How to attain Brahman according to Advaita Vedanta (Sri Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika)

The following summarises the spiritual method advised by Sri Gaudapada, the great-guru of the more famous Sri Shankara. It is taken from Chapter 3 of Gaudapada’s Karika (Gaudapada’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad),  one of the earliest, most authoritative and most-influential of Advaita Vedanta Scriptures.

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42. The mind distracted by desires and enjoyments should be brought under control by proper means; so also the mind enjoying pleasure in inactivity (laya). For the state of inactivity is as harmful as the state of desires.

43. Turn back the mind from the enjoyment of desires, remembering that they beget only misery. Do not see the created objects, remembering that all this is the unborn Atman.

44. If the mind becomes inactive, arouse it from laya [inactivity]; if distracted, make it tranquil. Understand the nature of the mind when it contains the seed of attachment. When the mind has attained sameness, do not disturb it again.

45. The yogi must not taste the happiness arising from samadhi; he should detach himself from it by the exercise of discrimination. If his mind, after attaining steadiness, again seeks external objects, he should make it one with Atman through great effort.

46. When the mind does not lapse into inactivity [laya] and is not distracted by desires, that is to say, when it remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

I have written a short commentary on the above verses entitled Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method which further explains the above verses.

You can read the entire text of Gaudapada’s Karika here: Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika

Robert Adams: nothing to accomplish, you are already free

Robert Adams Advaita

Robert Adams Advaita

Recently someone briefly mentioned Robert Adams to me and for some reason it prompted me to take a look through some of his teachings. I chanced upon what I felt to be a highly powerful set of teachings given in Satsang in 1992, and this post is the result.

Here are a selection of quotes from Robert Adams that point the way to That which is beyond words and That which we already are/already is. The quotes are largely in order they were given during a single talk and I have inserted sub-headings which I hope makes the key points stand out more. Even though the teachings are largely self-explanatory, and there is something powerful in the phrasing of the actual quotes below, I have also summarised the teachings at the end of the post:


Trust in the Power that Knows The Way

The power that knows the way will take care of you. The one who makes the sun shine, the grass grow, the apples grow perfectly on apple trees, the food that sustains us, nourishes us. Everything has been lovingly provided for us. Have faith, trust the power that knows the way.

This is the first step, to have total faith and total trust in the infinite, the one. You may call this God, if you want to. Makes no difference what you call it. It is within you. It is without you. It is everywhere. All you have to do is to surrender to it. Surrender all of your doubts, your frustrations, your fears, everything that has besieged you for so long. Give it all up. It doesn’t belong to you. Be free of it.

No Body, no Mind, no World

When you’re able to do this, you can go further, and understand that there never was a body to begin with. The world, as it appears, does not exist. The universe, as it appears does not exist. Yet you are, and you will always be. What are you and what will you always be?

Silence.

There is no answer for that, for the mind can never comprehend the unknown, the transcendental, the Self. The mind can never know these things. The mind only knows itself as a body, as a doer. Therefore you have to transcend the mind, transcend the thoughts, transcend the world, transcend the universe, and enter the silence, where there is total bliss, and peace and harmony.

Do not be in conflict with yourself

Do not be in conflict with your thoughts and the self. When there is no conflict there are no thoughts. Thoughts only appear because there’s conflict. By conflict I mean, you’re worrying about getting rid of your thoughts, you’re doing sadhana, meditation, pranayamas, japa. All of these things cause conflict.

For aren’t you saying, ‘I’m doing these things to become liberated. I’m doing these things to become free.’ The reason there’s a the conflict is because you’re already free and liberated. Therefore when you give yourself the information that you have to do something to become liberated, there is immediately conflict.

Your programmed belief in being a body-mind causes this conflict

This is the only problem you have. It is your conflict. And this conflict comes from programming when you were a child, from samskaras, … This is where the conflict comes from. For it tells you, ‘I’m just a human being, I’m just a frail body. I have to suffer sometimes, sometimes I have to be happy.’ This is all a lie. There never was a you that has to suffer. There never was a you that has to be happy.

