Zorba, The Buddha – The New Man Defined By Osho

During and before the time of Buddha, the journey to self-realization was a torture. The early ascetics  fasted for days, never cut their hairs and nails, most of them roamed naked, did hard penance in scorching heat and freezing cold and tortured themselves in numerous ways. There was also no streamlined method that someone can be guided with. It was Buddha who came up with the middle way. He said that it was a wrong idea to put oneself to torture; only few people succeeded that way. His middle way condemned severe fasting, being naked and all kinds of tortures that people were putting themselves through. These wandering ascetics were called as Sramanas.

But Buddha still said that a complete renunciation of one’s properties is essential to reach liberation. A person who wants to be liberated from the psychological suffering and unsatisfactoriness should become a monk, own only a begging bowl, survive by begging and should keep moving from village to village. Wealth was a taboo for anyone who wants to walk on the spiritual path.

On the other hand, early Vedic religion before the dawn of Upanishads didn’t accept the theories like spiritual liberation, karma, rebirth and renunciation. Early vedic religion, when the rituals were popular and endorsed by kings, insisted that the way of the householder is the best way. A householder’s duty is to conduct daily rituals with sacred fire for five times and should acquire wealth and progeny; only then he would reach the heaven and live with their ancestors forever. They had three goals for life in the early days – dharma (ethics, the natural order and many other things), artha (wealth) and kama (pleasure). On the other hand, Sramanas had just two goals, which are dharma and moksha or spiritual liberation.

After a lot of debates, disagreements, condemnations etc, Brahmana (Vedic) tradition absorbed Moksha as one of the goals of life. Then their goals (Purusharthas) became four: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Readers can read ‘The Greater Magadha’ by Johannes Bronkhorst for plenty of evidences for what I have said above.

If you think about it, you can see that there is a life negative aspect in Sramana traditions and life-positive elements in Vedic tradition. Vedic tradition was also right in its own argument: progeny is important for people to survive. In fact, if everyone in the world had followed what Buddha said, mankind would have been dead already. But this is not to put Buddha down. It is to make you understand that spiritual science was in a much early stage in Buddha and it developed a lot later. So, a merger of Sramana and Brahmana tradition was a need of the hour, a requirement of the time; and it happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen.

Bhagavad Gita played an important role in uniting the concepts of Brahmanic and Sramanic traditions. Arjuna, who want to renounce the world is reminded by Krishna to continue his way of life and participate in the war for a number of reasons. Krishna was shown to be mainly concerned about the  defame and disgrace that Arjuna’s escape from the war could cause to Arjuna himself. But Bhagavad Gita beautifully merges the concepts of both traditions.

As centuries passed by, a strong consensus was born among the wiseman that no one has to renounce the world to reach liberation They can simply live their usual life, get married, give birth to kids, enjoy what life gives and also attain liberation by meditations and other things that we know about. In fact, the point of having four Purusharthas that I mentioned earlier is exactly this.

But sadly, this is still not understood by a lot of people. But Osho came up with the concept of Zorba, the Buddha; this meme is about the merger of the life negative and the life positive aspects of the tradition, done clearly for the second time and explained very clearly by Osho. So this post is mainly to share some quotes of Osho regarding this, from the book ‘The Rebel’ which is a transcription of his talks that were recorded in the beginning of 1987.

Zorba, The Buddha20190725_044318_000020190725_050356_000020190725_051621_0000Zorba, The BuddhaZorba, The BuddhaZorba, The Buddha20190726_040749_0000.pngZorba, The Buddha

Just want to end with a quote from Yajur Veda regarding universal friendship. I made this pic today:

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Bhoothanatha Geetha – The Song of Ayyappa

Bhoothanatha Geetha (or Bhutanatha Gita) is a very rare Sanskrit text. We are greatly indebted to Mr. V. Aravind Subramanyam for working all his life to find the old manuscripts of this book, translate it and make it available with English and Tamil translations. . The book can only be directly ordered from him by sending a DD or cheque to his residence in Coimbatore Tamil Nadu. It is not available elsewhere. I got a copy of it yesterday and I want to share what I found in it. Mr. Aravind Subramanyam, due to his earnest love for Dharama Sastha, always adds Maha Sasthru Priya Dasan before his name. He has also written a complete purana called Sri Maha Sastha Vijayam.

Boothanatha Geetha is much shorter than Bhagavad Gita but conveys the key points of Advaita Vedanta. It has 132 verses in 8 short chapters. Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Similarly, Bhoothanatha Gita is a conversation between Prince Manikanta who was considered as the avatar of Dharma sastha and Rajasekharan, the king of Pandalam.

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Boothanatha Geetha has certain uniqueness that other texts don’t have. To explain that, I will comment on some of the important verses from the book.

Boothanatha Geetha is written in much simpler Sanskrit. So, it is easier than Bhagavad Gita, if you want to read the text in the original. The first sloka is very simple and with basic knowledge of Sanskrit, one can understand it:

janma mrtyAdi duhkhAnAm nAzAya mahIpate

karmano nAzanam mukhyam tadupAyam nizamyatAm

Meaning: Oh King, destroying one’s karmas is important for the destruction of the suffering that arises from the cycle of birth and death. You can hear the way for it from me.

The text has 8 chapters. The first chapter Brahma Lakshana Yoga starts with this sloka and proceeds to explain the nature of Brahman, the absolute reality.

Chapter 1 – Brahma Lakshana Yoga

Here is the eighth sloka which talks about it:

AdimadhyAntarahitam svayam jotih parAtparam

avyayam nirgunam rAjan kAladezAdi varjjitam

citganam nityamAnandam tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho

asitatvamaham taccetyAmnAyah parikIrtitah

Meaning:

Oh king! Brahman has no beginning, no middle and no end. It shines on its own and is the greatest of the greatest. It is imperishable, attributeless and beyond space & time.

It has been described in the scriptures that it is conscious and always in bliss. Nothing other than that exists! It is you and it is also me.

(It is interesting to note that the line ‘citganam nityamAnandam tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho’ is a description of sat-cit-ananda or truth-consciousness – bliss. citganam = conciousness; nityamAnandam = bliss; tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho = truth).

These lines also combine two mahavakyas, ‘tat tvam asi’ (You are that) and ‘aham brahmasmi’ (I am Brahmam’ together by saying ‘asi tat tvam aham’ (that exists as you and I). A good sloka for memorization for people who are learning Sanskrit. This sloka is similar to a lot of verses in Sankhya Yoga, the second chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

If Brahman is all that exists, then how do we explain the multiplicity in the existence? In the next few slokas, Manikanta attempts to clarify this doubt with the famous example of gold and gold ornaments found in Chandogya Upanishad.

In Chandogya Upanishad, Svetakethu’s father teaches him ‘tat tvam asi’ (you are that) and proceeds to explain with this example:

“Just as, my dear, by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is clay; “Just as, my dear, by one nugget of gold all that is made of gold is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is gold; “And just as, my dear, by one pair of nail—scissors all that is made of iron is known, the modification being only a name, arising from speech, while the truth is that all is iron—even so, my dear, is that instruction.”

Manikanta must have been well versed and quite familiar with Chandogya Upanishad and even some Buddhist texts as we will see.

Manikanta explains that just like gold ornaments with different shapes are essentially gold and nothing else, all the myriads of names and forms that we see is essentially Brahman and nothing else. The multiplicity is seen due to Maya (illusion or unreal).

In 12th sloka, the king questions, “What you are saying now seems to be contradictory to what you said before. If Brahman is all that exists, then where does maya come from?. How do the scholars of Advaita accept this contradiction?

This would remind us of Arjuna’s confusion when he complains to Krishna in Gita 3.1 that Krishna seemed to be contradicting himself.

Manikanta then explains that maya is nothing but the idea of a separate self. When you see something as me or mine, it is maya. This illusion has no beginning but it has an end. It is due to this illusion, one perceives or feels himself different from Brahman. Manikanta then encourages the king to investigate and see if there is really any truth in saying things like ‘this is my hand’, ‘this is my leg’ etc. He asserts that if one investigates carefully, one can know that there is no such thing as ‘mine’.

Manikanta also quotes the famous analogy of crystal to explain the relationship between Brahman and Maya. Maya doesn’t stick to Brahman even though it appears to be, just like a red flower placed on a crystal makes the crystal to appear red, even though the crystal itself doesn’t have the quality of the redness. At the same time, the color exists inseparable from the crystal just like maya is in a sense inseparable from Brahman.

Chapter 2 – Brahma Jnana Yoga

The second chapter is Brahma Jnana Yoga. Manikanta begins by explaining how the three gunas or trimurties sattva (Brahma), rajas (Vishnu) and tamas (Shiva) originated from Brahman.

In this chapter, Manikanta talks like Buddha. Buddha used to discourage metaphysical questions which are about the origin of the world, the origin of maya or the origin of suffering.

In Buddhist texts, there is a parable called the parable of a poisoned arrow. This parable was said as a response when someone asked how suffering originated in the first place:

“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

“In the same way, if anyone were to say, ‘I won’t live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’… or that ‘After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,’ the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

Manikanta says something similar in Chapter 2 , verse 6:

yastvagAdhe mahAkUpe patito bhUnnrpottama

tasmAdArohanopAyam avicintya samUDhadhih

tatra sthitvA cintayeccet kUpasyotbhavakAranam

katham tIram ca samprAptum zaktah sabhavati prabho

Meaning:

The greatest of kings! If some one falls down inside a deep well, is there any use in thinking about the reason the well was there in that place? How can you escape from the well if you don’t think about the way to escape from it?

Manikanta in many places, discourages useless questions and mere reading of scriptures without striving to know the truth in one’s experience.

Then Manikanda stresses the importance of a satguru. He says ‘samyag vettum param brahma kAryam satguru sevanam (2.7)’, which means if one wants to know the truth of Brahman in once’s experience, serving a satguru is mandatory. We will see who this satguru is, in a moment.

Manikanta then says that without the help of satguru. people end up like the blind men arguing about the shape of an elephant. The story of the blind men and the elephant is very famous in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The doctrine of Anekantavada is based on this story, which you can read about here: Logic And Spiritual Enlightenment – An Overview of Anekantavada, Saptabhangivada (Seven Valued Logic) and Syadvada of Jainism

Manikanta also goes ahead and narrates the story. (The version Manikanta narrates only has two blind men, but in other versions they are more). Two blind men once wanted to know about an elephant. So, each of them went near an elephant to touch and feel it so that they can find out the shape of the elephant. One guy touched the ears of the elephant while the other person touched the trunk. After that, both of them were perfectly convinced that they knew everything about the elephant and its shape. The guy who touched the ears argued that the elephant looks like a fan where as the guy who touched the trunk insisted that an elephant looks like a long pipe. Seeing these people fighting, a person with the perfect eye sight came and explained to them what an elephant really looks like.

Manikanta ends this chapter by conveying the difference between meditating on and worshipping the formless and attributeless truth (nirguna brahman) and a deity with a form (saguna brahman). These verses are similar to the verses in the 12th chapter (Bhakti Yoga) of Bhagavad Gita where the conversation is about the same topic. Manikanta says that one who meditates on the formless, attributeless Brahman will attain liberation in this life and become Jivan Muktas. People who worship the divine in a form will attain liberation after their death. Adhi Shankara in his commentary on Bhagavad Gita also conveys the same while interpreting the verses in chapter 12 of Gita.

Chapter 3 – Gunatraya Yoga

This chapter talks about Panchikarana, a Vedantic theory that talks about how matter came into existence from five elements (panchabhutas).

Chapter 4 – Tattva Vijnana Yoga

There is something interesting to note in the beginning of this chapter. Manikanta begins by saying that there are 96 tattvas which exist in nature. A tattva is nothing but a smallest indivisible unit or element of what appears in our consciousness. For example, memory is a tattva, ego is a tattva, perception of sight is a tattva etc. When you observe the contents of your consciousness, it is possible to come up with many such tattvas. But the number of tattvas vary by tradition. For example, Bhagavad Gita talks about 8 tattvas. Samkhya school identifies 24 tattvas and Shaiva Siddhanta tradition identifies 36 tattvas. There is one tradition that talks about 96 tattvas. It is nothing but the tradition of Siddhas who specialized in both spiritual matters and herbal medicine. Since Manikanta too talks about 96 tattvas here, it is possible that he was also a Siddha who had mastered siddhis and the art of medicine.

The purpose of the description of these tattvas is to not to commit them to memory as a bunch of information. Enumerating these tattvas are only useful to see that they are not ‘you’ or ‘yours’. In other words, these are tools for self-inquiry rather than a collection of facts. As a mere collection of information, it is useless. So, if one is longing to get liberated, he needs to take care to see that he doesn’t identify with a whole bunch of information.

Citta Suddhi – Purification of the mind

Manikanta then begins to explain how the mind gets unpurified. When we make any decision we use our intellect or the sense of discrimination. But this intellect when influenced by rajas (desire and activity leading to fulfilling the desires) and tamas (lethargy, hatred and anger born out of that hatred) grabs your attention away to multiple things. Intellect eventually gets multibranched because of myriads of desires and fears. That is why there is a lot of self-conflict and that is the reason why human beings suffer a lot from cognitive dissonance.

Gita talks about this too:

vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam – Gita 2.41

Meaning: A person who has achieved one pointedness (by purifying his mind) has an intellect which has just a single branch. But the intellect of the people who have not achieved such one-pointed devotedness is many branched.

While explaining, Manikanta suddenly reminds him that it is useless to just read these things and say things like ‘there are 96 tattvas’, ‘the scriptures say so’ etc. It is a waste of time to talk about things he knows only by reading and not by his experience.

Then Manikanta uses an analogy to explain what is mandatory for the purification of the mind. Let us say the mind is like a milk; and the impurities are like water. If you want to get rid of all the water and get pure milk, the only choice you have is to heat it. No amount of adding anything or trying to remove anything will get rid of the water. Simply reading the scriptures is like trying to heat the milk without fire. If there is no fire, then no matter how long you wait, the water will be still there. Manikanta says that a guru’s words and guidance is like the fuel which can create the fire. Only when the scriptures burn in the fuel of the guru’s words, the impurities of mind will evaporate and the mind will get purified. A seeker should listen to guru’s words and do meditation according to what he taught.

Then Rajasekharan asks, ‘How do I find a satguru? How would I know that he is satguru? Since you know a lot of scriptures, please explain’. It is important to note that Rajasekharan still insists to hear what is written in the scripture. He doesn’t seem to be wanting to know what Manikanta knows by his experience. This is the reason why Manikanta throughout this Gita insists the futility of mere intellectual debates without attempting to directly know the truth by experience.

So Manikanta defines who a ‘satguru’ is by listing four qualities of a satguru:

  1. He doesn’t have any attachments.
  2. He is peaceful and calm.
  3. He loves his disciples.
  4. He knows the truth by experience.

There is another thing to note here. People believe that Kabir who lived in 15th century was the one who coined the word ‘satguru’ and who was also called as a satguru for the first time. Because there were no references to the word ‘satguru’ in any other older scriptures. But Manikanta lived in 10th or 11th century AD. No body has dated Bhoothanatha Gita yet, but assuming that it was written down right after his life, it is probable that Manikanda was the one who was called as satguru for the first time and who probably used that word for the first time.

Manikanta then defines the quality of a seeker:

  1. He has realized that life is prone to suffering.
  2. He is longing to get freedom and prays sincerely for emancipation.

Then he defines the quality of a scripture (sastra). A scripture is a book which gives the path to destroy the following 8 qualities called as ashtaragas:

  1. kama — lust
  2. krodha — anger
  3. lobha — greed
  4. moha — delusory emotional attachment or temptation
  5. mada — pride, hubris, (being possessed by)
  6. matsarya — dissatisfaction
  7. asooya – jealousy
  8. thrshna – Craving (a very acute form of desire)

A warning about fake gurus!

