Transcript from the Bhagavad Gita Sangha #44 Chapter 6 verse 1-3.
In this excerpt, Swamiji elaborates on the practical aspects of the Bhagavad Gītā, practice (abhyasa) of karma sannyas and karma yoga.
John Hughes: Good morning everyone. Here we are.
Shanna Hughes: Hi Welcome. Welcome to our Bhagavad Gita Sangha. Please tell us where you’re joining from.
Oh, John showed up this morning. Good morning, John. And Vivian, and Hi, good morning Jatinder Ji. And we have Rudra Das and Lee. Hi, Lee. And we have Raj and Ranju, good morning, and Paul from England, and Vijay Ji. And we have Kurt, hi, Kurt. And it’s going really fast. I’m going to pull it back up… Caroline, and Bruce and Robert, and good morning Tom and Caroline, and Ivy and Kate… Hi, Annie from Fresno. And Claudia, Hi, Claudia. We have Erika from Mexico, Good morning. And Ellen and Maria and Arjuna and Guillermo from Guatemala. And Hi John from New Mexico. And Isabel from France, and Alba, Hi Alba, and Bill. Good morning Bill from Colorado, and Denise in Istanbul, and Ager. Hi Ager, Good morning from Iceland. And Brenda.
All these names are becoming familiar now from last year. And good morning Padma, Namaste Ji, and we have Eileen from France, and Prasad in London, Paul, Julie Devi, and we have Anita Ji, and we have Moti Lal Raina, and Lalita Ji, and Shawn and Eden, Hey Eden. Basu, Karen Weiss, Good morning, and Josephine from Spain and Roxana, Carlos, Romo Guillermo, and we have Jennifer from Canada.
Welcome, everyone. Please join us for the Aghora mantra…
अघोरेभ्योऽथ घोरेभ्यो घोरघोरतरीभ्यश्च।
सर्वतः शर्व! सर्वेभ्यो नमस्ते रुद्ररूपेभ्यः॥
aghorebhyo tha ghorebhyo ghora ghoratarī bhyash cha
sarvatah sharva! sarvebhyo namaste rudra rūpebhyah
O Lord Shiva! You alone transform yourself into all forms, into the forms of the powers of Rudra as Aghorā, the enlightening and uplifting energy, Ghoratarī, the frightful darkening energy which pushes one down, and Ghorā, the energy which keeps one fixed, neither rising or falling. These forms, embodied in Rudra Shiva, are helpful to aspirants while they are aware, and frightful for the ones who are ignorant, pushing them down and down.
Shanna Hughes [addressing Denise]: Would you like to take us through the meditation?
Denise Hughes: Yes. Now lengthen the spine.
Bring your attention to your breath. Follow your breath in and follow your breath out.
And now slowly inhale the breath. Take your awareness between the two eyebrows and exhale the breath. At the end of the exhale, observe the pause at the end of the exhale.
…awareness between the two eyebrows. And then exhale the breath. At the end of the exhale, observe the natural pause. And continue with your meditation. Inhaling and observing the pause between the two eyebrows, and exhaling observing the pause at the end of the exhale.
Please continue with your meditation…
[10 min SILENT MEDITATION ENDING WITH A GONG!]
…just a little while observe how you’re feeling in this moment.
When you’re ready, allow your eyes to begin to open.
Shanna: What are you smiling about George?
George: What am I smiling about? The neverending search for spectacles?
Shanna: I know that one now, just in the last six months.
Shanna: We are going into chapter six now, right?
George: We are going to play a short synopsis or short summary of this chapter. It might be nice to put this in context too. Abhinavagupta’s Bhagavad Gita is unique. You have to think that he wrote this or he did the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita more than a 1000 years ago, in an environment, which was very much feeling that the only way to get enlightened or to get spirituality was through rituals, basically, that you had to do rituals and you had to do all of these different, you know, processes. Abhinavagupta came and he whitewashed that. He said, no, no, if Lord Shiva created the whole universe and everybody and we’re all made of consciousness, why can’t we just realize through consciousness?
So his interpretation met with a lot of hostility amongst the orthodox Brahmins because also he said that this teaching is for everybody. There’s no caste, creed, color, or gender. So at the end of each chapter, he gave a little verse, which was a synopsis of the whole chapter. So we’re going to play that first, so we get a flavor of this chapter that we’re moving into, which is all about practice. It’s all about, you know, the value of practicing, a technique which makes you realize your own nature.
