Autumn Satsangs 2008

Satsang Notes from Babaji’s Autumn Teaching Visit to the SRV Mainland Ashrams

What is the difference between Babaji’s classes and satsangs?  From our notes it is not so obvious, to be sure.  During weekend classes in the ashram, Babaji delivers 3 hours of teachings.  We ready ourselves for this and practice concentration.  In the early days it seemed very difficult to take in so much indepth knowledge in one sitting (with a break!), but over time we became acclimatized to it.  We learned to accept as much as we could receive and trust the rest would work its way into our understanding.  Babaji calls this the “sponge method.”  Repetition is the salt of spiritual life.  Anyone who has studied years with a teacher ends up being grateful for all the repetition, for it creates links, unseen at first, in our minds, and as more teachings come over the months and years, they link up with these certain foundational links.  Sometimes a link will sit there for years until the perfect auspicious moment when a situation or train of thought suddenly brings it to the surface of consciousness and a new plateau of understanding is revealed.  We call Babaji’s three-hour classes a “pleasant austerity” and delight in the intense Wisdom atmosphere we experience in them.

Satsangs, on the other hand, are more informal and are an opportunity for students to ask questions about what we heard in class, what we have studied on our own, or even questions arising from daily life.  SRV satsangs are generally held after arati, an evening devotional service where elements, senses, and our minds and hearts are surrendered to God and we offer the traditional arati hymn, Om Hring Ritang, to Sri Ramakrishna.  Then we retire to the back of the shrine room.  Babaji opens with a brief and spontaneous discourse to help set the atmosphere for peoples’ questions.  The notes below are highlights from these short discourses and his responses to questions.

First Satsang in Portland
September 18, 2008

Seeing through appearances is the Truth-seeker’s business; it is for those who want samadhi, nirvana, beatific vision.

There is no God in the world.  The world is in God.  That’s the dichotomy of it all.  God is not here, yet all is God.  The aspirant has to bend the mind around that one.

You have to give credence to everything here.  Like a reflection of the moon in a puddle – it at least causes us to look for the real moon.  Everything is an indicator.  Had we been taught that objects were for meditation – not for comfort, pleasure, etc. – then we would know that there is no fulfillment in objects.

Utisthata jagrata prapya varani bodhata – Arise! Awake! Stop not ’til the goal is reached.

The secret of the yogis is to go straight to deep sleep (nidra samadhi) with awareness.  They rest their body, not the mind.  It doesn’t need rest.  Oh my mind, be still like a candle in a windless place.  The yogi gets energy from the illumined mind, not the unillumined mind, because the latter goes to sleep with the body.

Question:  How do I let go of possessions?  Which ones do I choose?
Babaji:  On the drive up to Portland I saw an ad for Self-Storage.  That was funny.  Well, if these things are really part of yourself, then store them and figure it out later.  But never let anything disturb your peace or give you any agony.  If that happens, then “get thee behind me.”  Don’t let brooding or agonizing distract you from your Self.

Kali is the Prakasha Shakti, the revealing power.  Don’t get caught in the avarana and vikshepa shaktis (projecting and distorting powers) – these two distract living beings.  The natural action of maya is to cover Reality.  It is the very nature of the mind and the world to veil Reality.  So when you see appearances, you must pull them away.  The Prakasha Shakti is to be gotten on your side; this is done through your daily sadhana.

[Babaji’s chart on the Prakasha Shakti explains this very clearly:  “Espying a snake one evening in the semi-darkness, a man reacted in abject fear.  Upon closer inspection he saw that the illusory snake was really a rope.  Similarly, a man sees the universe where only Brahman exists.  The power of obscuration, avarana, causes his mind to cover Reality with the world.  The power of distortion, vikshepa, makes him perceive the world as distinct from Brahman.  But the penetrating power of prakasha reveals all such superimpositions and projections to be unreal.”]

Put the 1 in front of the zeros.  Once you do that you get contentment and forbearance.  Forbearance is needed because you are still in the body with its six transformations and the six passions.  Forbearance is illumination here in this body. (Six transformations: birth, growth, disease, old age, decay, death; Passions: anger, lust, greed, jealousy, pride, delusion)

Mind is a state of consciousness, but the brain is an organ.  Think of the brain like a diode that can be broken, and mind is like radio waves.  People assign their awareness to a very low level, and they go to death at that level, with all their fears and samskaras.

Are all these beings sentient?  Only Atman is sentient.  Atman is in everything, a clod of earth and in the sun and people.  This gives you a different trajectory to think upon – Atman/Consciousness doesn’t depend upon a form.

September 25, 2008

Shankara says that among those in spiritual life there are the striving, the attained, and the past masters.

There are 5 Akashas.  Akasha means space or atmosphere.  These can be gross, like the space that holds physical objects, or more and more subtle kinds of akasha:
Bhutakasha: the space of objects (the physical realm)
Pranakasha: the space of vital force
Manakasha or chittakasha: the space of thought
Jnanakasha: the space of Intelligence
Chidakasha: the “space” of Pure Awareness

All the akashas exist inside of us; they are states of consciousness, more and more subtle.  If you go one step inside you see the ancestors, another step inside (more subtle) and you see the celestials.  Another step within and you behold the gods and goddess and deities.  If you go another step within you encounter the great teachers.  Another step inward and one finds the Trinity, the last vestige of name and form before merging in The Word.  All that is left, then is the Chidakasha.