Then comes a beautiful sloka which says something that no other scripture has said to my knowledge. It warns about gurus who are after your money!

guravo bahavassanti zishyANAm dhana hArakAh

durlabho deziko rAjan teshAm santapahArakAh (4.20)

Meaning: There are plenty of so called gurus who take away your money. But the gurus who can take away your misery are very rare!

Finally, Manikanta offers you a solution. Since it is very rare to find such gurus, he says that he himself is both Guru and God for a person who shows selfless devotion to him. What this sloka actually conveys is, dharmasastha is satguru! If you don’t have a guru and can’t find one, just be devoted to sastha! Devotion purifies the mind and the divine as the satguru is always there as the inner light in every being.

Chapter 5 – Karma Vibhaga Yoga

This chapter discusses three types of karmas and how karmic material travels from one body to another body. Certain themes from Chandogya Upanishad appear here too. Here Manikanta insists that one should safeguard his body and not neglect it just because it is going to die own day. Because this body is the instrument which helps you to enjoy the four purusharthas of life: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. At the same time, he also says that the purpose of having this human body is to realize the truth.

He then lists the qualifications for a seeker. In Vedanta there is a concept called sadhana chatushtaya which lists qualifications of a seeker. This sloka just lists four simple qualities that a seeker should have as qualifications : 1) Vairagya – non-attachment 2) Guru Bhakthi – devotion to guru, in this case Dharmasastha. 3) Shama – tranquility of the mind 4) dhama – control of senses.

The chapter ends as Manikanta stresses the importance of devotion in the last few slokas. Devotion purifies the mind as well as helps the person to develop the above mentioned qualifications.

Chapter 6 – Bhakthi Vibhaga Yoga

This chapter once again stresses the importance of devotion. It talks in detail about the three gunas and three type of devotees.

Chapter 7 – Karmakarma yoga

In this chapter Rajesekharan asks important questions.

Here is the essence of his question: ‘If someone is absorbed in the pleasure of Brahman and has no craving, then how will he be motivated to do any action at all? How can he deal with things in practical life as before without anything driving him from the inside?’

Manikanda replies that a person who exhibits feats by climbing a big staff are able to do so effortlessly because their mind is one pointed. When you attain one pointedness through self-realization, you will have more efficiency to do your actions. He lists people such as Janaka, Sukha, Gargi and Katwanga as examples of people who continued to live their married life after their self-realization.

Then he talks about the impermanence of the worldly things and how liberation is the only thing which is permanent. He says that this world is a stage for dramas and Brahman is the one who runs the show; night is the screen and sun is the light; we are are actors; karmas are the musical instruments and the desires are the music. Once a person starts to look at life this way, he will be able to develop vairagya (non-attachment) very quickly.

Chapter 8 – Varna Vibha Yoga

Manikanda talks about four varnas. The slokas are like rewritten verses of Purusha sukta. It talks about how people from different varnas were born from different parts of purusha.

He then says that being a householder is better than being a wandering monk, forest ascetic or a bachelor. These verses seem to echo what some older grihya sutras say. They also favoured married life over asceticism.

Manikanda then warns the king to not to read various scriptures and get confused. He says that whatever that has been conveyed so far is the essence of the scriptures and that he didn’t have to read anything else.

Finally he declares ‘sarvajnoham sarvagoham sarvasAkshyahameva bho’ which means I am the omniscient, omnipresent and a witness of everything. He asks the king to meditate on him all the time and promises him liberation.

…………………………

Thank you for reading. I could only write this because of grace! I sat this morning and resolved to write a detailed post on Bhutanatha gita and let everyone know about this text. I wanted that to happen on this Diwali day itself. I hope this answer gave a complete introduction to Bhoothanatha gita. I wish you a happy and peaceful Diwali!

(People who want to purchase this book can find details on Mr. V. Aravind Subramanyam’s bloghttp://shanmatha.blogspot.com/2011/04/bhoothanatha-geetha.html )

Entry of Women to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple -A Detailed Look at Sabarimala’s History and the Recent Supreme Court Verdict

I am republishing an answer I wrote in Quora regarding the recent Supreme Court Verdict on allowing women of all age groups to Sabarimala temple. The question was “Should women be allowed to enter Sabarimala shrine?”. I am quoting from Wikipedia to give some background for this issue:

Sabarimala is a Hindu Temple in the Indian district of Kerala, where women pilgrims of menstruating age (10-50) were not legally allowed to enter from 1991 to 2018. In September 2018, a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of India ruled that all women pilgrims, including those in the menstruating age group, should be allowed entrance to Sabarimala. This verdict led to widespread protests by the believers.Several women attempted to enter Sabarimala despite threats of physical assault against them but failed to reach the sanctum sanctorum.

Full article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entry_of_women_to_Sabarimala_Ayyappa_Temple

It is time for our society to understand the correct reasons for the ban of women between 10–50 and decide something for the greater good. Whether these women should be allowed there or not depends on what we agree to as a society, after carefully weighing down the pros and cons. Rules are made for people, people are not made for rules!

There are advantages in not allowing the women of that age group. But there are disadvantages too! After understanding both, let us decide what should be done!

First, the Supreme Court has approached this issue with a wrong assumption. There is no gender discrimination here and it is not the reason for disallowing young women to Sabarimala!

There are three different reasons which are said for disallowing women of age group 10 -50. The first reason is no longer relevant, the second reason is absurd and the third reason, which is the actual and the important reason, is completely ignored.

But if the third reason is properly explained, I think most of the people who are now protesting will understand. Let us see those three reasons one by one.

  1. Usually, there are different rules for the temples which are situated in mountains with high altitude or mountains which are amidst dense forests. Just imagine how people went to Sabarimala two or three centuries before. They have to take long and dangerous routes which were completely unsafe for women. Such temples cannot be kept open during all days of the year just like other temples. To state an example, devotees climb the Velliangiri mountains in Tamil Nadu during the month of April and May. But women of age group between 10–50 are not allowed to climb Velliangiri hills either. This ban is for their own protection. Because, there are chances that they can get raped and killed. In the dense forests of high altitude, there are lot of chances for women to get stuck at some place along the way where there is no one to help. Even now, it is better for women of young age to not to climb Velliangiri hills. Because I have climbed those mountains and anyone who climbed it can understand why it could be dangerous.But this is not applicable to Sabari Mala anymore. Sabari Mala today is not dangerous for women anymore as it was once. Women devotees can be completely protected. So as I said, this first reason is no longer relevant.
  2. We also have a story associated with it. It is said that Ayyappa is a Naishtika Brahmachari and he doesn’t want to see young women at all. Whether a woman is 13 or 47 doesn’t matter, she can still disturb the penance of Ayyappa and spoil his Brahmacharya. We need to stop taking myths too seriously. Because, sometimes myths go to the extent of insulting and degrading the divinity which is all pervading and beyond space and time. First of all, there is a difference between Dharma Sastha and Ayyappa or Manikandan. Manikandan was a human prince who lived about 1000 years before. The myths about Manikanda are not reliable because they were written for certain reasons that I will explain later in this answer. Manikandan was considered as an incarnation of Dharma sastha just like we consider Rama as an incarnation of Vishnu. Dharma Sastha is depicted as having two consorts: Poorna and Pushkala. These words mean completion or fullness and prosperity respectively. Here the idea is, after a person attains Moksha, he also attains fullness and prosperity. Also, in Sabarimala, the pujas and moola mantra are addressed to Dharma Sastha directly. Manikandan is said to have merged with Dharma Sastha which is a symbolic way of conveying that Manikanda attained Parinirvana and merged with divinity. So stating that allowing young women to Sabarimala will disturb Ayyappa’s Brahmacharya is completely absurd! He doesn’t exist as a distinct personality anymore. So in the name of Ayyappa, all you are worshipping is Dharmasastha, which in reality is the same as Shiva, Vishnu or Shakthi. It is one divinity that we pray to!

Some people even went ahead and said that the floods in Kerala is the result of the anger of Ayyappa. They also go ahead and say that there will be serious consequences if women are allowed. The idea that all pervading divinity would punish innocent human beings because of anger is totally primitive and complete nonsense. This self-contradicting God is not what Sanatana Dharma talks about. Such ideas are spread by common folks who hasn’t read Bhagavad Gita or Vedas, and has got nothing to do with Ayyappa. Please don’t make God limited and portray him as such a dumb person who will get angry and punish innocent people just because a 12 year old girl or 47 year old woman spoiled his Brahmacharya vrata. Even a human being wouldn’t do that!

3. Here is the actual reason for disallowing the women of age group 10–50. Sabarimala temple has a uniqueness that other temples do not have. To my knowledge, it is the only temple which is maintained for this special reason.

Once it was believed that renouncing the world and practicing austerities were completely necessary for an individual to attain liberation. Even Adhi Shankara has written in his commentaries that if one is seeking liberation then he has no choice other than renouncing the world, own only a begging bowl and keep wandering. But after Bhakthi and other spiritual traditions became popular, it was said that even married people and women can be seekers. So, there are many spiritual sadhanas which have been designed for people who live in family. For example, during the month of Dec-Jan (Marghazhi), women wake up very early and go to Vishnu temples and sing Bhajans; this is a spiritual practice for women but it is open for men too. There are some sadhanas which are open only for women and not for men. For example, women in Tamil Nadu do a special worship for Lord Ganesh by offering him with a snack known as ‘Auvaiyar kozhukkattai ’. Men are not allowed to know the reason and purpose of this worship; they are not allowed to eat those kozhukkattais either which is so unfortunate. 🙂 I have tried to get them many times when I was a kid but no luck! The same way, the pilgrimage to Sabarimala is a spiritual Sadhana for men. Women do not need it and I will explain why.

There is enough scientific evidence now for the fact that men lack self-control when compared to women. Since men have more testosterone, they are naturally very aggressive, lack self-control and very week in delaying gratification. In other words, women can very easily sacrifice a smaller reward that is immediately available for a bigger reward that awaits them in the future. They can also very easily go through a smaller difficulty now to avoid a bigger difficulty later. We have all intuitively known this. Back in school, we all know who makes more noise when a teacher steps out and which gender always fails to do the home work .

A pilgrimage to Sabarimala allows married men to live like monks and practice severe austerities, see divinity in each and every person, completely surrender oneself to divinity and avoid even the sight of women. Doing this for 41 days can free men from many of their habitual tendencies or Vasanas. Such a spiritual practice that is done once in a year for 18 years is actually enough for a person to reach spiritual liberation.

The devotees are expected to follow a Vratham (41-day austerity period) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala (a chain made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads is commonly used, though still other types of chains are available.). During the 41 days of Vratham, the devotee who has taken the vow, is required to strictly follow the rules that include follow only a lacto-vegetarian diet (In India, vegetarianism is synonymous with lacto-vegetarianism), follow celibacy, follow teetotalism, not use any profanity and have to control the anger, allow the hair and nails to grow without cutting. They must try their maximum to help others, and see everything around them as lord Ayyappa. They are expected to bath twice in a day and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black or blue colored traditional clothing. Saffron colored dresses are worn by Sannyasi who have renunciated material life. But, many devotees still continue to wear saffron colored clothes which becomes a part of Vedic culture which connects the whole Hindus worldwide.

Source: https://www.rvatemples.com/listings/sree-dharma-sastha-temple/

When a devotee reaches the Sabarimala shrine, he can see the Mahavakya ‘Tat tvam asi’ written above the temple in Devanagari script:

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This is the truth one realizes by experience when a person attains Atmajnana. This is the spiritual instruction that Dharmasastha attempts to give. The whole purpose of pilgrimage to Sabarimala is to realize this truth in one’s experience at some point of time in his life.

A true seeker of liberation who is a devotee of Dharmasastha would want to meditate in and around the temple and he doesn’t want to see anything that is distracting. He doesn’t the want sight and proximity of women because sometimes the sight and proximity can distract him and make him to start thinking about something else. This is a specially designed Sadhana which can help men to get rid of many vasanas, including any obsession they may have about women.

A woman doesn’t need such a sadhana because nature itself has given her a lot of concession by making her more disciplined. As I said, it is a scientific fact that women have more self-control than men because of their low levels of testosterone. More over, women also have enough compassion to understand the weakness of men and allow them to have their own space. Do men ever claim space in a ‘Ladies only’ bus or women’s gym? We understand why they need their own space sometimes. Just like that, Sabarimala has been a space for men (and women who are under 10 or over 50) to the spiritual practice created for them.

Because of this, Sabarimala has attracted people from all religions and all faiths and helped people to forget their religious differences. I know of many Christian men who wore mala for Sabarimala without letting their wives know; only after they came home, their wives found out that their husbands just got converted! I used to have a close friend in primary school whose dad did the same thing. Ever since, their family follows both Hinduism and Christianity.

There is also a sannidhi for Vavar who was a Muslim. Sabarimala already includes the aspects of all sects within Hinduism:

The customs of the pilgrims to Sabarimala are based on five worshipping methods; those of Shaivites, Shaktists and Vaishnavites. At first, there were three sections of devotees – the devotees of Shakti who used meat to worship their deity, the devotees of Vishnu who followed strict penance and continence, and the devotees of Shiva who partly followed these two methods. Another name of Ayyappa is Sastha. All these can be seen merged into the beliefs of pilgrims to Sabarimala. The chain the pilgrims wear comes from the Rudraksha chain of the Shaivites. The strict fasting, penance and continence is taken out of the beliefs of the Vaishnavites. The offering of tobacco to Kaduthaswamy can be considered to be taken from the Shaktists..

Source: http://missiongreensabarimala.com/pilgrimage/history/history-behind-worshiping-methods

There is also a Buddhist aspect to Sabarimala too. To understand that, we need to explore the history instead of relying on the myths. As we understand some history, we can also understand why these myths are created. The form of Dharmasastha itself was created to resolve conflicts between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.

I would like to give an example to illustrate a point here. Years before, I saw a Telugu movie (starred by Chiranjeevi I think) which was dubbed in Tamil. After watching the movie I realized that the Telugu movie itself was a remake of the Tamil movie ‘Mannan’ starred by actor Rajinikanth. So, both these movies have the same story and screenplay; only the hero has changed. The same has happened with Sabarimala. The spiritual sadhana and uniqueness of the Sabarimala has stayed the same over many centuries but the hero of Sabarimala was changed once in the history! But that doesn’t matter. Wise people know that ‘ekam sat viprAh bahudhA vadanti’ (Truth is one; but called by many names).

Have you heard of Avalokiteshvara?

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(Image source: Wikipedia)

Avalokiteshvara is the Buddhist version of Lord Shiva. Mahayana Buddhism which was popular in Tamil Nadu had once adopted many deities of Hindu sects for the tantric practices they had. It would be right to say that except the terminology and some minor differences, Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism are the same. Because, these Buddhists also consecrated idols and temples. For the forms of deities, they mostly absorbed the deities of existing sects of Hinduism and portray these deities as forms of Bodhisattva. They also have other deities surrounding the main deity forming a mandala and use it for meditation. This is exactly what we do in Hinduism when we consecrate temples. A temple is nothing but a big mandala, which is a space for meditation for general public. We have Shaiva, Vaishnava and Saktha agamas which explain the consecration processes of temples.

Here is an excerpt from an article written by someone who has already done a lot of research on this subject:

There is considerable evidence that Lord Ayyappan was once a Buddhist deity, and that Sabarimala was once a Buddhist temple complex. However, it appears that prior to its Buddhist incarnation, the temple was an early Dravidian Saivite centre; therefore it has been a sacred spot of singular merit of at least three or four millennia. Its famed Makara Jyotis (Divine Light) which appears mysteriously in the forest on Makara Sankranti day gave it the name Potalaka.

Astonishingly, it appears that the Dalai Lama’s Palace in Lhasa, the incomparable Potala, is named after Sabarimala! The Bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) Avalokitesvara Padmapani, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who is, by tradition, reincarnated as the Dalai Lama, was also the one worshipped at Sabarimala.

