|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Unit - 18
Lesson - 1808: What is the Path and the Destination?
By Raja Subramaniyan
Lord Krishna gives the summary of the process of gaining the knowledge, the knowledge and the benefit of gaining the knowledge.
Process of gaining the knowledge on the absolute.
Bhakthi Yoga is the only path to gain the knowledge of the absolute.
Teaching 126: Bhakthi Yoga comprising of Karma Yoga, Upasana Yoga and Jnana Yoga is the only path to know Brahman
This Bhakthi Yoga is divided into five steps as described below:
Step 1: Karma Yoga
Instead of working and worshiping, convert the work as worship.
Do all the prescribed duties as a dedication to God.
Accept all the results as a gift from God.
All the actions should be according to Dharma.
Complete all the duties disregarding likes and dislikes.
Can do whatever we want as long as they are not Adharma.
Moderate and avoid over indulgence in sense pleasures.
All of us have the intelligence to discriminate good from the bad. However, this intelligence is blinded by our accumulated preferences (likes and dislikes). Karma Yoga is done for reducing the influence of our likes and dislikes. Once we do Karma Yoga for a length of time, our natural intelligence will be able to function well and show us the limitations of the objects of the world. We will be able to free ourselves from the frenzy of action in our material pursuit. We will be attracted towards God.
Teaching 127: Karma yoga is to dedicate all the physical action to God and accept the results as a gift from God
Then we will be ready for the next step.
Step 2: Upasana Yoga
While Karma Yoga revolves around physical action, Upasana Yoga is about mental action. After completing Karma Yoga, we will be able to sit quietly in a place and spend time on refining our mind.
Teaching 128: Upasana Yoga is pure mental action to refine our mind by aligning the five layers of our personality
Upasana Yoga involves
Upasana Yoga requires a very small portion of our day and therefore it can be commenced while we continue to spend most of our time and energy towards the material pursuit.
Upasana Yoga will refine our mind progressively and it will be ready to receive the knowledge. We will gain complete control over our sense organs and the mind. All our five layers of personality (Physical Layer, Physiological Layer, Psychological Layer, Intellectual Layer and Spiritual Layer) will be aligned.
We will be able to direct our mind to concentrate on what we want it to do for a length of time. Earlier the mind will be absorbed in work only if it likes the work. After Upasana Yoga, we can choose what we want to do and the mind will obey.
Slowly from self-centeredness and family-mindedness, we will move towards thinking about the welfare of the world. Our mind will be expanded to see the vastness of the creation and our minor role in it. We will then be interested in God, the creator of the universe.
When we develop a deep desire to know God, it is time to move from Upasana Yoga to the next step.
Step 3: Jnana Yoga - I (Inquiry of the Holy Scriptures)
The only source that can describe God is our Holy Scriptures. The only way to understand the content of the Holy Scripture is to listen to a competent teacher.
The subject matter of the Vedanta is three fold. They talk about the living beings, the world and the God.
One should systematically study the Vedanta for a length of time under a competent live teacher until the central message is clearly understood. While listening to the teacher we should not filter the message according to our past understanding of the subject. We should be completely open and should not remember or recall what we already know until we complete the process of listening.
When we enter this step, we should be willing to spend more time away from our profession or material pursuit. We can go back to our material pursuit after we complete this step and the next step. Until we complete these two steps, it is important that we dedicate quality time for this spiritual pursuit.
When we understand the central message of Vedanta, we can move on to the next step.
Step 4: Jnana Yoga - II (Introspection on You Are That)
The understanding gained from the Vedanta is not consistent with our experience.
I understood that I am immortal, joyful and Brahman.
I experience that I am mortal, suffering and limited human being.
We need to think, reflect, raise questions, discuss and listen again to gain doubtless knowledge on the central message of Vedanta. We should get firm knowledge on the truth and reconcile the difference between the knowledge from Vedanta and our experience.
Besides, there are many schools of thoughts, philosophies and religions other than Vedanta. We should be clear on why they are all inadequate and our understanding alone reveals the absolute truth.
When we gain firm knowledge, which is signified by absence of thirst for more knowledge, we are ready for the next step.
Step 5: Jnana Yoga III (Inner Transformation)
This final step leads to Joyful Living. Although we have firm knowledge from Vedanta, our accumulated preferences will continue to attract us towards the world. We might know for sure that the world is an illusion but still we may not be able to live in line with this truth. Therefore, we need to do Vedantic Meditation to internalize the knowledge.
Example: Although the preparation of the lemon pickle is complete, the lemon will continue to taste like a lemon and not as lemon pickle if we taste it immediately after preparation. It has to get socked in the oil for a long period before it could taste like lemon pickle.
Similarly, we still have old preferences that influence us on how we see the world. This cannot be changed overnight. Therefore, until the influence of this is reduced one should meditate on the new knowledge.
The new knowledge can over write the accumulated knowledge. Therefore, the accumulated knowledge can be changed. The accumulated impressions cannot be changed but it is automatically burnt down when we gain the knowledge of the absolute.
