What is Misery? – Tripura Rahasya 2:19 and Hedonic Treadmill

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Tripura Rahasya, an old text of Advaita talks about what we call today as ‘Hedonic treadmill’. Human beings are miserable not because they are not happy; but because their happiness is limited and they crave for more! One keeps chasing for happiness in the objective outcomes of life. But his happiness always remains limited, leaving him in discontent. If that limited happiness recedes,  misery creeps in. The text deals with the path to moksha (liberation), that puts an end to this misery.

Tripura Rahasya was an ancient text that Ramana Maharshi recommended seekers to read. Parashurama, an ancient sage,  is said to have got the essence of this text as a upadesa (teaching) from Dattatreya, in Gandhamadhana mountains situated in Pamban islands, Tamil Nadu, India. Parashurama then attained Atma Jnana (Self-realization or spiritual enlightenment) and then moved to Pothigai hills near Papanasam in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. (By the way, I live in Tirunelveli and it takes just about an hour to reach Pothigai hills by bike).

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The following lines from Chapter 1 of Tripura Rahasya explain how one gets a Vairagya Bhavana (an attitude of non-attachment) after looking at the hedonic treadmill, the inherent misery or Dhukka in life and finds his guru:

31. Even now I understand nothing of the workings of
the universe. Where does it rise from, in all its grandeur?
32. Where does it end? How does it exist? I find it to be
altogether transient.
33. But worldly happenings seem permanent. Why
should that be? Such happenings seem strangely enough to
be unconsidered.
34. How strange! They are on a par with the blind man
led by the blind!
35. My own case furnishes an example in point. I do
not even remember what happened in my childhood.

36. I was different in my youth, again different in my
manhood, still more so now; and in this way, my life is constantly
changing.
37, 38. What fruits have been reaped as the result of
these changes is not clear to me. The end justifies the means as
adopted by individuals according to their temperaments in
different climes and in different times. What have they gained
thereby? Are they themselves happy?
39. The gain is only that which is considered to be so
by the unthinking public. I however cannot deem it so,
seeing that even after gaining the so-called end, the
attempts are repeated.

40, 41. Well, having gained one purpose, why does
man look for another? Therefore, what the man is always
after should be esteemed the only real purpose — be it the
gaining of pleasure or removal of pain. There can be neither,
so long as the incentive to effort lasts.
42. The feeling of a need to work in order to gain
happiness (being the index of misery) is the misery of
miseries. How can there be pleasure or removal of pain so
long as it continues?
43-45. Such pleasure is like that of soothing unguents
placed on a scalded limb, or of the embrace of one’s beloved
when one is lying pierced by an arrow in the breast; or of the
sweet melodies of music heard by an advanced consumptive!
46. Only those who need not engage in action, are
happy; they are perfectly content, and self-contained, and
they experience a happiness which extends to all the pores
of the body.
47. Should there still be a few pleasurable moments
for others, they are similar to those enjoyed by one who,
while writhing with an abdominal pain, inhales the sweet
odour of flowers.

48. How silly of people with innumerable obligations,
ever too busy seeking such moments of pleasure in this world!
49. What shall I say of the prowess of indiscriminating
men? They propose to reach happiness after crossing interminable
hurdles of efforts!

50. A beggar in the street labours as much for happiness
as a mighty emperor.
51, 52. Each of them having gained his end feels
happy and considers himself blessed as if he had reached
the goal of life. I too have been unwittingly imitating
them like a blind man following the blind. Enough of
this folly! I will at once return to that ocean of mercy —
my Master.
53. Learning from him what is to be known, I will
cross the ocean of doubts after boarding the boat of his
teachings.
54. Having resolved thus, Parasurama of pure mind
immediately descended the hill in search of his Master.
55. Quickly reaching the Gandhmadan Mountain, he
found the Guru sitting in padmasana posture as if illuminating
the whole world.

(I will soon be making a video regarding Tirupura Rahasya; subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive my new videos on your feed: Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment – Youtube Channel )

 

The Good News – A Poem Connecting Biblical and Vedantic Thoughts

good news

Your life is the most beautiful mystery
And the screen which plays your private history;
Your life is the truth, consciousness, and bliss
That can’t be pointed out as that or this.

