These lectures were delivered by Swami Niranjananda Saraswati
President of the Bihar Yoga Bharati, Munger – India, during his visit in Greece in May 2005
Lecture 1: Swami Shraddhananada: Plato and the Upanishads.
Sw. Niranjan’s Comments: An interesting comparison between the thoughts of Plato and the thoughts conveyed in the Upanishads. In the times of Plato the civilian mentality of the country was not ready to except the spiritual experiences or spiritual realities and concepts. And therefore the thoughts of Plato are cryptic and indicate hidden meaning behind them. But the ideas which where conveyed in his sentences and his phrases are the eternal truth. And it depends on each person to define how to experience that eternal truth.
What is the test of cyanide? If you try, you will die. So who will know the test but not be able to describe it? The dead knows the test but is unable to describe it. And you can interpret that experience of the dead by reading the letter he has written, a single letter, a single syllable S. And that s can mean sweet, it can mean sour it can mean salty depending on each interpretation. Vedas were revelations to the enlightened beings. But upanishads are a product of thought and analysis of human character and nature and mind. Can you create the taste of the chocolate in your mouth and hold that, retain that taste for a few minutes, for a few hours, few days, few weeks, without loosing the intensity of the taste of chocolate? You can imagine what the taste will be like but you will not have the experience of the actual taste. And in order to have the actual taste and to live that taste and experience that taste you need to put that chocolate in your mouth. So even to put the chocolate in your mouth you are putting in something foreign and different into your mouth which is not natural. And in order to create the chocolate different things were put in different combinations and taken through a process of making the chocolate. So for you when you eat the chocolate the taste of the sweet is revelation. Put that revelation is preceded by an effort to make the chocolate and an effort to collect the right ingredients. And it is the discovery of the right ingredients and the understanding of the result of consuming that, which is based on understanding, logic, thought and knowing.
So whereas the Vedas are revelations about the taste of chocolate, upanishads in their thousand numbers represent the effort and the collection of different ingredients which lead to the taste of chocolate. And many different thoughts have been conveyed in upanishads. Some are monistic in nature some are dualistic in nature. And there is a collection of upanishads which are known as the Vedanta Upanishads, in which the theory, the philosophy, the thought of super consciousness in every thing is discussed. And in this thought the main selling point is that although we are limited and contained in a body and in the senses there is the possibility of experiencing the higher reality. And the human mind is like a container filled with water. I did not say human consciousness I said human mind. Please note. And it is this mind when it is made crystal clear in the container, reflects the sunlight and the image of the sun and the warmth of the sun. It does not become the sun but it gets filled with the luminosity of the sun. And that is how the Vedanta upanishads have seen each individual as a receptacles filled with water placed in a field. And when the sun shines, thousands of suns are seen in thousands of receptacles and thousand receptacles are filled with the luminosity of the sun.
But we are not able to experience the sun because there is a huge black cloud over it in front of it. And that black cloud is known as maya or illusion. That black cloud is known as the impermanent nature, the transitory nature. And it is this cloud which has to go away before the sun can shine in our receptacle. And with the removal of the cloud you can see the sparkle of divinity. And in order to remove this cloud, the way defined is: self awareness, self analysis, self effort and leading to self transcendence. And this is the process of gyana yoga. Be aware: number one; know, analyze and make sure it is appropriate: number two; make the right effort to do the appropriate: number three; and if you do everything appropriate then it becomes the vehicle to give you the experience of transcendence, the appropriate transcendence required in life.
And in order to practice gyana yoga, follow the principle that I mentioned yesterday. Begin with knowing your qualities and weaknesses. And focus on increasing the weight of the positive qualities so that the lighter side of your life becomes heavier. And if that becomes heavier then maybe you will be able to experience the platonic mind (laugh).
Hari Om Tat sat
Lecture 2: Karma Bhakti: The guru disciple relationship in ancient Greece and its parallels with the Vedic tradition.