On the surface the weather rages on.  But at the bottom of the ocean there’s no storm, only peace.  That is like the depth of your Consciousness: no waves, no wind, no spray, no foam, no ships, no people – no forms.  But as you go up to the surface you experience the currents, the waves, the breezes.  As my guru used to say, “Identify with the surface of the ocean and you get tossed by its waves.”

Swami Akhandananda slept only three hours a night.  How did he do this? by only going into deep sleep.  He worked the other 21 hours and he worked selflessly, free of motive, so he did not tax the body with stress.

Many of the modern “spiritual teachers” are only putting a cosmic twist on what the scientists say about evolution.  They don’t see Reality as Being, but as “becomingness.” But Atman doesn’t change.  It is.  It doesn’t evolve.

San Francisco Satsangs
While in San Francisco, Babaji gave satsangs every weeknight.  We have notes from his second week in SF.

Monday, October 27, 2008
[Babaji began his second week of satsangs with a discourse on our traditional Wisdom chant that begins each transmission of the teachings.  This ancient chant, which appears at the beginning of several Upanisads, has probably been used for over 5,000 years to prepare the mind of the student to receive the paravidya, the higher knowledge relating to Brahman/Atman.] “May Brahman protect us.”  Realizing Braman is the best protection of all because you realize your birthless, deathless nature.
“May Brahman sustain us.”  We live by subtle causes and causeless causes.
“May Brahman illumine our mind.”  We are not the mind.  We must move from brooding to thinking to illumined mind.

Here is the chant and translation in full:
Om  sahanavavatu   sa ha nau bhunaktu
saha viryam karavavahai   tejasvi navadhitamastu
ma vidvishavahai   Om shantih shantih shantih
May Brahman protect us, may Brahman sustain us, may Brahman illumine our thinking process. 
May we not find fault with each other, with our teachers or with the world, and may what we study
become a source of inspiration to us, eternally.  Om peace, peace, peace.

All name and form, physical or even thought forms, are superimpositions on Brahman.  From the righteous to the sinner – all is maya.  But when Atman is realized, all is Brahman.

The illumined use the Three Bodies (gross, subtle, and causal) like stairs in and out of manifestation, incarnation.  Naturally, they know their Atman or Buddha Nature.

Babaji told a story concerning Sharat, one of the young disciples of Sri Ramakrishna who later became Swami Saradananda.  Sri Ramakrishna asked him what boon he wanted.  Sharat replied he wanted to see God in everything.  Sri Ramakrishna replied that that was the highest realization while living in the body.  Holy Mother also teaches, “Don’t seek God, see God.”

[At one point there was a discussion of samskaras, inherent tendencies from previous lifetimes that influence our actions and reactions in this life.  At class one day, Amritattva, a sanga member, quipped:  “Samskaras are better than others.”]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Only those get peace who penetrate through the appearance of things.

Nowadays, the saying goes, “Get a life?”  In SRV we say, “Get a spiritual life!”

Renunciation is not condemnation; it is deification.  There’s a difference between judgment and discernment. (judgment is based on attachment and aversion, while discernment leans toward detachment.) A spiritual person doesn’t fit in the worldly person’s world and a worldly person doesn’t fit in the spiritual person’s world.  The worldly need sincerity and practice.  Spiritual persons often are criticized for being escapist and judgmental by people who want the world.

In the beginning, the spiritual aspirant doesn’t realize that his giving up of the world is really loving the world.  “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son.”  Jesus didn’t hate the world, but He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man hath no place to lay his head.”  You do not have to disvalue the things you are discriminating away.  You only need to say they are insentient.  If you identify with the insentient, you identify with decay and death.  Identify instead with the Unchanging.  If you identify with the surface of the ocean you will get tossed; but in the depths it is all peace.  A really adept soul can visit the surface, like Dalai Lama.  Beings like the Dalai Lama and Gandhi are masterful souls who take on the collective karma.  They aren’t just working out their own little karma; they are here to help the collective consciounsess.  It is a great task to influence the collective mind. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Since the world goes on in cycles of maya, we devotees will go along with cycles of teaching, devotion, singing, meditating, studying.  Our actions will be selfless, not selfish.  Niskama instead of sakama (without desire instead of with desire).

Dvandva Mohena, the dualities that delude – it is primarily these, and desire, that keeps us away from perception of our nondual nature.

Short of Unity, there should be harmony in this realm.  The Gita talks of the cycle of harmony: beings appease the gods who then send the rain; beings offer the food back to the gods and eat the remains.  This is a dharmic life.  But by falling away from this due to greed and jealousy, we have lost our connection with other beings and with the gods and the cosmos.