Abhinavagupta’s Saṅgraha śloka for
Bhagavad Gītā – Chapter 6.
Now the conclusion of the sixth chapter according to the viewpoint of Abhinavagupta.
JOHN: This is the unique interpretation of Bhagavad Gītā.
SWAMIJI: Yes . . . this you won’t find in any other work.
फलिताः शालयः सम्यगवृष्टिमात्रेऽवलोकिते ॥६॥
phalitāḥ śālayaḥ samyag-vṛiṣṭimāter’valokite || 6 ||
The conclusion of this sixth chapter is bas, “Take the name of God!” Remember God in each and every action in this world. When you remember God in each and every action in this world everything is attained, you have achieved everything what is to be achieved. It is just like, if you have not achieved, if you feel that you have not achieved anything, you only remember God; if you just remember God you have achieved. Take this for granted that you have achieved.
In this way when paddy (rice) fields are ripe, only there is one point, at the moment when rainfall takes place and the roots are wet with rainfall and they get moisture they will turn in ripening color at once.
This is what happens by remembering God.
If you remember God it is already ripe, (even) if you don’t perceive that it is ripe, it is ripe; there is only one question of a few days. Only the rainfall will reach there under the roots of those plants, and it will take the position of that ripening color at once.
So it is only just “remember God!”
The main thing is to remember God in your lifetime–that is all!
Watch your breath each and every moment!
Go on, letting Viresh play in your lap and go on watching your breath, you become divine in the end.
JOHN: So remembering God and remember to watch your breath they are exactly the same thing, no difference?
SWAMIJI: Same thing, no difference!
End of video!
Denise: Sounds so simple.
But we have to make an effort to watch our breath in activity.
John: That’s right. That’s being conscious. That’s the whole point that you strengthen your own awareness, your own subjectivity. There has to be somebody watching the breath. That’s what we want to do, to make that somebody, who’s watching the breath more and more apparent.
Denise: And the more we observe our breath, the more it becomes a habit. A divine habit.
George: Yeah. So the sixth chapter, he starts off, the first two verses of this chapter, basically, Abhinavagupta summarizes what he talked about in the other chapters. But he brings out this point now, about just touching on his idea that the quality that you have inside, your quality, your nature, is what determines what you are. Remember, 2000 years ago, India was steeped in the caste system, steeped in you know, you’re a Brahmin, you’re a Kshatriya, like you’re ‘a warrior’, you’re a Vaishya, ‘a business person’, or you’re a Shudra, ‘the sweeping class’ they say, although it is the workers.
So Abhinavagupta wanted to really emphasize that everyone is made of consciousness. Everyone is a manifestation of Lord Shiva. And therefore it’s the internal quality that determines really what your nature is. And he covers that really beautifully in these first few verses. Those two verses.
Shanna: Remember how beautiful it would get in Kashmir near Swamiji, in between Nishat and his home, where they had all the golden rice that was just being ready to cut and there would be waves of gold. Just amazing. I don’t know where that just came from because Swamiji was speaking about it.
John: Because he was just talking about that.
George: Covered in rice fields. Yeah…
Shanna: Even as a child I could appreciate it. Wow, they would just be waves of it, everywhere would be just gold, right? Beautiful, beautiful, but it’s all houses now. But okay, let us go.
अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः ।
स संन्यासी च योगी च न निरग्निर्न चाक्रियः ॥१॥
anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ /
Chapter 6 Part 1
[Now the 6th chapter].
śrī bhagavān uvāca
Lord Kṛṣṇa speaks to Arjuna.
अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः ।
स संन्यासी च योगी च न निरग्निर्न चाक्रियः ॥१॥
anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ /
sa saṁnyāsī ca yogī ca na niragnirna cākriyaḥ // 1 //
Anāśritaḥ karma phalaṁ, whatever he has to do according to the capacity of his qualifications – that is kāryaṁ – (kāryaṁ means that action which he has to undergo); there are four kinds of actions:
1) One is for Brahmins. [It is] according to your qualifications, not according to your birth. I told you many times that birth does not count. If by birth European and you are not by birth a [Brahmin], we have to see if you have got the qualifications of a Brahmin.
