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April 26, 2006

Infinity and Triple Purity

Initial quotes and prayers:

I quoted a question from the book Deep and Simple by Bo Lozoff:

What is it that turns us into a being that quietly and modestly evokes the best in others?

Prasad stated four Mahavakyas from the Upanishads:

Prajnanam Brahma - "Consciousness is Brahman"

Tat Tvam Asi - "Thou art That"

Aham Brahmasmi - "I am Brahman"

Ayam Atma Brahma - "This Self (Atman) is Brahman"

Following this, all the participants shared what is in their mind as part of their check-in:

Anita started the check-in. She said that she is going through an exciting phase in her life. She quit her job as a police officer in India and shifted to the US. She found a technical job in the US and shifted from that to an even more challenging technical job, which is totally new to her. She said that by allowing her self to explore new things, she is encouraging herself to learn more about herself and the world. There was a sense of boldness and enthusiasm in her voice.

Vijay asked, �Do things that make our life easier necessarily make our life more happy?�

Jitendra said that recently his niece mention him as her role model. That he said got him thinking about whether he should live up to that image. It also led him to question his own role models.

Manju said that a friend recently asked her suggestion on who she should marry. This led her to question herself her own reasons to get married. She said that in her case, the first two levels of the Maslow�s hierarchy (Physiological and Safety) were taken care of by her parents. Hence her main reason to marry was the third level, Belonging. She said that she did not consider the other two levels Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization as her reason for marriage. She wondered how a person could make oneself belong especially if the other person did not enter the marriage with belonging as the motive.

Jay said that he found the boldness within himself to quit his job, which he referred to as a �jail break�. He said he feels liberated and is seeking new ways to fully engage himself.

Muktesh said that he is quit inspired by his wife who finds joy and contentment in small things and leading a simple life. He said that crucial events like loss of a loved one makes him realize that life is best spent fully living the life given to us instead of worrying about the after-life and all the spiritual issues related to it. Another discovery he made is that life becomes more peaceful if we accept our own and others� defects as much as we appreciate our own and others� virtues.

Yash said that recently one of his team mates left his group. This made him think about what are his reasons to stay in the group. At the same time, he said that if he keep analyzing things, he would lose confidence. He wondered whether it would be possible for him to take a break to think through his life and yet be able to come back and start where he left.

Following the check�ins, two themes were explored: Maha Vakyas and Trikarana Suddhi (triple purity of thought, word and deed).

First Prasad elaborated on the Mahavakyas:

The Mahavakyas (Great Sayings) are from Upanishads that connect who we are to what we can be. In other words, Mahavakyas help us to understand our true nature and our connection to the Universal consciousness.

The Mahavakyas are:

1) Prajnanam Brahma - "Consciousness is Brahman" (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 � connected with Rg Veda)

2) Tat Tvam Asi - "Thou art That" (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 � Connected with Sama Veda)

3) Aham Brahmasmi - "I am Brahman" (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 � Connected with Yajur Veda)

4) Ayam Atma Brahma - "This Self (Atman) is Brahman" (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 � Connected with Adharva Veda)

Prasad elaborated on the statements:

The first statement, Prajnanam Brahma is called a 'Lakshana vakya' meaning 'defining sentence' because it defines Brahman in terms of Consciousness. When we are aware and operate out of a consciousness larger than our ego, then we come closer to tapping into the creative capabilities of Brahman. By referring to consciousness we are talking about something that pervades all the living and nonliving things, something that is present during the waking, dreaming and sleeping states and that witnesses all our mental states, physical actions and emotional roller coasters.

The second Mahavakya, Tat-tvam-asi means You are That (Brahman) � It is nice to theoretically and academically learn about the nature of Brahman but the question is, why should we care? What difference does it make to us? That is when spiritual teachers help us to understand that our true nature is Brahman and hence we should understand and appreciate more about ourselves. That is what self knowledge is all about.

Teachers, with variety of techniques: through direct experience, stories, metaphors and similes, through negation and through verbal testimony help us to understand and ultimately accept and operate from the consciousness that we are none other than Brahman. When we truly appreciate the significance of our potential, the superficial conflicts that we have with each other and attachments that we have with each other drop off quickly.

If we are to really liberate our potential, we have to accept and learn to operate from the Brahman consciousness (larger than self interest). This Maha vakya is called 'Upadesha Vakya' or sentence that is taught by spiritual teachers (Gurus) to their disciples on their path of self knowledge.

