The Speaking Tree
THE SPEAKING TREE
(A Collection from the Times of India, various issues)
Learn Where To Look For Happiness
Discourse: Swami Sukhabodhananda
The morning sun was accompanied by a cool breeze. The rain overnight had soaked the earth. Crimson rays of the rising sun played on patches of water to create a riot of colours on the ground. Chirping birds sang in chorus. Butterflies flitted about in step with the song of the birds. It was a mix of wonderful sights and sounds. A bird invited me to its world of melody.
Why is love a stranger in our lives? Where is the urge to overcome separation in love? When physically apart, we can feel the separation — we pine for the loved one who is far away. At the spiritual level, however, physicalities do not matter. At this level, you do not have to strive to become One, for you are One. The urge to become One at the physical level alone is a great source of unhappiness.
A young man once asked me: “Is it possible to be happy in this competitive world? It appears that we succeed only when we cheat others. Can one really build a happy life on a foundation of distrust?” An Indian maxim goes like this: “However hard you search in the mouth of a crow, you will not find any teeth there”. Many of us search for happiness where it does not exist. The Bible says, “The Kingdom of heaven is within you”. The Gita says, “Happiness is within”. But we search for happiness not within ourselves but outside. We get lost in the details and forget the essence... that lies in ourselves.
Most of us are busy with the trivialities of life and in the process miss the essential. We are unhappy in life because we are victims of our expectations. We have to learn the art of side-stepping our expectations. We suffer on account of expectations. We do not trust our intelligence; but we trust our expectations.
Have expectations, but let not your happiness depend on them. Operate from love, not expectations. Love provides caring energy. This energy will make you effective and happy.
There was a Zen master. He was frail but had a powerful presence. He could push huge boulders effortlessly. Someone asked him, “What is the secret of your strength? Where does it come from?” The Zen master replied, “Before pushing a boulder, i communicate with it, request its permission and support in my effort. And then the boulder gets moved miraculously....” Power comes from the mystery of love, not from our expectation of how others should behave.
A carpenter from China created a unique piece of furniture. It was a piece of art, and was liked by many. When asked how he made it, the carpenter replied, “Before cutting a tree in the forest, i talk to it and take its permission, intuitively understanding which tree would submit to being felled. The furniture made out of such a tree will always be a piece of art”.
Love has power, the power to create. It is this power we should learn to draw from. If our expectations emerge from love, we become masters of our expectations. Otherwise we are slaves to them. Misery is not a product of a cut-throat world; it is the result of expectations from a world bereft of love.
Relationship Matrix:One day workshop by Swami, June 16. Contact: 25684667, 98215 55134, 98200 81661, 98925 90164. Visit www.swamisukhabodhananda.org.
THE SPEAKING TREE
The Contradictory Nature Of What We Call Truth
There is much philosophical debate and bitterness arising out of debate over what is truth for truth lies beyond the pairs of opposites. One could make two contradictory statements and yet, both could be true. To know the truth one has to see both sides but this seems particularly difficult. We prefer the linear. It is so comfortable to see the old, the usual, the obvious, the one-sided. A balanced view is as rare as it is valuable.
Take for instance the popular philosophical concept of staying in the present. ‘Don’t think of the future’ we are advised. But if one did not think of the future would we not be like a feather in a summer breeze? Blown by circumstance rather than guided by design? Where would we be without planning? Yet it is obvious that if our minds ran into the future while we performed any task, our concentration would be impaired, we would not perform well.
A batsman thinking of his century on the pitch puts his wicket at risk. To score runs he needs to stay focused on the ball. So here we have two stances: Stay in the present and plan for the future. The truth is therefore both. Planning is what happens before an action starts. Staying focused is what we do during an action. Once the action starts, forget the future and focus on the task. But the task was chosen in the first place because of a goal and a plan. Hence, two apparently contradictory views are both aspects of truth.
Similar is the popular debate between individualism and unselfishness. The West is typically shown as being individualistic. The East is supposedly more family and community oriented. So which principle is right? Again, both. The two principles are applied in two different choices. In the choice of a field of activity, we must go by our ‘swadharma’ or inherent nature but actions in the field must be unselfish. If one’s nature is to be a doctor, choose medicine. Nothing else should influence our choice of what to do. However, having chosen the field of activity, in it, in the choice of individual actions, it is vital to be unselfish.
