How does one establish freedom from conflict in a relationship?

gurudev (2)

What creates conflicts is often conflicting demands. Two people in a relationship may have conflicting demands. Each one is a demanding and a needy person. Demands indicate emotional need. We are not totally content with ourselves. We need others to love us, make us happy. For that we need them to conduct themselves in a certain agreeable way. Then only do we feel loved.

How do we know we are loved? Love being subjective, there is no one way of judging or sensing it. We may understand it if we are sensitive, but we are often not. So we judge love by the way the other person conducts himself or herself. The reason we make demands upon others to conduct themselves our way is because of our need for their acceptance, love and respect. This is our way of asking for comfort. Unfortunately they also have their needs and expect the same of us. Conflicts arise when these expectations are different. So accept others as they are with their virtues and limitations and be as undemanding as possible.

Ideally, freedom in a relationship is when there are no demands from those related to each other. A relationship is healthy when each one’s needs, welfare and comfort are met with love and understanding. Freedom in a relationship requires maturity on both sides. Maturity is in terms of understanding that a relationship is for mutual help, support and nurturing. This kind of attitude establishes harmony.

A relationship based on mature give and take, nurturing, nourishing and sustenance will blossom and gain strength. To the extent the relationship is free from demands and is established on the basis of helping and giving, with concern and care for each other, to that extent there will be freedom from conflicts in the relationship.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Hindu Dharma, Basics & Beyond
Link to Swamiji’s Discourses Videos

How do we overcome attachments & aversions?

gurudev (2)

A राग raga, attachment is created for something because of a particular viewpoint, e. g., dwelling merely at the benefits or the virtues of a given thing. Similarly, dwelling too long on the defects or disadvantages of a thing creates द्वेस dvesa, aversion. Both raga and dvesa are results of a partial viewpoint. If constantly dwelling on the virtues creates raga, let the mind do दोष-दर्सन dosa-darsana, see the faults or the harm involved in association with that object or being. This is called प्रतिपक्ष-भावना pratipaksa-bhavana – deliberately taking the opposite view point. The objective of pratipaksa-bhavana is to take into account the totality, not just one viewpoint.

विरज्य विषयव्रातादोष्द्रष्ट्या मुहुर्मुहुः !
virjya visaydvriitat dosadrstya muhurmuhuh!

The Vivekacudamani [22] says detachment can be created by making the mind see again and again the dosa, the defect or harm associated with the thing.

The pratipaksa-bhavana should be applied not only to the ragas and dvesas, but also to the related emotions such as indulgence (kama काम), anger (krodha, क्रोध), and greed (lobha लोभ्). If there is anger, we bring in its opposite emotions such as compassion and forgiveness. If there is greed, we bring in contentment, satisfaction with what we have. Thus, we keep observing our emotions or impulses and keep neutralizing them; Thus, alertness is to identify these emotions and neutralize them.

As Lord Krishna teaches us, we should do what is right rather than doing what we like in every situation. What we like is the result of our ragas and dvesas; what is right requires us ‘to subdue these emotions. We need to cultivate प्रसाद-बुध्धि prasada-buddhi, graceful acceptance. We should accept the outcome of our efforts as प्रसाद prasada grace of ईश्वर isvara (Lord); then we will not react with frustration or elation. Success also is prasada and so is failure. We can avoid elation and depression with prasada-buddhi. We should strive to maintain equanimity of mind in everything -whether we are walking, talking, doing any action. Do what is right rather than what you like. Accept gracefully what you cannot change, and commit to do what is right; where you can do something. See isvara everywhere.

