Working of fear

Yesterday, again, I took a motorbike ride into the forests to see how dense they are and whether or not the place I'd a look at, earlier, is conducive for sAdhana, as well as survival. In my first trip, I was not able to gauge the surroundings well. While all that was done, I found some insights into the working of fear at different levels. Staying in seclusion means a lot of things in itself, but staying in seclusion in a remotely accessible area, means more. At a practical level, there are issues such as health, basic amenities being nearby, emergencies, etc. At another level, it means how often is the commute and through what kind of area and which mode of transport. As I delved into these, many hidden issues came forth.

I began to imagine what it would be like when there's no electricity when it rains continuously, what would happen if the vehicle breaks down in the middle of the forest roads, how it would be to survive the night surrounded by dense woods all alone...

On my way back, a sunny afternoon had changed into a dark cloudy evening. As I hit half the journey, this evening had turned into a stormy night with a downpour. Thankfully, I'd a helmet on this time; as much is it a boon, its a bane too! I could hardly see the roads with a wet visor and specs and upcoming vehicle lights flashing onto the eyes. What was worsening the already bad plight of mine was the stormy wind which was throwing me off the lane! Riding slow made balancing difficult, riding fast made the wind and rain strike harder, and braking the vehicle caused slippage due to wet roads. Somehow I managed to keep on the roads following some vehicles and make it home safely, though I was drenched in cold showers.

... To add to the already experienced fearful thoughts of forests, I was faced with the practical issues of being alone in an inaccessible area, without the knowhow of the surroundings. While there are advantages of remote areas in that they provide solitude and peace for the most part, which are of utmost importance for svAdhyAya, if one is not used to such surroundings, every moment could bring forth torturous imagery that eats away expensive sAdhana time! While I was thinking all this, in bits and pieces, slowly it dawned on me how fear takes you under its control. The mind starts smartly by bringing out practical questions. While you're thinking on that, suddenly it brings out an impractical scenario such as accidentally slipping into the woods, etc. By doing this, the mind is actually scaring you away from an almost advanced sAdhana opportunity and pulling you back for its habitual survival! The question of whether or not there are impractical issues with a particular step in sAdhana can be known only on taking the step. Every thought prior to that (and even mostly after it ) that portrays a hurdle is a fear projected by the mind to scare one away from sAdhana.

Kudle Matha

On our way back from Kargal, where I went with an acquaintance (JM), we stopped by at a Lingayath temple and Kudle maTha. After darshan of the deity, we saw that the Swamiji was free and so we went ahead to have a chat. This is how it went; I'll skip the basic intro. (I've also forgotten the exact sequence so some paras seem disconnected)

