Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Ever More Focus

Hari OM

'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.

Now we come to shloka three.

वाक्यार्थश्च विचार्यतां श्रुतिशिरःपक्षः समाश्रीयतां
दुस्तर्कात् सुविरम्यतां श्रुतिमतस्तर्कोऽनुसंधीयताम्।
ब्रह्मासीति विभाव्यतां अहरहर्गर्वः परित्यज्यतां
देहेऽह्ंमतिरुझ्यतां बुधजनैर्वादः परित्यज्यताम्॥  ॥३॥

vAkyArthashca vicAryatAM shrutishiraHpaxaH samAshriiyatAM
dustarkAt suviramyatAM shrutimatastarko.anusandhiiyatAm.
brahmAsiiti vibhAvyatAM aharahargarvaH parityajyatAM
dehe.ahMmatirujhyatAM budhajanairvAdaH parityajyatAm..   ..3..
Reflect ever upon the meaning of the Upanishadic commandments and...
take refuge in the Truth of Brahman
Avoid Perverse arguments
Follow the discriminative rationale of Shruti
Be absorbed in the attitude "I am Brahman"
Renounce Pride
Give up the idea "I am the body"
Give up arguments with the wise

Sri Adi Shankaraachaarya-ji was supreme in his lucid and succinct presentation of instruction.  It shows in his higher teachings also, but here in the five jewels of saadhana we find the very epitome of concise presentation of the essentials to be worked upon in the life of spiritual pursuit. In shloka one it was the basics to be incorporated into daily life.  In shloka two the greater focus required to give life solid meaning.  Here we now enter the intense and committed purpose of spiritual living.

Paada One
Reflect ever upon the meaning of the Upanishadic commandments. Immediate we find the flow direct from the last paada of shloka two. In that statement we were asked to listen...shravanam. It is not the simple hearing of the words spoken, but full listening is to absorb as the sounds are heard and store them well for this stage now given which is to reflect...mananam. Indeed, the experienced shishya is so alert and attentive in shravanam that mananam happens almost instantaneously.  That same experienced shishya understands that there ought to be no distraction from shravanam - even mananam!  The rumination, cogitation, assessment and inquiry must be reserved until all the relevant information of the day has been received.

How often do we leave from a discussion with only partial (if any recall) of what was actually said? Mananam can only lead to problems and wrong conclusions if at first the shravanam has been at fault.  If, during study or lecture we have half our mind thinking on, say, the speaker themselves rather than what they are saying, or worse still, on the shopping which must be done afterwards, we can  miss so much of value.

There are those who say "oh but I just record the lecture and listen again later." However, if during that 'later' there are other distractions such as preparing a meal or the party next door, is this any better?  Recording and taking notes are a good support for memory prompt, but the best of students are so present in the lectures or in their reading that relistening or rereading become almost unnecessary and are used simply to clarify or confirm understanding. Thus it is within the last of shloka two and the first of shloka three that we find one of the most powerful pointers to the need for 'presence of mind'.

Only if the listening has been strong can the mananam reach the depths which will lift the student's being.

What are 'the commandments' referred to in this paada, though?  वाक्याः/vaakyaaH are the sentences and passages of such import in shruti that they are often quoted outwith the texts in which they are found.  There are  many; but from each Veda comes one  महावाकयाः/mahaavaakya or 'great statement'. Each represents an understanding of the Ultimate Truth in stages;
  1. प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्मा/prajnaanam brahmaa (definition of Truth = 'consciousness is Brahman')
  1. तत्त्वं असी/tat tvam asii (instruction/advice of the guru to the shishya = 'that thou art')
  1. अयं आत्मा ब्रह्मा /ayam aatma brahmaa (statement of direct experience = 'this atman is Brahman')
  1. अहं ब्रह्मास्मी/aham brahmaasmii (statement of the realised soul = 'I am Brahman')

These mahaavaakyas will be getting studied fuller and at great length at later stages of study, but all who approach Vedanta will hear them often and they are used at first to keep the mind focused on the goal.

It is worth pointing out that complete understanding of the BMI chart and how we relate to body, mind, intellect versus our higher natures is essential now. This is where we have to integrate the concept that the presence we refer to as 'God' is pure consciousness; that same awareness is what we are; that the individual soul expression of consciousness is nothing but Brahman and, finally, acceptance of total unity within that Universal Consciousness.

Almost too huge to contemplate?  NO! ...and that is exactly what these instructions request. Right now these statements can seem abstract.  We may even find there is a fear arising at the prospect of raising ourselves to such heights.

Yet, if we follow each step and the guidance of those who have gone before, we can reach places we never thought possible.

Paada Two.
Take refuge in the Truth of Brahman. If, now, we are feeling limited and intensely mortal, we must trust fully the instinct which has brought us even this far. Until we are able to recognise our fullness of Being, we can latch onto our personal God, in whichever guise we prefer.  We must do so, though, in the understanding that all such are representations of that One Consciousness, just as we, the individualised ego-selves, are. Keep working on the concept of the one divinity, the One True Self, being our own Self and the Self in every thing we perceive.

ॐ  तत् सत् /OM TAT SAT.

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