We express our concern for others in the field we have chosen. In other words, we must be unselfish in our chosen field of activity. In it we must train ourselves in the mental attitude of ‘apres vous’. In the choice of becoming a doctor the only factor to be considered is his nature or inclination. Having become a doctor, he must practise concern for others. Thus must individualism and unselfishness coexist.
If one does not understand the all-pervasive nature of truth one is like the six blind men who went to ‘see’ the elephant. If they had tried to understand how the elephant could have been both like a rope and a fan, they might have understood the elephant better. Listening and reflecting gives us comprehension of the truth. But they were too busy asserting their own views and ignoring others’.
Truth being what it is, is unlikely to be encompassed in single words. That which is to encompass the whole world must take a little longer in the telling because its very nature is multidimensional.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Experience Peak Intensity By Simply Sitting
Discourse: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
Don’t believe anything that’s not in your experience. Don’t also believe that what you know is everything; there could be a lot more to life. The fundamental question is: How to enhance your perception from its present level.
If you want to see more of life, your life energies should function at a higher level of intensity. Without intensity, it is no use making effort, it will be wasted. You will become hallucinatory, imagining that people are saying things. So don’t believe the stories. It does not matter who said it. Whether i said it, or Krishna, Rama or Jesus said it, it doesn’t matter; do not believe the stories.
When i say intense, most people become intense only when there is danger. Let’s say you are driving your car, pushing it to 120, 125 miles per hour. You are going like this real fast, now suddenly something comes in your way. Now those last few moments before the possible crash, you are trying to do something, either break, or try to avoid the object in front of you.
Let’s say you did not crash; you are alive, sitting here today. Still, you can never forget those few moments. Somehow they were so intense that if you just think about it, it comes fully alive. Or let’s say you are standing at the edge of a tall building, just about to fall. Do you see how intense you become? If the consequence of the fall is taken away, the fall is a damn great thing, isn’t it? If the consequence of the car crash is taken away, every day you will want to crash. But since your car breaks up, your body breaks up, you want to avoid it.
Suppose those consequences are taken away, won’t you like to experience it all the time? All the adventure sports, what do you think it is? Accidents without consequences... You jump off an airplane, at the last moment you pull the parachute. But you want to experience the fall because it makes you so intense.
So generally, only in moments of danger people know intensity. Now what i am talking about is without doing all those fanciful things like jumping off a mountain or crashing your car or doing something else, just sit here in the peak of your intensity. If you can become that intense, then if you close your eyes even the need to open your eyes does not arise anymore because life is happening at such a tremendous intensity.
People close their eyes and do not open for a long time not because they are not interested in life, simply because they are experiencing life in such a peak way. To do anything else does not occur to them, that’s all. People think somebody is meditating means he is hibernating. Hibernation means lowering life. Meditation is about pushing it towards the peak. If you are in such a peak state of intensity, this is the most exciting thing you can do — just sitting.
Shiva sat like this for millennia because of this — it did not occur to him to get up and do something. So if your voltage increases, then naturally you will see everything that is worth seeing. Because he took his voltage up really high, that was how his third eye opened. The ‘third eye’ does not mean a crack in the forehead; it means that things that others cannot see became available to him. It will become available to you also, if you raise your voltage.
THE SPEAKING TREE
The Joyful Child Is The Father Of Man
Everyone loves to look at a child. Not many, however, would find an elderly person as interesting or fascinating. We are inadvertently drawn towards a child and its actions. It’s also true that every one of us wishes to look younger than our age. Why do we like children? Is it our own desire to look cute, play without inhibitions with no fear of reprimand or something else?
What attracts us first, and what makes an impact on us, is the child’s innocence. Even the stoniest of hearts melts before the innocence of a child. Nothing can escape the child’s guileless love that equalises all — whether rich or poor, worthy or unworthy. The child has never faced pangs of jealousy or manipulation and has never tried to impress others but does that what he feels happy doing.
To live like a child one must forego the obsession to please others. People will never be pleased even if you stand upside down for them. One out of hundred ways is enough to displease them, leave aside the ninety-nine things done in their favour, suiting their temperament. So why waste time and energy conniving ways to gratify others? From the bottom of one’s heart, everybody likes truthfulness as compared to the superficial ways of impressing others.
For many of us today, often stressed at work and home, experiencing child-like joy has become a rarity. Everything is a chore; we place ourselves on a perpetually moving treadmill, trudging our way through life. Or we put ourselves in a rocking chair, going forwards and backwards, lulling ourselves into believing all is well, when in actual fact we go nowhere.
