Thai food and yoga

There are people who have been enjoying eating ‘Thai food’ in some restaurants cooked by some chefs who don’t really know what is ‘Thai food’, or the ‘Thai food’ that they have been enjoying eating are being modified and presented differently from the traditional authentic ‘Thai food’ to suit the taste of people who prefer to eat bread and potatoes than rice or noodles, or who aren’t use to spiciness or the intense taste of fish sauce, which is the main ingredient for ‘Thai food’. And one day, they have the opportunity to come to an authentic ‘Thai food’ restaurant and they order some ‘Thai food’ to eat, some would appreciate the authentic taste of ‘Thai food’, and are glad to have tasted the real ‘Thai food’, while some would feel very disappointed as it’s not what they expected, where it’s completely different taste or presentation from the ‘Thai food’ that they usually eat, where the food doesn’t served with bread or potatoes and they don’t like the taste of the authentic ‘Thai food’, and they don’t want to finish the food that they ordered while refuse to pay the bill, or request a partial billing, saying that “Your food is not good. I don’t like your food. At home, our ‘Thai food’ served with some bread or potatoes. Your ‘Thai food’ doesn’t served with bread or potatoes. I don’t want to pay for the food that I didn’t want to finish eating because I don’t like it and it doesn’t served with bread or potatoes.”

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they like and don’t like. There’s nothing wrong with people enjoy eating ‘Thai food’ that is not really ‘Thai food’ and rejecting authentic ‘Thai food’, but one still have to pay for the food that one ordered but didn’t want to finish eating because one didn’t like the taste or there is no bread or potatoes being served.

It’s similar as there are many people have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the world after attended and graduated from some kind of ‘yoga teachers training courses’ and call themselves ‘certified yoga teachers’, but not all these ‘yoga teachers’ are teaching yoga as it is, that allow people to develop the basic understanding about the elimination of ignorance and egoism, to be learning and practicing yoga that is not necessarily pleasant or enjoyable for the body and mind but might be very unpleasant and painful for the impure prideful egoistic mind during the purification process of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism. As a result, many people are learning and practicing what they think is yoga but not really yoga from all these ‘certified yoga teachers’ and they think that is how yoga practice should be done ‘correctly’ as taught by these ‘yoga teachers’.

When these people participated in a ‘yoga retreat’ or ‘yoga course’ that is about yoga and they have the opportunity to come in contact with the yoga practice of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation, about the elimination of ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, of purifying and quieting the restless impure mind for meditation, that is different from the ‘modified yoga asana classes’ that they have been learning from their ‘yoga teachers’ for many years which is nothing to do with the elimination of ignorance and egoism to purify and quiet the mind for meditation, but these ‘yoga classes’ actually empowering the ignorance and egoism through the gratification of the desire of craving and aversion by pampering their body and mind in the enjoyments of the senses, some of them might develop certain degrees of understanding and would appreciate and glad to be learning and practicing yoga as it is, while some might feel greatly disturbed or disappointed and reluctant to continue learning and practicing yoga that is about yoga, and they want to quit the yoga retreat/course because they don’t like the yoga practice that is about yoga, as they refuse to make adjustment to adapt and accommodate to learn the different style of yoga practice being practiced differently from their usual way of practice. Some of them even ask for refund. And when they don’t get the refund as that would be supporting and empowering ignorance which is not yoga practice, they’ll get so angry and would do things with the intention to hurt the yoga teachers or retreat centres. This shows that they never learn what is yoga even though after many years of practicing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way under a particular teacher.

Yoga practice is all about making adjustment to adapt and accommodate condition and situation that the mind doesn’t like, or doesn’t familiar with, or doesn’t feel comfortable with, to allow the mind to be opened, to be able to be peaceful and compassionate under any condition and situation, wherever they are and whatever they are experiencing, being undisturbed by names and forms that the mind doesn’t like, doesn’t want and doesn’t agree with.

As part of the yoga practice, one needs to learn how to let go of attachment and identification towards a particular style of yoga practice that one familiar with that one has been learning and practicing under certain yoga teachers or yoga centres, and learn how to adjust one’s body and mind to adapt and accommodate towards the yoga practice that one doesn’t familiar with or never experience before. If one can only practice yoga of a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way but couldn’t practice yoga anymore when that particular style of yoga in that particular way is not available, then one is not free even though one has been practicing particular style of yoga in a particular way for many years.

Yoga teachers who teach a particular style of yoga in a particular way need to learn how to allow their yoga students to be unattached towards that particular style of yoga being practiced in that particular way. But many ‘yoga teachers’ in the world are not free from ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification, pride and arrogance towards their own particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way. Whether aware or unaware, many yoga teachers implant the strong attachment and identification towards their particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way into their yoga students’ minds, so that the yoga students will be faithful, loyal and supportive towards them and their style of yoga being practiced in a particular way. Those who teach yoga will allow all their students to be unattached towards their particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way, to be open-minded to go out there to learn from some other teachers with other types of different yoga practice and respect all types of different yoga practice even if one finds it challenging to make adjustment to adapt and accommodate the different practices that one doesn’t familiar with, and it doesn’t matter if one isn’t interested in practicing any of those different practices.