I am indebted to my cerebral friend Devakumar Sreevijayan (formerly of Austin, Texas and currently of New York City) for almost all of this fascinating research. It is in three texts: the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Hymn to the Thousand-Armed Avalokitesvara, and the writings of the intrepid Chinese traveller Hsiuen Tsang (Zuen Xang?), that we find the detailed references. Dev found a good deal of information in the book, The Thousand-Armed Avalokitesvara by Lokesh Chandra.

But there is ample circumstantial evidence for Kerala’s Buddhist/Jain past. Unlike Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh and Sravanabelagola in Karnataka, they have left no large monuments in Kerala, but it is known that Kodungallur, for example, was a Buddhist centre. Kodungallur, at the time known as Muziris, was a major port; a Buddhist nunnery there became a great Devi temple later, associated with Kannagi, the heroine of the Tamil epic Silappathikaram (The Jewelled Anklet) written by the Chera Prince Ilango Adigal, who lived in what is now Kerala.

The revered Patriarch Bodhidharma (Daruma in Japanese) from Kodungallur was the originator of the Zen sect (dhyana in Sanskrit, Ch’an in Chinese) — he went to the Shao-Lin monastery in China (420-479 CE), and he took the martial art of kalari payat there for the protection of the unarmed monks, whence the various martial arts of East Asia. According to Chinese legend, Bodhidharma also created the tea plant, by tearing off his eyelids and planting them in the ground: presumably this means he also took the tea plant with him.

The legend of Mahabali — the asura king sent to the underworld by an avatar of Lord Vishnu — also gives clues to the Hindu-Buddhist past: an egalitarian Buddhist rule overthrown by Brahmin-led Upanishadic Hindus. Perhaps there was a period of co-existence, much like the centuries-old peaceful co-existence between the followers of the Buddha and Eswara/Siva in South East Asia. In the great temples of Java and Cambodia, Eswara/Buddha are almost seen as interchangeable.

At Prambanan in Java (the Hindu counterpart to the great Buddhist complex at Borobudur) and at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the images of Siva/Eswara and of the Buddha are sometimes intermixed; apparently there was no great animosity between the worshippers of both. Similarly, one might hope, the transitions from Siva to the Buddha to Ayyappan were relatively peaceful.

The circumstantial evidence for the Buddhist nature of Lord Ayyappan is compelling. For one, the devotees chant: “Swamiye saranam Ayyappa,” so close to the Buddhist mantra: “Buddham saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami.

Furthermore, the very sitting posture of the Ayyappan deity is suggestive: almost every Buddhist image anywhere, including those sometimes unearthed in the fields of Travancore by farmers, is in sitting position. Whereas practically no other deity in Kerala is in that posture.

Says Lokesh Chandra: ‘The Avatamsaka Sutra describes the earthly paradise of Avalokitesvara: ”Potalaka is on the sea-side in the south, it has woods, it has streams, and tanks”…Buddhabhadra’s (AD 420) rendering of Potala (or Potalaka) is ”Brilliance.” It refers to its etymology: Tamil pottu (potti-) ”to light (as a fire)”…brilliance refers to the makara-jyoti of Sabarimala.’

‘Hsuen Tsang refers to Avalokitesvara on the Potala in the following words, summarised by Waters (1905): ”In the south of the country near the sea was the Mo-lo-ya (Malaya) mountain, with its lofty cliffs and ridges and deep valleys and gullies, on which were sandal, camphor and other trees. To the east of this was Pu-ta-lo-ka (Potalaka) mountain with steep narrow paths over its cliffs and gorges in irregular confusion…” ‘

All of this is still true; Hsuen Tsang’s description could easily be of contemporary Sabarimala. The only difference perhaps is that the forests are no longer so dense. Pilgrims believe that those who ignore the strict penances — abstinence from alcohol, smoking, meat-eating and sex — are in danger of being attacked by wild animals while on their trek. However, there are not too many large animals in these forests any more, as a result of human encroachment.

Lokesh Chandra continues: ‘Hsuen Tsang clearly says that Avalokitesvara at Potala sometimes takes the form of Isvara (Siva) and sometimes that of a Pasupata yogin. In fact, it was Siva who was metamorphosed into Avalokitesvara…The image at Potalaka which was originally Siva, was deemed to be Avalokitesvara when Buddhism became dominant… The Potalaka Lokesvara and the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara have echoes of Siva and Vishnu, of Hari and Hara.’

‘…Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala… could have been the Potala Lokesvara of Buddhist literature. The makara jyoti of Sabarimala recalls Potala’s “brilliance”… The long, arduous and hazardous trek through areas known to be inhabited by elephants and other wildlife to Sabarimala is spoken of in the pilgrimage to Potala Lokesvara. The Buddhist character of Ayyappa is explicit in his merger with Dharma-sasta. Sasta is a synonym of Lord Buddha.’

Thus, the history of Sabarimala is to some extent a microcosm of the religious history of India. It is interesting that there are connections between Kerala, in the deep South, and Ladakh/Zanskar in the far North, where the last of the Tibetan Buddhists practise their religion unmolested.

Those devout Ayyappan pilgrims in their dark clothes symbolising the abandonment of their egos, who flock to the hill temple in the cool winter months, are thus, in a way, celebrating two of the great religious streams of Mother India: both the Hindu present and the Buddhist past.

Source: https://www.rediff.com/news/dec/31rajeev.htm

Some people may get offended after knowing that Sabarimala was once a Buddhist shrine. But in our culture, only ignorant people have problems with names and forms. Wise people didn’t even hesitate to consider Buddha as an avatar of Vishnu. In fact, Dharmasastha is nothing but an union of Shiva as Avalokiteshvara and Vishnu as Buddha! It is very important to note here that Buddha didn’t allow women in his community. So for many centuries, Buddhist monks went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Avalokiteshvara in Sabarimala and young women were not a part of this pilgrimage.

Pothigai hills near Tirunelveli was once a hub of Mahayana Buddhism. It interacted with Shaivism and Saktha traditions and absorbed many deities. While Hindu texts show that sage Agastya learnt Tamil from Lord Shiva, Buddhist text maintain that Agastya learnt Tamil from Avalokiteshvara. Also, one of the forms of Avalokiteshvara is Goddess Chandika who is called as Cundi in Buddhism. Here is the image of Cundi:

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(Image source: Wikipedia)

You can compare this form with the Hindu Goddess Chandi:

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(Image source: Wikipedia)

It is interesting that Parashurama, who was a devotee of Chandika lived in Pothigai hills too, which I have explained in this answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is Tripura Rahasya?. Parashurama is also believed to have constructed the temple in Sabarimala. It is interesting to note that Parshurama is connected to both Chandika (which is a form of Avalokiteshvara in Buddhism) and Sabari Mala. This also gives strength to the theory that Sabari Mala has got something to do with Avalokiteshvara.

The consecration of Avalokiteshvara as Dharma sastha must have happened during the time when Mahayana Buddhism and Hindu sects existed in harmony. Just like there are ignorant people now who fight over petty issues, there must have been people who fought over such differences back then. The myths were created to pacify them.

Pothigai hills are called as Mount Potala in Buddhism. People who wanted to go to pilgrimage to Sabarimala had to go through Pothigai hills since there is a ghat there. The same ghat has been used by the buses now to go to Sabarimala. In Buddhist literature, Pothigai hills and Sabarimala are collectively called as Mount Potala.

Pilgrimage to Potala began in about the 1th century CE although records are very scant. Both of the great Tamil Buddhist epics, the Maṇimegala and the Cilappatikanam mention pilgrims going to Mount Potala. The Mahāyānist poet and philosopher Candragomin went there by ship and is said to have spent his last years on the mountain. He wrote his most famous work, the Śisyaleaka, while there and gave it to some merchants to pass to his disciples in northern India. When the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang was in Nalanda in the 7th century he met a brahmin who had made a vow to worship a statue of Avalokiteśvara which was on the top of Potala, a vow he had been able to fulfill. This statue was believed to be the bodhisattva’s exact likeness. Later, Hiuen Tsiang travelled through south India and although he was unable to visit Potala himself he left this description of it based on what others had told him. “To the east of the Malaya Mountains is Mount Potala. The passes on the mountain are very dangerous, its sides are precipitous and its valleys rugged. On the top of the mountain is a lake, its waters as clear as a mirror. From a grotto preceeds a great river which encircles the mountain twenty times as it flows down to the southern sea. By the side of the lake is a rock palace of the gods. Here Avalokiteśhvara in coming and going takes his abode. Those who strongly desire to see him disregarding their lives and fording the streams, climb the mountain forgetful of its difficulties and dangers. Of those who make the attempt there are very few who reach the summit. But even if those who dwell below the mountain earnestly prey to behold the bodhisattva, he appears to them sometimes as Isvara, sometimes in the form of a yogi, and addresses them with benevolent words and then they obtain their wishes according to their desires.” This description is clearly a blend of fact and fiction, something about Potala that increased as time went by. Gradually the sacred mountain came to be seen as a kind of magical fairy land, a paradise where rare medical herbs and exquisite flowers grew, where mythological animals frolicked and where those blessed enough to be reborn in Avalokiteśhvara’s presence abided in bliss.

Source: https://dhammawiki.com/index.php/Mount_Potala

So, what happened when Manikanda lived? Manikandan rediscovered a path to Sabari Mala and also went and meditated in the manimandapam. It is only after Manikandan, the pilgrimage to Sabarimala became easier! All devotees today (who go to Sabarimala by following a proper procedure including wearing mala and practicing austerities for a mandala) are going through the same path that Manikandan once rediscovered and went through! Manikandan himself was a devotee of Avalokiteshvara who attained Moksha.

But the issue that has happened today has actually led to something good. It has given reasons for people to explore the real concept behind Sabarimala pilgrimage. It has reminded us about the importance of Sabarimala.

So, should women between the age 10–50 allowed inside the shrine of Sabarimala? We need to ask women what they want to do and we have two options to choose from:

  1. Since Sabarimala pilgrimage is an unique Sadhana for men that requires staying away from women and since women do not need such Sadhana, the correct reasons should be properly explained in court instead of stating rubbish reasons like ‘It will spoil the Brahmacharya of Ayyappa’. This may cause the court to revise its judgement.
  2. If women or court really insist that young women should be also allowed, then women should be allowed to go there during a different season with full protection when men are not allowed. So men can practice 41 days of austerities as usual and go to Sabarimala during January; women of age group 10–50 can practice austerities for probably a lesser number of days (for. e.g. one week) and go to Sabarimala during the month of April when the shrine opens for Vishu. Thus, allowing men and women during different seasons can help devotees to resolve the issue without disturbing the spiritual practice that they do. I am pretty sure that Agamas are not very strict and they are liberal enough to make such provisions. Even if people are scared of any negative consequences, I am sure that there should be pariharams done for that! Our agamas are very rich and they certainly have room for many customizations.

It is very important to set our emotions aside and think. Causing violence and chaos in the name of saving a temple or a deity has got nothing to do with spirituality.

Bhavacakra – The Wheel Of Life: Infographics

Bhavacakra or Bhavachakra, known as the wheel of life is painted in the Buddhist temples in Tibet and India. It is a symbolic representation of the wheel of life.

Here is the gist of Bhavacakra:

  1. Ignorance of mistaking non-self as self-leads to aversion and attachments.
  2.  This, in turn, leads to volition, action and the pleasant or unpleasant consequences of the actions.
  3.  Depending on the consequences, a person enjoys or suffers the fruits of his action.
  4. The 12 nidanas give a clear picture of dependent origination. It states that everything is interconnected with various casual links. Nirvana or liberation is the only thing which is not affected by dependent origination.
  5. The five aggregates are impermanent and clinging to them causes suffering.
  6. There is a way to get liberated. It is called as eightfold path.

This is a mandala and can be used for meditation. To know more about the mandalas, read the following posts:

(I will make a detailed video about this shortly. Subscribe to my Youtube channel to watch the videos in time: http://bit.ly/shanmugamy )

Bhavacakra Mandala

Bhavacakra Mandala

Here are some useful infographics which give the details about various aspects of Bhavacakra mandala.

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(You can also interpret these realms as the periods of your current life. For example, a person might be in any of the following realms for a few months:

Sometimes we are like devas, very happy and pleased;

Sometimes like asuras, even though happy we don’t feel content and this leads to craving, attachment and aversion;

Sometimes like humans, being more responsible and showering love to friends, families and others;

Sometimes like animals, just eating and sleeping;

Sometimes like a hungry ghost, deprived of our needs and feel totally dissatisfied, frustrated and helpless;

Sometimes like beings of the hell, going through extreme suffering that seems to be endless.

The idea is to convey that none of these states are permanent and a proper spiritual practice is the only way to find permanent bliss in life.)

 

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Gems Of Wisdom From Various Self-Realized Masters – Infrographics

Just a short info-graphic I made which includes the quotes of Lao Tzu, Buddha, Ashtavakra, Ramana Maharshi, Osho, and Meister Eckhart.. The quotes are direct pointers to the non-dual truth. For more quotes, visit this page: Inspiring Quotes of Lao Tzu, Buddha and Many Others.

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The Truth About Yantras, Chakras, Temples, Tantra and Agamas

A Yantra is nothing but a map for meditation. The map can be used externally to build temples and internally to practice Yoga. A Yantra represents something called a Mandala.

Here is a raw skeleton of a simple Mandala:

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If you want to construct a room only for meditation (certain Tantric meditations that I will discuss shortly), you can construct a beautiful room with this map. The circle at the center is a place for an idol or a statue. This statue itself should be designed in a way so that each aspect of the statue represents a deep meaning. This central idol is surrounded by three small idols around it. The idea behind such a place is to create an emotional association with meditation by decorating this room, playing melodious songs, by making it a practice to take bath before entering the room etc. When you meditate in this place every day, just looking at the map or mandala can trigger a meditative feeling in you or make you ready to meditate. It can capture your attention in a minute and change your thought flow to something that is advantageous to meditation. This works based on something called ‘classical conditioning’.

If you want another example for classical conditioning, then do this: think about the days when you fall in love for the first time, wear the same kind of perfume that you were wearing in those days and listen to the song that you heard often those days. It will remind you of those beautiful days. This can be used to your own advantage. This is the science behind Yantras and temples. It is based on psychology, not based on physics or chemistry.

There is also a kind of meditation that you would do with these yantras and the temples modeled using Yantras. Let me first give you a model of another simple Yantra here:

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It has four surrounding deities instead of 3. This was actually the very common form of design when people started to use these things in the very beginning. Because these four surrounding deities represent four directions. Almost all religious groups in ancient India including a lot of folk religious practices had deities for directions. These deities were simply absorbed into Tantric practices as devices. This also helped those religious practitioners to convert their superstitious religious sentiments to a psychological device.

Here is an example of Vajrapani mandala in Vajrayana Buddhism following the same model:

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First, I will explain how you meditate based on this Yantra. You have to visualize yourself as the central deity and visualize the four deities of four directions as the extensions of yourself. This is the basis of Vajrayana and Tantric meditations. With more practice, you can visualize the mandala quite accurately.

You can make it more effective by constructing a temple using this mandala. When you fill the temple with unique sense perceptions like lamps, smell of camphor and flowers, chants etc and keep the place free from other distractions, then doing tantric meditations in such a place will gradually associate all these sense perceptions with meditation itself. So, an exposure to even one of this sense perception will be helpful to a great extent by changing the course of your thought stream and making it inclined towards meditation.

The energy you feel when you enter such a place comes from your own body and not from the mandala. Because a rush of emotions certainly affects your body as much it affects your mind. (When a teacher enters a noisy classroom on the day when you forgot to do your homework, does the energy of sudden fear you feel come from the teacher or happen in your own body?).

