Sunday, March 19, 2017

Deep sleep like maya dissolution

I went to deep sleep, the world disappeared
I woke up only then it's back

There were no people, no objects, no life
Why do you think really this world exists

Yes things have changed, the day has moved
But then this Maya, she even let's you think

How then, within Maya, can you answer
Why not you start, by first accepting Maya

Even Maya dissolves, in sleep or pralaya
Know that you can, you do control Maya

What constitutes Seva

Seva (Selfless Service) is intrinsic to the the culture of Bharat. As much as "lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu" and "Sahana vavatu". There isn't a sense of competition.

Although for those in the corporate structure, Service is used loosely for industries ranging from Hospitality to IT Support. But in the Bharat of old, all these would have been "Dharma". Your duty as per your role in society. So the meaning of Seva had to be specified as "Selfless Service" than just "Service".

But I see "spiritual" NGOs today deploying to their advantage, an army of volunteers, to market and execute their work, earn revenue, and yet be made felt as doing "Seva".
This article is to introspect my point of view of this, which I'm sure is a question that comes in the mind of many.

It's very easy to determine when, on behalf of the NGO, you serve a third-party. Like a village or a charity. That is no-doubt Seva.
It is also easy to understand when you serve free food on behalf of the organization to those seeking food.
But what when you are working on activities that benefit the organization monetarily, would it be Seva? Well, what if you don't want any money. Well, then it definitely is Seva. But if the organization doesn't have a policy or plan to pay you, but will only go seeking other volunteers, it becomes a Business Model in my view, a very profitable one.

I've seen some organizations like the Art of Living channelizing the volunteer movement very effectively. The free follow-ups after you attend their courses, imply that they pay rent of the place they conduct these follow-ups, and the generous time and Seva of the teachers, in turn benefit you. For Rs 1500 Basic course, you get free Annadanam and lifelong follow-ups. And I've seen how, in the Art of Living, the followers themselves volunteer to go further. There is no pressure for me to get involved if I don't want to. There is no money talk, just comity. So definitely they've come up with a unique model of making people feel part of something bigger than themselves, perhaps at minimal cost in terms of teaching, but definitely worthwhile in terms of the follow-ups.

But what has irked me is when their followers use "Seva" for calling out people to market their courses. I've also seen very less "Seva" to outsiders, all seva at the ground level seems to be for internal revenue generation. 

Being an NGO, all their money goes into upkeep or charity. But does it go into funding AOLs subsidiary businesses on FMCG and Ayurvedic hospitals.

End of the day, I'd like to think there are systems where all this is duly audited. And while the Seva model by the AOL has its pros and cons, no question about the fact that they have involved in big money charity in countries they've been involved in. And Guruji's been very assertive in speaking his mind, be in social issues or in defence of our heritage. Given his stature, name and fame gained, there was no push on him too. That has indeed been a great form of Seva.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Attachment to objects: It's within

A strange thing happened recently: My car (and actually my father's) which I use for daily office commute, was being taken away by the pickup guy for regular maintenance.

And I feel a pang: as if a loved one was being separated from me! My mind took a step back to seek to understand this better. How can I feel thus, for something that's clearly a non-living object. Up until now, I would rationalize this feeling when placed for living beings, especially humans. This pang resembled when my son was going to Anantapur for a week in 2014 after we'd just moved back, to give me and wife time to set up home in Bengaluru. And of course, there is no comparing the two for me, in mind and heart. I'm hardly attached (at least I thought so) to what's "material".

I had to now accept it: This pang was irrespective of living or non-living. This was nothing but a feeling of possession, an attachment! And "material" constituted both the living and non-living. For me, for all of us!

And this realization is the first step. This awareness that this attachment is irrespective of the object. It's the feeling of attachment that lies within. It shows, no matter what you think you are, you still have some distance to cover in the practice of detachment.

And why's that detachment important? The further tied down, the lesser the freedom, the experience of true bliss. The less this feeling of pure happiness, the more the desire, the seeking of pleasure, and delusion, the pursuit of objects (aims/ambitions including) in this world.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Analogies of Brahman

On Brahman, the common analogy is that of a "witness". It's difficult to understand because of the problem of deep sleep: If Brahman (Atman) is the witness, why don't I witness/experience my deep sleep. I know I was in deep sleep only because I wake up afresh!
Brahman has two aspects for lack of a better word that comes to mind:
- Aspect 1: It lights up the Prana/Jiva/Individual Self
- Aspect 2: It gets mirrored/reflected/borrowed by the Individual Self to light-up/enliven the embodiment/body-mind
VishishtAdvaita is partly correct, its only problem being that it doesn't go into the next level of depth: We the individual self are not a sparkling image of the Perfected Being (not yet), but once enlightened (and we end up as Jivamukta / Videhamukta), there is no difference.
The Witness analogy is only applicable to Aspect 1 above, and that too only during the individual self's waking and dream-sleep/REM-sleep state.
The Mind (Ego+Intellect+Manas/Memory/Thought) turns off in deep sleep (in dream-state it still is partly active). Without the Mind, the Individual Self cannot be experienced. If the Mind is off, Brahman has nothing to reflect upon.
It is the same analogy as sunlight in space: Space seems dark because there is nothing to reflect light. Come an asteroid or satellite or planet, we see it beaming in sunlight! And this is why the Witness analogy fails in the deep sleep context.
The Witness analogy definitely should be practiced during the Jagrat (waking) state and is easy to reflect upon and understand the Swapna (dream) state.
So a combination of the Sun lighting-up objects and Witness analogies should be used to appreciate Aspect 1 of Brahman.
The Sun reflecting on objects analogy can  be used to understand Aspect 2 of Brahman.
Just as the sun falling upon the mirror in a room, then gets reflected by the mirror to the rest of the room, so too does Brahman enliven the Jiva, which otherwise does not have an existence of its own (the stand taken by Advaita).
Thus the quality of the mirror (Samaras/impressions on the Jiva built up by the collective past births and current birth) determines the quality of the reflection.
Likewise, the sun getting reflected upon a number of buckets of water is an analogy to (apparent) multiplicity of Brahman. Again in this analogy, the quality of reflection depends upon the purity/turbidity of water.
Another way of looking at Aspect 2 is like the relationship of the Ocean and a Wave in the Ocean. Water in the wave is same as in the ocean. But the nature of the wave can be foamy/small/large.
Thus a combination of analogies of wave-in-water and sun's reflection-on-objects is needed to understand Aspect 2 of Brahman.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

There we go again

No time to sit in one place for us
There's just the tiring, draining, travel for us

Long train journeys, gusty breeze on face
The peculiar stench that evening baths wash

The dusty bus rides, nauseating roads
Oh to our envy, the carefree cyclist grins

But nothing makes up for, the memories built
Unlike the flight taken, over unfamiliar clouds

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nature is Us

From the core of this Earth, is the lava flowing
Like the anger suppressed, that boils in our hearts

Not one but generations will suffer its wrath
As we do without letting go, through multiple births

There is no way, you can win against nature
It can wreak its revenge, stealing your peace of mind

For you are It, you just refuse to recognize
That we are created, run by the same God that is Us