The Yoga of Self Knowledge

The ignorance of the rope makes it appear as a snake

These are the words of Shri Shankara ("Five Couplets on the Atman" 2.): "The ignorance of the rope makes it appear as a snake. The erroneous knowledge of Atman makes  jivahood appear as an illusion in it." Atman is Sacchidananda but Atman's nature is erroneously...

How to explain the world from the standpoint of reality

How to explain the world from the standpoint of reality? That is the task of the student of Adhyatma Yoga. Is this the only task? Yes. If any other duty or task is presumed, it can be only relative and conditional; in Atman there is no relation and no condition. A man...

Many of us are upset if we have impure desires

The following two verses of the "Gita Shastra" were the favourites of Shri Swami Sacchidananda He used to say that they were the pivotal verses of the Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 14 verses 22 and 23: "Light, activity and dullness. O Arjuna, never become an object of his...

In Atman there is neither bondage nor deliverance

In Atman there is neither bondage nor deliverance, as in the sun there is neither night nor day. Atman is chaitanya, pure consciousness, but the dull-witted ones conceive the attributes of the intellect in Atman. Dull-witted ones. Why are they dull-witted and why are...

The greatest obstacles are desire and aversion

The greatest obstacles are desire and aversion. As long as you will like one particular being you must hate some, there is no doubt about it. So raise the mind above the plane where these worldly likes and dislikes seem to have meaning to you. There is only one thing...

Maya is time and space and the law of cause and effect

We ask: "What is Maya? Where is Maya?" When we ask "what is Maya?" it is a question within the realm of cause and effect. When we ask "what is Maya?" we want to know what is its cause and what is its effect. When we ask "where is Maya?" we want to know its...

The body and the mind are instruments of the spirit

The body and the mind are instruments of the spirit, through which it expresses itself, to discover itself, its identity with the whole God -creating Beauty, expanding its range in the progressive discovery of Truth and defusing its light as goodness.  The body with...

Yogic ideas in Shakespeare

What is it that makes the works of a man—a shadowy figure of whom very little is known—live and flourish so that they seem to transcend the barriers of time and space and to partake of eternity? According to Yoga, it is because such works come from the pen of a man...

Gaudapada’s Karikas 3.41, 3.42 & 3.43

3.41 Complete suppression of the vrittis is impossible by the yogi. The nigraha of the mind ( restraint of the mind) is impossible by a yogi, a yogi of the Patanjali school or a Hatha yogi or any yogi other than a jnana yogi. Just as with a spoon you cannot dry up the...

Adhyatma Yoga

Adhyatma is a Sanskrit word meaning relating (adhy-) to the self (atma). It is defined by Shankara in his commentary on Gita viii.3 as, Brahman the supreme Self, immortal universal consciousness, seemingly (1) related to each individual body\mind complex (2)...

The Hastamalaka Stotra

It is said in the classic called "Shankara Digvijaya" by Anandagiri that when Shri Shankara was on his way, he came to a certain village in which there lived a boy of very tender age. His family was a poor Brahmin family. The boy had not spoken a word up to that time....

The goal of human life is Enlightenment

The goal of human life is Enlightenment. What is Enlightenment? There are men who acquire proficiency in science, art and philosophy; men who acquire fame for their benevolence and charity. But the end of human life is that the mind may be lit by the inner light of...

Is Ishvara Illusory? – Is God an illusion?

In the Brahma Sutras (II.1.14) Sankara, in answer to objections, does seem to admit that Ishvara, the Lord, is on the same level as the creation which he made and rules and destroys. Theoretical Vedantins use this and similar passages to argue that from the highest...

Latent faculties beyond the mind unfold gradually

The tendency in life is to use exclusively those faculties which are most developed. We can see this when untrained people try to handle heavy things. They try to do all with their arms, of which they are most conscious. Proper training consists in getting them to...

Evenness in Success and No-success

Success, in this and most other such passages in the Gita, means actualization of the aimed-at ultimate results of an action. It does not mean the action itself. The Gita says: ‘Do the action, but be even-minded in success or no-success.’ This never means to do the...

The yogi is not asked to give up anything real

The Sanskrit word is sanga, which often has an intensified meaning of ‘sticking association’. But basically it is just taking things together. Our teacher used to illustrate its force in yoga practice by an incident at the court of the intelligent Emperor Akbar of...

