Class notes from August to December, 2014
Dharma & the World, Moral & Ethical Life
These teachings of the dharma are the solution to all the problems of the world. To have Religion, you have to have some philosophy — not philosophy that is about argument and debate, but that which shows the way towards a time-tested practice that realizes its tenets.
If you are satisfied with moral and ethical life, you probably do not have devotion to God yet. Those who seek out the dharma teachings want to see God, not go to heaven. This is the big difference between salvation and Liberation.
The word "pitri," in Sanskrit, means the ancestors. Humorously, then, Lord Buddha was looking into a different pitri dish than science is looking at — that of the ancestors, their whereabouts, and their cycles of bondage to rebirth in physical form.
It is good to be born in the third chakra, but do not die in that chakra. The third chakra is a great byway where the ancestors and humans are constantly trading places. Aspire to a higher chakra.
The main difference between a Seer and a worldly person is that the Seer sees the world as unreal and the worldly see it all as real. The Seer renounces it and is free and peaceful, while the worldly person gets dragged from birth to death and death to rebirth in suffering.
Some words in Sanskrit are most pointed, most telling. Chaya means "shadow play," referring to the soul's constant tendency of hiding from the Light and pretending to be what it is not. Some beings may think this to be most fun, most clever, but they should know that to play constantly in these dream lives pales in comparison to the Bliss of being Brahman, or even of meeting Ishvara face to face......
Just as when we eat food and it becomes part of our organs, circulatory system, blood, flesh, etc., like that, when we get the dharma teachings circulating in our thoughts, they become part of our mind.
When we put our minds on the teachings of the dharma the curtain of maya begins to thin out. There can be no darkness around a sun.
You speak of the Indian Rishis? They were mainly householder rishis. Their whole life was Dharma. They did not approach it by practicing and then giving up, or running hot and cold, or by giving way to complacency, but by sincere, adamant self-effort followed by attainment of the highest order.
Parents need to share the teachings of the dharma to their offspring, and then watch for signs of remembrance in the child, like one would look at a drunkard for signs of sobering.
If you consider this human birth a boon, it is a good thing. But then what do you do with it? You must spend your time in studying the dharma and causing the teachings to run deep.
"The end of knowledge is in Truth," says Sri Krishna. This is one of the most pregnant statements in the scriptures. Should our knowledge end in money, in fame, in suffering, in secular knowledge only? It should not. It must end in Truth.
Dissolving oblations into fire, like the ancients used to do in daily homa ritual, is to be done in modern times using the mind. All acts you do are oblations that get offered into the fire of Om, of Brahman. Procreation, marriage, imparting dharma – these are to become oblations.
The problem in daily commerce is created at the moral level, but the real problem is that it hides our true nature by keeping us involved in business and continually stuck in the sense of loss and gain. By always engaging in commerce, what was called parigraha by the ancients, one forgets one's past lives, and therefore the knowledge and spiritual insights gained in them.
Imagine that you are suddenly bereft of all the beneficial knowledge you have. Where would you be? Now turn this around: What if you had full access to all you learned from your previous lives — secular knowledge, psychological knowledge, metaphysical, spiritual, and higher spiritual knowledge? We have just described an illumined soul, a Nityasiddha.
Freedom of the spiritual kind, called moksha or mukti, is not easily won back from the hands of the triple bondage (spouse, offspring, and wealth) and worse. For monks, the step of renunciation is already accomplished. For householders, the lesson or renunciation has to be learned and implemented, then followed by turning the family dharmic and the workplace a temple of service. Eventually, one’s whole world will be given up into love divine where “All is Brahman.”
"Only with fearlessness can we maintain equanimity in the midst of distractions." - Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche
Gunas are not really moods, but modes – modes of Nature. If the mind falls victim to these, then one has to practice Witness Consciousness and transcend them.
People really want bliss via their experiences; but what they are most often desiring is the bliss of their ego. The Bliss of the Atman is called Ananda; the bliss of the ego is called sukha. Sukha is relative happiness based upon sensual experience alone.
The Seers remained on the cutting edge of revelatory power of Prakasha Shakti while analyzing name and form. Without this stance at their very core, the gunas of rajas and tamas present in Nature would have deluded their minds.
There is complacency in sattva, "Oh, all is going well, I do not have to do anything." But until you realize the truth of inaction, you can still get sucked into cycles of rajas and tamas again.