If you want to understand and if you want to focus your mind always in samādhi, always in meditation, it means by qualification you are a Brahmin, you are not any other caste. You are Brahmin, you have qualifications, you are fit for being a Brahmin.
2) And Kṣatriya is [one] who has the tendency of fighting, i.e., warriors. It is by nature, i.e., by birth he has got tendency of [being a warrior]. He does not like to meditate upon [Parabhairava]. He wants to fight; to do some mechanism [i.e. to be a mechanic] or anything . . . or go in some industry. He wants that. He has got qualifications for that. He likes that. So he is fit for that [activity].
No matter if he is fit for that [activity, and] he be deprived of God consciousness? He won’t! He also won’t be deprived of God consciousness.
3) And there is Vaiśya. Vaiśya means, who does business. You know, who has got the tendency of making money.
4) Śūdra is [one] who has the tendency to serve the other three. To serve on the roadside, to clean utensils, to wash everything, to see that my master is quite happy with my work – that is Śūdra. He also, if he works according to the qualification of himself, sa sannyāsī yogī ca, he will become, he will take the position of sannyās, karma sannyās, and he will take the position of karma yoga.
Na niragnirna cākriyaḥ, it is not as other commentators have understood from this Bhagavad Gītā without taking the help of Abhinavagupta’s commentary.
यं संन्यासमिति प्राहुर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव ।
नह्यसंन्यस्तसंकल्पो योगी भवति कश्चन ॥२॥
yaṁ sannyāsamiti prāhuryogaṁ taṁ viddhi pāṇḍava /
nahyasaṁnyastasaṁkalpo yogī bhavati kaścana // 2 //
They have understood this way that karma sannyāsi is that [person] who does not [act]. The sannyās, the renunciation of all [actions], karma sannyās, is that [person] who is sannyāsi.
Sannyāsi means [one] who has got danḍa (staff) and [chants] “harī oṁ” and who has cut his śikhā [choti] and has wrapped it around that stick and he goes on wearing these dyed cloths [orange cloths].
And he is not to do any havan [fire ceremony] at all after he takes sannyās. Whenever he takes sannyās . . . for instance, Vyasa Deva Brahmachari took sannyās and then he was not to perform havan [fire ceremony]. Havan is prohibited for him, [because] he cannot touch fire. He has discarded it for dogs. That is karma sannyāsi.
Karma yogi means who does not . . . who always does work in yoga, i.e., in activity (yoga in action) and he is akriyā [above those actions].
This way, it is not [explained by other commentators].
Yoga and sannyāsa are attributable to all of these four classes.
So this is . . . by these four it is said:
sve sve karmaṇyabhirataḥ . . . (chapter 18, verse 45)
“If you tread according to the qualifications of your status, if you work and leave and surrender everything to God, you will, in the end, you will succeed and become one with Lord Śiva at the time of death.”
Evaṁ prāktanena-adhyāya-gaṇena sādhitor’thaḥ śloka-dvayena nigadyate [comm.].
Abhinavagupta says, “prāktanena-adhyā-yagaṇ-ena,” in all of these previous discourses . . .
Six, six discourses, from 1st to 6th [chapter].
. . . sadhitor’thaḥ ślokadvayena nigadyate, with these two ślokas, he has grazed it again.
JONATHAN: Summarized it.
SWAMIJI: No, grazed it.
Because when a cow eats grass, then afterwards she does . . .
JONATHAN: Chews the cud.
DENISE: She regurgitates it.
JONATHAN: She chews the cud.
SWAMIJI: She chews what she has [regurgitated].
JONATHAN: . . . got inside.
SWAMIJI: That is grazing.
And [Abhinavagupta] grazes this whole substance [of the first six chapters] in these two ślokas.
JOHN: He recapitulates.
SWAMIJI: Yes . . . what?
JOHN: Recapitulates . . . ruminates, recapitulates.
Ata evāha, this way he explains here, ata eva aha yam sannyāsam taṁ yogam prāhur, whatever is sannyāsa, that is karma yoga.
Karma yoga and karma sannyāsa are one actually.
Yathā ca, just as, yoga-mantareṇa sannyāso na-upapadyate, sannyāsa cannot be possible without karma yoga. In the same way, without sannyāsa, karma yoga also cannot be – they are interdependent. Karma yoga is dependent to karma sannyāsa, and karma sannyāsa is dependent to karma yoga.
