Upanishad Course – Chapter 2 (Contd)
Pre-Vedanta we were never taught not to have ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’. Vedanta’s message is deeper than dealing with likes and dislikes. When we think about who we are, we always think about ‘I am’. Pre-Vedanta the focus is on the ‘am’ that keeps changing instead of focusing on the ‘I’. In our Upanishad course, the messaging is not just about dealing with ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, but to shift our identification from the ‘am’ to the ‘I’. The ‘am’ depends on the ‘I’, not the other way round. In samskrit – the ‘Vishesha’ (specific) depends on the ‘Samanya’ (general). The specific comes from the general. For example, the ornament depends on the ore and the ore does not depend on the ornament. Our Upanishad course is a course in humility – to let go and unlearn that ‘I am an exception’. We should unlearn the ‘am’ and remember the ‘I’. This is a course in independence.
Recap: An Adhikari can be known by his/her questions. The six sources of these questions are criticize, conceit, curiosity, confirm, compassion and contentment (one who does not have any more questions is content with following the answers that they have been given or that they are feeling). We also know an Adhikari based on how they input/feel out answers , and for one to develop humility and independence this has to be done in a way that is beyond themselves. If my answers are dependent on ‘me’ then it really means it is dependent on the ‘ego’ and we can only get the ‘finite’ with the ego. But if our answers are coming from the Veda (whose origin is divinity), then these answers can and will lead us to feeling infinity.
One of the first qualities shared about an Adhikari is Viveka. Viveka comes from the root ‘Vich’, meaning ‘to filter’ (to discriminate or to prioritize). Filtering implies that there are two entities. Since it is difficult for us right now to understand the infinite, our Viveka should start with trying to understand the finite. The finite is that which is ever changing. This change is really a condition and nobody wants any conditions on that which is good (such as conditional patience, conditional safety etc). In Samskrit, the word for condition is ‘Avastha’, which means coming and going. Some Avastas we know are Waking state, Dream state and Sleeping state. Another Samskrit word to be reflected upon is ‘Loka’ (meaning world/dimension), is also a condition. When there are differences in the world, we have the right notion that people are different but not better or worse. But in terms of Viveka or Vichara, when it comes to Reality, there is a better and worse. We should have the courage to let go of the worse (where there is arrogance, dependence etc). So the quality that Viveka should trigger is Vairagya, which means to be detached/dispassionate/independent of. Vairagya can be opened up as Vi (without) – Raga (that which is worse). We have to be detached/dispassionate towards the finite, the conditional, the Avastha, the Loka.
A way to understand Raga is what we think about. So to practice Vairagya – we should change what we are thinking about, because we are engaged in Vichara (being reflective). Ideally our minds should already be balanced and focused so that we can be more reflective.
Practical insights on how to live Vairagya: We get attached to that which we feel will bring us joy. Our Bhagavan is known as Antaryami (inner controller). So a way to practice Vairagya is to let our mind be offered to Bhagavan. Bhagavan will engage in the Viveka and Vairagya for us! It is like holding on to one who is ‘all-knowing’ so it becomes easier to let go of anger, fear and attachment. Antaryami is the one who is inside our AntaHKarana (memory, mind, intellect and ego) and we should feel that!
When Bhagavan Narayana taught Bhagavan Brahma the original Bhagavatam, Bhagavan Brahma became dynamic because he knew infinity is real and illusion is unreal, so the right relationship is established. We will live more cheerfully if we act on our Viveka. If we don’t act on our Viveka, then it means we don’t have Viveka. In Mandukya Upanishad there is a portion called ‘Alaata Shanti’ (Alaata is the tip of a sparkler) – meaning instead of focusing on that which is an illusion , we should calm down, so we can see that which is infinite. In our personality, Alaata symbolizes our minds!
This Class: The Upanishad course is flowing through the vision of the Upanishads. Every mantra that is knowledge based is moving enough, and enough to unlearn and learn. One of the most advanced Upanishads which is Mandukya Upanishad has only 12 mantras! Devi Mytreyi is one of the awesome Adhikaris in our Upanishads who is married to Rishi Yaagnavalkya, who is a dynamic personality. At one point in life, while changing his priorities, he offered to Devi Mytreyi pleasure, possession and position. She asked him if what he was giving up would give her what he was trying to get (which is peace)! This shows how she never took any experience or teaching for granted. Rishi Yaagnavalya was pleased with her and taught her that if she wanted what he wants, then she has to see Atma. This Upanishad (Brhadaranyaka) is about their dialogue on what is infinite and what is illusion. These Adhikaris show us not to take for granted our Reality!
Another amazing Adhikari is Nachiketa. Nachiketa means one who never collects. He lived simply so he could engage in high thinking.When his father gives him away to Yama, and he is offered a lot of things by Yama, he says no to all. The devotion aspect here is that since Nachiketa was offered to Yama, it makes him a Dasa (servant), and so cannot have likes and dislikes. When given three boons, he asked for his family , second he asked for society and his third gift was he asked for humanity. He never asked anything for himself!
‘Lokaan Karmachitan’ – what Karma can create is Loka which is conditional
‘Brahmana’ – is one who knows what is futile and wants the utility of Brahman
‘Nirvedam’ – to let go of what can come from worlds
‘Aayaat’ – to reflect
‘Na asti akrtaH krtena’ – all that they have experienced so far they have put in maximum resources, time and effort – but never got the infinite sense
‘Tad vijnaanaarthamrtham’ – they want to feel the infinite
‘Sa gurum eva abhigacchet’ – they go to the Guru
Guru is ‘Srotriya’ and ‘Brahmanishta’
‘Nishta‘ means one who is established or experienced. Their experience helps them to be practical with the student who has come to them. Srotriya means they can communicate their experience. Only one who has listened to the Shastras can offer the same to another. When the Sishya and Guru get together, the student’s mind is very quiet and so is the body – and the Guru teaches thoroughly the science of happiness.
In the Bhagavatam, the first skanda is about the Adhikari and the second skanda focuses on Sadhana. Guru teaches the Sishya about Sadhana. Sadhana technically means discipline, but the implied meaning is how to be independently joyous. It is a path or way, and this will be the focus of lesson 3.