The earth meditates , the ether meditates, the mountains meditate, the water meditates, all meditate

The best phase of consciousness is called dnyana or meditation. There is a verse from the “Chandogya” (7.6.); this is a very eloquent verse: “The earth meditates , the ether meditates, the mountains meditate, the water meditates, all meditate.” And when the whole world and every object is meditating, should man allow his mind to …

Read moreThe earth meditates , the ether meditates, the mountains meditate, the water meditates, all meditate

When you find that you are becoming respected and honoured, that’s the time to leave’

One Indian teacher, echoing his whole tradition, used to say: ‘When you find that you are becoming respected and honoured, that’s the time to leave’. Echoing this view, the Chinese tell an account of the Taoist master who has a very promising pupil who finally attains enlightenment. The enlightened pupil becomes a teacher, and a …

Read moreWhen you find that you are becoming respected and honoured, that’s the time to leave’

It is best not to be on the heights, but to be down below where you can have things and keep them.

Bukko, who was one of the great Zen masters, said that if you get to the heights of anything, you are like a man who is on top of a mountain with all his possessions. When you and your things are on the top of a mountain you have to keep hanging on to everything …

Read moreIt is best not to be on the heights, but to be down below where you can have things and keep them.

The British respect sincerity , but unless it brings something good we feel it is often wasted.

An Indian scholar whom I knew very well once told me a story about a typical Japanese born in Meiji. This Indian lived in Japan in the early part of this century and lectured on Indian philosophy at a few universities in Tokyo. He was a great friend of Prof. Junjiro Takakusu. When the late …

Read moreThe British respect sincerity , but unless it brings something good we feel it is often wasted.

The Japanese have so much theoretical knowledge that sometimes they cannot easily make a decision

In fact, the Japanese have so much theoretical knowledge that sometimes they cannot easily make a decision. Of course, if a road branches into two, it is easy to make a decision: you go either right or left. But if it branches into five roads, it is far more difficult to choose. If it branches …

Read moreThe Japanese have so much theoretical knowledge that sometimes they cannot easily make a decision

Buddhist monks are in general far more educated than most samurai.

In a small book of introduction to Budo entitled Budo shoshin-shu, there is a section called ‘Shukke-shi,’ in which Daidoji Yuzan, the author, says that samurai should travel round and learn while they are young, as do the Zen monks. This book points out that Buddhist monks are in general far more educated than most …

Read moreBuddhist monks are in general far more educated than most samurai.

It is not a question of simply repressing desires and fears for a time only

It is not a question of simply repressing desires and fears for a time only. An Indian visitor went to see a service in a synagogue; he was impressed and he thought the worshippers were impressed too, but as they came out he heard one man say to another triumphantly “23 per cent I tell …

Read moreIt is not a question of simply repressing desires and fears for a time only

The merchant quoted the illustration of the sun in the water and said that he had used it to develop the Way of the Merchant.

There is a story that illustrates several of the points. A high official in a traditional Indian State government came to know a merchant, and was impressed by his character. He said to him: “When we have big changes in the government it is an anxious time for everyone. If things go one way some …

Read moreThe merchant quoted the illustration of the sun in the water and said that he had used it to develop the Way of the Merchant.

In Chapter 15 of the Gita, Shri Shankara describes multiple reflections in jars of water

In Chapter 15 of the Gita, Shankara makes it the sun instead of the moon and he describes multiple reflections in jars of water; the sun shines from each pot of water. Now this is an illustration of the Lord projecting himself into many bodies: the pots can be carried about, and it seems that …

Read moreIn Chapter 15 of the Gita, Shri Shankara describes multiple reflections in jars of water

Yoga training means to bring a living realisation of the Supreme Self onto the main track of life

Moon in the Lake and Moon in the Sky Then there is an important point from these illustrations. It is true to say the moon in the lake is the moon in the sky; but it is not true to say the moon in the sky is just the moon in the lake. Let us …

Read moreYoga training means to bring a living realisation of the Supreme Self onto the main track of life

The moon in the water is a familiar illustration and it is also a yoga practice

The moon in the water is a familiar illustration and it is also a yoga practice. Swami Rama Tirtha, a fellow disciple of my teacher Hari Prasad Shastri, used to take a little boat on the river Ravi at night and meditate on the reflection of the moon in the water. And our teacher referred …

