'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.
We come to the fifth shloka. In these final eight steps of spiritual advice, Bhashyakaara is addressing the sanyaasi, one who has resolved to live only for spiritual purpose and desirous of gaining मोक्ष/moksha, the total unity with Aatman. We, as beginners on this journey, must have these steps to think upon and to encourage our efforts. Understand that, whilst at the moment they may look idealistic and unreachable, these are in fact the actions of countless advanced seekers throughout history and 'realisation' has been proven as a result. From where we are now, if we follow the formulae laid out in Shaastra (texts) and we too may come to know that life is but a dream and Reality is Unity with our own true Self.
एकान्ते सुखमास्यतां परतरे चेतः समाधीयतां
पूर्णत्मा सुसमीक्ष्यतां जगदिदं तद्बाधितं दृश्यताम्।
प्राक्कर्म प्रविलाप्यतां चितिबलान्नाप्युत्तरैः स्लिष्यतां
प्रारब्धं त्विह भुज्यतामथ परब्रह्मात्मना स्थीयताम्॥ ॥५॥
ekaante sukhamaasyatAM paratare cetaH samaadhIyatAM
pUrNatmaa susamIxyatAM jagadidaM tadbaadhitaM dR^ishyatAm.
praakkarma pravilaapyatAM citibalaannaapyuttaraiH sliSyatAM
praarabdhaM tviha bhujyataamatha parabrahmaatmanaa sthiiyatAm.. ..5..
In solitude live joyously
Quieten our mind in the Supreme Lord
Realise and see the all-pervading Self every where
Recognize that the finite universe is a projection of the Self
Conquer the effects of the deeds done in earlier lives by the present right action
Through wisdom, become detached from future actions
Experience and exhaust praarabdha
Thereafter, live absorbed in the bhaava "I am Brahman"
Sloka Five. Paada One.
In solitude live joyously. There is a quote of Gurudev, Swami Chinmayananda, which pertains nicely to this. "If you cannot enjoy your own company, do not inflict it upon others!" This is given not to criticize but to encourage. Whilst this step has its place in the extreme end of spiritual practice - instructing sadhaks to take up the life of sadhu (solitary existence, traditionally going to the forest or the caves) - Gurudev is reminding all of us that even at social level, we must learn to live with ourselves. Even if we live in family groups, we must learn about our own personality and come to understand ourselves. To look at ourselves objectively. Are we someone whose company we would enjoy? This is not asked from the ego standpoint, but from the holistic view - check out the 'substance' of you. Are you someone who finds all sorts of ways to divert yourself from true contemplation on the Higher and who can bear silence with a lift in your heart? Or must there always be something or someone around to break into the silence, to keep you from sitting within yourself and your communion with nature and with the Lord? Radio, television, pets, reading… all such things can keep us from ourselves.
It is not that these things should not form part of life - but become aware of yourself and your connection to them. Find time without any of these things. Sit with yourself and practice the early steps of saadhana. Learn inner silence. In doing this you will begin to find your 'inner cave' which allows you to remain in 'solitude' within the crowd. Thus, at the level given here by Bhashyakaara, we can find that true solitude is freedom from our ego selves, absence of the tides of emotion which distract us from our spiritual goal. Such contained solitude is joy indeed.
Quieten the mind in the Supreme Lord. To attain the solitude of the step before this, we must learn to keep our mind under control. We must build inner dams to stem the flow of this 'river of thoughts'. Any of you who have walked around a resevoire will know how tranquil it can be compared to a flowing river. With a dam we can control the water and with appropriate inner restraint we can control our thoughts. Using the 'dam' wisely gives us space to contemplate upon the Higher. Think of the area which drops below the dam walls you have walked over. Can you recall the sensation of space and tantalising silence there? This is the space you must learn to create within. Space for the Supreme to be. The Supreme which is there awaiting your choice to become empty. The mind which has dammed all thoughts is no longer mind. It is Divine.
Realise and 'see' the all-pervading Self everywhere. If step 34 (paada two of this shloka) is achieved and contact with that empty space is obtained, one enters the state of samaadhi - fullest meditation; there is not only the quietness but also an alertness. This alertness, or awareness, is not thought but Consciousness. This is the Divinity, in which lies union with all. There is no dimension as such (time or space) and Self is the only presence. Now the sadhak is exhorted to surrender to the completeness of Knowledge, to accept that this Divinity that is now felt within, is also without. That everything, absolutely everything, which manifests outside this space is also that Divinity - that Self with the capital 'ess' - the entire expression of things and beings outside this level of Consciousness is this Self. Only when one can walk and interact with the world when not in samaadhi as if one is actually still there, can it be said that one has "Realised'. True mastery is the sadhak's then.
Recognize that the finite world is a projection of the Self. Given the statement just prior, then this is a logical step. This is realisation. Consciousness alone is. All else arises from it and is therefore illusion (maya). Consciousness (aatman) is the cause, all else is effect. Just as we at our current level can allow our minds to take paths of incredible inventiveness, so it is that the One Self has projected all this which we call world. As we progress in our study of Vedanta, many analogies will come to describe this phenomenon; one is given in the CM pamphlet of Saadhana Panchakam thus; "The world of matter is but an extension of the Consciousness Supreme, as waves, bubbles froth and foam are all nothing but the ocean and its expressions."
Here, then, you glimpse something of what can be learned. Here also is the tease which ties this philosophy to the rising science of quantum physics. Does this not excite you? Does this not entice you to follow the path? A knowledge awaits which is so astounding, yet can only be gained by making the researches oneself. Reading about science does not make of you a scientist. Reading philosophy does not make of you a philosopher. Participation, application and experience of results alone can do this.