Ragas and dvesas arise because we give too much importance to dissimilarities or disparities, or whenever we give importance to the name and form which is but a costume. There are many commonalities also. Even if we do not go all the way to isvara, we can notice that all the bodies are common and they are but modification of food. All are products of the five basic elements. Thus, we can identify the sameness in all beings. Let us make our minds pay attention to what is common. Thus; make a commitment to see the sameness in everything or समत्व-द्रष्टा samatva-drasta. Ultimately, isvara of course is सम  sama or equal everywhere. Thu, seeing Lord Narayana or Lord Siva in everything is an excellent way of making the mind free from ragas and devsas. We work with the minds and its impulses constantly this way.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Satsanga with Swami Viditatmananda, Vol 2
Link to Swamiji’s Discourses Videos

How do you find the agenda or purpose of life? Is living life as a householder and raising children the agenda?

gurudev (2)

Doing your work and raising your children are only a means to an agenda; they are themselves not the agenda. One’s agenda in life can simply be emotional maturity. We are born with an innate desire to be happy and free. When can you experience this happiness and freedom? It can happen only when you are emotionally mature. Therefore, emotional maturity becomes an agenda in itself. All the things you do, such as your work or raising children, should be done in such a way that they bring about emotional maturity. These are very demanding things. You fulfill all those duties properly to bring about emotional maturity. It is different if you cop out or take short cuts, but if you sincerely fulfill the demands that are made upon you, Whether in your workplace or in relating to your family, your friends, or the community, life will become a process of achieving emotional maturity. Whatever you do must be done in keeping with dharma so that your very life will become a means to emotional maturity.

Relating to each other requires us to drop and let go of things. As much as is possible, we must let go of our demands, our rights, and our egos in order to nourish and nurture relationships. The most important thing in any relationship is our ability to nurture that relationship. After all, most of our happiness comes from relationships. Objects such as pizza and ice cream might contribute in a small way, but as emotional beings, our real happiness or joy comes from our relationships. By relationships, I mean all kinds of relationships Whether between a husband and wife, between, parents and children, between siblings, friends or in the workplace. Each one of these relationships can be a source of great happiness just as much as each one of them can also be a problem. That’s why every relationship is important.

A friendship, for example, is a very precious relationship. It is a great blessing to have a good friend, and however many you may have, you must nourish each friendship. Just as a young plant needs you to constantly take care of it, so also, every relationship requires a commitment on your part not to take it for granted. We cannot take any relationship for granted. Nothing can be taken for granted. Each relationship requires nurturing and nourishing. It requires an investment on one’s part. In turn, the relationship is a source of great joy. Every relationship can, therefore, become a means to grow in emotional maturity.

Every relationship has its own demands. The relationship between a husband and wife may be one of the most demanding relationships. Even the relationship of the teacher and student such as between us needs to be maintained, nurtured, and nourished. Therefore, each one has to play the role of being related to another properly.

We are constantly relating to the world. That is the nature of our lives. Our minds are ceaselessly thinking about something or someone. Our interaction with the world is also a relationship. We are social beings and relationships are the most important and valuable things that We have. This demands that we value them and treat them with commitment and wisdom. Therefore, even as you live the life of a householder, it is a means to grow in emotional maturity. Guard against your ego coming in the way of your relationships. Remember that the ego is not a source of happiness, but a burden. If the relationship requires that you drop the ego, then that is good. Why don’t you drop it? When we understand this, we will be ready to let go.

Swami Viditatmanand Saraswati
Excerpts from Satsanaga with Swami Viditatmanand, Vol. 2

What is meditation and what is it not? What are the different kinds of meditation?

gurudev (2)
Meditation is defined as, maintaining a steady flow of thought on the same object. Typically, इश्वर isvara or saguna सगुण brahma ब्रह्मन्, the Lord with attributes, is the object of such a flow of thought. You can maintain that flow by repeating a name in your mind, by focusing your attention on a form, by thinking about the glories ‘of the Lord, by performing mental worship etc. Meditation includes all these different processes. It is called upasana उपासना or mental worship of the Lord. In this, there is a duality between the devotee and the Lord, between the one who is meditating and the Lord who is meditated upon.

There are many kinds of meditation, but we define meditation as maintaining a thought-flow centered upon the Lord. It requires some support in the form of a word, a mantra, of an image to keep the mind focused. It is not emptying the mind of thought, or thoughtlessness. The yoga-sastra योगशास्त्र defines meditation as the stoppage of thoughts or a complete stilling of the mind. If there is identification with the thoughts, there is bondage. The purpose of stilling the mind is to dissociate it from all thought so that there is no bondage. When there are no thoughts there is no identification and in the absence of identification, there is only the self. The idea in the yoga-sastra is that we can gain the knowledge of one’s own. self only if we still the mind. However, rather than emptying the mind, we prefer mental worship, which invokes the devotee in the person who meditates. This helps to purify the mind and secure the grace of God.

