Upanishad Course – Chapter 5 (Contd)
Near the end of the 10th section of Srimad Bhagavatam, when Sri Krishna is established as an adult, an entire chapter is dedicated to how Sri Krishna lives (day in the life of Bhagavan). Bhagavan’s day flows through four pillars – Dhyana (contemplation) , Dama (rituals) , Daana (donations) and Dharma (responsibilities). Bhagavan begins His day with dhyana. Dhyana is a sadhana/practice where the focus is on establishing who one is. If Bhagavan practices dhyana everyday, then we need to develop such a discipline too. This course is designed to facilitate the urgency to know oneself and be established in one’s nature. We should trust the validity and importance of dhyana. One has to manage their lifestyle to have a vision of who one is and what one’s nature is!
Recap: We can either live for pleasure (Preya) OR peace (Shreya). If we live for pleasure, this will be “Abhikshnan” – relentless. The pleasure will keep fading, and we will live for more pleasure, this is a relentless choice. If one lives for peace, then one will feel rest. The sentiment of “Do your best and leave the rest” – is that we will feel rest! Everytime we drift from living for Shreya to living for Preya, we will feel bad. This self-criticism is healthy because it shows us that we have drifted from Shreya to Preya, and that we have to come back to Shreya with more urgency and trust. Those who choose to live by Shreya are naturally more reflective. In terms of development of their mind, balance and focus is already checked off. They now work with their minds to be more reflective. A reflective mind starts to tune into “there is no jiva” , “ there is only Atma”- “there is no jagat”, “there is only Brahma”.
The nature of Atma or “Sva”, the nature of Brahma or “Para” is described as “Sat-Chit-Ananda”. This nature is universal. “Sat” means existence. We know the nature of one and all is existence, because all is “existing” and the foundation for that is existence (Pujya Guruji has shared that a definition of Viveka is common sense!). Chit or awareness is knowing this – we know existing so we should know existence also. The foundation of this knowing is awareness. When one has such a vision – of awareness and existence (or knowing existing) – one comes to experience Ananda. Ananda is often interchanged with Ananta (which means beyond). When we live by the vision of knowing existing – we go beyond the limits that we are presently struggling with (like fear, jealousy, hopelessness).
In Kena Upanishad (first section, second verse) the following is mentioned – “Ear of the ear , mind of the mind, speech of the speech, breath of the breath, eye of the eye “- for the one who is trying to be more reflective about the nature of this existence-awareness- joy, they let go of that which is on the surface. All of the limitations and finitude of their experiences goes away too and they come to re-establish themselves in who they are and what their nature is. We have a role that is Vyavaharika (functional, relative) in nature and if there is functional then there has to be fundamental. That is the Viveka which one with a reflective mind will take for granted that if there is a Vyavaharika there must be Paramarthika (fundamental identity or role). If we know this then we will be free! The limitations of the roles we play are not “our” limitations. In Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavan Krishna openly shares with Rishi Narada that He is established (AstitaH) in who He is and what His nature is, and He never falls (MachitaH) from that (He does not get lost in the many identities that He plays). We should live a life of Seva and feel that every entity we interact with is Bhagavan. Pujya Swami Tejomayananda has shared that Seva is the means to enlightenment and the expression of enlightenment.
This class: The focus of this lesson is Vishaya (subject). The Upanishad course may seem like it’s focused on breadth, but it is focused on depth. So we need to be more patient and more reflective. The facet that we focus on now is “Chit” or awareness. “Sat” is as if too close to us because we can all feel the existing, and “Ananda” (independent joy) is too far for us – so we zoom in on “Chit”. Another word for “Chit” in Vedanta is consciousness. But this is not related to being alive and dying. Consciousness is not turned on and turned off. A great Sadhana in the field of Vedanta is known as “Anvaya Vyatirekha”. Vyatirekha means absence and Anvaya means presence. Upon the death of a person, AntaHkaran will be absent, and awareness is present.
When Sri Ramana Maharishi was 16 years old, He lied down and systematically went through Anvaya Vyatirekha – He started to negate that which could be negated (made absent) and let go of it. He let go of the lifestyle, body, breath, mind, intellect, ego – but could not let go of that which is knowing all of this (awareness)! That was as if His moment of enlightenment, and came to be established in what His nature is – which is “Chit”. We should try to practice negating what we can and that which we cannot negate is closer to who we are! The experiences, the equipment, the ego are all subject to Vyatirekha.
When our liefstyle is more Shreya oriented or reflective, we will start to observe that we are tuning in to “awareness” rather than “aware of”. Then we will come to appreciate that this is one’s nature. This awareness is called “Nataka Deepa”. One is aware of all that is absent , and that same Nataka Deepa is aware of all that is present. It is the awareness that knows the waking state, the dream state and the sleep state. Similarly awareness knows when this body is fully functioning, when the body gets old and is half functioning and when the body dies and there is no functioning. Pujya Swami Chinmayananada describes this as “objectless consciousness”. If there are no objects, then one will not be “conscious of”, and one will only be “consciousness”.
A life of Shreya where there is an urgency to be peaceful with a trust that one can be peaceful, one will shift the importance in their life from experiences to equipments to ego. One who is less reflective always tries to invest in experiences. One who is most reflective is ever investing in ego – that is trying to understand and appreciate what the ego is. In Bhakti shastras it is shared that Maya cannot handle Viveka (ignorance cannot handle inquiry). We have to be more authentic and deep than our experiences and equipment. We should simplify our lifestyle so that we have more bandwidth to engage in inquiry into our equipments and ego. We should go for freedom walks everyday, where it is not about the experience or equipment, but when we are in nature we are more reflective!
A verse to reference to engage is more Manana: A disciple asks “Why do I live” and the Guru responds with “Ear of the ear, mind of the mind…” – which is to say we are beyond what we have thus far identified with! The Guru now continues with the answer (Section 1 Verse 3) – “Hearing, the ears cannot go there – speaking or words cannot go there – the mind, thoughts cannot go there – we do not know ‘that’, meaning this cannot be intellectualized, conceptualized.
“We do not know that and do not know how to teach that , what you want to know is beyond that which is known , and it is beyond that which is unknown , we have been taught like this by the wise ” – The implication is that, awareness cannot be known like all else we know in life. To change how we learn and to change how we ‘know’ requires immense training. When they say “it is beyond unknown” – the implication is that it is not unknown. One can experience this differently. One can be this.
Our mind knows our eyes, but our eyes cannot know or see the mind. Similarly the “Nataka Deepa” or awareness knows our mind, but the mind cannot know/see awareness. But we don’t trust that logic and we keep trying to objectify the subjective science ! Our Rishis never diluted this subject – and so they say they don’t know how to teach this! Also an example based on the world will be limited, so we should not think that the subject matter is limited by the example, we should learn to treat it as just an example. There is space inside and outside of a cup. The space is not conditioned by the cup! The cup is like our bodies, and space is like awareness. Awareness is not conditioned by this body. Nothing happens to awareness when this body dies or is born! When Bhagavan Krishna took the Gopis’ clothes and asked them to come get it, they all went without any sense of conditioning or reservation, and Bhagavathi Radha was the first to go. They all engage in the Pancha Kosha Viveka and upon doing so, they are with Ananda.
Another Mantra referenced in the lesson is from Katha Upanishad, where RIshi Yamaraja shares that awareness is not subject to “jaayate” (birth) or “mriyate” (death) (and everything in between). So we should start to observe more closely that which is born, grows, shrinks, dies – and by doing so we will know that we are different from this. There has to be an entity that facilitates this observing and that is awareness!