Seeker after Liberation (pt.#1)

will-samadhi-lead-you-to-liberationVasishta states that peace of mind (shanti), contentment (santosha), keeping the company of realized sages (satsanga), and inquiry into the nature of the soul (vichara) are the four sentinels that guard the gates to moksha, or liberation. The belief that one is confined by fate is severely condemned and the person who seeks spiritual development is urged to rely on personal efforts for progress on the spiritual path.

That the world is a creation of will and loses itself with the absence of our desires, and that it is an accursed and unsubstantial world after all, are the conclusions arrived at by all sages.

There is but one undivided intelligent spirit known as the Universal Soul and nothing else. It becomes confined by its desires (mental conditioning) and becomes freed by its lack of them.

Rama knows that curtailing desires is what the wise call liberty, and the attachment of our desires to earthly objects is our confinement here. Spiritual knowledge is easily obtainable by most men, but a distaste for (pleasurable) objects is hard to be had. He who fully comprehends a thing is said to know it, and who so knows what is knowable is called a learned man. No earthly enjoyment can be delectable to such high minded men. The mind that has no zest for earthly pleasures, except the glory of disinterested deeds, is said to be liberated even in the present life.

It will not be difficult for you to teach the spotless Rama, whose mirror-like mind is quite clear to take the reflection. The wisdom of the holy, their learning of the scriptures, and the scholarship of the learned are only praiseworthy when they are communicated to a good student and those who are disgusted with the world. But instruction given to one who is neither student nor disgusted with the world becomes as polluted as milk stored in a hide vessel. Again, the instruction given by one devoid of passions and affections, fear and anger, pride and sin, serves to infuse tranquility into the mind.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt.#7)

Rama’s Questions

on-detachment-pt-7Our minds are partly settled on worldly things and partly fixed on their Giver. This divided state of the mind is called its half-waking condition. My mind is in a state of suspense, being unable to ascertain the real nature of my soul. I am like one in the dark who sees a tree stump in the distance and is deceived to think it a human figure. Our minds are naturally fickle and wandering all about the earth. They cannot forsake their restlessness, as the vital airs cannot exist without being in motion.

How is it possible for someone engaged in worldly affairs to be untainted with its blemishes and remain as pure and intact as a drop of water on a lotus leaf? How can one attain excellence by dealing with others as with himself, and regarding others’ property to be like straw, and remaining aloof from love?

Who is that great man that has crossed the great ocean of the world, whose exemplary conduct exempts one from misery? What is the best of things that ought to be pursued, and what fruit is worth obtaining? Which is the best course of life in this inconsistent world?

What can we do under the misty cloud of errors that raise our tempestuous desires flashing forth in lightning bolts of ambition and bursting out in the thunder claps of selfishness? How shall we save ourselves from the temptations of our desires that dance around us like peacocks? How shall we save ourselves from the bustle of the world that breaks in on us as thickly as the blossoms of the kurchi plant?

How the mist of our desires, which darkens the moon of our intellects, is to be dispelled from our minds to make it shine forth in its full brightness. How are we to deal with this wilderness of the world, knowing well that it is destructive both of our present and future interests? Who is there who moves about in this ocean of the earth and who is not buffeted by the waves of his passions and diseases, and by the currents of his enjoyments and prosperity?

How can one be rid of the world when it is impossible for him to avoid dealing with it, in the same manner as it is impossible for aquatic animals to live without their native element? Even our good deeds are not without affection and hatred, pleasure and pain, just like no flame is unaccompanied by its power of burning.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt. #6)

vanity-of-the-worldThe Vanity of the World

O sage! This seemingly pleasing but actually unpleasant world has nothing in it that produces anything that can afford tranquility to the soul.

Those who do not yield to grief during troubles, who are not elated with prosperity or smitten at heart by women, are rare in this world. Those who fight boldly in battlefields and withstand war elephants are not so very brave, in my opinion, as those who withstand the surges of the mind amidst the streams of carnal appetites. I see no deeds in the world that endure to the final liberation of men. Actions proceeding from a fool’s desire for results serve only for their restlessness on earth.

