My last posting (2 / 3)
S. V. Subrahmanian
svs_shankara at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 28 23:35:33 CDT 2000
2. My insistence on "knowing the process" is because of my own personal
experience. For long I have been reading that one has to give up desires to
attain liberation. Now it was difficult because I was combating an enemy
whom I did not understand. When I read JK's thoughts on the matter, I found
he had analysed in detail the process of desire and fear that it was easy to
conquer it for you could interrupt it in any stage of process. A simplistic
explanation of what he said is:
When we go through the sensation of pleasure, the mind registers the
experience. Now it reasons that if it repeats the same acts again, it will
get the same pleasure (induction). Or it sees other entities attaining
happiness which it craves by doing something. It reasons within itself that
if it repeats what the other entities did, it can attain the same happiness
(deduction). Now it tries to repeat. This attempt to repeat a memory of
pleasure is desire. Enjoying pleasures alone does not create bondage, but
the attempt to repeat is what causes bondage. So also an attempt to avoid a
memory of pain associated with an external object is fear.
Now that this process is clear and the steps understood, how easy it is to
interrupt it at various stages!
Which is why I am trying to question everything. What is faith ? What are
its mechanics ? From the archives I gather that the process of faith is in
the practice of it and standing still and questioning will not help. Not
fully sorted out yet, but better than yesterday. Fine enough to work with
and move on.
3. My objections to quoting ShAstrAs to defend one's arguments stems from
the fact that I don't believe that all works of ShAstrAs are by God-realized
men. This is only my personal opinion and I have no intention of imposing
it on others. You people have complete faith in the ShAstrAs and hence it
is enough for you to know that some ShAstrA says so. I seem to need some
ratification by a God-realized man ( I know this is a debatable term, but
most of us believe in a common few the Rishis, Krishna, Shankara etc).
Another thing of which I am highly suspicous (this is my answer to Shri
Jaldharji's question on experience getting stale) is whether what we have
today is really what was originally there or are they inclusive of
pollutants over a period of time. A small anecdote to prove my point:
There was once a pious Brahmana who performed SatyaNarayana puja every
Poornima. His child watched him do this as he grew up. There was a cat in
the neighbourhood which kept coming during the pooja attracted by the food.
The father in order to avoid the cat used to take a basket and cover the cat
with it, so that it does not move. The child never questioned and just kept
watching it. When the boy grew up and his father died, he thought that the
covering of the cat was part of the worship and he used to go and
deliberately invite the cat and cover it with a basket. Since he was a
pious man, everybody in the village accepted his ways and did the same.
After many generations, a plague killed all the cats. So the people in that
generation came up with the idea that they could buy a golden cat and
symbolically bury it with a basket. The Vishnu-puja was less expensive that
the cat-puja !!
Now I am not sure what part of our ShAstrAs is cat-worship and which is
Vishnu-worship. Our tradition is like a palimpest, it is difficult to trace
the lines of thought accurately. I have always been explicit in my postings
that I never doubt the intent, but only the content. The above is only my
opinion and if you argue against it, I admit I have no ammunition to combat.
But atleast it should explain to you as to why I am not able to admit
"ShAstrA-pramAna" so easily. Ok ?
4. One other point is that we should not have to surrender our independent
enquiry, just because a convenient explanation is given in some Bhashya.
There is a wonderful episode in the history of Sai Baba of Shirdi. There
was a famous Marathi Pandit who was once reading gItA in His presence
translated the verse "upadeksyant te jnanam" as "wise men will teach you
knowledge", which he said was as per Shankara Bhasya. Baba said to him,
"Don't worry about Shankara, tell me what you feel. Do you think it could
be interpreted in any other way ?". Ofcourse it was realized that it could
be read as "te ajnanam" meaning they teach you what ignorance is (for that
is what is to be gotten rid of). Courtesy: Sai Satcharita.
Now the emphasis above is NOT to disregard Shankara, but to not suspend our
own lateral thinking to understand. I have written this not with reference
any person or posting, but as a general note. Advaita is the goal. It
needs to be achieved whatever be the means. We should have our focus on the
goal and not spend too much energy on pledging allegience or
hero-worshipping any person or text. What is correct is more important than
who is correct. Ofcourse, when we don't know we have to accept the work of
great ones like Shankara and for teaching us we should harbour love, respect
and gratitude to the likes of Him.
[ I am scared of the above para. It is sure not going to go well -:) ]
S. V. Subrahmanian
svs_shankara at hotmail.com
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