This is a blog by a person who doesn't know who he is, what he does, why he does what he does, or what he doesn't do and why he doesn't do what he doesn't do! I think you get the drift... if you still decide to stay on, welcome; else, so long. :) Thanks!
It is said yA mA sA mAyA, meaning that that which is not, is Maya. But when not a negative definiton, Maya is said to be Ishvara's shakti or at other places, as a universal avidyA as seen in contrast to individual jIva avidyA. With the latter explanation, jIva is under the influence of avidyA while Maya is under the control of Ishvara. In further detail, Maya is described as having two aspects in the form of powers: AvaraNa (concealing) shakti and vikshepa (projecting) shakti. The AvaraNa conceals the svarUpa of brahman for the jIva, while the vikshepa projects this jagat. Under the influence of avidya, jIva dances with vikshepa jagat and goes through countless janma-mRtyu cycles. With these fundamentals in the background, I present a premise herewith: AvaraNa is the cause for vikshepa. How so?
Suppose a table upon which you place a thing known to you, but unknown to me. Further, you conceal it with an opaque cloth so that I can't see what it is, let alone know it. That is Ishvara's AvaraNa of brahman, causing jIva's ignorance of his own svarUpa. Then, whether or not you ask me, I start guessing and deluding what is it that is concealed underneath, based on what I consider to be its outward shape, giving rise to several forms. Those, I start naming as per my own association of things or such. Over a period of time or all at once, I'd end up projecting several things. That is Ishvara's vikshepa of jagat. In this play, someone pulls off the cloth or somehow the thing concealed is revealed to me. I'd suddenly lose the ignorance of the thing, gaining the knowledge of it. With that event, what would happen to all those deluded things projected? Or what would happen if you or I start discussing as to what all things it looks like? Nothing in particular would happen of the nature of ignorance again. I may still play along, but all the while having the knowledge of the thing revealed unto me and not get deluded with projections of different forms and names. Ergo, if Ishvara were not to use AvaraNa shakti to conceal my svarUpa, I'd never get deluded by his vikshepa shakti. In other words, you cannot tell me the truth and then make me believe in lies.
There is a fundamental disagreement among some Advaita Vedantis as to what becomes of the jIva in suShupti. Bhagavatapada Shankaracharya says in bhAshya on Brahma Sutra 1.iv.18 so: "The general vedanta doctrine says that the jIva becomes one with the highest brahman in suShupti". Mandukyopanishat says the same thing by using words such as praj~nAnaghana or Gaudapadacharya's explanation of Anandaghana to the jIva becoming one with brahman. To my understanding, the people who object to this have turiyA as a separate fourth state in their mind, in contrast to the three states of waking (jAgRta), dream (svapna) and deep sleep (suShupti). However, turiyA is not really a state or the fourth quarter in Mandukyopanishat, but its that which makes the avasthAtraya One Whole, being in all the three states. That is, it remains in all three states as the substratum.
Lets rephrase that last statement and see that it means: brahman remains in all three states as the substratum. Bhagavatapada says in his most famous quotation "jIvo brahmaiva nA'parAH". Having made that statement, why is it then that suShupti gains a special focus in his Brihad bhAshya? Well, to understand that, we have to look into Mandukya kArikA and recall Bhagavatapada's introductory note of Brahma Sutra Bhashya (BSB). In the kArikA 11, Gaudapadacharya explains prAj~na (jIva in suShupti) to be conditioned by cause alone, not effect, while viSva (jIva in jAgRta) and taijasa (jIva in svapna) are conditioned by both cause and effect. The cause here is avidyA of one's own nature. The effect is jIva _as_an_individual_ in the waking or dream worlds. In the introduction part of BSB, Bhagavatapada says that this (effect of) jIvatva, as an individual, is naisargika. Strictly speaking, that is exactly what makes a jIva. What else is a jIva without individuality? This has already been shown to have been mentioned as jIvo brahmaiva nA'parAH. So suShupti being the case of jIva having no individuality, there is no jIvatva there to qualify the effective separation from brahman, and hence its so-quoted _becoming_one_with_brahman_. This is the reason why Mandukya mantra 5 calls prAj~na as praj~nAnaghana, a mass of consciousness and mantra 6 goes further to completion by saying that it is from him that all beings originate, being sarveSvara, the source of all.
