Page 5 of 6Notes from Portland and the Oregon Prison classes
[Spoken during a class in Portland where people have endured months of cold, overcast skies]
Recent Portland headline: Portlanders discover a bright shining orb in the sky that gives warmth and dispels clouds. But we know that Vedanta dispels the clouds of ignorance. This ignorance is not necessarily our fault - unless we are not doing our sadhana.
In India, Philosophy and Religion were never kept separate. Here in the West, religion is steeped in moneymaking and philosophy is used for debate. India long ago got over debating about the Truth of Reality, and just accepted It. It is obvious! With that one put behind them, they began to plumb Its depths. What we see today in its Wisdom is the result of that millennia's-long dedicated search.
Our daily life is missing something. It is missing experience of the Self. But Holy Mother had this. She told us about moving through her day and being engulfed by a wave of Light, and for days thereafter felt a deep, imperturbable Peace. Ordinary people only experience something like this in deep sleep, but that is incomplete because it is covered by nescience, the lack of conscious awareness.
Brahman can never be objectified. This is why It cannot be the form. It is not the object; It is the eternal Subject. The experience of Brahman does not produce or maintain a separate experiencer.
Slug consciousness: Do not leave a slime after yourself. This is like discovering a constellation and naming it after yourself. [Slime refers to karmic residue] Be like a bird and leave no trace as you move through the sky of this world. Do not be like a slug that leaves a trail of karmic slime over the lettuce leaf. What does that slug slime consist of? The six passions and eight fetters mixed up with the three Gunas.
Worldliness: this is your packet of karmic propensity: worldly acts based on lust, greed and mere hope.
Any time you maintain an individual knower you have fear. There is no fear in the Indivisible. So if you want to be fearless, renounce the whole shootin' match. "Renunciation alone is fearless."Samadhana -- this is the unique ability to concentrate on Brahman alone. It is not pratyahara (withdrawing senses from objects) or dharana (making the mind one-pointed via contemplating a single object). It is more like Savichara - absorption in a single principle.Today's mind is like a barrel full of rotten apples. This is a big problem for contemporary Western aspirants. They look at the potential attainments of spiritual life with big eyes but small stomachs. That is, they enter into prescribed spiritual practice with a mind that is still impure. But those rotten apples at the bottom will only spoil all the fresh new ones that get piled on top. So do the purification first, then seek qualities and attributes.
From your position in the Cosmic Self you watch yourself take and leave bodies. The collective, cosmic, and individual all exist in you. We have to realize that we are that vast.
We must inspect everything that happens in the physical realm -- black, white and mixed karmas -- and trace it back to the mind.
Beyond thought, energy, and matter is this formless Reality.
The creation theorists and the evolutionists argue with one another. But Vedantists propose that as a fundamentalist Christian and a scientist we are stuck. We think that time and space are outside of us -- but it is all inside.
If you want to climb El Capitan, like my brother did, you prepare yourself with all the training and supplies of mountaineering - pitons, ropes, a guide. Just so, when you contemplate the steep inner ascent to Formlessness, you must think about what you require - the pitons of perseverance, the ropes of scriptural knowledge, and the spiritual preceptor.
Brahman: Chid happens
Purusha: Chit happens Maya: Shit happens
You heard that God is in everything and everywhere, but you did not render that into a philosophical conclusion: God is immutable, immovable, indivisible. The West hasn't had a philosophy connected to valid religion yet. But in India, religion and philosophy were never disconnected. Religion for the heart, and philosophy for the mind.
This power of Maya gets into your mind and makes you think in terms of bifurcation. This bifurcation spreads out and breeds multiplication/diversity and the human mind becomes mesmerized. This is called vaichitra, maya's power of hypnotization via varieties. Mayashakti makes what is positive appear negative, and what is negative appear positive. For example, coming home, drinking beer, and watching TV all night is considered the good life, while using one's free time for practicing spiritual disciplines is considered boring, difficult, or useless. Such is maya and its powers of confusion and delusion.
