Vedanta

By Swami Shivapadananda

Overview

Swamiji reading from and about Sri Ramakrishna at a yoga spiritual retreat camp – reading in italics:

Real understanding of Advaita monism does not enter into our being. The professed adherents of the Maya [God’s power of illusion/delusion] theory, curiously enough, seem very anxious about their daily food and raiment [clothing].

Swamiji laughing very merrily The jnani [follower of the path/yoga of knowledge] says ‘everything is lies’, but Sri Ramakrishna says, ‘It’s very funny you know. These people say everything is lies, but yet they seem very anxious about their food and raiment. How true it is. You’ll find that even in India. You’ll go to the sannyasins [Hindu monks/Swamis] …great sannyasins – I’m not talking ill of them, please – far from that…great sannyasins sitting there. That sannyasin is saying, ‘It’s all Maya.’ But that same monk asks, [Swamiji laughing heartily again] ‘did you bring any flowers or fruit?’ The tummy is worried. Mind is thinking ugliness – flowers will make it beautiful. Imagine, what kind of Maya this is? What kind of God-realisation is this? What is the use of this kind of theory?

Trifles offend us and we lose our tempers far too easily.

We move to anger?… far too easily.

Our knowledge of the Truth does not always influence our conduct. Advaita is not an easy thing. It involves discipline and worship.

What does Advaita also involve?…discipline, the number one thing, underline it you people and me together. Discipline…spirituality is a disciplined life. And what? Worship. Nothing less than worship. You worship because you cannot help worshipping. You don’t worship because you are forced to worship.

When you look at the sun you admire the sun, not because you are forced to admire the sun, but you are helpless before its beauty. Therefore you admire it. Nobody forces you to admire the beauty. But yet you are forced. Something inside impels you to admire it and talk good about it. So here you worship not because you are forced to, but because you cannot help but worshipping it. What can you do? If a clown is dancing and doing all sort of funny things, you don’t try to laugh, you are forced to laugh, you cannot help but to laugh [involuntarily]. So don’t think worship is something different. Don’t think that when you worship you’re doing God a favour, because you can’t help doing otherwise. [Swamiji asks a devotee in Hindi, ‘do you understand, bhai?’ The devotee says ‘yes.’] Then if you heard it, do it. What does it require? Discipline and worship. Underline those things in your heart. In the books you may open, you’ll possibly see it only a few times.

We tremble with fear at the sight of a snake or a tiger.

The same fellow says, ‘only Brahman [the indivisible universal consciousness] is true’. He looks at the tiger but why then does he tremble – why should he tremble? Why does he run away from it? Just a few days ago – I won’t mention names – a Swami came. Such a great Swami, people are touching his feet – he’s jumping away and making them feel very minute. Making them feel dirty. Making them feel inferior. I can’t understand this kind of an attitude of a sadhu [holy man/person]. A sadhu should behave in such a way that he doesn’t make anyone feel smaller [less worthy]  than they already do. I can’t understand this. The same fellow who said ‘everything is lies,’ looks at the tiger or snake….a lot of advaitins [practitioners or aspirants on the path of Advaita Vedanta] in the dark they see a rope [and mistake it for a snake], [Swamiji having a merry chuckle] that which they call snake now turns into a real snake in the mind. And they run far. It happened at the cave [Vashishtha Guha, in Rishikesh, India – earthly abode of Swami Purushottamananda Puri, guru to Swami Nischalananda Puri, Swamiji’s guru, Spiritual Preceptor].

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Knowledge obtained through the senses makes the entire body quake. When a hungry man sees delicious food his mouth waters. The presence of food works upon one’s body and life. When we meet a friend, or a dear kinsman [family member], we do not stop with him merely identifying himself. We feel a real joy – an inward thrill of delight. It is no use to affirm the validity of advaita merely through logic.

Merely through?…logic.

That will be like looking, unmoved, at a picture of a snake or a tiger.

That will be like looking at a?…picture, unmoved. What kind of picture? A tiger or a?…snake. If a person truly attains the Advaitic wisdom…

Ramakrishna doesn’t use this word because he wants to use vocabulary and show how learned he is. You heard that a certain Swami said he was a ‘simpleton’. The man who used the word does not know what he’s talking about. Most probably he doesn’t understand the term. Ramakrishna is not a foolish man – a fool. He’s a wise man, appearing like a simple man.