Before I left Kuala Lumpur and moved to Langkawi about 10 years ago, I told all the students to continue their practice, either by themselves or continue learning from other yoga teachers, and respect other teachers and their different ways of teaching and practice. Do not compare. They are just being different. More importantly, they might be practicing different style of yoga being practiced in a particular way, but always remember that regardless of all kinds of different style of yoga being practiced in many different ways, there’s only one yoga, the yoga of freeing the mind from ignorance and egoism, to purify and quiet the mind, to realize the truth of impermanence and selflessness, and be free, which is nothing to do with whether one is practicing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way; or one has some physical injuries that limit oneself from performing certain yoga poses; or one is severely physically ill and weak that one couldn’t perform any yoga asana poses at all; or whether the body is able to be completely comfortable while doing certain movements or holding certain poses; or what type of benefits that come from doing particular practices; or whether one knows the names of the poses or the muscles/bones/organs in any particular language; or whether one is able to perform all the yoga poses in ‘perfect alignment’; or how many years one has been performing the yoga practice under particular yoga teacher; or how many years one has been teaching yoga to other people; or whether one has attended many yoga teachers training courses and attaining how many yoga certifications, or not.

In the yoga class, it’s not about performing some yoga asana poses to make the body more healthy and illness-free, or be more strong and flexible, but it’s developing self-awareness, self-discipline, self-control and self-independence, as well as non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation, to know what is going on in the body and mind, and accepting the reality of the physical condition and the state of the mind in the present moment now as it is. It’s about do what the body can do comfortably in the present moment now without forcing the body to go beyond its limitation regardless of whether the body is injury-free, or is suffering from some injuries or sickness. One learns how to make appropriate adjustment to adapt and accommodate the yoga asana or other yoga practice based on the condition of the body and the state of the mind in the present moment now. One doesn’t need to do anything that the body cannot perform in this present moment due to injury or sickness. One can stop and take rest as long as one needs to during a particular practice or in between different practices.

Being unable to perform any yoga asana poses or any form of physical practice due to any physical limitations, or injuries, or sickness, doesn’t stop the mind from performing the formless inner practice of awareness, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation, and realize unconditional peace, and be free.

Most importantly, one is aware of everything is impermanent and selfless, regardless of whether one feels comfortable or uncomfortable during certain practices and whether one can do or couldn’t do certain movements or poses in this present moment. One learns to take full responsibility to look after the well-being of one’s body and mind without expecting somebody else, neither the teacher nor the doctor to look after the well-being of one’s body and mind. No body but oneself, knows directly and instantly what is going on in the body and the mind, not the teacher or the doctor. If there’s pain or discomforts, one do not proceed any further, or one can make some adjustment or modification. If there’s tiredness, one can take rest as long as one needs to.

If one needs to depend on a teacher or a doctor being there to be responsible to look after or supervise the well-being of one’s body and mind all the time, then one will never be able to realize what is yoga, even after many years of practicing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way under the supervision of a particular teacher, expecting the teacher to tell them what they should do and shouldn’t do, and constantly expecting the teacher to check on them, asking them whether they are comfortable, or not, and telling them whether they are doing it nicely, or not, and whether they are good, or not.

Just like a blind person needs to depend on a blind stick to find their way, while other people with healthy vision don’t need to depend on a blind stick to move around. By telling everyone that everyone must carry a blind stick with them in order to move around, or else, without a blind stick everyone can’t go anywhere or will injure themselves, is complete ignorance. And that is what happening in many yoga centres/schools/studios/ashrams with particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way. Without any particular equipment or props that they used to rely on while performing their yoga practice, these yoga students can’t practice yoga anymore, or they find it ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ for not having those equipment or props while performing the yoga practice. These students will never be free from ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification and desire of craving and aversion, even after many years of following these kind of yoga teachers doing a particular style of yoga being practiced in a particular way.

Yoga retreat is not a place for mingling or socializing or interaction, but it’s a great opportunity to practice simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation while living among the society, to be by oneself moving away from worldly social interactions and activities to quiet the restless mind, to be reflecting upon the truth of names and forms, to be aware of the modifications of the mind to know thyself, besides looking after one’s daily duty and responsibility such as maintaining the tidiness and cleanliness of the accommodation/living environment/practice space and looking after one’s daily meals, while dealing with condition and situation that are not necessarily the way that we would like it to be, so that one can perform Yoga Sadhana at home observing simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation while living among the society performing one’s duty and responsibility in everyday life. At one stage, Swami Sivananda walked 15 km everyday to the nearby villages for Biksha (obtaining food by alms) besides performing daily Sadhana and selfless service while living a life of renunciation.

Many ‘yoga retreats’ in the world are not about quieting the restless mind via the practice of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation, but it’s about being in an out of the world environment away from dealing with any duty and responsibility in everyday life, indulging in pleasurable enjoyments of the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and visualization/imagination/anticipation/expectation, gratifying the desires of craving and aversion, promoting mingling and socializing, enjoying all kinds of conveniences of hotel facilities and services, which most worldly minds expect what ‘yoga retreat’ is about. Food is prepared and served by somebody. Cleaning up and laundry are done by somebody. Room tidiness and cleanliness is maintained by somebody. Everyone just needs to enjoy mingling and socializing with the other retreat participants, while indulging in pleasurable yoga activities, spa treatments and all kinds of hotel facilities and services during the retreat.

And this is ‘the world of yoga’ that is supposed to be about living a life of simplicity, self-discipline, self-reliance, dispassion and renunciation from worldly activities/connections/interactions/enjoyments to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, but many people are unaware of the ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga retreats’ that they have been attending are not about Yoga Sadhana to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, but it’s actually empowering ignorance and egoism instead.

It’s everyone’s freedom whether to practice yoga as it is, or not.

 

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Subtle greed towards developing connections

There is this teaching that some yoga practitioners/teachers might have neglected –

不要攀缘 也不要贪缘

It means – Do not greed for developing or building connections

Because ‘developing or building connections’ with as many beings as possible or 结缘 is being perceived in the world as something good and righteous, such as ‘performing good actions’ and ‘sharing something good with others’ will bring friendship, love, support, help, happiness, prosperity and meaningfulness in return, quite many yoga practitioners/teachers are not aware of the subtle greed towards developing or building connections with as many beings as possible for many ‘good reasons’.