Nobody needs to be happy

There is no one in you who needs to be happy. There is no one in you who needs to be miserable. They are both impostors. So every time you try to exchange negative conditioning to positive conditioning, you’re causing conflict. This is the reason psychology and psychiatry does not work. For they’re trying to make you normal. Who wants to be normal? How boring.

Wish for nothing

The truth is do not wish to be anything. There is nothing you wish to be. There is nothing you have to become. There is no future, for you to become anything. Right this moment you are the one, and there never was another. Right this moment you are totally free, without thinking a thought, without trying to make anything happen.

Nothing to accomplish

Why not awaken to this truth? Why not awaken to the fact that there is nothing that you have to become, there are no goals to accomplish.

Your beliefs about karma

You want to believe everything is preordained, and it’s been mapped out for you. Or you believe that you’re just a victim of circumstance, going through many experiences, to learn a lesson. It’s really funny to me when people tell me, ‘Something happened in my life, but I guess that’s the lesson that I have to learn,’ or, ‘That’s my karma.’

Forget about karma.

Forget about lessons you have to learn. No one has to learn any lessons. No one has to go through their karmic experiences. Put an end to it all. Drop it all. After all, for whom is there karma? For whom are there experiences? Only for the I-thought, for the mind, not for you. You are bright and shining. You are the absolute reality, Brahman.

Words: ‘Reality’ and ‘Brahman’

Yet even those words are superfluous, redundant. For what do these words actually mean to you, absolute reality, Brahman? They’re just names that are given to the absolute reality, to the Self. Yet everything has to go. The absolute reality has to go. The Self has to go. The reason it has to go is because you’re thinking about this with your finite mind, and every answer you come up with is erroneous.

Always remember the finite mind can never know the infinite. It’s impossible. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. Consequently the wise person becomes silent, quiescent. You’re not even trying to change your thoughts or stop your thoughts. For how can you try to stop something or change something that never existed to begin with.

The cause of conflict

Can you see now why you’re in conflict? You’re trying to correct something, you’re trying to become something, you’re trying to do something, and something does not exist.

Also what you’re trying to correct does not exist. What you’re trying to change does not exist. You get nowhere. This is why I tell you so often: leave everything alone. Have no opinions for or against. Do not be judgemental. Be nothing and you’ll be everything.

So why come to satsang?

Why do most of you come to satsang? As long as you have a reason it’s the wrong reason. There should be no reason. There shouldn’t be any valid reason why you come to satsang. For if you think back on what I’ve been referring to, you will see every reason is erroneous. For the reason that you’re trying to come to satsang doesn’t exist at all. You say you come to satsang to become enlightened, to know the truth. Who has to know the truth? Who has to become enlightened?

You come to sit with me. You can always sit with me, wherever you are. What I’m trying to tell you, do not look for reasons why you do something. When you start giving up all reasoning, all ambition, when you start surrendering all of your so called power, your human power that you think you have, this is when the mind begins to slow down.

Methods for stilling the mind

The mind will never slow down by trying to make it slow down. I don’t care what method you use. When you are using Vipassana meditation, when you’re using breathing, whatever method you’re using… Whatever method you’re using, you’re using your mind. It is your mind that you’re still using. That’s why you can never get anywhere.

You must use your mind, no matter what you do. Therefore stop doing anything. I know many of you have been practising sadhana for 25 years, 40 years, practising many forms of meditation, going to teachers, reading many books. And what becomes of you? You may get a good feeling, then it goes away, and you’re back where you started from.

The only practice

The only thing that you should do, or must do, is not to be in conflict with anything. Do not be in conflict with anyone or anything. When you’re not in conflict with anything, the mind begins to surrender itself, and goes back into the heart, and you become your Self. This is the easiest thing that you ever had to do. It’s simplicity itself. It’s simplicity itself because there’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to become. There’s no one you have to change. You are that.

