Archive for November 9, 2012

What is Advaita?

 

The Vedanta philosophy, as it is generally called at the present day, really comprises all the various sects that now exist in India. Thus there have been various interpretations, and to my mind they have been progressive, beginning with the dualistic or Dvaita and ending with the non-dualistic or Advaita. Vedanta is a Sanskrit word which literally means ‘the end of the Vedas’ – the Vedas being the scriptures of the Hindus. The Vedas are divided into two main portions: the work-portion, which describes how one should do work and do worship, and the knowledge-portion. Included in the knowledge-portion are those books which deal with spirituality and philosophy. These books are called the Upanishads or the Vedanta. Veda means ‘knowledge’; therefore, Vedanta also means ‘the end of knowledge’, or ‘the highest knowledge.’ It is claimed that at least six thousand years ago this body of spiritual knowledge was experienced and discovered in India by the sages and seers. The principles of Vedanta are impersonal, universal, and eternal. They are about God, soul, and the world. Vedanta teaches that each soul is potentially divine – the infinite ocean of Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss. The goal of human life is to manifest this innate divinity through meditation (Raja Yoga), devotion (Bhakti Yoga), selfless action (Karma Yoga), and discrimination (Jnana Yoga). Vedanta preaches the unity of the Godhead and accepts every faith as a valid means to realize God. As the Rig Veda, the oldest scripture of the Hindus, declares, "Truth is One, sages call it by various names." Vedanta is a religion, a philosophy, and a way of life — the Vedas being the scriptures of the Hindus. Sometimes in the West by the Vedas are meant only the hymns and rituals of the Vedas. But at the present time these parts have almost gone out of use, and usually by the word Vedas in India, the Vedanta is meant. The Vedanta, then, practically forms the scriptures of the Hindus, and all systems of philosophy that are orthodox has to take it as their foundation. All the Vedantists agree on three points. They believe in God, in the Vedas as revealed, and in cycles.

All the books contained in the Upanishads have one subject, one task before them — to prove the following theme: "Just as by the knowledge of one lump of clay we have the knowledge of all the clay in the universe, so what is that, knowing which we know everything in the universe?" The idea of the Advaitists is to generalize the whole universe into one — that something which is really the whole of this universe. And they claim that this whole universe is one, that it is one Being manifesting itself in all these various forms. It is this Being, the Sat, which has become converted into all this — the universe, man, soul, and everything that exists. How came that Sat which is unchangeable, as they admit (for that which is absolute is unchangeable), came to be changed into that which is changeable, and perishable? The Advaitists here have a theory which they call apparent manifestation. According to the dualists and the Sankhyas, the whole of this universe is the evolution of primal nature. According to some of the Advaitists and some of the dualists, the whole of this universe is evolved from God. And according to the Advaitists proper, the followers of Shankaracharya, the whole universe is the apparent evolution of God. God is the material cause of this universe, but not really, only apparently. The celebrated illustration used is that of the rope and the snake, where the rope appeared to be the snake, but was not really so. The rope did not really change into the snake. Even so this whole universe as it exists is that Being. It is unchanged, and all the changes we see in it are only apparent. These changes are caused by space, time, and causation, or, according to a higher psychological generalization, by name and form. It is by name and form that one thing is differentiated from another. The name and form alone cause the difference. In reality they are one and the same. Again, it is not, the Vedantists say, that there is something as phenomenon and something as noumenon. The rope is changed into the snake apparently only; and when the delusion ceases, the snake vanishes. When one is in ignorance, he sees the phenomenon and does not see God. When he sees God, this universe vanishes entirely for him. Ignorance or Mâyâ, as it is called, is the cause of this phenomenon — the Absolute, the Unchangeable, being taken as this manifested universe.

The Advaitists, then, have no place for the individual soul. They say individual souls are created by Mâyâ. In reality they cannot exist. If there were only one existence throughout, how could it be that I am one, and you are one, and so forth? We are all one, and the cause of evil is the perception of duality. As soon as I begin to feel that I am separate from this universe, then first comes fear, and then comes misery. Where one hears another, one sees another; that is small. Where one does not see another, where one does not hear another, that is the greatest, that is God. In that greatest is perfect happiness. In small things there is no happiness.

According to the Advaita philosophy, then, this differentiation of matter, these phenomena, are, as it were, for a time, hiding the real nature of man; but the latter really has not been changed at all. In the lowest worm, as well as in the highest human being, the same divine nature is present. The worm form is the lower form in which the divinity has been more overshadowed by Mâyâ; that is the highest form in which it has been least overshadowed. Behind everything the same divinity continues living and out of this comes the basis of morality. Do not injure another. Love everyone as your own self, because the whole universe is one.