During the Vedic period, there were no temples or idols. Temples emerged as the result of people who started practicing these meditations in the late 1st millennium BC, probably a couple of centuries after the period of Buddha. Almost all Shiva temples are built with Shaiva Agamas and all Vishnu temples are built with Pancharatra or Vaikhanasa agamas, which are Tantric agamas that deal with these things in detail. (Sri Ramanuja played a major role in promoting Pancharatra. He replaced Vaikhanasa with Pancharatra in Sri Rangam temple and most of the other temples too. Tirupati temple is an example of the temple which follows Vaikhanasa agamas).

The beauty of such mandalas is that, the people who created it made sure that each aspect of it has a deep spiritual meaning. So, this accomplishes another purpose as well, by acting as mnemonic devices. When you understand how it works, you can take advantage of all the benefits it offers.

For example, Pancharatra has a concept of Viyuha in which there are four deities: Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. Here, Vasudeva represents the Purusha or Shiva or the absolute; Sankarshana represents Prakriti or Shakthi; Pradyumna represents the mind (your likes and dislikes) and Aniruddha represents ahamkara (ego). In some tantric texts, nine deities are used instead of four: (1) Vāsudeva, (2) Saṅkarṣaṇa, (3) Pradyumna, (4) Aniruddha, (5) Nārāyaṇa, (6) Nṛsiṁha, (7) Hayagrīva, (8) Mahāvarāha, and (9) Brahmā.

But just buying a Yantra and keeping it in the home will do nothing. You need to understand what each aspect of Yantra represents and use it for meditation after completely understanding the design, the purpose and the pointers that the Yantra represents. Because all these are psychological.

But there is another purpose for Yantras which is the most important one. After some point, you should start seeing your own body and mind representing a Yantra. You understand yourself as a living temple and locate each deity at a particular place in your body.

shatkona

Let us take the above image as an example. This is a Shatkona, my favorite one. The symbol has two triangles.

  1. The regular triangle represents the absolute and each side of it represents Sat, Chit, and Ananda which means truth, consciousness, and bliss.
  2. The inverted triangle represents Prakriti and her three states or qualities: Sattva (balance), Rajas (activity), Tamas (inertia or lethargy).

The union of these two triangles represents the union of Purusha and Prakriti, which is actually the essence of non-duality. So, this star is a perfect symbol of spiritual enlightenment itself.

If I have to use this mandala for a temple, then I would need 7 deities, one for the central deity and 6 for the surrounding ones. If I were to internalize these 7 deities then I would need 7 locations in the body. When you are in a cross-legged sitting position, how would you divide your whole body starting from your butt to your head into 7?

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This is how you can do it. There is no other way! This is the truth about chakras.

Do you know that initially there were only 4 Chakras and not 7? I will tell you why.

Before the common era and during the late first millennium BC, there was no concept of chakras. But people did have a concept about Nadis. They thought that there is a Sushumna Nadi in the center. People believed that when a person dies, his spirit exits through one of the nine holes of the body. They also believed that if the spirit goes upwards through Shushumna Nadi and exits the body by breaking the top of the head, he will go to heaven. That sounded reasonable to them because if the heaven is somewhere above, then spirit should move upwards. Many texts talk about voluntarily moving the soul or spirit through Shushumna Nadi at the time of the death to make sure that the person reaches the heaven. They called this practice Utkranti. Utkranti was also used to mean traveling from one body to another. It is this Utkranti which is called as Mahasamadhi in modern days.

The concept of chakras actually emerged much later. Chakras are just an attempt to internalize the locations and deities of a mandala or a yantra. It developed just a 1000 or 1200 years before, between 8th century AD to 10th century AD.

  1. Hevajra Tantra, one of the Buddhist tantric texts during the period of 8th century AD talks about just 4 chakras. The reason they chose four is quite obvious. It is because most of the early Tantric mandalas were based on four directions and assigning 4 deities to each direction. In Buddhist tantras, the following four deities called ‘four heavenly kings’ were used in meditations. The concept is same as the four forms used in Pancharatra. So, during 8th century AD, they internalized these four deities as four chakras in the body.

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2. Kaulajnananirnaya which contains the core teachings of Matsyendranath describes a system of 11 chakras. This text is also from the same time period. Please note that Matsyendranath is one of the yogis who is quoted by Sadhguru often. But Sadhguru himself doesn’t know that Matsyendranath talked about 11 chakras and not 7.

3. Abhinavagupta, a great mystic of Kashmir Shaivism had adopted a five chakra model.

4. Sat Chakra Nirupana, another Tantric text talks about a six chakra model.

This is how slowly the system evolved into the current system of seven chakras. They are conceptual and were only meant for visualizations. But it is this concept of Chakras which has become a huge business in the world today.

Here is a picture of Kali Yantra:

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First of all, What do these 36 corners represent?

During 8th – 6th century BC, people were interested in going inward to find a way out of suffering. When they explored and enumerated the contents of the consciousness, each sect or group of monks came with different numbers as indivisible entities of one’s conscious field… Buddha came with five and called it five aggregates. Vedanta also came up with five and called it five koshas. Samkhya came with 24 units or tattvas by including sense perceptions, sense organs, organs of actions (hands, legs, speech, excretion, reproduction) and five elements. This way of enumerating the contents of consciousness and coming up with these basic units continued for about 1500 years. Kashmir Shaivism, which is the youngest of all ( which has influenced Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev a lot ) came with 36 basic units. They are called as 36 tattvas. The 36 corners of this yantra represent 36 tattvas.

Each unit was like an atom of the internal world. Vaisheshika, a school of thought in India is called as atomism because it enumerated the contents of consciousness this way and divided them to inseparable things called ‘anu’. But this has been greatly misunderstood by people. There are people who think that these anus/atoms are the actual atoms that we study in Physics.. No, not at all!

Let me explain how this enumeration works. Let us say you look at a tree. You can explore the tree and enumerate its units by dividing the tree into its parts, narrowing down to its molecules, atoms, electrons and quantum particles.

But this is not what we do in spiritual practice. In spiritual path, this is how people see it:

1)When you look at a tree, there is a perception of a form. But where does this perception happen? It happens within the field of consciousness. So, a visual sense perception is actually one of the 36 units.

2)This visual perception is accomplished through eyes, hence eye as a sense organ is also one of the 36 units.

3)Is what is perceived a solid, liquid, gas, the heat which reacts with these three or the empty space in which it occurs? It is a perception of a solid structure. And this solid nature is made as one of the 36 units too, making it as one of the Panchabhutas.

4)Now, what kind of feeling does this perception create in the consciousness? It may create like, dislike or a neutral feeling. This is called manas and it is also one of the 36 units.

5)Does this perception trigger a memory? Oh yes… So memory or Chitta is also one of the 36.

6) What did I use to discriminate all these things? I used my intellect. So intellect or Buddhi is also one of the units.

7) Who is doing all this? It is just happening but it gives you an illusion that ‘you’ as a personal entity separate from the existence is doing it. This is ego or Ahankara is also one of the 36.

This way, people enumerated the contents of consciousness which was helpful for them to discriminate between the awareness and the contents of awareness.

So, this enumeration has got nothing to do with physics or chemistry as many people tend to believe. It is a process of deep investigation of the contents of the field of your conscious subjective experience itself.

The central Bindhu in the Kali Yantra or the central Linga in the Linga Bhairavi yantra represents the Atman, witness or your true nature. The 5 inverted triangle around the Bindu represents the Vedantic way of enumeration which is 5 koshas. They represent your body, breath, your mind, intellect and experience/bliss.

The eight lotuses represent Prakriti or nature and symbolize another way of enumeration. The eight things are solid, liquid, gas, heat, space, activity, inertia and balance. This is a bit outward focused and was probably added to symbolize the nature as we observe it through our five senses. A meditation using this Yantra will require a very complicated visualization.

I can go on and on and explain why Yantras have played a very important role in the spiritual history and how useful it is in meditation. Because using a Yantra has multiple purposes:

1)Taking advantage of classical conditioning and easily get into a meditative state.

2) Mnemonics to remember certain core pointers.

3) A map to construct temples.

4) Helps in the ‘doing’ oriented meditation like Shamatha, Ashtanga yoga etc because of the requirement of complex visualizations.

5)Prepares the ground for ‘non-doing’ oriented meditation: self-inquiry/mindfulness. This is the most important part. Everything that is done in a spiritual path is done to prepare oneself to the direct approach towards spiritual liberation.

When a seeker asked Ramana Maharshi about Shri Yantra, he replied very beautifully with no mumbo jumbo or nonsense:

Talk 405.
19th April 1937

A respectable and orthodox gentleman asked about Sri Chakra.

Ramana Maharishi: It has a deep significance. There are 43 corners with sacred
syllables in them. Its worship is a method for concentration of
mind. The mind is wont to move externally. It must be checked
and turned within. Its habit is to dwell on names and forms,
for all external objects possess names and forms. Such names
and forms are made symbolic mental conceptions in order to
divert the mind from external objects and make it dwell within
itself. The idols, mantras, yantras, are all meant to give food to
the mind in its introvert state, so that It may later become capable
of being concentrated, after which the superb state is reached
automatically.

I recently wrote a detailed post on my blog by making use of all the concepts used in Tantric meditations. You can read it here: A Shamatha Meditation Based on Symbolism, Visualization, Mnemonics and Classical Conditioning

It is about a 3-level meditation that also includes a Yantra, but a visually appealing one:

yan-full-high

 

Which Philosophy Personally Appeals More to You, Buddhism or Advaita Vedanta?

(This is a repost of the answer that I wrote in Quora for the same question)

Both point to the same truth!

I have noticed that many people don’t agree when it is said both are the same, because they are only looking at both of them in philosophical level. When it comes to ultimate reality, no matter what words we use, they can be always misleading.

I am talking from my own experience. Oneness with the rest of the existence is a living reality for me. But I will back up my statements by quoting both Vedantic and Buddhist scriptures.

The main source of suffering in our lives is caused by identification. We get identified with our mind, our body, our thoughts, our emotions etc. This identification of mistaking something that is not Self as Self is termed as Avidya or ignorance. Ignorance causes us to think that there is a separate individual self which needs to be protected and enhanced.

In other words, we feel experientially that we are separate from the rest of the world. This separation causes us to crave for fulfillment. That is why Buddha said craving is the root cause of suffering. It is Avidya, the ignorance which causes craving. Buddha is talking about the immediate cause and Vedanta is talking about the original cause.

Some people will object to this by saying that Buddhism doesn’t say that there is something eternal. First of all, when you realize that time itself is an illusion, you will also realize that eternity is only an idea. Buddha was more specific and straight forward, while Vedanta is little compassionate and gives you something that your mind can grasp.

When anyone asked Buddha any metaphysical questions such as ‘Is there anything eternal’, Buddha was silent. It is called Noble Silence .He talked about the impermanence of aggregates, but what we call in Vedanta as absolute reality is not one of the aggregates. It is not anything that is objective. It cannot be put into words. But both Vedanta and Buddhism has actually hinted about this absolute reality with striking similarity.

See the below examples:

Vedanta:

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), O Gargi, so the knowers of Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure, neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3-8-8.

Buddhism:

“There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (1))

Buddha directly talks about something that is eternal too, but he uses the word ‘unborn’:

There is, monks, an unborn— unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3))

So, why did Buddha reject Vedas when Vedanta says that Vedas are the only authority?

We need to take Buddha’s time into account. Buddha lived sometime around 800 BC- 600 BC. It was during those times when many rishis were able to realize that there is something beyond the benefits that was got from mere rituals..Vedic rituals only focused on materialistic benefits that people could enjoy in three worlds. They were never about ultimate reality. That is when two great upanishads, Brihadaranyaka upanishad and Chandgoya upanishads were compiled. It must have taken a century or two; Buddha started talking to people at the same time period. So, we can safely conclude that when Buddha was alive, upanishads were not a part of Vedas.

This will raise many objections. Because, many people believe that Vedas are eternal and infallible. Even Shankara believed so. But, consider the following verses from Brihadaranyaka upanishad and the commentary from Shankara:

From chapter 6, section 4:

Verse 6: If man sees his reflection in water, he
should recite the following Mantra : ‘ (May the
gods grant) me lustre, manhood, reputation,
wealth and merits.’ She (his wife) is indeed the
goddess of beauty among women. Therefore he
should approach this handsome woman and
speak to her.

Shankara’s commentary:

If perchance he sees his reflection in water, he
should recite the following Mantra : ‘(May the gods
grant) me lustre,’ etc. She is indeed the goddess of
beauty among women. Therefore he should approach
this handsome woman and speak to her, when she has
taken a bath after three ‘nights.

Verse 7 : If she is not willing, he should buy her
over; and if she is still unyielding, he should
strike her with a stick or with the hand and
proceed, uttering the following Mantra, ‘I take
away your reputation,’ etc. She is then actually
discredited.

Shankara’s commentary:

If she is not willing, he should buy her over,
press his wishes through ornaments etc.; and if she is
still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or
with the hand
, and announcing that he was going to
curse her and make her unfortunate, he should ·proceed,
uttering the following Mantra : ‘I take away your
reputation: etc. As a result of that curse, she comes
to be known as barren and unfortunate, and is then
actually discredited.

The above verses show how totally male dominative the society was those days.. Even though this doesn’t have anything to do with enlightenment, this example shows how one should not take everything just because it comes from a scripture or a person who is regarded as an authority.

And I don’t think that such infallible and eternal upanishads can advice someone to beat his wife if she doesn’t agree for sex.

You may say that these were later interpolations. But if that is the case, how could we trust Vedas in the first place?

But I know that Vedic verses such as Nasadiya Suktha and almost all upanishads have immense wisdom. We have to see them as collection of various poems composed by different people, instead of seeing them as infallible and eternal scriptures. I know that it is very difficult for many Indians to accept, because we are deeply blinded by pride and confirmation bias.

So, Why did Vedanta say that Vedas are only pramana (means of knowledge)?

Let us talk about three different methods of acquiring knowledge in general. (Vedanta uses six, but let us talk about three important ones here)

  1. Direct experience
  2. Inference
  3. Testimony from an authority.

In our daily life, we can get to know about many things through direct experience and inference. But we would never know the path to end the suffering unless someone tells us, simple!

So our ancient Indians selected the Upanishads as the only reliable authority to teach us the path towards liberation. It is just a standardization made by humans to avoid any conflict. And according to the social structure that prevailed those days, instead of relying any random person’s words as authority, it was reasonable to accept Upanishads as authority.

But we live in 21st century now. We are aware of things like confirmation bias and we are more keen towards human rights. While we do appreciate and show immense reverence to our ancient scriptures, it is nothing wrong in changing certain things to suit our modern society.

Also, Vedanta uses a certain teaching method called Adyaropa Apavada while Buddhism teaches directly and precisely. Vedanta is poetic where as Buddhism is empirical. Buddhism gives you the raw truth but Vedanta offers to you with added sweets and flavors. The only problem in Vedanta is that people may get stuck with the words and concepts.

You can find more details in my post here where I have included some additional points: Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison

If you are looking for a great spiritual authority to confirm the validity of Buddha’s message, then I will quote some of the words from Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi:

Disciple: Research on God has been going on from time immemorial. Has the final word been said?

Maharshi: (Keeps silence for some time.)

Disciple: (Puzzled) Should I consider Sri Bhagavan’s silence as the reply to my question?

Maharshi: Yes. Mouna is Isvara-svarupa.Hence the text: “The Truth of Supreme Brahman proclaimed through Silent Eloquence.”

Disciple: Buddha is said to have ignored such inquiries about God.

Maharshi: And for this reason was called a sunyavadin (nihilist). In fact Buddha concerned himself more with directing the seeker to realize Bliss here and now that with academic discussion about God, etc.

Buddhism and Vedanta are the Same – A Detailed Comparison

Buddhism and Vedanta are two big schools which have dominated the spiritual world till date.  Among many schools which have existed in the past, only these two have made a great influence all over the world and still continue to exist. But they seem to be contradictory to each other in many ways.

But based on my own experience and based on what I have read, these two schools only seem to differ because they use different conceptual languages. They also have different teaching methods. But the essence is the same.

