Why we need to develop single-pointed mind?
· The mind must be capable of steady, consistent, and single-pointed if we have to achieve anything of worth.
· When the mind lacks such integration, all the efforts put in by a person dissipate into unproductive channels.
· To understand why we need to develop single-pointed mind, we need to understand the mechanics of thinking.
· Thought flow in the mind takes place because of associations from one topic to another. Meaning of one thought leads to another thought through association. Thought patterns are already built in the mind and the mind keeps moving from one thought to another without we being aware of it.
· There is a gap between any two successive thoughts. Since the thought flow is rapid, we do not notice this gap.
· In the gap between two thoughts there is silence. That formless silence is our true state - awareness. Our true nature is silence.
· When we have constant thought flow, we are not aware of this silence that is present.
· By making the mind single-pointed, we can break the flow of thoughts and development of thought patterns and make the mind aware of the silence between the thoughts.
How to gain single-pointed mind and make the mind abide in silence?
· In Japa, we repeat the chosen mantra to gain single-pointed mind . We repeat the same mantra again and again consciously. The same mantra is repeated again to avoid the association and development of thought patterns. If the mind goes away from the mantra to other thoughts, we slowly bring the mind back to repeat the mantra.
· Each repetition of the mantra is complete in itself. As we chant the mantra consciously, we become aware of the chant and the silence between the chant. Through this process, we gradually make the mind quiet; expand the silence between the chants and abide in the silence - there by own up to the silence - our true nature
· When the Japa is performed with this understanding, gradually we can own up to the silence between the chants and be at home with our self - the self that is free and limitless.
(Please note there was no session on May 12, but here is a message)
To live a happy and fulfilled life one needs to follow Dharma. Dharma means that which upholds, sustains. Dharma means that because of which everything exists. Dharma also means righteousness, following right values. Rishis understood women are the foundation for Dharma. In order for everyone to live a life of Dharma, one needs to feel emotionally secure inside. How can a mother provide emotional security to child?
Ultimate security can be gained only by surrendering to the Lord. But for a child, mother is everything until the child grows up. So a mother needs to provide that emotional security for her child as best as she can.
Enjoy your children! They are a gift from the Lord. Don’t become too serious. Have a sense of humor! Everything will be okay. If you can make it, your children will definitely make it.
1. The main obstacles encountered during the practice of Japa
1. Tendency to fall asleep - Sleep is caused because of physical or mental fatigue. We do not know a state where the mind is free from thoughts yet not sleep. In japa, our attempt is to make the mind quiet and yet, not allow it to go to sleep.
· Hence we should practice japa, when mentally fresh and awake, preferably in the early morning hours.
· To avoid the sleep caused by physical fatigue rest before meditation is necessary.
2. Wanderings and restlessness of the mind - The mind is extrovert by nature. It wanders to all places other than the point of attention because of i) The perception of objects through the senses and ii) The inner compulsions of the mind itself.
· Perception of objects - In the seat of japa, having closed the eyes, the sense perceptions in the form of colours, forms, taste and touch may not distract the mind. But one is prone to the distractions caused by the smell and sound. These distractions have to be eliminated by using discrimination and dispassion. There is no need to brood over them.
· Inner compulsion - The restlessness of the mind is caused by the memories of certain experiences because of which it gets carried away and becomes restless. This in turn, is caused by impressions of past events, both good and bad, stored in memory. Whenever the mind goes away from repeating the mantra, the mind has to be brought back to the mantra. Krishna teaches the method of Abhyasa (practice) and Vairagya (dispassion) in Chapter 6 of Gita.
3. Suppressed impurities of the mind - During Japa, the mind is relatively quiet, the conscious intellect having got rid of all known disturbances. In such a state, those undigested thoughts and experiences which had not found time for expression starts to manifest. The manifestation of these suppressed thoughts causes disturbances.
· When these thoughts surface, they have to be understood as impurities of the mind. Allow them to pass-by, undisturbed. By being observer, the mind is quietened and freed from the impurity of suppressed thoughts.
4. Tendency to enjoy the quietude - The tendency to enjoy the quietude of the mind during meditation, is a very subtle obstacle. When the mind has become quiet and withdrawn, suddenly a thought erupts - "What a nice and peaceful state is this". This new thought initiates a new wave of thought patterns.