In injuring another, I am injuring myself. In loving another, I love myself and from this also spring the principle of Advaita morality; which has been summed up in one word: self-abnegation. The Advaitist says, this little personalized self is the cause of all my misery. This individualized self, which makes me different from all other beings, brings hatred and jealousy and misery, struggle and all other evils. And when this idea has been got rid of, all struggle will cease, all misery vanish. So this is to be given up. We must always hold ourselves ready; even to give up our lives for the lowest beings. When a man has become ready even to give up his life for a little insect, he has reached the perfection which the Advaitist wants to attain; and at that moment when he has become thus ready, the veil of ignorance falls away from him, and he will feel his own nature. Even in this life, he will feel that he is one with the universe. For a time, as it were, the whole of this phenomenal world will disappear for him, and he will realize what he is. But so long as the karma of this body remains, he will have to live. This state, when the veil has vanished and yet the body remains for some time, is what the Vedantists call the living freedom. If a man is deluded by a mirage for some time, and one day the mirage disappears — if it comes back again the next day, or at some future time, he will not be deluded. Before the mirage first broke, the man could not distinguish between the reality and the deception. But when it has once broken, as long as he has organs and eyes to work with, he will see the image, but will no more be deluded. That fine distinction between the actual world and the mirage he has caught, and the latter cannot delude him any more. So when the Vedantist has realized his own nature, the whole world has vanished for him. It will come back again, but no more the same world of misery. The prison of misery has become changed into Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute and the attainment of this is the goal of the Advaita Philosophy.

Posted November 9, 2012 by dranilj1 in My Philosophy Of Life

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God’s Handwriting

 

Posted November 9, 2012 by dranilj1 in Photography

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Beautiful Landscapes by Zsolt Zsigmond

Landscape photographs by Zsolt Zsigmond. He is a Hungary based photographer. His work is really amazing and no words to express it. When I saw these photographs it was fantastic and very impressive. So I thought to share these kind incredibly fantastic photographs with you all. When you look at these photographs you may get stunned by work he dose. The landscapes are really mind-blowing. The photographs of flowers are awesome. Each photograph has some tremendous power in it; especially the photograph of sky, no words to express his work.

Posted November 9, 2012 by dranilj1 in Landscape, Photography

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Count Your Blessings

One of my devoted practices is to make regular gratitude lists. I aim for every day. Lately I’ve gotten a couple of notes, both from strangers and friends, saying this jotting down of thanks helps them. It’s certainly not news–people have been counting their blessings since the first breath, I imagine. But here are some reasons you might want to add it to your handful of spiritual supplements. You could reduce your stress and improve your overall health.

Looking at the positive, trains your brain to see the good things as much as you do the not-so-good. You can see the genuinely positive elements in negative experiences without being in denial or absolute optimism. Some say that “like attracts like”–and when you see your life as generally good, more good will come to you. Appreciative people are more popular than complaining, negative people. You can shift your mood from hopeless to hopeful; grateful people are happier, less fearful and depressed and more optimistic. You can realize you have enough, now–making you less easily threatened, more fulfilled, and more generous.

You’ll inspire other people to count their blessings, thereby spreading happiness in the world. When you are filled with gratitude it’s much harder to see yourself as a victim and much easier to be full of happiness and pride. Your love-light will shine a bit brighter and we need more love-light–especially yours.

Split Your Limited Beliefs

 

It’s easy to get down on yourself every once in awhile. Maybe your career is not going the way you expected it, your relationship is struggling or you’re just feeling stuck in your life. Confused about what to do with your life? Feel stuck about what steps in your career you need to take next? You already have all the answers in you. You might just need to go out there and find it. Start paying attention to everything around you. When you are in your car, turn off your radio. When you are at home, turn off your TV and computer. Sit in silence and begin to ask the questions you have in your mind. Become your own private investigator and begin putting a microscope over your life.

Keep a diary. Write your questions with your dominant hand and answer them with your non-dominant hand. Instead of going outside to find the answers, from friends, authority figures or family members, start to flex your intuitive muscle by taking notice of everything going on around you. You will start to see the answers you’re looking for inside yourself. So you’re not where you want to be right at this moment. But envisioning your dream job seems like too much of a leap. To get from where you are to where you want to be, you don’t have to do big to think big. In fact, stepping too far outside your comfort zone may make you want to crawl in and hide forever; instead take turtle steps. Turtle steps are the smallest infinitesimal step that someone can take that doesn’t shake them to their core.

Want a career as a freelance writer, but quitting your day job seems too scary to do? Don’t quit. But use your free time to research about others who made the leap from full-time to freelance. If you reach a point in your life when you feel like, “you’ve bit off more than you can chew” or you feel stuck, burnt out, or blocked in your life, try this. Fill in the black with what automatically comes to your mind. What you answer could provide insight into what’s blocking you in life. Filling in the blank bypasses our preconceived notions and limiting beliefs by answering in a subconscious way. Like a snow globe, sometimes we need to shake things up a bit to give us a beautiful new perspective. Trying these strategies may help you open up to change in breaking your limited beliefs.

Trap of Limerence

Browallia New Font

Dualism is how we explain Reality – Monism is how we experience Reality – Neomonism is the recognition that a logical paradox is not an existential reality. The Way has no boundaries; words do not have constant meanings. But because people want to say, ‘this is’, boundaries were created. Let me tell you about these boundaries. There is left and right; there are theories and debates; there are divisions and disagreements; there are victories and defeats. The wise person does not deny these boundaries, but pays no attention to them. Non-dualism has fascinated me since I was introduced to the academic study of philosophy. One of the first issues we studied in the Introductory Class was that of whether Rationality or Intuition was the source of true knowledge. It struck me almost immediately the answer depended on the context. When one is communicating in the language of the mind, rationalism holds, and when one is communicating in the language of the heart, intuition holds. The language of the mind can be thought of as Yang and the language of the heart as Yin in the Tao we call Mind. It is not the case that we have a rational mind and an intuitive mind working side by side, no matter what it looks like it is doing.