Be open

Do not analyze what I am saying. Do not even agree with what I’m saying. Just be open. Open your heart by remaining still, silent. Allow the thoughts to come, do try not to stop them. Do not judge your thoughts, analyse your thoughts, or try to change your thoughts, or try to remove your thoughts. This will put you back in conflict with your thoughts.

No need to observe or be the witness

Do not even observe your thoughts. Do not even be the witness to your thoughts. Why? Because in reality there are no thoughts. The thoughts that you think you’re thinking, are an optical illusion. It is false imagination. Don’t you see? Everything that you’re thinking about is false. There is no thinker and there are no thoughts. So why have you been practising all these exercises all of your life? It’s like a person in the ocean going in search for water.

Awaken. Be free. Be yourself.

True Self

You are the joy of the world, the light that shines in darkness. You are a blessing to the universe. Love yourself always. When you love yourself, you love God. Forget about the past. Never dwell on the past. Remember, time and space does not exist. If time and space does not exist, then there cannot be a past or a future, for the past and the future is about space and time. If there is no time and space, there cannot possibly be a past or a future. So who thinks about the past? Who thinks about the future?

Beyond Self-Enquiry

Even to say the I does, the I-thought does, this again is mostly for beginners. Self-inquiry is very important, don’t get me wrong. But the day has to come when you go beyond self-inquiry, when you just realize and understand that there is no I-thought at all. It never existed. Therefore you do not have to get rid of it. There is nothing to get rid of, because nothing exists. You are total freedom, right this instant, right this minute.

The unreality of thoughts and things

Whenever your thoughts dwell on the past, do not become angry with yourself.

Leave them alone. Do not observe them. Do not watch them. Do not be the witness to them. Just leave them alone. They will disappear of their own volition, due to the fact that they never existed. This is an important point. This is the reason why you leave everything alone. Now if things existed, if there was such a thing as negative thinking, karma to get rid of, then you’d have a job on your hands. You’d have to do all sorts of things to get rid of your karma, your past sins. You’d be working continuously, practising all kinds of japa, mantras, everything, to remove all of these thoughts of the past. But I say to you since these things never existed to begin with, why do any work at all?

Oh, it’s okay, if you like to work, but I’m very lazy myself, and the less work I have to do, the better.

Do not look for results

Do not look for results. Because it’s your true nature, sooner or later the results must presume themselves, but it comes without your help. You cannot help God. God does not need your help. Just be yourself. It’s difficult to be totally honest with yourself, yet this is exactly what you have to do. Forget about being a Jnani, or enlightened, or having self-realisation.

Nobody becomes enlightened

First of all, what does the word enlightenment mean? I’m not talking about a dictionary definition. To the path of Jnana what does enlightenment mean? The answer is, there is no such word.

No one becomes enlightened. There is no body, no I, no me, there is no thing that can ever become enlightened. The word enlightenment is used by the ajnani, by students. Absolute reality, choiceless awareness, sat-chit-ananda, parabrahman, those are all words that do not exist, except to the student, in order to explain that there is a state beyond the so called norm, a state of total transcendence. And we give a name to this, enlightenment.

When this actually happens or transpires in a person the I has been totally destroyed, totally annihilated. The me no longer exists. And to that being there is absolutely no one who became enlightened. That being is resting in his true nature, in nothingness, absolute nothingness. No one can become enlightened. No one can be liberated, for the you that thinks it can be liberated doesn’t even exist. There is no you. There is no person.

There is no human being who is a human being one day and the next day becomes liberated. There is only the liberated Self and you are that. There is not you as you appear. The appearance of you, which you think you are, is false.

Your problems do not exist

This is why I say all of your problems, all of your nonsense that you go on with, all your worries, all your cares, all your emotions, they do not exist. They never have existed and they will never exist. It is all the game of maya, the leela. It doesn’t exist. No one in this room exists. There is no you and there is no me. There is only the Self. And when the self becomes the Self it is no longer the self, for there never was a real Self to begin with.