When it comes to Vedanta, Prasthanathrayi, consisting of main Upanishads, Brahmasutras and Bhagwad gita is  the authority. In Buddhism, Tripitaka, consisting of Vinaya Pitaka, Sutra Pitaka and Abidharama Pitaka, is the source of all conceptual details. When you go through the scriptures with an open mind and with the support of your own spiritual realization, you will see that both are essentially the same.

Both schools talk about the cessation of suffering. The process of the cessation of suffering is called Moksha in Vedanta and Nirvana in Buddhism. Now let us see how these two schools define the nature of this liberation and the ultimate truth:

Vedanta

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), O Gargi, so the knowers of Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure, neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad  3-8-8.

Buddhism

“There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (1))
Do they sound similar? Yes, Because they talk about the same thing.

Now consider the following quotes:

There is, monks, an unborn— unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned

– Buddha (in Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3))

………………………………………………..

Verily, that great unborn soul, undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless is Brahman

–        Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.25

 

This Sunyata or the ultimate truth doesn’t have any attributes. It is the conscious space in which everything takes place. It is the substratum of everything that is in the reality, like a movie screen that acts as a substratum to show the moving pictures on it.

This substratum itself is empty of anything that we can call as a ‘thing’, including abstract things. A ‘thought’ is a thing; a feeling is a thing’ a sense perception is a thing; and an experience is a thing too. All these are witnessed as the existing things or stuff that occupy the space of consciousness itself. This underlying consciousness is called shakshin ( witness), satchitananda (truth -consciousness -bliss), nurguna brahman, sunyata and so on.

 

Buddhism and Vedanta
Buddhism and Vedanta are the same!

Adyaropa Apavada – The Teaching method of Vedanta

 

So, when Buddhism calls it as sunyata, why does Vedanta defines the reality in positive terminology?  Because, Vedantins  use a different teaching method called ‘Adhyaropa apavada’. The teaching method intentionally superimposes some attributes to the ultimate reality first to distinguish it from everything that it is not. So, even though no concept can define something that lacks any kind of thing that is conceived by a concept, these intentional attributes are made in order to help the mind to grasp it  as a concept at the initial stage.

Then Vedantins negate everything that it is not. They reject the body as not it because body can be witnessed as a thing. They reject the mind as not it because mind can be witnessed as a thing too. You first understand that you are Brahman and then you negate everything that is not ‘You’ by closely monitoring the mental processes every moment, with the detached witness attitude.

Finally, even the intentional attributes are also rejected. This helps to drop the initial concepts that were formed to understand Brahman. Once you let go of all the concepts of reality and narrow down to the bare reality of yourself, people say that you have realized the truth.

Let us see some excerpts from Vedantic scriptures which support this:

“Who so knows the Self, thus described, as the fearless Absolute (brahman), himself becomes the Absolute, beyond fear. This is a brief statement of the meaning of the entire Upanishad.  And in order to convey this meaning rightly, the fanciful alternatives of production, maintenance and withdrawal, and the false notion of action, its factors and results, are deliberately attributed to the Self as a first step. And then later the final metaphysical truth is inculcated by negating these characteristics through a comprehensive denial of all particular superimpositions on the Absolute, expressed in the phrase ‘neither this nor that’. Just as a man, wishing to explain numbers from one to a hundred thousand billion (points to figures that he has drawn and) says, ‘This figure is one, this figure is ten, this figure is a hundred, this figure is a thousand’ , and all the time his only purpose is to explain numbers, and not to affirm that the figures are numbers; or just as one wishing to explain the sounds of speech as repre sented by the written letters of the alphabet resorts to a device in the form of a palm-leaf on which he makes incisions which he later fills with ink to form letters, and all the while, (even though he point to a letter and say “This is the sound “so and so”‘) his only purpose is to explain the nature of the sounds referred to by each letter, and not to affirm that the leaf, incisions and ink are sounds; in just the same way, the one real metaphysical principle, the Absolute, is taught by resort to many devices, such as attributing to it production (of the world) and other powers. And then after wards the nature of the Absolute is restated, through the concluding formula ‘neither this nor that’, so as to purify it of all particular notions accruing to it from the various devices used to explain its nature in the first place’.

– Brhadaranyaka  Bhasya IV.iv.25  – by Shankara

……………………………………………………………………………………….

“Nor can the Absolute be properly referred to by any such terms as Being or non-being. For all words are used to convey a meaning, and when heard by their hearers convey the meaning the speaker had in mind. But communicable meaning is restricted without exception to universal, action, attribute and relation….

The Absolute, however, does not belong to any universal (genus), so it cannot be expressed by a noun such as ‘Being’ or ‘non-being’. Being without attributes, it cannot be described by any adjective denoting an attribute. And being actionless, it cannot be expressed by any verb denoting activity.

For the Upanishad speaks of it as ‘Without parts, without activity, at rest’ (Svet .VI.19) . Nor has it any relation with anything. For it is ‘One’, ‘without a second’, ‘not an object’ and ‘the Self. Hence it cannot be expressed by any word. And the upanishadic texts themselves confirm this when they say ‘That from which words fall back’ (Taitt .ll.9) , and in other passages.”

– (Bhagwad Gita Bhasya XIII.12) – Shankara

……………………………………………………………………………………

And because the Absolute has no particular characteristics, the Veda indicates its nature by denying of it the forms of all other things, as is shown, for instance, in the following pa sages: ‘And so, therefore, the teaching is “neither this nor that”‘ (Brhad.II.iii.6) , ‘It is other than what is known, and above the unknown’ (Kena I.U), ‘That from which words fall back without obtaining access, together with the mind’ (Taitt .II.9)

And the Vedic texts also relate how when Badhva was questioned by Baskalin he gave his answer merely by not speaking. ‘Sir, teach me in words’, Ba§kalin said. But the Teacher remained silent. Finally, at the second or third time of asking, Badhva replied, ‘I am telling you, but you do not understand. This Self is utter silence’

– (Bramasutra Bhasya III.ii.17) – Shankara

………………………………………………..

(a) In order to disclose the nature of the self as Brahman in itself Srutis like the following negate all specific features superimposed on it by the unenlightened common mind :-

“It is this Akshara (the Imperishable), 0 Gargi, so the knowers of    Brahman say. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, not     red, not viscid, not shadowy, not dark, not the air, not the ether, not    adhesive, tasteless, odourless, without the sense of sight, without the    sense of hearing, without the vital principle, mouthless, without measure,   neither interior nor exterior,. It eats nothing, nobody eats it.”    – Br.3-8-8.

(b) Lest, by this strict denial of all properties it may be taken to be absolute nothing (s’unya), it is taught by means of illusory attributes seemingly pertaining to it owing to Upadhis (apparently conditioning factors).

(c) At the close of the teaching the rescission of even the imputed attributes used as a device for purposes of teaching, lest it should be regarded as actually belonging to it.
Hence that Brahman cannot be denoted by the epithet ‘jnanam’ (knowledge) either. Nevertheless, it is indicated though not expressed, by the word ”jnanam’  denoting the semblance of consciousness which is really a modification of the mind. It is not directly denoted by that term because Brahman is devoid of genus and other specific features which alone are the occasion for the application of words to a thing. So is it with regard to the term ‘Satyam’ (truth). For Brahman is by its very nature devoid of all specific features. The term Satyam really refers to the genus ‘being’ inhering in external objects, and when Brahman is described as ‘Sat yam’ (Real), it is only indicated by that term. But Brahman is not actually expressed by the term ‘Satyam’.

Tai. Bh. 2-1, p. 285 – Shankara

 

Atman and Anatman – The difference

 

Whatever you  observe in our conscious field is not You.. Therefore they are not the Self (or Bhrahman).. That is what the word ‘Anatta’ (Anatman) means..  Atman is Self. Anatman is that which is not Self.

This Atman or Brahman or Self cannot be put into words. Any name that is given to it is actually misleading to some extent. Thats why Buddha only talked about Anatta- that which is not the Atman.

Read this excerpt, it will make sense:

“Objection : “Is not even Atman denoted by the word ‘Atman’ ?

Reply: No. for there are Srutis like ‘From which words fall back’, ‘That in which one sees nothing else’.

Question: How then do texts like ‘Atman alone is below … .’ and ‘It is Atman’ reveal Atman ?

Reply:  This is no fault. For, the word (Atman), primarily used in the world of differences to denote individual soul as distinct from the body it possesses, is extended to indicate the entity which remains after the rejection of body and other not-selfs as not deserving that appellation, and is used to reveal what is really inexpressible by words”.

– Shankara – Ch. Bh. 7-1-3, p. 542.

Neti -Neti in Buddhism

 

Now, let us read Atmashatkam, a vedantic short poetry attributed to Shankara and Anattalakhana sutta, a Buddhist Sutta that discusses the Buddhist teachings on Anatta – no self.  Once you read it carefully, you will realize that both say exactly the same.

AtmaShatkam

1) I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (citta). I am not the five senses. I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind (the five elements). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

2) Neither can I be termed as energy (prāṇa), nor five types of breath (vāyus), nor the seven material essences, nor the five sheaths(pañca-kośa). Neither am I the organ of Speech, nor the organs for Holding ( Hand ), Movement ( Feet ) or Excretion. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

3) I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kāma), nor even liberation (mokṣa). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

4) I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (vice). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures (Vedas), rituals or sacrifices (yajñas). I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

5)  I do not have fear of death, as I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

6) I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation (mukti). I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

Anatta-lakkhana Sutta

“So, bhikkhus any kind of form whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: ‘This is not mine, this is not I, this is not myself.’

“Any kind of feeling whatever…

“Any kind of perception whatever…

“Any kind of determination whatever…

“Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: ‘This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'”

……………………………………………………………………………..

It is obvious.. Both say the samething. This is called Neti Neti method in Vedanta – rejecting whatever that is observed as not-self. Here, it is important to see the thoughts, emotions and feelings etc are different from you, as they arise and pass away. As you witness these thoughts, you see yourself as a witness instead of identifying with thoughts and mental processes.

 

Nididhyasana  and Mindfulness  are the same

 

I understood that  Nididhyasana which is prescribed in Vedanta and Mindfulness that is prescribed in Buddhism are exactly the same, when I read Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati’s interpretation of Nididhyasana.

 

You can read the book ‘Adyatma Yoga’ of Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati to know how he explains it. He was a Sanskrit scholar and vedantic monk. He dedicated his whole life in bringing out the kind of teaching method that was actually adopted by Shankara. He lived up to the age 94 and has written over 200 books. He has worked hard enough to bring out the true teachings of Shankara.

 

Conclusion

 

We can compare Buddhism and Vedanta to two languages that evolved from a parent prolanguage. They split into two when Buddha refused to accept the authority of Vedas.

As centuries passed and different things evolved in each school, they became like two mutually unintelligible languages which belong to the same parent.

 

The Journey of a Seeker – My Story

In this post, I am going to talk about my spiritual journey and the two most influential people in my life, Osho and Sadhguru. I am going to walk you through the journey of my life and give you accurate description of the changes that I went through in my sadhana. Then I will provide an honest unbiased review of both Sadhguru and Osho. Finally, I will put the concept of spiritual enlightenment in a scientific perspective and try to explain it using the terminology of academic psychology.

My Spiritual Journey – Me to Me

Early years

I grew up in a Hindu family which required me to believe in a personal God and his family of Gods. My grandparents taught me that God had a family with children who had God relatives. I was asked to pray to them to have my wishes granted and threatened to be punished by God if I was morally wrong. My early childhood days were spent in listening to stories of mythology and singing devotional songs. I showed more devotion than any of the other children of my age in my neighborhood. Eventually, I began to fall in love with all these heavenly beings and had a deep desire to see them with my physical eyes. I was told that it was possible if I prayed enough.

In those early days, I have watched movies in which devotees performed Tapas (penance) to get a vision of God and to get their boons granted. They were shown to be sitting or standing with closed eyes in various positions for years with no food and water so that they can have such visions. Seeing those people in movies, I too tried to imitate them. I used to sit with closed eyes for fifteen to thirty minutes every day when I was seven years old. Unknowingly, I had tried to do my first meditation this way.

I had learnt to read very early in my life. When I was seven years old, I could read and understand stories in children’s magazines written in Tamil. This was going to help to me to learn some advanced topics in the years to come. The same year, I was also taught in school about Buddha. I was taught that Buddha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree and I had no idea what it meant.

Introduction to Ramakrishna

When I was about nine years old, I happened to read the book ‘Gospel Of Ramakrishna’. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa was the guru of Swami Vivekananda. He was considered to be enlightened but was not as famous as Vivekananda. I was fascinated about the trances that Ramakrishna used to go through, a state in which he was immersed in divine bliss with no consciousness of the outside world. The trances are called Samadhis. I also read about the unbelievable stories of how he used to have visions of Goddess Kali and talk with her. His words were filled with pearls of wisdom. One thing he insisted was to stay away from women and gold. He considered the desires for women and gold to be the common obstacles to spiritual enlightenment. The Indian word for spiritual enlightenment is Moksha, the event which frees an individual from the cycle of birth and death and makes him to be directly united with God. This concept is same as salvation or the union with God in Christianity.

Reading this book increased my desire to see God in a physical form. Ramakrishna used to say that if somebody shed tears in the desire to see God, then he would definitely see God in this lifetime and attain liberation (enlightenment).Reading this, I immediately shed tears after shutting myself in the pooja (worship) room.

I was also impressed about the fact that Ramakrishna followed Christianity and Islam to see if they also led to the same goal of Samadhi. He was able to get the same results by doing sadhana in Christian and Sufi paths.

Exposure to Yoga and other concepts

After a year, I started reading a book about Yoga and came to know about Ashtanga yoga, the eight limbs of Yoga in the path of attaining Samadhi. Samadhi is the highest goal of Yoga but it required years and years of practising meditation, doing asanas and pranayamas (exercises manipulating the breath). I tried to do meditation often but ended up fighting with my thoughts and had no success in concentration. After seeing continuous failures in getting my mind to focus on a single object, I finally gave up the confidence that I could do it.

Then I started reading Bhagwad Gita and Periya Purnam (A collection of stories of 63 enlightened devotees of Lord Shiva). I had also read a few mythological books including Skanda Purana and Shiva Purana. I also read texts about Vedanta and self-inquiry but I could not understand them. Finally, I started to believe that God is one, formless but can show himself to devotees in the form they worship.

When I read more about science, I understood that many of the things which are in the religious domain are not accepted by science. One day I thought, ‘May be I should do something to create a bridge between science and religion’. I always dreamed of becoming a scientist when I was a child. I believed that if religion is approached in a scientific way, we can discover many things.

Teenage Years

During my teenage years, I developed depression and inferiority complex. I had trouble in forming friendships and I saw myself as unworthy. But I had a lot of ambitions. I had mastered the art of writing poetry in Tamil in classical metres like venba, asiriyappa, virtutham etc. I was known as a good poet and orator in my school, by the time I was 14 years old. Even though I had inferiority complex, I had absolutely no stage fear. But my depression deepened in the coming months and I began to show some abnormal behaviour in school. I used to shut myself in a classroom and cry without any reason. I also developed a crush on a girl and started convincing myself that it is love. I lived far away from reality and had developed a fantasy prone and neurotic personality. I clearly showed the traits of bipolar disorder. I used to be known as the most brilliant student in my class. But the depressive phases and my so called ‘love’ had made me to seek more time in solitude.  After recovering from depression to some extent and finishing my tenth grade, I wrote hundreds of poems about love, life and God during the summer vacation. By this time, I had also formed an image of an ideal self, a self that I wanted to be. Everybody has an actual self and an ideal self. The less they overlap with each other, the more anxiety they feel. My actual self and ideal self didn’t seem to even touch each other.

First, I wanted to be seen as normal by people and conform to the standards of society. I wanted to develop my social skills and interact with people with confidence. Then I wanted to be known as an accomplished poet or an author in the future. Finally, I wanted to marry the girl I loved and live happily ever after. Before I die, I wanted to make sure that my name is registered in the history. That was my ideal self. I realized I had to work really hard to achieve my goals.