In the world of business, career or entertainment, people have the need to develop or build as many ‘good connections’ or ‘friendships’ as possible in order to attain the highest success in life, career or business. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just that it can become an obstacle on the path of yoga towards the annihilation of ignorance and egoism. Some yoga practitioners/teachers are not aware of the mind is being over-powered by the subtle spiritual greed to build ‘yoga schools’, or ‘yoga centres’, or ‘yoga ashrams’, or ‘yoga empire’. The mind would think that it’s for the sake of ‘sharing yoga’ with as many people as possible. It’s a great teaching why Swami Sivananda mentioned that – “Do not build ashrams. Do not hoard disciples. Do not associate. Live alone. Walk alone. Eat alone. Meditate alone.”

“I am kind to others so that they will also be kind to others.” This is not yoga, even though there’s nothing bad or wrong with that. There’s egoism of attachment, identification, desire and intention or expectation towards something that the mind perceives as ‘good’ and ‘right’. The mind is not free.

Contemplate on this teaching and be free from the subtle greed towards connections building. Be free from the longing for friendship, love, support, help, happiness, prosperity or meaningfulness deriving from ‘performing good actions’ and ‘sharing something good with others’. Be free from intention or aspiration. One might be ‘performing good actions’ and ‘sharing something good with others’, but all actions are intention-less. It’s free from the subtle/hidden greed or craving towards developing or building ‘good connections’ with as many beings as possible.

Just be kind to others. Whether other people want to be kind to others, or not, that’s their freedom.

Just do good in the world. Whether the world will be good, or not, allow it to be what it is, as it is.

Sadhana advice from Swami Sivananda (3)

Excerpt from Essence of Vedanta

Fitness for Wisdom

One who is fit for receiving Wisdom of the Self shall receive it ‘in due time.’ Self-effort and passage of time work simultaneously and one cannot be distinguished from the other, for Providence and Personal exertion cannot be separated as they both work simultaneously and are interdependent. Rather, these are only two names for one and the same force of action.

Sri Sankaracharya had already exhorted that one has to undergo the disciplinary stages of Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Sraddha, Samadhana, and Mumukshutva before getting initiate into the mystery of Existence. One should not be initiated into the Truth of the Absolute unless he is found well developed in all these qualities.

Nowadays generally we find that aspirants do not have a strong desire for liberation. They may have a ray of Viveka and Vairagya of a mild variety. But it is very difficult to find an aspirant who cares for nothing but final Emancipation, who treats the whole world and its contents as mere straw, who meditates incessantly upon how to attain Salvation from embodied existence.

It is not easy to understand the meaning of Liberation.

How can it be possible for raw men of the world to realise the nullity of earthly existence and of worldly activities? Even advanced aspirants sometimes have got strong desire for doing something wonderful in this world, something which none has done before. Such people cannot have a real desire for Liberation. And such people are unfit for receiving Brahma Vidya.

It is only the Uttama-Adhikari, the best qualifier, who cares for nothing, who is totally indifferent to the ways of the world, who is ever silent and serene due to the dawn of proper knowledge, who is ever the same among the diverse men of the world, who is undisturbed by the distracted activity of the world, who is calm and peaceful, who has withdrawn himself from the bustle of life, who cares not for either death or life, who is unmindful of what is happening in the world, who is careless towards either this or that, that is really fit to receive the Ultimate wisdom of the Absolute!

Even if there is the slightest desire lurking inside other than the Realisation of the Absolute, the man will not be able to comprehend the true import of the Vedantic instructions by the Spiritual Teacher (Preceptor). He will have thousands of doubts and distractions in the mind which will entirely pull him down from the Vedantic Meditation.

A person should be desire for nothing else, than the realisation of Brahman. There should be no other thought throughout the day than of the way of attaining Self-realisation.

Every thought, every speech, every action, nay, every breath of the person should illustrate the method of realising the Absolute. Such a person is fit to receive Vedantic Wisdom.

Withdrawal From Multiplicity

Self-restraint is the opposite of self-expression. The latter tends towards Pravritti or life in the variegated Samsara, and the former leads to the Highest Integration through Nivritti of stepping back to Truth.

The creative diversifying power is turned in and sublimated into the spiritual splendour.

The withdrawal from multiplicity and centring oneself in Unity is effected through self-restraint which is the austere transformation of the creative objective force into the conscious Power that causes the blossoming of the sense of individual finitude into the expanse of objectless consciousness.

Variety is the meaning of manifestation. Every individual force is a copy of the limitless creative force and the natural tendency of this energy is to move towards the creation of multiplicity. This is the reason why the control of the action of creativity is found to be difficult in the case of those who are tied to individual physicality. An individual finds it hard to properly direct the cosmic habit unless he takes recourse to process of Spiritual Realisation. A spiritual Sadhaka goes to the source of this objectified energy and compel the force to diffuse itself in the serene Ground-Noumenon.

A person who has let loose the flow of the creative force gets entangled in the process of multiple-creation and ever remains away from the knowledge of the Non-Dual Truth of his Eternal Self. This is the root-background of the universal ethics that self-control is imperative to a seeker after the Absolute Reality.

Those who have discriminatively grasped the spiritual character of human life refrain from the instinctive practice of self-multiplication and devote themselves to the glorious task of directing the potential energy to conscious contemplation on the Spiritual Ideal through the triple transformation of the active emotional and intellectual aspects of the general human nature.

Such integrated persons possess a mighty power of understanding, analysis and meditation.

The Chhandogya Upanishad says that when purity and Sattva are increased, there is a generation of immense memory which paves the way to the shattering open of the knot of self.

The most intricate technic of the art of Self-realisation is mastered by the genius of an austere who has learnt to expand his formative lower into the plenitude of limitless life. Such austere spiritual beings flow with the lustrous spiritual strength which handles with ease even the most formidable of the diversifying forces of nature.

