A great verse on reincarnation comes at the beginning of the teachings

As the wearer casts off worn-out clothes and puts on himself others which are new, Even so, casting off worn-out bodies, the body-wearer passes on to new ones. Bhagavad Gita II.22 This great verse on reincarnation comes at the beginning of the teachings, and it refers to the great Self which takes on itself the …

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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 known. You cannot say “not known” for it is ever-known. …

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The attributes of Atman are given in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad

The following four attributes are the attributes of Atman given in the Upanishad (“Shvetashvatara Upanishad” 6.11) (1) It is sakshi, witness (2) it is cheta, conscious (3) it is kevala, one only; there is nothing besides it (4) it is nirguna, without any. Neither Plato nor Aristotle knew Atman; they discoursed only on buddhi. We …

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There are two states that the mind undergoes and notices all the time

There are two states that the mind undergoes and notices all the time. The mind creates a dream, and in the dream it creates the dream-mind and observes and notices the dream. In every dream, the mind creates the personality of the dreamer which he sees acting in it; there is no dream without it. …

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To know the Self, Atman, as the essence and substratum of the universe

“Ashtavakra Gita”, Chapter 2 verses 1-16: To know the Self, Atman, as the essence and substratum of the universe, including the mind individual and cosmic, two methods are recommended as preliminary ones. The first is: Control the mind, and prevent it from going towards tamas and rajas. To control the mind means to prevent the …

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When the mind is active, it should rest on the personal God

When the mind is active, it should rest on the personal God, Saguna Brahman. It should meditate on Vishnu, Jesus, Krishna, Rama; these are highest conceptions by meditating on which the mind slowly begins to lose its activity. If you imagine Jesus teaching on the Mount of Olives in His divine glory, and rest your …

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Man should turn his back on sense-pleasures and apply himself to tranquillity and simplicity and purity.

Prakriti is constant becoming. It is an evolute. The mind also is becoming. Rajas is giving prakriti motion all the time. The mind also is active all the time. But the witness of the mind, the Self, is free from being and becoming. The Self is gunatita, beyond the three gunas. Then doing anything, let …

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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 others not? Owing to their karma. Those who perform good deeds, …

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Pursuit of coarse pleasures, coarse food, drink makes the mind gross

Pursuit of coarse pleasures, coarse food, drink and suchlike things makes the mind gross, and beefeaters mind, whiskey drinkers mind, is not competent to solve the subtle spiritual problems. As long as the mind finds delight in the course pleasures, sex and food et cetera, it is not competent for meditation. The mind must be …

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When the mind is active, it should rest on the personal God, Saguna Brahman.

It should meditate on Vishnu, Jesus, Krishna, Rama; these are highest conceptions by meditating on which the mind slowly begins to lose its activity. If you imagine Jesus teaching on the Mount of Olives in His divine glory, and rest your mind on it and imagine that you are also one of the disciples, then …

Read moreWhen the mind is active, it should rest on the personal God, Saguna Brahman.

The Pure Consciousness, which witnesses both being and becoming, is real

These elephants , horses, youth, chariots, wealth, large houses and luxuries will not avail in the long run. They are liable to be lost in a moment. They are unreal like the figures in a passing cloud. O my mind, knowing this fact, leave them aside at a distance and, in order to obtain Self-realization …

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The ego seizes its opportunity and usurps the throne of Atman

If a person goes missing, and has not been seen by anybody for a sufficiently long time, they are pronounced legally to be “missing, believed dead”, although those who are real friends and loved them, still keep faith with them. They go on hoping and believing that they will eventually turn out to be alive …

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Shri Shankara says that the ignorant man is guilty of killing Atman in two different ways

Shri Shankara in his commentary on the thirteenth chapter of the Gita says: “There is a view (he says) which holds: ‘I am a sansarin subject to pleasure and pain. To bring about the cessation of sansara I should first acquire a discriminative knowledge of the field and the knower of the field. And then …

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Maya is the desire fulfilling heavenly cow which yields milk in the form of duality

Swami Vidyaranya points out forcefully, that we are all drunk on the intoxicating milk of Maya—the desire fulfilling, heavenly cow—which yields milk in the form of duality. “Maya is said to be the desire-fulfilling, heavenly cow. It has two calves, Jiva and Ishwara. It yields milk in the form of duality. Drink of it as …

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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 its anatomical and physiological parts is a house; the mind is …

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The threefold method of realisation is: Shruti, reasoning and contemplation.

Ashtavakra Gita”, Chapter 2 verses 1-16: To know the Self, Atman, as the essence and substratum of the universe, including the mind individual and cosmic, two methods are recommended as preliminary ones. The first is: Control the mind, and prevent it from going towards tamas and rajas. To control the mind means to prevent the …

Read moreThe threefold method of realisation is: Shruti, reasoning and contemplation.

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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The basis of morality in yoga is different from that of humanism

The basis of morality in yoga is different from that of humanism. It cannot be derived from reasoning, nor from the development of universal fellow-feeling or compassion. Dr. Shastri made a comment on the Buddhist Jataka stories, where for instance a bodhisattva walking along a cliff sees at the bottom a starving tigress with her …

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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) manifesting as the Self of the Lord omniscient and omnipotent, and ultimately (3) Brahman-without-attributions, Supreme …

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Reflected Sun in Shankara’s Bhagavad Gita commentary and in a Leonardo Da Vinci Drawing

The verse references are to the commentary on chapter XIII of the Bhagavad  Gita unless otherwise stated Sankara several times compares the Jiva or individual life to the reflection of the sun in water. He gives the example of water pots where there seem to be many suns. The individual soul is given life by …

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The Bhagavad Gita sets out the effects of the gunas on human personality and action.

