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Making a Place Within
[Babaji began this Sunday's class intoning the following Vedic slokas (verses)]:
Om -- Nityo'nityanam chetanashchetananam
eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman
tamatmastham ye'nupasyanti dhirah
tesham shantih shashvati netaresham
That one, the eternal among non-eternals, the intelligence of the most
intelligent, who though ever one fulfills the desires of the many - those who realize that One as existing in their own self, to them belongs eternal peace, and to none else.
Om peace, peace, peace.
Om -- Satyena labhyastapasa hyesa atma
samyag-jnanena brahmacharyena nityam
antah sharire hi jyotirmayo hi shubrah
yam pasyanti yatayah kshinadoshah
The Self is attained through veracity, concentration, wisdom and
continence, all constantly cultivated. When mental impurities
dissolve, the seer beholds It, stainless and resplendent, existing
everywhere, even here in this very body. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
[These notes are taken from a student's notebook]
So we meet at Morning Dew Farm in the afternoon to remind ourselves again and again about Brahman and Shakti. Brahman is the formless Reality and Shakti is Its dynamic Power. Sri Ramakrishna likened Brahman and Shakti to a snake and its wriggling motion.
Realizing Brahman -- It's actually perceiving our own awareness. The mistake we make in the West is we think that God is in space somewhere. So we tend to think in terms of space and time and therefore fall into the net of causality--cause and effect, i.e. karma.
Last week I was speaking of the different ashramas. [See notes from 2/8/09.] Ashrams dotted the landscape of India. You would go to these forest, ocean, mountain, or plains ashrams to retire from daily life. Families would come to receive the teachings directly from a sage. You would go to have your doubts dispelled. When you are alone you are faced with yourself and with your projected self, the ego.
What is this projected self, this ego? You call yourself a name, you like some people and not others, you are fat or thin--basically it is your personality.
According to those ashram teachers, you were like a magnet with all these iron filings clinging to it, each filing representing an aspect of the not-Self. And you take these as your real Self and feel separate from God and others. But who are you when you aren't awake or dreaming? Do you only exist in the projected self? Where does my ego that beholds objects go in dreamless sleep? If I didn't exist at that time, then why did I wake up again?
The minute you wake up is a new start to your spiritual life. This is how Sri Ramakrishna thought of it. So when you wake up, and consciousness connects with your brain, there should come first the thought of God. And as you fall asleep, your thought should be "my Divine Mother, my Divine Father," as you slip into sleep.
Consciousness is boundless. It can contract and expand in a flash, as it were. When the rishis though of Reality, the nature of Reality, Brahman would rush to mind and they would direct this awareness to the practical. If they didn't, they would be absorbed into Brahman. We see this in the life of Sri Ramakrishna. [His mind was ever inclined to absorption in Brahman, and with effort he would keep it directed to the devotees in order to teach. But anything could cause his mind to ascend to the nondual Reality. One time he was taken to the zoo in Kolkata. Outside was a stone lion. The lion is the vehicle of the Divine Mother, so his mind instantly became absorbed in the thought of Her and he lost outer sense awareness.] So when you look at objects, you want to know what is behind them...and what is behind that, and so on, until you reach the Ultimate.
The rishis thought and talked about space, time, and causality--that is, if you could keep your mind off of Brahman long enough, these are the things you will think about. Why? Because they are more pure. In the West, when we think of purity, we think in terms of morality. But in the East, purity denotes how close to the Source a thing is. Those things that are far from the Source are more impure, so they called them nivrtti - to be renounced. They realized the Source as nameless and formless. If you want to realize It, you have to sift through maya and penetrate it.
If the brain is blown out by a bullet, the brain dies, but mind continues. The brain is like a diode in a radio. If it is crushed, the radio won't function, but the radio waves are still present. Mind is a universal principle. As manas, it is individual; as buddhi it is collective; as Mahat, it is cosmic.
I think the West has a problem because they think of time first, as in the expression, "time, space and causation." But the rishis put space first, as in desha, kala, nimitta - "space, time and causality." You can have space without time, and that is the space of pure Spirit (Chidakasha).
Just like trees and grasses are born and die on the solid foundation of the earth, all particles of matter, energy, thought, and intelligence, are born and die on the "solid" foundation of Awareness. We have to be aware of Awareness. So if you become aware that everything is being born and is dying, and that this is only the appearance, you then realize that all is happening "atop" the Causeless Cause (Brahman). This is like waves rising and falling on the breast of the ocean, as they say.
[Babaji presented the chart on the Five Akashas (space, or dimensions)]
The mithya purusha (false self) has ensconced himself in the bhutakasha only, the space of physical objects. One who does this thinks only in terms of the physical. Even when mithya purusha thinks of knowledge or intelligence, it is only in terms of the physical. [this is like Sri Ramakrishna's point about the scholars of his day being like vultures who soar high in the sky of the intellect, but their attention is nevertheless fixed on the carcasses lying in the carrion pit below. In other words, their intelligence is only used for finite rewards of name, fame, and wealth].