However, there still remains a separate question as to what is that cause which prAj~na gets conditioned by? That is avidya, in seed form. Without this remaining, there would be no waking up from the deep sleep state for jIva. He would realize then and there. Even while being brahman in deep sleep, he doesn't know that he is brahman owing to this ignorance. Contrast this with avidyA in jAgRta and svapnAvasthA-s, which is not in seed form, but a full-blown tree, with jIvatva making a separate individual existence for jIva. jIva as viSva and taijasa, both, considers himself as an individual. The objectors ask as to how would prAj~na be one with brahman, while avidyA remains even in seed form? The answer to that is: just the way that brahman remains unaffected as brahman during pralayA, while holding avidyA of all the jIvas in seed form (for next cycle of creation). Else, if such a seed remains outside of brahman, that would go against a-dvaita itself and become dvaita!
The mind is supposed to be the fastest known thing, though less understood. Ishavasya Upanishad talks of Atman as being faster than the mind so:
अनेजदेकं मनसो जवीयो नैनद्देवा आप्नुवन्पूर्वमर्षत् ।
तद्धावतोऽन्यानत्येति तिष्ठत्तस्मिन्नपो मातरिश्वा दधाति॥ ईशोपनिषत् ४ ॥
Unmoving, It is one, faster than the mind. The senses cannot reach It, for It
proceeds ahead. Remaining static It overtakes others that run. On account of Its
presence, Matarsiva (the wind) conducts the activities of beings. (Translation by Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli)
In Bhimarupi Maruti stotram, Samartha Ramadas Swami says:
आणिला मागुती नेला आला गेला मनोगती । मनासि टाकिले मागे गतीसी तुळणा नसे ॥
He brought it in and took it back, both with speed like mind; verily he surpassed the speed of mind, his speed has no comparison. (Translation by sanskritdocuments.org)
The former shruti quotation shows that mind is the fastest known and Atman is the (only) one faster than that, while the latter stotra reference is a praise to Hanuman as being faster than the mind, meaning that Hanuman is Atman itself.
Now that we've established that short of Atman, mind is the fastest, lets see what this essentially means. In avasthAtrayA parIkshA, having understood that the Self is different from the various koshAs, most one can achieve is paroksha j~nAnA. For aparokshA j~nAnA to arise, there has to anubhUti of the Atman. However, while moving from one avasthA to another, most importantly from dream or deep sleep to waking state, the naisargika or natural tendency of the jIva is to get bound to dehAtma buddhi. All of us have experienced, at one time or another, that immediately upon waking up from deepest of sleeps, there exists a few moments of a lost feeling, a feeling where we know not where we are, what we are doing, etc. Then slowly it dawns upon us as to we are in such and such a place and thats it, all memory is regained in that instant, without needing further delving as to what exactly happened to us! Then goes on an outward planning of our day or what have you. However, those few moments, or truly fractions of a moment, is of utmost importance. Thats a sandhi. Thats when anything can happen; it holds immense potential to understand the infinite!!
Lets step back a bit. So what exactly happened when that memory flooded back on gathering back the geographical presence of ours? What we lost there is that even before "where am I?" existed a question as to "who am I?" That question slipped our dullard minds, habitually. We have, across janmAs, trained ourselves to forget the important question itself, let alone wanting to find the answer. What we realize, therefore, is that we couldn't place ourselves as to where we were and thankfully we regained it soon after. If we were to know that the we identified ourselves as this body and then the mind found that this body is placed somewhere geographically in the vast created space, we would know that there was some state prior to this binding, which is our sahaja stithi, true nature, au naturel! That tremendous potential exists right there! Simple!
Alas, that simplicity is extremely difficult to come by. I mentioned the ill training across countless lives. But herein, ties in the speed aspect of the mind. That binding is so fast, that of false identification of me and mine, that there is no tool available at our disposal which is faster than the mind to stall this process, or even slow it down. Here, Vedanta comes to the rescue, using tools as described in Sankhya philosophy. Sankhya says that the antahkaraNa manas itself is divided into manas, buddhi, ahaMkAra & chitta. The binding, quite a series of binding events, that happens is that of the ahaMkAra with the body, assisted by the thinking manas, chitta bringing forth the memories all at once and we get lost in this prapa~nca. Interestingly, that the buddhi or the intellectual aspect of the mind is still asleep and late to wake up is not an accident. Its created so and aged lazy by habit so as to keep the creation ticking! The sleeping intellect is what causes an almost insultingly dull feeling, so to say, since we have moved to analyze our sharpness with our alertness to this outward world. The fact is contrary to this. We ought to train ourselves back to reality. The trick lies in waking the intellect up earlier in the cycle so much so that the binding hasn't yet happened and never does happen! All our sAdhanA is really focused towards this singular goal, a complete end in itself, that of sharpening the intellect and training it against this binding taking place after which it has no control. Another way, sAdhanA can be understood as slowing down the pace of the mind from binding. The binding can be likened to an arrow being shot in the outward direction towards the world when the mind is out there to the point of no return, let alone changing direction in the opposite direction. The intellect waking up early can stop this outward arrow being shot, which means that the jIva remains in its essential state as the Atman.
