Archive for October, 2009

Self Knowledge

From Chapter 11 “Sankaracharya was a Brahmajnani, to be sure. But at the beginning he too had the feeling of differentiation. He didn’t have absolute faith that everything in the world is Brahman. One day as he was coming out of the Ganges after his bath, he saw an untouchable, a butcher, carrying a load of meat. Inadvertently the butcher touched his body. Sankara shouted angrily, ‘Hey there! How dare you touch me?’ ‘Revered sir,’ said the butcher, ‘I have not touched you, nor have you touched me. The Pure Self cannot be the body nor the five elements nor the twenty-four cosmic principles.’ Then Sankara came to his senses. Once Jadabharata was carrying King Rahugana’s palanquin and at the same time giving a discourse on Self-Knowledge. The king got down from the palanquin and said to Jadabharata, ‘Who are you, pray?’ The latter answered, ‘I am Not this, not this-I am the Pure Self.’ He had perfect faith that he was the Pure Self. From Chapter 12 “One is aware of pleasure and pain, birth and death, disease and grief, as long as one is identified with the body. All these belong to the body alone, and not to the Soul. After the death of the body, perhaps God carries one to a better place. It is like the birth of the child after the pain of delivery. Attaining Self-Knowledge, one looks on pleasure and pain, birth and death, as a dream. From Chapter 13 MASTER (to M.): “Self-Knowledge is discussed in the Ashtavakra Samhita. The non-dualists say, ‘Soham’, that is, ‘I am the Supreme Self.’ This is the view of the sannyasis of the Vedantic school. But this is not the right attitude for householders, who are conscious of doing everything themselves. That being so, how can they declare, ‘I am That, the actionless Supreme Self’? According to the non-dualists the Self is unattached. Good and bad, virtue and vice, and the other pairs of opposites, cannot in any way injure the Self, though they undoubtedly afflict those who have identified themselves with their bodies. Smoke soils the wall, certainly, but it cannot in any way affect akasa, space. Following the Vedantists of this class, Krishnakishore used to say, ‘I am Kha’, meaning akasa. Being a great devotee, he could say that with some justification; but it is not becoming for others to do so. From Chapter 32 TRAILOKYA: What are the signs of a householder having attained Knowledge?” MASTER: “His tears will flow, and the hair on his body will stand on end. No sooner does he hear the sweet name of God than the hair on his body stands on end from sheer delight, and tears roll down his cheeks. “A man cannot get rid of body-consciousness as long as he is attached to worldly things and loves ‘woman and gold’. As he becomes less and less attached to worldly things, he approaches nearer and nearer to the Knowledge of Self. He also becomes less and less conscious of his body. He attains Self-Knowledge when his worldly attachment totally disappears. Then he realizes that body and soul are two separate things. It is very difficult to separate with a knife the kernel of a coconut from the shell before the milk inside has dried up. When the milk dries up, the kernel rattles inside the shell. At that time it loosens itself from the shell. Then the fruit is called a dry coconut. From Chapter 37 “Once Vyasadeva was about to cross the Jamuna. The gopis also were there. They wanted to go to the other side of the river to sell curd, milk, and cream. But there was no ferry at that time. They were all worried about how to cross the river, when Vyasa said to them, ‘I am very hungry.’ The milkmaids fed him with milk and cream. He finished almost all their food. Then Vyasa said to the river, ‘O Jamuna, if I have not eaten anything, then your waters will part and we shall walk through.’ It so happened. The river parted and a pathway was formed between the waters. Following that path, the gopis and Vyasa crossed the river. Vyasa had said, ‘If I have not eaten anything’. That means, the real man is Pure Atman. Atman is unattached and beyond Prakriti. It has neither hunger nor thirst; It knows neither birth nor death; It does not age, nor does It die. It is immutable as Mount Sumeru. From Chapter 45 MASTER: “A man need not fear anything if but once he receives the grace of God, if but once he obtains the vision of God, if but once he attains Self-Knowledge. Then the six passions cannot do him any harm.

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Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

From Chapter 3

MASTER: “Ah! Today, at last, I have come to the ocean. Up till now I have seen only canals, marshes, or a river at the most. But today I am face to face with the sagar, the ocean.”(All laugh.)

VIDYASAGAR (smiling): “Then please take home some salt water.” (Laughter.)

MASTER: “Oh, no! Why salt water? You aren’t the ocean of ignorance. You are the ocean of vidya, knowledge. You are the ocean of condensed milk.”(All laugh.)

VIDYASAGAR: “Well, you may put it that way.”

The pundit became silent. Sri Ramakrishna said: “Your activities are inspired by sattva. Though they are rajasic, they are influenced by sattva. Compassion springs from sattva. Though work for the good of others belongs to rajas, yet this rajas has sattva for its basis, and is not harmful. Suka and other sages cherished compassion in their minds to give people religious instruction, to teach them about God. You are distributing food and learning. That is good too. If these activities are done in a selfless spirit they lead to God. But most people work for fame or to acquire merit. Their activities are not selfless. Besides, you are already a siddha.”

From Chapter 12

M: “Is daya also a bondage?”

MASTER: “Yes, it is. But that concept is something far beyond the ordinary man. Daya springs from sattva. Sattva preserves, rajas creates, and tamas destroys. But Brahman is beyond the three gunas. It is beyond Prakriti.