Read moreThe moon in the water is a familiar illustration and it is also a yoga practice

Give up thy attachment to the world and become awake to thine own nature

1. Why dost thou desire wealth O Nirbhaya? Night is over, the day dawns. Awake! 2. O Nirbhaya destroy ambition and throw off the load of worldliness; know thy real Self and sleep without fear of disturbance. 3. On the scales of thy body weigh the real principle. Abandon attachment to bones and skin; O …

Read moreGive up thy attachment to the world and become awake to thine own nature

The world is not real. Do not dive into this mirage; be not enslaved by attachment to any object.

11.O Nirbhaya seek with diligence to know the light of thy personality. When the Self is realised the purpose of the body will have been served for ever. 12. Do not indulge in meaningless relationships of the world O Nirbhaya. Father, mother and sons reap what they have sown. 13. Thou art without associationship O …

Read moreThe world is not real. Do not dive into this mirage; be not enslaved by attachment to any object.

This world is a snare; realise that everything is passing.

21. O Nirbhaya: This world is a snare; realise that everything is passing, passing. Apathy in prayer and. devotion does not become thee. 22. Except thine own Self, nothing is thine. O Nirbhaya, every one cares for his own welfare. 23. O Nirbhaya! Overcome thy thirst for worldly enjoyment and pride, which is illusory and …

Read moreThis world is a snare; realise that everything is passing.

Do not blame or argue with anyone; thou wilt hurt the poor man and gain nothing.

31. O Nirbhaya! Endure suffering patient1y and keep thy heart balanced. By thy existence, happiness is made possible for others. 32. Arm thyself with the sword of spiritual knowledge and cut to pieces the wicked enemy – nescience – O Nirbhaya. 33. Break the thread of thy rosary O Nirbhaya, and give up hypocrisy. Banish …

Read moreDo not blame or argue with anyone; thou wilt hurt the poor man and gain nothing.

Forgive cheerfully the faults of others O Nirbhaya! Then thou also wilt be forgiven.

41. O Nirbhaya! Break the quiver of anger, thou hast no enemy O friend! 42. Discharge the missiles of divine know1edge on Avarana, at every moment it causes disruption in the world O Nirbhaya. 43. Destroy pleasure-desire with the arrows of wisdom O Nirbhaya. Avoid this snare as long as thou hast breath. 44. O …

Read moreForgive cheerfully the faults of others O Nirbhaya! Then thou also wilt be forgiven.

Throw the burden of wealth and fame from off thy head and sleep soundly

51. At every moment feel that Death is approaching. Suddenly O Nirbhaya., he will draw his sword from the scabbard. 52. When he knocks at thy door nothing more can be accomplished, therefore do now what thou shoudst do O Nirbhaya. 53. Search for the meeting place of thy fellow devotees O Nirbhaya; in. their …

Read moreThrow the burden of wealth and fame from off thy head and sleep soundly

Do not oppress those who are poor and helpless; know that the high, the low and the ignorant all belong to God.

61. O Nirbhaya do not oppress those who are poor and helpless; know that the high, the low and the ignorant all belong to God. 62. Do not cause pain to others O Nirbhaya; life is short; leave not the reputation of’ a fool behind. 63. Do not treat injustice with indifference O Nirbhaya; strive …

Read moreDo not oppress those who are poor and helpless; know that the high, the low and the ignorant all belong to God.

The ceaseless search for wealth will lead thee astray; lust for gain will impoverish thy soul

71. Cease to depend on wealth O Nirbhaya, and be satisfied with what is sufficient for thy needs. 72. Death is beating his drum and approaching nearer and nearer O Nirbhaya; take up the shield of divine Knowledge. 73. Everything in this world is transient O Nirbhaya; do not be servile and lower thyself before …

Read moreThe ceaseless search for wealth will lead thee astray; lust for gain will impoverish thy soul

In inner silence watch the activities of thy mind; then experience forever the bliss of Self.

91. O Nirbhaya, tide is so low that it can ebb no further. Now is the time for the body to depart. Now, fearless intelligence, return. 92. O Nirbhaya, the heart does not blossom again and again like a flowering tree. Thou canst not purchase it from the world. If thou givest it to good …

Read moreIn inner silence watch the activities of thy mind; then experience forever the bliss of Self.