Sw. Niranjan’s Comments: The tradition of guru disciple relationship is an ancient one. But also the most misunderstood one because we tend to think of the guru from our conditionings and mentality and perspective and needs. And whenever we enter into any relationship with the guru it is to fulfil those expectations and needs that we have within us. And that gives birth to further fears and insecurities and desires and expectations in life. One begins to think if I have a problem what if my guru gets angry with me or leaves me or does not guide me. It creates further fear and insecurities and complexes within the disciple. And because of our relationship which is very much selfish, a type of dependency also develops with the guru, emotional dependency, physical dependency, social dependency and that is anti-spiritual life. And it is for this reason that I say that the guru disciple relationship although being ancient is the most misunderstood subject of today. And if we look within ourselves we will know that we are not even beginning to comprehend and grasp the meaning of the relationship in our lives. And definitely the first condition to develop this intricate inner connection is to become empty. If you want to fill up the space with something you have to empty the space first. A filled bottle will not contain any further water that you pour on it. So you have to empty the container in order to fill it. And it is no use saying I will surrender. You have to know and you have to realize and you have to live surrender.
The most dearest thing to Krishna was his flute. When people asked him why he loved his flute so much more than anything in the word he gave a very simple answer. He said when bamboo is empty is can create melodies. When bamboo is hollow it can create melodies. And I love the flute because it is empty inside and I can create any melody that I chose. And similar is the statement which sys make me an instrument of thy peace. Instrument cannot play itself it is only the player which can bring out melodies from the instrument. Therefore the first requirement of spiritual life and of guru disciple relationship is to make ourselves empty.
And then guru becomes an inspiration. I have experienced that inspiration. My guru is experienced in me in form of inspiration. Paramahamsaji experiences his guru in form of an inspiration. And there is no dependence, there is no attachment, there reverence, there is faith, there is trust, there is love, oneness. And therefore being empty is the first requirement and second is to expand the horizons of wisdom by becoming aware. And that is the beginning of our spiritual education. And to realize that nothing is final in this life.
It is like the example of the upanishads and the Vedas. Upanishads represent the collection of thoughts, some absolute, some divisive, some monastic some dualistic. And Vedas represent the final revelation of these concepts and conversion of these concepts into experience. But at the end even the Vedas say neti, neti, neti; not this, not this, not that. Which means that even the revelations are not absolute. They are the culmination points of an idea of a chain of thought. And they are identified as one revelation; they are identified as one concept. But what is continuous and permanent is the potentiality of our life, of spirit, of divinity.
And it is the cultivation of awareness, to become aware of these potentials which allows the development of human mind and transcendence of external nature. And these are the ideas conveyed by Socrates as well: Being empty, developing awareness. And this guru disciple relationship is a relationship that uplifts one spiritually to experience the luminosity within. And the connection with guru represents the continuous drive to achieve what I would not call perfection but proficiency in life. And the experience of proficiency in life indicates the continuity of spirit. Yes while it is true that many traditions and believes do not accept reincarnation, the vedic philosophy and culture believes in reincarnation. And this reincarnation is the spirit, the consciousness becoming self aware at different levels at different stages of existence and evolution. And whenever the consciousness becomes self-aware, it is known as reincarnation of that consciousness which has made it aware of itself. The seed reincarnates and evolves into another seed. And each reincarnation represents the continuity of the potential contained and inherent in the seed. You eat a mango and then you plant the mango seed. It grows into a tree, gives fruits and there are many seeds in the different fruits but the first fruit which you ate died. The potentiality continued and manifested in the second and the third and the many fruits. And the same potential of the seed which is now destroyed is now contained, seen and is inherent in all the different fruits that appear on the tree. You can eat as many numbers of fruits as you want and again plant the seeds and again come out with the same potentiality when they grow up. In the same way, the consciousness continues to evolve. A body dies, there is no coming back for the same body. The same body does not come back in the same space in the same time, in same situation or circumstances. But the potentiality of the spirit, the consciousness continues to exist in different levels and dimensions. And when time is ripe the same potentiality manifests again in form of a new creation. Even if you die on this planet and go to heaven, you will still be an incarnated being in heaven. Even if you go to hell you will be an incarnated being in hell. So no matter where you go you are different, in a different incarnation, in a different life, in a different state of experience which is continuously evolving. And this is only a play, a lila in the omnipotence of divinity. Each time you experience the same potency of the omnipotent.