Fear is unknown to them and their divinised energy is centred in the Self to be utilised in transcending the realm of the ego-sense. They establish themselves in the unbroken vow of leaping over phenomenon into the heart of Existence. Such is the glory of self-restraint!

The control of the objective instincts is the preparation for world-renunciation in the quest of the Ultimate Essence. An abandonment of earthly nature effected by a distaste for particularities is what marks the character of a true austere Sadhaka. He should not enter the household, for, his path leads to Unity and not the creative social activity.

Alone and unfriended should he carry on the duty of Self-integration through unceasing selflessness and remembrance of the Divine Ideal. Selfless service polishes the self and rubs the ego and thus renders the person fit for the higher life of Dhyana and Brahma-Chintana.

A cutting off from acquaintance with relatives is necessary, for, Nivritti-Marga does not allow of any transient connections.

Sadhana advice from Swami Sivananda (2)

Excerpt from Essence of Vedanta by Swami Sivananda

In one sense from the highest viewpoint, all the leaders of the world are wasting their time, life and energy. Had they directed their energy and mind towards Yoga and transcendental Atma Svarajya, they would have become great divinities on this earth and done more spiritual good to the world. These great men would have taken to Nivritti already, had they really understood the glory and necessity of Nivritti Marga, had they come in contact with great sages, had they a real grasp of the purpose of life, goal and the nature of the Svarupa of the Atman, mind and the world.

A little comfortable living, a little bread with butter and jam cannot relieve the sufferings of the people, cannot give salvation or Absolute Independence and Freedom to them, cannot remove ignorance, the root cause of all human miseries and of births and deaths. Wise men, with great talents, should attempt to give spiritual food to the people and make their lives lofty, worthy, sublime and grand and make them immortal.

Even if all the leaders are taken out of the world now, the world will run on smoothly, probably more smoothly. Even if all the people retire into the forest, the world will go on.

Poor worldlings! One would think that they have taken a contract with Brahma that they will procreate children in this world and take care of it!

The world is unreal. All are born to die only. All are illusory in this world.

Egoism deludes people. Though the world is nothing, it deceives the worldly man into thinking that it is everything. It is associated with ‘mineness’. This egoism is born of Avidya (ignorance). It springs from conceit. Vanity fosters it. It is the greatest enemy ever known. The secret of renunciation is the renunciation of egoism. Ahamkara or ego is the direst of diseases. He who is free from egoism is ever happy and peaceful. Desires multiply and expand on account of egoism. This inveterate enemy has spread about man the enchantments of wives, friends, children, relatives, whose spells are hard to break.

This world is a manifestation of this mind only. All pains are generated through the mind only. If this mind is annihilated through discrimination and Atmic enquiry, all pains, along with this world will vanish.

Desire is the cause of rebirths and all sorts of pains, miseries and sorrows of this earth.

The body has a tendency to rot. Egoism lives in this body as the master with avarice as the mistress. The body is in reality a pot of filth. The shining skin is subject to wrinkles in old age. Fie and shame on them who have mistaken this body for the immortal Pure Soul and rely on it for their happiness and peace!

This body appears only in the present. A thing, that has neither past nor future must be considered as non-existent in the present also. If you think over this matter more deeply with Suddha-Buddhi or pure intellect, you will find Atyanta-Abhava or complete non-existent of the world.

“Nothing on this earth belongs to me! This body even is not mine.” This is true wisdom. “He is my son. She is my daughter. She is my wife. That bungalow is mine. I am rich. I am a Kshatriya. I am a Brahmin. I am lean. I am fat.” This is foolishness of a superior order. This body is the rightful property of fishes, jackals and vultures. How can you call this as yours?

In this scientific era – the age of the so-called modern civilisation – greed, passion, selfishness are increasing day by day, nay, hour by hour. One nation wants to devour another nation. Man has lost his manliness. The son drags his father to the courts for the division of property. The wife divorces her husband and marries another, if he happens to be more rich, more beautiful and younger. The younger brother poisons his elder brother to take possession of the estate. You see cruelty, dishonesty, injustice and atrocity everywhere. No one keeps his promise. The father has no faith in the son. The wife has no faith in the husband and vice versa.

There is no end of craving (Trishna) in the life of a worldly man. That is the reason why a worldly man is ever restless despite his wealth and comforts. There is always dissatisfaction with his lot. He is ever discontented. Before one craving is satisfied another craving is ready to occupy his mind, and this craving agitates the mind and makes a constant demand for gratification. He forgets his real divine nature and plunges himself in the ocean of Samsara (worldliness).

If you place the worldly-minded persons in the company of saints, Yogins and Sannyasins, in solitary places with charming sceneries, they can never live in peace. They will feel as if they are fish taken out of water.

Sages compare a worldly-mined man to a street-dog, or a pig that eats filth, or a worm that revels in rubbish. The comparison is very very apt, indeed!

O worldly-minded persons! Wake up from the deep of dark ignorance! Open your eyes now. Stand up and acquire the knowledge of the Self. Approach the Brahmanishtha Guru. Attain Absolute Independence of Kaivalya. Merge yourself in the State of Satchidananda.

A worldly man kills himself by clinging to things unreal. That man who does not struggle to attain Self-realisation, although he possesses knowledge of the scriptures, human body, youth, energy and other conveniences, commits suicide. His lot is very miserable. What greater fool is there than this man who neglects the goal of life? That man who does not care to make enquiry of ‘who am I?’ ‘what is the goal?’ ‘how to attain the goal?’ is really a great fool, although he may be endowed with high secular knowledge.