This is the reason why I emphasise, stop thinking. Your thoughts pull you deeper into maya, into illusion. Do not think of enlightenment, or awakening, or being liberated, or finding a teacher who can help you. You are beyond help. No one can do anything for you.

The process of Realisation

Actually what happens is this. As you begin to realise you are not your thoughts, you are not your body, you are not your mind, you are not the world, you’re not even liberated, you are nothing, as you begin to think this way whatever has to happen in your evolution will transpire without you doing anything. If you are meant to be with a teacher you will be with a teacher. If you are meant to be by yourself you will be by yourself, yet you have absolutely nothing to do with these things. Remain in the no-thought state.

No need to look for liberation

The worst thing you can ever do is to search for enlightenment, for liberation. This keeps you back. It keeps you back because there is a self that is searching. There is an I that is searching. There is a me that is trying to become something and the whole idea is to remove something from your consciousness.

You are No Thing

Therefore the process of realization is removal, not adding. Removing this and removing that. Removing all concepts and all preconceived ideas. Removing all of your thoughts, no matter what kind of thoughts they are.

Good thoughts, bad thoughts, they all must go, and what is left will be nothing, no thing.

You are that. You are that no thing.

Leave the world alone

Leave the world alone. Leave people alone. Do not come to any conclusion. Do not judge anyone. Everything will take care of itself.

Doesn’t it feel good to be nothing instead of believing you are thoughts, and you are human, and you have a job to fulfill, and you have a mission? There are many spiritual people you know who think they have a mission. They have come to save the world. They can’t even save themselves and they’re looking to save the world. The world will go on the way it’s going on without your help, for or against. Leave the world alone.

The Current That Knows The Way

There is a power and there is a presence, which I like to call the current that knows the way, that takes care of everything. It is all part of the grand illusion. And even in this illusion, which appears in front of your eyes, there is a presence and a power that lifts you up. It will lift you up as high as you can allow it to, until it lifts you up completely out of your body, out of your thoughts, out of the universe, to a completely new dimension.

You’ll appear to be the same person as always to people, but you’ll not be that person any longer, for that person is gone, no longer exists. You have become Brahman. You have become all-pervading. You have become your Self without trying to do so.

Give thanks and love thyself

You must always have gratitude for the way you are. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Love yourself just the way you are. By loving yourself just the way you are you will transcend those things that have appeared to annoy you, to bother you, to cause you pain.

They will all go. You’ll no longer be aware of them. Let go of everything. Have no desires whatsoever. Dive deep within the Self. Do not react to the outside world or to your body. All is well.

When you are without thoughts, you are God

When you are without thoughts, when you are without needs, without wants, without desires, then you are God. You are the universe. You are divine love. You are beautiful. Yet when you begin to think about these things you deny it, for you think about the past and the future instead of staying centred in the eternal now. You think of the mistakes you made in life. You think about the dastardly things going on in this world.

You think about your future, about the so called recession. You are enmeshed in Maya. Do not continue to think this way.


Tom’s Summary:

You will see that the essential themes are:

1) Do not take any phenomena such as Body, Mind (eg. thoughts and feelings), World, Time or Space to be real (ie. all is illusion, part of the Jnana yoga teachings such as ajata). This means there is no real ‘you’ or ‘me’ or thoughts or practices or teachings, etc.