Men who have filled the corners of the world with their fame and valor, who have filled their houses with true riches acquired by honest means and an unwavering patience, are rare in the world.

Our sons and riches are mere objects of delight to us. To expect them to be of any good to us in the end is as false as to expect any benefit from distilling poison.

To the worldly minded, all wealth — whether forthcoming or unattainable, whether gotten by labor or given by fortune — is as deceitful as the flooding of a river, swelling only to subside.

Whatever we see in the world, living or inert, are all as impermanent as things seen in a dream. What today is a mountain reaching the sky covered with extensive forests is in course of time leveled to the ground, and afterwards is dug into a pit. The man who is very powerful today and presides over principalities, in a few days is reduced to a heap of ashes. Water becomes land and land becomes water. Thus the world with all its contents composed of wood, grass and water becomes something else in course of time.

Our lives in this world are as unsteady as the flame of a lamp placed by the draft of an open window. The splendor of all objects in the three worlds is as flickering as the flash of lightning.

As a granary stored with heaps of grains is exhausted by its continued waste, so is the stock of life spent away by its repeated respirations.

The minds of man are as fluctuating as a flag waving in the air. They are filled with the dust of sin, indicating their wavering between the paths of heaven and hell.

Many things are decaying and renewing day by day. In this ever changing world there is no end to this accursed course of events. Men degenerate into lower animals, and those again rise to humanity. Gods become no-gods. There is nothing that remains the same.

We have prosperity at one moment, succeeded by adversity at another. We have health at one time, followed by sickness soon after. What intelligent being is there who is not misled by these delusions of the world which show things other than what they are and serve to bewilder the mind?

Who is there so sedate and firm that he is not terrified at these sudden appearances and disappearances, at the momentary durations and final dissolution of worldly things? What is the nature of this world in which we are overtaken by adversity at one moment and elated by prosperity at another, where one is born at one time and dies at another?

A pot is made of clay, and cloth is made of cotton, and they are still the same dull materials of which they are composed. Thus there is nothing new in this world that was not seen or known before. There is nothing that does not change its form. The acts of creation and destruction, of diffusion, production and preservation follow one another like the revolutions of day and night appear to man.Sometimes it happens that a weak man slays a hero, or one individual kills hundreds. So also a commoner becomes a noble man. Thus everything is changeful in this varying world. These bodies of men are always changing their states and are like bodies of waters rising and falling in waves whipped by the motion of winds.

The actions of producing and harvesting, of feeding and destroying, come by turns to mankind like the rotation of day and night. Neither adversity nor prosperity is of long duration with worldly people. They are ever subject to appearance and disappearance by turns.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt.#5)

kapalikaThe Play of Death

Time stands the foremost of all deceitful players in this world. He acts the double parts of creation and destruction, and of action and fate. The existence of time is known to us only through action and motion, which bind all beings (in the succession of thoughts and acts).

Fate is that which frustrates the acts of all created beings, like the heat of the sun serves to dissolve a snow pack. This wide world is the stage on which the giddy mob dances about (in their appointed times). Time has a third name of a terrifying nature known as Kritantah (Fate), who in the form of Kapalika (one holding human skulls in his hand) dances about in the world. This dancing and loving Kritantah (Fate) is accompanied by his consort called Destiny to whom he is greatly attached.

The sun and the moon are the golden armlets of time, who holds the mundane world in his palm like the paltry plaything of a flower bouquet. Before him his beloved Destiny with all her arts forever dances to beguile the living who are fond of worldly enjoyments. People hurry up and down to witness the dance of Destiny, whose unrestrained motion keeps them at work, and causes their repeated births and deaths.

Time repeatedly creates the worlds and their woods, with the different abodes and localities teeming with population. He forms the moveable and immovable substances, establishes customs and again dissolves them, as children make their dolls of clay and break them soon afterwards.

The Acts of Destiny

Such being the all destructive conduct of time and others, what confidence, O great sage, can men like me have in them? We all remain here, as slaves sold to Fate and Destiny, and we are deceived by their allurements as beasts of the forest.
This Fate whose conduct is so very inhuman is ever eager to devour all beings. He is constantly throwing men into the sea of troubles. He is moved by his malicious attempts to inflame minds with excessive desires, as the fire raises its flames to burn down a house.
Destiny, the faithful and obedient wife of Fate, is naturally fickle on account of her being a female. She is always bent on mischief and disturbing patience.