· Alertness is required to recognize the objectification of this quietude.
· Become aware that because of the pure consciousness alone, knowledge of the enjoyment and existence of this peaceful state can take place.
The seeker who wants to be established in the knowledge of Self has to follow certain disciplines, practicing them regularly, till the mind is prepared to gain Self-knowledge.
However many times the mind goes away from the mantra, gently bring the mind back to repeat the mantra.
Meaning of Japa The letter Ja stands for that which puts an end to the cycle of birth and death and the letter pa stands for that which removes or destroys all impurities and obstructions. By destroying the varieties of obstructions to knowledge, japa paves the way for liberation. Therefore, japa is an indirect means for liberation.
Why to practice Japa? Ignorance (Avidya) veils our true nature. Like how the clouds cover the sun, our thoughts born out of ignorance (Avarana- veiling and Viksepa-agitation) cover our true nature. Although, clouds appear to cover the sun, clouds cannot cover the Sun. Clouds are seen because of sunlight. Because of sunlight we see the clouds. So clouds cannot cover the Sun. Clouds cannot make the Sun absent. In the same way, our thoughts cannot cover the Self, as the thoughts themselves are illumined by the Self.
Our mental agitation born out of ignorance, does not allow to know our true Self. Japa is a sadhana to master our mind, so the mind is prepared, for Self knowledge to take place.
1. Mastering our mind – Japa is a sadhana is to
· Increase the quality of thoughts
· Change the direction of thoughts
· Reduce the quantity of thoughts
· (We will discuss all these aspects in our next Adult Study Group session)
2. Increase predictability of thoughts - At any given time, one has only one thought. What is the next thought is anyone’s guess. Our thoughts are unpredictable. Our thoughts flow one thought to another sometimes without have any connection between them. For example, if we see a luxurious car on the road, our next thought may be “How can he afford it” and then “I wish I had that kind of money to buy a luxurious car” and then “I don’t have a well paying job” and then “I need to get a raise” and so on. Our thought started off with seeing a luxurious car, but we end up thinking about our job and pay.
The movement from one thought to next is endless thinking a meandering of thoughts in which there is no direction. When we are not alert, our thoughts can flow from one to another without any connection to each other.
In Japa, a mantra is repeated deliberately. Since a mantra is also like a thought and repeated, we know what thought is going to come. So there is predictability of next thought. In Japa, there is deliberation, predictability.
Excercising choice is very important in japa. If we choose to mentally chant a mantra for a length of time, then we can see what happens in our mind because we know exactly what is to come next. If something else pops up, we know this is not what is expected and we bring back the chosen thought. In the process we learn how to dismiss unwanted thoughts and retain the one we have chosen. This is one important result of Japa. This gives mental discipline and makes us to understand our own thinking process.
1. To Gain Vairagya (free from Raaga- Likes and Dvesa-Dislikes) – It is repeated thinking of objects, situations and people that brings attachment. We think about favorable objects, situations, and people because of our Likes and Dislikes.
In Japa, we are using a mantra to mentally chant. These mantras are name of the Lord, that represents wholeness and also invokes the attitude of surrender. Through the repetition of the mantra and invoking the attitude of surrender, we slowly gain attachment to the Lord and that which is permanent. Through this process we discover our true nature that is happiness and that is permanent.
For example, the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” means “Unto the Lord I surrender”. There are many such puranic mantras
1. Perform all actions as an offering to the Lord. (Isvara arpana buddhi). Perform dharmic actions without having any ego-centric desires.
2. Perform all actions freeing from all the notions about the future. Future plans, goals and priorities can stifle and inhibit one's present course of action with reference to what is to be done right now. A person who thinks only of the future will compromise what is to be done in the present.
3. Perform all actions without the notion of "me" and "mine-ness". When we have the notions of "me" and "mine-ness", then we have the attitude like "This is not my job. I am not getting anything out of this. Why should I do this, when it is his job? He is supposed to do it".
4. Perform all actions freeing oneself from anger and frustration. Perform actions without murmuring, complaining. Meaning perform all actions cheerfully.