Tasmāt satata saṁbaddhau yoga sannyāsau, karma yoga and karma sannyāsa is always one body, one body of abhyāsa [practice].
[So] na niragnir-ityādināyam-artho dhvanyate, he is not without fire and he is not without work. That is . . .
[One] who is karma sannyāsi, he has not to touch fire and he has not to adopt this havan. And [one] who is karma yogi, he is not to do some work.
“But it is citram [various] . . . it is citram, this is a unique way of explanation of Bhagavad Gītā, which I have done,” Abhinavagupta says.
End of video!
Denise: Karma sannyāsa is when we practice meditation seated inside, in our room, or wherever we sit to meditate, and karma yoga is when we practice meditation in action.
John: Watching the breath.
Shanna: Sannyāsa has to be a seated version or a part of puja, and then the other was . . . which one you were saying, karma yoga, the yoga part is the one in action. And they both strengthen each other?
Denise: Yes, Swamiji said they are one, they are one practice. They compliment each other. They make your awareness very strong by doing both.
George: That’s what he goes on to talk about. I mean okay, in this [previous] chapter he has basically enlightened Arjuna into the nature of action, so he is preparing him, to teach him to meditate, but in this chapter, before he actually teaches him in the next couple of verses, he says, basically I am going to teach you to meditate, but I don’t want you to be lighthearted about it. If you are going to meditate, give it full strength, full force. That’s how Swamiji was too.
Especially about karma yoga he would say that this meditation in action and the karma sannyāsa as Denise was just talking about, the reason the word sannyāsa comes into it is when you sit in your puja room and you close your eyes, you basically remain aloof from the world, which is the whole idea of sannyāsa. Sannyāsa is to give the world up. So, karma sannyāsa is the formal (one of the participants, Alice said), cushion meditation.
And karma yoga is meditation in action: washing the dishes, driving the car, going shopping, sweeping the floor, cleaning the house, all these activities can now take on a new flavor of meditation, rather than be a chore. It really is a wonderful thing. It is one of the greatest revelations I got after meeting Swamiji. I would say: “Swamiji, I didn’t even have time to meditate.” And he would say: “You are breathing, aren’t you?” You know.
Denise: Sometimes Swamiji would give devotees chores to do, and they would take so long. He would tell them, “while you are doing it be attentive to your breath, watch your breath.” And in the same way, we can do the same thing. We have to do a chore. We have to clean the floor. We have to wash the dishes. We have to go for a walk. You know, just keep trying, keep doing it.
John: Repetitive tasks are the best way to watch your breath, in the beginning anyway.
George: Yeah, and some people make lists. Denise is the famous list maker, she always writes lists for everything, and I don’t. I make mental lists. And I thought what are the things that I do every day that I do regularly: tie my shoelaces, brush my teeth, shower… And if you list those in your brain, that those are the ones I have to really watch my breath – There are other things that you do, which are random, you don’t remember – Then every time you brush your teeth, those [reminders] come up to, “watch my breath while I am brushing my teeth,” you can do it. While I am tying my shoes, while I am getting dressed, just little reminders that come up. And it makes a difference to your day, your day takes on a different quality. You start to feel that, “Wow, life is really about being able to meditate.” And it has such an enriching effect on your cushion meditation. You don’t give that up. But when you do sit to meditate the amount that you do in action… Swamiji would say that, if you have your meditation at 6 o’clock in the evening then at 5 or 5:30 go for a walk and do meditation in action, then come and directly sit, and sit down straight after a long walking meditation. He said you will see the difference. You will see the difference in one-pointedness.
Denise: And in the beginning, it is really difficult to watch your breath while you are talking, so that’s for later. But other things, other activities you could do it. But Swamiji says, “do it again and again. Make it a habit.” Just like George said, he watches his breath every time he brushes his teeth, or ties his shoes, he watches his breath for that duration of time.
Shanna: It’s called habit bundling, where you bundle it with something that you are already doing and it reminds you. Who knew that it works! Bundle the habit of breath. Yes!