Our very senses are our enemies, before which even truth appears as falsehood. The mind is the enemy of the mind and self is the enemy of self. Self-esteem is stained, intelligence is blamed for its deception, our actions are attended with bad results, and our pleasures tend only to effeminacy. All our desires are directed to enjoyments. Our love of truth is lost, our women are the symbols of vice, and all that was once so sweet has become tasteless and vapid. Things that are not real are believed as real. They have become the cause of our pride by hardening us in untruth and keeping us from the light of truth.

What reliance can there be on men like us when even the demigods are liable to destruction, when the polar star is known to change its place, and when the immortal gods are doomed to mortality? What reliance can there be on men like us when the duration of time comes to be counted, when Destiny is destined to her final destiny, and when all emptiness loses itself in infinity?

The mind is stupefied within itself, and its contentment has fled. There is no rise of enlightened sentiments in it, and meanness makes the mind’s advance to enlightened sentiments only more distant.

That which is inaudible, unspeakable, invisible, and unknowable in his real form, displays to us these wonderful worlds by some fallacy. No one conscious of himself can disown his subjection to that Being that dwells in the hearts of every one. This sun, the lord of worlds, is compelled to run over hills, rocks and fields, like an inert piece of stone, hurled down from a mountain and carried away by a current stream. This globe of earth, the seat of all the suras and asuras and surrounded by a luminous sphere like a walnut is covered by its hard shell, exists under the His command. The gods in the heavens, the men on earth, and the serpents in the nether world are brought into existence and led to decay by His will only. Kama Deva, who is arbitrarily powerful and has forcibly overpowered the entire living world, derives his unconquerable might from the Lord of worlds.

Yet I know not why men of reason would not understand this truth. “This is a day of festivity, a season of joy and a time of procession. Here are our friends. Here are the pleasures and here are a variety of our entertainments.” Thus do men of vacant minds muse themselves with weaving the web of their desires, until they become extinct.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt.#4)

yoga-vasisthaDenunciation of the Body

This body of ours that struts about on earth is only a mass of humid entrails and tendons, tending to decay and disease, and to our torment alone. It is neither quiescent nor wholly sentient, neither ignorant nor quite intelligent. Its inherent soul is a wonder, and reason makes it graceful or otherwise. The skeptic is doubtful of its inertness and exercise of intellect, and unreasonable and ignorant people are ever subject to error and illusion. The body is as easily gratified with a little as it is exhausted in an instant.

Our bodies are like trees growing in the forest of the world, bearing the flowers of anxiety and perforated by the worms of sorrow and misery, ridden by the apish mind. The mind is the architect and master of this bodily dwelling, and our activities are its supports and servants.

I cannot like this body. It is like a pot of filth, full of the foulness of worldly affairs, and moldering under the rust of our ignorance. What is this body but a passage for the ceaseless inhaling and breathing out of the vital air? It is as unsteady as the ears of an enraged elephant, and as fickle as drops of water that trickle on their tips. I should like
therefore to abandon it before it comes to abandon me. It is as tremulous as the leaves of a tree shaken by a breeze, and oppressed by diseases and fluctuations of pleasure and pain. I have no relish in its pungency and bitterness.

Our bodies are as fleeting as the drops of a waterfall. They fall off in a few days like the withered leaves of trees. They are as quickly dissolved as bubbles in the ocean.

The bodies of the rich and the poor are alike subject to decay and death at their appointed times.

Our bodies float like heaps of wood on the waves of the world, finally serving as fuel for a funeral fire — except a few which pass for human bodies in the sight of the wise. The wise have little to do with this tree of the body, which is beset by evils like harmful orchids about it, and produces the fruit of perdition.

Those mistaken men who have a high sense of honor and fear dishonor, but who take pleasure in the excess of their gains, are truly killers of both of their bodies and souls. We are deceived by the delusion of ego, which like a female evil spirit lies hidden within the cavity of the body with all her sorcery. Unaided, our reason is kept in bondage by the malicious fiend of false knowledge, like a slave within the prison of our bodies. It is certain that whatever we see here is unreal, and yet it is a wonder that the mass of men are led to deception by the vile body, which has injured the cause of the soul.

