Sunday, March 16, 2014

From ‘Gandhi. His Gift of the Fight’ by Jehangir P Patel and Marjorie Sykes

“One great man who remains human
can for ever and for all men
rescue our faith in humanity”
-          Stefan Zweig

[Gandhi] respected her doubts, for if people were unconvinced he preferred them to say so openly. The only thing he asked was that we should put our point of view with sincerity and humility. “If you think I am wrong,” he would say, “you should try to convince me. I am open to reason.”

William Blake…
He that grasps to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

What religion means was set forth clearly enough for Gandhi both in the Mahabharata and in the Quran Sharif:
“He who is the friend of all beings,
He who is intent on the welfare of all in act and thought and speech.
He only knows true religion.”
(Mahabharata: Shanti Parva)

“No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself ….. Do you love your Creator? Love your fellow-men”
(Quran Sharif)

….from 1937 onwards the political atmosphere favoured communal aims. V.D. Savarkar, in his Presidential Address to the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, spoke of “the two nations, the Hindu and the Muslim”, and urged that India should become a Hindu state, in which Muslims and other religious minorities would in effect be second-class citizens. From that time the idea of Pakistan began to figure as a serious alternative in discussions of the future.

…….he [Gandhi] turned to Mirabehn. “We are guests in our friends house and it would not be right for us to impose our ideas upon him or upon anyone. People whose custom it is to eat meat should not stop doing so simply because I am present.”

One could, in fact, discuss anything with Gandhi: there was no taboo, provided that there was no violence in one’s attitude. He was quick to point out any element of violence that might creep into one’s thought, even unconsciously.

Gandhi would say. “You people use liquor of good quality and you have the sense not to drink to excess. It is quite possible that it does you no harm. What I am concerned about is the effect on the poor; many of them are ruining their homes and their health by drink ….”

“Well, if I contradict on Tuesday what I said on Monday, it merely means that I have learned something in between!”

For a happy fortnight Gandhi remained at Uruli Kanchan, immersed in the work which he loved, following his natural aptitude. He personally examined the village patients, prescribed their diet and treatment, and tackled in his characteristic way the sanitation and hygiene of the village. He visited every home, he scrutinized its bathing and sanitary arrangements, he urged the people to sleep in the open air instead of their airless houses. He was where he felt he belonged, among the ordinary people of India.

The visit to Sabarmati, immediately afterwards, provided Marjorie with a moving illustration of Gandhi’s way of dealing with people. She was made welcome, and the file cabinets were opened for her …..It was impossible not to become aware, however, that many of the other letters in the files were of a very personal and confidential nature. There they lay among the rest, for Gandhi had no secrets. He had given Marjorie no warning, no instructions. In permitting her to use his files, he had simply trusted her integrity, trusted her not to misuse his confidence. …… “If I know Gandhi at all”, Gandhi once wrote in one of his mischievous moods. “I can vouch for it that he never had any secret plans in his life.” This openness was something that some of his political opponents found extremely disconcerting. They were convinced that there must “be a catch in it somewhere”, that Gandhi must somehow be playing tricks.

Gandhi was no dictator. “I cannot accept benevolent or any other dictatorship”, he had written …..Subhash [Chandra Bose] was prepared to accept and exercise dictatorship “in a good cause”. Subhash also refused to recognize the distinction Gandhi made between the British Government and the individual Briton; he would, he declared, drive every Briton out of India. Moreover, unlike Gandhi, he believed that it was impossible that British would ever consent freely to Indian independence, and therefore considered that “an armed struggle is inevitable”.

….Gandhi “looked upon any increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear”, because of its erosion of personal responsibility and initiative, even though it may appear to lessen exploitation.

……partition of India….. “It was the work of four men”, Gandhi answered. “Jawaharlal and Vallabhbhai, Jinnah and Mountbatten. They didn’t consult me; while I was away in Bihar they presented me with the fait accompli. I was tempted to feel that my whole life’s work had been destroyed”.

…some Indian nuclear scientists were seeking out Ganddhi…….What should they do, they asked, if required by the State to undertake nuclear research for military ends? Gandhi’s reply was clear and uncompromising: they should resist such a State to the death.

