementary particles. However, these elementary particles of the Standard Model are not the primal state. This universe does not evolve from quarks and leptons; they may be the second or third or nth successions. The primordial material may form into quarks etc. and become grosser and bigger things; current investigations point in the same direction.

According to the Sankhya, nature is omnipresent - one omnipresent mass. And in that omnipresent mass are the causes of everything that exists. Further, the effect pre-exists in the cause. Cause and effects are seen as different temporal aspects of the same thing – the effect lies latent in the cause, which in turn seeds the next effect. More specifically, the Sankhya categorically states that the effect is a real transformation of the cause. The cause under consideration here is Prakriti, or more precisely, Primordial Matter. The Sankhya system is an exponent of an evolutionary theory of matter beginning with primordial matter. In evolution, Prakriti is transformed and differentiated into multiplicity of objects. Evolution is followed by dissolution. In dissolution, the physical existence, and all worldly objects, mingle back into Prakriti, which now remains as the undifferentiated, primordial substance. This is how the cycles of evolution and dissolution follow each other.

Sankhya declares loudly that Prakriti is the source of the world of becoming. It is pure potentiality that evolves itself successively into twenty-four elements. The evolution itself is possible because Prakriti is always in a state of tension among its three constituent strands:

  • Sattva – a template of goodness, it reflects the light of consciousness and is irradiated by it, so it has the quality of radiance;
  • Rajas – a template of passion, expansion, activity;
  • Tamas – a template of darkness, inertia, resistance to action.

Sattva contributes to the stability of the universe, Rajas to its creative movement, and Tamas represents the tendency of things to decay and die.

According to the scriptures, each man consists of three parts — the body, the mind inclusive of internal organs, and behind that, what is called the Atman, the Self. The body is the external coating, and the mind is the internal coating of the Atman, who is the real perceiver, the real enjoyer, the being in the body who is working the body by means of the internal organ or the mind.

The Atman is the only existence in the human body, which is independent of the Prakriti – that is, it is not composed of matter. Since it is non-matter and non-material, it does not obey the laws of cause and effect and is not subject to decay. It is beyond the reach of Prakriti; it is immortal. That which is immortal can have no beginning; because everything with a beginning must have an end. Implicit in immortality being that it must be formless. There cannot be any form without matter. Everything with form must have a beginning and an end. None of us have seen a form with no beginning or end. A form results from force acting upon matter. It can be said that a form comes out of a combination of force and matter. This coffee cup has a peculiar form. That is to say a certain quantity of matter is acted upon by a certain amount of force and made to assume a particular shape. The form is the result of a combination of matter and force. This combination, or any combination, cannot be eternal. There must come a time when every combination will dissolve. All forms must have a beginning and an end. We know our body will perish. It had a beginning and will have an end. But the Self, having no form, cannot be bound by the law of beginning and end. It has been in existence from infinite time; just as time is eternal, so is the Self of man eternal. Secondly, it must be all-pervading. It is only form that is conditioned and limited by space; that which is formless cannot be confined in space. So, according to Scriptures, the Self, the Atman, in you, in me, in everyone, is omnipresent. One is as much in the sun now as in this earth, as much in India as in America. But the Self acts through the mind and the body, and where they are, its action is visible.

The mind has been compared to a maddened monkey. There was a monkey, restless by its own nature, as all monkeys are. As if that restlessness was not enough, someone made him drink lots of wine, so that he became still more restless. Then a scorpion stung him. When a scorpion stings a man, he jumps about for a whole day; so the poor monkey found his condition worse than ever. To complete his misery, a demon entered into him. What language can describe the uncontrollable restlessness of that monkey? The human mind is like that monkey, incessantly active by its own nature; then it becomes drunk with the wine of desire, thus increasing its turbulence. After desire takes possession, comes the scorpion’s sting of jealousy at the success of others, and last of all, the demon of pride enters the mind, making it think itself of all-importance. The activities of the organs are the media for the expression of desire. Desire covers the Knowledge of Self by stimulating these.

In present context, body stands for physical body, the outermost covering of the Atman. It is inert. As energy is imparted by the Atman through the mind, it becomes active and reflects the mind. Because the body is inert, it is called Tamasic.

