Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Imagine you’re at a jewelry store and checking out hundreds of gold rings. Each gold ring has a different shape and size. Regardless of their shape and size; their essence is the same, they’re all gold. No matter what shape or size these the rings come, their essence doesn’t change. This is how a Jnana yogi would explain you this philosophy. Our true nature is Divine.
Imagine a see through empty glass. There is air inside, there is air outside. The air inside and outside is exactly the same. That’s how we forget our true essence, and think ourselves separate from Divine. The practice of Vendanta is to dissolve the glass to recognize your true self.
Jñāna yoga is the yoga of knowledge but it’s knowing beyond our intellect, it goes all the way to knowing with the core of our soul. Knowing what? Knowing the ultimate reality, our true nature, our essence; which is pure consciousness and bliss.
Vedanta is the philosophy identified with Jnana yoga and is one of the most difficult paths because it uses mind to negate itself to inquire its true nature. Veda means knowledge and Anta means end. Vedanta is said to be the philosophy which leads to the end of knowledge. It’s funny how it starts with knowledge and draws you into yourself to realize the only ultimate knowledge, is to know the self.
Adi Shankara is the great sage of Vedanta. He was a great philosopher, a poet who lived in the 8th century. He started his spiritual journey when he was 8, he traveled around India all the way to Himalayans 3 times by foot, he wrote many books, poems, commentaries and he died when he was only 32. He established the Swami order that is still used in India today. Sankaracharya’s philopophy or as it’s called Advaita (non-dualistic) philosophy advocates the oneness of individual soul and Brahman (cosmic soul). The rain, the water that flows into the river and the sand in the river that sustains it, all are one and only one. Everything is Divine, the Brahman.
I was first exposed to Sankaracharya , thru Dave Stringer’s beautiful voice. When I listened Nirvanashatakam during a Kirtan, I didn’t understand any of the words but he song touched me so deeply. It was the most inspiring song I’ve ever listened. I think sometimes even the vibration of words are enough to move you even though you don’t understand meaning. After the Kirtan when I read the lyrics, I couldn’t believe how simple yet profound this poem was. Then I started studying Vedanta texts by writings of Swami Dayananda, Swami Tadatmananda, Rasmesh Balsekar.
Here I’d like to share my favorite Adi Shankara poem, Nirvanashatakam.
i am not mind, intellect, ego or memory;
Not ears or tongues, or smell or sight; not ether, air, fire, water or earth.
i am not virtue or vice; pleasure or pain, not mantra, not sacred place,
Scripture or sacrifice; not the food, the eater or the act of eating.
i am beyond all things. i am everlasting, self-luminuos.
taintless, and pure; immovable, blissful and imperishable.
i am without thought, without forms, I am all pervasive, I am beyond all senses;
i am not detachment or salvation or anything that could be measured.
i am consciousness and bliss.
Shankaracharya (788-820 A.D.)
This poem also reflects one of the Vendata techniques, which is negation. The practitioner negates who he/she thinks is until he/she find the true self, the Divine-self.
Here is also my favorite Ramesh Balsekar video. I must admit, it’s little heavy but If you watch this and enjoy it and it resonates with you, probably there is a Jnana yogi in you :-)
and I welcome you to the wonderful world of Vedanta!