One should not intensify an impure mind. Many souls have not prepared themselves with preliminaries like sitting and breathing, and the least little surge of energy may imbalance their minds. This is why teaching by avasthas, stages, is important. If the potter does not remove foreign particles from the clay, his raw material, and makes a pot from it, then fires it, it will only break in the intense heat of the kiln. Similarly, if people do not remove initial impurities from the mind before exposing it to the heat of advanced sadhana, the mind will "break apart."
It is during initial spiritual practice that negativities are on the wax. For instance, family, friends, and colleagues want to hold you down to the world. Old karmas from the past are also surfacing due to this early purge. You must persevere and keep the courage of your earlier convictions until this early storm passes.
A basic and undeniable fact is, that we have not seen worldly people get enlightened. Enlightened beings come from the ranks of those who are practicing Yoga, meditation, and other purificatory methods. In short, moral and ethical living does not produce realization.
If you do not test yourself, Nature will. If you do not introduce yourself to the transition of death while you live, Yama will take you by surprise....
It is one thing to prove to yourself that you are not the body – that is not hard for a spiritual person; but to prove to yourself that you are not the mind is a whole other level of attainment, for the mind has its knowledge, its memories, its ego.
If you have a mental or spiritual problem, austerity, tapas, is the best way to destroy it. Therapy might chase it into hiding in the recesses of the subconscious, but it will only return again – sometimes in a more virulent form. Tapas is intensification in the right way, for it burns problems away at the root.
If I make my whole life tapas, then how can God remain veiled from me?
One cannot meditate, serve, study, or act in the right spirit, or even get substantial results until ignorance is gone. How can it be otherwise?
Analyze like this: "I have trouble with pleasure and pain, so I will concentrate on the source of pleasure and pain." What is that source? The senses attached to the elements. In this way the astute aspirant proceeds from the problematic dualities to the causal quintuplications. Soon one has no more trouble with pain and pleasure or other sets of dualities.
If one identifies with the five sheaths, the five cosmic bondages and the three great desires are the result.
<>Five Sheaths: body, vital force, dual mind, intellect, I-sense
<>Five Cosmic bondages: root ignorance, attachment to form, attachment to nature, desire, good, bad, and mixed actions (i.e. karma)
<>Three Great Desires: desire for the worlds, desires for bodily satisfaction, desire for religious ceremonials (that lead back to worlds)
When you do everything from the standpoint of desire for limited existence, then karma is the continual result.
There are two spiritual knots according to the Father of Yoga
1 - Anavastitatvani: the inability to make spiritual progress.
2 - Alabdhabhumikatva: habitual failure.
When practicing, renunciation is a quality of the mind. But when you have attained renunciation, you realize it is an attribute of the Atman. Atman renounces everything.
Brahman is untouchable. You cannot touch It, so why do people try to bring It into form and touch It with hands, see It with eyes? You must go into meditation and make yourself formless; then you can touch, see, and most importantly, know Brahman.
Initially, in meditation, we shut down our senses and withdraw all thought-forms, but even still we have not opened our inner eye.
Body and brain go together; while mind and the kingdoms of heaven go together. Make a wise distinction between these two sets and go beyond both.
Do not resist meditating on God with form. It is not low; it is not a crutch; it is an aid. You need friends in high places.
Make your mind a beaker and pour its pure contents into Brahman. Purify the mind until it stays in a naturally peaceful state and wait patiently for the auspicious moment of revelation.
Practice Samadhi, says Shankara, and do not think it is something down the road for you. Take up the position and envision the results.
Realizations along the Spiritual Path
Manojavittvam, the incredible speed of the mind and its thoughts – this station of spiritual practice allows for the realization that you project and withdraw the worlds at will.
The two streams of Pradhanajaya, victory over Nature and its inception are:
1 - The soul/jivatman realizes it is not the body, prana, mind, etc. The "seer" thus involves.
2 - The soul/jivatman realizes it is not the vehicles, and that Nature involves too.
You have to fall in love with that Presence within you. It is like the Tantras say, "You: you are the darling of your own worship."
What kind of things are in smritibetu, causal memory? How about all the times you lived and died? And what do you conclude from this? That I am still here. What died then? Just bodies. Something else you remember there is being in the Light, and experiences of Enlightenment you had. This is really why babies have that blissful look, and seers shine with luster. So, pursue remembrance of your causal memory. Focus your intelligent particles on it and realize the storehouse of infinite Wisdom within you.
This physical realm is not a world apart, but rather a state of consciousness – a location in your mind.
