The very reason that one thinks s/he's born makes one think that s/he'll die, and then, everything between the two events inflict pleasure & pain. It may be one of the reasons that brahmacharya is thought of as an essential components in the spiritual path that cuts bondage. Having said that, what is aimed at as a first step itself is to cut through the strongest desire. Once this is stabilized and perfection in brahmacharya of deed, word & thought achieved, it no longer remains a first step. The seemingly ardous first step in the mountain foothills is itself scaling the mountain peak. Yes, thats the summit.
Thats one of the main reasons that brahmacharya means *celibacy* on one end of the dictionary and "being absorbed in brahmaN" at the other. These definitions would no longer remain as separate; they would unite into one advaitic meaning of brahmaN.
brahmacharyaat naanya upaayam
What is a conicidence is that I find something common between the story & my thoughts I mentioned of earlier. I was thinking of how a wife is different to a man than his mother or sister? Oh! it seems like a stupid question... does it? Read on. But for some cravings at one level for a short period of time between the two, there's nothing different in a married relation. A mother, sister or wife is equally a Goddess at other times. Perhaps, thats why Ramakrishna worshipped his wife always. Maybe, today we can't relate to such things, even as Sw. Sivananda talked of maintaining brahmacharya within marriage and of wife being a sister or mother after the birth of a child.
Even if we leave that part of a Goddess, leaving the sexual attraction for a short period in the entire span of married life and even in the earlier phase, small durations of actual sexual relation, the wife cares for her husband as a mother does for a child and the husband cares for his wife as he would do so for his sister. So from my angle, I feel that if sex is ignored, the married relation is no different than the other two. If this is understood, it should help us see what Ramakrishna and Sivananda talked of. Another way of looking at things is seeing the relation at three levels. First and the most basic level is where people see the relation as a mere sexual relation. This is, lets say, the body/mind craving each other. At a subtler level, the relation is similar to a brother-sister, mother-child relation. At the subtlest level, it is advaitic, wherein, the husband, wife, mother, sister, all are but one.
And now, its surprising that I'd to stumble today upon the story about Arunagirinatha... check the first five paras, atleast. It really made me cry.
yaa devi sarva bhUteshu kaamarupeNa saMsthithaa
namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namO namaH
Have thanked you for what I feel
That phase has long passed
Or so I thought it to be
Do you have a better plan
That you care for me to know?
Before its too late and
I've no other place to go
An open door hasn't helped
No, its not the way I face
If that door closes on me
I won't even feel the ache
Even if it waits with open arms
I may wander away, don't you see?
Not returning to where I'm now
Or elsewhere 'morrow I may be
These feelings aren't meant to last
I know they're momentary
Hope you've chalked a route
Leading to where I want to be
I've fallen from your grace
But you too know why that is
There's this whole lot of karma
That I need to do away with
Its not at all my doing
Even if there're times I seem to please
I still come back to right things
Haven't you always seen?
So many eras have passed
But I still think you don't care
If you did, I'd know better
Than to blame you all the way!
If I can't do any good
Should you mean to make me fall?
As I try to remain unmoved
You get me to face them all
No past nor future I seek
No present I wish you gave
I'd rather not get to begging
Even if you want me to crave
There's always been a thing I asked
Maybe its against your wont
Why then bring things from my past
And build bridges I've burnt?
--a thankless engineer
I took a trip in the Himalayas driving ex-Delhi and trekking too, but I felt the car helped only to get all the cartons of baggage across, save us from rains and accomodate us due to lack of hotels & tenting ground in crowded cities. Its alright as long as our aim was comfort.
Bike would have pleased us more as Robert Pirsig clears in Zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance using the analogy of watching a movie vs acting in a movie, I recall.
