What is life? A continuous series of experiences.

openeyes

The term “Life” is easier to understand by analyzing and understanding its antonym “Death”. An organism is said to be dead when it completely ceases to receive or respond to the stimuli from external objects. In other words, “Death” is a state of total cessation of experience. Life, therefore, is defined as a continuous series of experiences – anubhavadhara, अनुभवधारा.

Since life is a series of experiences, each experience becomes a unit of life just as a brick is the unit of a wall. The strength or weakness of a wall will depend upon the quality and texture of the bricks constituting it. Similarly, the type of experiences that an individual goes through will determine the character of his life. If his experiences are happy, his life is happy and if they are miserable, his life is miserable.

An individual gains an experience when he receives and responds to a stimulus from the external world. An experience therefore is constituted of the following three entities:-

The Experiencer ….the subject,
The Experienced… the object,
The Experiencing…..the relationship between the subject and the object.

The field of enquiry of the ऋषि Rsis, was the “experiencer”, whereas that of the physical scientist was the “experienced”. Investigation about the “experiencer” is philosophy, while investigation about the “experienced” is science.

The Rsis tried to develop the inner personality of man and make him independent of the environment and happenings in his world. Thus, their goal was to raise the standard of life in man.

The scientists, on the other hand, tried to beautify and make the world a better place to live in; their attempt was, therefore, directed to raising the standard of living.

Swami Chinmayanada
Excerpts from: Self-Unfoldment

The Happiness Equation

contemplation

The scriptures explain this truth and help to awaken the dormant faculty in us. Once we learn the art of quieting the mind, our mind will no longer find it necessary to pursue the objects of the world for gaining peace and happiness. At that point we will have learned the real joy of living. We will get established in a state of permanent happiness, independent of the environment or the circumstances. A person who has achieved this state stands out like a beacon-light for others.

Happiness = Number of desires fulfilled / Number of desires entertained

We can increase the amount of happiness by either of the following:

  1. Increasing the numerator
  2. Decreasing the denominator

Fulfillment of existing desires quiets the agitations created by desires. Again, if we have fewer desires, the agitations in the mind are lessened. In either case, it is the lessening of agitations that quiets the mind and therefore produces happiness.

The formula works. However, there is one caution about Working on the numerator only: Fulfilling our desires generally causes more desires to spring up.

No sooner do we have the desire for a new house fulfilled, then springs up the desire for new carpeting. As soon as the house is freshly recarpeted, a previously unknown desire for a deck looms its head. No sooner is the deck finished, then the desire for a swimming pool has us in its grips. It never stops.

And as the number of desires increases, the denominator increases, resulting in reduced happiness. Thus, the best way of establishing permanent happiness is to reduce the number of desires entertained by directing our thoughts to a higher ideal of principle.

Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Self-unfoldment

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

Our Natural Love for Limitlessness!

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Whenever I feel helpless, I feel inadequate because I cannot change what I do not want. I cannot get rid of what I do not want, and I cannot get what I want. Whenever I feel dependent, unsuccessful, or rejected, then I feel inadequate. Therefore, if I look at any moment when I am unhappy or sorrowful, I find that the cause of the sorrow is this sense of incompleteness or inadequacy centered upon myself. That I am inadequate, incomplete, limited, dependent, helpless all these are different names for the same thing-is the only cause of sorrow. Nothing else whatsoever is needed to make me unhappy.

It is this sense of inadequacy that is the cause of sorrow, and inadequacy is not the true nature of myself. If I were inadequate or incomplete by nature, then I would have no problem with inadequacy or incompleteness. Nothing has a problem with its true nature. Fire has no problem being hot; it is comfortable being hot. Ice is comfortable being cold. Night is comfortable being dark. Day is comfortable being bright. Everything is comfortable when it is with its own nature. The discomfort arises only when there is deviation or separation from the true nature.

If I am uncomfortable with the sense of inadequacy or incompleteness, that itself shows that incompleteness or inadequacy cannot be my nature. If it were my nature, I would be comfortable with it. There is never a complaint about that which conform with its true nature. There is complaint only when something is different from its nature.