Imagine for a moment that your skin and flesh are inverted and exposed. Then some one will have to stand always with a long hill-stick to drive off cows and jackals. Why do you have Moha (infatuated love) for this dirty body? Why do you apply perfumes? Are you not a big fool? Get Jnana. You are the Atman, ever pure and Effulgent.

Birth is suffering; disease is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, grief, pain, lamentations are suffering; union with unpleasant objects is suffering; separation from the beloved objects is suffering; unsatisfied desires are suffering. O man! Is there any real pleasure or happiness in this world?

Why do you cling onto all these mundane objects? Why do you stroll about here and there like a street-dog in search for happiness in this earth-plane? Search within. Look within and introspect and rest in the Supreme Abode of Peace and Immortality now. Realise now and be free.

Lust invariably leads to extreme suffering on the impediment of senses in old age.

Nobody has been benefited in this world by this Maya. People invariably weep in the end.

The worldly man never comes to the senses although he gets severe knocks, kicks and blows from different corners. The strolling street-dog never stop visiting the houses even though pelted with stones every time.

The whole world is a ball of fire though there are the so-called charming sceneries of Mayaic illusion. The whole world is a huge furnace wherein all living creatures are being roasted.

Lord Buddha says: “On the whole, life is a sorrow.” Patanjali Maharshi in his Yoga Sutras says: “Sarvam Duhkham Vivekinah” – “All indeed is pain to a person of discrimination.” Just as a fish in its desire to eat flesh does not see the hook that lies beneath, so as man in his passionate desire to get sensual pleasure does not see the noose of death.

Pleasure is not in the objects; it is in the imagination or inclination of the mind. Mango is not sweet but imagination makes it sweet. Woman is not beautiful, but imagination renders her so. An ugly woman appears very beautiful to her husband because his imagination is beautiful. There is a grain of pleasure in objects, but the pain that is mixed with it is of the size of a big mountain.

Sensual pleasure is tantalising. There is enchantment so long as man does not possess the desired object. The moment he is in possession of the object, the charm vanishes. He finds that he is in an entanglement. The rich but childless man thinks he will be more happy by getting a son; he worries himself day and night to get a son, goes on pilgrimage to Ramesvaram and Kasi and performs various religious ceremonies. But when he gets a child, he feels miserable. The child suffers from epileptic fits, and his money is given away to doctors. Even then there is no cure. This is Mayaic jugglery. The whole world is fraught with temptation.

The cause of pain is love of pleasure. The cause of death is love of sensual life. Death is a horrible thing to him who is intensely attached to sensual life. Words like cremation, murder, death, corpse, burial, make the sensualist shudder at heart; for he is extremely attached to the body and the objects of the senses. “How to part with the sensual objects?” is his great cause of misery. Pity!

The body is the first Mayaic knot or tie. Wife is the second knot round the neck. Son is the third knot round the waist. Daughter is the fourth knot round the knee. Grandson is the fifth knot round the ankle. He who has cut asunder these knots or ties and who has no Moha is really a strong and powerful man (Dhira).

All hope of happiness in this world terminate in pain, despair and sorrow. Pleasure is mixed with pain. Beauty is mixed with ugliness. Kindness is mixed with anger and harsh words. There is no real prop in this world to lean upon. Sensual indulgence brings diseases, exhaustion, weakness, and loss of vigor. The sensual objects destroy the whole man, and he has no help from any quarter of this earth. Fair sex infatuates. Money and power fill the mind with hollowness and vanity! There is often war between nations. There is no peace anywhere. Trust not this illusory world.

Go wherever you may, to Gulmarg or Pahalgaon in Kashmir, to Darjeeling or Simla, to Vienna or the Alps. It is all the same. You will not find any real rest. The charming scenery may soothe the retina for a second. Raga, Dvesha, jealousy, passion and greed are everywhere. You will finds the same earth, the same sky, the same air and the same water. And you carry with you the same mind. Imagination and change of places have deceived not a few.

Friends! Is there not a higher mission in life than eating, sleeping, drinking and talking?

An ignorant worldly man says, “I have to do my duties. I have to educate my four sons and three daughters. I have to please my boss. I have got heavy duties in the office. I have to remit money to my widowed sister. I have a large family. I have six brothers and five sisters. Where is the time for me to do Sandhya Vandana and Japa and study religious books? There is no time for breathing even. I have no leisure. Even on holidays I have to work. Even on Sundays I have to worry myself with work. I bring office-papers to my house and work at night till the small hours of the morning. I do not want Yoga. This office-work and the maintenance of my family is itself a great duty or Yoga.”

Do you call this duty? It is mere slavery. It is a work of a coolie. It is mere bondage. The man is in fear every moment. Even in dreams he meets his office-mates and his boss and posts figures in the ledger. This is not a right sense of duty. He takes tea, eats food, and sits at the table for writing, sleeps and procreates. His whole life passes away like this. This is not duty. This is gross delusion. This is foolishness. This is selfishness. This is work for gain and satisfaction of lower appetites. Anything done under compulsion and expectation of rewards is not duty. You must not take as duty works done from attachment, greed or passion.

You have travelled in many countries, fed your dear relatives, and amassed immense wealth. Yet, of what avail are these, O friend? You have not realised the Blissful Brahman.

Desire for name and fame, infatuated love for the body, desire for vast erudition, are stumbling blocks in the attainment of the Self-knowledge. He who wants to free himself from Samsara should annihilate the desire for these mundane things.

Who are you? Who am I? Where from have we come? Who is mother? Who is father? Think deeply in these. Leave off this world, which is a dream, and seek the One, Eternal, Undivided Essence of Brahman.

Friends! Is there any limit to the number of fathers, mothers, wives, sons, daughters, uncles and aunts you have had in the countless incarnations in the past? And yet the clinging to these false relationships has not gone. Discrimination has not yet dawned. What a great pity it is!