The Vicissitudes of Time

By their much idle talk, ever doubting skepticism and schisms, men of little understandings are found to fall into grave errors in this pit of the world. Time is a rat that gnaws off the threads of all thoughts that men may entertain about the contemptible pleasures of this world.

Time as master of all, spares not even the greatest of us for a moment. He swallows the universe within himself, whence he is known as the Universal Soul.

Time pervades all things, but has no perceptible feature of his own, except that he is imperfectly known by the names of years, ages and millennia (kalpas). All that was fair and good and as great as Mount Meru has gone down into the womb of eternity, like snakes gorged by the greedy garuda.

Time, O sage, is the subtlest of all things. It is divided though indivisible. It is consumed though incombustible. It is perceived though imperceptible in its nature. Time, like the mind, is strong enough to create and demolish anything in a trice, and its province is equally extensive. Time is a whirlpool to men; and man being accompanied with desire, his insatiable and uncontrollable mistress, and delighting in illicit enjoyments, time makes him do and undo the same thing over and over again.

Time is the source of all malice and greed, and the spring of all misfortunes, and cause of the intolerable fluctuations of our states. As children play with balls in a playground, so does time play with his two balls of the sun and moon in his arena of the sky.

It is time that creates and dissolves the world, and appears to rise and fall with the rotation of days and nights. At end of the world, time plucks the gods and demigods from their great tree of existence like ripe fruit.

Time accompanied by action as his mate, entertains himself in the garden of the world, blossoming with the moonbeams of the Divine Spirit.

As the earth supports the great hills that are fixed upon it, so time supports all the innumerable ponderous worlds that constitute the universe. Hundreds of great kalpa ages may pass away, yet there is nothing that can move eternity to pity or concern, or stop or expedite his course. It neither sets nor rises.

As one ripens raw fruit in the sun and fire in order to devour them, so does time ripen men by their sun and fire worship, to bring them under his jaws at last.

After sporting for a kalpa period in the act of killing and crushing of all living beings, time comes to lose its own existence and becomes extinct in the eternity of the Spirit of spirits. After a short rest and respite, time reappears as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of all who remembers all. He shows the shapes of all things whether good or bad, keeping his own nature beyond the knowledge of all. Thus does time expand and preserve and finally dissolve all things by way of sport.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt.#3)

On the Mind

yoga-vasisthaThe mind can never get rid of its wavering state owing to its nature of habitual fickleness, resembling the restlessness of the sea. The mind with its natural fickleness and restless thoughts finds no repose at any place, like a lion in his cage.

It is more difficult to subdue the mind than to drink the ocean or upset Sumeru Mountain. It is harder than the hardest thing. The mind is the cause of all exertions, and the source of all that senses the three worlds — the physical world of desire (kama loka), the mental world of form (rupa loka), and the spiritual world without form (arupa loka). Alternatively, bhutakasha, element-space; chittakasha, mind-space; and chidakasha, consciousness-space.

Our pains and pleasures arise by the hundreds from the mind, like woods growing in groups upon a hill, but no sooner is the scythe of reason applied to them, than they fall off one by one. I am ready to subdue my mind, my greatest enemy in this world, for the purpose of mastering all the virtues, which the learned say depend upon it. My lack of desires has made me adverse to wealth and the gross pleasures it yields, which are like the tints of clouds tainting the moon.

On Greed

My mind is like a vast and lonesome wilderness, covered under the mist of errors, and infested by the terrible fiend of desire that is continually floundering about it.

Greed like a dark night terrifies even the wise, blindfolds the keen-sighted, and depresses the spirit of the happiest of men.

Our fleeting thoughts are as fickle as peacocks soaring over inaccessible heights under the clouds (of ignorance), but ceasing to fly in the daylight (of reason). Greed is like a river during the rains, rising for a time with its rolling waves, and afterwards lying low in its empty bed.