Turn your mind from illusion

Perhaps by means of imagination you can have some faint idea of what is meant by avidya.   Imagine, an infinite expanse of water and water only with nothing else. There are infinite bubbles lying in a state of latency in this water.   Imagine (though it is illogical,...

Knowledge-yoga leads to liberation

In the Chapter of the Self, there is first an instruction to perform yoga to purify and steady the mind. Then come the verses on the Self, indicating it from two directions: the king of the city, hidden among his ministers in the innermost apartment, and the creator,...

God will not do by miracles what we can do for ourselves

God will not do by miracles what we can do for ourselves. And we can see this in ordinary life. A Japanese student whom I knew well, was a wonderful Judo man and was the captain of his university. In Japan at that time, not now of course, the athletics champions were...

In Yoga, faith is to be the basis for inquiry

In Yoga, faith is to be the basis for inquiry; faith has the technical meaning of pursuing inquiry unflinchingly. Fanatical faith, on the other hand, refuses to think of any questioning, and in this it is just like fanatical scepticism. Fanatical faith refuses inquiry...

The great dance of Shri Krishna

Why did Shri Krishna hold His Rasa or Great Dance? It was a lesson to the world in harmony and in rhythm and in music and in melody; it was a lesson forever.Some Sages say that half the Kali Yuga was exhausted that night when Shri Hari performed His Rasa. His divine...

Exercise of the memory is not a burden

It is thought to be axiomatic today that to require students to memorise many things will produce robots and "stifle creativity". No evidence is usually produced for this assumption; it is somehow regarded as self-evident. Let us look at a definite case. In the...

There are three worlds—matter, mind and spirit

At the present time in the world, a large section of the population is engaged in the pursuit of temporal interests, and in many cases it involves destruction. A glance at the functions of nature shows that destruction is only a prelude to construction. We can infer...

God has not made man to perish

The goal of life whether one knows it or not is the realization of that very life. The word ‘life’ is used here in its real sense, Existence-Knowledge, that which has no beginning and no end. God has not made man to perish, but has given him the means to lift himself...

The aim of life is to reveal this divine principle

It is very seldom that anyone can teach himself satisfactorily. One may acquire a certain proficiency, but there comes a time when you must receive not only instruction, but protection and encouragement from others. The search for knowledge calls for partnership...

What should be the guiding principle of my life?

We generally find in life that we can partly shelve the responsibility for facing up to many decisions, because, in the ordinary way, circumstances will not allow us to do what we like. The responsibility is not wholly ours, for our choice is limited by the force of...

To control attention is to control life

Attention means fixing the mind voluntarily on something and keeping it there as long as we like. Attention is the key to the real life. All love, all study, all pursuit of the good depends on attention. It is easy to fix your attention on what is interesting : you...

Consciousness and Bliss are one and the same

Bliss or anandam is the Summum Bonum. It is not an attribute of the Self, it is the very being of the Self. It and Consciousness are one and the same, or, as it is expressed in Sanskrit, “chit” is “anandam”. Pain-consciousness, as consciousness, is identical with...

Karma yoga slowly unknots the tangle of identifications

The aim was to free the seemingly individualized consciousness completely from limitations of any particular body and mind in which it found itself encased. In the end there were two final stages: (1) conscious awareness of being an immortal unwavering witness-self...

Our experiences and dreamless sleep (sushupti).

According to the Advaita Vedanta, whose most learned and brilliant exponent was the first Shankaracharya, all our experiences from the cradle to the grave take place in one of the three states of waking (jagrat), dreaming (svapna) and dreamless sleep (sushupti). These...

Truth is the eternal Brahman. Truth is Silence.

Truth cannot be expressed. Expression is change. Everything that changes itself is untruth. Truth is existing as one with all. Truth is identification with the Immortal Essence. Truth is undecaying. From It all things proceed. In It all things exist. Into It all...

The highest good which man ought to follow in life

We all have some conception of the highest good, but owing to paucity of our intellect or want of experience or want of right penetration into the problem, we make errors and what is temporal and transient we take to be the highest good of ourselves. Unless the...