The attraction for external objects ceases; but there yet remains the internal craving or sense of hankering or thirsting, which is called Trishna.

You have spent eight hours in sleep, and the rest of the day in idle gossiping, telling lies, deceiving others, in selfish activities, in amassing wealth. How can you expect spiritual good, how can you expect immortality and peace, if you do not spend even half an hour in the service of the Lord, in singing his names and in divine contemplation?

Will your son or daughter or friend or relative help you, when you are about to die? Will they accompany you to share your miseries? Have you got one sincere, unselfish friend in all this world? All are selfish! There is no pure love. But that Lord, your real Friend of friends, Father of fathers, who dwells in your heart, will never forsake you, though you may forget Him. Adore Him in silence, that God of gods, that Divinity of divinities, the Highest of the high. May He bless you with His love, Wisdom, Power and Peace!

The Rishis and the Seers tapped the source through living the Truth. They had deep penetration into the Truth through the eye of wisdom or intuition in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. They did rigorous Tapas and intense meditation. They disciplined the outgoing senses and led a virtuous life. They were absolutely moral and righteous. They developed all the qualities of the heart. They practised dispassion and renunciation. They had no attachment for mundane things. They kicked off ruthlessly all wealth, relatives, wife, family, children, position and status. They embraced poverty, purity and austerity. They lived in forests. They ate fruits and roots. They breathed pure air. They lived on the banks of the Ganga amidst Himalayan scenery, which had, and has, high spiritual vibrations. They did not live in Mount Road or the Mall.

All the things of this world pertaining to men are attended with fear; renunciation alone stands for fearlessness. Shun honour, respect, degrees, name, fame, power, position and titles. They are absolutely worthless. They will not give you eternal satisfaction. They will only intensify your vanity. They are all intoxicants of the mind. They bring misery and mental disturbance.

In the Vishnupurana it is said: “If the deluded fool loves the body, a mere collection of flesh, blood, pus, faeces, urine, muscles, fats and bones, he will verily love hell itself! To him who is not disgusted with the nasty smell from his body, what other argument need to be abduced for detachment?” It is needless and useless to say more.

Knowledge of the Self or Brahma Jnana is more precious and important than the kingdom of all the worlds.

If you do not possess Viveka, if you do not try your extreme level best for the attainment of Salvation, if you spend your whole lifetime in eating, drinking, sleeping, marrying, divorcing and propagating the race, how are you better than an animal? As a matter of fact, they are better than you! You will have to sit at the feet of the animals and learn a few several lessons from them. Even animals possess self-restraint to an astounding degree. O man! where has your self-restraint gone?

O man! Never say; “My body, my son, my wife, my house, my property, my garden, etc.” Attachment is the root cause of the innumerable miseries and troubles of this world. Discipline your mind well, realise the illusory nature of all that appears here in this world.

Renunciation comes only to those who were once kings in their previous births, who developed discrimination between the real and the unreal in their previous births, who have done meritorious actions in their previous births, who led the life of a Sannyasin in several births. Only those who have tremendous will-power, spiritual strength, dispassion, discrimination, and who thirst for salvation can renounce the world. Renunciation demands superhuman strength. Renunciation or Sannyasa is stern stuff.

After all, what is this world? It is like a footprint of a calf when compared to the Infinite Brahman or the Absolute. It is a small bubble in the ocean of Existence. It is less than an atom. The worthless nature of the joys of this world is already known to a Viveki or a man of discrimination or an aspirant or an ordinary worldly man even in whom there is not even an iota of spiritual awakening or a little opening of the eye of wisdom.

The Upanishads emphatically declare: “Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham – Naalpe Sukhamasti!” You cannot have real happiness in this world. The real ‘Santi’, is Peace which the mind is hankering after is only to be found in the ‘Bhuma’. Bhuma is unconditioned, beyond time, beyond space and causation. Bhuma, the Great, is freedom, – freedom from the trammels of flesh, freedom from the tricks of the mind, freedom from the plays of delusion. Bhuma is perfection, beyond all limitations. Bhuma is Brahman, the eternal Absolute! You will have to remember all this constantly. You will have to write this and read this, talk of this and preach this, meditate on this and live in this, ‘Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham.’

Sadhana advice from Swami Sivananda

If you give up idle talk and gossiping and idle curiosity to hear rumours and news of others and if you do not meddle with the affairs of others you will have ample time to do meditation.

Environments are not bad but your mind is bad. Your mind is not disciplined properly. Do not complain against bad environments but complain first against your own mind.

Train your mind first. If you practice concentration amidst unfavorable environments, you will grow strong, you will develop your will force quickly, you will become a dynamic personality.

Know things in their proper light. Do not be deluded. Emotion is mistaken for devotion. Violent jumping in the air during Sankirtan for divine ecstasy. Falling down in a swoon on account of exhaustion from too much jumping for Bhava Samadhi. Rajasic restlessness and motion for divine activities and Karma Yoga. A Tamasic man for a Sattvic man. Movement of air in rheumatism in the back for ascent of Kundalini. Tandri and deep sleep for Samadhi. Manorajya or building castles in the air for meditation. Physical nudity for Jivanmukta state. Learn to discriminate and become wise.

Do not utter such words as are calculated to bring your own self-glorification. You must forget at once what is bad. But you must not forget any good done to you by others. There is no expiation for that man who is ungrateful. Forget your good qualities. Forget the bad qualities of others. Forget the enmity of those who are inimical to you. Forget the good actions that you have done to others.

Do not be afraid of any other devil. Fear itself is the greatest devil. Kill this devil first. All other devils will take to their heels. All troubles are only imaginary. Fear comes of ignorance. There is fear where there is duality.

When you remain in the world, association with worldly persons is unavoidable. Cut short the conversation and the period of mixing with them.