Once a physician came where we were studying, and all the students lined up to see him. The doctor asked one fellow, “What is your problem? The fellow responded, “I feel hungry.” The doctor replied, “That is good. That is not a problem. There is no medication for that.” To be hungry is natural. In fact, nobody should complain to a doctor about being hungry. I would complain if I did not feel hungry, if I did not have a good appetite. Then this fellow said, I sleep. Again the doctor replied, “That is also not a problem. There is no medication for that, either. If you do not sleep, then we can do something for you.” The idea is that there cannot be a complaint or discomfort with what is my nature. Discomfort is there only when I am in some way separated or deviated from or denied my nature. And this is the problem with the human being, who is always suffering from an inner discomfort.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says

न हि कश्िचत्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् (3.5)

na hi kaschitkshanamapi jaatu tishthatyakarmakrita |

a person is not able to sit quietly or inactively, even for a moment. Why is it so? Helplessly, he is made to do something because of the discomfort existing in his mind. We are born with this discomfort. Children are lucky because they have not yet grown to feel this discomfort. All living beings other than human beings are also lucky, if you want to call them lucky, because they have not evolved sufficiently to become aware of this discomfort. Not that animals are free or happy, but the point is that they are spared this thing that creates sorrow, this discomfort centered on the self. Apparently to be unhappy with my own self, to be dissatisfied with myself, requires a great amount of sensitivity and evolution, and other creatures are not evolved to the extent that they become sensitive about their own selves.

On the one hand, sensitivity is the name of the game. On the other hand, sensitivity is what makes me unhappy. If I do not know much about music, for example, then you can sing however you want, everything is fine. The more I know, however, then the more I become sensitive and tuned in to every little deviation in pitch or rhythm. Similarly, if you do not know Sanskrit grammar, or any grammar for that matter, then it is all fine, there is no problem. But once you know, then you start noticing grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and so on.

The human being is the most evolved and sensitive creature because a human is sensitive about his own self. I am a self-conscious being, meaning that I am sensitive about myself, and sensitive about the fact that I am incomplete or inadequate. Along with that awareness comes the non-acceptance of myself because of inadequacy or incompleteness. I am not comfortable with myself, I am not happy with myself because I am incomplete, inadequate. This conclusion or opinion about myself that I am inadequate or incomplete arises on account of my failure to separate the self from the non-self. What I am uncomfortable about is really not the self; what I am uncomfortable about are the notions arising from the combination, or lumping together, of self and non-self.

At some point, there must be some awareness that I am limitless because there is a natural love for limitlessness. There must be some awareness that I am free because there is a natural love for freedom. Somewhere I should know that happiness is my nature because there is a natural love for happiness.

So also, in the state of deep sleep we do experience freedom and unconditional happiness. We are not aware at that time that we are experiencing it, but the experience is there nevertheless. And that experience of happiness or freedom becomes the frame of reference with which I constantly keep on judging and evaluating myself. Finding myself always inadequate with regard to that reference point 18 the reason why I am constantly seeking to be free from unhappiness and constantly seeking to be happy.

Sukha~prapti, attainment of happiness, and duhkha-nivrtti, avoidance of unhappiness, is natural for all living beings. Avoiding death and seeking immortality is natural. Avoiding ignorance and seeking knowledge is natural. Avoiding unhappiness or sorrow and seeking happiness is natural. And thus, life consists of a constant search for happiness, knowledge, freedom, immortality, thinking that all of these things are somewhere else, in a location other than myself.

This is a very sad situation. It is like an animal, such as a deer, running toward water in the distance when it is thirsty. In fact, it is only mirage water, but thinking that it is real, the deer runs toward it. As it runs toward the mirage, the water seems to recede farther and farther, and the poor deer can never reach it. Ultimately, it collapses along the way.

Similarly, the poor human being is running toward happiness, freedom, immortality, wisdom, knowledge, and never seems to find it. That is the situation – I am searching, not knowing that what I am searching for is, in fact, my own nature. You can also call it the nature of brahman, the absolute, or the nature of imam, the Lord.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Drg Drasya Viveka

Sawmiji’s Talks & Discourses

“I am Limited” is your conclusion not an experience!

gurudev (2)

Is it really true that your experiential reality shows you to be limited? Is it indeed your direct experience that you are limited? What is direct experience? It is something that takes place in the mind and through the sense organs. However, atma obtains as the witness. The sense organs and the mind cannot objectify it. The fact is that yourself or mind cannot be objectified by any available प्रमाण pramana or means of knowledge. You can truly never really ’see’ yourself. In reality, it is a mere notion that you are limited, something that you just take for granted. You believe quite strongly that you are an insignificant speck in this universe, limited in every possible way. Nevertheless, who is it that says you are insignificant? It is you yourself who says that you are insignificant. Yet on what grounds do you say that?