Sw: What do you do at Sagara?
me: I'm on a break for adhyAtmika chintana.
Sw: There has to be some earnings while you do that, right?
me: Yes, but its unfair to earn if one can't deliver work to meet at least the earnings. I was unable to work with my bent of mind towards advaita vedanta.
Sw: If you're not taking sannyAsa, then there has to be some earning to support you.
me: I plan to earn on need basis. Its a middle path to develop chitta shuddhi. Without that, our maThas disapprove taking to sannyAsa.
Sw: Chitta shuddhi will increase as you continue on the path.
me: Hmm, yes. I don't even dare to touch Shankara bhashya without chitta shuddhi. In fact, Sringeri's maThAdipati had said that studying Vedanta without initiation into sannyAsa is disapproved.
Sw: Its not that sannyAsa is necessary for moksha. One can get moksha even if one doesn't take sannyAsa. Its just that sannyAsa speeds up the process. Moha kshaya is moksha. That can be done in any of the four ashrams/ stages in life.
me: Sringeri maTha doesn't even initiate anyone other than the successor to the peeTha and that person has to be necessarily a brahmachAri.
Sw: True.
me: From your side of maThas, there's one Swamiji... I forget his name now; he's not a sannyAsi, but he's taught many sannyAsis.
Sw: Siddheshwar Swamiji?
me: Yes! I've heard his recorded lectures. I've been wanting to meet Siddheshwar Swamiji, but have never been able to. Where is he these days?
Sw: Its very difficult to say about his whereabouts, he's always on the move with programmes fixed well in advance.
me: I met one young sannyAsi who was at Rishikesh to learn Hindi. He was one of Siddheshwar Swamiji's favorites in the former's childhood. He'd even given me a phone no to call up and enquire anytime of Swamiji's whereabouts. Unfortunately, I've not been able to do so.
Sw: He's a rare person who goes around delivering discourses, but doesn't ever take a penny for them. Except for his stay in the premises where he resides, he accepts nothing else. When people send money to him, he sends them back. There are others who ask him why he sends the money back, its useful for ashram.
me: Even our Sridhara Swamiji did not join any ashram; he was offered the Sringeri peeTha by Sw. Abhinava Vidya Tirtha, but he refused it.
Sw: In fact, maThAdipatis of places like Sringeri have restricted movement. They have to think of so many things before they can act. Siddheshwar Swamiji is totally free. Even we here are a little free, but not Sringeri peethAdipati. They have to follow ashram rules as made socially too.
me: Ramana Maharshi used to sit in the hall meeting people throughout the day or night. Except when he was using the bathroom, he would be available for darshan. Ashramites fixed darshan timings fearing his health, but Maharshi would sit outside locked hall's doorsteps and say something like: “its your ashram, you can lock doors, but I will not deny darshan to anyone who wants to meet me at any hour.”
Sw: At different times, various rules have been formed for various reasons. For example, even women study not only Vedanta, but they perform Veda yaj~nas now, don't they? Its only during the few days of the month that they do not perform rituals.
me: Even so, they are disapproved in our maThas. Moreover, just as Vedanta chintana has to be continuous, so too, Vedas are to be memorized with continuous effort; and such continuous effort is not possible during those few days of the month. Also, if I'd a sister or daughter to take to get Vedic education, none of our maThas will entertain her.
Sw: Shruti has nothing about such disapprovals, only Smritis do. Smritis were formed much later. They were perhaps done to protect Vedas from invaders and things like that.
me: The tradition may have changed to best fit times, but we need to follow whatever tradition exists at the time. Dharmo rakshati rakshitaH. The tradition is meant to be followed.
Sw: In Shrutis, we find examples of Yaj~navalka, Gargi...
me:, Maitreyi... Gargi
Sw: Yes, Maitreyi, Gargi. Even a grihasta couple is to perform the yaj~nas together, half the resultant fruit goes to the wife.
me: True
Sw: Not only that, if the husband has gone out, the agnihotra fire has to be kept alive by the wife all by herself.
me: Agreed.
Sw: Even in Ramayana... Tulsi Ramayana, its said that when Rama had sent Sita to the forest and had to perform a yAga, he had to build an idol of Sita to sit beside him in the ritual.
me: Pardon me, Swamiji, but in all the examples you've given, its always “the wife being with the husband” or “in the absence of husband”. There is no example in the Shruti of a lady performing the yaj~na alone, right?
Sw: True, but look at Vedanta: Maitreyi.
me: Again, there too, Yaj~navalkya teaches Maitreyi, its not she alone. (There may be rare exceptions, of course). Taking to vAnaprastha with the wife is approved.
Sw: I just brought it up since you linked sannyAsa and study of Vedanta.

Sw: In Shankara Bhashyas, its said about a shudra and Vedas that molten lead should be poured in his ears...
me: I don't think its in Shankara Bhashyas...
Sw: Its in the bhashyas...
me: May be Acharya quotes Manu, its in Manu Smriti...
Sw: ... anyway, by shudra it is meant, someone who is not qualified, who has no capability to understand Veda/ Vedanta, such a person is a shudra.
me: yes, yes.

(We took his leave, step outside...)

JM: He's a PhD, right?
me: I don't know!
JM: All of the people from this maTha are qualified, PhDs mostly. Come, lets ask.

(... and we reenter)
JM: Sw, I wanted to ask something.
Sw: Come in.
JM: Is it that your maTha initiates only PhDs for the peeTha?
Sw: No.
JM: All of the ones I know were highly qualified. Is it a must?
Sw: No, its true that earlier Sw. was a PhD.
JM: (Quoting another)
Sw: Yes, he too. I've a B.Ed... it has just so happened, but such qualification is not important. Only adhyAtmika study and anubhava is seen.
me: In our maThas, people are initiated into sannyAsa in childhood straight from brahmacharya or much later in old age. For the middle age, if people want to take to sannyAsa, they are to join the ashram as a brahmachAri and then after many years, they are initiated into sannyAsa. Is it the same in your ashrams?
Sw: Yes, that is mostly so for a reason. There has to be some adhyAtmika study and understanding before taking to sannyAsa. It can't just be that one fine day someone quits from worldly life and comes straight to sannyAsa. There have been examples such as Vidyabhushana or even one last year: a kid was forcibly initiated into sannyAsa by a Raghavendra maTha Swamiji; that didn't work well.
me: Yes, true.
Sw: There are places that initiate people from any age group into sannyAsa, but it may not be from same lineage.
me: hmm.