When a child goes up and down a staircase, he finds immense joy in the act — which, to us, seems completely unproductive. There is no visible gain in the process but the child is overjoyed whereas we find it useless. We prefer to get enslaved, busying ourselves to preparing endless ‘to do’ lists, most of the ‘to dos’ never get done.
Why have we forgotten how to be joyful? We don’t giggle or break into peals of laughter spontaneously — things we did as a child. An average adult laughs heartily from his belly barely or not even once during a 24-hour period. A child is a born optimist. He experiences joy in every action, because he is oblivious of the result. He is always in the present. He has the fortune to ‘realise’ the simple joy of being. Adults, on the other hand, tend to either brood over the past or worry about the future, thereby letting slip the precious present.
The mother takes care of the child’s every need — expressed or otherwise — because the child has surrendered to her unconditionally. As adults, we forget spontaneity. We want things to be done as per our choice, not as per His will. Swami Vivekananda said: “Let never more delusive dreams veil off thy face from me/ My play is done O Mother, break my chains and make me free”.
Shed your inhibitions; dance like a child. Be spontaneous; laugh heartily. Look at work and home with new eyes — with the eyes of a child: discover the joy of simple pleasures, learn to live life joyously. Life is not a chore, it is a journey of discovery.
THE SPEAKING TREE
It Is Not Too Difficult To Lead An Extraordinary Life
Discourse: Shri Nimishananda
You can lead either of two kinds of lives: An ordinary life or an extraordinary life. When you lead an ordinary life, you move along with the current of your desires, preoccupied in fulfilling your own goals, aims and agendas. Ordinary beings are only conscious of their own life. Extraordinary beings are conscious of their life and are also constantly aware of Divinity. They are confident that God’s Grace will resolve all their problems. They know that whatever life brings is ultimately for the best.
Those who lead an extraordinary life enjoy every minute of it. To them, every moment is precious. Even ordinary circumstances elicit a different response from them. If you believe that you are extraordinary, then you start looking at the world differently. When you think that you are born special, you will lead a special life. Constant hope makes our life extraordinary. Without this, life is drab and ordinary. If we look at life as a problem, it becomes ordinary but if we look at it as an opportunity, it becomes extraordinary.
This bowl beside me is full of fragrant roses. If i pick up a single rose and look at it, it is really beautiful. There is no need for any comparison. Like all the other roses here, it is unique. If we have the habit of comparing ourselves with others, our self-confidence sometimes soars and sometimes crashes. A truly extraordinary life is never based on comparison. It is the result of constant blossoming within. Human life is a rare privilege. Why waste a single minute of this precious gift or lose a single opportunity to make it extraordinary?
If we cultivate the art of savouring every moment of life even when it brings unexpected challenges to us, our life becomes extraordinary. When there is interest, we feel exuberant and joyful. When there is no interest, life is mechanical and ordinary.
If we are travelling and our vehicle breaks down in the countryside, do we take the opportunity to revel in the natural beauty around us? Or do we fret, fume and grumble? When we perceive the best in everything, life becomes extraordinary and memorable. When we live life like this, a special feeling arises in us. Our life is full of zest and joy. We can never completely control what happens in the external world around us, but our internal world is in our hands. We can allow it to be ugly or choose to make it beautiful.
When we enjoy every moment and every circumstance that comes our way, one negative element that flavours each day of our present existence disappears. This element is TENSION. Stress, tension, boredom, depression, impatience and frustration become things of the past. These emotions which were slowly draining away the energy of the Soul disappear. When we enjoy every moment of life, it is always full of wonder and never grows stale.
Each and every situation that comes our way is not custom-made to fit our present frame of mind. If every circumstance were to our liking, internal growth and transformation would never take place; our life would become stagnant and sub-human. So it is our own perception that decides whether our life remains ordinary or becomes extraordinary. Life will always pose challenges; it is up to us to make it joyous. Flow like a river, revelling in every moment of life.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Divine Facilitator For Universal Harmony
Discourse: Nirmal Guruji
When you love your guru unconditionally, his grace flows to you automatically. The guru’s words never fail to come to fruition. The trouble is, the human mind wants instant gratification, unmindful of the fact that only when circumstances are appropriate, the guru’s words bear fruit.
The guru communicates through words and gestures and through his physical actions. Devotees often assume that the manifest form of the guru is what does all the work. We need to realise that the guru works at subtler levels. It’s a different realm altogether.
Devotees often tend to stray from the path of love when they engage in worthless pursuits, enamoured by material acquisitions. They shore up their personal ego by making physical offerings to the master. All that a devotee can truly offer to the guru is his love which is unmanifest and which is the latent force in every human. That is a true offering.