Hari Om Tat Sat
Lecture 3: Atmaja: Elysian mysteries
Sw. Niranjan’s Comments: A very interesting subject of the tantra is what you have heard. Myth, mysteries and initiation are the three components of the tantric meditation and of tantric life. And the Shivate tradition, the followers of Shiva have the following myth and Shivate tradition is an offshoot of tantra. And according to the myth in a place called Arunachal there is a mountain and one day on top of that mountain there was a fight between two people, Brahma and Vishnu. Brahma is the creator, the cause of creation. And Vishnu is the sustainer, the preserver. The one who sustains life. And they both had a big discussion as to who was the greatest amongst them. Is creator greatest or is sustainer greatest? And they both just bickered on and on. While they were having this great dispute, suddenly between them appeared a pillar of fire. And pillar of fire extended to the heavens and downwards into the Netherlands, not Holland. So when this pillar of fire appeared, these two started to think what it could be. So in order to discover who it was or what it was, they decided to investigate it. Vishnu took the form of a boar and dug underground to see the end of the fire pillar. Brahma the creator took the form of a swan and flew upwards into the heavens to find the other end. And they were flying into infinity, they were digging into infinity, and the fire pillar was extending into infinity from infinity. Ultimately the creator Brahma became tired of flying and flying and flapping his wings all the time. So he decided to cheat. He picked up a flower from space, from infinity and came back down. And according to the Hindu mythology, that time Brahma the creator had five heads. Five heads representing the five attributes of nature, the five senses, the five elements. And without these five you can’t do anything, without these five elements you can’t create without the five natures you can’t create. So the symbolic representation of the creator was a person with five heads. And when Brahma decided to cheat, came back down to earth with a flower picked up from space, he looked down at the hole which Vishnu in form of a boar had duck. Whistled down, called him back and said I have come back you come up now. So Vishnu came up panting in form of a boar covered in dust and muck and everything from underground. And then Brahma said to Vishnu look, I have found the other end of the fire pillar and this is a flower from there to prove it. So the moment Brahma the creator told this lie there was a thunder in the fire pillar. And a sort of flame came out from the pillar and cut one head of Brahma. Now this is the myth. And then there was a thundering voice heard that both of you are wrong. Nobody has located my extremes. Because I am the infinite, I am the omnipresent, and the omniscient, an the omnipotent. No beginning and no end and you will only find extremities of that which begins and that which has an end.
Now the mystery in this is to understand the teaching and the philosophy of this myth in your own life. And it is a very interesting subject if you try to understand it. Because Vishnu who represents the force of existence and sustenance and preservation takes the form of a boar and goes into the earth. Because after all what sustains and nourishes life it is the element earth. But there are many things hidden inside this earth. The minerals, the jewels, the gold, the silver, the beauty and also the muck and the soil and the lava and anything that destroys and anything that gives you pleasure. Both are there: suffering and pleasure, both are there. Virtue and vice, they both exist. And when you start digging you find both things, the vice which are in greater quantity than the virtues which are rare. And Vishnu is the force of sustenance of this existence which is both negative and positive at the same time. So here an indication is given that you dive within yourself to discover the ugliness and the beauty both. And when you become the knower of the ugliness and the beauty within you then you become able to nourish your own life. You will have a meaning to your existence and not just an ambitious expectation leading you nowhere.
And Brahma the creator on the other hand takes the form of a swan and flies into the heavens. And when it flies to heaven the symbology is also very clear. The creator is bound to earth by the force of creation. But at the same time the possibility exists for the mind to again take of from the ground into the unknown dimensions. And this flight into the unknown dimension opens the doors to spiritual and mystical experiences and achievement of those transcendental states. But when you go up and up and high and up along with your perceptions and knowledge and wisdom there is growth of a weed. And that weed is known as arrogance. And I see that 99 percent of the spiritual aspirants are more arrogant than humble as the spiritual attainments feed the ego, feed self-satisfaction and feed self-image. And it is that arrogant head of ego that has to be eventually chopped of.
And therefore innocence has been considered to be the quality which allows you entry into higher dimensions. In order to enter the kingdom of heaven be innocent like a child. And the more arrogant you are the more sadhana you have to do to make yourself humble and innocent and be ready to have the head cut of. And you can be hundred percent sure that if you do not allow the guru to chop of your head then destiny will and if you do not allow destiny to chop of your head then God definitely will. So this is the understanding of the mysteries of the myth. And when you know the mystery, the process described during initiation becomes the sadhana, the method by which you can realize the myth within you. And then the myth becomes a living reality and you become enlightened. And this is tantric meditation, the myth, the mysteries and initiation.
Hari Om Tat Sat.