Six Principles from Vedanta - a nice article
bhaskar.yr at IN.ABB.COM
bhaskar.yr at IN.ABB.COM
Thu Oct 24 08:41:13 CDT 2002
Below is the attached article I've received from one of my friends.
Contact info. about the author, you can find at the end of the article.
Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!
Before the article, just a refresher definition of Vedanta..
Vedanta, the 'anta' end of veda, is the last portion of each of the
'Veda' means knowledge. So Vedanta means the ultimate knowledge, the
culmination of knowledge. Vedanta gives you knowledge of the world and the
individual. A technique for achieving the right interaction with the
World. Vedanta is a science of living. The omplete manual on Self
that helps us reach our full potential. Science tells us that we use, at
best, 10% of our capacity. Vedanta helps cultivate the balance 90% and
access the powerhouse of infinite energy lying dormant within us.
The Art of Accomplishment: Six Principles from Vedanta
Prasad Kaipa, Ph. D., The Mithya Institute for Learning
The essence of Vedanta is self-knowledge. In my work with organizations, I
found six principles derived from Vedanta to be quite helpful in coaching
executives to become successful and fulfill their dreams. These six
principles are interdependent and describe a cycle. When you follow this
cycle, you develop new competencies and achieve higher levels of success.
Also, the more you practice the six principles, the more you begin to know
1) Clarity of Intention: Many of us have some idea of what we are after
we take on a project. More often, though, we may not have clarity about our
goal, let alone know how to measure success if we do achieve it.
Intention is critical to achieving success. For example, in India, when we
perform a special religious ceremony like 'Sri Satya Narayana Puja,' we
start with 'Sankalpam,' a Sanskrit word for 'Intention.' We pray for our
wishes (purusharthas) like dharma, money (artha), desires (kama), and
spiritual freedom (Moksha) to be fulfilled. We also pray for the benefit of
society/world (loka kalyana praptyartham).
When the intention is not clear, attention shifts from one thing (one
desire) to another and leads to confusion (vikalpa). In such circumstances,
we often end up compromising our own efforts and receive less than what we
desired or even deserved. Without a crystal clear intention, we rarely
experience a sense of accomplishment.
So, how do you increase the clarity of your intention? Ask yourself:
· What is it that I want?
· What evokes passion and joy in my heart?
· What am I willing to give up (sacrifice) to achieve the desired goal?
· If I have more than one intention, which one should I first attempt?
These questions bring to the surface some of our assumptions and passion
help us prioritize our intentions (and hence our actions).
2) Awareness: To succeed, intention alone is not enough. The message of
Swami Vivekananda is: 'arise (Utthistatha), be awake and aware (Jagritha)
and stop not till you reach your goal' (prapthavaran nibhodhata). Awareness
is of two kinds: Self awareness and the awareness of the world around us.
When we develop true awareness of self, we begin to understand the true
nature of world also and that we are manifestation of Brahman-ultimate
reality. There are four special sentences in Upanishads that reveal the
nature of Atman (self) and Brahman and those are called 'maha vakyas' or
'great sentences:' Each approach Brahman from a different perspective while
addressing the non-differentiation of Atman and Brahman.
· The first sentence or Maha Vakya, from an Upanishad related to Rig
tells us that Consciousness is the Brahman (Pragnanam Brahma). It is called
a 'Lakshana vakya' meaning 'defining sentence' because it defines Brahman
terms of Consciousness.
· The second Mahavakya, from an Upanishad related to Yajur Veda, tells
that each of us are Brahman (Aham Brahmasmi). It is called 'Anubhava vakya'
as only through experience that we can gain understanding of our true
· The third Maha Vakya, from an Upanishad (Chandogya) connected with
Veda, is 'Tat-tvam-asi.' It is not just that I am Brahman, you are Brahman
and the entire substratum of this world is also Brahman. This is called
'Upadesha Vakya' or sentence that is taught by teachers (Gurus) to their
disciples to prevent arrogance and develop respect and compassion for
· Finally, the fourth Maha Vakya, from an Upanishad (Mundaka) related to
Atharva Veda, is 'Ayamatma Brahma' meaning 'This Atman is Brahman.' Since
this sentence reveals the non-dualistic nature of atman and Brahman and
keeps us connected with the larger reality, it is called 'Anusandhana
What blocks our awareness? Patanjali (exponent of Yoga Sutras in addition
Grammar and Ayurveda) said that there are five mental processes that act as
enemies to awareness. They are:
· Our own expectations and standards (pramana),
· Our mis-identified and wrong knowledge (viparyaya),
· Our imagination (vikalpa),
· Sleep (nidra) and
· Memory (smruthi).
While sleep and old memory are easy to understand as blocks to awareness,
Patanjali warns us that we have to watch out that our own standards,
incomplete and false knowledge, and imagination don't take over our mind
make us either proud or sloppy or negligent. Indeed, we must be aware and
vigilant against our complacence (Jagriti). Know that we shape the world
through our actions and the world shapes us through its reactions. And we
need to continually and dynamically re-assess where we've been, where we
are, and where we want to go.
How do you develop more awareness? Reflection/contemplative practices,
writing a journal regularly to become aware of our own thought processes
continual reassessment of our intentions are helpful. Most awareness is
tacit. Learning to pay attention to body signals, pains and pleasures and
energy shifts in the body is key to developing higher awareness and acute
sensitivity to one's own body and mind. The more aware you are of yourself,
the sharper your senses are to observe your surroundings!