There are those who seek gurus to bless them in their pursuit of position,power,progeny, cure of physical and mental ailments. How many people care to understand the real purpose of existence? We have been sent here to do good karma in order to be able to come face to face with our eternal Guru.
The guru has no religion; he has only the faith of love. A realised guru steps down from his higher state into the pond of samsara to help alleviate the suffering of his devotees. We must constantly engage in dialogue with death, as that is something that we must all face. We however perform actions and deeds out of malice towards others not realising that death can knock at our door any moment.
The guru does not have to speak to bestow his grace. His mere physical presence and aura help start the process of transformation.He is aware of our inner life through silence. Distance does not act as a hindrance to this process because inner knowledge comes to us through the transmission of the guru’s own energy.
The guru acts as a divine messenger; his outer bearings are of no consequence. What we need to understand and feel is that true love lies inside each of us. What is important for a guru is to silently transform the heart and mind of each of his devotees. It does not matter how many discourses or lectures we attend, what really matters is the pace at which the devotee gets transformed and this is directly correlated with the flow of grace.
One needs to be practical in life and practical spirituality is the answer to today’s sorrows. One must remain happy and be in a joyful state because this helps overcome negative thoughts. A person does not have to be a hermit to become spiritual. We must live in the world and yet remain detached from it.
Contemplation of God must be done in complete silence. Keep repeating the name of God over and over again. Having a family or a large fortune should not stand in the way of contemplating God’s name. If both husband and wife are spiritually inclined, this comes as a great boon towards following a spiritual path. A happy married couple will prove a source of great joy and support to each other. We must live in harmony with nature and with each other. The world is transformed into a beautiful place if we live in harmony with ourselves and with the universe.
Nirmal Guruji attained Mahasamadhi on May 31, 2007.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Discipline Opens Up A Whole New World
Discourse: Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
How can the mind learn to perceive its own source, the light of Consciousness or Chitprakasa? By learning to keep its energies centred. This is possible with discipline.
Krishna describes the necessity of discipline when he says to Arjuna: “The yogi should constantly discipline himself,/ remaining in solitude, alone,/ with mind and body well restrained,/ having no desires, and without avarice”.
In yoga, the word discipline has nothing to do with the rigours of boarding school or military life; it means to purify thought, speech and action.
Baba Muktananda placed great importance on spending time alone: “One should abandon all thoughts and practise watching what is happening within”.
This is not just a matter of distancing yourself from people, buildings and professional obligations. You must make space in the region of the mind. The mind consists of four psychic instruments: the intellect, subconscious mind, ego, and conscious mind. When you make space beyond all your mental activity, you discover the company of a deeper silence within.
Krishna began with discipline; then he asked Arjuna to remain in solitude. He added the word ‘alone’. Being alone means separating yourself from the things that keep you from being with God. In this aloneness, kaivalya, there is no loneliness.
‘Having no desires’ is the next teaching in this verse — becoming free from the clutches of sense objects, from the desires of the senses. When desires are not under your control, they drive you into a ditch. A yogi, therefore, must develop the power to say ‘no’ to unwanted desires. A yogi is free from avarice. When you look at history, it is clear that greed is the cause of downfall of empires. Avarice is like a disease invading the body.
For the fulfilment of yoga, to become free from desires, onepointedness is vital, ekagra manas. A stable mind is a tranquil mind. A scattered mind can never gather enough momentum to progress on the path of discipline. When you focus the mind on something, whatever it may be, you absorb its qualities. In a very real way, you take it into yourself.
At the same time, you infuse it with your own bhav. Devotion to God is much more than a feeling. Through your devotion, God comes alive for you. Through your devotion, you also invite the one you worship into your body and mind, into your life. The formless takes on a form that you can relate to.
Krishna says: “Whenever the unsteady mind,/ moving to and from, wanders away,/ the yogi should restrain it/ and control it in the Self/ with niyama, regularity.” In the Yogasutras, Patanjali lists the niyamas as cleanliness, contentment, austerity, regular recitation of scriptural texts, and the surrender of one’s limited will to God.
Contentment, austerity, chanting mantras, and samarpana or surrender to God, help liberate the mind and receive God’s grace. Constantly remember how much grace there is in your sadhana. It’s like going for a walk and having the wind at your back. When that happens, it’s as though when you are walking, the wind is behind you, supporting you.
