Notes from the Seattle Spring Retreat
Here in the West, we can benefit from looking at our predicament in life. Like a bird sitting on a barbed wire fence, there is pain and there is pleasure. To rise above we must realize the Atman.
None of the imagination and creativity the West is so engaged in can match the power of envisionment espoused by the Tantras. Tantra envisions the deities, sages, saints, and even the Trinity within oneself. What is a mere silly Hollywood fantasy compared with this?
India had a great resistance to non-Truth. They identified it with a word, which no one else had done, and called it Maya.
Avatar is the bottle, scripture is the label, Brahman is the liquid.
The neti-neti path is not a path of aversion.
In ignorance the mind is fragmented. It shifts from one guna to another, from dualism to qualified nondualism, without ever knowing it is making a shift. So the duality of sentient and insentient, relative and absolute, is imposed to clarify the mind and allow one to recognize its standpoint and its thoughts.
None of us here are realized Advaitists. We are still qualified nondualists until we have had nirvikalpa samadhi.
Sri Krishna tells us that no one gets into union without renouncing sankalpa, creative imagining. In the Nirvanashatkam, the Six Stanzas on Nirvana by Shankaracharya, he starts with disidentifying with the antahkarana, the four-fold mind that is the inner cause (manas, chitta, buddhi, ahamkara). Sankhya's cosmology of the 24 Cosmic Principles shows that the senses, and the subtle and gross elements, came out of manas, dual mind. Thus, the Antahkarana is the root of all. We need to hear this again and again to show what great power is in the mind - for good or for ill. Sri Ramakrishna would say that the mind is the gateway to heaven or the doorway to hell. Please note: the gods and heavens and hells and devils are all within you.
Hearing is the most subtle of the senses and it is connected to ether. The sound travels through space/ether, strikes your eardrum, and enters your antahkarana, which, if purified, enters your heart. In this view, you are integrating all aspects of the nonself. And it is founded upon spiritual essence: I am Siva! I am the form of blissful Awareness/Consciousness: Chidananda rupaha, Shivoham, Shivoham.
Looking at the black space between stars and planets is analogous at the mental level to taking attention off the planets of your thoughts and placing it on the space between thoughts. Then you get savitarka/nirvitarka samadhi, and receive the overwhelming view of all knowledge. This later matures into savichara/nirvichara, the ability to select one bit of knowledge, meditate on it, and realize its origin/essence. And when this happens one realizes that the form is changing but the Essence is ever-present -- stationary and impossible to lose.
Kama has different shades of meaning. As a binding passion it is lust; as the fruit of dharmic life it is legitimate desire; as an aspiration it is the desire for liberation.
You should engender mumukshutwam, desire for liberation, slowly over time before seeking it. People hear about it and think they want it, until they find out what it entails. Then they step back, sometimes huge steps backwards. So develop the desire for moksha before making the ascent.
Analyzing the ego is therapy. Analyzing the Self is Atma-Vichara.
We are to hear the Truth, contemplate It, and then realize It. But then we need to bring it out in life. This seems to justify our individual existence.
Examination of our consciousness sounds easy, but it is not. It requires time, predilection, and patience. Like Siddhartha, "I can sit, I can fast, I can wait." But I also need to contemplate.
By taking to pleasure and suffering pain the soul divorces itself from Atman. Rather, it should remain in contentment.
If you take a teacher you have a boatman who will take you across the ocean of Samsara. He will stay the course with you.
"Why are we teaching the scriptures and not strict nondualism?" people ask. Because it is through the scriptures that people will qualify themselves for the nondual state.
Evolution can be said to occur in the mind, apparently causing the evolution of worlds and objects. But all this takes place on the substratum of Consciousness. But the materialists flip this over and make Prakriti/Maya the substratum.
Sometimes, when teaching in the prisons, I say, "Two hours ago your consciousness was allocated to your cell. Now it is here in class. What if you were to allocate it everywhere at once?" Then you would know what the luminary is like.
This is one of the mistakes that is made: you take the teachings all your life, but when death comes you abandon them. One of the Upanisads instructs the dying person to remember past good deeds, for this causes one to recall the teachings and one's teachers.
Leaping for Nirvikalpa
Swami Aseshananda did not agree with Shankaracharya in the fifth verse of the Nirvanashatkam where he affirms "there is no guru or student." He did not want us to abandon the teacher and go leaping for nirvikalpa samadhi before we were qualified. There are ten conditions of the Guru-Sishya relationship that you practice in order to reach that state of "no guru." In the sixth verse, Shankara affirms, "I have no form or fancy, the all-pervading am I...." This is very natural even though it is rare, this formlessness. You have to be willing to vacate the mechanisms of consciousness (antahkarana) and then merge. Swami Aseshananda would often tell us, "If we all knew who we were, we would not need sadhana." I'm not sorry to say that I have brought out and insisted that SRV students practice in their own homes, alone and with their kids.
To know a thing is to master it. And this is transcendence. But to study a thing while thinking that it is outside of you, and that it contains some secret, runs the danger of you getting lost in Maya. [the first is yogic analysis the second is materialism/science]
Think about your attachment to name and form, and your senses that want to get into union with objects. The universe has come out from your own mind. Why this attachment then?
Know your mind first. This will qualify you for knowing the Cosmic Mind. Some hailstones melt before merging in the ocean. Just so, some beings are thinking ahead, dissolving the ego, opening to their true nature. They do not get "pulled apart" at the time of dissolution.