The worldly duties are not ties. The world is the best teacher. You are not require to renounce the world and take shelter in the Himalayan cave to claim back your lost divinity. The world cannot stand in the way of your God-realisation. Live in the world but allow not the world to live in you. He, who living in the midst of temptations of the world attains perfection, is true hero.

If a yogi or a Sannyasin who is able to keep up serenity of mind while living in a cave in the forest, complains of disturbance of mind when he lives in the bustle of a city, he has no control of mind. He has no inner spiritual strength. He is not a practical Vedantin. He has no Self-realisation. He has not attained the goal of life. He is still within the domain of Maya.

A real yogi or a practical Vedantin is one who can keep perfect calmness of mind while performing intense activities amidst the bustle of a city. This is the central teaching of the Gita.

By destroying Vasanas and Sankalpas, you melt or annihilate the mind. By annihilating the mind, you kill egoism. By killing egoism, you know the Self. By knowing the Self you attain Self-realisation. By attaining Self-realisation you become free from all sorts of pains, tribulations and miseries. You enjoy supreme unalloyed bliss of the eternal and become That.

Destroy the Vasanas (of body, world and booklore). Withdraw the mind. Identified yourself with the Sakshi (silent witness of the mind).

You cannot wash the mind with soap and water to get rid of its impurities but if you eradicate desires and attachment, the mind will be purified of itself.

This Atman is Silence. The best conception of God is ‘Silence’. Therefore learn to be silent. Make the mind silent, waveless, thoughtless and desireless. This is real silence.

The world is a big wheel. It is revolving unceasingly. The mind is the nave of this wheel. Those who are egoistic, proud, passionate and greedy are caught up in this wheel. If you can stop the mind from moving, the world-wheel will come to a standstill and you will be freed from the round of births and deaths. If you wish to stop the mind from moving, you will have to annihilate egoism, pride, desire and greed.

Truth dawns by itself upon the mind of the tranquil who are equally good and friendly to all beings. Tranquillity of the mind is attained by eradication of desires and thoughts. Mind is agitated by desires and thoughts. When desires and thoughts are controlled, the mind becomes as calm as the lake which is not agitated by the winds. Tranquillity cannot be attained within a week or a month. Practice for a long time is essential.

Do not enter into heated discussion with people. Restrain the senses. Annihilate Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes). Extend compassion to all creatures. You will soon attain immortality.

A real aspirant who thirst for Self-realisation should be absolute honest in every dealing. Honesty is not only the best policy in him, but also a strict rule of daily conduct.

Life is not a misery. One should live for hundred years by performing action without attachment. Life is not a bondage when it is looked with the proper light. Such a man of proper knowledge looks on all beings as his own Self and his self as all beings. To him everything is his own Self, and he is not affected by grief, delusion or sorrow of any kind.

The Atman is not born, nor does it dies. It has not come from anywhere and it has not become anything. Unborn, constant, eternal, primeval, this one is not slain when the body is slain. This Atman is hidden in the deep core of the heart of beings. It cannot be attained by any amount of reasoning, study or instruction. It comes only through the Supreme grace. A man of bad conduct, who has not ceased from crookedness, cannot hope to attain the Atman.

The road to Supreme is clothed with pricking thorns. It is sharp like the edge of a razor, hard to tread, a very difficult path! It can be trodden only with the help of knowledge obtained from men of wisdom. Knowing That, one is liberated from the terrible mouth of death.

The mind and the senses always run outwards. Only the man of self-discipline and perseverance can gaze inward and experience the state of Atman as it really is. The childish who have no knowledge of the Truth, run after external pleasures and they fall into the widespread of death. Only the wise, knowing the state of Immortality, seek not the stable Brahman among things which are impermanent here.

The Atman or the Brahman has no connection with the world of change. The goodness, the light, the pleasure and the beauty of the world is not to be found there even in name. That State is experienced when the senses cease to work together with the mind and when the intellect does not move, and when there is mere consciousness. When all desires which are lodged in the heart are liberated, then the mortal becomes immortal. Herein he attains Brahman.

Brahman is Truth, Knowledge, Infinity, Bliss. Brahman is Bhuma where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else and understands nothing else. It rests on nothing else. On it everything else rests. One who knows this rejoices in his own Self and rests contented in his own Self.

Sacrifice cannot bring salvation. They are mere temptations which bind one to birth and death. The deluded people think that mere sacrifice and charity constitute eternal blessedness. They are mistaken. What is not the effect of action is not attained by any amount of action. Brahman which is not done cannot be attained by what is done. Having scrutinised the nature of the world, a wise man should arrive at indifference and dispassion. He must approach a preceptor and learn Brahma-Vidya from him. Such a fortunate soul rends asunder the knot of ignorance.

There is no other duty for man except meditation on the Self. Dismissing all else, one should establish himself in the Self. There remains nothing to be done or attained, when the Self is experienced. There is nothing but Brahman. All this is Brahman.

Existence alone was in the beginning. This was one alone without a second. From that everything else was produced. The modifications of it are only apparent. There is no world except mere names and forms, mysteriously connected with one another. There is no sun or moon except mere colours or fictitious forms. When the colours are distinguished, the sun loses it sunhood, the moon loses its moonhood, things loses their thingness. Brahman alone exists.

The Self alone is dear. One who loves something other than the Self loses what he loves. The Self is the Absolute. One who knows this becomes indestructible. He is only a beast who considers he and his God are different. Not for the sake of this all this is dear, but for the sake of the Self this all is dear. By knowing that Self, everything else becomes automatically known, for the Self indeed is this all.

The Self is an ocean without a shore and a surface. It is mere Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. Where there is duality as it were, one can speak to the other, see the other and understand the other, but where everything is just one’s own Self, then who can speak to whom, who can see whom, who can understand whom? This is the Supreme end. That is the Supreme blessing. That is the Supreme Bliss. On a part of this Bliss other creatures are living.