June 24 is Gurumayi’s birthday.
THE SPEAKING TREE
You Can Free Yourself Like The Mouse That Soared High
There’s an American Indian tale of a mouse that heard a roaring in its ears and set out to discover what it was. The mouse had to first give up one of its mouse ways of seeing things in order to grow. When the mouse had given away its eyes to help two other animals and was without sight, defenceless, it was picked up by an eagle. Before the mouse knew, it was flying and could see the splendour all around. The mouse was gifted with a new vision.
When we have tunnel vision we cannot see the contrariness in things and ourselves. We do not see both the tiger and the lamb in us. We cannot see that we are both weak and strong, innocent and guilty, right and wrong. It is only when we are at peace with the conflict inside us, are we able to love all the ways the world can be outside us. “The farmer may only be planting a seed, but if he opens his eyes he is feeding the whole world”, said Omaha Bee.
The mouse in the story had to discover another way of looking at itself and reality. We grow only when we replace shortsightedness with a vision that reaches out. The mouse way is to be small minded and petty. In the mouse way we are quick to label people and events. We become self-righteous and picky. We tend to see ourselves as moral guardians and so condemn “others”.
Then, like the mouse, somehow we lose ourselves along the way. All the familiar landmarks of life we clung to are no longer there to prop us up. Like the mouse, we give away something that is precious to us, which is often our “mouse way” of seeing things and reality. We reach out to others or go beyond ourselves. We go deeper and search wider in the world outside to ourselves. Tunnel vision gives way to a new reality.
To the external eye, we are all doing the same things in life — walking, talking, eating, sleeping, rising, washing, travelling, writing or driving. But internally, we are not really doing the same things at all. For some the motions of life are mechanical, done without any meaning attached to them. For others, every motion is driven by a goal or higher purpose.
Buddhist mindfulness is all about doing the same things in life in a different way. When we become less mechanical and more purposeful, the power and energy of God begin to flow through us. We begin to cocreate with God, rather than remain empty receptacles that cannot receive His grace.
There are those who use language in life to create by realising the power of words to shape reality. There are others who use language to communicate — sometimes positive things, sometimes negative. Those who like to remain with the mouse way of looking at things and doing things remain at the level of superficiality. Language and words are often used by these people to disrupt and destroy.
Plant a seed. But remember why you are planting a seed. Will your action and motivation remain like that of the farmer who could not see beyond his own field? Those who know that a seed can and does feed the whole world, will experience the splendour of the world. Build a new vision.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Dive Into The Ocean Of Tranquillity And Peace
Discourse: Narayan Prem Sai
Can peace be established at gunpoint? Never. Peace comes from the heart, and not from a machine. Peace can rest only on the foundation of empathy, mutual love and concern for all. Peace is the music of life. It is God manifest. Peace is the essence of life. It is the symbol of nobility and greatness. It is the strength of mind and the source of all noble thoughts. One who cannot experience peace, fails to realise the mystical bliss of life.
Learn to imbibe peace within. Dive into the ocean of unabated peace. Sit quietly, closing your eyes, in solitude. Try to keep away flickering thoughts and reflect on the following lines: “I have seen enough of this mundane world with eyes wide open. I have spent my life running after pleasure and material attainments. But where is happiness? Will my life be thus wasted, without experiencing that ultimate bliss? All my deeds turn out to be bondage. Let me perform such deeds that will cut off all bondage so i can taste the sweet nectar of love and happiness...
“Dear God, help me plunge into the divine ocean of Your love and bless me with Your grace. Bless me such that my life becomes meaningful. My wavering mind keeps me wandering forever...remaining attached to this mundane world, suffering pain in the pursuit of happiness. Bless me with strength and Your love. Take away my conceit. I do not pray for material attainments, but bless me with the divine wisdom”.
Reflecting thus be at peace within. Keep mundane thoughts at bay. Slowly but steadily, you will be filled with divine ecstasy. Your mind will be at peace with itself. God is within you; you need not seek Him elsewhere. We tend to be in constant pursuit of external happiness and fail to realise that it actually resides within. Try out the above method regularly and you will discover unabated bliss within. You can even try out this at bedtime.
Don’t rush off for your daily chores as soon as you wake up. Attempt the above method, closing your eyes, while still in bed. It will prove beneficial. Being fresh at this hour of the day, the mind is at peace.