Here he says, truly attains the Advaitic wisdom, should he not – at that very moment – feel at one with the supreme Truth? Even as the man trembles at the sight of a real tiger in the forest, he who has attained the true Advaitic wisdom, should – that very instant – feel an abundance of bliss and become one with Brahman in a state of samadhi [spiritual superconsciousness]. In a state of?…samadhi.

I want you to think – I’m not keeping quiet because I’m thinking – I want you to think.

1) Care should be taken by the reader to understand and take Swamiji’s words in these postings, in context. Every teaching or instruction that he gave was specific to the people who were with Swamiji at the time.

2) Mouse-over the words highlighted in red in the posting for further

Theory vs. Advaitic realisation

When we look at something which belongs to us, we take it for granted. We think, ‘Ah, I see this all the time, so what does it matter?’ Like many people take their wives for granted. They think the wife is a piece of furniture. Only now and then must he polish it up with some good words. And they polish it up and shine it a little and they have their way out of it, they get the service they want and then let it rust again, polishing it again when necessary. Some wives do that to the husband – that’s true of course, so it’s vice versa.

Just like that, this book here, when you look at it on the shelf you say, ‘Ah this is a Ramakrishna book’. You take it for granted. You don’t look inside. Because it’s Ramakrishna, because it’s yours – which is familiarity. It doesn’t only breed contempt, it breeds laziness. Now from the Ramakrishna Upanishad…[Swamiji begins reading – book words in italics]

An advaitin [practitioner or aspirant of Advaita Vedanta] once asked the Paramahamsa for his advice on Advaita – the non-dualistic approach to God. Non-dualistic – one without a second. But I don’t like that and I know certain people will jump down my throat because some of the scriptures say ‘one without a second’. But I don’t like that saying. I prefer what Buddha said: ‘It’s not two.’ Now you can imagine in your mind whether it’s one, or more than two, but it’s not two. You can’t say anything about it – what it is, how much it is – you can’t say. Even if you say ‘One’, you reduce it. ‘One’ – the concept. It’s not two. I like Buddha’s saying better than the other saying. ‘Ah…not two.’ What’s it? ‘Non-dualistic means One without a second’. No – not two. That’s all you can say about the Atman – it’s not two. It’s one? I don’t know. It’s two? I don’t know. It’s three? I don’t know. But it’s not two – this I know.

An advaitin once asked the Paramahamsa for his views on Advaita. The advaitin said, ‘Brahman alone is real. The world we see around us is false. This is the true Vedantic view, is it not?’ Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘It is easy to argue and prove that the world around us is false. That it is all an illusion. And that the Supreme Brahman alone is the Truth. But, a logical proof of Brahman as the sole reality does not amount to experience orrealisation of Brahman. Between intellectual knowledge and spiritual experience, there is a world of difference.’

Ramakrishna is saying this. ‘There is a world of difference’. If we know that what is yonder is only a mirage – it’s very important what he’s saying – if we know that what is yonder is only a mirage, we will not seek to get a pot of water from it.

Very practical. If you know that it’s a mirage…suppose you’re walking in a desert and you know that’s a mirage, on seeing the water will you take a pot and run to get the water from it? Think, think, think carefully!

If anyone should ask us to go there for water, we would ridicule him. If we know that what looked like water was only an illusion, we would act accordingly. Act accordingly.

What we do about the mirage depends on whether we know it to be a mirage or not. But – this is not the case in respect of the truth of Advaita. By dialectics [the art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments], we reach the conclusion that the supreme Brahman alone is true. That the jivas and the multi-form things of the universe around us are only an appearance. Are only an?…appearance.

Yet the conclusion does not enter and transform our heart and mind. The conclusion that we have reached intellectually stands apart and does not touch and mould our life. Does not touch and mould our?…lives. It is not yet part of our innermost being. The conclusion that we arrive at by such learning and by much verbal argument remains with us like the burden on a donkey’s back. [Swamiji chuckling] Heh! You reasoned it out that this world is an illusion – but what’s so good about it? He’s saying that if you know it’s a mirage there in the desert, and yet you take a pot running there for water [Swamiji laughing heartily], what’s so good about that reasoning? Huh? You’re not acting accordingly. You’re not acting accordingly.

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