Another form of meditation is contemplation upon the realities of life or upon the nature of one’s own self; it can be called the reality; meditation. This meditation is of the nature of f seeing’ rather than worshipping. In mental worship, some kind of visualization may be involved, but here we see, for example, the order that obtains in the universe. There can be meditation upon your own self where you see the self as consciousness, or you can contemplate on the reality -seeing the reality as it is. You can meditate upon acceptance, compassion or the order. You can choose a topic and contemplate on it.

When meditation involves the worship of God, it is soothing, healing, and purifying for the mind. It is desirable that इश्वर isvara be involved in the meditation. Ideally, meditation should involve a spirit of worship. The Upanisads suggest that we meditate upon pranava प्रणव  or om ॐ and superimpose isvara on om. The repetition, of om then becomes meditation. If one reflects upon brahman with the help of om, it becomes contemplation. Thus, one worships om as isvara in the first instance and sees the self as om or isvara in the second.

In the उपनिषद Upanisads, we find उपासना upasanas that are meditations upon the Lord with attributes, and they are done with the help of certain models prescribed in the texts. For example, we find meditations upon the harmony and oneness obtaining in the universe, based on various elements of nature or the luminaries of the different worlds. In one meditation, the universe, which is the manifestation of isvara, is looked upon as the cosmic person with the sun for his eyes, with fire as his mouth, and so on. Seeing the cosmos as a person, as one organic whole, becomes meditation. These are some kinds of meditations that are taught in the Upanisads.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
Excerpts from Satasanga with Swami Viditatmananda, Vol. 2
Link to Swamji’s Discourses

The maha-vakya of Kenopanisad: तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि – tad eva brahma tvam viddhi, May you understand that alone to be Brahman.


यद्वाचानभ्युदितं येन वागभ्युधते !
तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि नेदं यदिदमुपासते !!

May you know that alone to be Brahman, which is not revealed by speech (but) by which speech is revealed, and not this that people worship (as an object). (Kenopnisad 1.4)

The first line reveals primarily the pratyagatman, the inner self, that which is ear of the ear, etc., that which is neither known nor unknown, but the basis of both the known and the unknown. In the second line the inner self is pointed out as Brahman by saying tadeva brahma tvam viddhi, may you understand that is Brahman.

While Chandogya Upanisad says, “tat tvam asi” that (Brahman) you are,” here, the teacher Says “tad eva brahma tvam viddhi”, may you understand that alone to be Brahman.” That ‘you,’ is the eye of the eye, ear of the ear, etc, and which is neither the known nor the unknown. All these details make the meaning of tat very clear; it is you. Understand that consciousness alone to be Brahman which is you, in Whose presence you are aware of all these things. Brahman means limitless, the cause of everything-that from which everything has come, and unto which everything goes back. You are that Brahman.

Yada vaca anabhyuditam: That which is not revealed by the word. Anabhyuditam means na prakasitam, not objectified by a word. The vastu is not revealed as the direct meaning of any word. It is unlike the object ‘pot’ that is revealed by the word ‘pot’. However, the vastu is revealed by words through implication, after creating a context.

Yena vag abhyudyate: By whose presence a word comes to manifest. Here, we have to take into account all that is connected to a word-by whose presence alone a word is a word, a word is pronounced as a word, a word is heard, a word is understood. In the presence of the invariable pratyagatman alone a word is heard and its meaning understood. So too, it comes to manifest.

The word ‘vak’ can also be taken to mean the organ of speech. That caitanya, consciousness, which the organ of speech cannot objectify, but because of which it is able to function, is Brahman. This meaning is given here because a story is going to be narrated later, based upon this fact.

That vastu which is not revealed by a word, but because of which a word comes to manifest, is referred by the word, ‘tat’ which, in the context of the previous unfoldment, means ‘you’. The mantra exhorts you to understand tad vastu, that caitanya, to be Brahman.

