From the Seattle Spring Retreat on Gaudapada's Karika with Babaji

Though I have been studying Vedantic/Advaitic Wisdom for a while now, it was only a taste of the immersion and depth of what I experienced in the recent retreat in Seattle. It opened my eyes to these deep Truths that, though they had been lurking, waiting on the sidelines to introduce themselves to me, came out in all their magnificence, in their full expression, and presented the power of this deep tradition. Now it is not that I feel that I have the answer, rather this showed where to best apply myself to the work yet to be done. And yet, from the deeper perspective, I see that within, everything is already one with the Divine. Words cannot even begin to express the deep heartfelt gratitude I feel for the opportunity of having been able to participate in this. Mahalo and Namaste, James Grazzini

The following are personal reflections and notes by Annapurna:

The precious jewel, the very essence of the Guru-shishya relationship, is in the transmission of the true nature of Reality.  This jewel, like a seed -- not like a plant seed, but rather like a bija spoken by the Mother -- awakens the heart and lifts the mind to a more rarefied atmosphere in which to receive the nondual teachings.  Truth "emerges" from the Absolute, wraps itself in terse, aphoristic words, and passes from Seer to budding Seer throughout time.  The heart open to the Guru is like the glider plane that rides the unseen currents of lower truth to higher truth - higher and higher. 

Such was the experience of this retreatant during the 4-day retreat in Seattle focused on Gaudapada's karika (commentary) of the Mundakya Upanisad.  Through Upanisadic verses, Gaudapada's commentaries and Babaji's elucidations - enigmatic statements like "Jiva is Shiva," "all of nature has come out you," "all objects are forms of your own knowledge," "cause and effect are unreal" - became matters of insight and experience in that atmosphere.  But what is more, a path was laid down for retracing the steps to those profound insights. 

For those who did not attend, the retreatants studied the Mandukya Upanisad, and Gaudapada's karika concerning the teachings of AUM (Om) and the states of waking, dream, deep sleep, and Turiya, which is the all-pervading Consciousness, the substratum of the other states.  In his karika, Gaudapada clarifies AUM and its stages, then addresses the characteristics of non-apprehension of Truth and distorted Truth present in waking, dream, and deep sleep.  Next he addresses the complete answer that Advaita (nonduality) gives with regard to the nature of Reality and phenomena -- that being nonorigination, or ajativada. Gaudapada then finishes with a chapter called, "The Cessation of the Fire Brand," which is an allusion to breaking free from the assumption that maya is real.  The appearance of phenomena is likened to a lighted torch swung around in circles, creating the illusion of a ring of fire. 

The manner in which the first three states of consciousness are analyzed is fascinating, and conducive of deep reflection.  The one and only Consciousness is accorded different names depending upon its field of awareness.
  • When Consciousness is focused only on the waking state, It is called visva
  • When focused on the dream state, It is called taijasa
  • When experiencing dreamless sleep, It is called prajna
  • As the all-pervading substratum of these fields of awareness, It is called Turiya (the Fourth), corresponding to Atman.
The waking state is examined at both the individual point of reference and also the cosmic point of reference, and the same with dream and deep sleep.  Further, it is pointed out that only from the vantage of the waking state can one know anything about the dream state or the deep sleep state.  And thus, it became thrillingly obvious that it is the presence of Turiya that makes this knowledge possible.  It is so hard to explain, but somehow in the course of this teaching, the persistent mental assumptions/modifications of individual (jiva) and cosmic (Ishvara) ... just dissolved.  Particularly when Babaji was showing the chart on The 3 States, 7 Limbs, and 19 Mouths, the reality of one unified Awareness expressing in all modes, being the Enjoyer of all enjoyments, became vividly accessible.  With regard to the Enjoyer and the enjoyed, Gaudapada states, "Those who keep these two distinct are never contaminated." That is, they are never affected by changing phenomena.  They know themselves as Turiya/Atman.

The following are a few notes from the retreat that I was able to take down when not utterly merged in the flow of teachings.