Think of the mantra as a big wave, and all other thoughts as little waves.  The mantra consumes all the little waves.  In the ancient times you got a mantra in this fashion: first, the illumined preceptor performed a puja (worship) and set the stage.  Then he called the disciple forward and whispered the mantra in the ear one time.  At that moment the chain of rebirth snapped.  Why? How?  The student had gained the Four Treasures (Qualifications) before coming to the Guru.  (The Four Treasures consist of: discrimination between the eternal and the noneternal; detachment from the noneternal; the six virtues of inner peace, self control, self-settledness, forbearance, concentration, and faith; and the longing for liberation.) [In these contemporary times, the student first learns of these from the Guru (instead of from parents) and with his/her help begins to master them.  Thus, students of this age require a long time of study with their teachers.  Elsewhere in our notes from this visit, Babaji spoke of needing to help Westerners develop samskaras of perseverance.  In the ancient times, people were born with samskaras of the Four Treasures, but today we find that few have even the samskaras to persevere in a spiritual path. Hence the need to develop them.]

The whole nature of relativity is based upon coverings over Reality.  If you are a spiritual aspirant you will remove, transcend, or detach from these coverings.  They cover over the “gift” of the Atman, our true nature.  [Babaji spoke of the Five Sheaths of body, prana, dual mind, intellect, and ego, which are so many wrappings over the Atman, the real treasure.]

The more thoroughly you put yourself in Sri Ramakrishna’s care, the more he will remake you.  He will help you awaken to your true nature.  There is a big difference between therapy and sadhana.  There are many ways to remake yourself but they fall under two main categories: the conventional and the spiritual.  Sadhana is religion’s way of remaking oneself using concentration for a spiritual end, for seeing the Truth.  Doing sadhana helps thin out the sheaths, coverings, and mental projections.  It thins out ignorance and delusion like paint thinner thins out paint.  It will take special mental effort on the part of the seeker to thin out the impeding overlay of ignorance.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When you think in terms of bhakti (devotion), you think in terms of the Lord of the Worlds.  But when you think in terms of the formless, you think in terms of Shankara’s verse in the Nirvanashatkam: “I have no mother, no father, not even a birth have I!”

You are right now sitting in the mind.  The realm of objects is the realm of mind.  Objects have come from the Word.  Objects are thoughts made concretized, says Holy Mother.

If I can go into an egoless state every night in deep sleep, why can’t I do that consciously right now?  This was the thinking of the ancient seers.  So they sat and meditated for a long, long time, and they stumbled upon the Word, Om, and saw that all the worlds were coming out of it and dissolving back into It.

You have to separate out the mind from the brain.  The mind is awareness within the subtle and causal realms.  The brain is a temporary reflector of relative consciousness in the physical world.  But mind is vast.  It is a marvelous mechanism, but it is also a potential gateway to bondage.  Mind is a marvelous reflector of Chid (Consciousness), but if mind gravitates away from Light, it gets lost in the objective worlds.

Study, then meditation – let those new thoughts arise in your meditation.  Contemplate them.

[Babaji stood up and took down from the bookshelf the “meditation cylinder” that the children made at one summer retreat.  It is filled with colored water and oil.  Then he said:]
No one told you that you aren’t matter.  So when you heard “all is one,” you thought that meant matter.  But you are Spirit.  You have to meditate on your Self.  Time, space, and change don’t happen in the Soul, yet we have mixed it up with Prakrti, Nature (gross and subtle matter).  [Babaji shook the meditation cylinder at this point to show how oil and water appear to mix for awhile, but quickly separate again, making the point that, similarly, Spirit and matter do not mix, though they seem to temporarily.]

Separating yourself from Nature is involution, allowing yourself to separate out from the non-Self.  If you do these practices (like kriya yoga: austerity, study of scripture, worship of God), this will happen naturally.  If you fully understood Nature, inside and out, you would not want to be one with it.  It is all changing.  That is where pain is.  When you place consciousness on an object that is what causes pain, and also loss of the sense of Self.  One is then poised to embark on the seven-fold road to ruination described by Sri Krishna:
“Brooding on the objects of the senses, man develops attachment to them;
from attachment comes desire; from desire anger sprouts forth.
From anger proceeds delusion; from delusion, confused memory;
from confused memory the ruin of reason; due to the ruin of reason, he perishes.
(Bhagavad Gita, ch. 2)

So put your mind off of the objects and on to the Seer.  Let objects be as they are.  Be a Seer and just move amongst them.  You may love them for the sake of the Atman within all objects (“It is not for the sake of the husband that the husband is loved, but for the sake of the Self within.”).  Live dharmically amongst the objects until Divine Mother takes you up and out of the world of objects.  I think that people come here for just this purpose: to try and retain full Awareness amidst the challenges of relativity, i.e., “I’ll do it right this time”  But they forget, like a wizard who creates a world and then forgets himself there.

You can get rid of the fear of death by meditating on its opposite – Eternal Life.  Then one perceives the problem with an individual self.  That is where all fear comes from.  Belief can be shaken, but faith cannot.  You have to come to know that the world is unreal.  This is the foundation of all spiritual life (though maybe not all religious life).  Love is a kind of renunciation:  “My Beloved is my all in all.”  This is like renouncing the world.