We have some questions before we go to the next part of Swamiji. We have Bruce asking or mentioning and then asking, “In terms of watching the breath, remembering God, and thinking of strengthening the subjective awareness, reflecting on the seven states of the seven perceivers from Secret Supreme, could it be asked, which of the seven pramātṛs would be the observer of the state of watching the breath? Does one start in sakala and advance from there, or is it different for each person depending on their capacity?
John: In the beginning, for a person, sakala pramātṛi is in the waking state. This is something you do in the waking state.
Shanna: Ok. Jatinder wants to know, why the example of fire? Fire? Where is fire?
John: Sannyasi has to avoid fire.
Denise: Oh yes, and not to perform havan [fire ceremony].
Denise: I don’t know.
George: Fire is also recognized as rage, you know. The rage of fire, the fire of desire. That’s one of the subtle reasons. There are many different reasons why they don’t do havan. But then, you know, there are all these sannyasins in different traditions that do have fire. They have a dhuni (fire pit) and they have a fire every day. They have to do a small havan at the beginning of the day. You know. That was part of the daily routine of kashmiri pandits. They were supposed to do a five-minute fire for recognizing agni. But there are various reasons. We will have to look that up. Surely you will find that on the internet. Why don’t sannyasins touch fire…
Denise: Ask Bhajanānanda, he does fire and he is…
Shanna: …and he is a sannyasi. Yes, we could find out from him, sure. But that makes sense.
Denise: …making fire every morning. I was wondering.
George: Yes different traditions.
Shanna: And then Swati asks, if watching the breath is the same as being present, or, consciousness towards the action we are doing, or is it literally watching and feeling the breath.
Denise: It’s watching and feeling the breath, and Swamiji said that you can’t have thoughts if you are actively observing the breath.
Shanna: Just actively observing the inhale and exhale as you are washing the dishes, or tying your shoes, just bring your attention to it, as it moves in and out.
John: You have to realize though, what we mean here. What’s important about this is there has to be ‘a watcher’. You can’t get lost in thought when you are watching your breath. Watching your breath means that the subjectivity is constantly there. And because you can’t think thoughts when you are watching the breath, subjectivity becomes more and more enhanced. Like that.
Denise: You have to use your power of awareness and be very conscious of what you are doing.
George: It’s such a subtle thing.
We told that story about how powerful the breath is. That is from one of the Upanishads where the senses argued among one another who is the most important, who had the most significance? And they all left the body for a year and the body still survived. And then the breath, which none of them were aware of, the breath said, “I will leave.” They said, “who are you?” And the breath said, “I will leave the body now.” And just as the breath was about to make a move, all the senses went, “ahhh, don’t,” because that’s the whole point.
And the first manifestation out of universal God-consciousness, when Shiva and Shakti were designing this wonderful universe, where there is no time-space in that – this is infinite time, infinite space – the first manifestation into the world was with the subtle vibration of the breath, it is called prāṇana shakti. So they breathed out into the world and into all of us, and we breathe 21,600 times a day. So when we are meditating we feel that, “I am watching my breath” and as we meditate more and more and get towards that more subtle and subtle state, then you’ll feel that, “your breath is watching you.” You know. Because that is the reality, i.e., we are being breathed. John used to say this, we are actually, we are being breathed and that breath is coming from that state of universal God consciousness, in its most, most subtle level. Bruce just talked about seven different levels. There are levels that we go through in that expansion towards that.
Shanna: Should we listen to another piece of Swamiji’s?
John: Yes, we’ll do that.
George: These couple of verses where he tells Arjuna, (you know, he is preparing to teach him to meditate) but he says, “don’t be half-hearted about this,” you know, “give it your full effort” and it comes across in these two verses.
SWAMIJI: Yadyapi . . . another śloka (second śloka is finished, these two ślokas); now the third.
आरुरुक्षोर्मुनेर्योगं कर्म कारणमुच्यते ।
योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते ॥३॥
ārurukṣor-muner-yogaṁ karma kāraṇam-ucyate /
yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇam-ucyate //3//
Ārurukṣormuner. Munir, that yogi who is ārurukṣoḥ, who wants to rise step-by-step; who wants to rise step-by-step and does meditate, and does meditate in successive meditation.