…….. Gandhi …………wrote “Neither Hindi highly sanscritised nor Urdu highly persianised, can ever be the link between us. Hindustani is the link, for it is the natural fusion of the two.”

In 1946, when serious food shortages seemed likely, Gandhi had urged that measures should be taken to promote the wider use of fish, which is of course a normal article of diet in India’s coastal and riverine areas. The orthodox objected; fish-eaters, they said, commit violence. Gandhi’s reply was spirited: “Yes, they do commit violence. And so do those who eat vegetables. This kind of violence is inherent in all embodied life. But the man who coerces another not to eat fish commits more violence than the man who eats it.”

“Hindu religion prohibits cow-slaughter for Hindus, not for the world”, he said. “Religious prohibition comes from within. Any imposition from without means compulsion. Hindu law cannot be imposed on non-Hindus”. …. “Is the Union to be a theocratic State, and are the tenets of Hinduism to be imposed on non-Hindus? I hope not.”……… “It is the Hindus…..who by their ill-treatment kill the cow by inches. A slow death by torture is far worse than outright killing”. ………On the famous and controversial occasion when Gandhi had sanctioned the killing of a sick and suffering calf by a painless lethal injection, he was acting on this principle. He would have felt nothing but respect for those North American Indian peoples who lived by hunting bison, but killed only to satisfy their hunger, and then took the utmost care to see that no part of the carcass should be wasted, out of respect for the life which their own need had obliged them to destroy.

“My notion of democracy,” he wrote, “is that in it the weakest should have the same opportunities as the strongest.”

Kees Boeke of the Netherlands …..listing the weaknesses of the (Democratic) party system …."mass meetings in which primitive passions are aroused, unreliable election results, the overruling by the majority of all independent views. Strange abuses creep in. A party can obtain votes by deplorable methods; a dictator can win an "astonishing" majority by intimidation"

Camus….said, Vivre, c’est faire vivre l’absurde – to live is to bring to life the absurd.

From ‘He did it. Swami Chinmayananda. A legacy’ by Chinmaya Publications

…..Kerala …… When Swami Vivekananda toured the state in 1897, he remarked, “I have walked into a lunatic asylum of castes.”

….his ears were pierced and gold earrings were inserted. This practice served both for decoration and the prevention of disease, particularly hernia.

The sadhu was in poor health and had an ulcerous sore on his leg. Balan [Swami Chinmayananda] was horrified to see that there were maggots on his wound. Just at that moment, one of the maggots fell off. The sadhy promptly picked up the creature and placed it back on his leg. “There, my son,” he said to the maggot. Then he looked straight into Balan’s eyes, and said to him, “Don’t you know that it is all only matter – matter feeding matter.”

Be Alert. Be Vigilant.
Let your mind be where your hands are.
|Swami Chinmayananda|

I have never allowerd schooling to interfere with my education.
-          Mark Twain

Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.
-          Bertrand Russell

From ‘The only dance there is’ by Ram Dass

In the Tibetan literature they say, “Embrace your ten thousand horrible demons and your ten thousand beautiful demons.”

…Sattvic foods turn out to be primarily – various books describe them differently and list different ones – primarily limiting oneself to fruits, honey, nuts, dairy products. As you go on into this work deeper and deeper, you sensitize your body through various asans, opening certain nerves through meditation, through pranayama, and your diet keeps changing. You get into lighter and lighter diets until finally you start to move toward giving up the grains and the wheats and moving toward fruits and nuts and milk and things like that. And pretty soon you get into primarily fruits, and so on.

…..this is where it gets very science fiction again because in India the people I live with often – their actual living experiences – make a total shambles of our Western models of health. I studied with a man whose total input of food for fifteen years ……was two glasses of milk a day. He had more energy than I had, and certainly more than most of the people I had ever met. He slept roughly two hours a night and we’d go up to a mountain – he’d be running up and I’d be trying to kind of pull myself along. He weighed ninety pounds. Totally exquisite in his movements. Two glasses of milk a day. You know what the World Health Organization would sayd about that? I mean, even if its good, rich buffalo milk….