According to the records of the Kamakoti monastery at Kanchi, the holy Shankara Acharya was born in 509 B.C. and lived for 32 years

“I bow down to Shri Bhagavadpada, in whom abides the essence of the eternal truth contained in the Shruti, traditions and Puranas, who is an ocean of compassion and an inexhaustible mine of the highest good of humanity.” (Sureshvara Acharya) To give a brief account of the life of Shri Shankara, as we attempt here, …

Read moreAccording to the records of the Kamakoti monastery at Kanchi, the holy Shankara Acharya was born in 509 B.C. and lived for 32 years

In his eighth year Shri Shankara embraced the monastic order called sannyasa

In the far south of India is a district called Kevala, which includes Cocheen, Malabar and Trivankura; it is noted for the beauty of its scenery and for its advanced social condition. Lapped by the sea, the earth is covered with the glossy green of leaves and grass which charm the eye and fill the …

Read moreIn his eighth year Shri Shankara embraced the monastic order called sannyasa

Shri Shankara decided to go to Mount Badrinath in the Himalayas to complete his commentary on the Brahma Sutras

Shri Shankara decided to go to Mount Badrinath in the Himalayas to complete his commentary on the Brahma Sutras. It was in a cave near the Mana glacier that Shri Vyasa had composed these Sutras. In the company of a Brahmachari named Sanandana and a few other close disciples he set out on his journey, …

Read moreShri Shankara decided to go to Mount Badrinath in the Himalayas to complete his commentary on the Brahma Sutras

The meeting of Shri Shankara and Kumarila Bhatta is of great importance in the history of Indian philosophy and mysticism.

Shri Shankara learnt that Kumarila Bhatta lived in the sacred city of Prayag (Allahabad) at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna, so he set out with his disciples along the bank of the Yamuna in the direction of Prayag. The meeting of Shri Shankara and Kumarila Bhatta is of great importance in the …

Read moreThe meeting of Shri Shankara and Kumarila Bhatta is of great importance in the history of Indian philosophy and mysticism.

Shri Shankara Acharya’s arguments in support of non-duality and non-difference prevailed over those of Mandana Misra

Mandana Misra was a native of the province of India which is now known as Behar. His real name was Vishvarupa Shastri and he had “been given the name Mandana “because he was acknowledged as the most distinguished pundit of his time. Shri Shankara knew him to be the chief opponent of Adwaita hut one …

Read moreShri Shankara Acharya’s arguments in support of non-duality and non-difference prevailed over those of Mandana Misra

Shri Shankara sat quietly meditating on the oneness of Brahman, repeating the holy name OM

Shri Shankara started for the south of India where he hoped to undermine the common belief in the non-Vedic religions and to gain a following for the metaphysics of Advaita. He was accompanied by a number of disciples including Sureshvara and Padmapada. At every main centre on his route he established the superiority of Advaita …

Read moreShri Shankara sat quietly meditating on the oneness of Brahman, repeating the holy name OM

Shri Shankara blessed the child and said: ”My son, who are you? ‘Whose disciple are you? What is your aim in life?”

Gokama is an ancient and sacred place consecrated to Lord Shiva, where King Ravana once performed great tapas. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and certain of the Puranas, and the poet Kalidas had also spoken of it with great reverence. Shri Shankara, accompanied by his disciples, stayed there at the temple of Shiva for …

Read moreShri Shankara blessed the child and said: ”My son, who are you? ‘Whose disciple are you? What is your aim in life?”

Shri Shankara Acharya’s disciples heard the sound of the great bull, the vehicle of Shiva

Shri Padmapada had been born at Chola in the South of India and he asked leave of his Guru to return there for a short time. Shri Shankara granted his request and Padmapada set out in the company of a few fellow-disciples. When he reached his birthplace, the villagers were surprised to find that he …

Read moreShri Shankara Acharya’s disciples heard the sound of the great bull, the vehicle of Shiva

Shri Shankara Acharya’s writings can be divided into the three categories of commentaries

Shri Shankara Acharya’s writings can be divided into the three categories of commentaries, devotional songs and short philosophical works. His commentaries on the major Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras are collectively known as the Prasthana, which literally means The Way, signifying the way which leads to Brahman- realisation. In his commentaries on …

Read moreShri Shankara Acharya’s writings can be divided into the three categories of commentaries

According to the Advaita Vedanta of Shri Shankara, release (Moksha) is eternally true.