Successive meditation means: it is not to meditate one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening – no, it is not that. Go on meditating day and night; don’t forget your meditation of thinking of the Lord with breath; go on watching your breath, day and night – try with all your might to watch. If sometime you miss [a breath], that doesn’t matter, but it does not mean that you meditate only one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, and in the remaining period you will do activities and gupshup (small talk) and bakwas (nonsense) and everything. Because that impression will be stronger, that impression will subside your abhyāsa (meditation).
Do you understand?
So you should not work in that way.
Abhyāsa [practice] is to start just like in chain form [i.e., continuously]. Try your best [to practice] that way.
ārurukṣor-muner-yogaṁ karma kāraṇam-ucyate /
yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇam-ucyate // 3 //
Ārurukṣor-muneryogaṁ. Yogam ārurukṣor muner, the one who is trying to reside in yoga abhyāsa [meditation], (for how long?), day and night; according to his capacity, day and night. But the balance should be of abhyās, i.e., [meditation should be] more in weight than the daily activities of your worldly affairs. Worldly affairs should go high, i.e., they should become less in balance [in] scale.
Worldly activities [should be much] less, just four anas (16 cents) in one rupee, even two annas (8 cents) in one rupee. The [remaining] period of your time must be devoted in abhyāsa, in meditation.
That is yogam ārurukṣor muni, one who wants to rise in yoga, who wants to step into yoga.
Karma kāraṇam ucyate. Karma kāraṇam ucyate, karma, abhyāsa in action. You should not sit idle, you should go on walking and go on practicing. And it is . . . kāraṇam means, these [worldly activities] are the means (upāyas) for him.
Abhinavagupta has, in a unique way, translated in two ways kāraṇam and kāraṇam. There are in two places kāraṇa and kāraṇa.
JOHN: What is this sūtra sir?
SWAMIJI: I will show you.
ārurukṣor-muner-yogaṁ karma kāraṇam-ucyate /
There is kāraṇam first.
yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇam-ucyate // 3 //
This is another kāraṇa, which has another meaning [than] the first kāraṇa, which has some other meaning. The first kāraṇa, for that beginner of yoga, kāraṇam means the ‘means’, it is the ‘means’ (upāya).
And next for yogārūḍha, [the one] who is established in yoga; for him, kāraṇam means lakṣaṇam, these are the ‘symptoms’ of a yogi. The symptoms of a yogi is that he is appeased.
Kāraṇam atra lakṣaṇam, and kāraṇam atra upāya.
No other commentator has commentated upon these two words, i.e., these separate words in a separate language. They couldn’t understand what is the meaning of the first kāraṇa and what is the meaning of the second kāraṇa.
Second kāraṇa is for that [person] who is established in yoga; first kāraṇa is for that [person] who wants to become established in yoga, who is a beginner. For a beginner, it is the means (upāya), and for the one who is established in yoga, these are the symptoms (lakṣaṇam) and these are his qualifications.
[ārurukṣormuneryogaṁ karma] kāraṇam-ucyate /
yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇam-ucyate // 3 //
Śamaḥ, he is appeased; he has no other thoughts. He is just like a king; he becomes just like a king, i.e., the other one who is established in yoga.
The one who is not established in yoga, he has got these means, this is his means (upāya), i.e., the way how to proceed for a beginner. And for that yogi who has achieved the highest state, for that it is . . .
End of video!
John: Part of your life, really, life is made for Yoga. Lord Shiva creates himself in this world to find himself. That’s the fun and joy that he has. So Swamiji is saying here that you should give predominance to practice, that’s the point of this. If you don’t give the predominance to practice then you tend to get more [worldly], as you were saying, it becomes stronger. Whatever, you give predominance to that tends to take over the course of your life in that way.
Shanna: Like he was saying, out of a rupee only one or two ānnas, which is like one or two pennies, should be put into your life as in what you are doing your day-to-day interactions, and then the other ninety-eight ānnas into meditation through the day, your practice. Wow, that’s a lot!
John: I think the thing is that when the grace of God is with that person, then he can do that. His being is filled with that urgency.