Also, when I looked back on what I read about Yoga and attaining Samadhi, I realized that was not going to be possible. How can I ever stop my desire for money, women and other things? After all, everyone is striving for well being. If I stop going for things that will increase my well being, then what else I would do to bring myself lasting happiness? I realized that spirituality is not for me.

College years

I lived away from my parents when I was studying in a polytechnic college in Chennai. I initially stayed in a hostel but due to pathological ragging that was done by seniors in the hostel, I moved to a room shared with other students. I faced a lot of issues during those times but I have just made the long story short. I had chosen to study chemical technology but unfortunately in a few months I realized that it was not the subject I wanted to study. So, for the first year and a half, I did not score well in the exams.

In the fourth semester I took a decision. I decided to dedicate myself to studies, accomplishing my goals and showing ultimate devotion to God to earn his grace. I also tried to be morally perfect in every aspect. If God chooses to show his grace to people who are moral and devotional, then it should happen to me. So, I pushed myself to the extreme. The life for the 6 months was very intense and I gave my 100% in everything, in every moment of life.

During mid December of that year, I started to walk 2 kilometres in the morning at 4 am everyday to a nearby temple and pray for about an hour. Then I would walk back to my room. I did the same thing in the evening and I continued this for a month.

Here is the gist of my prayers: “Dear God.. you know me very well and you are aware of what I can do and what I cannot do. I am trying all I could do to change myself, work hard and also be a good person. But I have difficulty in controlling my impulses and exercising self-control. Why did you create me like this, with this kind of genetics? Please show me the way.. I don’t know what else to do. I have what you have given me as my available resources.. You gave me this body, you gave me these tendencies.. How can I alone be responsible to correct those tendencies and be a good, kind, hardworking person? You gave me the environment and genetic factors that made me neurotic, selfish and irresponsible. I tried my best and I am not able to change that. Is it fair if you punish me for something that I don’t have full control over? Please be kind and help me”..

I literally used to have a mental conversation with God everyday in the temple. In the mean time, I started analyzing my thoughts and behaviors seriously. Every time I behaved in a negative way, I sat and analyzed what went wrong. I made my thought process conscious and engaged in a deep contemplation every day.

In the mean time I started to wonder how much control an individual has over one’s behavior. Consider the following facts:

  • People with low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced by the nervous system, are predisposed to show impulsive activity and emotional aggression.
  • People who have high levels of testosterone are more likely to show aggressive behavior.
  • A brain tumor caused an individual to be sexually abusive towards girls. Once the tumor was removed, he became normal.

These psychological findings show that a person’s behaviour is highly influenced by hereditary factors, hormonal levels, other biological factors and the environment. They can even affect self control. So, somebody’s moral behaviour is not completely under his or her control.

“So, If God created me like this, is it fair for the God to punish me for the behaviour that is simply the result of my biology? Also, what kind of God he is if he chooses to favour the people who prays to him? I am willing to change and trying my best, so what is stopping from God to help me?”

I used to put these questions to God when I prayed. I reasoned with him a lot and I told him I really had no idea what to do more than what I was doing then. Whatever the problem was, I asked God to fix it. If it seemed impossible for any reason, I asked him to take my life and give me eternal peace.

When it came to studies, I made sure I dedicated a few hours each day. I pushed myself too hard and started to bite off more than I could chew, in all aspects. I remained alert about my thought patterns and behaviors and constantly monitored myself. I could manage all this until the end of the semester. After that, there was no way I could continue doing what I was doing. The grip that I had over myself began to loosen and I started losing my self control.

I did really well in the exams that semester. I had got the third highest score among my peers. But I had expected to come first. I did all I could do for this. I obviously worked harder than others but I still couldn’t reach my goal. My ideal self appeared to be so far away. I felt restless, anxious and unhappy.

In the next 6 months, I experienced a tremendous fear of loss. I started to get thoughts like, ‘what if I lost everything I have, What if I become a beggar?’…. I didn’t resist those thoughts, instead I waited to see what those thoughts are up to. Whatever bad situation that I imagined, I made myself mentally strong to face it. I told myself ‘I can face anything in my life!’… One of my favorite proverbs those days was ‘Hope for the best but prepare for the worst’..

I gradually started questioning everything in my life.. What is the purpose of this life after all? Why should I continue to live? Everything seemed to be meaningless. My rational mind started to question the existence of God. When I dug deeper into my mind, it seemed as if nothing had any purpose. There seemed to be no way to fulfill the expectations of mind. I thought I would rather die instead of having to suffer with my immature, neurotic and unpredictable personality.

Then I thought, ‘If I have decided to end this life now, then I have a freedom of doing anything I like… I can die at any minute when it seems to be impossible to live any longer.’… The idea that death is an open choice all the time gave me a sudden sense of freedom and peace. ‘Let me let this life going and see what happens’ I thought.

Introduction to the books of Osho

I got a membership in a nearby library later that year, in my fifth semester. That is where I saw a book by Osho. I had heard about him before but had no idea who he was and what he taught. So, I borrowed that book and began to read.

The first thing that caught my attention was what he said about meditation. He said that trying to concentrate and fighting with thoughts generate more and more thoughts as a result. He made very clear that meditation was not concentration. He suggested a new technique for meditation which was to witness my thoughts non-judgmentally, as an observer. He taught to observe my thoughts as if I had nothing to do with them. I was kind of already doing this and I felt it very easy and doable.

Next, he said that God is not a person. There is no personal God. ‘That is what I thought’, I said to myself. He told that there is Godliness, which is the very essence of life, which is the very essence of who I am.

Third, He made very clear what ego is. One of the things that both shocked me and sounded true was the fact that even trying to be humble can be a subtle way for ego to show superiority over others. We tend to think we are more humble than others and that kind of gives us a humble ego. He made me aware that ego tries to find meaning in everything and attaches itself to it. It makes me to define myself with concepts and always makes me in a constant pursuit of enhancing itself. It maintains a story, the story of ‘me’ and makes us constantly to be identified with it and protect it all the time. He also revealed that cutting of the identification with this self-concept created by ego is enlightenment. It is just realizing our own nature which is hidden behind the veil of ego. That is what Buddha realized under Bodhi tree. That is what Ramakrishna found in Samadhi. That is what every individual is searching for. That true nature of yours is what people actually call God. God is not somebody who is sitting in the heaven, watching you and granting your true nature. Everybody has a potential to realize their true nature.

I realized that a new door was opened for me. A new possibility of attaining complete fulfilment in my life has been just revealed to me. I found it to be refreshing, exciting and illuminating. I continued to read many books of Osho and became addicted to it. In one of his books, he revealed his own story of enlightenment and how it happened to him.

(I will explain my own criticisms about Osho later in this post. I am listing whatever happened in a chronological order)…

Here is a list of facts and teachings revealed by Osho, a gist of what I understood from many books I read after that:

  • As you start witnessing your thoughts and be alert each and every moment, you will start noticing gaps between thoughts. The gaps will get bigger and you will soon be able to witness your unconscious patterns, emotions, moods and subtle sensations. Gradually your thoughts will reduce and you will come to a point where there is absolute stillness. Then suddenly, when you are least expecting anything to happen, enlightenment happens.
  • Then you realize you are what you have been searching for. Your true nature which is beyond space and time is revealed to you which leaves you absolutely blissful and content.
  • If you try to become a morally good person, it leads to suppressing your desires. Then you will become hypocrite. You will be a good person at the periphery, but in the center all those tendencies that cause immoral behavior will exist and erupt at anytime. But once you are enlightened, you will naturally be a good person.
  • The presence of an enlightened person radiates peace and love, and has the ability to quieten your mind. If you get to live near an enlightened person, your spiritual progress will naturally accelerate.
  • Love is another path to enlightenment. You can either start with witnessing or love.
  • If you pay attention to what you are doing and witness everything that happens inside you, than anything that you do is a meditation. Simple things like walking, eating will become a meditation if you are mindful, alert and witness every thought, sensation and activity that happens. It is important to have a non judgemental attitude.
  • When you live moment to moment like this, you will simply do what is required at the given moment. Preoccupation with past and future disappears. There will not be even necessary to make plans for the future. You will be absolutely satisfied with whatever the present moment brings to you.
  • He gave a controversial discourse series called ‘From Sex to superconciousness’ in which he said being mindful during sex can be a good meditation and become a doorway for enlightenment.
  • He insisted that there is no need to renounce the world to be spiritually enlightened. One can become enlightened by living a normal life as a householder.
  • Phrases like ‘achieving enlightenment’ or ‘becoming enlightened’ are actually wrong because we are already what we are looking for. We just have to realize or uncover that. He made very clear that words can be misleading and they are just like a finger pointing to the moon.

There are many other strange facts that he revealed in different discourses. He has given many examples of enlightened people who can leave their body at will. If they want to die, they will just shed their body like shedding their clothes. In one discourse he said that an enlightened person has an aura of 24 miles radius and anybody who is sensitive within that 24 miles radius will feel the effect of his presence.

He has talked about his past lives. In many of his early talks, he talked about various things regarding reincarnation, the time it takes for a soul to take a new womb, karma etc. He said that dreams during sleep will completely disappear after enlightenment.

He also mentioned in a couple of discourses that most of the time, enlightenment and death happen at the same time. Many people, when they get enlightened, immediately leave their body due to the extreme shock that they go through in their body.

I noticed a style in Osho. Osho had a tendency to exaggerate things. When he narrated an event that happened in the life of somebody who was enlightened, he often made his own screenplay and dialogues and made the story very dramatic. So, If somebody copies and rephrases what he said, it will be very obvious to people who have read many books of Osho’s discourses.

Also, he said many times that what he talks in his discourses is not at all important. His discourse is simply a device to silence our minds and make us receptive to his presence. Once we are receptive and available to his presence, then it can directly work on the seekers to progress in the path. He insisted more on a silent transmission than the content of his talks.

He also insisted that enlightenment should not be seen as a goal. That is a subtle way of ego entering through the backdoor. Enlightenment is not an achievement; it is simply uncovering our true nature. Everybody has the potential for it. But a desire for enlightenment can also be a hindrance in getting it.

He has contradicted himself many times and has openly admitted it. Life is full of contradictions. So, there is no way to explain about reality in a completely logical way. Sometimes it is natural for his statements to seem like contradictions. But whenever somebody asked about a contradiction, he often explained it to prove that in fact there was no contradiction.

Osho was very creative in his way of talking. His talks were filled with anecdotes, jokes, harsh criticisms against many popular people, repetitive statements and sometimes pointless gossip. He gave commentaries on Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, Buddhist texts, Zen, Sikhism, Christian mysticism, Sufism and many more. He made very clear that all these paths lead to the same goal and explained the true essence of these paths.

Witnessing – Phase 1

As soon as I started reading Osho, I have also begun to put his witnessing meditation into practise. His witnessing meditation is an age old technique which is called Sakshi Bhav in Vedanta, Shikantaza in Zen and Sati (Mindfulness) in Buddhism. In the recent years, science has found substantial evidence for the role of mindfulness meditation in decreasing stress and increasing well being.

Soon, I went to my native place for my semester holidays and I got enough solitude to practice witnessing. A month earlier, I was practicing his other meditations like dynamic meditation, gibberish meditation and more. I created my own therapy based on his various meditation techniques and I do believe that it resolved a lot of unconscious issues.

As I progressed in my witnessing meditation, I started feeling calmer and peaceful. The thought process gradually slowed down. I continued to do it every day with great involvement. One day, when I was staring at the ceiling witnessing my thoughts, there was a brief moment of stillness with no thoughts. There was an absolute clarity and peace of mind that I had never encountered before. For the first time, I realized that I can exist without thoughts. It gave me a clear and firm knowledge that thoughts are not me.

This was like a Eureka moment. An immediate excitement followed that gave me a new strength and peace which continued for the next six months. I went back to college for the final semester, which is the happiest period that I had in the entire three years. This momentary realization was a confirmation that there is something indestructible. I interpreted it as a glimpse of my essential nature. Osho used to call this Satori.

After this, I was able to concentrate on a single task for hours and be immersed in it. Recently, as I began to learn psychology, I realized that there is a name for this. It is called ‘flow’. Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. These states were very common and occurring everyday when I was immersed in a task. During those states, there was no feeling of my individual existence. It was as if I had disappeared.. There was just pure awareness, focus and a sense of being alive.

I felt that the complete flowering of enlightenment is very near. But I also remembered Osho saying that there will be many beautiful moments that you will pass through. Don’t make any of those moments your home. Just keep going. You may feel that you have arrived but it is not necessarily so.

I talked to one of my close friends regarding this and I started to explain him about the beauty of meditation. I also told him that I felt like I might be enlightened soon. But I was wrong. After about six months, the initial excitement of this Eureka moment faded. But the feeling that there is something indestructible and everyday occurrence of flow continued and never stopped.

As I continued to read Osho’s books, I felt very unfortunate that there was no enlightened master like Osho at present time that I could meet and ask my questions. I felt that if there was someone like him around, then he could guide me on my spiritual path.

Encounter the enlightened – The First Satsang With Sadhguru

In January 2003, I saw a wall post regarding a satsang at Marina beach, Chennai. It was titled ‘Encounter the enlightened’ in Tamil with the photograph of a man with a long beard. He looked like Osho. I saw the name ‘Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’ printed in the wall post. It was to be held on January 22, 2003. As soon as I saw it, I made up my mind to go there.

It was a beautiful evening at Marina beach with thousands of people gathered. Sadhguru spoke about many things which were similar to what Osho had said about enlightenment. He spoke in Tamil flavored with Kannada accent, sounding like the dialect of actor Rajinikanth. Most of his views were matching with the views of Osho. When he gave us instructions for a guided meditation, he asked everyone to focus in the middle of one’s eyebrows. I remember him saying ‘Just keep a slight focus in between your eyebrows, but don’t concentrate’. This instantly reminded me of Osho. ‘So, there is someone here who is enlightened’, I told myself. But it seemed almost impossible to approach him as he was already quite popular.

He spoke about his foundation called Isha Foundation based in Coimbatore which conducts Yoga programs all over the state. At the end of the satsang, his book ‘Encounter the enlightened’ in Tamil was on sale. But I had no money to buy it. I returned home with mixed feelings; A happiness on having seen another modern day enlightened Guru and a disappointment for not being able to buy that book.

After finishing my course in Polytechnic, I noticed a weekly article in Anantha Vikatan authored by Sadhguru, with a title in Tamil that translates to ‘Desire for everything!’.. This again reminded me of Osho’s advice saying that we should not repress our desires. At the same time, another clean shaved guy with the name Nithyananda showed up with his own article in Kumudham which introduced him as another enlightened modern day Guru! But for some reason, he didn’t quite appear enlightened to me, may be because he didn’t have any beard J..

My Career in BPO and My First Isha Yoga program

After spending a few months at home reading books by Osho and searching for a job, I started working. After working in two different companies in various profiles, I finally got a job with good salary in a call center in Chennai. I started earning money, made new friendships, faced a lot of ups and downs and changed four different companies in about 5 years time. I had stopped reading spiritual books and went ahead with life. Finally, I saw an announcement for Isha Yoga program which was to be conducted in Anna University for two weeks. (or one week, I don’t remember). I enrolled in the program with my friend.

I had a good time over the whole program. We were given detailed information about Isha and its activities for social welfare. I also came to know more about Dhyanalinga, which is said to give you the same effect that you will get in the presence of an enlightened guru. They said that if one sat in front of Dhyanalinga and closed his eyes, he would automatically become meditative. According to Sadhguru, the Dhyanalinga has all the seven chakras that a human being has. It has been consecrated in such a way that the energy and peace that radiates from Dhyanalinga is the same as the energy and peace radiated in the presence of someone who is enlightened. We were taught a kriya called shambhavi mahamudra, which had to be practiced twice a day. At the end of the Isha Yoga program, I immediately enrolled for the upcoming next level program called Bhava Spandana. It was a three day residential program in Isha Yoga centre, Coimbatore.

