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January 31, 2006


Manju opened the session with the quote, �Life cannot give happiness for selfish acts, but cannot help give happiness for selfless acts�

There seems to be something fundamentally flawed about acting for and acting on behalf of (what we think and feel as) our self � a self that we usually define too narrowly without consideration to all that we are dependent and inter-dependent on. If to be selfish is to serve a narrowly defined self, then could �selfless� be service to a larger Self so large that the narrow self submerges into it and becomes selfless? In that case, where does self-inquiry begin, with the narrow self or the larger Self? If one vows to be selfless, where does that person begin his or her self-inquiry?

Dinesh quoted a statement to the effect of, �Birds don�t have a contract, yet they don�t fail to sing everyday.�

Many of us look at our life through the filter of economic or some other kind of transaction. Imagine what would happen if birds were to learn from their parents that freely, randomly, impulsively singing will not get them the worms. If I choose to act always �for� something, then all my actions will be strictly defined by what is available at a given time for transaction. When this becomes a habit, when it comes to self-inquiry, I will think in terms of, �Self-inquiry for what?� Hence I may never know, experience and share with the world a large part of my self for lack of transactional opportunities.

Prasad recited a Shanti mantra:

Om sham no mitrah sham varunah sham no bhavatvaryamaa
Sham na indro brihaspatih sham no vishnururukramah
Namo brahmane namaste vaayo twameva pratyaksham
Brahmaasi twaameva pratyaksham brahma vadishyaami
Tanmaamavatu tadvaktaaramavatu
Avatu maam avatu vaktaaram.
Om shantih shantih shantih!


May Mitra, Varuna and Aryama be good to us! May Indra and Brihaspati and Vishnu of great strides be good to us! Prostrations unto Brahman! (Supreme Reality). Prostrations to Thee, O Vayu! Thou art the visible Brahman. I shall proclaim Thee as the visible Brahman. I shall call Thee the just and the True. May He protect the teacher and me! May he protect the teacher! Om peace, peace, peace!
( Source: http://www.hinduism.co.za/shanti.htm )

Prasad expanded on the line, �I shall proclaim Thee as the visible Brahman.� He said that a pure intention can be so powerful that one can invoke Brahman, the ultimate reality by merely pronouncing or declaring anyone or anything to be Brahman.

With respect to this shanti mantra, the state of pure intention seems to be a state beyond any inquiry including self-inquiry. It is a state of total faith without any inquiry, any desire for anything. It is perhaps a state that is totally empty of the self and totally divine, and hence, any declaration from that state is true not merely as a concept but as reality itself.

Jags, Vijay, Srini, Ragu, Vani, Dinesh, Prasad and David (who was moved by the group and was spontaneously crying or �leaking� as he said) asked several questions:

- I find that I am stressed even when I am not doing anything. Is internal stress a reflection of what is happening in the world?

- Amount of work by itself doesn't seem to create stress but lack of control over it does. Are we creating stress by seeking control over the constatly changing reality?

- Any conversation (either within oneself or with others) makes narrow concepts out of reality. Exchanging, commenting on and expanding these concepts, however intelligent and appealing they may be � are they any help for true self-inquiry?

- I always find out that I had not been aware only after I had gotten angry or stressed or frustrated etc. How can I catch myself before I become unware?

- How can I have effortless relationships instead of having to manipulate the images I have of myself and others?

- How can I cultivate unconditional love?

- Does life give purpose to us or we give purpose to life?

Prasad brought to everyone�s attention that all these questions come from the urge to know or to do something. Knowing and doing, he said, are actions that seek some result at the end of the seeking. It assumes that the unfolding reality is linear, time-based and is a product of cause and effect. Hence, he said, we are always concerned about where we are going to and seldom look at where we come from.

In the phrases unconditional love, effortless relationship, true self-inquiry, purposeful life and other phrases that refer to many human quests, the first part - the adjectives - have nothing to do with knowing or doing. Each adjective refers to a state of being. If one comes from no conditions, then anything that follows that state, including love, would be unconditional. If one comes from no forced effort, then anything that follows that state, including relationships, would be effortless and so on. So where one comes from already has success or failure within it.

Jags pointed out that our natural state of being, due to years of conditioning, has become a conditioned state. Hence, anything we aspire for from the conditioned state, even if it is 'unconditional love', is merely a concept. To truly understand love, one should also truly understand hate, he said. That is, to truly understand the conceptual nature of what we usually call love (the conditioned love), all we need to do is observe what happens when we remove the reason or cause for that love. Removal of the cause behind conditioned love will immediately reduce the subject or object of love to neutrality at best. And if the person had had strong attachment to his her love, the removal of the cause results in hate for the very same subject or object. So if any matter of inquiry allows its opposite state, then one can say that what is being inquired is merely conceptual.

The conditional, conceptual state of being we live in most of time can only give raise to a conditional, conceptual world. Within such a world, self-inquiry will always be conditioned, will be conceptual, will require constant effort, will be subject to every disturbance of the mind and the body.

So is self-inquiry a journey towards the self or a journey from the self?

Posted by Ragu at January 31, 2006 04:17 PM