But I realized something more from the Himalayan trip. Driving is pleasure, yes. Riding is more pleasure, its a given, for me. But if trekking is the aim (of course, I would want to ride a bike in the Himalayas anyway), undoubtedly hitchhiking, buses or even wandering on foot between places (given infinite time :) are my choices. The reason is that in Himalayas, you tend to get stuck between landslides; more so during the rainy season that I chose to travel! With a car, or even a bike, its impossible to pass across these roadblocks; moreover, you can't even park & leave it midway on the highway. Personally, we would have made it to Gangotri and even Gaumukh, if we didn't have a vehicle: car/bike. The argument extends further to hold more water without motorable roads!
Haversacks are a big issue especially when not packed properly, if trekking is a plan. I'm not sure on the comfort of riding with a haversack on, between points. I like to ride lightweight. I'm sure frequent bikers know better.
I'm in a deep state of shock where living itself is a lot of effort. By that, I mean working, eating, sleeping, everything seems like too much of an effort. Nah, its not sheer laziness as one might think looking at me. It just seems futile, a showoff, a drama, maybe I can't even express what its like anymore. For example, imagine yourself at a movie theatre; how do expect to enjoy the movie when all you can think of is the white screen? Watching the movie becomes too much of an effort, doesn't it then? How then could anyone actually expect you to not only watch the movie and enjoy it, but factually relate, narrate and convince others to watch it.
My fear is that I may have really gone mad already, according to these worldly terms that I've myself lived once, for long. Every day, I convince myself that soon this misery will end somehow. I don't know how thats going to be possible. Its like not having brakes in your car and driving down a hill. You can't switch gears to reverse, you can't park and step out, but you've to go with the flow in the car till the road turns into a flat or an upslope... or God forbid, you hit something. All you can do is to try to hold on to the steering so that you don't accidentally jump off the cliff!
(Scenario: The questioner meets Phaedrus in some kind of an asylum)
Questioner: Hi! How are ya?
Phaedrus: I'm alive, thanks.
Q: So how long have you been here?
Phaedrus: I don't know.
Q: Your blog tells us that you checked-in here sometime during 2006.
Phaedrus: Maybe its so.
Q: What happened?
Phaedrus: I must've gone insane. Atleast I felt my going insane then, now that I recall.
Q: Could you be more elaborate, please?
Phaedrus: Some time during that year, that you mention to be 2006, it was already some years that I'd begun disbelieving in the existence of the world. That made it quite difficult to live by the norms laid by the so-called society in this dream world; the work, friends, family, relations, etc. And...
Q: And... ?
Phaedrus: And later, I decided to quit all this.
Q: What do you mean quit?
Phaedrus: I left my job and tried spending some time with my family to ease their pain. I took up a school teaching job for a while.
Q: Teaching what?
Phaedrus: Some sort of stuff. I don't recall. Perhaps, it was more than some stuff, like all sorts of stuff. I did blabbering more than teaching. Maybe I lost my job there due to it.
Q: Oh! So?
Phaedrus: Then, I took some more spiritual trips that I'd been taking, settling down in Himalayas for a few months. There, I felt that the crowd wouldn't reduce anywhere and people were flocking around into these *spiritual* places like anything. Thats when I decided to stay alone in some goddamn remote village.
Q: Then what happened?
Phaedrus: I did that. I spent time in a village.
Q: What did you do there?
Phaedrus: I mostly read stuff and scribbled on to blogs and pieces of paper.
Q: For how long?
Phaedrus: I don't know.
Q: How did you land here?
Phaedrus: I don't know.
Q: You don't have the slightest idea?
Phaedrus: Not really. All I remember is that I used to read & write stuff as I said. I grew vegetables and fruits for food and mostly survived on that. My health, people say, took a toll, due to irregular schedules! Later, I remember that even this eating, reading, writing, etc felt much nonsense and a lot of effort. So I just used to be.
Phaedrus: Yeah, be... as in surviving.
Q: Ah! So what do you want to do next?
Phaedrus: What I've been doing for a while... BE.
Q: Ah! I think you're at the right place then. Thanks for your sharing nonsense.
Phaedrus: Oh, you're welcome. Thanks for dropping by in my dream. Ta.