He who is without desire, who is freed from desire, whose desire is satisfied, whose desire is the Self – his Pranas do not depart. He being Brahman Itself, becomes Brahman immediately.

One who sees His own Atman in all beings, and all beings in his own Atman – he becomes fearless. He is not deluded by the objects of the senses. He is not particularly attached to any object or being. Time and space bow before him and withdraw. He lives in the one Great Present. There is neither a past nor a future for him. There is neither a ‘here’ not a ‘there’.

The apparent change does not belong to the Atman. Nay, even death is not the end. It is but another apparent change. Life continues beyond. Man sleeps with one encasement and wakes up after a short while with another encasement! Death has lost its dread for him! He has achieved the impossible – he has eluded the grasp of Death itself!

The senses have been created with a natural tendency to flow out towards the objective universe. This externalisation dissipates the rays of the mind, weaken the intellect and blind the eyes of intuitive perception. Unity is falsely represented as diversity, the untrue appears to be True, pain appears to be pleasure, and shadows holds out greater charms that the Substance Itself. This is the path of ‘Preya’ (the Pleasant) which the dullwitted ignorant man pursues.

The Atman is Akarta, non-doer. It is Abhokta, non-enjoyer! Realisation of this Truth enables man to transcend Samsara or the cycle of births and deaths.

Renunciation is necessary, but inner renunciation born out of true knowledge that the Atman is Akarta and Abhokta, and that it is not affected by the actions of the sense-organs, is considered preferable to external renunciation of physical actions. Man should perform his duties, in the proper spirit. Such actions do not bind him, but on the other hand they help him to liberate himself.

The deluded attachment to men and women, friends and relatives, money and gold, has to be ruthlessly burnt to ashes! All the so-called duties of the world have to be kicked away for the sake of that glorious state of Self-realisation.

Kick off the world ruthlessly. Enough of tea and coffee, enough of soda, lemonade and crushes, enough of novels and cinemas, enough of races and aeroplanes, enough of father, mother, brothers, children, friends and relatives! You came alone and you will go alone.

A worldly-minded fashionable wife (or husband) is a sharp knife to cut off the life of the husband (or wife). Be wedded to Santi and have Vairagya as as the sons, and Viveka the magnanimous daughter and eat the delicious divine fruit of Atma Jnana which can make you immortal!

Application of soap to the body, oil to the hair, powder to the face, looking into the mirror a thousand and one times a day, wearing rings on the fingers – these and many like these will intensify your attachment to the body. Therefore give up all these things ruthlessly.

The cause of pain is love of pleasure. The cause of death is love of sensual life. Death is a horrible thing to him who is intensely attached to sensual life. Words like cremation, murder, death, corpse, burial, make the sensualist shudder at heart, for he is extremely attached to the body and the objects of the senses. “How to part with the sensual objects?” is his great cause of misery. Pity!

According to vedanta, annihilation of Adviya or ignorance leads to Samadhi. According to Patanjali Rishi, the aspirant attains Samadhi by removing the hold of Prakriti by practice and discipline.

The Vedantin enjoys the eternal bliss and natural easiness of Sahaja Samadhi. He remains as Sakshi or silent witness. He does not make any serious attempt to control the psychic stream or thought-current. He raises the Brahmakara Vritti by meditating on the significance of “Tat Tvam Asi” Mahavakya.

The Samadhi in the Jnani is effortless and spontaneous. Wherever the mind goes, there it experiences Samadhi. He rests in Samadhi always. There is no “In Samadhi” and “Out of Samadhi” for a sage. He enjoys freedom, bliss and peace, in all moments of his life.

Yogic Samadhi is analytical and discriminative. In this Samadhi greater stress is laid upon the discrimination between the Prakriti and the Purusha. In Jnana Samadhi, no discrimination is needed. Brahmakara Vritti, raised by an attempt to become identical with the Supreme Self or Brahma Chintana, destroys Avidya and dies by itself.

No more words. Enough of discussions and heated debates. Retire into a solitary room. Close your eyes. Have deep silent meditation. destroy the Sankalpas, thoughts, whims, fancies and desires when they arise from the surface of the mind.

You are left alone now. You have nothing to see and nothing to hear. There is none to cheer you. You will have to depend on yourself. Do not look backward. Forget the past. Forget the body and the world.

“Gathering his mind, the Yogi should retire to a mountain-cave, a temple or a secluded room. He should not associate with anything through mind, speech and action, for accumulation of and association with things cause misery to Yogis. He should cultivate indifference towards everything. He should be regular about his diet. Worldly gain should cause him no pleasure, nor worldly loss any sorrow. He should look upon one with an equal eye, both who censures him and one who bows before him. Whether good is happening to anybody or evil, he should not reflect. When there is gain he should not be besides himself with joy, nor should he worry when there is loss. He should look upon all beings with an equal eye and should remain unattached like the air. He who thus keeps his mind in health, works for others, cultivates an equal eye towards everything and everybody and lives for six months a regular disciplined life, can realise Brahman and attain Brahmanhood (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) himself.” (Mahabharata – Santi-Parva)

“Humility, unpretentiousness, harmlessness, forgiveness, rectitude, service of the teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control, dispassion towards the objects of the senses, insight into the pain and evil of birth, death, old age and sickness, unattachment, absence of self-identification with son, wife, or home, and constant balance of mind in wished-for and unwished-for events, unflinching devotion to Me by Yoga, without other objects, resort to sequestered places, absence of enjoyment in the company of men, constancy in the wisdom of the Self, understanding the object of essential wisdom, that is declared to be real wisdom, all else is ignorance.” (Bhagavadgita)