Most spiritual paths trace back their source to the Vedas one way or the other, some traces are lost across eras while others have been purposefully removed for many an obvious reason. Similarly, most healing techniques trace their origin back to the Vedic wisdom. Consider even the "mistaken" caduceus or the correct asklepian symbol of medicine, the former with two snakes around a staff and the latter with a single snake. Even if one doesn't think it to be exact, its obvious that it very much represents Kundalini.
That being the case, is it any surprise then that most alternative healing techniques have something to do with Kundalini, directly or indirectly? Reiki talks of Universal (source of) energy, which is not truly divorced from Kundalini. A Reiki channel (healer) pulls energy from this universal source and directs the same towards the healee; put in other words, the channel draws kundalini energy from sahasrara chakra and directs it towards the chakra dominating the ailed area! Working with sahasrara may sound ridiculous and laughable to one initiated into and following a traditional path of kundalini yoga, but I shall fill in the gaps to clarify this point later in this post. Pranic Healing methods talk of Chi, which is same as prana, but one would rather use Chi or yin-yang kind of jargon this day to credit an unorthodox Buddhist source than an orthodox Vedic one! Then there are meditations of all sorts varying from under a minute to hours together, individual and group sessions. I landed up once, unaware of what the "course" was all about owing to trust, in such a meditation! Its a different matter that I paid through my nose for the same, but suffice it to say that meditations done for a particular physical or mental benefit are no meditations at all. (And if you know me well from my earlier blog entries, you know I don't believe that meditation can be done purposefully, its a happening).
Back to healing, it has been established that all healing methods somehow tie back to kundalini; ergo, to chakras. However, what chakras themselves are have been interpreted variously as energy centres, concentrated nerve centres and the like, there have been researches tracing the 72000 nadis into physical nerves and categorized as plexuses. Although healing and modern meditation techniques target opening chakras at various levels of the healer and the healee, they are not really the same chakras that kundalini yoga deals with! This may come as a shock to many modern "yogis" and healers alike, and they may disagree, the fact is that just the names and identifiable location of chakras being same doesn't mean that the chakras are also the same. You are free to ask how and why that is so, but one who has a background of Vedanta should revisit the five koshas to get an insight into this fact. The way the body is identified with annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya and anandamaya koshas, so too the chakras seeming the same at a particular location, is not really so. One cannot directly reach a particular chakra by some healing technique or short meditation, what one is doing instead is forcing physical aspects of the chakra or prana aspects or mental tendencies locked at a particular chakra to unfold thereby, seeming as if one has opened or activated a chakra. So, as mentioned above, when drawing energy from sahasrara or whichever chakra directly via some healing technique is only at a particular plane or kosha and not really a kundalini chakra. Of course, there is a good chance that all these techniques would partially affect a spiritual chakra indirectly since changes in prana movement added to heat caused by the intensity of meditation may give an indirect push to kundalini if its around that area. This effect is purely unintentional and no one other than a true spiritual guru can predict the same. Thats risky, just as in hatha yoga, except that in the latter there is a reference available as to what hatha yoga practice leads to which kundalini effect!
I think this is a good point to stop, till I wake up another day and feel like writing more. :)
How many times have we heard ourselves or others mutter "my intentions were good"? Or something like "I meant well", "I didn't mean any harm", etc? Plans that start off well and yet tumble down the path are commonplace. There are some that end the way they started, but they are rare. Ones that announce that that's what they meant to do are almost always changing the blueprint itself as things take shape themselves! Priorities change, plans adapt; circumstances drift, plans shift. Sometimes, these things happen knowingly. At most others, however, its an unknown move, a slow but continuous change, that eventually leaves you somewhere you didn't intend to be, never imagined you'd end up. But then, if you know it, you just think "that's life" and move on; or move further away, as the case is more likely! That's to say, we all live on hope. Many people shift to "self-help" books, go optimistic and live on the edge of their lives. They become "all wise", so to say. Hey, whatever works, right?! Then again, in one satsanga, I heard that one of the bestselling authors of such a book, one who would guide others on how to live well, successfully, or what have you, ended up committing suicide!! Well, that's self-help for you (sorry, pun intended). Let's get back to what I intended in this post, else like all other plans, I'm drifting. :)
Why this pessimism, you ask? It isn't; this is what optimism looks like, when stripped off all its shiny advertisements, the bare naked realism. We are all born intending to do well, progressing on our journey towards the Ultimate Truth. Now, ask yourself if a bunch of lies can lead you to truth, let alone the ultimate one. Its better to accept that we drifted in this life too, driven by ego, having been born committing to do our sAdhanA, but finding ourselves amid circumstances that we can't disentangle ourselves from. We find our immediate surroundings dependent on us for their survival! We go from our individualistic goal, a reason for which we are born, a journey we started all alone, one that would end all alone, to one that we convince ourselves is a life doing good for others.