Questions to reflect
Sri Bhagavān uvāca
loke’smin dvividhā nisthā purā proktā mayānagha
jnāna-yogena sānkhyānām karma-yogena yoginām
Sri Bhagavan said:
The sinless one (Arjuna)! The two-fold committed life style in this world, was told by me in the beginning - the pursuit of knowledge for the renunciates and the pursuit of karma-yoga for those who pursue activity.
What is Life?
Why Study Vedanta?
· Scientists continue to discover the secret powers of nature for benefiting the society. Physicists, Chemists, Botanists, Mathematicians are all exercising their efforts and contributing to the endless discoveries of the laws of nature. As the scientists are continuously pursuing their work in their respective fields of enquiry, a time comes when they in their maturity, wonder at the harmony and rhythm expressed in the various laws of nature and start contemplating as to who is that eternal law-giver, who orders these laws to function in strict perfection, obedience and reverence.
· Science deals with the knowledge of the world that is available for sense perception and inference.
· Religious masters are men of profound contemplation engaged in subjective research of the truth that binds all the laws of nature. The men of contemplation were not content with the mechanical discovery of laws, but endeavoured to understand and discover, The lawgiver, the controller and regulator of all laws.
· Religion deals with the knowledge of Creator and knowledge of Self, that is not available for sense perception and inference.
· Philosophy and religion are far ahead of science and its proud discoveries. Those who are evolved (religious masters) progress to discover the eternal law of all laws, the knowledge of all knowledge.
In Hindu Culture, we follow several rituals, customs, traditions and festivals. For those of us who are born and raised in Hindu family we may be familiar with Hindu tradition and rituals that our parents/elders followed. We may or may not be familiar with the Hindu scriptures or what these rituals mean or how they are useful in our search for Truth or Self Knowledge. Our ignorance about scriptures and religion does not mean we should not be interested in them or learn about them. We may be successful in our education, job and outside world. Without religious study our life is not complete.
Religion teaches us to lead a life that is based on values and shows us the goal of life. Hindu religious teachings are fully encoded in the form of symbols to prepare the common man for Higher Truth. Many of us don't know the inner meaning of the symbolisms involved in Hindu Religion. These days children learn by asking lot of questions. When we as parents don't know our own culture, it can be hard to explain to children. Knowing why we do these rituals and why we celebrate various festivals will help to deepen one’s own spiritual practices and answer children's questions.
Please see the attached files
Why_do_we.pdf - This is a book from Chinmaya Mission by Swamini Vimalananda & Radhika Krishnakumar.
Hindu_Scriptures.pdf - This is an introduction to Hindu Scriputres from Hindu Culture An Introduction by Swami Tejomayananda
Both of the above books are available in book store for purchase.
We discussed the summary of Kindle life from Chapter 1 to Chapter 23.
Here are the highlights of our discussion
· We all seek freedom. Freedom is essentially built on intelligent self-restraint and discipline.
· We all have Body, Mind and Intellect. Our tendencies or Vasanas manifests through our Body, Mind and Intellect. Tendencies are formed based on our actions.
· Through Self-effort, we can change our Vasanas and therefore tune our Body, Mind and Inellect and face the challenges of the world.
· Our present condition of our life is based on 'Law of Karma'. Though we may not be able to change our present situations, we can respond to them appropriately. We can change the future, by making appropriate choices in the present.
· Religious texts provide guidelines to tune our Body, Mind and Intellect to face the challenges of the world, as well as realize our True Nature, which is changeless and gain freedom (Moksa)
· 3 values prescribed to tune the Body, Mind and Intellect. To tune the Body practice Brahmacharya (Self-control), to tune the Mind practice Ahimsa (Non-injury) and to the Intellect practice Satya (Truthfulness)
We watched - "Logic of Spirituality" video by Swami Chinmayanandaji, followed by discussions.
· To understand what is behind BMI (Body, Mind, and Intellect), we have to go beyond BMI. We can go beyond BMI, only when they are not creating any problem. They create problem, when they are used for something they are not meant for.
· God has giving us BMI, so we can use the Body to Serve, Mind to Love, and Intellect to Know. We use the Body, Mind, and Intellect for the external pursuits, instead of using it to Know God (or) the essence of Universe. When BMI is used for working for God, BMI will not create any problem.