I arrived in Isha Yoga centre in the evening on the first day of Bhava Spandana. We were asked to submit our mobile phones, bags and money as there will not be any contact with the outside world for three days. I went to the dome of Dhyanalinga for the first time and meditated for fifteen minutes. To be honest, I just felt a normal relaxed state and stillness and nothing much in the presence of Dhyanalinga. The atmosphere was definitely conducive for meditation but I felt nothing more than how I would usually feel when I meditated in my home or room. May be I was not receptive enough or maybe the effects of the linga are overrated…  But usually, according to Sadhguru and Osho, trying to figure out such things with our rational mind is not going to work. Their usual argument is, our logic cannot figure out something that is beyond logic. But I had an immense trust on Sadhguru. So, I was confident that I was on the right way.

I felt very insecure on the first night of Bhava Spandana. I felt like I had been disconnected from the outside world. But the next morning, the insecurity disappeared. I participated in all the meditations in BSP with 100% intensity. Some of the meditations involved action and were similar to the concept of dynamic meditation by Osho. The feelings of oneness and peace I felt there was not new to me since I had already experienced that with my witnessing meditation. But the three days were very beautiful and the overall experience was good.

After the BSP program, I came back to Chennai and my regular routine started again. A lot of things happened in my life then which gave me extreme suffering. I used to become emotionally dependent on certain people that I liked a lot; If the people I liked didn’t give me the same attention to me, it made me to suffer and become anxious. That was exactly what was happening in those days. It took a few months for me to become alright again.

Exploring Spirituality further

I had bought two books by Sadhguru, ‘Encounter the enlightened’ and ‘Mystic’s musings’. The book Mytic’s Musings was about many things that any rational person would never want to believe in. But I had no problem with that because of the trust I had in Sadhguru. I always remembered what Sadhguru said, ‘Don’t believe me or disbelieve me! Don’t come to a conclusion about anything by yourself. Be ready to say I don’t know and be a seeker’… Osho has said the same thing many times. It has always been my own approach to life too.  I finished reading those two books and watched a lot of videos of Sadhguru’s talks.

I continued my meditations and I had many peak experiences. Peak experiences were described by psychologist Abraham Moslow as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter”. In the mean time, I read the teachings of Ramana Mahirishi. I also came to know about Eckhart tolle and his awakening experience. I read three of his books, ‘The Power of now’, ‘A New Earth’ and ‘The Stillness speaks’.

I came across the teachings of another Indian guru named Poonjaji. Soon I discovered that there are many people who claim to be enlightened, especially in the west. Some of them I read about were Gangaji, Andrew Cohen, Ramesh Balsekar, Mooji, Joan Tollifson etc. I read their testimonies about the awakening experiences. Are each of one of them really enlightened or they just had some peak experiences and glimpses of their reality? There seemed to be no way to find out. Can we really draw a single line called ‘Enlightenment’ in someone’s life which is the ultimate line after which there is no progress further? Is everyone who claims to enlightened talk about that same line? I emailed a couple of these people and got answers too. They said that their enlightenment was a gradual process and not something that occurred in the single moment as Osho described. They also didn’t have a totally thoughtless mind, ability to leave the body at will or memories of previous incarnation. Did Osho exaggerate the effects of enlightenment by saying that there would be no thoughts or did these people just conclude that they were enlightened with no basis to support their claim? I had no answers to these questions.

I had already integrated Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Bhakthi yoga in my life and made my life itself a sadhana. Every moment was an opportunity for me to explore the depths of unconsciousness and clear out the clouds which were hiding my own reality. The concepts of Advaita taught me ‘acceptance’. I learnt to accept the life as it is.

My Marriage and the life after

I got married in December 2008. The first two years of my marriage were spent in a lot of conflicts and quarrels between me and my wife. I became addicted to alcohol and started drinking twice or thrice a week. I started learning about PHP programming, chess tactics, astronomy, photoshop and many other things. Photography became my new hobby. Nothing much happened in my life those days. I used to go to Ramana Mahirishi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai with my wife whenever I got a chance and spend time in meditation.

Two years later, I moved to my own native place, Tirunelveli and got a job there. I spent my time in learning, writing articles and trying out new things on the internet. New interests always popped up and got me going. The moments of flow helped me to stay on focus.

After another two years, I moved to Coimbatore. I started exploring places nearby. I climbed mountains and hills on weekends and took pictures. I enjoyed trekking in various places of Nilgiris. I had stopped drinking alcohol and started experimenting with cannabis. It seemed to be a magic herb. It enhanced my creativity, focus and compassion. We had no kids and there were no big responsibilities. I used to visit Isha Yoga centre occasionally but wasn’t thinking much about enlightenment or spirituality. I didn’t think anything about the future or the past. Living in the present moment was quite satisfying but there was still something incomplete in me which was yearning for fulfillment.

On May 5, 2014, I climbed the Velliangiri mountains. It is a holy mountain near Coimbatore. Isha Yoga centre is right at the foot of the mountains. Sadhguru himself had spent time there and he had said that many enlightened people left their bodies there and their energy can be still felt in the mountains. There was no one to accompany me to trek the mountain so I went all by myself. I started walking uphills at about 7:30 AM and reached the summit by 1:30. The mountain is very steep and difficult to climb. The view from the top is amazing. I had the darshan of the linga in the summit, took rest for about 30 minutes and started walking downhill. I took many photographs and finally reached the bottom at about 7:30 PM. The experience was wonderful.

The Major ‘Change’ – Is it Enlightenment?

The trip to Velliangiri mountains triggered the seeker in me and I decided to go deep in meditation as much as I could. I started paying attention to every moment, every thought and every sensation. I made very clear to me that whatever I observe, perceive, think, experience and know is not me. I witnessed all the passing emotions and moods as a passive observer.

I went to Isha yoga centre every week, took bath in Theerthakund and meditated for an hour. I spent almost half of the day there. In the office, my nature of job was to talk to the customers over the phone during the whole night and answer their questions. I became deeply involved in the present moment and enjoyed my work. I soon stopped thinking about many things in the external world. I noticed my thoughts slowing down leaving a peaceful, clear stillness in the large gaps between each thought. Very soon, I started feeling intense euphoria at times which lasted for hours. The quality of my work increased, the clarity in my voice and speech increased and I started to feel waves of bliss in my head. It was like a cool breeze flowing in my head.

Soon, I stopped my interactions with other people. It was not my conscious decision but happened automatically. I couldn’t believe that all these things were happening to me. I didn’t feel any intense negative emotion or anxiety but almost the whole day at my work was filled with bliss and peace. Soon, the psychological boundaries between me and the world started to disappear. I started getting a lot of attention and I was pretty sure that something tremendous was happening.

I went to attend Sadhguru’s darshan that happened in the Isha ashram on June 18th and 19th, 2014. I felt one with the whole universe during the entire satsang. The feeling of oneness with the world was then continuous. Whatever I did seemed to happen without much of my conscious will. Everything I did was spontaneous like a river flowing down the hills. The doer in me seemed to have completely disappeared and everything seemed to be happening out of cosmic will instead of my own will.

It was a huge blessing. Every day at work, I felt tremendously happy and satisfied. For the first time in my life, I felt complete and fulfilled. I wondered, ‘Is it really possible for me to suffer ever again?’… I felt like the king of the whole world.

I went to another satsang that was held on July 12, 2014 (Guru Purnima day). I remember getting on the bus feeling so light as if I had no weight on the body. Everything seemed to be so transparent. During the entire satsang, I was immersed in my Self. That night while I was lying on my bed, there was a sudden clarity. It seemed that my search was over. There was nothing else to achieve and nothing more to do to make me complete.

The days after the change

The excitement and the wave of bliss were gradually reduced in the days to come. Though I no longer felt the waves and breeze of bliss in my head, being peaceful and complete has been the normal state of my mind from those days of transformation to till date.

Though I had no doubt that the journey as a human being in my life was over and it wouldn’t matter if I die at any moment, the transformation didn’t exactly fit into the description of enlightenment as implied by Osho and Sadhguru. When I thought about it later after the next two years, I noted down my observation of the changes it had made in my thinking, well being and my way of life:

  • Self image is no longer important to me.
  • My past no longer plays a role in giving me a mental identity in my mind.
  • I cannot think about future the same way I did before. In a sense, I seemed to have lost the sense of time. I don’t and can’t rely on an event in the future for satisfaction.
  • I stopped feeling that there is an ‘other’. The psychological boundaries between me and the world disappeared. A lot of concepts in Psychology doesn’t seem to apply to me or relevant to me. For example, I no longer felt the psychological self-consciousness and cognitive dissonance.
  • Emotions like sadness and fear seems to have disappeared. But I continue to show the sign of a sudden fear in my facial expression and bodily movements. (For example, if a moving vehicle suddenly comes close to me enough to hit me, I respond to it in the usual way. But it doesn’t have the same impact on my mind as it did before. May be it is so subtle but I don’t usually feel fear or sadness)
  • I continue to feel angry when I am disturbed by others. As a person, I always used to be high in neuroticism and easily angered ever since I was a child. It seemed to a genetic factor. It makes sense to assume that meditation or an awakening experience doesn’t mysteriously change a person’s genetics. But the factors that will make me angry were reduced completely. I could easily change my mood from being angry to being normal.
  • It is not like feeling continuous bliss and being drugged all the time. But there is always a peace and fulfillment and there is no longer a feeling that something is incomplete.
  • The thoughts have not completely disappeared but they have been tremendously reduced. My thinking is usually not about the past or the present. For example, at any moment I may be thinking ‘May be there is life on one of the moons on Saturn’, or ‘How come humming birds are really too small? They are cute’… I hardly think about me.
  • There is absolutely nothing paranormal. I don’t have any memories of past life and have never seen a damn aura in my life.
  • Biological drives like food and sex motivates my behavior as usual. But motivation theories like expectancy theory or goal setting theory doesn’t seem to apply for me much. I am not driven to do something because I will get something as a result in three months time. I have to remember to consciously involve myself to do it. But I will do something to get a bottle of brandy to drink this evening. These days I have developed a conscious practice of planning ahead and thinking about doing things which are necessary for the future. The drawback with that is, I may completely forget to do it.

Also, while some changes obviously occurred as an immediate result of the transformation, some changes are gradual and still occurring within me. It took a long time to learn to live with this transformed personality and there were challenges that I faced. It is hard to put it in language, because in one way or the other, it will be misleading.

I continue to learn by my experience with this new phenomenon (in fact, people will say that it is not a new thing, it is just a person’s real essence which was and will be always present. That is true… But it is still gives a new outlook. The way it affects our behavior and our experiences is new).

I went through a great deal of suffering after this transformation when I lost my job in the next two years.  That is long story and I don’t want to go into that in detail now. I had to find a new job, had no money and depended on my parents for a couple of months. During those days, I actually missed my old job and the people. Then I realized that I had a subtle attachment with that environment which was not obvious. It took a while for things to settle down. But it was only temporary and soon it became like nothing actually happened. I have written more about what happened in the next three years after awakening in this post: Spiritual Enlightenment – Is it a Myth or Real?

 

   Osho and Sadhguru – What I noticed about them

Osho – A second look

So if this transformation is not enlightenment, then there must be another shift which is going to happen. But is that really true or enlightenment has been simply exaggerated and over rated than it really is?… Many stories of enlightenment from the west are same as my transformation. So, according to them, I am enlightened but according to Sadhguru and Osho, I am not.

This is something to figure out to prevent people from being misled. Scientific research about enlightenment is the only way to go about it. It is interesting to note that, Osho himself was completely not free of ego. To be exact, his need to feel superior seemed to be still there after enlightenment.

Let me give you some obvious examples:

  1. In the initial years, Osho regarded Nostradamus as simply a crazy man. This is what he said about his predictions:

“Nostradamus can be interpreted in any way you want. The sentences are not clear, the grammar is not correct. The words are such that you can fit them into any context you want”.

But just read what he said about the same man later, when it seemed like Nostrademus predictions about a great future teacher fit with Osho:

“Just a few days ago, I was seeing one of the most significant books to be published in this century, ‘Millenium’. It is a deep research into Nostradamus and his predictions. Eighty thousand copies were published – which is very rare – and they were sold within weeks. Now a second publication, a second edition, is happening in America, another is happening in England, and the book is being translated into many other languages – Dutch, German….

Nostradamus was a great mystic with an insight into the future. And you will be surprised to know that in his predictions, I am included. Describing the teacher of the last days of the twentieth century, he gives eight indications. Krishnamurti fulfills five, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi fulfills three, Da Free John fulfills four – and I was amazed that I fulfill all eight.

In this book ‘Millenium’, they have made a chart of the teacher about whom Nostradamus is predicting – that his people will wear red clothes, that he will come from the East, that he will be arrested, that his commune will be destroyed, that flying birds will be his symbol, that his name will mean moon…. Three hundred years ago that man was seeing something that fits perfectly with me – my name means “the moon.” And in their chart they have declared me the teacher of the last part of the twentieth century.”

Obviously, when Osho found this as boosting his superiority, he regarded the same man as mystic.

  1. Initially Osho didn’t criticize S.N Goenka and even asked his disciples to attend a Vipassana retreat by Goenka. But once Osho heard that Goenka in an interview had said that Osho was his student before, Osho started criticizing S.N Goenka so harshly.
  2. Osho always considered J.Krishnamurti as enlightened. When he heard that J.K had criticized him recently, Osho immediately reacted to it in his next discourse. He said that J.K was just in the border of enlightenment and is not enlightened yet. He also made the same statement in his last book Zen Manifesto.

Also, you will find a significant difference between what Osho has said in his early talks in India and the talks he gave in America. Even though Osho had his own rationalizations on that, anyone who carefully observes this difference can notice many things which clearly indicate that a lot of what Osho said about enlightenment could be just his opinions and exaggerations but may not be facts.

Osho had a really nasty habit of labeling people he criticized as stupids and idiots. His natural defense mechanism would usually come into play when he tried to rationalize things like this as “It is a device. I am just trying to shock you people”. But I don’t agree that many of the things that he calls as device were really consciously devised by Osho to help people towards their spiritual progress. It is pure rationalizing, one of the defense mechanisms of ego that you can observe in any human being. But I did believe that those were genuine devices when I was reading those hundreds of books of Osho. Some of them could be, but not all of them.

Many people who know Osho are probably aware that nitrous oxide was used during dental sessions with Osho. He dictated three books under the influence of Nitrous oxide. If you read those books, you will certainly notice that nitrous oxide did influence his clarity and thought process. But Osho has said that a drug will not impact an enlightened person’s alertness and consciousness in anyway. Also, it is more likely that Osho became addicted to Nitrous Oxide even though he denied it. That affected his thinking process a lot. When you read the books of his talks in the US, you will notice that those talks were just repetitive and pointless ramblings.

My assumption is that behavior, personality and opinions greatly vary between enlightened people because they still retain their genetics and even old habits. A person who was a jerk before enlightenment can retain some of those tendencies after enlightenment and a person who was like a sage before enlightenment may look like an absolute and perfect sage after enlightenment.

But they are just my assumptions. If you ask me ten years later, I may have a different answer. I am more inclined now to approach enlightenment in scientific way. For science, both skepticism and open-mindedness are necessary and important.

Osho’s Influence in the world

Osho definitely made a great contribution to the world. He brought spiritual enlightenment from the heights of great sages to the valley that most of the people in the world live in. He created awareness about enlightenment and showed to people that there is really a way to reduce a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the daily life.

Osho influenced many people who we believe today as enlightened. I can smell that influence in many books written by gurus who are alive today.

sadh

Image credit: https://twitter.com/DerekBaconART

How Osho influenced Sadhguru

Sadhguru has never endorsed Osho, even though he has talked about a lot of other mystics. In Mystic Musings, he claimed that most of what he knows came as a direct transmission from his guru. But it is certain that a lot of what he knows also came from Osho.