The 20% shift of consciousness amounts to this: That God, Divine Reality, is not in the world; the world is in God. Maya makes it look like the subtle comes from the gross. It makes things look the opposite of what they are. Sri Ramakrishna told us that the key turns in the opposite way in spiritual life. If you have lust, lust for God. You do have human passion, but you have been lusting after the wrong things. That is why you suffer.....
Detox your mind with viveka-vairagya. Just as you may get to the Father through the Son; you get to Truth via wisdom. You will have to see what is ever-changing, come to abhor it, then move inwards by stages to attain what is Unchanging. One uses viveka-vairagya to walk this path.
There are people who separate the wheat from the chaff, but then do not give up the chaff. Discriminate, and once you find the Real amidst the unreal, do not forget to give up what is unreal.
Disease is inherent to the mind. Lack of discrimination between the real and the unreal results in people who are only focused on the unreal, which soon thereafter appears as disease.
"I shall tell the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth" – is what the devotee of Brahman states at the highest court of Advaita Vedanta.
There is no ultimate meaning in life, which is only dreamlike; nor does God, who is beyond form, have any purpose for your life. When you think in either of these two ways you are in double jeopardy. The only meaning and purpose for your existence is in you. Now find it and be calm.....
Loving Brahman is not like loving a boy or girlfriend. There, you do not get closer by getting more personal, but by becoming more impersonal.
Most traditions have a name for formless Reality and a corresponding name for It's state of consciousness, like Brahman/Nirvikalpa.
Maya is a set of five subtle aspects — name, form, time, space, and causation — that act as five curtains hiding your true nature.
You cannot find any secret in matter that was not first present in Intelligence. When you finally observe that you have been born and died many times, and say, "But I am still here," then you know that the Soul is unborn.
Whenever Vedanta talks about Brahman, Atman – It is talking about you. You have to realize this.
The one who suffers in Maya must learn to say: "My mind created these bars of bondage and delusion, and brought me to this present state. Now, how can I use my mind to get rid of them?"
If you know the secret of how Intelligence infuses everything, then where is Maya in the process?
Pain helps you grow, pleasure binds you. You do not want to end up with pain, and you do not want to end up with endless growth, either. The Atman does not grow; Purusha does not grow; the Self does not expand.
You are Consciousness and It is inhabiting the mind and body. It is not rocket science. It is not that hard to be your Self. Yet, so many beings spend all their time running away from themselves.
No wonder people are confused. Shakti flows, prana flows, and maya flows. Which to pick? People choose the echelon they are most comfortable with. Only Brahman does not flow, and so the Upanisads state that It belongs only to those who want Peace — the Peace that passes all understanding.
If something is Eternal, then it does not have beginnings, middles, and endings. When we apply this measure, we find only one "Thing" left.
You cannot take the world into God. Most people desperately want to take the world with them to God. But this is only heaven, and it is not permanent. Where "God" abides is Formless Essence.
Where does an object come from? Unmanifested Prakriti. Where does a soul come from? Intelligence flowing out of The Word. The Atman, however, never comes and goes....
When name, form, time, space, and causation, are present, Maya is afoot. People imagine that they are a name, a form. They call themselves the body; then, because the body dies, they think they die – and they take this impression of death into their next birth.
Shatavadana, the Tantric evolute of Maya, is thinking of a thousand things at once, and is perpetrated by scattered mind. Today we call that multitasking, which often is just fragmented mind at work.
Svarupapratishtha means to be steady in one's Essence. Svarupanyathanbhava means running away from the Self. One should live full time in the Atman; for, as long as one does not, maya insinuates itself and one runs the risk of getting lost again and again.
If there is relativity and you believe in duality, then there must exist its opposite – Reality of a nondual nature. Science cannot just drop Reality because of belief in the laws of relativity. That would not be fair to the credo of science. Krishna says "The unreal never is, and the Real never ceases to be. The truth about both has been realized by the seers." So the seers do not neglect relativity either; they understand both, and in their own spheres.
Mastery of Prana is the first directive of Yoga.
The mastering of prana consists of awakening to it, getting it moving, letting it flow, then later learning to stop it from flowing at will. It is all seemingly contradictory. That is, prana was not flowing at the beginning, nor is it flowing at the end, but the difference between these two is that the first depicts a state of non-awareness and the second reveals the state of full Awareness.
Getting ahold of prana (like Atman and Brahman) is really taking account of them. People do not know about these facets of spiritual life, so they do not exist for them. Anything the mind can conceive of exists, but most is hidden from view.
Discovering the prana will soon take one into the mind proper — the chittakasha.