· To understand what is behind BMI, we need a quiet Mind. Quiet Mind is necessary for contemplation. With Knowledge from scriptures, one can use the Quiet Mind for contemplation. Quiet mind is the Intellect. Intellect is used in the field of unknown.
· When the quiet Mind is engaged in contemplation using the Knowledge from scriptures, one discovers the Self and abide in the Self.
· Result of contemplation is to abide in the Self.
· Knowledge in the scriptures is revealed knowledge. When our attention is concentrated on what we want to know, then the knowledge gets revealed. (Like 'gravity' was revealed to Newton.). I am the Self, not BMI. This knowledge was revealed to the rishis. Rishis compiled those scriptures and have passed it to future generations.
· To Quiet the Mind or in other words to exhaust the Vasanas - Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga are followed depending on the dominant nature of the individual.
· For individuals who are bodily oriented will practice Karma Yoga - enjoy doing actions without insistence on result of action
· For individuals who are emotionally oriented will practice Bhakti Yoga - having devotion to God, taking the Lord as ultimate giver and protector.
· For individuals who are intellectually oriented will practice Jnana Yoga - study the scripture and contemplate on higher Self.
· In Hindu religion everyone can choose their path. Goal is the same.
· By following one of the paths, Vasanas are reduced, mind is quieted, and the quiet mind is engaged in contemplation to know our True Self and abide in our True Self.
We watched - "Logic of Spirituality" video by Swami Chinmayanandaji, followed by discussions on the topic - How to reduce Inherent Tendencies (Vasanas)
· Vasanas are the inherent subjective tendencies or impressions of past wrong actions.
· We don't know ourselves. We are ignorant of our true nature. We have wrong understanding of ourselves - that I am a mortal, I have birth, death, I am finite, I am incomplete and so on. Our nature is immortal. Because of these false ideas of ourselves, we try to remove our limitations through different actions.
· When we are identified with the body out of ignorance, we consider body to be real and so desire for gratification arises in the form of desires. All our actions are based on wrong understanding. This wrong understanding is expressed as desire in intellectual level. When desire is there, wrong thinking arises based on wrong understanding. Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions.
· Our actions are effect of desire. Desire is the cause. Desire at intellectual level gives rise to feelings at mind. Feelings gives rise to actions. Actions produce results. When we are trying to enjoy the results - the ego makes contact with the experiences and creates the wrong impressions.
· When actions are performed out of ignorance and if the ego is identifying with the results, wrong impressions gets strengthened. These wrong impressions are called vasanas.
· By performing actions without ego or egocentric desires, we can reduce vasanas. Like a mother performing actions out of love for the child.
· Vasanas are subtle, subtler than our thoughts. Transformation depends on proper understanding of ourselves. When our action/thinking is based on right understanding we can change.
· Right understanding of ourselves is - I am immortal, limitless, conscious being (Sat, Cit, Ananda). Body, Mind, Intellect are not real and impermanent.
· With knowledge we can be true to be who we are. We can tune our mind/intellect and can gain right understanding of ourselves from the scriptures. We can integrate our mind and intellect and abide in the knowledge
We watched - "Logic of Spirituality" video by Swami Chinmayanandaji, followed by discussions on the topic - Vasanas/Inherent Tendencies
· Vasanas in Sanskrit, means fragrance. Vasanas are the inherent subjective tendencies or impressions of previous experiences.
· Vasanas are actually not perceptible since they are the cause for the intellect.
· Vasanas are the cause of desires arising within us. Vasanas gives rise to Desires in the Intellect; Desires produce thoughts and agitations in the Mind; Thoughts manifest as actions at the level of physical Body.
· Actions produces results/experiences and leaves impressions in forming further vasanas. Therefore, Desires, thoughts and actions are the manifestation of Vasanas in an individual.
· Vasanas constitute the individuality of a person. Without vasanas, there cannot be individuality or the personality of a human being. Vasanas have to be changed if one’s desires, thoughts, and actions need correction.
· Structure and composition of the individuals mind and intellect are based upon his own vasanas or innate tendencies. It is these vasanas, which primarily determine the type of reactions and responses arising in an individual.
· When the vasanas or tendencies are dynamic, the thoughts and actions are dynamic and productive; but when they are dull and inert, the thoughts and actions are lifeless and unproductive.