According to the Advaita Vedanta of Shri Shankara, release (Moksha) is eternally true. By the spiritual practices it is realised in our practical experience. Before an aspirant treads the path of Yoga he must cultivate the antecedent qualifications. He must hear from the loving and living lips of a God-realised Guru the meaning of Shruti …

Read moreAccording to the Advaita Vedanta of Shri Shankara, release (Moksha) is eternally true.

In Vedanta, devotion to God is the greatest instrument of spiritual cognition

Our progress on the path of spirituality is helped by selfless benevolence. In Vedanta, devotion to God is a sure means of purifying the heart and the greatest instrument of spiritual cognition. Many people think, including a number of Western scholars of Vedanta and their blind followers in India, that devotion to the personal aspect …

Read moreIn Vedanta, devotion to God is the greatest instrument of spiritual cognition

Ethical living according to Dharma makes the spiritual experience easier

Let us consider the position of moral virtues in Vedanta. In the holy Yoga the inner life is considered more important than the outer life. Ethical living according to Dharma makes the spiritual experience easier. In Vedanta a good life of benevolence, peace, study, devotion and meditation occupies the highest position. In the Bhagavad Gita …

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In the philosophy of Shri Shankara, the highest good is Moksha

In the holy philosophy of Shri Shankara, the highest good is called Moksha, that is freedom from all the limitations of nescience. It is experience of the Self. It is not the production of something which is not already present. It is an experience of Truth which is eternal. Self-realisation is achieved through Jnana. Moksha …

Read moreIn the philosophy of Shri Shankara, the highest good is Moksha

Sat-Chit-Ananda is an experience of the Self and not of the mind

The Vedanta of Shri Shankara is not rationalism like the philosophy of Descartes or Spinoza but it is a spiritual ontological philosophy which has no peer in Western philosophy. The way to be established mentally in the Truth of the holy philosophy is to reason deeply about the spiritual Truth obtained from an Acharya; but …

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Realised experience alone is the highest proof in determining the nature of Self

We see that dialectics occupy their proper place in the philosophy of Vedanta; but dialectics are one of the powers of our mind and we cannot say that they are the ultimate factor in the determination of Reality. Vedanta is a spiritual philosophy; it is not like the rationalism of Hegel. Dialectics therefore occupy a …

Read moreRealised experience alone is the highest proof in determining the nature of Self

The theory of Maya is found both in the Upanishads and in the writings of Shankara

Let us consider the theory of Maya and the reasons for which it is held so important in the Vedanta of Shri Shankara. A famous Western scholar, Gough, says: “The theory of Maya which enunciates the unreality of Jivahood and Jagat, is the vital life of the ancient Indian philosophy”. Shri Shankara has extracted the …

Read moreThe theory of Maya is found both in the Upanishads and in the writings of Shankara

There is no other existence apart from the existence of Self (Atman)

Let us discuss the nature of Advaita. We say that the expression “There is no other existence apart from the existence of Self (Atman)” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2.) shows that there is nothing separate from Atman. In this sense the Self is one without a second. It does not mean that any existence imagined as other …

Read moreThere is no other existence apart from the existence of Self (Atman)

According to Vedanta, Brahman is the highest truth

In the Taittiriya Upanishad (3.1.) Brahman is described as that fundamental Truth from which the world of beings is born, by which it is supported and in which it is finally dissolved. There are long descriptions in the Upanishads to explain the genesis of the world (e.g. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.) A complete negation of the …

Read moreAccording to Vedanta, Brahman is the highest truth

”Darshana” means the search after the ultimate truth of life in the world

The Sanskrit word for philosophy is ”Darshana” which literally means ’’sight”. It means the search after the ultimate truth of life in the world. Its main field is the nature of man himself and its promptings are the secrets of the world. When man began to think he began to philosophise. The history of man …

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The Chandogya Upanishad speaks of the food we eat being divided threefold