Try out another approach. Wherever you may be — at office or home — take out some time and contemplate. Prayer is not a time-bound process. Let it be a perpetual state. Let your life blossom with the divinity within. So let your every deed be guided by His thoughts. Think that you are just the means, the Lord is the doer. Do not act in haste. Ensure that you carry out your work with a calm and selfless attitude. Work done with patience and quiescence proves to be more efficient.
In the beginning, you will tend to forget. We are so used to leading a restless life that peace continues to evade us. To retain peace within try the above methods again and again. As they become habitual, you will feel Supreme benediction in the form of peace. You will feel one with God. All mental agitation, perplexity and fickleness will steadily wane. You will lead a peaceful and happy life.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Angry Thoughts Have A Way Of Getting Back To You
Discourse: Rajinder Singh Ji
We may think that no one knows what we are thinking, but our thoughts produce vibrations that can be picked up by others at a subtle level. Once, one of Emperor Akbar’s ministers advised him to be careful about what he thought of others.
The minister said, “Thoughts are very potent. Let us try this experiment. See that man coming down the road? As he approaches, i want you to think angry thoughts about him and let us see what happens”. The emperor looked at the stranger and thought, “This stranger should be beaten up”. When the stranger drew near, Akbar asked him, “What did you think when you saw my face”. “Excuse me, emperor, but i wanted to beat you up and break your head”.
No words were spoken; no actions were done, but the angry thoughts of Akbar towards the man were picked up, and the stranger was tempted to react in a violent way. We may not say anything, but our anger may create a negative vibration all around through aggressive body language, facial gestures, and angry tone of voice. This not only affects the recipient of our anger, it also boomerangs on us, disturbing our peace of mind.
We can deal with anger in several ways. One way is to project the long-term consequences of our anger as a deterrent. Or set a goal and then realise the effect that anger may have in preventing us from attaining that goal. A third way is to use meditation to break the physiological response to anger.
Projecting the future consequences of anger can prevent us from acting with anger. Becoming conscious of this could help us respond nonviolently to situations, as did Gautama Buddha when someone abused him one day. Buddha listened patiently and since there was no reaction, the abuses stopped coming his way.
If we set a goal to meditate every day, then we can guard against intrusion on that time. Say to yourself: “If i allow this anger to take control, then it is going to cause me to waste sitting and thinking about how angry i am. How can i calmly meditate and focus on what i am seeing within?’’ To have fruitful meditation we need to overcome anger, but to overcome anger we need to meditate. It is not so much a catch-22 situation, however, as it is a cycle of success.
No matter what level of meditation we are at, the time we spend meditating can calm us down so that we do not respond to a situation of anger. Meditation provides us with a physiological response to control the anger. Our heartbeat slows during meditation, which has the corresponding effect of slowing down our brain waves. We enter a more relaxed state of body and mind. In such a state, anger has less chance to gain strength.
As we calm down and our anger subsides, we can increase our concentration in meditation. The more time we spend in meditation, the more practised we become in being calm and balanced.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Radha’s Krishna Could Be Your Love, Too
An intense lyrical outpouring set to devotional music and dance has been at the centre of Vaishnavite traditions. This is exemplified in the immortalisation of the gopibhav in Jayadeva’s Geet-Govinda that reflects the deep spiritual state of longing of the individual soul, visualised as the intense love of gopis for Krishna.
Earlier, Jiva Goswami, one of the six great acharyas of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, formalised the divine fervour of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu into the theological concept of achintya bhedabheda. The simple, direct, and powerful poetry of Jayadeva established that to love God as one’s lover is the highest form of bhakti. The Geet-Govinda can be seen as an early forerunner of the Chaitanya form of devotion and the concept of achintya bhedabheda of inconceivable oneness and difference.
Quite close to the vishishtadvaita position of Ramanuja, midway between Sankara’s advaita and Madhava’s dvaita, the philosophical postulate of such a Bhakti tatva or tenet is still distinct in stating that “God is simultaneously one with and different from his Creation”. The individual soul is intrinsically one with the Creator, yet is not the same as Him, and the nature of this symbiotic relationship is incomprehensible to the human mind.
Vishnu or Krishna is Brahmn or Sat-chit-ananda, both the efficient and material cause of the world. Though He manifests Himself differently to different kinds of seekers, a Bhakta alone can enjoy the bliss or love of a personal God. This all-consuming love is at the heart of Chaitanya Vaishnavism, the basis of gopi-bhav in the ashtapadis of Jayadeva.