The Gītā sets out the effects of the guṇas on human personality and action. The sattvic agent is detached, non-egoistic, firm and vigorous, but unaffected in success or failure. The rajasic agent is passionate, greedy, cruel, impure, and elated or depressed according to how things turn out. Dominated by tamas, he is unreliable, crude in …

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Yoga is a process aiming at a clear-cut realisation of reality

Yoga is a process aiming at a clear-cut realisation of reality through the instruments of precision above the mind. The technique is to bring the mind under control by discipline and restraint, then to make an intellectual analysis as far as the intellect will go, then to go beyond the intellect by what is called …

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Students in yoga sometimes get the idea that there is some such neat way of solving all their difficulties

We come across such things in life. Suppose for instance that there is a long list of Chinese and Japanese delegates, experts, reporters and so on to a big international conference. There are thousands of the names, and it is desired to put the Chinese all together in some hotels, and the Japanese in others. …

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The doctrine of the Upanishads was revived and re-interpreted by the great philosopher-yogi Shankara

After the triumphs of Buddhism in India, the ancient doctrine of the Upanishads was revived and re-interpreted by the great philosopher-yogi Shankara; he achieved a religious, intellectual and mystical re-conquest of India from a degenerate Buddhism, whose former spirit had already gone East and North, where it was to create its own wonders. Shankara’s presentation …

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If you take up a spiritual discipline, you have to study one tradition

I just want to say something about study. You have to be convinced, otherwise you will never do the special practises which can sensitise you to the existence of those hidden streams. Unless you are fairly convinced that they exist, you will never have the patience to keep on with the practises. For this reason …

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Take up a spiritual discipline to bring living streams into the desert of your life

There is a tradition in the ancient Vedas going back to over 1000B.C. that a great river, the Sarasvati, which rises in the Himalayas, flows a long way underground. Recent prospecting for oil suggests that this supposedly mythological river flows under the Thar, and thus could make the desert bloom. Beneath the human mind, even …

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The law of action and reaction holds on higher spiritual planes also

It may be said that if Realization is a natural thing, surely initial enthusiasm should not fade.. But again, if we consult our everyday experience we shall see that when a man has adapted himself to an unnatural condition, the process of readapting to the natural condition follows the same laws. An habitual drunkard cannot …

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Some beginners in Yoga find their initial exaltation fading

Some beginners who take up Yoga with great enthusiasm, are surprised to find their initial exaltation soon fading into inertia. To think of spiritual things then gives them a feeling of headache and they conclude that they were better off when in the world. There can be a sense of betrayal; the higher spiritual forces …

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Rama Tirtha, after his God-realization found he could no longer continue a home life in society

A great mahatma, Rama Tirtha, after his God-realization found he could no longer continue a home life in society, as Professor of Mathematics at Lahore University. He went to live at great heights in the Himalayas, occasionally coming down to give talks and publish articles. On one such occasion his former teacher sent a young …

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The purpose of the existence of the mind is the growth of the spirit,

Let me study the needs of my personality and supply them, the needs express themselves as desires, appetites, ambitions and aspirations. The human personality is dynamic, its needs grow, it demands vary. If the needs of the personality are suitably supplied, then there is growth and satisfaction.  If they are deferred, there is pain, disease …

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Books or talks stimulate an impulse to transcendence, and a feeling that it is possible

In its second chapter, near the beginning of the classic, the Gita gives a definition of yoga in terms of samadhi, the peak of yoga-in-meditation: When your higher mind (buddhi), Turning away from the jungle of words. Will stand motionless in samadhi, Then you will have attained yoga (11.53) Those who are beginning to have …

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Shankara believed that the world is created by the Lord to provide a stage for men to work out their past and present karma actions

There is a criticism made that Shankara described world processes in terms of the physics of the time. His statements are wrong as for instance when he says that the world is composed of earth, water, air, fire and ether. Shankara in 700 AD simply could not be expected to know the conclusions of science …

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Only a brahmin would speak out so. I will take you as my pupil

In Upanishadic times, the role of the brahmin was to know how to conduct sacrifices, and to teach and speak the Truth. The knowledge of the sacrifice was an important role because the sacrifices were effective in creating collective concentration on a desired object. So some teachers were careful that the knowledge should be restricted …

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Nearly everybody who practices meditation will have some unusual experience

Nearly everybody who practices meditation will have some unusual experience. For instance, they will know that something which is very unlikely is nevertheless about to happen. They have some such experience of predictive power but they also find it passes. The basis of the universe and our experience is not something which is absolutely fixed. …

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Vichara is a Sanskrit word having the sense of investigating, examining, and analysing

Vichaha is a Sanskrit word having the sense of investigating, examining, and analysing. Literally it means to go in various directions, and it retains this sense of trying all possibilities. The work of vichara begins with the faculty of clear thinking (buddhi), not with the lower mind of personal feelings, called chitta. Chitta does not …

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One of the three main elements of Karma Yoga is samadhi practice

The great point is, not to rule ourselves out but to follow the instructions and make the experiments. The sceptic may say, “There is no Rama, no such God in reality. What is the proof? Rama and Krishna were simply mythological dark-skinned South Indian divinities taken up by the Aryans after they found they could …

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In sitting in meditation repetition is not the same as practice.

One might feel that if one just goes on sitting in meditation and reading books about yoga and doing a bit of good in the world one will gradually progress, naturally. But repetition is not the same as practice. Now experts will tell you that most drivers don’t get better over the years. Ten years, …

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The purity and flexibility of mind-stuff have nothing to do with its attributes and acquirements

The purity and flexibility of mind-stuff have nothing to do with its attributes and acquirements; these last correspond to the colour and design of a cloth, which may be elaborate or simple, or absent altogether. Compare Dr. Shastri himself, with his teacher who was popularly known as Shri Dada. Dr. Shastri was a learned man, …

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