Sattva associates itself with the Atman and becomes one with It. Rajas takes control of the mind, identifies itself with the mind, and imparts its qualities to the mind. It makes the mind agitated and restless. It starts affecting temperament by moments. Becoming a slave of desire and sensual satisfaction, the mind becomes engrossed in the mundane. The essence of the mind becomes that which is projected on it. The world is in a state of constant flux. As the world changes, the things of the world change, and with these changes comes turbulence. Because of the association and identification with the changes and turbulence, the mind grows turbulent and full of anxieties and tensions. This is DEGRADATION. Since the Atman is embedded with the mind, it also becomes turbulent, etc. The Atman identifies itself with the mind, forgets its own nature and becomes confused. Subtle Reduction in the attachment to the body and the outside world with increments in association with the Atman is (आत्म-उन्नति) Atman Development. Atman, not being subject to change, always remains the same. Establishing the mind into the Atman and closing its activities which is dominated by Rajas is (आत्म-उन्नति) Atman Development.

Now, to the article of August 1937 – The means of Atman Development have no relationship with the Atman. These means are to have the mind associate with the Atman and dissociate itself with the world. The power of perception does not lie with the sense organs; rather it rests with the mind. Where does the mind get this power? The mind itself is inert. It has no power of its own. The Atman imparts its energy to the mind, and the mind acts through the sense organs. Let us look at what the word "organ" means. Here are the eyes; the eyes are not the organs of vision but only the instruments. Unless the organs also are present, I cannot see, even if I have eyes. But, given both the organs and the instruments, unless the mind attaches itself to these two, no vision takes place. So, in each act of perception, assuming the external instruments and the internal organs are present and defect-free, there will be no perception in the absence of mind. Thus, the mind acts through two agencies — one external and the other, internal. When I see things, my mind goes out and becomes externalized. But suppose I close my eyes and begin to think; the mind does not go out. It is internally active. In either case, the mind remains like the maddened monkey.

There was a time when the mind used to be associated with the Atman and, under the influence of the Sattva, remained tranquil and reposed. It was looking inward. Then, it associated itself with the Rajas and started looking outside (world). Acting through the senses, organs, and instruments, it started tasting the bittersweet fruit. It has gotten so much engrossed in the world that it has forgotten Atman.

The mind became extroverted. It severed its relationship with the Atman (Sattva) and established with the outside world (Rajas). It became entangled with the sense objects and became one of them. Now, it is playing outside, and like a spoiled child does not want to come in. These are the signs of mind becoming worldly. As long as the mind stays like that, it will be in tension, in misery. Laws of Karma will not allow it a restful state. It will not have peace until it moves away from the world and moves towards the Atman, the source of uninterrupted joy.

Guru Maharaj very emphatically states, “Changing the mind’s attention from the world to the Atman, from outwards to inwards; developing the longing for Atman and a non-attachment towards worldly objects; repudiating the body and bodily attachments, establishing connection with the Atman, and ultimately becoming one with the Atman is Abhyas (practice) and Sadhan. This is the essence of the sages’ and saints’ teachings, which Guru Maharaj has imparted to us.

It took us some time to get into the world and become attached to it. Each work we do, each thought we think, produces an impression upon the mind. It is called Samskara, and the sum total of these impressions becomes the tremendous force, which is called "character". The character of a man is what he has created for himself. The force of character is such that it compels one to do things that he would do against his better judgment. Literally, one is a slave of his character.

The sum total of the habits of a man is his nature. It has come about as a result of his giving himself over to the bent of his mind. Unwillingly, he has become the creature of his own mind, typical to restlessness. Through Abhyas and Sadhan, we can eradicate old habits with new ones, change nature through nurturing, and replace the old tendencies in the mind that dictate our behavior by instilling new Samskaras.

We mentioned earlier that it took us time to develop our nature. Who knows how many birth and death cycles we have gone through to reach the bottom of the pit where we are now. It follows that to rise from the bottom, developing new habits would require some time. A child does not become scholar in a day. A long journey is not completed in minutes. Move slowly. Keep going forward with courage. Do not get discouraged by the difficulties encountered in your journey; they will come and leave. Success is yours. Hurriedness is not good. Do not try to bring time before its time. Rushing rarely gets the job done. Never, never let despair take control of you. Keep moving forward with faith in the Guru and the Sadhana that he gave us. This is the key to getting to your goal.