Our desires like great waves toss us about in the ocean of our earthly cares. They bind us fast to delusion like chains bind an elephant.

All our bodily troubles are avoided by abstaining from greed, just as we are freed from fear of night demons at the dispersion of darkness.

Greed is like the flame of a lamp which is bright but blackening and acutely burning at its end. Fed by the oily wicks, it is vivid but never handled by anybody.

Penury has the power of demeaning, in a moment, the best of men to the baseness of straw in spite of their wisdom, heroism and gravity in other respects. One single greed has everything in the world for its object, and though seated in the breast, it is imperceptible to all. It is like the undulating Milky Ocean in this fluctuating world, sweeping all things yet regaling mankind with its odorous waves.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt.#2)

 

yoga-vasisthaRama’s Discourse

What are worldly pleasures good for, and why do men multiply on earth? Men are born to die, and they die to be born again. There is no stability in the tendencies of beings whether movable or immovable. They all tend to vice, decay and danger, and all our possessions become the grounds of our poverty.

On Wealth

A rich man without blemish, a brave man devoid of vanity, and a master lacking partiality are the three rarities on earth.

Riches, like the shadow of night, overcast the good qualities of men, and like moonlight, bring to bloom the buds of their misery. Like a hurricane, they blow away the brightness of a fair prospect.

Fortune is a frost to those who are bound to asceticism, and is like the night to the owls of libertinism. She is an eclipse to the moonlight of reason, and like moonbeams to the bloom of the lilies of folly. She is as transitory as the rainbow, and as pleasant to see by the play of her colors. She is as fickle as lightening which vanishes as quickly as it appears. Hence none but the ignorant have reliance on her.

It is pity that prosperity is like a shameless wench who will again lay hold of a man who has abandoned her for her rival poverty.

On Human Life

It is as impossible to confine the winds or tear the sky to pieces or wreathe waves into a garland as it is to place any reliance upon our lives. Fast as the fleeting clouds in autumn, and short as the light of lamp without oil, our lives appear to pass away as impermanent as rolling waves in the sea. Men of restless minds, desiring to prolong their useless and toilsome lives, resemble the barren she-mule conceived by a horse.

This world (samsara) is as a whirlpool in the ocean of creation, and every individual body is as impermanent as foam, froth or a bubble, which can give me no relish in this life. True living is gain which is worth gaining, which has no cause of sorrow or remorse, and which is a state of transcendental tranquility. There is a vegetable life in plants, and an animal life in beasts and birds. Man leads a thinking life, but true life is above thoughts. All those living beings who being born here once do not return are said to have lived well in this earth. The rest are no better than old asses.

Knowledge is a burden to the unthinking, and wisdom is burdensome to the passionate. Intellect is a heavy load to the restless, and the body is a ponderous burden to one ignorant of his soul. A good person possessed of life, mind, intellect and self-consciousness and its occupations, is of no benefit to the unwise, but seem to weigh down on the unwise as if he were a porter. The discontented mind is the great arena of all evils, and the nesting place of diseases which alight upon it like birds of the air. Such a life is the abode of toil and misery.

As a house is slowly dilapidated by the mice continually burrowing under it, so is the body of the living gradually corroded by the teeth of time boring within it.

Death, the lover of destruction and friend of old age and ruin, likes the sensual man, as a lecher likes a beauty.

On Ego

Egoism springs from false conceit fostered by vanity. I am much afraid of this enemy, baneful egotism. All men in this diversified world, even the very poorest of them, fall into the dungeon of evils and misdeeds under the influence of ego. All accidents, anxieties, troubles and wicked exertions proceed from ego and self-confidence. Hence I deem ego to be like a disease.

This world resembles a long continuous night in which our ego, like a hunter, spreads the snare of affections. All our great and intolerable miseries, growing as rank as thorny acacia plants, are only the results of our ego. It overcasts the equanimity of mind like an eclipse shadows the moon. It destroys our virtues like frost destroys lotus flowers. It dispels the peace of men as autumn drives away the clouds. Therefore, I must get rid of this egoistic feeling.

