'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…
Some timely reminders;
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Have you remembered to keep up your notebooks? There has been an increase in readership since the last reminder, so those of you who have joined for TattvabodaH and who have not gone back to the beginning, please note that this is not merely a 'read and leave' blog - it is a place for you to stop longer, think stronger and transform. Just as simply reading scriptures 'because it ought to be done' and perhaps with the thought that "God will hear/know", is rather to miss the point, equally, what is given here has the potential to truly make a difference and it matters not who else is listening… with scriptures and with Vedanta, the "I" who is reading must be doing the listening first! True listening (shravanam) is to not just hear/read and allow the words to wash over the mind then drift away again. It is to sit in presence of the words, being active in receiving them, allowing the intellect to assess and analyse, weighing up how much is being put into action in our daily lives and how much we may still have to do in order to work further on the ideals presented... This is the process of contemplation (mananam). If we truly wish to address our spiritual nature and be our own 'archaeologist of the soul', then we must also sit in meditation (niddidhyaasanam) with only this as focus.
Advaita Vedanta is first and foremost a tool for daily living by applying scientific assessment and experiment and keeping appropriate record. The notebooks are to be used for noting down all the technical terms, yes, but must also serve as your journal of how you are applying what you learn here, what progress you may or may not be making and also for noting down doubts and questions.
Don't ignore a question which arises in study! Write it down - better still, ask it aloud in the comments box (preferred, because if you have the query, almost certainly others do too and all can learn from the response), or email Yamini-amma via the contacts box. It is undoubtedly the way with such study that, if you wait long enough, all general questions will be answered, but for many, the question of how a certain point applies to themselves, or their immediate life experience, may burn and there is no shame in asking for clarification or guidance for same. Take note, also, of how the questions arise for you; is it an ego response to something which asks that you think very differently about a certain point, and thus defensive? Is it a needy question, seeking justification for holding onto old ways? Is it coming from a place where change is recognised and there is need for deeper understanding? All these and more are valid and it is important to know - because how we ask questions will influence, to a large extent, our reactions to the answers given also and the benefit we might gain.
To know that there is a thing called The Self, a Universal Consciousness, of itself holds no intrinsic value. Working, ie making effort, to get to a place of 'meeting' The Self is where the value lies. When gold and diamonds are brought from the ground, they are nothing more than minerals. It is the work of finding them, the artistry of moulding them into ornaments of great beauty, which gives them value - then also the level of our desire to obtain them.
The Self, that eternal nature which is our Truth, is the greatest of all possible jewels and ornaments. It's value is nothing until we first desire it, then do all that we can to acquire it.