The third Maha Vakya, Aham Brahmasmi is called 'Anubhava vakya' as only through experience that we can gain understanding of our true nature. While the first sentence defines consciousness and Brahman, second sentence tells us that we are that Brahman, we can easily negate and move on as if we did not hear it, understand it or accept it or say it does not matter to us.

Only when we realize deep within us that we are that consciousness and we are that Brahman, the transformation becomes real. When we experience the limitlessness and creative potential of our true nature, our perspective shifts and we own up our responsibility for something big. That means we could take responsibility for something that is larger than ourselves � the system we are in, the community we live in, people around us and the company we work for.

Finally, the fourth Maha Vakya, Ayam Atma Brahma is from Mandukya Upanishad connected with Adharva Veda which says that �this atman is brahman�. One can say that we don�t need to pay attention to this because we already learned our true nature through the first three Mahavakyas and have experienced it. But old habits are deep rooted and we tend to forget and operate from the small identity (big ego).

We also long for our habitual experiences again and again (addictions) and use our mind instead of heart � even better soul � to continually rediscover and keep connected with our true nature � Brahman. This sentence it is called Anusandhana Vakya (sentence for conjoining individual soul with universal soul) and it is very useful for meditation and sadhana.

While looking through the session notes, Prasad mentioned that he loved the commentary of Manisha Panchakam by Swami Tejomayananda (available in audio cassettes) because he uses Manisha Panchakam slokas as the basis to comment on Maha Vakyas.

Here is the Sanskrit version of the Maha Vakyas.

Muktesh said that human kind�s biggest problem seems to be that we don�t know what we want. He said that some people�s response to this problem is that they take life lightly and others take it seriously and pursue different things to find an answer. As for himself, he said that he was far happier when he had less money and ambitions.

Manju said that for those whose stomach is hungry, they don�t wonder what they want. Only when your basic needs are met, you start wondering what else is there to life.

Vijay quoted a saying in the company he used to work for: �If you have a passion, lucky you! If not, make the maximum money you can.�

Anita raised a question: She said that many times, even though she knows that certain tasks are important, she postpones them fully knowing the damages. She asked what is it in people that makes them be so deliberately careless.

Prasad said that all of the above could be a matter of lack of alignment within oneself between ones �essential self� and ones �social self�. The essential self looks for what it connects with and the social self looks for what seems to be appropriate according to some external condition. When the essential self is not able to connect with what is externally appropriate, it could lead to self-sabotaging behavior.

One exercise he suggested that could help people identify various ways in which the social self obscures the essential self:

Have someone ask you to speak in different voices of the different roles that you play: as a son or daughter, as a parent, as a spouse etc. If you observe your voices, you would notice the many �supposed to� conditions that characterize each voice. Each voice, Prasad said, could potentially overpower our true voice and whenever this happens, the incongruence is expressed by the essential self in the form of inefficiencies, depression etc.

One should strive to achieve what is known as - �Trikarana Suddhi� � Triple Purity of thought, word and deed in order to not have conflicts between ones essential self and social self.

Vijay said that there are times when one may not connect with an engagement initially but over a period may come to like it. So one may want to be patient before concluding it is not part of ones essential self. He gave the example of his initial resistance to hiking and upon encouragement from Manju, went on a few hikes and over a period started enjoying it.

Prasad said that it is true that in order to find ones vasanas (tendencies) one needs to explore different things.

Yash said that his sense of alignment is more intuitive and not something he could express in words or subject to rational enquiry.

Prasad said that ones essential self is indeed beyond language. While it is tedious and complex to think ones way through various aspects that might throw light on ones essential self, it is quite possible to stay with the essential self by knowing just two co-ordinates: Where you are and where you want to go.

This he said is quite similar to how scientists navigate a spaceship to its destination. If they try to calculate the exact path, the calculation will be too complex and it cannot account for all the dynamic changes (like a meteorite) on the way. But by knowing where the spaceship is at any given time and by knowing where it needs to go, it is possible to make real-time course correction. That is how Apollo landed on the moon the first time.

Srikanth said that identifying ones essential self does seem to be a journey because as of now he knows that he does not want to do his current job for the rest of his life. But he doesn�t know what he wants either. So he wondered what to do when one knows only one of the coordinates (where one is at a given time) and does not know the other coordinate (where one wants to go).

Muktesh ended the session by saying regardless of whether we know what we want or not, death is the final destination for all of us. So it is best to live ones life according to ones current understanding of life and desires. And as long as one does not hurt anyone, life is good.

Posted by Ragu at April 26, 2006 05:44 PM