The life screen is the only truth you know;
All that are manifest move in its show;
This essence of life is your true nature;
Knowing this ends the distress and torture.

The one truth that pervades the time and space
Shines in the heart and showers love and grace;
By the veil of darkness it is concealed;
By nonstop inquiry, it is revealed.

That one truth is called by various names;
Deep inside you, it eternally flames;
It is the immortal life and the way;
Look inside, you can find its sparkling ray!

From the dawn of life, seers have seen this
And were reborn by its transforming kiss;
Unless you’re reborn as a wide-eyed kid,
It remains tucked away by a dark lid.

Those who mourn will be appeased by its shade;
Their craving thirst will be killed by its blade;
Those who cleaned their heart are blessed by its touch;
The mere words can convey only this much.

Neither moth nor rust can impair this truth;
None can steal it and none can cause your ruth;
No spade can cut it and fire can’t burn it;
Water can’t wet it and wind can’t dry it.

The birds of the blue sky don’t sow or reap;
About tomorrow, they don’t grieve or weep;
Like those blissful birds, you can become free
Then You’re not the wave, but the boundless sea!

Listen to this good news and wipe your tears!
Wake up from your dream and destroy your fears!
The guiding good shepherd is inside you
As a light that shines with a golden hue!

Whoever has ears, let them hear this song;
With their friends and foes, let them get along!
The kingdom of heaven is filled with love
where the peace descends on you like a dove!

 

Talks on Spiritual Enlightenment – Videos On The Spiritual Path and Traditions

 

I have started uploading videos on Youtube on a regular basis, in order to help spiritual seekers who are truly seeking self-realization. I would like to inform this to the regular readers of this blog so that they can take advantage of it.

Here are some of the recent videos that I have uploaded:

Videos regarding Spiritual Enlightenment:

Sadhana Chatushtaya  – Fourfold Qualifications for a Spiritual Seeker

The following video addressed a very important but forgotten concept in non-dual traditions. I have given a detailed speech regarding ‘Sadhana Chatushtaya’ and I will be soon writing a post regarding that.

Conversations About Spiritual Enlightenment 

This is a series and it has casual talks addressing spiritual seekers regarding various topics. These speeches address the friends I have, who have been reading this blog and my Quora answers. This video series will address many things discussed in this blog, including some questions asked by the readers regarding the spiritual path and spiritual enlightenment.

There are some older videos too. You can watch them on my Youtube Channel here:

Shanmugam’s Youtube Channel

Asifa Bano’s Rape – A Shame for Humanity

The brutal gang rape and murder of Asifa Bano has enraged the whole world and also reflects the kind of evolution that humanity has attained. It was extremely saddening to see many people rallying to support the accused. Here, I am republishing an answer written in  Quora by Anjana Nair, a student of Journalism and English literature and also a freelance writer. Thanks to Anjana Nair for letting me to share her thoughts here:


Asifa Bano’s case is clearly selective outrage. I double dare these hypocritical Bollywood celebrities to pull up posters against Muslims. Don’t they know better than to criticise Hindu culture? And all these people protesting, why don’t they care about the girl from Unnao? Or the dozens of Hindu girls raped? Our culture is under assault.”

Everyone who posted this disgusts me. I mean it. I’m looking at you, sanctimonious Quorans with a victim complex the size of Texas.


Why is it that I hear this excuse most often when something clearly connected to Hindutva and its affiliates comes to light? When proud Hindus commit atrocities in the name of their religion and that is pointed out, suddenly everyone cries “SeLeCtIvE OuTrAGe, WhAt AbOuT KaSHmIrI PuNDiTs, wHaT aBoUt MuSLimS rApInG HiNdUs, wHaT aBoUt ChRiStIAn cOnVersIoNs? #JuStICEeFoRAlL you LiBtaRDz and CoMmuNiSt PiGs!”

“Hey man, your house is on fire!”