Enlightened people certainly share the same knowledge and experience of reality. So, in those aspects they can certainly rely on their own experience even though it may appear that one person might have copied the ideas of another person. But it doesn’t apply to everything. A lot of what Sadhguru knows seems to have come from the books by Osho. But I wonder why he never gives him credit.

Here are a few examples..

  1. Here is an anecdote given by Sadhguru:

“When you sit in front of a living Guru, you have many problems, judgments, likes and dislikes, because invariably you end up looking at his personality. People have left their Gurus for all kinds of frivolous things. This happened with J. Krishnamurti, a realized being and very wonderful man. There was a certain lady who was very close to him and deeply involved with his work. She was always around him and traveled to many places with him. Once when he was in Amsterdam, Holland, he went into a shop to buy a tie for himself. He was so meticulous about choosing a tie, because he was very conscious about everything and also what he wore. He could throw the tie away if he wanted to, but when he wears it, he wants it to be in a certain way. So he went into the shop and spent nearly four hours picking out one tie. He pulled out every tie in the shop, looked at it, put it on, and then said, “No.” It took him four hours to select just one tie. This woman watched and watched and watched, and as minutes passed, in her mind his enlightenment receded. She thought a man who could be so concerned about what kind of tie he wears couldn’t be enlightened, and she left him. Many such stupid things are done because of your judgments.”

Source: http://www.dhyanalinga.org/difference_qa.htm

How did Sadhguru came to know about this incidence? There is absolutely only one way he could have known this. You cannot find this information anywhere except in Osho’s talks. Osho knew this because the lady herself told Osho about this incident. You can find this anecdote from the book ‘The Book of Wisdom’ by Osho.

Here is a link to that excerpt:

http://oshosearch.net/Convert/Articles_Osho/The_Book_of_Wisdom/Osho-The-Book-of-Wisdom-00000012.html

  1. Sadhguru once told a story that supposedly happened when Aristotle met Heraclitus. Heraclitus was trying to empty the ocean with a spoon. You can read the whole story here:

    http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/li…

    But Aristotle lived between 384–322 BC and Heraclitus lived between c. 535 – c. 475 BC. There is no way that this meeting took place.. Obviously, it seems there is some mistake…

    How did Sadhguru know about this anecdote?

Obviously, you cannot find the story of Aristotle meeting Heraclitus, except in a book of Osho. The story is from the book ‘Hidden Harmony’ – Chapter 5, by Osho.

Here is the link: http://www.osho.com/iosho/library/read-book/online-library-look-aristotle-flower-51daeb6a-147?p=5ae86f113210d477f5542e2c5aa6a6e5

So, did Osho make up this story? No… The story actually happened in St. Augustine’s life. Osho simply mismatched the names because memory doesn’t work perfectly all the time.

  1. In the same link, you can find Sadhguru criticizing the statement “I think, therefore I am” made by Rene Descartes.

But as far as I know, the first person who ever criticized this statement in the context of spiritual enlightenment was Osho. And, Osho actually made a mistake in interpreting Rene’s statement.

Just by reading that statement, anyone can misinterpret that as “Thought is the basis of existence, you cannot exist if you don’t have thoughts’….

But that is not what Rene Descartes intended to say. He said that you can doubt any belief or concept but you cannot deny your own existence. The doubt implies that there is a doubter. A doubter has to exist to doubt. If you don’t exist, you cannot doubt, and you cannot think. So, if you think, that actually means you exist. That is what he meant by saying ‘I think, therefore I am’.

Here is more clear interpretation of the statement that I found in a forum:

“I think, therefore I am” is a crude mistranslation of Descartes’s proposition. It misrepresents the essence of Descartes’s philosophy because most philosophers now regard the process of thinking as a kind of invisible mechanical action (i.e. stimulus-response).

Historians, philosophers and many scientists have repeated this mistranslated phrase for more than three hundred years. But Descartes’s meant something entirely different, as can be seen when “cogito ergo sum” is read in context.

The Latin word, cogito can mean “I think”, “I know” or “I am aware”; ergo always means “therefore” in any context. However, sum can mean “I am” or “I exist”. To suggest that, “I know, therefore I am” would be wrong as it’s possible to accept wrong knowledge as correct.

If you read Descartes’s Philosophical Writings in context, it becomes obvious that he was concerned with awareness rather than with thinking or knowing and with existence rather than being.

Properly translated, Descartes’s phrase should therefore read: “I am aware, therefore I exist” – a subjective rather than a mechanistic generalization. No machine can be self- or globally aware, no matter how many sensors are attached to it.

In fact, the philosopher Spinoza translated cogito ergo sum as “I am conscious, therefore I exist”. Even that’s wrong, although it’s closer to the truth than the usual lazy mistranslation which has unfairly earned Descartes’s the reputation of being a crude reductionist.

It’s true that he stated the obvious: that physiological functions are pseudo-mechanical. But he also insisted that man was much more than a machine because of his subjective awareness of the self and of the universe.”

How will a teacher find out if a student has copied another student? If both made the exact same mistake, then one person must have copied another.

Sadhguru simply used Osho’s example without realizing that Osho himself has interpreted it in the wrong way.

  1. Sadhguru once said that seventy percent illness are created by the mind..

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/video/the-symptoms-of-an-ill-mind/

Is it a fact? How did he come up with 70%.. Why not 72%? Why not 80%…

Because, Osho also said the exact same thing: http://www.osho.com/read/featured-articles/body-dharma/the-mind-and-disease-hypnosis-and-health

  1. Read the following excerpt from Sadhguru:

“So, this is…this whole idea of right and wrong, good and bad is all human nonsense. Existence is not human centric. They have always told you… many religions of the world have been going about telling people “You are made in God’s own image” and once you are in God’s own image naturally the place that you live They believed this for a long time, isn’t it? Even now they are insisting. You’ve heard of this guy Copernicus? Copernicus was one of the first guys who came and said, “Earth is not the center of the universe; not only not the center of the universe, it is not even the center of the solar system.” And he promptly died. That’s not bad thing; it’s a good thing because the next man after him, when he uttered the same thing the local church decided to skin him alive. They wanted to peal his skin off and the skin would not cooperate. So, they decided to burn him alive. The next significant man who has uttered the same thing was Galileo; he said the same thing. Then they got ready with the skin peelers. Then he said, “No, no, no, no; earth is the center of the universe and the cosmos. What is my problem? (Laughter) As you say earth is not only the center of the solar system and not only the center of the universe; it is the very center of the cosmos. Anyway I do not know what is the center of the cosmos, you want to assume. I want to save my skin. That much I know.” (Laughs)

So, today science has proved to you that definitely earth is not the center of the solar system, in the universe you are just a miniscule. Tomorrow morning if you and your planet disappears, if it evaporates nobody is going to miss it. Hmm? The whole solar system evaporates tomorrow morning it will be just a small vacant place that nobody is going to miss in the existence, nothing is going to happen. Yes? God won’t come rescuing you. It’ll just pooff it will go. This is a good thing. This whole idea that I am made in the image of God has left man so crude and he has been walking upon this planet so wantonly without any concern for any other life on this planet, simply because he believes he is in the image of God. If you knew that your life is as significant or as insignificant as that of an ant – it is actually.”

–  From http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/video/are-you-looking-for-solace-or-a-solution/

Now read this excerpt from Osho and you will find that the above excerpt is the exact rephrase of what Osho said. It sounds almost like Sadhguru had just read this before coming to the discourse:

“Human beings have thought of God in human terms. It is natural. We have said that God created man in His own image. If horses could think they would deny this: they would say that God created horses in His own image. Because man has created the philosophy, he has made himself the center.

Even God must be in our image. He must have created us in His own image. Man’s ego has asserted these things. This is not knowledge, this is not knowing – this is simply an anthropocentric feeling.

Man feels himself to be the center. We have thought that the earth is the center of the universe and man is the center of creation. These conceptions are false imaginations, dreams of the human ego. God has not created anybody in His own image because the whole is His image. The trees, the earth, the stars; the animals, men, women – everything that exists is His image, not just man.

Then too, we have divided the world into good and evil. The world is not so divided: good and evil are our evaluations. If man did not exist on the earth there would be neither good nor bad. Things would exist, things would be there, but there would be no evaluation. The evaluation is man’s: it is our imposition, it is our projection.”

–  From ‘The Eternal Quest’ by Osho

  1. Both men surprisingly had the same views about nations:

“Someday, we must overcome the idea of a nation. Such a silly idea – someone draws a line and that becomes so immensely important. These boundaries have become meaningful only because there is such inequity in the world. If there was no inequity, if for example, Mexico and the United States both had the same level of economic prosperity and wellbeing, would one side be guarding the borders with guns, barbed wires and all that, and would the other side be digging tunnels to get here? No. Whoever wants to go in either direction could do so – no one would care. But in our lifetime, we may not see the abolishment of national borders. Europe has done reasonably well, but it looks like they are beginning to step back from the European Union because those who have, do not want to share with those who do not have.”

By Sadhguru – From http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/does-it-matter-where-you-live/

Osho said the same thing:

“NATIONS HAVE BECOME out of date – but they go on existing and they are the greatest problem. Looking at the world with a bird’s eye view, a strange feeling arises that we have everything – just we need one humanity.

For example, in Ethiopia people were dying – one thousand people per day – and in Europe they were drowning billions of dollars worth of food in the ocean.

Anybody looking from the outside will think humanity is insane. Thousands of people are dying and mountains of butter and other foodstuff is being drowned in the ocean. But Ethiopia is not the concern of the Western world. Their concern is to save their economies and their status quo. And to protect their economic structures, they are willing to destroy food which could have saved the lives of thousands of people.

Problems are worldwide – solutions have also to be worldwide.

And my understanding is absolutely clear, that there are things somewhere where they are not needed, and somewhere else the very life depends on them. A world government means looking at the whole situation of this globe and shifting things where they are needed.

It is one humanity. And once we think of one world, then there is only one economy.”

  • From ‘Hari Om Tat Sat’ by Osho

http://oshosearch.net/Convert/Articles_Osho/Hari_Om_Tat_Sat/Osho-Hari-Om-Tat-Sat-00000005.html

  1. Here are a couple of comparisons as well:

Sarada giving the knife to vivekananda:

http://oshosearch.net/Convert/Articles_Osho/Early_Talks/Osho-Early-Talks-00000010.html

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/sadhguru/masters-words/stories-swami-vivekananda-life-inspired/

Alexander and immortality:

Osho https://oshostories.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/alexander-and-immortality/

Sadhguru http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/history-of-yoga/when-alexander-chased-immortality/

  1. Have you heard about a story told by Sadhguru about Ramakrishna’s obsession over food to keep his body alive? Try as much as you can to find out the source of the story and you can only find this story in Osho’s talks. I have read in many places Ramakrishna liked certain fruits and sweets. But the conversation between Sarada and Ramakrishna regarding the obsession over food and Ramakrishna saying that it is necessary to keep his body alive seems to be just an imaginary incident created by Osho. Even if it was true, it is highly unlikely that both Osho and Sadhguru somehow independently got access to this information which is not found in any other sources.

I have all three volumes of ‘Gospel of Ramakrishna’ which is the most honest account of Ramakrishna’s life incidents. When you read the book, you will feel like watching a movie. Everything that happened was exactly recorded by the author and there is not even a single place where it is mentioned that he had an obsession over food and he was often checking the kitchen to find out what is cooking. But Ramakrishna always used to ask for a glass of water which was necessary for him to come out of Samadhi.

9. Sadhguru narrates a story of Svetaketu in a podcast:

Svetaketu and the Cows

But you can’t find this story of Svetaketu as narrated by Sadhguru in Upanishads… Because it seems that the story is a mixture of two different stories from Chandogya Upanishad, one story is of Svetaketu (His father questions him if he has known that which cannot be known) and the other is the story of Satyakama (the one who is sent to forest with 400 animals)..

So, how did Sadhguru come up with this story? You guessed it. Osho made this mistake of mixing up the two stories:

http://www.osho.com/iosho/library/read-book/online-library-supreme-svetaketu-taught-78d59dde-9b0?p=867d5652b07d80469abc69481a91e28f

10. Sadhguru says in a discourse that there are two paths :

“Fundamentally, on any Spiritual path, there are only two types of spiritual processes in the world – the path of Samadhi and the path of Pragna”

This is actually a Buddhist distinction, but usually the terms Samatha and Vipassana are used, instead of pragna and samadhi, respectively. Osho was the one who used these terms when talking about this distinction. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev also used the same terminology and even gave the same examples given by Osho.

Check my post here: https://nellaishanmugam.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/path-of-samadhi-and-pragna-talks-by-sadhguru-and-osho/

So, It is very obvious that Sadhguru has read books of Osho and greatly influenced by him. I respect Sadhguru a lot for all the phenomenal work that he is doing for this world. But while he is taking a lot of effort to give credit to Adiyogi, why did he fail to give credit to Osho? He hasn’t even talked about him in his discourses.

                                             Spiritual enlightenment and Science

We think we are rational human beings. But unfortunately it is not so. Every human being’s thinking is naturally biased, which is a nature’s way of helping human survival. We must consider all the cognitive biases that can happen when people interpret their own enlightenment. Cognitive bias can influence our logical thinking in various ways. No matter how intelligent a person is, he is not free of cognitive bias. I used to believe that enlightenment destroys the bias, but if you observe the enlightened people and their talks, you will find out it is not true.

Many reports of spiritual enlightenment are self-reports. The individuals who go through a spiritual experience and shift their centre from self-concept to their being, they often try to conform to the believed standards of enlightenment. It is natural, because a human being as a social animal wants to conform to the standards of society. Conformity is studied by social psychologists.

Only a few people have revolted against the conventional standards and proposed some new standards. Osho is an example. But still, they don’t completely ignore all the standards as they cannot completely avoid conformity, which is a human tendency when it comes to social behaviour.

For example, almost all enlightened people agree with existence of Karma.. Sure, we all know that natural laws exist. But Karma is not explained as a natural law all the time. They imply that something from an individual continues to another new born individual and affects him. But did they really come to that conclusion with some knowledge that they gained out of their own experience and interpreted that knowledge in unbiased way or are they simply repeating what has been said? Is the role of collective unconsciousness (Carl Jung) understood falsely as the role of karma?

Some people report that they remember their previous reincarnation. But you also need to know that there is something called ‘False memory’ which is a psychological phenomenon wherein a person recalls something that did not occur.

Interestingly, when scientists did research about reincarnation, they analyzed reports of past life memories from various people and found that most of the people who report such memories come from the eastern part of the world. The obvious reason is the fact that reincarnation is a belief which mostly comes from the East. So, obviously when they have false memories, they associate it with reincarnation. While false memories are not intentional, some people are also likely to intentionally make up such stories.

How about seeing auras? Can it be Synesthesia? (a neurological phenomenon that causes cross wiring of senses)..

I am not saying that all these claims of seeing auras or remembering past lives cannot be real.. It could be. I am just suggesting all the possibilities. When it comes to science, you have to be both open minded and skeptic. But people are usually inclined more towards believing or completely denying.

But I assume that there is certainly a link between enlightenment and neural plasticity. Scientists now believe that mindfulness meditation can rewire the brain. An enlightened brain could be a completely rewired brain that inhibits the activity of sympathetic nervous system when there is no need. SNS is supposed to be activated when an animal feels that there is a threat for life. If a lion is chasing the deer, then SNS of the deer activates its fear and makes it to run fast. But as human beings evolved from being an animal to human, the SNS gets activated even for trivial issues and makes human beings to suffer. Rewiring the brain through meditation or self-inquiry may be the way to get rid of this human suffering.

The most reasonable way to study enlightenment is to study the brains of enlightened people. Scientists can observe many things from techniques like fMRI and PET scans. They have been already studying the brains of mediators but only a couple of so called enlightened people have volunteered to have their brains studied.

 

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