2) Be still/silent/without thoughts (ie. be still or the Raja Yoga/Dhyana yoga teachings)

3) All is well and nothing is required as:

a) you are already Indestructible Eternal and Free Timeless Being beyond words and things so there is nothing to do and nothing to worry about (ie. the Self-Knowledge or Jnana yoga teachings)

b) in the illusory world there is an illusory power that is already doing everything and this power will continue to look after everything in the absence of an illusory ‘me’ or ego, so there is nothing to do and nothing to worry about (ie. the Surrender or Bhakti yoga teachings)

4) Give thanks have have gratitude for what comes your way (ie. the gratitude or Karma yoga teachings)

What do you think – are the points I summarised above a correct representation of the quotes below? (clue: if you take point (1) to heart, where is the need for (2), (3) and (4)?) Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Tom’s Super-Brief Summary:

Therefore trust in The Power that Knows The Way, allow the mind to be still, know all is well for you are the Self and be thankful! Do not take the world (including your phenomenal body-mind self) to be real –  nothing needs to be done or not done – it is all illusion!

Q. This understanding stays for a while and then gets muddled…how to get back to the clear state?

Questioner: Usually this understanding stays for a while and then again gets muddled or covered by personality and it’s needs. How do we keep going back to the clear state…Although there is nothing called going back.

Tom:  This is not a trick question: what covers up the ‘clear state’?

Q. The personality and it’s story.

Tom: Does it really get in the way? If so, how? If not, how?

Q. It’s like a forgetting of the clear state and thinking of ourself as a personality and the story it carries. This is taken as real and suddenly we are captured by it’s momentum unless some teaching or saying re-points to the clear state again. There is forgetting of the clear state.

Tom: Exactly. There is your answer. The force of habitually taking yourself to be a ‘me’ or a body-mind is ignorance. Letting that subside or seeing through that is enough. Eventually the habit will reverse and ignorance won’t reappear. It never really appears anyway. Namaste.

Shankara: 4 things you need to do in order to attain spiritual liberation (the 4 Qualifications according to Advaita Vedanta)

There are many ways to liberation, and all true paths join together in the end. In the Advaita Vedanta framework, 4 attributes or qualities are required to be developed before one can sufficiently progress on the path of Jnana or Enquiry.

In Vivekachudamani

In Shankara’s Vivekachudamani he outlines four practices or qualifications (sadhana catustaya)  that are required in order for liberation to successfully occur. First he lists the qualifications, and then he explains each one in turn.

I’ve noticed there are a small but growing number teachers of Vedanta who claim to be traditional teachers but they change the definitions of the qualifications and so alter the meaning of the teachings to suit different ends. These teachers tend to downplay the need for prolongued meditation on the Self, whereas the actual Vedanta texts and true traditional teachers of Vedanta tend to emphasise this.

So, as always, it pays to read the source texts for yourself and learn how the teachings were originally defined if you want to understand the original intentions of the Vedanta teachings. As usual, my comments are in red:

Shankara states there are 4 things that are required to attain liberation. More than that, he states that without these 4 things, liberation will not be attained. So let us learn about these 4 qualifications and how they are defined:

18. Regarding this, sages have spoken of four means of attainment, which alone being present, the devotion to Brahman succeeds, and in the absence of which, it fails.

19. First is enumerated discrimination between the Real and the unreal; next comes aversion to the enjoyment of fruits (of one’s actions) here and hereafter; (next is) the group of six attributes, viz. calmness and the rest; and (last) is clearly the yearning for Liberation.

Traditionally the 4 Qualifications are:
(1) Viveka or discrimination
(2) Vairagya or dispassion
(3) Samadi-satka-sampatti or the six disciplines consisting of Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha and Samadhana in which the mind is progressively withdrawn from the sense objects and focused onto the pure sense of being (‘Sat’ or ‘Pure Brahman’)
(4) Mumuksutva or the yearning for liberation.

Shankara also adds a further qualification – the most important in his view – Bhakti, or devotion, which he defines in verse 31 as seeking or turning away from what is unreal (defined in the next verse) and turning towards one’s True Nature.

20. A firm conviction of the mind to the effect that Brahman is real and the universe unreal, is designated as discrimination (Viveka) between the Real and the unreal.

This is a clear definition of viveka that forms the foundation for the rest of the qualifications. Next Shankara defines vairagya in a very absolute way, which is essentially renunciation of all worldly objects ranging from the everyday to desires to be reborn in the heavenly realm of Brahma (the creator-deity who resides in heaven).