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

On Detachment (pt.#1)

Liberation

yoga-vasisthaOm, salutation to that Reality from whom all beings proceed, by whom they are manifest, upon whom they depend, and in whom they become extinct. He is the knower, the knowledge and all that is to be known. He is the seer, the act of seeing, and all that is to be seen. He is the actor, the cause and the effect, therefore salutation to He who is all knowledge himself.

One Sutikshna, a brahmin whose mind was full of questions, went to the hermitage of Agastya and respectfully asked the sage,  “O great sage! Tell me, in your opinion, whether liberation results from a man’s acts or his knowledge or both?”
Agastya replied: — As the birds fly in the air with both wings, so the highest state of emancipation is attained through both knowledge and acts. Neither our acts nor knowledge alone produces liberation, but both together are the means.

But it is neither by acts or riches, nor by means of children that one obtains his liberation. It is solely by self-denial that the great souls taste the ambrosia (of emancipation).

One fallen in this boundless ocean of the world may enjoy the bliss of liberation by the magnanimity of his soul. He shall not come across grief or destitution, but shall remain ever satisfied by being freed from the fever of anxiety.

In heaven there is ample reward for merit, conferring perfect bliss (to all); but it is the degree of merit that leads one to higher heavens. By moderate virtue, one is certainly entitled to a middle station. Virtue of an inferior order leads a person to a lower position. But one’s virtue is destroyed by impatience at the excellence of his betters, by haughtiness to his equals, and by joy at the inferiority of others. When one’s virtue is thus destroyed, he must enter the abode of mortals. These and the like are the effects of good and evil in heaven.

Know that the things seen in this world are deceiving, even as the blueness of the sky is an optical illusion. Therefore it is better to efface them in oblivion rather than to keep their memory. All visible objects have no actual existence. We have no idea of them except through sensation.

The conviction that the objects we see do not exist of themselves leads to the removal of their impressions from the mind. Thus perfected, supreme and eternal bliss of self-extinction springs in the mind. Otherwise, there is no peace to be had for men like you, rolling in the depths of studies for thousands of years and unacquainted with true knowledge.

Complete abandonment of desires (vasana, mental conditioning) is called the best state of liberation (moksha) and is the only pure step towards happiness. The absence of desires leads to the extinction of mental actions, in the same manner as the absence of cold melts small particles of ice. Our desires uphold our living bodies and bind us tightly to our bodily prison like ropes. These being loosened, the inner soul is liberated.

Mental conditioning is of two kinds: pure and impure. The impure ones cause reincarnation, while the pure ones serve to destroy it. An impure desire is like a mist of ignorance, the stubborn feeling that one is the individual ego. The wise say that individual ego is the cause of rebirth. A pure desire is like a parched seed that is incapable of bringing forth the germ of rebirth. It only supports the present body. Pure desires, unattended with rebirth, reside in the bodies of men who are living liberated.

Even the smallest service, if done in good time, appears to be much, and the best service is of no avail if done out of season.

Afterwards King Dasharata asked Vasishta, the best of speakers and well informed in all matters, as to why Rama was so sorrowful. Sage Vasishta thought over the matter and said, “There is, O king, a cause for Rama’s sadness, but you need not be anxious about it. Wise men never entertain the fluctuations of anger or grief, or a lengthened delight from frivolous causes, just as the great elements of the world do not change their states unless it were for the sake of some new production.”

Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra

Varnashrama

Swami_KrishnanandaThe system of Varnashrama is a systematic procedure to adjust ourselves and adapt ourselves to the circumstances of life, horizontally in society, and vertically in our own personality. The horizontal adjustment is the Varna and the vertical adjustment is the Ashrama. We have to be complete in society, in our relationships with people, and we have to be complete in our own selves by a suitable harmonious alignment of the various layers of our personality. Such an adjustment is very effectively brought about by following the great canons of the Varna and the Ashrama.