· Animals are victims of their tendencies; they do not have an option to act independently. Humans have the unique ability to make choices. So with our choices and actions, in other words with our ‘self-effort’, we can change our life instead of being a victim to our vasanas.
· Transforming our individual life depends on the development of proper innate tendencies. By purifying and reforming the vasanas, the mind and the intellect get properly tuned and with such perfected equipment one can be ready to face the world with all its challenges and also realize one's true nature.
· Life expresses through 3 equipment(s) of life - Body, Mind and Intellect.
· Most of us don't have integration of Body, Mind and Intellect. One of the example often mentioned by Swamiji, is about eating sweets. Body like to eat the sweets, Mind resists to eat if the sweet was not offered with respect, Intellect knows the sweet is not good for body. When there is no integration of Body, Mind and Intellect, there arises conflict.
· We don't have mastery over our Body, Mind and Intellect and are affected by the demands of Body, Mind and Intellect.
· Cause of these conflicts arise from our Vasanas
· Vasanas are the impressions formed in the subjective mind, when one acts in the world. These Vasanas are tendencies from previous birth as well as from this birth.
· These Vasanas gives rise to desires in the intellect. Desires manifest as feelings/emotions in the mind and gets expressed as actions through the body.
· We have many desires and sometimes conflicting desires. As long as our life is driven by our Vasanas, we are going to be affected by them.
· Scriptures offer the means/ways to reduce or eliminate these Vasanas and bring about the integration of Body, Mind and Intellect to gain lasting happiness.
· Scriptures provide us knowledge - how these Vasanas are formed and how to reduce/eliminate them.
We watched - Logic of Spirituality - talks by Swami Chinmayanandaji and continued with our discussions.
· Life in the whole world, expresses through 3 equipment(s) of life - Body, Mind and Intellect. Body, Mind and Intellect are inert matter, but life in us is dynamic - like a bulb and electricity.
· When Life expresses through the body, we are perceiver - perceiving the world of objects. When life expresses through the mind we are feeler - feeling various emotions, When life expresses through the intellect we are Thinker - thinking many thoughts.
· The Perceiver, Feeler, Thinker (or the Knower) in us is our ego.
· This ego is currently seeking happiness in the world of Objects, Emotions and Thoughts, through the equipments of Body, Mind and Intellect
· Body, Mind and Intellect - equipment of my experiences are constantly changing. Objects, Emotions and Thoughts - the experiences are also constantly changing.
· Pursuit of Happiness - Currently our ego is seeking permanent happiness in the changing world of Objects, Emotions and Thoughts. Seeking permanent happiness in an impermanent world and impermanent/changing Body, Mind and Intellect is a fallacy.
· Happiness from the world outside comes and goes, but then how can we gain permanent happiness?. We will discuss in the following sessions
We watched Swami Chinmayanandaji's talks on "Logic of Spirituality" and continued with our discussions.
· Rishis/great masters wanted to know the cause of the Universe. They started a deep and exhaustive study of cause – effect relationship. As a result of this investigation and study, they reduced their entire data into 3 laws of causation.
· First Law - "An effect can never be without a cause". The waves cannot be without ocean. Ornaments cannot be made without gold. Pots can never be made without clay. An effect is not possible without the cause.
· Second Law - "Effects are plural. Effects are nothing but the cause itself in different forms". The big wave, medium wave, the small wave, ripple, foam, bubble, and the lather are all different forms of the ocean - THE CAUSE. The jug, the cup, the saucer, the plates, the flower vase, are all different shapes and different names for what? - the clay in different forms. The bangles and the rings and the chains and the earrings are all different names, different shapes, and different uses. But all of them are gold in different forms.
· Third Law - "From the effect if the cause is removed, nothing remains". If a ocean is transferred to the hill, there will be no waves. From clay pot, all the clay is removed, no pot will remain. From the gold chain, all the gold is removed nothing remains. Since the effect is nothing but the cause itself in different forms, from the effect if the cause is removed, nothing remains.
· That Cause of the Universe, religion calls God and Philosophy calls Reality or Truth.