The word Brahman is already arrived at in the language. It is derived from the root brh, in the sense of growth. Brhatvad brahma, that which is big or brhmanat brahma, that which is capable of growing into jagat. Both meanings are applicable here. The bigness here is aparicchinna, unrestricted. Hence, Brahman is ananta that Which is limitless-time-wise or space-wise.

An object is limited both in terms of space and time – previously it was not, now it is. Whereas, Brahman is unlike any object that exists in time and space. Space itself is paricchinna, limited. Even though space is relatively all-pervasive, it does not pervade Brahman. In fact, Brahman pervades space. That is why space is part of the jagat. Therefore, space also is mithya. It has kale-pariccheda, time-wise limitation, because it is collapsible, as we know from the experience of sleep. Brahman, being limitless, has no spatial or time-wise limitation – means it is not born, it is not gone, it does not grow, it does not decline.

Brahman is not a object, and so there is no vastu-pariccheda, object-wise limitation. Brahman sustains time and space, and .it sustains everything else that exists in time and space. No object enjoys an independent reality without the reality of Brahman. Therefore, every object is Brahman. This is the meaning of Brahman, that which is ekam eva advitiyam, one without a second.

Let us look at the word, advitiya, without a second. A second thing can cause three types of bheda, difference, to a given thing – sajdtiya, vijaatiya and svagata bheda. A coconut tree, for instance, is different from other trees within its own species. There are many coconut trees, and this is one of them. This is sajatiya-bheda, a limitation caused within one’s own species.

Then there is vijatiya-bheda. Vijati means something belonging to a different species. A tree, for instance, is different from the rocks, rivers, and so on. If the tee is a coconut tree, then there are varieties of trees like an areca nut tree, an oak tree, and so on that are different from the coconut tree. In the genus of coconut tree itself there is a dwarfed coconut tree, a hybrid coconut tree; there too, there are varieties. Things that come under botany, things that come under zoology, and [things that come under geology are all different. Within botany itself there are varieties of plants like a vine, a creeper, a small plant, a big tree and so on. A jati, species, keeps on dividing itself endlessly. But you can bring them all under one jati, one subject matter of botany, because they have certain commonness about them. The coconut tree is distinct from a dog that comes under zoology. This is called vijatiya-bheda, a limitation caused by things of different species.

Finally, there is svagata-bheda, difference within a given species. A given tree has varieties of differences within itself like the” leaves, the flower, the fruit, the trunk, and so on.

Taking one’s own body, one can see all these bhedas. It has sajatfya-bheda, because there are many human bodies. It has vijatiya-bheda, because it is different from the body of any other being, like a dog . and so on. Then, it has svagata-bheda, varieties within the body such as the head, shoulders, hands and so on, each one being different from the other.

All these bhedas are not there in Brahman. There is only one non-dual Brahman that is revealed by the sastra. All that is here is that Brahman. Since a second Brahman is not there, there is no sajatiya-bheda, limitation or difference caused by the same species. Further, as there is nothing other than Brahman, there is no vijatiya-bheda, limitation caused by a different species. Brahman is satya, and everything else is vikara, apparent modification, and hence mithya. Mithya cannot be counted along with satya. Brahman being non-dually one, and everything else being mithya, does not add to the one. In Brahman itself there are no parts and hence there is no svagata-bheda. Brahman is satyam jananam anantam. It is pure caitanya, consciousness, which is neither knower-known-knowledge but the truth of all the three.

Tad means pratyagatman, the inner self, consciousness. Tad is predicated here to Brahman. The subject matter pratyagatman has already been introduced, about which the teacher reveals something here. We do not really require a pramana to arrive at the existence of oneself. By drg-drsya-viveka, subject-object-analysis, we can come to know the subject, the self, is not subject to objectification. Recognizing this self-revealing consciousness is Brahman, is the result of veddnta-pramana.

Suppose I say, ‘tvam asi, you are,’ you do not get anything out of this sentence without knowing the predication. Tvam is the subject about which something is going to be revealed. Here, an akanksa, expectancy, is created to hear what the predication is; what is it that the speaker wants to convey about the subject? Suppose, I do not say anything after saying tvam asi, What does it mean? Each one, per his or her psychology, will read the silence. “You are,” creates, in the listener, an expectancy. The speaker fulfils the expectancy, communicating what he or she intends to convey, which is called vivaksa (the intention to say).