The soul of man wants the full vision of reality

The senses through which we perceive the objects give us an imperfect vision of reality. There is reality hidden in every unreality; there is truth hidden as the basis of every lie; there is health hidden in all ill-health; there is peace hidden in every discord, in...

Man’s inner unquenchable hunger for freedom

Everyone talks of freedom. Perhaps there is no word more often on the lips of the leaders and would-be leaders of mankind. And even if those who are shouting it may not always be quite sure what they are shouting for, there is a real urge being expressed by them...

Mysticism is the quest after Truth

What I am going to place before you can hardly be called Indian. At the time when this philosophy took shape in the illumined minds of the holy sages living in the Himalayan region there was no such word as ' India ’. Even in the Upanishads I have not found the word...

Immune am I from your fury.

O icy, stormy wind, blow hard, blow hard; O threatening clouds, heavy and dark, O flash of lightning, quivering like a wave in the sea, O roaring thunder, rumbling over the mountain heights, Flash and crash - Oh, crash now! O storms blow hard, and fast. O breath of...

Worldly happiness is frail and illusory

How fortunate is man when the spirit of enquiry so fills his being that he is not satisfied until he has gained the higher knowledge of his true Self. He may ask himself many questions, but the greatest truth is revealed to those who patiently and humbly enquire into...

How is the mind influenced in Yoga?

This is a question, not only of great interest theoretically, but also of great practical importance. The life of the whole of mankind is conditioned by the thought of mankind. In the modern world we have become increasingly conscious of the ways in which our minds...

Is the quest for God unnatural?

The brahmachari pilgrim Prakasha, nearing the end of his journey, asks himself: “Am I doing something which is unnatural? Is my quest an extraordinary one? No,” he reminds himself, “no, God is the natural goal of the soul. Sufferings in life are reminders that the...

Yoga is awakening to our true nature

Yoga is not a cause which produces desirable results. It is the effect of a hidden cause—a compelling cause—the slow but inevitable revealing in man of the presence of the basic power of the supreme Truth, the power which, in the end, and through the practices of...

The absolute of Shri Shankara is not Nothing

The absolute of Shri Shankara is not Nothing. It is not a negation ; it is not the void of the Madhyamic Baud- dhas. It is infinite ; it is light or consciousness, and it is not mutable. It is not ‘ becoming ’. Is it something positive? No ; being infinite, it eludes...

The glory of the holy Veda is the truth of non-duality

The philosophy of Shri Shankara is called non-dual (Advaita). Sometimes it is called the doctrine of unity, but erroneously, for unity is the cause of duality. If one assumes unity, one tacitly assumes multiplicity. The Sankhya system of philosophy, which is the basis...

Adhyatma Yoga is not a way of life, it is a way to life

In the philosophy of Yoga, the word ‘expansion’ means the approach to a state which bestows joy, security and fearlessness on a man, which is another way of saying that it provides the outer sign of an increasing awareness in him of the supreme Consciousness or God....

Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman

Most text-books on the history of Indian philosophy tell us that Shankaracharya designated the ultimate Reality by the term nirguna Brahman., or quality-less Brahman. They say he thought this was quality-less, changeless and beyond the realm of cause and effect. If we...

The discovery of the ever-achieved

The antahkarana or mind, is a modification of avidya (nescience), and the Consciousness reflected in it and conditioned by it is called jiva (the embodied soul). The mind, under the power of the jiva manifests itself as vrittis, or rays, whose main function is to...

Maya —the power of the Lord

The supreme Consciousness, under a mysterious force called Maya, projects out of Itself, the manifest world which is part of Itself. In the same way milk, when placed on the fire, accumulates cream, which is of the same nature, but different from the milk, and...

Swami Satchitananda on Jivan Mukti

Adhyatma Yoga teaches that the truth of the identity of the individual soul with the supreme Reality or God is realizable by man in this very life. One so enlightened is called a Jnani or “Knower of Truth ” and is said to have attained Jivan Mukti—permanent...

The reflection theory of Jiva

Analysis of jiva. Jiva, or the individualized consciousness, is so to say composed of (i) Pure Consciousness (Chit), which is non-dual, absolute, nonrelational, all-pervading and all-Bliss, and (2) the sum total of vrittis which make up the antahkarana (the inner...

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