21. Vairagya or renunciation is the desire to give up all transitory enjoyments (ranging) from those of an (animate) body to those of Brahmahood (having already known their defects) from observation, instruction and so forth.

The notion is that because all such worldly or heavenly objects are transient, they will eventually go and therefore not lead to the eternal ever-existing peace of Brahman or Moksha.

In another text called Aparokshanunhuti, Shankara describes Vairagya as follows in verse 4: ‘The indifference with which one treats the excreta of a crow – such an indifference to all objects of enjoyment from the realm of Brahma to this world (in view of their perishable nature), is verily called pure Vairagya.’

Verses 22-25 will outline the 6 disciplines of Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha and Samadhana. We can see that the gist of the 6 disciplines is to turn away from objects and the world and turn towards the Self:

22. The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (viz. Brahman) after having detached itself from manifold sense-objects by continually observing their defects, is called Shama or calmness.

In Aparokshanunhuti Shankara  in verse 6 writes: ‘Abandonment of desires at all times is called Shama‘.

23. Turning both kinds of sense-organs away from sense-objects and placing them in their respective centres, is called Dama or self-control. The best Uparati or self- withdrawal consists in the mind-function ceasing to be affected by external objects.

24. The bearing of all afflictions without caring to redress them, being free (at the same time) from anxiety or lament on their score, is called Titiksha or forbearance.

25. Acceptance by firm judgement as true of what the Scriptures and the Guru instruct, is called by sages Shraddha or faith, by means of which the Reality is perceived.

26. Not the mere indulgence of thought (in curiosity) but the constant concentration of the intellect (or the affirming faculty) on the ever-pure Brahman, is what is called Samadhana or self-settledness.

Shama is an initial detachment from sense objects after contemplating how impermanent objects cannot give rise to (permanent) liberation. Dama is about withdrawing the sense organs from sense-objects and also reducing one’s activities in the world (‘both kinds’ refer to the sense organs and organs of action). Uparati is when the mind is no longer affected by objects at all.

We can see that Shama, Dama and Uparati represent a step-wise sequence in practicing different levels of vairagya (dispassion) which culminates in Samadhana, which is defined as constant concentration on Brahman devoid of objects as opposed to mere curiosity towards Brahman. We know that the Brahman spoken of is devoid of objects due to the above definitions of Shama, Dama and Uparati. This is further made clear by the verse quotes in Aporokshanubhuti below in which it is stated that the mind should be made to focus on ‘Sat’ (existence).

Titiksha and Shraddha are aids to this sequential process of introversion, which we could call Bhakti or svasvarupanusandhanam (see verse 31 below).

27. Mumukshutva or yearning for Freedom is the desire to free oneself, by realising one’s true nature, from all bondages from that of egoism to that of the body – bondages superimposed by Ignorance.

Shankara now talks of 3 grades of mumukshutva: low, medium and high. If the desire for liberation is low-to-medium, one is to cultivate vairagya and the 6 disciplines. Then the desire for liberation will increase:

28. Even though torpid or mediocre, this yearning for Freedom, through the grace of the Guru, may bear fruit (being developed) by means of Vairagya (renunciation), Shama (calmness), and so on.

If the desire for liberation is high, then the goal will be attained:

29. In his case, verily, whose renunciation and yearning for Freedom are intense, calmness and the other practices have (really) their meaning and bear fruit.

If the desire for liberation is low, then all this is mere superficiality and liberation will (likely) not result:

30. Where (however) this renunciation and yearning for Freedom are torpid, there calmness and the other practices are as mere appearances, like water in a desert.

Lastly Shankara extolls the magnificence of Bhakti, and defines it as ‘svasvarupanusandhanam’, which can be translated as striving to seek one’s nature or constantly turning towards one’s nature.

31. Among things conducive to Liberation, devotion (Bhakti) holds the supreme place. The seeking after one’s real nature is designated as devotion.