My main objection to the Non-dualistic approach is over the use of the term “illusion” The term is commonly taken under the connotation of false, which leads to a negative attitude about physicality. I prefer the term “allusion’, taken under the connotation of a ‘pointer at a deeper truth’. The sides of an apparent duality are allusions that point to a deeper truth. Reality is not ‘this’. Reality is not ‘that’. Reality gives rise to ‘this’ and ‘that’ and is neither, in and of itself. Our calling metaphysical truth “Deeper Truths” makes a lot of sense when viewed this way.

Our hassles in discussing the apparent dualism arise from a condition I call limerence, but it is called Monism, an assumption that one or the other side of an issue is the truth. I submit this is a mistaken approach because we confuse the oneness of mathematics with the oneness of metaphysics. Consciousness is neither rational nor intuitive it is a rational intuitive unity that is harmonious. It is neither Mind nor Body; consider the Taiji; neither Yin nor Yang that comprise the entire image. This either/or stuff is linguistic, not existential.

Compounding the issue with limerence is our campfire story of the metaphysical as beyond the physical. This is only part of the campfire story for at the same time, the metaphysical is within the physical. To have an ‘outside’, one has to have an ‘inside’, and the Divine Oneness is neither exclusively. Outside and Inside are linguistic conventions that have no more reality than ‘this’ and ‘that’. Thinking along the terms ‘outside’ is a consequence of the language of the mind while thinking along the lines of ‘inside’ is from utilizing the language of the heart. A coin is one of the best examples; we do not have a thing called tails sitting next to a thing called heads; what we have is a tails/heads unity. It is from that unity the coin becomes valuable; we could not spend them in the marketplace if we were to file off one side of the coin.

In the language of the mind, gravity is the reason water flows downhill while in the language of the heart; it can be said it is the nature of water to flow downhill. We need to get away from the idea that one or the other campfire story is the truth, because it depends on the context of your discussion as to which language you are using. Neither language, in and of itself, is The Truth, at most it is partial truth.

Keep in mind that the languages are harmonious compliments rather than the conflicting opposites we are taught. Problems arise when we take our campfire stories as absolute rather than relative truth. We are not in possession of infinite knowledge therefore we should not make the claim “This is it.” While the campfire story told in the language of the mind has much validity, there are aspects of reality it ignores in order to make things fit. The same can be said about the campfire story told in the language of the heart.

Find the middle ground where they have commonalities, allowing one to shed light on the other. Drop your clinging to the idea of Oneness in a mathematical context. Reality is neither Material nor Spiritual in essence; it is a from which Material and Spiritual arise. It is this that non-dualistic philosophy refers to as it points a finger at the Moon.

Anxiety Begets Anxiety

 

Anxiety Begets Anxiety

Most of us worry a lot. The more we fret the more proficient we become at it. Anxiety begets anxiety. Some even worry that they worry too much! Gastric ulcers will develop, health could fail. Our finances could be depleted to pay the hospital bills. A comedian once said, "I tried to drown my worries with gin, but my worries are equipped with flotation devices." While not a drinker, I certainly could identify! My worries could swim, jump and pole vault!

To get some perspective, just read what a well known, Dallas businessman, Fred Smith has to say. Fred Smith mentored such luminaries as motivational whiz Zig Ziglar, business guru Ken Blanchard and leadership expert John Maxwell. Fred listens as some pours out their concerns and then says, ‘you need to learn to wait to worry.’ As the words sink in, we could ask if Fred ever spent time fretting. We are all quite certain he wouldn’t admit it if he did. He is pretty full of testosterone even at age 90. To our surprise, he confesses that in years gone by he had been a top-notch worrier! He decided that he would wait to worry! He explained. “I decided that I’d wait until I actually had a reason to worry something that was happening, not just something that might happen before I worried. When I’m tempted to get alarmed, he confided, I tell myself, Fred, you’ve got to wait to worry!” Until you know differently, don’t worry. Waiting to worry helps us develop the habit of not worrying and that helps not be tempted to worry.

Fred possessed a quick mind and a gift for gab. As such, he became a captivating public speaker. “I frequently ask audiences what they were worried about this time last year. I get a lot of laughs," he said, because most people can’t remember. Then I ask if they have a current worry; you see nods from everybody. Then I remind them that the average worrier is 92% inefficient and only 8% of what we worry about ever comes true.

Charles Spurgeon said it best. "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength." Most of us want to be positive. It’s advantageous to possess a sunny outlook. Doors open to optimists. They make friends, earn respect; close sales, produce loyal clients, and others enjoy and want to be like them. The question is how can we do that consistently?

That’s what attitude is all about! ‘Your Attitude is Your Window to the World.’

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