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


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More Than Skin Deep

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

The text under study is BHAJA GOVINDAM, song of despair of time-wasting, by Sri Adi Shankaraachaarya.

Last week we were advised to avoid the lure of wealth in an unhealthy, needful and greedful sense. Being grateful for there is without the lust for more, and remembering at all times to continue the search for what is Real, was the basis of that stanza. In the next verse, the Guru points out the pitfalls of the flesh.

†€a ma ga maehavezm!,
Manis ivicNty var< varm!.3.
dRshtvaa maa gaa mohaavesham,
Manasi vicintaya vaaram vaaram ||3||
Seeing the full bosom of the young maidens and their navel, do not fall prey to maddening delusion. This is but a modification of the flesh and fat. Think well thus in your mind again and again.

It should be noted here that whilst this is clearly addressed to a young man, the same can apply equally to young women who giggle and wiggle due to seeing attractive blokes! Continuing in the same direct manner as the song begun, the Guru warns that flesh and fat of each individual is of exactly the same stuff, modified to give an appearance of difference - but flesh and fat it remains.

All life on earth is programmed with a need to propagate another batch of itself. Biology is a case of matter being worked upon by chemistry and physics. Part of biological makeup in animal life is the nervous system. This drives the urge to find a mate and procreate. There is nothing beyond basic thinking involved.

In the human animal, though, an intellect developed and this alone is what separates us from all other animals. We can make choices based upon assessment, argument, consideration, experience and so on. This gives scope for discipline, setting up values, establishing rules of engagement. The glory of Man is that he can, by this rationality, curb and control the base urges and instincts, rediverting them and using the energy for something nobler, subtler, more divine. This is a learned process and it requires much training. Parents and teachers in our formative years are hugely important as the role models for higher-level living. Nature is strong and it takes much nurture to over-ride it! In Sanskrit, the technique of directing our instincts in a more noble way is called as pratipaksha bhaavanaa, having the devotion to self-improvement.

One way of being clear about what is real and what is not is given in the very direct statement of the Guru in this verse that, when we look beneath the pretty clothes, the coiled hair, the long lashes and pleasant smile, the objects of our desire are nothing but biological matter. To help overcome our lust, we must think on this basic fact, again and again.

The objects of the world play their illusion before us over and over - but do we ever see them as they are? We are so adept at veiling the Truth from ourselves. Not just the flesh, but everything ought to be assessed and reassessed as to its connection with the Real.

Money and boyfriends/girlfriends in themselves are not a threat, but in our false imaginations we give them both a ridiculously inflated value and, subsequently, lay waste our true power. 

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Hari OM
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