I think the most positive thing one can do is spiritual discipline: study, devotion to God, selfless service, meditation on Reality. A practice that incorporates all this will annul your karmas in one lifetime. But people do not want to do it because it is so hard. Complacency and prevarication is easier. But the result of sporting these two is a compromised life.
While in a restaurant for breakfast, I saw a tag on the table saying that one out of three Oregon 8th-graders has a drinking problem. So I thought, "take away the alcohol." Is it so hard? The problem is that you tell your child not to drink while you have a glass of wine with your wife, daily. What kind of example are you? This is the distorting power of Maya. Society accepts something that is bad and makes it look fine. Then later, when it backfires, they complain about it but do nothing to make changes to their own behavior. Then it comes back and haunts them in the form of their children.
Your mind, combined with the insentient Maya, creates everything. How does this happen? Via Intelligence. Everything is a manifestation of your intelligence. When this dawns on you, you may have savitarka samadhi. And you are stunned. You find that everything has come out of you.
Maya is like the poison in a snake. That is, the snake is sometimes stationary, and other times mobile. The snake, dead still, represents Brahman; the snake in wriggling motion is Shakti, but the poison inside of it is Maya. All three modes are portions of one single snake, all three principles exist in one Reality.
If you can minimize the six passions and eight fetters, and then call them qualities of the mind, and then say "I am not the mind" -- then you will get detachment and, finally, peace. You will never get transcendence without peace. [6 passions: lust, anger, greed, delusion, vanity, jealousy; 8 fetters: hatred, shame, lineage, pride of good conduct, fear, secretiveness, caste, grief]
The New Agers say, "I want to be one with nature," but the Vedantist says that nature has come out of you. This gives Vedantists a very unique view.
The father of Yoga said that you do not need to believe in God to practice yoga. You will find God later. Do not worry about it now, just do the practice. Step-by-step you will begin to understand in a deeper way.
From the cradle to the grave, man is lost in maya.
There is a barometer by which you can judge your experiences: if it changes, it is maya.
You want to get the mind up and off the cycle of pain and pleasure, which includes all dualities.
Mankind equals Freedom: he is "freed" in the "om." But if he identifies with his body-mind complex, mankind equals maya.
Use your Intelligence first before you act. Karma is based on thought.
The mind has been inundated with worldliness, so the teachings have to be poured on, gushing over the sleepy mind to awaken it.
Imagine you have a barrel with a few rotten apples. Then you come to spiritual life and you start adding in the apples of meditation, study, selfless service, worship -- but they [the immature practitioners] have not purified the mind yet. This is why people do not make progress. In Yoga there are five states of the mind field: dull, scattered, restless, one-pointed, and dissolved. Those first three and their causes are the rotten apples. You have to get to Ekagra, one-pointed mind.
With the three Gunas lording over us we are weak. As Swami Vivekananda composed in his hymn to Sri Ramakrishna, "You are to be adored. You are Truth unchanging. You are the Lord of the Three Gunas. In my weakness I have neglected, O Remover of Delusion, to worship you earnestly and unceasingly..." Truth is beyond the three Gunas and all that changes. [Gunas: continuous cycles of restlessness, dullness, and balance]
The six transformation and eight fetters -- these are the signs that you are in trouble.
[6 transformations: birth, growth, disease, old age, decay, death]
For vicissitudes and vagaries use viveka and vairagya. (discrimination and detachment)
Change is of two kinds: Maya and Shakti. If you have only avarana shakti and vikshepa shakti, the covering and distorting powers of Maya, as your companions, you will remain in ignorance. But what if you worship it all as Mahashakti, pure dynamism? You then get ahold of the Prakasha Shakti, the revealing power of Maya. This propels you out of Maya. This truly is using fire to fight fire.
The question often comes up, once one has seen the unreality of the world, how do you live in this world? The answer is: as the Great Actor, the Great Enjoyer, the Great Pretender. Read your Yoga Vasishtha.....
Whatever you do in the world amounts to nothing, but whatever you do in your spiritual life, with your sangha and guru, are drops in the dharma bucket. Over time you will become full of merit.