The yogic secret is to use the prana (subtle life-force) to charge up the chitta (mind's thoughts). You have to source this prana. People generally access this via the breath. So, if you are thinking right now to yourself, "Babaji, you're speach is too boring and I'm getting sleepy," then breathe! Awareness will come coursing back.
While living in the body, one should create and maintain an inner spiritual location. You created an outer space when you incarnated, called the physical body. Now, while living, you have to create an inner space to rest in. Will you choose a space of life-force, thought, intelligence, or Consciousness? - that is the question. But in all that you do, keep the Nameless/Formless Reality as your unerring compass. You can't get out of the Chidakasha (Space of Pure Consciousness). Holy Mother said we can't go outside the circle of Sri Ramakrishna--we are sparks off of Ishvara.
[Babaji presented the chart on Causation, Origins, and Reincarnation. In this chart, Babaji delineates seven levels of cause from the Ultimate, called the Causeless Cause, to the most gross of all causes. In brief these levels are described as follows:
- Causeless Cause: Brahman, the substratum of all changes, subtle or gross, which never undergoes any change.
- Remote Cause: Ishvara/Ishvari (Godhead), Mahat (Cosmic Mind), Om (Primal Vibration)
- Cosmic Cause: Maya (name and form in time and space--makes the indivisible Reality appear divided), niyati, kala -- subtle principles like time, attraction, diversity, cosmic laws.
- Subtle Cause: intellect, ego, chitta (thought), manas (individual/dual mind), desire, karma.
- Primordial Cause: such things as Prana (life force), tanmatras (audibility, tangibility, visibility, flavor, odor -- subtle principles from which the 5 elements evolve).
- Efficient Cause: Panchamahabhutas, the five great elements, which are still subtle, and which evolve out all physical objects, like bodies, planets, etc.
- Material Cause: the brain (connected to the mind), food, energy, sperm, ovum, body.]
If you are coming down here (to earth and embodiment), you have to have ego. Everyone has ego -- even the Great Teachers. But theirs are wonderful egos, beneficent. So how are you going to use your ego? This is the main point with regard to ego. Sri Ramakrishna spoke of the ripe and unripe ego. The unripe ego, apakvahamkara, binds the individual through "I," "me," and "mine" identified with the sense of ownership, agency, and the sense of separation. The ripe and ripening ego, pakvahamkara, surrenders these and looks upon him or herself as the servant, devotee, or child of God.
At all levels of cause, except the Remote and Causeless Cause, Maya controls. Maya is even present in the realm of Ishvara, since That is still a form. But Ishvara is the controller of Maya, whereas on other levels maya controls most beings.
Sri Ramakrishna is working through all of us as Ishvara-prana (the life force of Ishvara). Ishvara has a subtle energy too. It is the subtlemost side of prana, a manifestation of the Mahashakti.
In this day and age, and here at the level of the material cause of objects, Reality is difficult to perceive. So here, the mantra given by our precious guru is our anchor. It is our way of going within, making a space within.
Swamiji (Vivekananda) constantly disidentified with his projected self. "I'm a non-entity," he would say, "a voice without a form....".
Most everyone outside of Christiandom thinks that the Christians are narrow and uninformed for not believing in reincarnation, especially since this principle is even mentioned by Jesus in the Bible with regard to John the Baptist's previous incarnation. But it's okay that the Christians don't believe in reincarnation. One should live one life at a time. One should be fully present for this life. The chart about levels of cause I am displaying here is for deeper thinkers, those who want to know why they were born. In my way of thinking, this intense impetus to know defines Jesus's saying about loving the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul.
There is a string, or golden sutra (thread) running through the necklace of pearls. That string that holds everything together is the Atman (the Self). It is indestructible. It is the one sentient Principle. Inner analysis brings the first real glimmerings of spirituality. In a series of deep recollections, the jiva scrutinizes life, even to infanthood, and glimpses past lifetimes. "By perceiving its origin, the jiva (individual soul) courts Freedom," states Lord Vasishtha.
"If higher knowledge is not already in the soul, then rebirth continues and there will be no other recourse than to suffer cause and effect. Even striving for light will not bestow any real benefit, for to seek enlightenment without the mantra, the teachings, and the guru is like trying to grow crops only at night." -- Lord Vasishtha, quoted from the chart.
It is extremely rare not to have a teacher and still gain enlightenment. Most great beings crow jubilantly about their teacher and lineage.
Yoga speaks of five kinds of seekers:
- The first is born with a desire for liberation. These large cross-section of beings usually get distracted from it in the course of life.
- The second attempts to get spiritual experiences by using drugs or elixirs.
- The third uses mantra. These often repeat it mechanically and/or have taken the mantra on their own from a book or hearing it casually. But one must get the mantra from an authentic teacher and then unwrap its meaning, repeat it with devotion, bring the light of Consciousness to bear upon it. Patnjali and Vedavyasa state that the three aforementioned types of yogis do not gain enlightenment.
