[Advaita-l] Re: Understanding
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 15 09:51:56 CDT 2006
Dear Mr. Viswanathan,
Sri Sastri is being kind to you in his response. However, let me address
some other concerns that you raised, but please be warned that I won't be so
kind. I am merely using your post as an opportunity to address some basic
issues that most of us seem to get wrong.
> C = is the 'Brahman' and othe c = combination of body/mind/intellect
> C is formless and has never born or ever die...it existed exist and
>exisit for ever where as the other c having form keeps changing forms which
>we call birth/death.
> Vast majority of all keep their conciousness centered on c and that why
>all birth/death, pleasure/pain, love/hate dualities. Once you shift your
>identity /conciousness from c to C...you have reached teh home....YOU
>become That. (call this shift Moksha/Nirvana whatever....)
You are correct so far, mostly. However, it is not as if you "become" that,
but instead, you realize that you ARE that and that you were never really
not-that. When you thought you were not-that, you were entirely mistaken.
> This is what I understood as ' Advaita'....for making this shift happen
>first you have to gain the knowledge (Jnana) and keep contemplating
>(Meditattion/ Dhyana)on that..and than keep performing your duty to
>complete the obligations to the various elements of the society untill this
>body lasts (Karma yoga).
This is where you have got it absolutely backwards. Sorry to be so blunt. I
will get back to that in a minute. For the purposes of answering your
question below, let us assume that you have indeed got the above right.
> So, I wonder why this Rituals/ Ritualistic practices....The purpose of
You already have talked of Karma yoga and obligations to various elements of
society. Given that, it is totally inconsistent to then question the ritual
and the karmakANDa as you do.
A key part of "karma yoga" is karma. There is no karma yoga without karma.
If you understand that, you will realize that your obligations to various
elements of society includes your obligations to parents, spouse and
children, obligations to more remote ancestors, or more generally,
obligations to your tradition. Obligations to society do not stop with
casting your vote in an election or making a donation to a charity of your
choice or something like that. They include the repayments of the debts that
you were born with, or what is called RNa-traya. It is in the discharge of
these debts that the karmakANDa comes in.
Speaking from a larger perspective, can you point to me one society that
conducts its business without a ritual practice of some kind? In a modern
democratic society, once the votes are counted, you might ask, what is the
need for a swearing-in ceremony? A swearing-in ceremony is a modern ritual.
If you accept this for what it is, it is more than a little hypocritical to
dismiss the vaidika karmakANDa.
Let me get back to why I said you have got it absolutely backwards.
If you are so advanced as to have reached the stage of understanding that
you ARE brahman, you have no further need of dhyAna or contemplating on this
identity. Contemplation involves the mind, whereas brahman realization
transcends the mind (yato vAco nivartante, aprApya manasA saha). You also
have no further obligations to any element of society, because you will have
recognized that there is no society towards which you have obligations any
more. So there is no further need for karma yoga.
Rather, the process is as follows:
So long as you recognize your self and another as distinct entities in
relationship with each other, you are identifying with c, not C.
If you are not interested in knowing C, or even if you think the
identification with C is totally wrong (e.g. if you are a dvaitin), you
definitely have duties to perform and obligations to fulfil. In this case,
you cannot and should not escape from ritual and the karmakANDa.
On the other hand, if you have heard of C, and want to prepare yourself for
knowing, then you have to first learn to discipline your words, thoughts and
deeds. The karmakANDa again comes in at this juncture. You cannot escape it.
If you gradually develop the sentiment of performing your duties, both
sacred and secular, without desire for their results, you are on the way to
karma yoga. Once you have developed the discipline, you can withdraw from
karma, but not before.
You can then proceed to dhyAna and finally prepare yourself for jnAna.
ArurukShor muner yogam karma kAraNa ucyate | yogArUDhasya tasyaiva SamaH
kAraNa ucyate || ... SanaiS Sanair uparamed buddhyA dhRti gRhItayA |
Please read a good translation of the gItA, chapter six, and Sankaracharya's
commentary on it, to understand this better.
If you already know all this and are indeed at a stage where you identify
with C, not c, I apologize. However, if so, please note that there is no
advantage gained in dismissing the disciplined process that almost every
human being needs to get there. It only promotes a riot of inconsistent
thoughts and spiritual quackery.
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