People generally think that Varna means caste, but it is not that. It means a class. The principle of the classification of society is called the Varna-Dharma. It is a classification, not a ‘castification’. No man is complete in himself, and therefore, no man can be satisfied merely in his own self without the cooperation of other persons. Man is, among other things, intellect, will, emotion and energy. Everyone is not possessed of these characteristics in the same measure. Inasmuch as everyone’s intention is the welfare of all human beings, the solidarity of mankind in general, it is necessary that we share among ourselves the commodities that we have. The commodities are not necessarily physical ones; they can be psychological ones also. If one has great intellectual capacity and spiritual acumen, which are necessary for the welfare of society, but not other facilities, he will share the knowledge and wisdom and the directing intelligence that he has with others, for the facilities which he does not have. The mutual cooperative activity of society—spiritually, administratively, economically and manually—forms the essence of the Varna system. The classification into Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras is not a categorization of people into superior and inferior types, into bosses and subordinates, but it is a classification of the functions of individuals according to their knowledge and capacities, for the purpose of a complete cooperative organization of humankind, with a noble intention and purpose. The desires of ours are classified in this manner, and they are given an opportunity of permissible satisfaction, by a mutual cooperation horizontally in this manner.

There is the other side, namely, the vertical side, which is the subject of the Ashrama-Dharma, or duties pertaining to the different Ashramas, or stages of life. Just as we have totally misunderstood the meaning of the Varna system, we have also misunderstood the meaning of the Ashrama system. Just as we condemn the classification of Varna as caste distinction, we convert the classification of the stages of one’s life by way of Ashrama, into a kind of dead routine of religion. Neither Varna nor Ashrama is a routine. Varnashrama is a vital participation in the processes of life, externally as well as internally. Externally it goes by the name of Varna, and internally it goes by the name of Ashrama. So, outwardly as well as inwardly, these systems of organization known as Varna and Ashrama, are procedures enjoined upon every person, for untying the various knots of entanglement in life, engendered by one’s needs which are social, physical, vital, emotional, intellectual and so on.

Such a vast involvement is associated with this little thing called Brahmacharya, by the practice of which we do not merely put on a conduct personally and socially but establish ourselves in a status of strength, where we are so tuned to things that our energies do not move at all in any direction, but are held up in such a way that there is no urge within ourselves to transfer our energies to outside things for the fulfilment of our desires.

The intention behind the practice of the canons of Varna and Ashrama in a graduated manner is not the indulgence of desires, but their graduated, scientific, systematized and cautious fulfilment in a measure that is permissible and required under the circumstances for the purpose of freeing oneself from them finally. So, we do not eat because we want to eat, but because it is necessary to reach a stage where we need not eat at all. There is, therefore, a deep background behind the psychology of the canons known as the Yamas and a clear understanding of this background will help us to practice these canons better.

By Swami Krishnananda

The Conduct of the Absolute

Swami_Krishnananda.jpgBrahmacharya actually means the ‘conduct of the Absolute’. ‘Brahman’ is the Supreme Being; ‘Charya’ is conduct, or behaviour. How God behaves—that is called Brahmacharya, finally. The attitude of the Supreme Being towards the universe and all beings is Brahmacharya, and to the extent that we are able to participate in this attitude, it may be said that we are also following that canon. The idea behind this significant term Brahmacharya, translated as the conduct of the Absolute, is that it is a gradual adjustment of the powers of one’s personality towards larger and larger dimensions of impersonality, because, the Absolute or Brahman is the Supreme Impersonality conceivable and existent.

Whenever there is a specialized outlook in any particular direction, along the channel of an object or a group of objects, living or non-living, consciousness moves in that direction. No matter what our interest is in that direction, our mind moves. When the mind moves, the Prana also moves. When the Prana moves, the energy also moves. So, one follows the other. So, in some measure, we cease to be ourselves for the time being when we admire something, love something, or are attracted towards something. The object may be conceptual, visible or audible, it makes no difference; we get transferred.

In all these processes of sensory or intellectual absorption, outside oneself, there is a channelizing of force of which we are constituted and which forms our strength. As long as we do not sell ourselves to any outside object, do not participate in anything external, we stand by ourselves. Otherwise, in some percentage, we cease to be ourselves and become another. We are shaken up in our whole system, because of the desire of the personality to move outside itself. As milk gradually becomes curd by an internal shaking of itself, the subject can turn into the object. And love of any kind is nothing but the transference of the subject into the object in some measure, be that object perceptible or merely conceptual. The very thought of the object disturbs the mind.