… put all your attention at the bottom of your spine, and you have sufficient discipline to put it there and keep it there, and what incredible thing happens is that when you can take your attention away from the holding of the breath, you go into this state where you are not breathing, and you are not holding your breath. Usually the awareness of that brings you back. You say, “My God, I’m not breathing!” And that brings you down. But after a while, when you stop getting hysterical about what’s happening, you can go into this state and just sit. You’re not doing any breathing. You’re just sitting with your mind totally focused on your spine, and you’ve flipped into this place where you’re perfectly calm but there is no breath, and at that point you feel this energy pouring up your spine and up into your head. It’s very incredible, powerful, and very delicate and must be done very, very delicately, with much guidance – but its an extraordinary process.

Meditation, or bringing the mind to one point, dislodges it a little more, because for moments you are free of it.
Now, there are various strategies for how to work with a desire. One is not to do the thing that the desire is connected with.

But I think the reason a human birth is considered precious is because of the degree of self-consciousness – awareness of one’s predicament.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

From ‘Where are you going? A guide to the spiritual journey’ by Swami Muktananda

The poet Bhartrihari wrote:
I thought I was enjoying sense pleasures;
I did not realize they were enjoying me.
I thought I was spending my time;
I did not realize it was spending me.

….a saying: “What is day for a crow is night for an owl.”

Once your house is on fire, what is the use of digging a well? …..the poet Bhartrihari wrote, “As long as your body is healthy and strong, as long as your senses still function, do something for yourself.” Why wait? Contemplate the Self and attain it now. Know that life is very short. You were not born into this world just to eat and drink and die.

…..once the Kundalini has been awakened, a seeker does not have to perform strenuous spiritual practices. The Shakti Herself gives every individual the experiences that are necessary for him.
All the classical yogas take place spontaneously in a seeker whose Kundalini is awakened. …..yogic postures, locks, and breathing techniques may occur spontaneously during meditation. Sometimes the body may shake and sway. ….The specific postures and movements that occur in an individual are precisely the ones he needs for the purification of the system…. When we practice hatha yoga on our own, we often do not know which exercises our body actually needs, and so we may practice postures that are unnecessary or even harmful to us.

……Kena Upanishad, there is a statement ……. “That which is not thought by the mind but by which the mind thinks – know that as the Absolute.”

The most important factor in any meditation posture is that the back be kept straight, because when the spine is straight, the mind naturally becomes centered in the heart.

Set aside a place for meditation – a room or a corner of a room – and purify it by chanting the mantra. Try not to let anything happen that will disturb its atmosphere. In the place where you meditate regularly, the vibrations of the meditation will gather, and after a while it will become very easy to meditate there. For the same reason, you should set aside special clothes and a mat for meditation. Do not wash them often, because the Shakti will accumulate in them and make it easy for you to meditate.
If possible, meditate at the same time every day. The early hours of the morning, between three and six o’clock, are best, but you can meditate at any time that is convenient. If you become accustomed to meditating at a certain hour, your body will develop the habit of meditation.

You should meditate according to the capacity of your physical body. If you meditate too much, your head will become too hot. One who meditates has to eat nourishing foods. In our kitchen we use cashew nuts, clarified butter, pistachios, raisins and othe foods that give us strength.
In the marrow of the bones is a radiant yellow fluid called ojas. It is created from sexual fluid, and it imparts strength and the power of memory. If you meditate a great deal but do not provide your body with rich food, the fire of meditation will begin to consume that ojas, and then you will become tired and dull, and you will lose your enthusiasm ….If you want to meditate for long periods, you should not only eat rich food, but also be celibate and conserve your sexual fluid.
You can meditate twice a day, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, provided that you drink milk and eat sweet foods, such as fruit. …..

……….realized beings…….. Janaka was a great king who had seven hundred queens, but his disciple Shuka was a renunciant who was always naked. Although Hanuman attained the same knowledge as Janaka and Shuka, he remained a servant. Vasishtha expounded meditation, but he himself was always engaged in performing rituals.
Bhartrihari said that it is very difficult to understand the ways of great beings. Some act like saints, others like madmen and others like ghosts. Some remain naked, using the earth as bed. Others live like kings, surrounded by wealth and luxury. Some are completely serene and never speak. Others go around swearing. Some are very active. Others lie like pythons and never move. But no matter how they behave, all of these Siddhas have attained the same state of inner perfection.