Have you ever experienced yourself to conclude that you are limited? Given that the self cannot be objectified, how do you say you are limited? Is it because you were born, because you have a body that is subject to various limitations, and because you are going to die some day? What was born? Only the body is born; you are not born. The conclusion that one is limited truly has no basis. You may feel that you are a limited being, but the self that is judged to be limited is indeed not available for direct experience, unlike this flower in front of me, which is there for you to see here and now.

Atma cannot be objectified by any available means of knowledge, and, therefore, not available to inference or to any other means of knowledge. The conclusion of the self being limited thus has no basis. You can never see the “I” directly and you cannot experience it in any way or even visualize it, like you can any other object. It is like looking at yourself in a mirror and concluding that there is a big stain on your face, when, in reality, the stain is a flaw or smudge in the mirror. In the same way, you look at your body, see that it is limited, and conclude that you are limited. The cause for it is the identification with the body, which is the non-self. There is a lack of discrimination between the self and the non-self.

The self can never become the object of perception or object of knowledge. It is of the nature of knowledge and cannot become the object of knowledge; it is the witness and cannot ever be witnessed or objectified. So you must understand that you cannot ever say that it is your experience that you are a limited being. It is a conclusion and not an experience.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Advaita Makaranda

Swamiji’s various discourses videos

Nobody can really say “I do not believe in God – Isvara”! What we are all searching, and constantly seeking is nothing but God – Isvara!

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“What do we want?” If you ask this question, and analyze what we are all seeking, it will become very Clear that each one of us is seeking Isvara, the Lord.

Suppose someone asks, “What do you want?” The answer would be, ”Happiness.” If he asks, “How long do you want to be happy? One hour a day? Two hours a day?,” then I would say, “If I had my way, I want to be happy 24 hours a day.” If he qualifies it, “As long as you are in this place you can be happy, but if you go out you’ll be miserable,” I would answer, “No! That is also not acceptable. I want to be happy in all places. Even in my workplace I want to be happy, and at home also I want to be happy -wherever I am.” If he further qualifies it, “You will be happy only in the company of certain people,” I would say,  “No! I want to be happy with everyone, even my boss.”

I want to be happy everywhere, under all conditions, at all times, and in all places. I do not want any kind of strings attached or conditions placed on my happiness. That I can be happy only at a given time, at a given place, or in a given condition is not acceptable. I do not want that. I have to settle for it; that is a different matter. I keep settling for it, helplessly. I cannot be happy with everybody, so I settle for a few people. I cannot be happy all the time, so I settle. That is a different thing, but that is helplessness. Everybody is a wounded person. So many desires arise in our minds, and many of these desires are unsatisfied, unfulfilled, so we have lots of frustrations. We are carrying a lot of these wounds. If we had our way, we would want happiness at all times, in all places, under all conditions.

Now suppose somebody asks me, “Swamiji, what kind of happiness would you like? Happiness with effort, that you work for, or happiness without effort?” Naturally, the choice is clear. I would like to have happiness without effort. If he says, “We’ll give you an injection that makes you unconscious and then you’ll be happy. Is that what you want?” I would have to answer, “No, no, I want conscious happiness.” I am told that I enjoy happiness in deep sleep, but that is not enough for me. Not only do I want to experience happiness; but I want to be aware that I am experiencing it.

We want happiness with knowledge, not in ignorance; and it must be अपरोक्ष aparoksa, immediate, not distant in any way. We also want happiness without effort. The only thing that can be experienced effortlessly is that which is already existent, meaning it is स्वयमेसिद्ध svayamésiddha, self-existent. We Want it all the time, which means it must be नित्यं nitya, eternal, not subject to time. We want it in all places, which means it must be पूर्ण purna, complete, all-pervasive. When we examine all these words that we use – nitya, siddha, aparoksa, purna – and add them all up, it becomes ईश्वर  Isvara – God.