Therefore, the only remaining task is to change the accumulated preferences, which might take some time depending on how well our mind is refined.
Teaching 129: Jnana Yoga is to gain knowledge that 'I am Brahman' through Inquiry, Introspection and Inner Transformation
The knowledge of the absolute
We need to gain complete understanding on the nature of the observer and the observed. We will then see that the world is the result of the interaction between the observer and the observed much similar to a birth of the living being through the union of a male and female.
When a product is born through the interaction of two distinct entities, it is quite possible that we are mistaken about the source of a particular attribute.
Example: Fire is hot but does not have a shape. An iron ball has a shape but it is not hot. When the iron ball is heated up, it will become a fireball. The ball shape does not belong to the fire.
Similarly, the world is born through the interaction between the observer and the observed. The sentiency of the living beings belongs to that of observer and the inert body/mind complex belongs to the observed. Instead of this correct knowledge, we are ignorant and think that we will die. Being born, growing up, and dying are the nature of the body, the observed. The consciousness in us belongs to the observer and it never dies.
We need to have the correct vision of the universe.
Wrong Vision: Seeing the multiple result
If we see the world and do not think how it came about, then our vision is very limited. We are bound to suffer until we gain the right vision.
Right Vision: Seeing the single source
If we understand the true nature of the world, which is illusion our problems are dissolved instantly.
We will see that our body/ mind complex is made up of three elements, Aura, Energy and Matter. All the thoughts, words and actions will be in line with the composition of these three elements. The observer does not do any action. Nor it is the enjoyer of the results of the action. Both the action and enjoyment belongs to a non-existent ego.
We should see that the very same observer appear as multiple living beings and the inert objects in the universe. If we have this right vision, we have the knowledge of the absolute.
Benefits of gaining the absolute knowledge
Lord Krishna says only those who have gained the knowledge of the absolute sees correctly. Others do not see. No one else can hurt our mind. If our mind is hurt, it is its own creation. Once we have the correct vision we stop hurting ourselves. Since the cause of our misery is our attachment, after gaining this knowledge we will no longer be attached to anything in the world.
Example: A plane crash involving the loss of life of many people is just a news item for us until we realize that someone close to us was traveling in that plane.
When we gain the knowledge, we will be able to observe our own body/ mind complex as if it belongs to someone else.
Therefore, we will not have any sufferings in the world and the life will be joyful. We will see the world in the correct perspective that it is a place of enjoyment and not a place for suffering.
Example: A bee sits at the tip of the flower and drinks the nectar. If it sits inside the flower, it will be stuck and then the suffering will start.
Similarly, the world is a lovely place as long as we use it for our entertainment. The moment we start depending on it for our peace, security and happiness we are doomed.
The knowledge of the absolute enables us to see the Brahman, the only reality that appears as the world.
Example: We create our dream.
Similarly, life is a dream and every individual that we encounter in our life is our own creation. We are not affected by the events in the dream. On gaining the knowledge of the absolute, we will be awakened. We will see life as a dream. It will be like knowing that we are dreaming while we are still dreaming.
Sun illumines everything in the world and it is not affected by the action that is illumined by it. The sun does not cause any action nor does it expect anything in return for illumining the world. Similarly, after gaining the knowledge, we will continue to enliven the body/mind complex that we occupy, but will not have any expectation from the world.
Space accepts and accommodates everything. Construction of a high-rise building does not pose a problem to the space. A bad smell does not pollute the space.
We will behave similar to space. We will accommodate everything that happens in our life. We will never get affected by any of them. We will be liberated. We will have a Joyful Living because our true nature is ever witnessing joy.
This is the benefit of gaining the knowledge of the absolute.
Chapter 13: The Observer and the observed [Verses: 25 - 35]
13.25 Some seekers see the Atman in the mind through meditation. Some others see through the cultivation of knowledge. Still others, through working without desire.
13.26 Not knowing this, some others pursue self-knowledge by hearing from others. Being committed to listening, they also cross over mortality.
13.27 Oh Arjuna, whatever you see in existence, both moving and unmoving, is only the combination of the field of activities and the knower of the field.
13.28 One who sees the Brahman who dwells alike in all beings and who is imperishable among perishables alone really sees.
13.29 One who sees the Atman in every living being and equal everywhere does not degrade himself by his mind. Thus, he attains the supreme goal.
13.30 One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees.
13.31 When one sees the diversity of beings to be based on the one Brahman and originated from that one Brahman alone becomes Brahman.
13.32 Being birth less and attributeless, this Atman is changeless. Though dwelling in the body, it neither acts nor is affected, Oh Arjuna.
13.33 Just as the all-pervading space is not affected due to its subtle nature, so also the Brahman present in everybody is not affected by it.
13.34 Oh Arjuna, as the sun alone illuminates this entire universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.
13.35 One who knowingly sees this difference between the body and the owner of the body and can understand the process of liberation from this bondage, attains Brahman.