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


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Hari Om

'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…

Gurudev has been addressing a group of young people and one fellow in particular who asked a very pertinent question.  Their conversation has become almost personal, despite there being quite a large crowd. The discussion is in regards to who, or what, constitutes "God". Now for the second part of YOU, ME & GOD…(2nd?!, Yes - go back here to read the first!)

Ram is alert and asks "Swami-ji, why did you say 'Self'?"

"The Supreme, the Life Principle, is also the Self in you, in me and in everybody.  It is the innermost core of your personality.  The popular misconception is that man is a body with soul. The Truth is that man is a soul which has become embodied! He is eternal.  The role of the body is likened to a worn-out garment that is discarded by the wearer at his will. 

Now, the other members of the audience, who have been listening with awe and reverence, take the opportunity to clear their dowbts.

"Swami-ji, if God cannot be seen or thought of, is an there any significance in worshipping murti (idol/icon)?"

"Of course there is a lot of significance. When your son is in america and you cannot see him whenever you want, do you or do you not get solace by looking at his photograph? You do know that the photo is not your son, but only a piece of paper with play of colour and light creating his likeness, but it reminds you of your beloved boy and his great love for you.  So also the murti-s in temples are to remind the devotees of the ideal, the Supreme.  Since the human mind cannot conceive of a formless Supreme, god is conceived in a form as represented by a statue, a painting, or a symbol.  To the earnest devotee, this image appears as a 'living embodiment of his Lord'. It is, however, necessary to remember that the statue, painting or symbol are not God, but represent God."

"Why is it, Swami-ji, that, as Christianity or Islam, a particular day of the week is not earmarked in Hinduism for temple worship?"

At this question, Gurudev straightened and roared, "Hinduism is not a part-time job?!" He then explained at length that the aspiration to associate with divinity cannot be restricted to any particular time. "Have you heard of any school-boy who would say the Earth is round on Sundays and flat on other days? Man cannot be made divine on Sundays and devilish on all other days." [AV note; of course there are advocations for daily observance in all faiths; but the question was specific to the physical structures of worship, and in this Hinduism is unique in that there is no specific 'day of observance'.]  "Constant practice, frequent association with the good and so on are needed.  Temple visits and worship should elevate the mind of the seeker and help him to keep his mind on that higher plane.  He must take steps also for the purification of the mind at all times of the day, at home, office or market place."

"What is a pure mind, Swami-ji?"

"A pure mind is one which is calm, free from agitation. Agitations are caused mainly by our likes, dislikes and desires. Desires spell disaster, fulfilled or frustrated.  Mahatma Ghandi was very fond of the 'sthitha prajna' portion of the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, in which the causes and consequences of desire are most graphically described.  It is the ladder to fall;

'When a man thinks of objects, attachment for them arises; from attachment desire is born; from desire (unfulfilled), anger; from anger, delusion; from delusion, loss of memory; from loss of memory, the destruction of discrimination; from this, he perishes.' 

The three great entrances to the state called as 'hell' are lust, anger and greed."

An audience member raised the practicality; "I have read a good deal, I also have convictions. Yet to put these values into practice is my problem."

Gurudev pointed out this was exactly the problem Arjuna was having when he was faced with fighting his battle in the Bhagavad Gita. "The Lord advised him to recognise the enemies born out of anger and passion. Knowing the enemy is a boon to defeat of same; equally, knowing your weaknesses and acknowledging them is a big step in overcoming them.  If you know there is a rat in the cupboard, do you not make all effort to remove it?! The shaastras (scriptures) have laid down a clear procedure. The three-fold practice consists of श्रवण/sravana (listening), मनन/manana (consideration) and निदिध्यासन/nididhyaasana (meditation as 'application').

"Hearing is not 'in one ear and out the other'! It is attentive listening to discourses on the shaastra (this includes reading them), contemplating and giving due consideration to the tenets and suggestions there, then moving into the fullness of meditative practice.  Many people come and tell me that they have gone through the Gita many times.  I tell them 'let the Gita go through you once at least!' Not just hearing or reading, but absorption and assimilation, then applying the values, alone will produce the Radiance of Life you seek.  Proper understanding and correct attitudes are important. For example, we often meet the allegation that Hinduism is an 'out of the world' religion meant only for the reclusive. The spirit of Hinduism is not understood by those who say this. Wealth is not a taboo for the seeker, but the constant craving for wealth is.  Property is not prohibited, but one is enjoined to use it in the service of society.

"The Vedantic concept of renunciation has nothing to do with have or have-not in a physical sense; it means the attitude of non-attachment. The classical example in our ancient lore is that of the Emperor Janaka, living in the luxury of a palace, but still considered such a great saint and sage he had countless aspirants seeking his guidance.  If you ask me 'how or when to start?' my answer is 'Just start - NOW!'

"Today is the best day - a better day will not come. …"

...Next Free-day we will take chapter 32 of Kindle Life in which Gurudev gives his instruction...

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