'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta
FIVE VERSES ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. Written by Sri Adi Shankaraachaarya. Please click on the relevant label and ensure to review the posts till date.
In summary we have seen that daily readings of worthy writings are to be undertaken, giving due consideration to instructions therein and inspirations provided. We must attend to daily activities and duties with devotion, in a spirit of love. Seek to cleanse our inner selves and lessen our dependence upon the external, exercising discernment and dispassion.
It is not that vedanta alone points to the misdirected attention of the mind. Any deep thinker in all societies comes to similar concepts This verse from the English poet T S Eliot addresses exactly this condition;
“The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust."
Shloka One; Paada Seven.
Seek the Self with consistent endeavour. The essence of this was strongly hinted at end of last paada. Now the single aspect itself is being given, emphasising the importance of clearing the mind of all the external temptations but then, because mind abhors a vacuum, give it a new purpose in the contemplation of the nature of Self, the spring of consciousness within us which we call The Divine.
सत्यं ज्ञानं अनन्तं ब्रह्मा/satyam jnaanam anantam brahmaa is a vedic chant often quoted here; that the ultimate knowledge is the truth of the eternal nature of Brahman, The Self, Existence-Conciousness-Bliss. It is the 'spiritual carrot' dangled before the inwards seeker.
Stating this point so clearly then, Bhaashya-kaara is asking that the saadhaka now fully commits to the search which brings its own joys along the way and, if fulfilled, results in the ultimate happiness. The term many are familiar with for this is 'nirvana'. Make a solid promise to yourself to return to Self. Stray not from that path. If you trip up, pick yourself up and continue. A rest now and then to assess the process, but cease never from the endeavour!
Escape from the bondage of 'home'. To most of us the term 'home' means the bricks and plaster place we have built as a shelter, as a place of collection of people we call as family and friends. It is a safe place from which we can interact with the world then return to for rest and safety. Spiritually, the BMI, our physical body and its equipments of interaction, constitute the home of the Self for now, from wherein we gather our experiences. At this moment, in our identification with this 'home' (BMI), we behave as though we are only this, a physical, mental and intellectual personality (PFT/the ego-self). Thus we become tyrannized by attachment to this body and its lusts, this mind and its passions, our intellect and its restlessness.
The guru here begs us to consider the possibility that we can end our PFT attitude and work our way up to the infinite awareness - God Consciousness.
Here ends verse one of the five gems of saadhana...but where the words end experience must arise, contemplation must take place, instructions acted upon. At the close of last week's post there was mention of how these verses can tie in to the passage of life called dharma. What must be understood further is that there are some who are born already with vaana-prastha in their hearts. A sense of the spiritual and search for the mystical (in its original sense - we are not talking magic here!) can arrive in childhood. Then again there are folk who ride through the entirety of a life and deny anything beyond the material existence. Each is valid for that person because praraabdha is at play, the payment of karmic debt. This will be addressed at another time. What is attempted here is to put the Saadhana Panchakam into context for the reader.
It has been written such that, depending on your current spiritual awareness, even this one verse alone offers much. Indeed, in the eight sentences, it offers everything! It encapsulates the full essence of a life lived rightly up to and including the beginnings of the deeper search and purpose of life.
These few short writings are not the end, but merely the beginning! The daily readings alone, applied as instructed, will bring much into life. Adjusting ones actions, finding contentment in the exercise of duties and keeping the Higher always in mind will, without doubt, bring a sense of purpose and relief. Taking control of one's sense and mind, once the habit is established, brings about a tranquility which will get noticed. When the automatic withdrawal from excess activity, the dropping away of old, destructive habits, takes place we quite often find that the unnecessary relationships also drop away. We discover who has true heart and who was along only for the ride. This is natural and not to be lamented. Where gaps have been left, they will be filled, but now with relationships more fitting to our purpose as we enter fully the stage referred to as vaana-pastha. In this we are taking up more fully the spiritual path. It can be done even whilst still on 'active duty'.
Indeed, in this modern world it becomes imperative in order to reset the balance and keep us from sinking in samsaara. The next shloka, then, is addressed to the V-p in us all; the one who would seek to swim more strongly and not be blown off course.
Continue as given to date and keep noting your personal progress in your books.