'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]
Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. Think again on the meaning. Seek to focus on the subject.
Already, at the very opening of the text itself, we are learning much...about learning! We have found that mangala-charana can take any one, or all, of three rupaaH (forms) and that for the student approaching the text, there needs to be anubandha chatushtaya, four applications of the text to their needs. Further, there follows a shloka which promises the student a little more, pratigjnayaa and praakriiya, the means and the method.
"We shall explain to those who are endowed with the four-fold qualifications,
the mode of enquiry into the Reality,
which is the means of liberation."
It is a verse to show that the student who has taken up the saadhana chatushtaya, dedicating themselves to gaining of Knowledge with application of their discriminative ability (viveka) have the mode already to hand and that the method, then, is to utilise their intellect to its fullest.
We all think we can think… but what becomes clear when we meet others who have thought more, is that our thinking is often lacking!
This is what the Guru/shishya, Master/apprentice relationship is all about. The student must certainly have the potential for raising his or her game in terms of informational investigation, but at the same time must understand that there is always something more to be found out and the best way to do this is to follow the advices and pointers provided by those more advanced in study than themselves.
Thus, in the praakriiya vaakya, we are told that viveka is the mode of inquiry; use the skill of assessment and filtering to get to the kernal of learning. Man alone has been blessed with such a talent. Too often it is used simply to recognise objects, perhaps to separate out concepts; but essentially only to determine what is good or not good for the personal comfort and ease of the person. This same faculty applied to the determination of the true purpose of life, to discriminate between the Real and the not-real is what brings a liberation of spirit beyond all other possibilities.
It is this same mode of thinking which is the means to obtain the best out of the text about to be studied. It is said that most problems would not arise if only we paused to think for a moment; but a moment is a long time and thinking is a difficult process!
We are all in a state of 'thinking' from morn till night, insofar as our mind is constantly processing. Are we, though, leveraging the best we can from thinking? Taking control of the randomness which normally constitutes our mind, thinking on the basic questions of "Who am I?" or "What is the goal of life?" and so on. Not alone the questions must arise, but the consequent queries of , "In order to find the answers to such questions, where do I go, what can I do…?" These are the things which start us on the spiritual path, the quest for Self. Along the way we find that we must have a logical approach, (viveka), the ability to stand back and look on things with a coolness (vairaagya), have a continual measure of ourselves as marked by the six inner qualtities (samadhi-shatka sampatti), and last but not least, a true desire to follow the answers wherever the lead us and face the consequences of ourselves (mumukshatva).
In this way, we become the adhikaari, the fit student to undertake study of texts such this.
TattvabodaH proper now begins, with two shlokas regarding the fourfold qualifications. This we will take up next week.
Do take time to review the Saadhana Chatushtaaya 'collection' of posts thus far provided, as the text under study will now elaborate upon the subject.