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


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Heart or Head, There is a Way

Hari OM

Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!

We are now undertaking basic technical discourse on Vedanta. The text forming the basis of these posts is 'Kindle Life'. Please do reread previous posts using the labels 'Workings-days' or 'Kindle Life'.

Ch. 25; VEDANTA - LIFE AND ART OF LIVING, continued. 

The exhaustive treatment as it is available for us in the literature of the Hindu scriptures, seems to consider the entire problem of man and successfully serves in pursuing all his possibilities.  Therefore, [the philosophy of] Hinduism can serve all people at all times.  However, the scientific method should be, in its application to new problems, related from time to time to suit the spirit of the current age and society.  It is merely a question of shifting the emphasis from one aspect to another, which is determined by the weakness in the mental and intellectual life of the people. This is the secret of the survival of Hindu philosophy from its many dark ages and in spite of repeated, unsympathetic governments in its native land.
[Gurudev, here, gives a paragraph directed specifically at those of Hindu birth, which bemoans a tendency for modern Hindus to forget the purpose of the multi-tiered approach contained in the philosophy and complain about it; in the same way a beggar complains, when being offered a chance to reside in the raja's palace, that there are too many rooms… then continues…]

In order to serve the four different types mentioned prior, the Rsis, desirous of helping all to gain complete integration of the individual personality, prescribed four distinct methods, which have come down to us as the four yoga traditions; karma - selfless work, bhakti - devotion, jnaana - knowledge and hatha - mysticism.  Of these four, bhakti is the path that can serve majority people the world over and at all times. Man is essentially a creature of emotions, sentiments, impulses and attachments. For this reason, we find that in almost all religions, the emphasis is on the path of devotion. Rarely is the path of self-less work alone seen as being a path to the divine, but it too exists everywhere. The importance, relevance and indeed the freedom of each individual to follow the yogas of knowledge and mysticism have developed almost exclusively in Eastern tradition.

Bhakti is most appealing to the generality of mankind; particularly to those who feel strongly the storms of life (lack of love, sense of being unappreciated, unrequited sympathies and such like). The emotional creature requires to hear the echo of emotion in return. Such an individual finds an ample field for loving the Lord, who Himself has Love inexhaustible, infinite kindness and endless sympathy. When a devotee thus directs his entire mental energies towards this infinite ocean of Love, all the love that he can gain is but a drop of what the Lord offers. The individual comes to depend upon that well of Love, returning to it again and again, throughout life's sorrow, bereavement, disappointment, rejection and despair.

To the man of the 'head', this method can hardly have any appeal.  To him emotion has no secret meaning.  He can enjoy emotion only when it is sanctioned and acknowledged by his reason.  He demands satisfaction for the 'head' and views and evaluates things from the crown of his intellect.  The soft silk-clad, bejewelled Flute-player [Sri Krishna] or the rag-clad, bearded cross-bearer [Sri Yeshu] is, to the intellectual, a mere mortal who might have achieved perfection in his day, yet is but a finite specimen as much limited in space and time as any one of us.  To an individual who entertains such an idea, the path of devotion is no inspiring avenue to gain any amount of self-integration. Perhaps, if he is forced to walk the path through social pressure or through fear of unhealthy criticism, he only wrecks himself and ends by becoming a much more disintegrated brute than he was when first he walked into the temple or church.

To cater to such men, nowhere in the world can we find a satisfactory philosophy or even a sufficiently subtle method except in Vedanta.

...conclusion of this chapter next week...

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