George: I think it is nice also that Swamiji never made people feel guilty about not practicing. It is a really important point that he would say go on practicing and if it is your tendency to practice a lot good but if you don’t have the time – some people were involved in the world, we have tough jobs where you have to focus on that, and people say, “I hardly watch my breath at all during the day.” – But Swamiji would say, “go on doing something. Something is better than nothing.” You know, one step on the path is really a sign that Grace is there. And there are some people who really have the opportunity and want to meditate and they have that opportunity. And there are other people who have every opportunity and don’t want to meditate at all. They do 20 mins just twice a day and that’s fine. Swamiji would never make anybody feel guilty. He would say, “go on doing according to your own nature, according to your own capacity.” And then that Grace would come. And I saw that around Swamiji too, a lot of people who started out very feeble and all of a sudden something happened and they just really wanted to be very vigilant with the practice.
John: He also said that if you watch your breath at all that is God’s grace for you.
Shanna: Jatinder clarified that, I didn’t know this, he clarified that four ānnas is a quarter of a rupee, and two ānnas is 1/8th of a rupee. I thought that ana was a penny but I was wrong.
So, there are a couple of questions here. Mom, do you want to read Prasad’s.
Denise: It’s interesting that Swamiji mentions that remembering God and watching the breath are the same. However, watching the breath is at best shaktopāya or anupāya, since he uses breath for support. What about shambhava people, who don’t need any support, do they still need to watch the breath?
John: I think their whole life the shambhavopāya yogi’s awareness is to the point that his whole life is filled with that consciousness. He just wills it to be and he is there. He doesn’t have to [watch his breath].
Denise: In that spanda state.
John: They are in that spanda state. Because otherwise, you use the breath as a mode, as a means, taking the help of your breath, you know, to see that gap, in order to see that point. If you don’t need that, you don’t need to watch the breath or any help. I mean in shaktopāya, you use the help of thinking to go from one thought to another thought. But in shambavopāya you can just be in that state. So, no you don’t, you could use your breath or not use your breath, it’s all the same for you. Every moment of your life is filled with that awareness.
George: Yeah, if we look at it, Kashmir Shaivism divides everything into the three upayas. There are four actually but the highest one is anupāya, there is nothing to be done as they are already in that state. But upāya, of course as it is pointed out, means ‘a means’ or practice and āṇavopāya, the first one, anāva means the individual, āṇu, the individual’s upāya, the one we are involved in, we are finding this junction point, we are watching our breath. The second higher one is shaktopāya, as it is pointed out in the question, shaktopāya is the upāya, the practice of shakti-energy, and in that one, the senses are used more. One can find the junction between two impulses of thought. They don’t watch it, they could watch the breath, or they could watch the thought processes, that’s just manifesting and finding a junction between a thought and the flowing of that thought into action. And shambhavopāya, the higher one, Shambo, ‘Shiva’, the upaya of Shiva, the practice which is in the nature of Shiva where that person is just floating in that ocean of the first impulses that come into our daily life, our play, our first impulses of will, of the desire to do anything. And they feel that, they feel that state all the time, continuously. And the real key to understanding those higher levels is, maybe John can talk about what that yogi has, he experiences his waking, dreaming, sleeping. Say something about that John, the difference.
John: George is just saying that.
Shanna: Say it again George.
George: I am mumbling. Just talk about the yogi, you know, the real sign of a yogi is the one who has those awarenesses in waking, dreaming and sleeping, that’s their real…
John: We talked about that before, this idea that in a normal life, we have what we call that awareness in the waking state but actually that awareness is overshadowed by the experiences in our waking state and that’s why in the waking state we use the activity of breath because it is an activity that’s part of our life or external worldly activity but we are using that external worldly activity to highlight our own subjectivity because otherwise our subjectivity gets lost in the world and we don’t have that. We have an expression, “lost in thought,” and that’s kind of like that. But in reality, in our daily life, the subjectivity is there otherwise we wouldn’t be here.
Your own consciousness is the reality of everything you are and it makes daily life possible. What I am doing right now for example. But that doesn’t mean there is awareness itself at this moment, so we want to have awareness itself constantly in our life, make that more and more manifest. And so in normal life we try to do that, and then in dream-state, there also the person expands on his practice and maintains his awareness in the dreaming state, and in the sleep state, of course, is like a blank state and that’s shunya or void state. But we know there is something because we remember it, that “I was there before!”