The thirst that quenched
Needed no food
Nor water that rained
Whats it that lives my life
I know not even to this day
All I thought wasn't true
This isn't even near the way
A way that leads me to the Self
The self thats never hungry,
Or thirsty, the one that lives on
Unattached to the senses' robbery
The years that went
Are no longer binding
They're neither to help me
Nor stop me from finding
This search is beyond time
And its over the space
I can take a back seat
For its no longer a ratrace
And all I can see is me
Is it not because
There's no I and Thee?
I close my eyes
And I delve within me
The world disappears
Then I know I'm free
Who else paints my dreams?
For those too are centred around me
Thats a whole new creation
Just as we all now see!
Originally uploaded by bhatpraveen.
Some time back, I'd written a poem on Adi guru shankaraacharya. Today, I've a photo to associate to my poem about this immensely great, unparalleled guru and ajnaanagraasakam brahma.
dhyaanamulam guror murtih
pujaamulam guroh padam
mantramulam guror vaakyam
mokshamulam guroh kR^paa
Even with a little taste of the path, I feel myself to be incapable of living this life, let alone "doing the prescribed duties"! It seems like the weight of an elephant laid on a horse's back as Bharata once seems to have told Rama describing his state when the former was to rule Ayodhya for 14 yrs! The state is quite similar. Every day, the way Bharata would miss Rama for 14 yrs and pray to his paadukaa is akin to the way I feel counting each moment of each day, missing and praying the source. I'm not sure I'll be able to live on for 14 yrs at this pace!
So having realized, someone pulling the Self and binding that heart's knot again for the welfare of others is beyond my selfish understanding. I can only guess the amount of effort needed to get a realized Self into the body, mind, intellect complex and still remain at bliss. Nisargadatta Maharaj said that the body knows how to react and live on its own, even without the self being involved. I can only assume that this is obvious for a jivanmuktaa and as Adi Shankara says that such people only live in this world for the welfare of others, if not a wandering monk. But I'm in such a state that I can't go back to my karma, nor can I lead myself ahead on the spiritual path. I'm in a trishanku avasthaa. As of now, I don't see a way out of this trap. I'm not even in a thankless position to say if the earlier ignorant state was better or not. These are the times that I've heard to have been reached by a pilgrim as seemingly written in the pilgrim's progress. The depth of this state is not measurable by me or someone else. Its like a pitstop, where neither do you see the road before, nor the road ahead; the weather clears up only as long as you move on, else you're stuck. So, I'm stuck, helpless and have no pointers whatsoever. All my dependence right now is on so-called time and prayers to jivanmuktaa-s. Else, unfortunately, its clearly an atheist in the making!
chakshurinmiilitam yena tasmai shri gurave namah
Clearly, literal translation of the gItA vAkya means what these people say. But is that really what Krishna means? Consider "mental renunciation". It should mean, when I do anything, I should do it without *any* association *whatsoever*. When I associate myself to the act, it gives rise to karma and karma binds. Regarding this, Shankara is very clear when he says that karma and jnAna can't go hand in hand.
Lets hypothetically see this as not doing karma by disassociating oneself from the doer's ego, thats mental renunciation. For a person who can't renounce physically, is mental renunciation going to be easier? I'm not saying that a person who has physically renounced will not have mental associations. The gItA clearly denounces such a person as a hypocrite. But I personally find the physical renunciate to be in a better position to mentally renounce than the physically active, trying to be a karma yogi. This, I've concluded.
When a person tries to live in the same world that he's trying to renounce mentally, he reminds himself all the while that he's not the doer. Its like nAmasmaraN. This goes on parallel to the actions that he physically performs, but thinking that he's not the doer. He puts in efforts in all his might, atleast as much as he used to always, but this time with no expectation or anything such. This parallel activity continues for long. Somewhere during the time, a small loss of focus on this nAmasmaraNic activity due to the depth of seriousness of task at hand, or say forgetfulness, or oft likely vAsanA-s, give rise to ego! Ah, there's your trap. Then its a downward spiral, is it not? I do agree that it is doable, and that one can snap out of these momentary pitfalls if he's well aware, but I've judged that its so only for an advanced practitioner of the path. Else, its as was.