“So? SO?! How dare you selectively point out my house! Didn’t you know Abdul’s burned down last week?”

“Yes but-”

“What? Why are you not talking about that huh? Why is it always my house? You’re just jealous because it is so big!”

“It’s on fire…”

The same people have no problem pointing out the religion and caste of others when it suits them, have no problem in identifying problems and outrages committed by people outside of their own circle. To borrow a phrase from Habib Fanny, this is circumfornication at it’s finest. They will happily drag out the No True Scotsman fallacy and Strawman their opponents to a stupor but mysteriously become deaf when their own religion is clearly connected with it.

Take the case of the young Kashmiri girl who was brutally gangraped and killed[1] . A young, eight year old girl kidnapped, drugged and kept on temple premises[2]. A girl who was brutalised in every way possible. A girl who was used as a sex doll by men who even invited a man from another state to satisfy his lust[3] . a girl who was chosen to be brutalised to drive away her Muslim community from a certain place.

Police officers connected with the case have struggled to uncover evidence in the face of harassment and threatening.

And what happens?

This.

Jammu: Two BJP ministers attend rally in support of Kathua rape-murder suspect

This.

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This
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This.

“Good She Was Killed”: Banker Loses Job After Comment On Kathua Rape Case

Is this your Hindu culture? Is this the religion of peace and tolerance which surpasses Islam? Is this the religion which allowed India to form? Tell me with a straight face that those are not Hindus! Tell me with the same conviction and outrage you muster for bloody Christians and Muslims that they are not bloody Hindus marching in support of rapists and paedophiles!

What differentiates you from the Muslims and Christians and dozens of foes which seek to bring down your religion?

What differentiates you from the corrupt and bloated politicians seeking to cover up heinous crimes for their own benefit?

Why are you so quick to bring up others faults when your own lie bare? Do you first address the rot in your own backyard or do you dig through your neighbour’s trash?

I’ll tell you what’s happening – whataboutism is.

If you have an ounce of shame – an ounce of bloody shame, just a tiny bit! – you will accept the wrongs done in the name of your religion. You will bow your heads. You will act with the humility and the consciousness of wrongs committed that you failed to observe in others. You will prove yourselves different. If not, you are just as hypocritical, just as guilty as those your profess superiority over.

Kashmiri Pundits – or whatever is left of those poor souls – will be hanging their heads in shame. They have been used to justify atrocities committed in the name of their religion and driven out of their rightful homeland by another religion’s fanatics. They are used as political pawns by a public which has no interest in actually helping them, only using their name to deflect accusations.

Hold your own culture up to the standards which you impose on others.

That is why we criticise Hindu culture when it is used as an excuse for defilement and desecration and atrocity. Because we should. Because we are the only ones who can raise it up.

Shame on you for using a dead and brutalised eight year old child as a whataboutism weapon.

Oh and in case someone is planning on a “MUSLIMS! THE ANTICHRIST! HITLER DID IT TOO! COMMUNISTS ARE RUINING INIDA! WHY DONT YOU POINT THEM OUT! WHY ARE YOU OPPRESSING MY RELIGION!” rant…

Don’t.

Just don’t.

–   By Anjana Nair, a student of Journalism and English literature


My comments:

First, It is our duty to protest for bringing justice to this girl and her family. And, I think the identification that people have with any religion should be completely dropped. Even in Indian culture, the peak of spiritual progress is letting go of all identifications. And identification creates prejudice and in-group out-group bias.

One of my favorite line from Upanishads is ‘Vasudaiva kutumbakam’ which means ‘(whole) earth is (our) family’.. The same concept also exists in Tamil, which is ‘யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்’, meaning ‘Every place is my hometown and everyone is my relative’. Raising awareness of this attitude may somehow reduce the crimes that happen in the name of religion.

In fact, the core teaching in most of the religions is loving another human being as oneself. So, whoever does a crime to show that their religion is superior is actually bringing down the reputation of their own religion. Let us destroy the imaginary divisions we have created in the name of religions and promote peace and love…

 

God: Who/What is God?

(This post has also been posted as an answer on Quora)

The word God is being used in two different meanings.