· Who is God? Where is this God? - Applying these three laws, the entire universe of names and forms, the mineral world, the plant, animal and human kingdoms, everything that we are seeing here, are all nothing but one single cause. That cause is called as God by religion. As the cause pervades the effect, God is right here in the world of plurality - all-pervading and everywhere. This God is life, that gives us existence, because of which we are what we are, which enlivens every activity of ours. This mysterious, miraculous, and mighty power in us makes us do what we are able to to, makes us function.
· This God, who is right in front of us and everywhere, is not available for sense perception or Inference. Hence we don't know. Scriptures are required to help us realize God.
· In the previous session, we discussed the difference between Human beings and other types of beings.
· Purpose of Human birth is to realize our true nature - I am wholeness, I am fullness, I am limitless, I am complete. This is the Highest Purpose in life.
· Not knowing our true nature we identify with our body, mind and intellect and feel limited, feel incomplete.
· Our yearning, our desires, our thoughts, our words, our actions in the outer world are an unconscious effort to regain this state of fullness, wholeness.
· Since all of our actions are limited, we are not going to gain fullness, wholeness through limited actions.
· Our scriptures and Rishis declare that Infinite is our true nature. We only have to realize (or know) this and we would have fulfilled the highest purpose in life.
We continued watching "Logic of Spirituality" - by Swami Chinmayanandaji. Swamiji was saying that animals are not curious as compared to Human beings. Human beings are curious to know, so they ask lot of questions. This gave rise to a question in our discussion - What is the difference between Human beings and other types of life?
· All beings (Plants, Animals, Humans) are blessed with life, Body, Mind and Intellect. Human beings are blessed with unique faculty of discrimination. This faculty of discrimination (intellect) is either partially developed or fundamentally lacking in other types of life.
· Plants are least developed compared to animals at physical level, in their perceptions, emotions and ability to discriminate.
· Animals have the ability to discriminate, like a Cow does not eat a Hamburger and Cat knows that it is different from mouse and so on. It is only in Humans all the faculties - Body/Mind and Intellect are well developed.
· The biggest difference between Human beings and other types of life forms is - Human beings are self-conscious. We are conscious of ourselves. This leads to self-judgement, self-criticism, self-condemnation, self-nonacceptance and so on. Since we are self-conscious and compare ourselves with the world, we cannot accept ourselves.
· We identify with our body/mind and feel limited, inadequate and we cannot stand our limitations. Therefore, we use our free will/choices to remove our limitations. Most of our actions are born out of this need to become free from limitations. This is the life of samsara - where our actions are born out of the notion that I can become complete and full through my actions.
· Our scriptures (Sastras) declare that "You are Brahman" - You are already whole, full and complete. You lack nothing. In Swamiji's example, when the pot realizes that it is clay, the self-judgement ends. After the pot realises that "I am clay", pot does not have the self-judgement that "I am a small pot" anymore. In the same way, when we realize our true nature as limitless and whole, all our struggle/suffering comes to an end.
· Purpose of our human birth is to realize that "I am whole", "I am limitless" and "I am already free". Only Human beings are blessed with unique faculty to achieve this highest purpose in life.
We watched "Logic of Spirituality" video by Swami Chinmayanandaji. The three laws of causation were unfolded in the talk.
· 3 laws of causation.
· First Law - An effect can never be without a cause.
· Second Law - Effects are plural. Effects are cause itself in different forms.
· Third Law - From the effect if the cause is removed, nothing remains.
· In our discussion, one of the questions raised was - The laws of causation or the topic discussed was abstract and we don't ask questions like - What is the cause of the universe? on a daily basis.
· So Why pursue Spiritual Knowledge or Why seek the deeper Truths of life?
· Most of our life is on auto-pilot - waking up going to school or job; eating 3 meals a day; partying; sleeping. Once in a while we get inspired and we do something different or in the face of adversity, we wonder what this life is all about. We usually don't question life beyond that.
· We continue to do the same things in our life, what we have been doing for years - expecting to find lasting happiness, lasting fulfillment, freedom from suffering from our daily pursuits.
· Unfortunately we don't wake up and question - if our years of pursuits have not given us what we wanted, what is the point in our daily activities at all. We don't question about life at all.
· Pursuit of Spirituality is all about questioning and understanding our life - Who am I?, Why I am born?, What is the purpose of my existence? What is the meaning of all my daily activities?