Jayadeva uses physical imagery in the Geet-Govinda only to drive home his underlying principle of bhakti as an ardent desire to merge with the Self, which, he felt, could only be captured in the mood of the gopis and Radha towards Krishna. As opposed to the Vaidhe Bhakti, triggered by scriptural injunctions, Jayadeva details what has been called the raga-nuga bhakti in Gaudiya tradition — devotion filled with loving attachment.
Using amorous desire as a metaphor for the longing and union with the Self, Jayadeva’s subtle imagery suggests that gopis have transcended their body consciousness in their desire to be one with Krishna, in their mood to experience the mahabhava or prema which brooks no separation of Radha herself. The union, separation and reunion of Radha with Krishna is nuanced in every emotion, as if to freeze the character of Radha in time, to sketch her as the perfect epitome of this maha bhava.
The religious context in which Geet-Govinda was composed, is provided by Jayadeva himself, in Dasavatara Stotra, a hymn to the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, in the first section of the poem-drama.
The nature of the Radha-Krishna relationship makes Geet-Govinda a classic of devotional literature. Even while using physical imagery throughout, Jayadeva transforms it contextually by alluding to the deeper meaning of the longing for union, the maha-bhava, of Radha towards Krishna. To Jayadeva, the vision of Krishna through the eyes and soul of Radha, is the highest form of bhakti. This vision is captured in the graceful movements of Odissi and other classical dances.
Jaydev Utsav, June 27-28.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Art of Management for Executives and Yogis
Self-management is at the base of any external management effort. It is an internal process of managing one’s body, thoughts, intellect, emotions and spirit. It is a process of trying to overcome emotions like anger, jealousy, greed, ego, and undue attachment. It is a process of developing concentration, equipoise, tolerance, the ability to take calculated risks and plan long term.
Yoga aids self-management as it is a philosophy of life, not restricted to just asana and pranayama. It is a path of allround development of an individual: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Patanjali defined yoga as a technique of mind control. Vashishta said yoga is a skilful strategy to calm down the mind.
Both managers and yogis are expected to remain steadfast in situations both favourable and unfavourable. In the most-quoted verse 48 of chapter two of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna advises: “Being steadfast in yoga, O Arjuna, perform actions, abandoning attachment, remaining unconcerned as regards success and failure. This evenness of mind is known as yoga. A manager is required to use authority. But unless authority is combined with dispassion, the result can be contrary to expectation.
Today’s manager is required to have qualities of a good leader — ability to construct a creative vision and capacity to have trusting relationship with large number of people with whose help this vision is to be fulfilled. External milieu, with all its network and artifacts, is in truth a projection of man’s internal milieu. A manager with clarity of personal goals and calmness of mind can only be an able manager. This is where yoga helps.
Man is in the first part of the word manager, thereby indicating the need for man-management as the most crucial part of management. As Swami Anubhavanandji puts it, management is an intuitive art of relating yourself with various stakeholders in a company such as staff, customers and suppliers. Yoga teaches us the art of treating every human being as a form of the divine. Use of higher consciousness in dealing with people is sure to result in better motivation and loyalty among stakeholders.
There are certain key differences between western management concepts and yogabased management. The former starts with the premise that a person remains inactive unless propelled by action through motivation — money, position or recognition. Yoga-based management starts with the belief that every individual is divine by nature and the purpose of yoga is to bring out this divinity. Any individual, by nature, wants to do good work but unsuitable conditioning may prevent him from doing so. Commitment in the true sense can only be inspired for a cause bigger and better than self.
Western management philosophy puts primary emphasis on competition, while in yoga way, the emphasis is on collaboration and individual creativity. In the West there is greater emphasis on goal achievement for the firm, while in yogic management, success of the firm is an inevitable by-product of the holistic goal of making this world a better place to live in with the spirit of yajna. In the former, karma is an input which can be hired, while Indic philosophy focuses on duty as one’s dharma.
The writer is a Gujarat cadre IAS officer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Activate Your Senses To Experience Life In Full
K S Ram
Senses are often seen as something contra-spiritual, as agents of the devil in the human system. Senses, the creation of God, are in fact a portal to a full life. They are therefore of value to the spiritual and the aspiritual. Such full experience of life through the senses is the privilege of everyone, regardless of class, caste, colour, gender or nationality. Where then does one err, and how can the senses be used in an optimal way for a fuller experience of life?
The error most commonly lies in fragmented use of the senses. This perhaps could be at times a fallout of education. We are taught, for instance, that the rose is red. In the mind, rose gets associated with red. It gets restricted to red.