The thought of an object is of two kinds, called the Aklishta Vritti and the Klishta Vritti by Patanjali. Anything we like or dislike evokes a Klishta Vritti in the mind. A thing in which we are not particularly interested either way evokes an Aklishta Vritti in the mind. For the purpose of Yoga, both these Vrittis have to be subdued. Neither the Klishta nor the Aklishta is a desirable thing from the point of view of Mano-nirodha (control of the mind) or Chitta-vritti-nirodha (control of thoughts), which is Yoga.

The objects of the world speak in a language which we understand in our own way. They get transformed into a meaning when they enter into the mind of individuals; and each ndividual has his own or her own reading of any particular object. Every object sings a song and we listen to this music, but its meaning is different for different persons.

Objects of the world are not intended for being loved or for being hated. They exist as we also exist. So, studying things in an impartial manner, we find that loves and hatreds are outside the scheme of things. They are not in the order of nature. They do not exist in nature at all.

So, a lack of Brahmacharya means nothing but the presence of interests other than the interest in Yoga. The distracting object may be anything. If we have got a strong interest in something which distracts our attention, the energy goes. Any kind of leakage of energy in any direction, caused by any object or any event or context, is a break in Brahmacharya. A burst of anger is a break in Brahmacharya, though one does not normally think so.

The Individual – A Pressure Center

We are centers of pressure or stress. Every individual is such a center, which seeks to break down this pressure, overcome this stress, by adopting some means which it thinks is the proper one under the circumstances. But, the understanding of the way in which this stress is to be removed depends upon one’s own stage of evolution. We are perpetually in a state of mental stress and nervous pressure from childhood to doom, and the whole of our life is spent only in trying to find out ways and means of relieving ourselves of these stresses and strains, and we have our own way of doing it. The way in which we try to relieve ourselves of these stresses and strains—this way is called the expression of desires. What is called desire is the method we adopt to relieve ourselves of our tensions, nervous and psychological.

The stress or the strain has arisen on account of a separation of the individual from Nature. The world has cast us out as exiles. Our internal desire, finally, is to unite ourselves with Nature which is our mother or our parent. The relief that we are seeking from our stresses and strains is ultimately a desire or a longing to become one with our parent, from whom we have been cut off or isolated. Our desire is to possess everything. And the desire to possess is called love. What goes by the name of love of any kind in this world is a desire to possess things, which are considered as instruments capable of relieving us of our stresses and strains. Forgetfulness of the tension or the stress for the time being is imagined to be a way of relief from the stress itself. When a larger stress swoops down upon us, the lesser stress is forgotten. All our pains, sorrows and complaints vanish in a minute, in a trite, when we are about to be drowned in a river, for instance. We do not complain about anything at that time. Everything would seem to be all right if only we could be saved from possible drowning. Because, that is a problem larger than all the other little problems about which we are constantly complaining in life. So is the case with our asking for the fulfillment of our desires by contact with things.

Our desire is not for the contact. That is the whole point, though it appears that the senses tell us to come in contact with various things in the world for the relief of our tension. We are not asking for things. Nobody wants anything in this world finally. But, it appears as if we are wanting them, due to a mischievous interpretation given to these circumstances by our senses, by externalizing our internal anguish for a communion with all things. All loves, all desires, are urges for communion with things. While our urge within is a holy and pious impulse to come in union with all things, with Nature as a whole, this impulse is thrown in the direction of space and time and is externalized by the powers of the senses. The senses have only one work to do, to externalize everything. So, even our desires are externalized, while really our desire is for something else. That is the reason why we are not satisfied, no matter what objects are given to us, we are always disillusioned in the end. Whatever be our possession, it is not going to satisfy us finally.

There is a basic blunder in the very attitude of the mind in imagining that what it seeks through the fulfillment of desires lies outside it. The other blunder is, that in its movement towards the so-called external things, it has lost its energies. It has weakened itself. The Self, when it becomes the non-self, becomes a corpse, becomes dead. So, a person who has desires is a weakling. He has no strength at all. He has neither physical strength nor mental strength. The more the unfulfilled desires, the greater is the weakness of the body and the mind.

By Swami Krishnananda