The subject, srotrasya srotram, is already introduced, but needs to be predicated. This is where pramana walks in to say, “tad eva brahma tvam viddhi –  you understand ‘that’ to be Brahman.” That ear of the ear which is not objectified by the organ of speech, and because of which the organ of speech functions, is advayam brahma, non-dual Brahman, and that Brahman you are. That means there is nothing other than you; the thought is not other than you, the knower is not other than you, the object of thought is not other than you. Any other knowledge implies a knower-known difference. Here, the knower is you, the knowledge is you, and the known is you. That is the revelation.

The teaching is, “May you understand that to be Brahman.” There are no two entities here – yourself and Brahman. You are Brahman. If you are ignorant, well, Brahman makes that ignorance exist and known. Like anything else, this ignorance also is mithya. What does not exist by itself, but draws its existence from something else is mithya. Ignorance draws its existence from the same consciousness alone. Hence, ignorance is also mithya; it goes away in the wake of knowledge. Therefore, tad eva brahma tvam viddhi. Let there be no ignorance with reference to the fact of the self being consciousness, satyam brahma. That is the whole intention of the teaching.

That vrtti, the cognitive thought that takes place in one’s buddhi as a result of teaching, is known as akhandakara-vrtti, a cognition in which the knower-known-knowledge are resolved into one awareness. That means all the three are you.

Generally, a vrtti is the connecting link between the object of knowledge and the knower. When you say, “This is a pot,” pot is the object and you are the knower of the pot. The pramana-phala, the result of operating a means of knowledge, goes to you, the knower. Between you and the pot, the connecting link is tadakara-vrtti, the thought having the form of a pot. Akara means a form. A given thought assumes the form of the object it objectifies through perception, inference, words, or recollection.

You, the knower, look at the thought and say, “This is a pot.” That pot thought is called idam vrtti. You are the knower all the time. Therefore, you say, “I am the knower, and the whole world of objects is different from me.” With this kind of division in thoughts, you move around knowing different things in the world.

Now, you are told by the sastra, tad eva brahma tvam viddhi, understand that Brahman you are. That consciousness is Brahman which is the mind of the mind, without which there is no thought, there is no object of thought, and there is no knower.

Further, on analysis, you recognize that Brahman as the intelligent and material cause of the jagat. That means the whole creation is non-separate from Brahman. Therefore, your body is Brahman, your senses are Brahman, your mind is Brahman, the knower is Brahman, the cognition is Brahman; everything is Brahman. In this vision you recognize the invariable consciousness cit, as satyam brahma.

In other words, cit is sat. Once you say Brahman is satya, everything the knower-known-knowledge is Brahman. That means it is the whole. That is why it is called ananda or annanta. Being the whole, it is not an object of any of these words, but rather known more by implication. You are not in any way, anywhere, circumscribed, limited.

“That consciousness is Brahman” is the maha-vakya, a sentence revealing the oneness of you and Brahman.

In this mantra, there is also a negation of what is not Brahman. Brahman is generally understood as God, the cause of the world. People worship Brahman as Visnu, as Siva. Is that not Brahman? It is Brahman if you include yourself. That which includes both the subject and the object is Brahman. Nedam yad idam upasate: Not this, which people meditate upon.

Upasana means ‘people worship’. The sastra does not criticize or condemn upasana; on the contrary upasana is included. However, one should not construe that the form alone is Brahman. When a topic is considered, due respect is given to the topic. The consideration is showing respect.

Upasana is fine, but the upasya, one whom you Worship, includes you the upasaka too. If the upasya and the upasaka are one, then the upasana-phala, the ultimate result of worship, is gained; the payoff is recognizing the fact that both the updsaka and the upasya are sustained by one consciousness, Brahman, which is srotrasya srotram; that is why it is satyam. Therefore, What people worship is also Brahman, but that alone is not Brahman. These are sentences revealing an equation and one must see the truth of these sentences. One has to inquire into them thoroughly, curbing the tendency to gloss over.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Kenopnishad