While elucidating on his chart, The Four States of Consciousness (waking, dream, deep sleep, Turiya), Babaji listed the following 7 Attributes of Turiya:
  1. Indescribable beauty
  2. Boundless Infinity
  3. Unimpeachable Truth
  4. Liberating Auspiciousness
  5. Illuminating Wisdom -- Atman is like intense concentration without end, but free of conceptualization.
  6. Transcendent Peace
  7. Advaitanam -- Indivisible Unity -- No difference between jiva and Atman exists whatsoever.
And after giving us this list, he reminded us of another list, the Six Transformations (birth, growth, disease, old age, decay, death), and instructed, "Replace the 6 Transformations with the 7 Attributes of Turiya."  Why?  See number 7 above.  The Six Transformations have no more to do with us than the snake we see due to our own misconception has any relation to the rope.

"The only place you can go after AUM is Nonorigination."

"The problem with the bliss of deep sleep is that it is looked at from the standpoint of experiencer and experience.  But where there are two, there is fear." 

"These teachings are not usually given to householders.  When the monks hear it, they hear it as an ultimatum and renounce the world, but the householders receive it like an alternative lifestyle.  They still have karma and work in the world.  They must renounce inwardly.  The rust of householders is lack of self-effort."

Speaking about the matras (letters and their meanings) of AUM, Babaji gave the following affirmation and explanations:
"I will meditate on these matras in such a way that I connect them into my being.
  • A of AUM stands for the waking state:  When all of the objective universe has come out of you, how can it fulfill you?  You are the fulfillment of it.
  • U of AUM stands for the dream state: You may be in the waking state, but dreaming is still going on via brooding over past, present, and future.  The different forms of sankalpa keep you asleep in the waking state.
  • M of AUM stands for the deep sleep state: pure awareness.  No structures exist, yet it is from out of prajna that all objects come, and all things consist of knowledge.
  • Shvara of AUM (the silent portion, Turiya, indicated by the half moon and bindu): At a very advanced stage all processes have to stop.  Awakening is not an experience.  Turiya is free from the subtle anxiety that is present in the duality of experience and experiencer."

Babaji further explained the special characteristics of each of these states:
Waking state/Visva: All-pervading
Dream state/Taijasa: Being
Deep Sleep state/Prajna: Merging
"Before you merge (M), you have to connect (U), before you can connect, you have to observe (A).  The facility of the waking state (A) is that it is more stable.  Further, you have the memory of the dream state in the waking state.  But in deep sleep you do not have memory of waking experiences."

Scattered throughout my notes are statements to meditate upon...
"If it (any perceptible thing) doesn't exist at the beginning, nor at the end, then why do you think it exists in the middle?" 

"To consider the state of 'jiva as jiva' as primary is irrational.  Prior to life and mind is this Atman."

"Atman imagines itself by its own maya."

"Do people think of their immortal Soul when they are passing?  No, they are thinking of their 'mortal' soul."

"These teachings have to irritate you, like a grain of sand in an oyster.  You have to cogitate on them.  These teachings are to get you out of your comfort zone; you have to go against the grain (laughter).  When you let go of matter, you attach to energy/prana; step off of that, and now you are in the intellect/mind -- you are looking inward.  Beyond intellectualism you will find Intelligence.  One ray of Mother's Intelligence stuns a thousands scholars.  They see a bit of this Intelligence shining within, but project it outside through their intellect, and then suddenly they are like hens cackling over the most recent hatching of insects on the barnyard floor.  Intelligence is Mother Wisdom.  Intellectualism is ego-oriented."

"The revealed scriptures say the embodied being and Brahman are one. What's wrong with this picture?  Maya.  It doesn't look like jiva and Brahman are one.  You have to infer that anything changing needs an unchanging surface.  A dancer needs a stage."

"When a firebrand is shaking, the false appearances are produced by itself. [there is no external cause]  If you 'shake your buddhi' [intellect], the appearances arise from you.  And what if the firebrand is still? (what if you make your buddhi still?) -- appearances are potential in it."

"The world is not real separate from Brahman; but it is real as Brahman.  God is not in the world, the world is in God.  But one must be careful with this truth, for people will use it for doing everything but realizing the Self.  Nonduality is easy, but it is difficult. It is simple, but requires effort."
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