Teachings from the Summer Retreat

Teachings from the Summer Retreat
Selected Teachings of the Dharma


Babaji took up the verses of the Bhaja Govindam stotram as the central text of the Summer Retreat.  The first 12 verses are ascribed to Shankaracharya and each of the others were written down through the centuries by the heads of the maths he founded.  The stotram is full of Vedantic thought with stark and sometimes humorous teachings on the nature of the world and its ephemerality, inspiring disgust for worldliness and attachments, while promoting a breath-taking glimpse of true Freedom.

The plan was unique and inspiring.  Each student selected a verse to memorize in both English and Sanskrit.  Each day, as we sang the full stotram, those who had memorized their verses had to sing it out in rhythm and tempo as Babaji played it on the autoharp, and also give the translation.  Amazingly, each student — to the person — abandoned fear and shame and sang their verses out to their best ability.  We had songbirds, croakers and squeakers — all cheered on by the listeners who responded with the rousing chorus:

Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam mudhamate
Samprapte sannihite kale Nahi nahi rakshati dukrn karane  
Adore the Lord, Adore the Lord, Adore the Lord O fool
When the time of death draws near, of what good will be grammatical learning?

The level of participation and the enthusiasm it generated culminated in the flights of spiritual teachings that followed.  After each person’s verse, Babaji matched the sentiments of that sloka with charts — hence, “Selected Teachings of the Dharma!”

Here’s are a few samples with occasional quotes from Babaji and from the teaching charts:

Verse 11:
Do not be vain and proud of wife, wealth, and youthfulness; time only takes these away in a flash.  Leaving this entire world aside, and knowing it to be an illusion, come to know Brahman, Reality, and enter into It.

For this verse, and to elucidate how one leaves aside the entire world and knows it to be an illusion, Babaji taught from the chart “The Ancient Chest of Consciousness,” which depicts the Divine Mother’s cosmic “chest of drawers,” where She keeps the gross, subtle, and causal realms.  She projects and withdraws them continuously as the Dynamic Power of Brahman:  

“At the time of the Great Dissolution, I withdraw all beings and worlds back into My Unmanifested prakriti, while I, Myself, disappear into the formless Brahman.  When the Dance of Maya begins again, I loose all things forth into the realms of becoming.  All the while, nothing is born, nothing dies; nothing is created, nothing gets destroyed.”  – Bhagavati Devi,
from Srimad Devi Bhagavatam
Every object has its gross aspect; its collective, subtle correlative; and its causal, seed essence. – Babaji Bob Kindler

Verse 13:
Why worry about others, O crazy mind?  Does not the Lord ordain everything, without exception?  In these three worlds, it is only association with the Holy that is most worthy, and provides the boat to carry you across the sea of birth and death.

 Highlighting the importance of Holy Company in this verse, Babaji taught from the chart on “The Four Sentinels,” a teaching of Lord Vasishtha, consisting of Shanti, Quiescence of Mind; Santosha, Contentment; Atma-vichara, Self-Inquiry; and Sadhu-satsangha, Holy Company.

“The study of scripture without a guru, for intellectual knowledge alone, will lead one into ajnana, ignorance.  True self-inquiry recognizes the words of guru and scriptures as the supreme authority.  One may place credence even in the words of a child if they are consistent with the guru’s instructions and the teachings of the revealed scriptures.  otherwise, one must reject like straw the words of even Lord Brahma himself.” – Lord Vasishtha

Sadhu-satsangha: “Expands the intellect, neutralizes karma, transforms the mind, and takes one across the ocean of samsara.” – Lord Vasishtha

Happiness turns to sorrow, but contentment leads to bliss and equanimity. – Babaji

What do you think spiritual life is?  Something you can put on hold for worldly life? – Babaji

Verse 26:
Be done with desire, through with anger, finished with greed, and free of delusion, and make this one effort called “Self-inquiry – Who am I.”  There are fools who, devoid of Self-knowledge in this life, and like captives, simply torture themselves in hell.

This verse was met with guilty chagrin.  Imagine the poignancy of these verses, then memorizing them, then hearing them in class each day for 6 days.  Not only this, but one could hear others practicing these verses outside of class daily.  The atmosphere of this retreat was lifted up to a higher level of inner detachment – now, will we all maintain this?

For this verse, Babaji selected teachings from Yoga concentrating on the obstacles created by Klishta vrittis, thoughts based in and revolving around egotism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life/fear of death – all stemming from ignorance of the Atman within.  One chart listed The Main Impeding Mental Vrittis with their solutions.  A few of these follow:

  • Obstacle: Thoughts containing demonic vibrations which foster violence.
  • Solution: Control of the senses and restraint of negative thoughts.
  • Obstacle: Mental vibrations beset by falsehood and deceit, leading to suffering.
  • Solution: Practice of the moral exercises and daily observances of Raja yoga.
  • Obstacle: Turbulent and contrary vibrations which confuse and fluster the mind.
  • Solution: Keeping holy company with the guru, sangha, and other enlightened beings.
  • Obstacle: Vibrations rising from residual impressions due to enjoyment of pleasure.
  • Solution: Practice of withholding the mind from thoughts of sense objects.
  • Obstacle: Ungrounded vibrations which cause the mind’s awareness to drift.
  • Solution: Focusing inwardly on the immediate nature of mind and awareness.

Verse 24:
In you, in me, and everywhere as well, there is but one God.  Do not get angry, or become impatient.  Perceive the Self in all beings and leave off ignorance, which is the cause of all difference.

This verse not only summates the nondual siddhanta of the great sages and seers of many spiritual Traditions, it admonishes adherents to keep the truth of Oneness in mind despite appearances.  In this regard, Babaji offered the chart, “Mahavakyas of the World’s Avatars.”  A few quotes follow:

“Hear ye O Israel: Our Lord is One God.” – Judaism
“I and my Father are One.” – Jesus
“All of you have issued from the One.” – Mohammed/Koran
“There is nothing worth loving that is not of the Light.” – Zoraster
“They who discern Truth as Truth, and illusion as illusion, walk the right road.” – Lord Buddha
“Indivisible, It dwells in creatures as if divided.” – Sri Krishna/Gita
“The world exists no longer when this mental dream is finished.” – Sri Shankara
“The soul bound is man.  That same soul free is God.” – Sri Ramakrishna