Divine Mother is the dispenser of fruits. That means She also bestows our comeuppance if we have it coming. But if we keep Her in mind and heart we will not lose our way. We will be like the bird that leaves no trace in the sky. Forgetting Her, we run the risk of being a slug that leaves a slime. What is that slime? Good/bad, pleasure/pain -- all the pairs of opposites combined with the gunas and six passions and 8 fetters. And all this is karmic residue. My guru, Swami Aseshananda, took the name Asesha--that means, among other things, the bliss of no residue.
"Peace is more powerful than love," states an ancient woman saint. Satchitananda may be pure Existence, Knowledge and Bliss, but you will never realize It without peace. And this is what Holy Mother would say: "You need peace first and foremost. It is the essential thing."
You have to be conscious of your Consciousness, aware of your Awareness. Then take this in with you into deep sleep and meditation.
"All action takes place in Prakriti (nature), not Purusha (Self)." Thus states Sri Krishna
Although the peace chants were chanted 5,000 years ago, when you chant them today all those divine beings -- sages and saints -- are there within you, and in the Eternal Moment. All the realms are within you. The kingdoms are within you. Darkness cannot resist Light, for darkness has no substance. It is up to you to bring in the Light. And this means sadhana. It is not enough to work hard physically and do intellectual work, but a very specialized inner practice is needed. Christ wanted you to get an inner life.
Peace of mind is more powerful than anything. All else is unattainable without it. Peace, peace, peace, say the rishis. If you can maintain this peace for a long time your life will even out. Clear your mind before you sit for meditation, clear your mind before you study, even before you go to work. You should never engage in action with a restless/tamasic mind.
Science used to have more integrity. It was the search after the nature or knowledge of a thing. But now the search is a quest for money and pleasure. It is "How can I use this knowledge to make money,?" or "Will this discovery bring me fame?"
Especially in the U.S., religion and philosophy got sundered. Philosophy was used, not to point to the Truth, but to debate with other schools, other views. Religion without philosophy is sentimental and emotional [and even superstitious] -- not clear thinking. And philosophy without religion is dry, callous, calculating. Bring them together around a sincere interest in Truth and much good will accrue.
The real separation is name and form. The act of birth and death take place in nature only.
You have salvation as soon as you take refuge in Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, etc. You are saved now. You have a great soul looking after you. But liberation is a step beyond that. It requires that you bring out your own Pratibha, your own sparkling Intelligence.
Religion with a capitol R is indigenous to your Soul. It is your Soul. There is no such thing as a foreign religion.
Be like a woman with a baby in a house on fire: she will not go looking for an escape plan; she will take the first way out. Similarly, if you become aware of your precious cargo (your Soul) you feel that you have GOT to get out of maya. Jesus in the desert and Buddha under the bodhi tree felt this too. But in their cases it was more like "I have got to get out of this to show others the way."
Do not look up in the sky when you pray to the gods; There is nothing out there but the five elements. Pray within. All - ancestors, celestials, gods, etc., are back within you.
If a culture got illumined through its language, as is the case with India, there will be certain salient words regarding spirituality that do not appear or have equivalents in other languages, such as the word "Maya." Early on, when eastern philosophy appeared in the U.S., maya was translated as "illusion." But Swami Vivekananda rectified this. He defined Maya as neither real nor unreal, nor a combination of both. It is simply name and form in time and space based upon causation.
One can see by the peace chants of India that the rishis were very deep thinkers and, in fact, they were such deep thinkers that they got beyond the thinking mind!
If this substratum really exists, then why do we not see it? Well first of all, it is not a sensual experience. It is not even an experience. Like the salt doll in Sri Ramakrishna's story that merges in its own nature, no one was left to emerge from that ocean and tell of it.
If you have had the nondual "experience" then these are the two things on your mind: Brahman, absolute Reality, timeless, formless, eternal; and Maya, that which obscures Reality.