Let me change gears here and try and tie in all that's scattered above into a singular idea. This very intending to do good is rooted in ego; well, not necessarily good, but doing anything is rooted in ego. All plans pop-off the ego and grow into an endless blackhole swallowing up as much as they can, voraciously, till there is nothing left to swallow or its too late for you to rollback. Planning ahead in life is being secure, yes; but, in spirituality, planning ahead is giving life to time! Left to itself, time is a non-existent nothing or it soon collapses so when you pull back your ego from the tomorrows. The same is true with the past, when you think back on the happenings around you and announce "my intentions were good". You give life to time! The now-ness in time is not of the time, but it is despite it. All the pre-meditative exercises up and until Maharshi Patanjali's dhAraNA are to bring steadiness in focus on now-ness. That is, the current, the now, the one and only truth there always is. This dhAraNa when it becomes tailadhArAvat (like the steady flow of oil), becomes dhyAna. Yes, it becomes so, its not a doing. One intends to concentrate and it becomes meditation; a rare but a sweet drift of plan! This fructifies into samAdhi when you're ready to drop all your plans of all your lives; a true goal that you're born for, then you'll have reached.
om tat sat
Now, it makes me wonder, though I planned this blog as *anything wise*, has it shifted its base to *otherwise*! :)
2.14 But the contacts of the organs with the objects are the producers of cold and heat, happiness and sorrow. They have a beginning and an end, (and) are transient. Bear them, O descendant of Bharata. (Translation: Swami Gambhirananda)
What it meant to me earlier is that the opposing pairs such as happiness & sadness, heat & cold, etc, are indicative of dvandva. The contact of the senses with the objects drag along the jIva as being in contact with them and give rise to these feelings of opposing pairs, while truly the jIva has nothing to do with them, its always free. All of these pairs have a beginning and an end, so one must bear them out with patience. However, a deeper meaning shone on me now. The dvandva bhAva not only drags the jIva into association with these emotions or feelings, opposed when weighed against each other, but they in turn lead to dvaita-bhAva or duality. Left to itself, the jIva is brahman, but when associated with objects via the sense organs, duality is born.
Imagine a different set of opposites such as past & future. The mind with its tools drags the jIva into (living the) past and (planning the) future. Not only bearing them out with titikshA but weaning itself out from them, as pratyAhAra, if I may say that, jIva would be left alone in the present. While past had started and ended too, future is yet to start, but that too would end. The present, come what may, is always there. This present is the now. The ever-lasting, nityaM. The jIva. The Atman! The brahman! So only the contact of the senses with the objects gives rise to duality, but the jIva on its own is without a second. Its ekameva advitiya.
Of course, there's a contrary, critical viewpoint to the above, which is: how can the sensual contact be the reason for duality, since the object itself lies out there as a dual, doesn't it? Then again, the object as a dual, other than one's own self, comes into picture due to contact with it, via the senses, which associate the intellect to the senses via the mind. The intellect itself is a result of association of the ego with it, whereas the ego is an *OBJECT* for the jIva. This ego is the closest object which has no existence besides its individuality. And being an individual, without a second me, I am separated from another as a sentient being or an insentient object only when I, as a jIva, have an ego to separate me. The ego but has only a ghostly existence, a delusion, that vanishes in suShupti or deep sleep, where I am truly left to myself.
That brings me to conclude this post so: if this first opposing pair of individuality of ego contrasted against the other were not to happen, there would be no jIva separate as jIvAtman from brahman. Then, I could remain as what I really am: ekameva advitiya brahman. However, this root association is naisargika as Bhagavatpada Adi Shankaracharya says, so there's nothing I can do about it right away. Instead, the solution lies at the other end of the spectrum where I can bear out the opposing pairs of heat & cold, happiness & sadness, past & future, which would lead to remaining neutral in the present, the now, which in turn ends all the duality there is, right from those "objects out there" through my "mind out there" to my own "ego out there". Without the contact with those objects (of the jIva), there would be no duality.