Interestingly Sri Ramana Maharshi was asked about the nature of svasvarupanusandhanam in Talks 642, and he stated that it referred to atma vichara or Self-enquiry itself. In Aparokshanunhuti verse 11 Shankara writes: ‘Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than Vichara [ie. enquiry], just as an object is nowhere perceived (seen) without the help of light.


In Aparokshanunhuti

In his text Aparokshanunhuti, Shankara explains the same 4 qualifications (sadhana catustaya) in a more punchy way in verses 4-11:

4. The indifference with which one treats the excreta of a crow – such an indifference to all objects of enjoyment from the realm of Brahma to this world (in view of their  perishable nature), is verily called pure Vairagya.

5. Atman (the seer) in itself is alone permanent, the seen is opposed to it (ie., transient) – such a settled conviction is truly known as discrimination.

6. Abandonment of desires at all times is called Shama and restraint of the external functions of the organs is called Dama.

7. Turning away completely from all sense-objects is the height of Uparati, and patient endurance of all sorrow or pain is known as Titiksha which is conducive to happiness.

8. Implicit faith in the words of the Vedas and the teachers (who interpret them) is known as Shraddha, and concentration of the mind on the only object Sat (i.e. Brahman) is regarded as Samadhana.

9. When and how shall I, O Lord, be free from the bonds of this world (i.e., births and deaths) – such a burning desire is called Mumukshutva.

10. Only that person who is in possession of the said qualifications (as means to Knowledge) should constantly reflect with a view to attaining Knowledge, desiring his own good.

11. Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than Vichara, just as an object is nowhere perceived (seen) without the help of light.

The three energies (three Gunas)

There is a school of ‘Hinduism’ called Sankya, which is a yogic school, and it classifies the energies into three basic types. These are known as the three gunas. This teaching was later incorporated into other schools such as vedanta and taught in scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita. Despite its apparent overly simple nature – there are only three energies – this classification can be incredibly useful for the seeker – do not underestimate it!

This classification can be incredibly useful for the seeker – do not underestimate it!

The three energies/gunas are:

1. Tamas (dull/negative)
2. Rajas (passionate/active)
3. Sattva (peaceful/intelligent)

1. If your energy is predominantly tamasic, you will, generally, feel negative, tired, and low. Your motivation and energy levels may be low, you may be lazy and lack direction. You may find it hard to understand things clearly, be confused, and lack clear On the positive side of tamasic energy, you may find it easier to rest, relax and sleep. Tamas is the lowest of the three energies.

2. If your energy is predominantly rajasic, then you will tend to be more active, eg. constantly doing things and achieving things, be much quicker at thinking, but you may perhaps have too many thoughts. (2a) On the positive side of rajasic energy you may achieve many things and do much good in your environment, whatever that may be. You may be dynamic, social, extroverted and a ‘mover and shaker’. (2b) On the negative side of rajasic energy, there can be much anxiety and stress, your mind may become exhausted from-over thinking, and your body may be exhausted too. You may find it difficult to find peace of mind, rest, calm and contentment. Rajas is the second lowest of the three energies.

3. If your energy is predominantly sattvic, then your mind is happy and calm, not low in energy, but not phrenetic like rajas. The mind is calm and clear, and gives rise to seeing things clearly, with less bias. Both tamasic and rajasic energies distort perceptions, which in turn leads to poor judgement and greater suffering, but sattva is pure, clear, harmonious and intelligent. Sattva is the highest of the three energies.

What does this have to do with spiritual practice, you may ask? Well, knowing what energy predominates can help you understand what spiritual practice you need and vastly speed up your spiritual journey. It can also help you understand why different people are attracted to different paths at different times, and accordingly help you be more open and compassionate towards others on their path, as well as be more open and understanding towards other spiritual paths in general.

If you would like to learn more, see this article here.