But the greatness of our Shaivism is that we understand that there is an experience, there is a moment where a person could have that reality of the Self in all those three states. In fact, it is never lost. And whether it is the dreaming state or waking state or deep sleep state, that reality of Self is the main reality of that person’s life. He is experiencing it in those three states. So in those three states, he doesn’t have to have a waking state to be aware. He doesn’t have to have a dreaming state to be dreaming. He is just constantly aware all the time. And actually, before we called this the fourth state turya. The state of turya, a state where the Self is never lost no matter what happens in our other three states. Self is maintained in all of these three states.
So what happens is that as we expand in our own awareness, in our own practices, George mentioned these three upayas, these three means, and this “watching the breath” that’s primarily the āṇavopāya, the upāya of the individual, but then that’s also carried over into shaktopāya because you can also use the breath to enter that gap more effortlessly, and because in shaktopāya you have the power to see the gap between two thoughts.
And of course, there is a lot to be said about those upāyas, in fact, we did a course on the upāyas and talked about that and I think that’s available and people can see that. But the whole thing is to ‘strengthen your awareness’. So that it is there persistently and constantly. Because the real reality is, and we talked about this also, beyond turya there is a state called turyātīta, which means that’s the state where the reality of Self is seen in everything.
So, you understand that you are the expansion of the world and you see yourself in everything that exists. Whereas in our present state the reality of the world is all these different objects and all these different things that are going on but they are all different. But in the reality of turyātīta you realize that all these different things are really just one thing, expanded in this differentiated reality. So that differentiated reality is also real because it’s what reality has expanded into. But the real bliss of that reality is, that the individual is permeating everything, that’s the constant eternal state; it is the reality of our life, the reality of our world.
George: And there is one question last week, which came in about, “So, how does a person know if they are in God consciousness? How do they know they are in universal God consciousness, what’s the difference? And these states are as different from one another as is waking, dreaming, and sleeping to us. Dreaming is a qualitatively different state.
So, as a yogi moves through these states of higher levels of consciousness, they are as different, they are markedly different. Like we just talked about shāmbavopāya, there is the practice and there is a state. We can go into that, I think we are over time already.
John: So much to talk about. That’s the thing about this, never-ending story. It is our story. So wonderful, more to say, more to think about. Not that we understand all of this, we just try to.
Shanna: We try to discuss and understand, and then practice.
John: Yes. The teaching that our beloved Swamiji gave to us.
George: Before we finish, there was this wonderful discussion I was having this week about the knowledge and about Abhinavagupta’s instruction to his chief disciple. And this was so true of Swamiji. Abhinavagupta instructed Kshemrāja, who became a prolific writer and commentator, he said, “When you teach you must push the student ahead of you and you go behind. So get in the back of the line, but push your disciples and make them understand, make them more knowledgeable than you.” And this saves the teacher from a very great one, it’s called tirodhāna shakti. Tirodhāna shakti [concealing energy] is really big. We can talk about it another week.
But when the teacher puts himself above the student there is always a chance that the ego gets involved and they ‘lose the plot’, they lose the plot of what they are teaching.
John: That is very important.
George: And Swamiji was always making you feel really good about yourself, pushing you ahead, and making you feel that, as much as you are dependent on him, you are dependent on his knowledge, on what came from his lips. What came from this lineage, this tradition of masters, which has been handed down for five thousand years. That was the key factor – study his teaching, practice, and realize your own dignity. But this point about just the teacher going behind, Abhinavagupta really did that, and he saved his disciple from getting caught in tirodhāna shakti and we see that is epidemic today.
John: It is a wonderful story because that’s the thing you have to be very careful about in this world, making yourself more and more, bigger and bigger.
Shanna: And then you get more stuck.
Denise: And Mark asked, “What does abhyās mean?” And Swamiji would say, when he was talking about our spiritual practice, “Make it a habit, make a habit, abhyās, abhyās. Do your practice regularly.”
Shanna: Practice is what you are talking about, right?
George: Abhyas is ‘spiritual practice’.
Denise: We have to go.
John: Well thank you everyone. It’s been a wonderful week again. It’s been nice to be able to spend time with everyone like this. I look forward to it.
Shanna: Yeah. We are almost in a year [into it], since March?
Denise: Really? Time flies by when you are having a good time.
Shanna: We’ll find out. I think it’s almost a year?
George: When we get to number 52 we will know it’s a year.
Shanna: You are so smart George.
Shanna: Everybody, Jai Guru Dev! Thank you!
John: Bless you, one and all. Jai Guru Dev!
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