“None of the three gunas can reach Truth; they are like robbers, who cannot come to a public place for fear of being arrested. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are like so many robbers.

“Listen to a story. Once a man was going through a forest, when three robbers fell upon him and robbed him of all his possessions. One of the robbers said, ‘What’s the use of keeping this man alive?’ So saying, he was about to kill him with his sword,  when the second robber interrupted him, saying: ‘Oh, no! What is the use of killing him? Tie him hand and foot and leave him here.’ The robbers bound his hands and feet and went away.

After a while the third robber returned and said to the man: ‘Ah, I am sorry. Are you hurt? I will release you from your bonds.’ After setting the man free, the thief said: ‘Come with me. I will take you to the public highway.’ After a long time they reached the road. Then the robber said: ‘Follow this road. Over there is your house.’ At this the man said: ‘Sir, you have been very good to me. Come with me to my house ‘ ‘Oh, no!’ the robber replied. ‘I can’t go there. The police will know it.’

“This world itself is the forest. The three robbers prowling here are sattva, rajas, and tamas. It is they that rob a man of the Knowledge of Truth. Tamas wants to destroy him. Rajas binds him to the world. But sattva rescues him from the clutches of rajas and tamas. Under the protection of sattva, man is rescued from anger, passion, and the other evil effects of tamas. Further, sattva loosens the bonds of the world. But sattva also is a robber. It cannot give him the ultimate Knowledge of Truth, though it shows him the road leading to the Supreme Abode of God. Setting him on the path, sattva tells him: ‘Look yonder. There is your home.’ Even sattva is far away from the Knowledge of Brahman.

From Chapter 20

It was not yet dusk. The Master, seated on the couch, was talking to M. Mahimacharan was on the semicircular porch engaged in a loud discussion of the scriptures with the physician friend of Mani Sen. Sri Ramakrishna heard it and with a smile said to M.: “There! He is delivering himself. That is the characteristic of rajas. It stimulates the desire to ‘lecture’ and to show off one’s scholarship. But sattva makes one introspective. It makes one hide one’s virtues. But I must say that Mahima is a grand person. He takes such delight in spiritual talk.”

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Why Wickedness

From Chapter 2

NEIGHBOUR: “Why has God created wicked people?”

MASTER: “That is His will, His play. In His maya there exists avidya as well as vidya. Darkness is needed too. It reveals all the more the glory of light. There is no doubt that anger, lust, and greed are evils. Why, then, has God created them? In order to create saints. A man becomes a saint by conquering the senses. Is there anything impossible for a man who has subdued his passions? He can even realize God, through His grace. Again, see how His whole play of creation is perpetuated through lust.

“Wicked people are needed too. At one time the tenants of an estate became unruly. The landlord had to send Golak Choudhury, who was a ruffian. He was such a harsh administrator that the tenants trembled at the very mention of his name.

“There is need of everything. Once Sita said to her Husband: ‘Rama, it would be grand if every house in Ayhodhya were a mansion! I find many houses old and dilapidated.’ ‘But, my dear,’ said Rama, ‘if all the houses were beautiful ones, what would the masons do?’ (Laughter.) God has created all kinds of things. He has created good trees, and poisonous plants and weeds as well. Among the animals there are good, bad, and all kinds of creatures – tigers, lions, snakes, and so on.”

From Chapter 10

BRAHMO: “If the power of avidya is the cause of ignorance, then why has God created it?”

MASTER: “That is His play. The glory of light cannot be appreciated without darkness. Happiness cannot be understood without misery. Knowledge of good is possible because of knowledge of evil.

“Further, the mango grows and ripens on account of the covering skin. You throw away the skin when the mango is fully ripe and ready to be eaten. It is possible for a man to attain gradually to the Knowledge of Brahman because of the covering skin of maya. Maya in its aspects of vidya and avidya may be likened to the skin of the mango. Both are necessary.”

From Chapter 11

DEVOTEE: “If God is responsible for everything, then why should people speak of good and evil, virtue and vice? One commits sin also by the will of God, isn’t that so?”

ANOTHER DEVOTEE: “How can we understand the will of God?”

MASTER: “There is no doubt that virtue and vice exist in the world; but

God Himself is unattached to them. There may be good and bad smells in the air, but the air is not attached to them. The very nature of God’s creation is that good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, will always exist in the world. Among the trees in the garden one finds mango and jack-fruit, and hog plum too. Haven’t you noticed that even wicked men are needed? Suppose there are rough tenants on an estate; then the landlord must send a ruffian to control them.”

From Chapter 19

“The Mother has kept me in the state of a bhakta, a vijnani. That is why I joke with Rakhal and the others. Had I been in the condition of a jnani I couldn’t do that.

“In this state I realize that it is the Mother alone who has become everything. I see Her everywhere. In the Kali temple I found that the Mother Herself had become everything-even the wicked, even the brother of Bhagavat Pundit.

“Once I was about to scold Ramlal’s mother, but I had to restrain myself. I saw her to be a form of the Divine Mother. I worship virgins because I see in them the Divine Mother. My wife strokes my feet, but I salute her afterwards.

“You salute me by touching my feet. But had Hriday been here, who would have dared to touch them? He wouldn’t have allowed anyone to do it. I have to return your salutes because the Mother has placed me in a state in which I see God in everything.

“You see, one cannot exclude even a wicked person. A tulsi-leaf, however dry or small, can be used for worship in the temple.”

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