A simple experiment

(Please do not try this if you can't keep off work/ commitment/ vehicle driving)

i) Do not sleep at all for 30 plus hrs or sleep for one hour only.
ii) Carry on the routine as necessary during earlier half of the day.
iii) Do some uninteresting work the 2nd half of the day.

Watch yourself now. Do you feel you're the body? Do you even care what happens to it during those moments of uninteresting work when you'd rather sleep then and there, if not in your cosy bed?

If the deepest sleep, when you're ignorant of this vast world, brings so much bliss that it doesn't allow you to do anything else, how could there be any happiness in the world? How could the worldly objects possibly bring happiness? Is there any happiness outside of you?

Deepest sleep provides you true loneliness. Seeking objects outside gives momentary happiness when the object is obtained since then there is no objective craving that involves the thinking. At that time you're left to yourself completely. Thats the bliss, our true nature, uncovered and unsoiled by objective wants.

Be good, do good

Swami Sivanandaji said in simple words so: "be good, do good". In this age, meeting such a goal itself is a big achievement in the spiritual world. Targeting anything higher might well be a foolish egoistic desire. Being good and doing good themselves are not easy tasks. The former requires acting, speaking and thinking good things even while being among people that may not be doing good, while the latter needs one to do good to even those people who wish you harm and do harm unto you. How many of us can not only forgive and forget the harm done to us by our enemies, but go ahead and help them out? Seems ridiculous, does it? How then are we to walk the spiritual path carved beyond these simple steps that we find difficult to comprehend, let alone follow?

Possibilities galore

"Is it at all possible, any which way?", so feels a seeker at one point of time; sometimes, more than once. Even then, the ego doesn't permit him to let him go. Its also possible that the ego wants him to let go. The mind tells him its impossible, while the ego says that its possible. One shows fear and the other courage, one attracts with craved-for pleasures while the other shows renunciation, the seeker gets tortured being grilled between the two extremes. Funnily enough, confusion raises its hood, every now and then, but since the seeker himself is incapable of taking a decision, time passes by, wastefully. Days turn into nights, and nights into days, without knowledge of them, without anything constructive being done. If the seeking is good, it is stalled by some circumstantial hindrance, that shows up in many ways, be it with your problems or someone else's, or some travel causing a break in seeking. The path lengthens itself by such pitfall and the seeker finds himself at the bottom of the ladder, even after having scaled the rungs many times in the past, due to such hindrances. So whats the way out?

Hold on, have faith. Bear the pain. Taste the poison. Its all the wish of the all-loving God. Thinking that we deserve more than what we get is a craving still and an unfair one at that! So if we've fallen from the path, its to be seen that we do not deserve the higher reward then. Only persistent effort, tirelessly working towards the goal, even when fallen, will bear fruit some day, some year, some life. Just because one doesn't deserve something then doesn't mean that he'll never deserve it. If all had given up on failures, there wouldn't have been many successes anywhere. If we'd given up on falling off on trying to walk in childhood, we'd have never learned to run! Only on falling off many times, did we learn that balancing on two feet is an effortless part of ourselves. So too, seeking is an effortless part of our own existence, whether we do it knowingly or unknowingly. Everyone seeks something, not knowing that that something is not outside but within. Having known this, the seeking for outer happiness turns inward and the wholeness is met immediately.

Thoughts 85

85. I think about a lot of things, but I don't think a lot about things.

Nonsense hat trick!

I have a combination of three horrible things in technology:

i) MS Windows Vista
ii) Chinese ZTE USB modem
iii) Reliance Net connect

And no one but I am to be blamed for actually falling for any of the above, not to mention all three at once!

In short, using (iii) on (i) via (ii) is one of the worst things one can do! What you get out of it is worse than dialup speeds at a lot more than broadband rates, with a need for infinite patience!