The fact is that the redness is only general; in fact no two red roses are of the same hue. The shades are endless. The eye must be sensitive to the subtle differences in colour and be able to see a rose as the rose, something unique. Poet Hopkins called this focused habit of appreciating particularity as seeing the ‘this-ness of this’.
The rose is more than mere colour. If you see the rose only for its beautiful colour, you are in effect under-experiencing it, because you are using only your eyes, only one out of five senses. The rose has an architecture, a feel, fragrance, sweetness, a whisper. Did you experience these? Did you hear the whisper? Experience the rose fully. Bend down to it, dive into it. You may see the cosmos in it. See your self in it. Commune with the rose as if it is God.
When you learn to do this, you will stop using the expression of “seeing” a rose. You will use the more comprehensive expression of “experiencing” the rose (or any other thing).
You must experience the rose with all of your senses, but the various senses should not work sequentially. It is not that first you see the rose, then you move to feeling it, and then try to listen to its whisper: No! All senses must act together and at once. This must happen as a reflex response. At times, let the senses interchange their roles: let the eye taste the sweetness, or the ear feel softness!
Making a habit of cohesive perception for total experience is something we are all born with. The circumstances of growing up often tend to incapacitate us by fragmenting our responses.
The habit of total sense experience is not for select and special experiences only. It is also (more so) for the most humble of everyday experiences. This habit adds value to, say, your eating an apple at breakfast; or absorbing the panorama of life as seen on the road when you ride to your workplace.
Emerson described a poet as a person who can go tipsy on a glass of water! This is only to indicate the degree of sensitivity we are all capable of. The same world, the same surroundings, objects and people acquire a new, romantic charm once you re-activate your faculties to live as you were designed to live — that is, with all your senses alive and acting optimally in unison for a complete experience of whatever lies immediately before you at any point of time.
THE SPEAKING TREE
Overcome Stress & Worry With Krishna’s Gita
I was a habitual worrier, always worrying about something or the other. It was only when i started reading the Gita that i realised the truth in what Gandhi had said: “The Gita is the universal mother... Her door is wide open to anyone who knocks”. The Gita contains not only deep philosophical concepts but also the principles and techniques which, if put into practice with full sincerity, are extremely effective in unimaginable physical, mental and spiritual ways. The verse (chapter 18:66) that appealed the most to me helps me get rid of the worry habit: “Abandoning all duties, take refuge in Me alone. I shall liberate you from all sins, do not grieve”.
The Gita is considered to be the quintessence of all shastras. In his commentary on the Gita, Swami Chinmayananda writes of this verse: “This is the noblest of all the stanzas in the Divine Song and it is also the most controversial... There are, no doubt, a few other stanzas in the Gita wherein the Lord has almost directly commanded us to live a certain way of life and has promised that if we obey His instructions, He will directly take the responsibility of guiding us towards His own Being. But nowhere has the Lord so directly and openly expressed His divine willingness to undertake the service of His devotee as in this stanza”. He proceeds to explain the term ‘dharma’ and concludes that the context of this verse, ‘renouncing all dharmas’ means ending the ego completely.
S Radhakrishnan says that we should completely surrender to His will and take shelter in His love. “Surrender is the easiest way to Self-transcendence”. The finite soul alone cannot deliver itself from the trap in which it has been caught. He quotes Ruysbroeck, “He only is fit to contemplate the Divine light who is the slave to nothing, not even to his virtues”.
In understanding the central idea behind the verse, Gandhi’s views are inspiring. According to him, “Learned men may please themselves and draw seemingly profound meaning from the shastras but what they offer is not the real sense of these. Only those who have experience in the practice of their truths can explain the real meaning of the shastras. Any interpretation of a shastra which is opposed to truth cannot be right. The second rule to be followed in determining the meaning of a text in a shastra is that one should not stick to its letter, but try to understand its spirit, its meaning in total context”.
The verse conveys that in order to get rid of all negative tendencies, unhealthy thoughts, anxiety and worries, one should totally surrender to the Higher Power which implies opening one’s mind without any reservations and doubts, to the inflow of divine consciousness. The needed guidance will come spontaneously.
A question is likely to be asked as to why this particular verse is so powerful and effective in raising one to unprecedented spiritual levels. To my mind, the answer lies in the depth of its meaning, its poetic beauty, practical and inspirational value for all and culmination of all philosophical concepts and life principles included in the Gita. It is the essence of the most delicious spiritual fruit and the fragrance in the most beautiful divine flower that is the Bhagavad Gita.
Today is Gita Jayanti.