3) Empathy for one another: While clarity of intention and awareness gets
onto the path to success, empathy and compassion helps us to gain support
others. Both in Bhagavad Geeta as well as Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,
friendliness (maitri) and kindness/compassion (karuna) are two attitudes
that are encouraged in working with others. When you begin to see yourself
in others and feel for others genuinely, you will find that others
reciprocate those feelings. Time and again, I have found that affection
(vatsalyata bhava) and warmth towards to new people always brought positive
results. When the situation had conflicts and divisive, these attitudes of
maitri and karuna were able to diffuse that tension and create some
'openness' to an amicable solution.
What is empathy? It is like "walking in another's shoes." It implies the
imaginative act of being the other person. Empathy is the foundation for
emotional intelligence. By being kind and empathetic when you could be
harsh, you can build lasting relationships with your colleagues, employees
The practice of empathy really requires demonstrating openness, mutual
respect and trust in relationships. Deep listening, not just to the words
but the meaning behind the words, is the foundation for an empathetic
relationship. Sharing from the heart and feeling the pain of the other
nurtures relationships. Empathy begets more empathy and is the source of a
4) Appreciation for each other and what you receive: While empathy opens
door, appreciation welcomes you in. Vedanta tells us to tell the truth that
is pleasing to others and withhold what is disliked even if it is the
(satyam bhuyat, priyam bhuyat, na bhuyat satyam-apriyam) It does not mean
that we should lie to please others, but it maybe better for people to find
such truth themselves. Appreciation is not flattery but genuine
acknowledgment of another's contribution. By letting you know that I
appreciate what you have done for me, genuinely and specifically, I let you
know that I honor and respect who you are. Appreciating a person and their
work boosts morale and amplifies what brought that appreciation in the
However, one can only appreciate others to the extent that one appreciates
oneself. So appreciation is also about self acceptance. How does one
practice self acceptance? Make it a ritual every day to find something
positive that you have done or some contribution that you have made to
others. Even if the work did not yet produce the desired result, appreciate
the steps you have taken so far. Similarly appreciate what others have
even if the results are not produced the first time they try it. Be
authentic when you give such feedback and only then discuss how to improve
future efforts and results.
5) Stretching beyond your own limits: We operate mostly on autopilot (under
the influence of Maya). We become comfortable with 'karma theory' and when
we fail, we say that it is our fate. While our fate might have something to
do with our circumstances, if we don't learn from those failures and take
actions that stretch us beyond our comfort zone, we are not using our free
will (sveccha) to break out of our karma. Sveccha came from two words 'Sva'
and 'iccha' meaning my desire. This is where we make choices and the
of our intention helps us immensely. When we are stretched, we gain access
to our creativity and passion.
People are naturally uncomfortable taking risks and failing because we
only on the end result. We don't accept or appreciate failure very well in
our culture. Each 'failure' could create a mental block in us and create
boundaries around us. Most such boundaries are self-imposed, though we like
to blame others for their contribution. By learning to stretch even though
we don't want to, we begin to break those mental barriers and discover
untapped potential. Aspiration and desperation are two good motivators for
stretching beyond our limits. And curiosity, genuine inquiry (not
inquisition), empathy, and appreciation provide the impetus and support for
people stretching beyond their limits and discovering new possibilities.
To practice this principle, find opportunities to learn and be vulnerable.
Be willing to fail and look stupid and ask questions instead of making
assumptions. Practice telling the truth when you are not sure what the
implications are. Interestingly, you will find out that you are modeling a
behavior that leads to 'stretching the limits.' You are creating an
environment of nurturing and caring in which other people let their guards
down and discover themselves to be bigger than their own imagination!
6) Letting go of what does not work and old mindsets: Practice (abhyaasa)
and detachment (vairaagya) are two recommendations that Lord Krishna gives
Arjuna in Geeta to gain control of his mind. While the first five
could get you to the edge of success, success eludes those who are not able
to know when to let go and move on. Letting go does not mean giving up. It
means not to be attached to the result while continuing to perform the
Habits are difficult to change because we continue to do what we have
done by default and expect different results. By learning to let go of our
old mindsets, we can begin to discover new possibilities and new
Krishna advises Arjuna to do his best and to let go of his attachment to
fruits of his action. Such letting go gives us freedom to act and takes
of our nervousness. Many top athletes set themselves high goals and then
go of the attachment to those goals making them free to play their natural
game bringing out the best in them.
Letting go is also about flexibility and good judgment. When I know what to
let go of and when to do so, I can take responsibility for what I can hold
onto and for how long. I can only take responsibilities for what I have
freedom to let go. I cannot take accountability for any of my actions that
do not have such freedom.
The Cycle of Six Principles
Intention provides the direction and focus for our actions. Awareness gives
us the capacity and intelligence to go after our goal. Empathy helps us
build partnerships with others and appreciation is the key to motivation
productivity. Stretching beyond the perceived limits helps us to grow and
meet the challenges presented and letting go of our attachment assures not
only success but accomplishment. Together, these six principles convey the
essence of Vedanta. Practicing them with self awareness leads not only to
success but to self-discovery!
Prasad Kaipa researches the nature of learning and knowledge in
organizations and consults with business on leadership, intellectual
and strategy. You can send your feedback and dialogue with him by reaching
him at 408/871-0462 or sending an email to Prasad.
This article was written for and first published in a souvenir released by
Siva Vishnu Temple in Livermore, CA in July 1998.
Here is the whereabouts of the author of this article & his web site :
Pl check the following web site for more articles...
Prasad Kaipa's home office:
(Send Express mail to this address)
4832 Pinemont Drive
Campbell, CA 95008-5714, USA
Phone: (408) 871-0462
Fax: (408) 871-0461
When Prasad is in India, you can get his whereabouts by calling either
(040) 761 9645 (Hyderabad) or (080) 331-7410 (Bangalore). If you are in
USA, you can always call his home office (408) 866-8511 to get current
phone and fax numbers in India.
e-mail Mithya at info at mithya.com
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