[Advaita-l] Obstacles for Spiritual Progress -4 - Part 2

kuntimaddi sadananda via Advaita-l advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Thu Jul 24 07:48:25 CDT 2014

                                                                                Obstacles for Spiritual Progress - 4 

Part 2

In the previous posts, we have presented the three major obstacles to spirituality, based on Gita. Goudapaada in his Mandukya Kaarika in advaita prakaraNa considers four more obstacles for spirituality.  Before we go into this analysis we will first recognize that the aatma vidya or knowledge of advaita provides two fold benefits for the seekers. One is the owning up one’s own freedom from limitations, which is primary and that is jnaanam. The second is an emotional transformation of the mind. This is called jnaana phalam or fruits of the jnaana. As a result of jnaanam, the mind of a jnaani becomes strong, healthy with no emotional disturbances when faced with the objects, people or course of events due to praarabda, which can be pleasurable or painful, during the span of his remaining life. This emotional transformation or freedom is the secondary benefit or avantara phalam, and contributes to his jiivan mukti or liberated while living in the
 conditioned body, mind and intellect. Even though scriptures talk about the emotional benefits like calmness, contentment, fearlessness, compassion, love, etc – all these emotional benefits are not derived uniformly by all the Vedantic students. All the students do not derive the benefit of the jiivanmukti, even though the teaching was the same for all students, that too by the same teacher, as one finds for the students in Kenopanishad. The disparities among the students arise due to differences in their mental preparations. There is a gradation in the fitness or in the four-fold qualifications, saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti, among the students; and therefore the fruits of knowledge are also graded. Hence preparation of the mind plays a great role in the self-knowledge or aatma vidya. Goudapaada classifies students broadly into three categories – manda or lowest, madhyama, the middle, and uttama, the supreme - depending on their maturity or on
 their mental preparation, or in the language of JK the mental conditionings.  

For manda, Vedantic study does not produce jnaanam or jnaaa phalam (jjivan mukti). For uttama adhikaari, he gets both jnaana and jnaana phalam, just by listening to the teachings, shravanam and mananam. The uttama adhikaari student is like Nachiketa of KaThopanishad.  We are not concerned about this uttama adhikaari, since we rarely find such qualified students.  The discussion is therefore about the other two lower categories, madhyama and manda. For majority of us who are in the middle or madhyama, Vedantic knowledge is received.  We understand it clearly and have no doubts whatsoever. Jnaanam or knowledge is there, but this knowledge does not result in emotional transformation or derive the benefits at the emotional level. The knowledge is full, but jiivan mukti is not there. knowledge and bondage seem to co-exist for us. For knowledge to get transformed into its fruits, the obstacles preventing the transformation have to be slowly resolved. This is
 the role of Nidhidhyaasana. Here the intellect and the emotional mind are still diverged resulting in having knowledge but that knowledge is getting blocked at emotional level by the pressure of the remnant vaasanaas. Such a dichotomy seems to be there – knowledge is full but no jiivan mukti – jnaanam and samsaara seemingly co-existing together.  This is because of incomplete saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti or the four fold qualifications. Let us take a simple illustrative example for this. 

Let us say we have a tank full of water, but no water is coming when we open a tap. Obviously there must be some block preventing the water in the pipe line.  To solve this problem, what is required is not adding more water into the tank, but removing the block that is preventing the water from gushing through the pipe-line. Similarly in the aatma vidya, the cause for the block is insufficient preparation or jnaana yogyataa.  Here the that is knowledge generated dispassion, is not fully developed giving rise to raaga and dvesha or likes and dislikes, which still control the mental moods. It is like I know smocking is bad (knowledge is there) but I am still tempted to smoke when I smell a cigarette. Thus habits of the past still haunt the mind. Krishna calls this as rasa or lingering taste for sensuous enjoyments.  He gives a method of overcoming them too, which we will discuss later. In Ch. 4, He suggests the knowledge based dispassion or jnanena karma
 saynaasaH, or in shot, jnaana-karma-sanyaasa yoga, as the title of the chapter suggests. This is also called vidvat sanyaasa – knowledge-based dispassion.  Here the dispassion is generated by the emotional mind abiding in the intellect that has clear understanding of the mahaavaakya. Question is asked - For nidhidhyaasana, is external sanyaasa necessary? We will address this question in detail in the next post. For the time being we understand that Saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti is necessary, and all other things are only instrumental or helpful aids. 