Mind-only schools do not believe in the ultimacy of creationism or evolution. They are not "down" with those. These two theories put Western man between a rock and a hard place. The world was not created in six days (unless each day is symbolically defined as an age). And if evolution is the whole truth, then I have to go to the zoo to see my ancestors. Who but one with animalistic consciousness, or brutishness, would accept that? But what Christ was trying to tell John was that everything comes out of the Word. This powerful force of the mind -- the collective mind -- pulls the world together via thought. Space and time come out of your mind and your mind then plays with them. Well, better be an adept games-player....
You are creating the worlds of name and form, but Maya is in there obscuring the fact that you are doing this. This is called root ignorance, and it is also why we do not remember our past lifetimes. All these lifetimes are not different bodies in actual physical locations, but just dreams.
The first thing my teacher taught me was Brahman satya, Jagad mithya. I said, "I do not like to think the world is false." So he said, "Think of it like this, 'Brahman is the only Reality. The world is not separate from Brahman.'" That was better, even ingenious! But this Maya has us all thinking in terms of separation, and all of Western society enforces this.
We do not have a samskara in the West for formlessness. That is because we do not have any nondual scriptures.
Out of the particle of your own intelligence all objects have come. Maybe my mind is Om........
Brahman and Shakti are one, but Maya makes us think they are two different things. Can you separate heat and fire?
When you meditate you are going to want to shut down the first world, Bhur, the realm of material objects. The "fifth element," prana or ether, is the key to the inner worlds. When you want to know the cause of prana, then you enter the realm of spiritual life.
You have to make a distinction between brain, which is an organ, and mind, which is a state of being. In your brain are memories, instincts, heredity, etc, but in your mind are the ancestors, gods/goddesses, saints, sages, and the Trinity.
Judging everything by matter is called materialism.
Bumper stickers laud the creationist theory or the evolutionary theory, but the Vedantist stands back and says, "These are all well and good in their own sphere, but what you do not realize is that all this is a projection of your own mind." Nothing doesn't exist. You cannot get something out of nothing. Therefore, the creation came from somewhere, and so did the big bang. The Great Mind, Mahat, holds both ideas.
The illumined one has gone beyond god and devil and is not dependent or controlled by either. He/she is Self-Realized.
Religion can be archaic and corrupt, and also be a vehicle for realization -- it all depends on you.
India is a nondenominational country. They did not have just one scripture or one great teacher. They have hundreds of each. Where else do you find this?
Those who want peace give up the world; those who want power go after the world.
The first rule of thumb of any good philosophy is that there is one indivisible, unchanging Reality.
How can you own anything? Objects do not exist -- they are empty. And this is the predicament of modern man. He gloms onto objects and obsesses over them and suffers when they disappear. But they all come out of him. Why is he grasping after them? He has them all in endless supply back within himself.
You have a worldly memory and a divine memory. The former drags you from birth to death and death to birth, while the latter, if activated via meditation, reveals the path and the goal.
God is not in the world, the world is in God. Now you have a connection back inside of you. Such say the mind-only schools. They have produced hundreds of illumined beings. What have we produced in the West? A few saints? But that is salvation, not liberation.
Take a bell and strike it -- t-o-m -- did you create the sound? No, it was inherent in the bell. Om is like this: everything is inherent in it. When struck, out comes the universe. Your mind is this Om and you are striking it -- possibly in an unrehearsed way. If this is hard to follow, then think of it as the Cosmic Mind -- but this is your mind in the end. You can prove this to yourself via the meditation of involution. Dissolve earth into smell, water into taste, etc. You will learn that these elements are not outside of you. Going further, you dissolve the pranas into mind and the mind into Light. You now have proved to yourself that you are completely other than matter, gross and subtle, and all of that comes out of the Great Mind like sound from a bell.
Embodiment entails the pain of the six transformations. The intrepid soul must accept this like a warrior. Then, beyond warrior is sage-hood.
If you first accept yourself as birthless and eternal -- that you are Consciousness -- and then practice religion, you will never run afoul of religion.
The term or principle of Nonorigination equals the Eternal. Everything rises and falls from an eternal substratum.