Ramana Maharshi: ‘The only worthy occupation’

ramana escape the tricks of maya

This post was originally posted here: https://www.facebook.com/tomdas.nd/posts/595152794243523

I have taken the following teaching statements of Sri Ramana Maharshi from the wonderful text Guru Vachaka Kovai. My advice is to stick to Sri Ramana’s teachings to keep your path straight:

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175. The only worthy occupation is to thoroughly absorb the ego by turning Selfward and, without allowing it to rise, to thus abide quietly, like a waveless ocean, in Self-Knowledge, having annihilated the delusive mind-ghost, which had been wandering about unobstructed.

186. O miserable and extroverted people, failing to see the seer, you see only the seen! To dissolve duality by turning inwards instead of outwards is alone Blissful.

187. O mind, it is not wise for you to come out [in the form of thoughts]; it is best to go within. Hide yourself deep within the Heart and escape from the tricks of Maya, who tries to upset you by drawing you outwards.

189. Since it is only the notion of duality that spoils Bliss and causes misery, to avoid yielding to the attractions of that notion and to thus arrest all chitta vrittis is alone worthwhile.

190. O people, not knowing that Shiva is dwelling within you, you fly about like birds from one holy place to another [seeking His Darshan]. Consciousness, when abiding still in the Heart, is the Supreme Shiva.

191. The ship would be destroyed by the storm if its sails were spread outside, but it is safe when its anchor is sunk deep into the sea. Similarly, if the mind were sunk deep in the Heart instead of being spread outside, that would be Jnana.

192. To arrest the mind – which tries to rush outwards – securely within, is the truly heroic act of the ripe aspirant who wants to see the Supreme Lord in the Heart.

193. When the mind [i.e., the ego’s attention] which wanders outside, knowing only other objects [2nd and 3rd persons] – begins to attend to its own nature, all other objects will disappear, and then, by experiencing it’s own true nature [i.e. Self], the pseudo-‘I’ will also die.

204. A peaceful attitude, together with a ‘silent-flow’ of mind towards undeviating abidance in Self, Sat-Chit, is the best worship of Shiva.

205. Saint Markandeya survived death by conquering even Yama, and lived beyond his destined time. Know, therefore, that death can be overcome by worshipping Shiva, the death-killer.

291. If one wants to be saved, one is given the following true and essential advice: just as the tortoise draws all its five limbs within its shell, so one should draw the five senses within and turn one’s mind Selfward. This alone is happiness.

293. Having known for certain that everything which is seen, without the least exception, is merely a dream, and that it [the seen] does not exist without the seer, turn only towards Self – Sat-Chit-Ananda – without attending to the world of names and forms, which is only a mental conception.

294. Attention to one’s own Self, which is ever shining as ‘I’, the one undivided and pure Reality, is the only raft with which the jiva, who is deluded by thinking “I am the body”, can cross the ocean of unending births.

296. Having annihilated the delusive mind which always dwells upon worldly things, having killed the restless ego, and having completely erased the worldly vasanas, shine as Shiva, the pure Consciousness Itself.

297. Do not wander outside, eating the scorching sand of worldly pleasures, which are non-Self; come home to the Heart where Peace is shining as a vast, everlasting, cool shade, and enjoy the feast of the Bliss of Self.

319. One’s merging into the Heart – through the enquiry into the nature of the ego, which is a delusion in the form of mind – is the right worship of the Lotus-Feet of the supreme Mouna-Guru, who is beyond the mind.

❤️ Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om ❤️

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Ramana Maharshi: a quick and simple method to self-realisation

ramana umbrella

In the deep sleep state we lay down our ego [ahankara],
our thoughts and our desires.

If we could only do all this while we are conscious,
we would realise the Self.

(excerpted from Conscious Immortality, Chapter 13)

For more on this topic see the following links:

Ramana Maharshi: the method of wakeful sleep (Jagrat Sushupti) to attain liberation
Ramana Maharshi: Conscious Immortality
Ramana Maharshi – limitation is only in the mind