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This is what Lex Hixon said to dharmic householders: "Whatever the mind broods upon, renounce that. You don't need to renounce external things unless they pose a problem for you. Search out every tendency in the mind to brood, to fear, to be in sorrow. Then renounce those."
Forget "seek your bliss;" that will come naturally later. In the meantime develop some enthusiasm for restraining the outward going senses.
Procrastination, prevarication, complacency -- these are the words I use as a teacher when I want to whip you into shape a little.
[referring to "nice" teachers and "harsh" teachers] Swamiji was so nice to everyone - until you became his disciple. When you belonged to him, however, he wanted you up and out of maya as quick as possible.
That all religions have twists and turns is a good thing. It turns you into a spiritual athlete who, through self-effort, can attain to the open space beyond religion. "It is good to be born in a church, but not to die in a church." All the great luminaries want you to realize what is beyond religion. Those who want to do this in one lifetime usually take to monasticism.
Brahmajnan (knowledge of Brahman) is what we're missing when we are focused on the finite to the exclusion of the Infinite. Science, society, and even our religions are focused on the finite. The West needs to develop samskaras for spirituality. Like cows who tread the same path everyday and run a deep groove in the earth, the people of the West have become entrenched in the path of materiality. We need to fill in that groove and create a new groove via spiritual philosophy and practices. Thus, I would like to see us build samskaras around such great and noble principles like Aparinama (non-transformation) and Ajativada (non-origination). Then we will see some enlightened souls being born here in the America.
A physical canyon wall only mimics what you call out. But a spiritual samskara is like a subtle canyon wall that you can receive an answer from. You call out, "Who am I?" and it sends back, "You're Brahman, you're Brahman, stupid!" Without such samskaras, spiritual life, and life in general, is all so difficult. One has to go through so much suffering and ignorance when there is no samskara from which to understand the call to nonduality.
The spiritual seeker looks for a challenge, for the razor's edge. This is the practice of the four yogas: wisdom, selfless action, meditation, and love. Some have proposed that the world itself presents its own yoga, or path to God), calling it the yoga of Samsara. But this is really a contradiction in terms, or an excuse to remain asleep. Yoga means final union, and one that fulfills completely. Samsara can't fulfill you. Besides, who wants union with ignorance? Is it wise?
1 - Dual mind must be made nondual (Karma Yoga)
2 - Thoughts must be made buoyant (Raja Yoga)
3 - Buddhi (intellect) must be honed into a tool that can pierce through maya. (Jnana Yoga)
4 - Make the unripe ego ripe. How? By loving God. (Bhakti Yoga)
Vedanta has always concentrated on "I and my Father are one." There are many people in this room, but these are just body-mind mechanisms; The Soul we all share is the same, and all-pervasive. This is a popular notion with New Age circles, but it must be proved by meditation.
If you are serious about spirituality, you take up a regimen of sadhana and you do spiritual disciplines every day until you crack open the secret of your own innate awareness.
Om - to hit this mark is a good goal for householders and others still at work in the world. But the formless Brahman (beyond Om) takes us right out of the world.
What does the practice of the nondualists consist of, in part, that allows them to live in the world as Brahman?
1 - As Sri Krishna states, we must detach from the Gunas. The one of steady wisdom hates not light, activity, or darkness, nor longs for them if they are absent. The gunas are of the mind, not the Atman.
2 - And we must have steady abidance in Brahmajnan in the form of holy company.
The difference between ordinary or dualistic and revealed scriptures: the revealed scriptures tell you about your identity with God.
Because it is difficult for the householder to give up everything, the path of self-surrender is advised. The path of the householder is about deification.
The greatest distractions are false superimposition and sankalpa. Sankalpa is creative imagination that is going on all the time, keeping oneself in a dualistic mode.
A person who wants to become religious, spiritual, or philosophical, will have to examine the terrain of his own mind. This is called deep meditation.
If you want to calm your mind, you will have to practice the yamas and niyamas -- purification of mind -- so you can take the mind off of objects and put them on the Source. These teachings often come from a monastic tradition. But there should be a path that the householders can follow. The path of sacrifice and self-surrender is based on Four Keys: conscious ingestion, conscious sacrificing, conscious generosity, and conscious austerity. Apply these four keys to the various locks of your own dungeon, and get free right away.
Conscious ingestion includes everything you take in at the physical, pranic, intellectual, and emotional level. You can't become conscious if you're selfish; you'll just be conscious of your ego. Sacrifice is the way of humility and selflessness.
Holy Mother stated, "Your salvation is guaranteed when you take Thakur's (Sri Ramakrishna) Name. But as you move towards the highest goal, turn around and help others.
You have three choices: Divine life or immersion in Brahman. The third option is not advisable -- worldliness and complacency.
There are five main spiritual moods or modes: shanta, the peaceful mood, dasya, being the servant of God, sakya, being God's friend, vatsalya, looking upon God as your child, and madhur, looking upon God as your Beloved. Your mind is like a crystal. You can form it in accord with one of these moods and attain sattva. From there the path lies open....
Yoga starts with yamas and niyamas -- ethics and morals, like the 10 Commandments. But there is a difference. In Yoga, "Thou shalt not kill" (ahimsa/nonviolence) is later discovered to be "Thou cannot kill." The codes of ethics in Vedic and Tantrik culture all are based upon the birthless, deathless Atman.
Titiksha (forbearance) is the default zone of the illumined ones who retain the body for the benefit of others. You can't be in samadhi all the time. A soul like this can change poison into Nectar - transform the poison of relative existence into the contentment/bliss of divine life.