- The fouth does austerity. It is via austerity -- spiritual practice, serving beings as God -- that you make a space within yourself. You will feel, at least by the time of death, that you are a rock; you have faith. Belief can be shaken, but Faith cannot......
- The fifth kind of seeker has spiritual knowledge at birth.
[Babaji closed this class by leading the sangha in the following ancient Vedic chant:
Om asato ma sadgamaya tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya abhirabhira mai edhi
rudra yate dakshinam mukham tena mam pahi nityam
Om shantih shantih shantih
Lead us from darkness to light. Lead us from lower truth to higher Truth. Lead us from the unreal to the real. Lead us from the illusion of death to Eternal Life, and reach us through and through with Your sweet and benign Presence. Om peace, peace, peace.
[Class was followed by a sangha dinner and then we all gathered for arati and satsang. As the Kona sun set over the ocean and quiet fell upon the farm, light and incense were burned and flowers offered with mantras and devotion. Together we sang Hari Om Ramakrishna. Afterwards, Babaji invited us to ask questions from class, our studies, or our lives. A few exchanges are noted down below.]
[The first question asked concerned ceremonial purity at the altar, which elicited a subtle discourse on the aim of practices of purity. Early on in his answer, Babaji recited this verse from the Vivekachudamani, the Crest Jewel of Discrimination, by Shankaracharya.]
Drsyam pratitam pravilapayan san
san-matram ananda-ghanam vibhavayam
samahitas san bahir-antaram va
kalam nayethah sati karma-bandhe
Reduce the world which you see all around you into Brahman, which is an indeterminate mass of pure, conscious Awareness. Rendering the external and the internal into one indivisible principle, meditate upon That. Then pass your time contentedly and be free.
It is a very special ability of consciousness to make inside and outside one. Holy Mother states, "The universe is thought made manifest." The further you trace origins back, the closer you get to formlessness.
The Tantric way is via deification of objects. It is the same as the end of Vedanta: seeing God in everything. The problem is, is that maybe this place is already pure; maybe everything is inherently pure, but I am not seeing it that way. I have to bring my consciousness to bear upon it. If you leave a penny in the shower, over time it turns green--the patina has come out. It is the same with sesame oil--you have to gather many seeds, make a press, and extract the oil with much effort. And the same is true with us. God is here, within, but we have to exedrt (sadhana) to bring It out.
The pujari uses the mrga mudra, which means, what is here ("pointing" to the Self within) is there (pointing to the altar). I don't look at the altar as an object to own, to enjoy, to be sad if it gets lost or broken, or something I might get bored with -- and that is the challenge in worship too. [This pure relation with the act of ceremonial worship and deification of the objects of worship is also to train us to see all objects with this eye of purity and selflessness.]
Sri Ramakrishna said that if one is sick he calls a doctor; if you have a lawsuit then call a lawyer; but if you have spiritual doubt..."who ya gonna call?" ["Ego busters!" laughed most of the sangha there, including a couple teens.]
Question: Why are we so spiritually lost? [In class, Babaji had said that saving the poor and lowly did not mean only the financially poor, but the spiritual poor. "We, especially the West, are spiritually bereft," he said.]
The idea of impoverishment or wealth does not pertain just at the money level. Avatar gets born often in poor families of the pious. When Sri Ramakrishna's father received the vision of Lord Vishnu who told him He was pleased with his devotion and would take birth as his son, Kshudiram demurred, saying, "Lord, I am poor, I will not be able to serve You properly." But the Lord replied, "Do not worry. I will tale care of everything." The worldly, the reclusive, the renunciate, the intellectual -- all have different levels of impoverishment or wealth. "The meek will inherit the earth."
The yogi sits crosslegged at the time of death and actually simulates death. He's not afraid of dying, he's trying to attain samadhi...will I make the grade?
My mind is an overgrown jungle. I will take this machete and clear one acre. I will construct a temple on it and clear the rest later. So make a place for yourself to rest in. You know that at any point your world could be destroyed -- your personal world, your geographical world -- the sun comes a little closer, water dries up, and you're gone! Prepare a place for yourself within. It is thus that Ramprasad sings:
O mind, you clearly do not know how to till the soil.
You allow your fertile expanse to lie fallow.
With proper cultivation, the land of pure awareness
becomes golden with the harvest of Truth.
Protect the precious field of your soul
with the fence of Kali's Name,
and the fruit of your dedicated efforts
will not be stolen by the egocentric world.
The fiery fence of Kali, Kali, Kali is impenetrable.
Even Death dares not approach it.
Be utterly confident, O simple-minded poet.
Encircled by the resonance of Mother's Name,
your meditations in song will remain fruitful
for days, years, even centuries.
The soul is the field of your own free decision.
Dedicate yourself to constant cultivation
and the harvest will be without limits.
Your spiritual guide has given you
the mystic syllable of Kali's Essence
as potent seed to sow,
and water for irrigation flows abundantly through
your heart as love and devotion.
This dusty troubadour pleads with everyone:
"If you find farming difficult,
Please bring these poems with you."
translated by Lex Hixon in Mother of the Universe, Tantric Hymns of Enlightenment