Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
Here begins the first technical discourse on Vedanta. The text 'Kindle Life', which is being discussed on 'choose-days' lays out the absolute essentials of the subjective science from its twenty-third chapter. Again, the text is not going to 'copied' into the post as such, but adjusted for narrative flow (though Gurudev's erudtion was second to none!) and with some additional examples. As far as the fundamentals go, however, there can be no variance. Everything is taken out of shruti and, just as the laws of mathematics and physics remain the same regardless of their application, equally so are the foundations of the philosophy of Vedanta.
The better these things are learned now, the easier things will be at a later study. Terminology is worthwhile memorising and the sequence of things also. This is the preparation required to ensure the 'party' runs smoothly! Let us begin.
Even basic knowledge of history tells us that civilizations come and go. As long as any culture is thriving and adding to itself, civilization increases and maintains its stance. Once cultural values degrade, the civilizations which upheld them, crumble. Sanskrit culture was also in deterioration many centuries ago, when one great man by the name of Vyaasa (not actual name but all that is required to know here), decided to compile the Vedas into one, cohesive whole. Till that time, the ancient scriptural texts were only kept alive through verbal repetition. This was an entirely oral culture, but as inidividuals lost their way and dropped down into the baser instincts of greed, lust anger and such, so the traditions were falling away. Veda Vyaasa, by committing the scriptures to palm leaves, saved the tradition.
By the time of the Buddha, the need was there once more to unify a culture which had torn itself apart with petty arguments and loss of focus. Make no mistake, Buddha was enlightened as per Vedic principle. His original works, too, suffered from misinterpretations and manipulations. Those who followed his teachings lost sight of their Sanatana Dharma (the true name of 'Hinduism') and separated and divided. Again culture suffered.
Along came the youth of the South, Sri Adi Shankara. Culture had deteriorated such that there was barbarism, immorality, false philosophical usage and a population tearing itself apart. Bhagavaan Shankara became a saviour of the culture.
The Vedas, four in number, are the culmination of much research and consideration of the ancient men of wisdom, called as Rsis (rishis). They practiced what they preached and in making themselves fully available to the process had enormous revelations and such depth of understanding we can only blink at the possibilities. No one Rsi is considered as 'author'; nor several. The Vedas are considered to be 'revealed texts', provided by the 'inner voices' of meditational practice and therefore attributable (for our puny minds to comprehend) to 'The Divine'. Just as material scientists enquire into the field of objects and through close observation, intelligent analysis and rational deduction, come to understand the underlying laws of the science in which they are specialising, so it was that the Rsis undertook sharp, scientific study of the nature of Mankind, developing the laws of philosophy and religion. Their special field of study was Life, its meaning and its purpose.
We touched upon the Vedas earlier, but here is a recap. The four are called, Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharvana. Each of the four is divided into three sections (mantra, Braahmana and Upanishad - sometimes called aaranyaka). Within the mantra portion are found the poetic renditions of description and prescription. In Braahmana is found the rituals and practices of each Veda, designed for focus and purification. The Upanishads are the basic literature of Vedanta, as they contain the highest wisdom and deepest philosophy.
Life is defined as a continuous series of experiences. This is best understood if we consider that in death, there is a total cessation of reaction to stimuli. Stimulus is the basis of experience. Therefore to 'be alive' is to be in a state of constant stimulus, reacting to that and thus, gaining experiences. This includes every action in daily transaction.
With this understanding, we can say that each experience is a 'unit of life', in the same way that a brick is a unit of a wall. The wall's strength or lack thereof is determined by the quality and texture of the individual bricks of which it is constructed. For each individual being then, life will, to a large extent, be dictated by the quality and nature of his or her experiences; if there is a preponderance of positive experience, the personality is likely to be happy and conversely, if the balance of experience is negative, then the individual may tend to be unhappy.
The nature of experience was covered in the choose-day post of the 25th November. Please review that, take notes or print it out. We shall pick of this point next workings-day.