Now the question is what the remedies are available. For uttama adhikaari, there is no problem and therefore his case is of no concern to us. In the case of lowest one or manda adhikaari, the saadhana sampatti level is very low. Hence the saadhaka or seeker has to concentrate on the karma yoga and the upaasana yoga, which will prepare the mind to gain the knowledge.  For him the Vedantic study will have less impact compared to karma yoga and upaasana yoga. We do not have to tell him that he need not have to attend the Vedanta classes. Many a time he automatically drops them because the mind is not ready to hold on to the teaching due to his extroverted-ness. We hear people saying that they want to attend the Vedanta classes, but they do not have time; implication of this being the study of Vedanta is not of their priority. Some even do not want to hear about it thinking that this is only for the old or retired people, who have nothing else to do. 
 Krishna gives the statistics – of the thousands of people, very few are really interested in this teaching. Of those who are interested, very few make an attempt to realize, and of those who make an attempt very few really succeed- manushyaanaam sahasreshu….Hence for manda adhikaari, even if he attempts Vedanta study, the shravana itself becomes another form of karma yoga, as purifier for the mind. The process will continue until his mind becomes more mature when he starts recognizing that Vedantic study is more important than any other activity in life, and hence his priorities change. From the initial state where he felt that he did not have time for Vedanta, he evolves to the state where he feels that he does not have time or interest for other things in life. His mind is becoming more mature. Vedanta refers to such a mind only in the Mundaka sloka – pariikshalokaan karma chitaan brahmano… –the one who has recognized the futility of
 extroverted life-pursuits in giving eternal happiness – the advise of the Upanishad is for him to approach a qualified teacher for serious Vedantic study.

Madhyama adhikaari has the ability to receive the knowledge. He is the one who says I understand Vedanta, but…That –but- means there is no difficulty in receiving the knowledge but jnaana phalam or jiivanmukti status is not derived. This madhyama adhikaari need not have go back to karma yoga and upaasana yoga. He can keep doing whatever he is doing as his daily routine without the need of any special concentration on extra karma yoga. What is required now is Nidhidhyaasanam to internalize the teaching. The saadhana, now in the form of nidhidhyaasana, will convert him from madhyama to uttama adhikaari – the block gets freed- jaanam itself converts into jnaana phalam.  We will now look into what is involved in Nidhidhyaasanam. 


Nidhidhyaasanam depends on manonigraha, that is, control of the mind. The reception and conversion of the knowledge both depend on the control of the mind, which is one of the six mental disciplines, shaadhana shatka sampatti. Of these, mental discipline or shama is important. Here it represents the entire saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti too, that is, all the four-fold disciplines. The lack of this mental discipline expresses in many ways. First it expresses in terms of a sense of insecurity for myself, and then for my-people who depend on me. It is essentially a manifestation of I-ness or ahankaara and my-ness or mamakaara. Knowledge should give freedom from this sense of insecurity -abhayam pratishTaam vidate, says Ti. Up. The second expression of this insufficient preparation is lack of freedom from sorrow due to things, people and their behavior around. This results in lack of peace of mind. Jnaanam should give ever lasting peace – shatam-shivam
 advaitam, in spite of external circumstances. 

Jnaani will have everlasting peace – peace that paasth understanding. Others get peace of mind occasionally when things are conducive to their likes.  All the three noted above put together (i.e. sense of security, freedom from sorrow and peace of mind) is jnaana phalam, fruits of knoweldge. Thus both knowledge, jnaanam and its fruits or jnaana phalam depend on the four-fold qualifications or purity of the mind. There are no exceptions to this. How do we know we have the requisite saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti? In olden days when the student used to live with the teacher, by observing the student for a length of time, the teacher would find out. The teaching is given only for those students who are ready. At present times, where we do not have such gurukula systems, we need to evaluate ourselves. Two questions to be answered; one is how to get the purity of the mind or saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti  and second how to check what we have is what it
 requires. We will discuss these in the next post.

Hari Om!

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