The gods and goddesses have their backs permanently to Brahman, and the light of Brahman shines through them, turning into the worlds of name and form. Therefore, humanity looks back into them and thereby towards the Light -- one gets to the Father through the Son. This is an eternal Truth, written in stone.
If you have children, you want to raise them in the dharma, in Truth, not in the world. Besides, the Seers tell us the world is not real, and even scientists are telling us this, i.e., nothing that appears solid is actually solid. So, when science cites the changing particle, and psychology the various defects of the mind; when religion states that birds have nests and foxes have holes but that man has no place to rest his head here, and the seers recommend complete renunciation of the world - what are you waiting for?
In deep sleep you have no form, no problems. That is why people love it. See how beautiful God is? It is formless, and all problems are gone in It. How to reach this state? The monks do it via renunciation; but what about others? Sri Krishna says, if you can't contemplate Me naturally, then perform spiritual practice. If you can't do that, then do all work as sacrifice to Me. If you can't do that, then offer all work to Me. If you can't do that, then give up all results of work and be free.
If you are a householder, you have to learn the art of sacrifice. People sacrifice so much for their kids, but they're not giving them spirituality. Is all the sacrifice undertaken for your children only to prepare them for living in an unreal world? Give them authentic spirituality first and foremost, and teach them to practice. Then you can call yourself a true parent. Otherwise, you are the reason for their bondage and suffering.
Whatever you love, God makes that the place where He receives you. The Eternal Religion (Sanatana Dharma) is a gem with many facets.
To meditate you have to stop the mind from vibrating. If you can't do that, then you have to at least refine the mind's vibration so you can see the Savior - Jesus, Buddha, etc.
When you go into meditation, leave the senses and mind outside the door, like shoes outside a temple.
Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharishi were not restless; they were blissful. They owned nothing. And on any given day when they might not be having bliss, they were content.
Why are so many scriptures set in the midst of war? It is to illustrate the principle of sacrifice. It is the Adiyajna (the Lord) who suffers on the battlefield. Those who get into step with sacrifice become God-like, and to their capacity, take on the karma of others vicariously. Parents do this for their children all the time. But are they routing them back into maya, or directing them towards dharma and svadharma?
Westerners are attached to the bhoga marga (path of pleasure) and to work. "Wretched are the result seekers." But Sri Krishna advises the path of knowledge along with works. For, na hi jnanena sadrisyam pavitram iha vidyate - "knowledge is the greatest purifier."
In the West, our Jnana Marg (Path of Knowledge) has gotten confused with secular knowledge.
Don't study maya, study the scriptures. Just observe maya. Maya has the power to draw you in. Have you noticed the scientists?
Einstein saw beyond time and space, but didn't get past causation. This is the difference between a genius and a seer. It is the the province of the Seer is to see beyond cause and effect.
Question: How do I shut off my senses?
Babaji: They can still be there, but don't dwell so much within them. Witness them.
The rishis gave us the system of Nirguna Brahman (Brahman free of attributes, formless) and Saguna Brahman (Brahman with attributes, with form). When we are in the waking state and see names and forms, we see Brahman as all this. And when we go into deep sleep, we enter formlessness. But we must learn to do all of this consciously. That begins spiritual life.
You can call it (the world) maya when you don't know the Truth. But you can call it Brahman when Truth is known. The knower of Reality is like Shiva who turns poison into Nectar. When you think of Shiva as the great renunciate, He sits on Mt. Kailash. When you think of Him as a Yogi, He is a family man and a yogi.
Not having a spiritual life is like not having a rudder on your boat. You will just float here and there and have no basis or orientation for life's experiences.
There is the maya of politics and money, but when Vedanta talks about maya it is more about the cosmic and collective level of mind -- the superimposition of name and form over indivisible Reality. You can oppose industry, oppose government, politics, etc, but what Vedanta wants is to oppose ignorance and begin to see the one sentient Soul in and throughout everything.
Without mumukshutvam, intense desire for moksha, freedom, you will fall back from difficulties - and this can become a habit. If you develop mumukshutvam you exceed 90% of all other aspirants.
You don't need to transform your spirit; It is already pure. You need to transform the mind. Sri Ramakrishna pushed aside the green scum on the pond to see his reflection in the water, but then it came dancing back to conceal. This means that if you don't make an effort, you can't see your Self, and when you see the Self, make sure you keep up the effort that maintains it in view at all times. It is the nature of name and form to conceal Brahman. As long as you are embodied, then, you must get very adept at the game of hide and seek.
The revealed scriptures will declare your identity with God, but they may also talk about this wonder from the standpoint of obstacles, methods, and attainments.
Advaita Vedanta is all-inclusive. It includes all the yogas. You can't x-out devotion to God with Form; it is like pulling the rug out from under your own feet, and that of others moving towards the goal.
Desires that stimulate enjoyment for enjoyment's sake cause karma. Natural day to day enjoyments will not harm an unattached person. That is why Holy Mother told us, "Desires? What are those to you (a spiritual aspirant)? The more they come and go, the better for you."
All action done with intention or motive has kickbacks. Thus nonduality is very efficacious. If you want to "cut to the chase" in spiritual life, you have to practice a wisdom path, some meditation, and renunciation. Bhakti is good also, but unless it is intensified it is a slow path based mostly in duality. Then there is Karma Yoga (selfless service/action); it is the real nut to crack in this age.
If you know that all action takes place in nature, and not in the Soul, then you will be free. Instead, you remain in a rajasic or a tamasic state, and rush into action anyway and suffer the results. Well, in this case your mantra becomes "why me?" rather than, "Who am I?"