1. The word ‘God’, as it is possibly used by a random guy in the world of over 7 billion people, means the creator, ruler and the moral authority of the universe.

A random guy usually understands God as an invisible person who has a mind, emotions, intentions and a personality that is strict, altruistic, intelligent, loving, judgemental and sometimes even cruel.

He is someone who is worshiped with or without form and who is also feared. As for as utility is concerned, such a random man uses this God to be hopeful of his wishes and even curses as well. Sometimes he also uses God even to justify his cruel actions.. That has caused a lot of violence in the name of religion over the last two or three millennia.

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The tendency to judge others usually occurs to a person because of the unconscious intention to show himself in a positive light, in terms of what is good and bad. By making a judgment about others either mentally or physically and by trying to see how bad they are, he unconsciously convinces himself on how good he is.

This tendency can be observed more in people who are brought up in religious families. Don’t think about spirituality here. I am talking about an orthodox Hindu, Muslim or Christian who believes that there is a personal superhuman God who is the moral authority of the world and who punishes the evil doers. He is conditioned more to think in terms of what is good and bad, what is evil and sin etc.

When he believes that his neighbor is selfish, arrogant, rude and probably even bad, he convinces himself on how bad that neighbor is; he also gets relieved in thinking that God will teach his neighbor a lesson one day.

loveyourneighbor

The neighbor is always a problem. It is not only the case with your next door neighbor, it could be someone who is sitting next to you in school or work, the people in neighboring town, state, country etc. Everyone wants to see himself better than other in some way. The worst problems happen when he wants to see himself better than others in how good he is, how pure his heart is, how devotional and dear to God he is etc. So, this is really not about God at all. God is just an excuse to bring some solace on his wishes and curses.

If for any reason he is not able to kill someone who he thinks as bad, rude or displeasing, he can find some temporary relief by thinking how much God would want to punish him. And as soon as he notices such a thought in his mind, he would probably pray to God saying “oh my God, what have I done!.. I have thought of killing that guy. It is such a bad thought and I have sinned now!. But you know how bad he is anyway (*this is the special part!). But I admit that I have sinned in my mind. Please forgive me.. I honestly ask for your forgiveness. Let everything happen according to thy will, Amen or Om Shanthi or Insha Allah or whatever”…. That’s it! He no longer has to worry about it anymore because God has forgiven him! But God is still not going to forgive that bad neighbor guy!

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And this typical religious person that we are talking about is not going to forgive that bad guy either. Also, God will only forgive this typical religious person because he believes that he is the dearest child of God. As far as he is concerned, God loves him but would want to punish everybody else that he doesn’t like for whatever reason he has. And his mind can easily find biased reasons for such an aversion. Any person can easily find thousands of reason to justify his hatred towards another person, there is no question. It is love which doesn’t require any reasons.

If you think for a moment, the main teachings of many religions have been love. It is even said that Love is God. Every religious tradition probably has love as the central theme. Most of the religions portray God as Love.

I think Jesus was a wise man. When someone asked him what greatest commandments were, he did not talk about Ten Commandments.

All he said was this:

”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second commandment is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

godislove

But love is not a bargain or deal. Unfortunately, this is what we see in many people who claim to love God or human beings. Their prayers are like ‘God, please give me this, please give me that’. This is not Love. This is a business.

It is pretty much like telling your God what to do and doesn’t sound like ‘Thy will be done!”

2. But the word ‘God’ is also used in the context of spiritual enlightenment.

In this context, the word is just a synonym of Absolute reality from which people feel separated.

enlightenment

The apparent union that destroys the apparent separation of absolute reality is what is called by different names: Some people call it as the mystical union and some people call it as Yoga, which literally means union. Here, the God is often personified and loved but never believed or seen as a person. In other words, union with God is the same shit as spiritual enlightenment! It is the end of duality which gives complete fulfillment and peace.

But the word ‘God’ in the context of spiritual enlightenment is totally unnecessary anyway. I would rather talk about spiritual enlightenment without using the word ‘God’. You can read this answer for a detailed description of what it is: What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

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