One must have the prana under control in order to control the mind. But people rush to sit in asanas, physical postures. Rather, they should begin with the yamas and niyamas. Make these your primary asanas: ahimsa-asana, asteya-asana, satya-asana, etc.
If prana is flowing you are alive; if not, you're dead. If your prana is controlled – now, that reveals Eternal Life and the illusion of death.
The ego subsists on ego. The connection between prana and ego is what Patanjali means when he indicates the klesha of clinging to life.
One must prepare for the leaking out of prana from the body in old age; but always keep control of the psychic prana that persists after the body drops.
Multidimensional: transmigrating in the lower three chakras: heaven, earth, and hell, under the auspices of the base prana.
Transdimensional: transcending the lower realms; and the cycle of rebirth, under the auspice of psychic prana.
If you have no control of prana, then you are never comfortable in groups of people, you have fear and doubt, you do not know where to put your limbs, and you have paranoia. Once prana is controlled, fear is made afraid of itself, doubt is made to doubt itself, your limbs settle into mudras for meditation, and sincere people get attracted to you. Got prana?
In this physical realm we move along the physical nadis (subtle nerves) of roads, rivers, canyons, wind currents, etc. When we become body and health oriented we begin to move among the gross nadis where blood flows, waste is ejected, and air moves in and out of our lungs. But how do we learn to move in the subtle realm? Through channels of thought. It is here that we begin to move more consciously through waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states, until we arrive in Brahman and move no more forever.
Food is nothing compared to the prana that makes it possible to enjoy the food. The prana circulating in the brain and tongue makes it possible to enjoy, and without it, it would be boring and tasteless. So if you are living a life of the senses only, the approach of death will rob you blind. Hurry, take the subtle energy inward. Ascend to higher levels.
It is not just that breathing helps the brain with oxygen; it is that prana helps the mind with free flowing thought. Mind and brain are different.
Kundalini abides mainly in the Svestini nadi, but She is present subtly in every center, already. Actually, She does not move. It is we, our awareness, that moves up the centers. Mother awakens it to do so.
Divine Mother, Kundalini
Divine Mother is that Divine intermediary between manifestation and Reality.
Divine Mother, the Devatmashaktim, is everywhere, but is covered by the gunas and therefore appears to us as the world. To perceive Her is to realize the Vedantic dictum, "All is Brahman."
Water on earth, as liquid rain, nourishes seeds and brings forth food. There is also "rain" in the realm of the Trinity that they use to nourish the "seeds" of unmanifested Prakriti.
Every object is a symbol for Brahman. When the senses go toward objects impelled by desire, this fact gets hidden.
Renunciation is not condemnation, it is deification. True renunciation allows everything to be as it is; one just steps back and transcends it. The objects themselves are not what are impeding you, but rather your inability to let go of them and leave them be.
Should one question the world and objects? Yes, but do it in the right way. Look for their causes. This way you will eventually trace and find everything back to your Self.
Prana is flowing in the elements and senses. What is behind Prana? Mother Shakti. Can I turn that power toward transformation? If I can, I can become a Vivekananda. "The powers of the mind are to be turned back on itself," states Swami Vivekananda. The senses are outgoing. Whose fault is that? Is it the objects of the senses? No, it is your mind.
Pithy points to Ponder
I am Buddha Nature, not human nature.
The conundrum of the ages is this: The Eternal Soul is afraid of death.
Dharma R us; puja R us, Then jnana R us; then higher knowledge becomes us.
The body is just karma walking around on two legs – until God is realized; then it is God walking around on two legs.
People prefer to dream than to wake up. This is the problem for God and the Guru....
The Word, OM, signifies Original Mind.
Brooding on the past, present, and future keeps one from living in the Eternal Moment.
The three things missing in Western ideology are the tanmatras, the prana, and unmanifested Prakriti.
You cannot own the world because the world is always within you.
The end of craving begins with the end of sankalpa, creative imaginings.
"Eternal damnation" is not being burned in fire; it is getting stuck on the Kalachakra.
Psychic prana can flow in two directions: towards Enlightenment, or into a search for occult powers.
Time is cyclic if you reincarnate all the time; it is infinite if you do not.
People say they want to "go with the flow." That is their plan for maybe a year. But soon you will want to be, not become; be stationary, not moving.
By being a student of all that changes one never realizes one's changeless nature.
If you fall out of yoga, what is waiting for you is Maya.
If you reside ever in peace and contentment, then where is desire?
Ignorance is not bliss; ignorance of ignorance is bliss.
All the nadis lead to Om, like all roads that lead to Rome - and they all lead Home.