· I am born, I live and I am going to die - So what is the meaning of the trials and tribulations I go through in my life.
· As humans, we have been blessed with the intelligence, to raise above our basic feelings and tendencies to question life. Rishis raised above the basic living, to question the truths of life.
· By pursuing spiritual knowledge, by studying the scriptures, we can transform our mundane life into meaningful existence. We can transform our life - from a life of struggle and suffering to a life of freedom.
· Man wants to understand this world. Human beings have this curiosity to understand their world outside and a hundred questions arise in the bosom of every individual.
· When did this Universe come into existence?
· How did it come?
· What is the source of this universe?
· Where did it all come from?
· What is happening all around?
· Man has this higher intelligence and therefore he cannot stop from asking questions. Human intellect asks questions, animals don‘t ask questions. To the animals our world is only utility value. A grazing animal smells a thing and if it‘s an eatable it eats or else it leaves and goes away. Utility value is the only value that animals can understand. Human beings are not so, they start questioning.
· Everywhere human intellect wants to know – wants to investigate and understand. This urge in man has lead to development of various sciences. When science is thus developing and when you try to understand the things intellectually when you really go into the depths of it - all the scientific researches all over the world till this day, the enquiry is - what is the cause of an effect observed.
· Causation hunting had been the only preoccupation of the human intellect.
· The great masters of the Vedic period when they found that their faculties at this moment of their evolution are not capable of investigating into the cause of this entire cosmos, - they said, we will start an indirect investigation.
· Rishis/great masters started a deep and exhaustive study of cause – effect relationship. As a result of this investigation and study, they reduced their entire data into 3 laws of causation.
· 3 laws of causation.
· First Law - An effect can never be without a cause.
· Second Law - Effects are plural. Effects are cause itself in different forms.
· Third Law - From the effect if the cause is removed, nothing remains.
· Why do we greet by saying "Hari Om" - By saying Hari Om, we are praying to the Lord, to purify our mind and bless us with his grace to gain true freedom.
· Why do we greet by saying "Namaste" - Namaste means - I honor the divine in you as I honor the divine in me and in that place we are one and the same. Bringing the palms together symbolically represents our oneness.
· Symbolism of Lord Ganesha - Hindus don't do Idol worship, but invoke the ideal in the idol and worship the ideal. There is rich symbolism associated with Lord Ganesha.
· His big head - To Think big (In spiritual context - to contemplate)
· His big Ears - To Listen more (In spiritual context - to listen to the Guru's teachings or Scriptural teachings)
· His small/sharp eyes - To focus/concentrate
· His Trunk - To discriminate between real and unreal, right and wrong
· His Big belly - To digest all experiences (In spiritual context - assimilate the knowledge there is only non-dual reality and my true nature is non-dual)
· His mouth - speak wisely
· One foot up and one foot down - Be involved in the world, yet detached
· Mouse sitting at the feet of the Lord - Mouse represents desires in our mind. When the desires are mastered, we gain the fruit of freedom
· Modhaka - represents the fruits/rewards (In spiritual context - fruit is gaining of Self - knowledge)
· Why follow Values - Learning and practicing Values are the central theme of Bala Vihar classes. When values are practiced, mind is kept pure. Only in the pure mind, Self-knowledge can take place. When the mind is affected with impurities such as guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, worries, anger, jealousy, greed, pride, delusion and so on, we not only experience conflict and tension, but also the mind is not available for gaining Self-Knowledge and true peace.
· Value of Satsanga - Sat means Truth, Sanga means association. Associating with people who seek Truth, will keep us inspired and uplift us. By attending talks by Swamiji's, By attending Adult Study Group, By reading the scriptures (and various other means) we can be in Sat Sanga. Right association influences our thoughts, speech and actions and will take our life in the right direction.
· Value of Viveka - Viveka means ability to discriminate between real and unreal. As long as we are in ignorance, we think that the world is real and all our pursuits are directed towards gaining happiness in the outside world. Scriptures shows us the world is unreal and only our True nature is real. When gain Self-knowledge we can gain true happiness. We can practice Viveka everyday. When we make our daily choices, we can ask this question - does this choice help me to go towards real?