Food may well seem to some people a topic too mundane to be harped upon in a spiritual classic, but the fact is that it is mentioned many times in the Upanishads, which are the oldest written works in the yogic tradition. As the old German proverb has it, from one point of view man …

Read moreThe Chandogya Upanishad speaks of the food we eat being divided threefold

Those who take up spiritual Yoga have peace, poise and something to put against fear and adversity

There is considerable interest in the subject of Yoga today, but a great deal of misunderstanding about it, and the first thing to be understood is that there are many Yogas, in fact as many as there are aspects of Christian religion. The word ‘Yoga’ literally means ‘yoke’ and the idea fundamentally is the pursuit …

Read moreThose who take up spiritual Yoga have peace, poise and something to put against fear and adversity

The transcendent identity of being is the test of reality in the Advaita of Shri Shankara

Appearance cannot be ignored or negated.It exists in knowledge along with knowledge. It is positive and definite. It exists in time and in space. But this is no proof of its reality nor is it a mark of truth. A thing is not true because it appears or it does not appear. An appearance may …

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The philosophy of Shri Shankara has been called creative monism

By some high, authorities the philosophy of Shri Shankara is called creative monism. He insists that the effect is not unreal. His words are: “All the theories which maintain the unreality of the cause or the effect or both are untenable and easily refuted”. (Aitareya Upanishad, Shankara Bhashya, I. I. 2.). Some of the interpreters …

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How can we imagine that consciousness originally does not exist

In the school of Shri Ramanuja and other theistic teachers, the soul (Self) is atomic by nature. It cannot transcend its atomic nature and cannot attain its all-expansive character. But when the bondage of the soul is broken and the influence of karma is no longer operative it grows in expansiveness under the influence of …

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The Absolute of Shri Shankara is both omniscient and omnipotent

About 800 years ago a great Vedantic philosopher named Prakashatman introduced the conception of Brahman self-conditioned by Maya, and pure Brahman. Swami Vidyaranya follows this great teacher with some reservations. By this time Vedanta had lost its original vigour. It shows signs of age and seems to be static. The period of cohesion is over. …

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Sometimes, to explain the empirical world, Shri Shankara gives his cosmological teachings

Sometimes, to explain the empirical world and taking it to be existent for the sake of argument, Shri Shankara gives his cosmological teachings. But he never means for a second that the world of time-space and causation has any reality independent of Brahman. In his great Advaitism, Ishvara and Brahman are synonymous terms. Brahman is …

Read moreSometimes, to explain the empirical world, Shri Shankara gives his cosmological teachings

Nescience (Avidya) in practical experience is an undeniable fact.

Nescience (Avidya) in practical experience is an undeniable fact. “I know this” implies “I do not know that”. A Plato, an Empedocles, a Kant, a Hume, all assert some time or other: “I do not know that”, “I make an error of judgement”. Nescience embraces the realm of relativity. It implies uncertainty and insecurity. It …

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Fundamental points on the Advaita of Shri Shankara that are overlooked or misunderstood

The following presentations do not pretend to offer an introduction to the entire field of the metaphysics of Vedanta in all its complex phases. 1.Nescience (Avidya) in practical experience is an undeniable fact. 2.Sometimes, to explain the empirical world, Shri Shankara gives his cosmological teachings. 3.The Absolute of Shri Shankara is both omniscient and omnipotent, …

Read moreFundamental points on the Advaita of Shri Shankara that are overlooked or misunderstood

Life is the teacher: if we do not waste time in complaining, but try to learn from it

In the 1950’s it was difficult for Japanese to get the foreign currency to travel. Japanese travellers sometimes helped each other out, and sometimes they were helped by acquaintances in the foreign countries. I did a little service to the head of a big Tokyo hospital, who was a Judo man like myself. He himself …

Read moreLife is the teacher: if we do not waste time in complaining, but try to learn from it

Categories Zen

Brahman defies all proofs and therefore also defies definition

There can be no svarupa-lakshana of Brahman, because Brahman defies all proofs and therefore also defies definition. You define a thing which is limited in some way, but Brahman is unlimited. It is from the root “Brih” which means “unlimited” majesty. Moreover, only those things are subject to definition which function in the realm of …

Read moreBrahman defies all proofs and therefore also defies definition