From ‘The Teachers of one Living Advaita. Conversations on the nature of Non-Duality’ by Paula Marvelly

Q: Is there such a thing as free will?
A: Whose will is it? So long as there is the sense of doership, there is the sense of enjoyment and of individual will. But if this sense is lost through the practice of vichara [Self Enquiry], the divine will will act and guide the course of events. Fate is overcome by jnana, Self Knowledge, which is beyond will and fate

Q: ………..can it be that all the details of his life, down to the minutest, have already been determined? …………….
A: Certainly. Whatever this body is to do and whatever experiences it is to pass through was already decided when it came into existence
………Ramana Maharshi

The New Man by Maurice Nicholl ……….There was one word in his book that completely opened my eyes. It was an interpretation of the word “repent”, which until then I had been taught to mean “be sorry for your sins”. But the word in Christ’s local language meant “to turn around and see everything anew.”

Tony [Parsons]…..The Open Secret ………Presence is our constant nature but most of the time we are interrupting it by living in a state of expectation, motivation or interpretation. We are hardly ever at home. In order to rediscover our freedom we need to let go of these projections and allow the possibility of presence. Its real discovery, or our access to it, can only be made within the essence of what is. This is where spontaneous aliveness resides and where we can openly welcome the unknown.

Tony Parsons…..
If a thought arises – what I call an abstract thought – then the watching just chops it off as it arises. It’s there for a moment but there isn’t anybody who owns it. In the gaze, it just evaporates.

Q: Why does not Bhagavan go about and preach the truth to the people at large?
A: How do you know I am not doing it? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around? Preaching is simple communication of knowledge; it can be done in silence only. What do you think of a man who listens to a sermon for an hour and goes away without having been impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another, who sits in a holy presence and goes away after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out inner force?
Again, how does speech arise? First there is abstract knowledge. Out of this arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and thought to the spoken word. So the word is the great-grandson of the original source. If the word can produce an effect, judge for yourself, how much more powerful must be the preaching through silence
…….Ramana Maharshi

There’s a lovely sentence that you [Vijai Shankar] sometimes use – ‘I’m not a human being having a spiritual experience. I’m a spiritual being having a human experience.’

….Ashtavakra Gita: ‘The awakened one is not distracted even in distraction.’

[Nisargadatta] Maharaj: Do what you feel like doing. Don’t bully yourself. Violence will make you hard and rigid. Do not fight with what you take to be obstacles on your way. Just be interested in them, watch them, observe, enquire. Let anything happen – good or bad. But don’t let yourself be submerged by what happens………The mind must learn that beyond the moving mind there is the background of awareness, which does not change. The mind must come to know the true Self and respect it and cease covering it up, like the moon which obscures the sun during solar eclipse.

Why is it in India everything seems to be so much more alive and real, so much more intense?

Legend has it that throughout the ages, Dakshinamurthi has been sitting on the north slope of Arunachala, underneath a banyan tree and that anyone who approaches him will attain Self-realization.

Ramana himself spoke of the differences in absorption in the Self, which can either be temporary or permanent. Nirvikalpa samadhi Ramana likened to a bucket lowered into a well; the water in the bucket merges with the water in the well but the rope and bucket (representing ego and its attachments) still exist, meaning that the bucket can always be pulled out from the well, ending the total absorption. Meanwhile sahaja samadhi he likened to a river flowing into an ocean, whose waters become inseperably merged. Ramana’s sahaja samadhi happened spontaneously at the age of 17 ……

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

‘Little Gidding’, Four Quartets
T S Eliot

So, to turn to the teaching, in the West everybody thinks about philosophy as ‘I think, therefore I am.’ But in the East, it’s the other way round, ‘I am, therefore I think.’
[Ramesh Balsekar] Absolutely correct….. The West says, I believe it if I see it… In Eastern philosophy, believe it and then you will see it!