This is what we want. We want happiness that is nitya, eternal, so it never goes away. We want happiness without any effort, siddha. We want happiness that comes with awareness, aparoksa. We want happiness everywhere, puma. That is the Isvara of Vedanta.

Therefore nobody can really say, “I do not believe in Isvara.” If somebody says, “I do not believe in God,” then you should ask that person, “What do you want in your life? Happiness or unhappiness?” He will say he wants happiness. Then you ask all these questions and establish that what he is seeking is sukha, happiness, ananda, fullness, that is nitya, eternal, aparoksa, immediate, nitya-siddha, always existing. Ask that person, “Is that What you want? Is it clear to you?” He will answer, “Yes.” Then you tell him,  “Well, that is Isvara; that is God.” Therefore, nobody can really say that they do not believe in God, because if you did not believe in that, how could you be searching for it all the time? What you are searching for, what you are constantly seeking to achieve, is nothing but that. That is God.

So if somebody says, “I do not believe in God,” the question is in which God do you not believe?” If you do not believe in God who is in heaven, that is okay, but you cannot say that you do not believe in God as Vedanta explains it. You may say that even this God is also very different from me, away from me. You could say, “I am searching for it, but I do not think it exists anywhere. I have not found it yet, therefore I do not believe it exists.” But the God that Vedanta teaches us is nitya, eternal, aparoksa, immediate, siddha, always existing, purna, fullness. That God is not elsewhere; it is my own self. Do you believe that you exist or not? Can you say, “I do not exist?” You cannot even ask the question or answer it if you do not exist. So nobody can deny the God that Vedanta teaches. Vedanta teaches about ‘what is’, it does not teach about some special God.

Thus the God that we are searching for is to be known rather than acquired. According to Vedanta, the very search for God is a denial of God. When we search for freedom and happiness, it is a denial of that.

As Ramana Maharshi says, the knowledge or realization of God is knowing God as one’s own self. That is the nature of the self, and if we knew the self as such, there would be no problem of sadness or sorrow in life at all. There would be total comfort with the self.

Swami Viditatmananda Sarawati

Excerpts from Drg, Drasya, Viveka

Link to Swamiji’s Discourses Videos

Freedom is a two step process. The first step being karma-yoga, which provides freedom from raga-dvesas, and the second step being jnana, which leads to freedom from ignorance.

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The Bhagavad Gita says Karma-yoga कर्म योग (Yoga of action) and jnana yoga ज्ञान योग (Yoga of knowledge or wisdom) are two stages on the path of self-growth, which is the path to freedom. Karma Yoga, the first stage, enables one to acquire freedom from raga-dvesas राग द्वेस, likes and dislikes. Jnana is the subsequent stage, in which one gains freedom from the rest of the obstacles on the path to self knowledge.

The mind consists of three gunas (गुण qualities); sattva सत्त्व, rajas रजस , and tamas तमस्. Rajas and tamas result in raga-dvesas. As likes and dislikes get subdued, the mind becomes sattvika सात्त्विक. It enjoys poise and equanimity. Karma-yoga helps us achieve a sattvika mind, one that is cheerful, contemplative, and able to think clearly. It is a mind in which there is desire for knowledge. Jnana removes ignorance and enables us to attain our true nature. It thus leads to the ultimate freedom from ignorance. Therefore, freedom is a two-step process, the first step being karma-yoga, which provides freedom from raga-dvesas, and the second step being jnana, which leads to freedom from ignorance and the sense of doer ship or the ego. Hence, we do not look upon karma and jnana as separate paths.

In karma-yoga, it is not so much actions that count, as the attitude behind the actions. This attitude is also of the nature of knowledge; we have to have a sense of duty and recognize the harmony between the world and ourselves. We have to be aware of how the universe is supporting us and our actions should therefore become a means to return this favor. All this requires pr0pe; understanding.

A life of karma-yoga results in a progressive growth 0f maturity and understanding. When karma is performed with the right attitude, it becomes a means of knowledge Thus, karma-yoga is not merely action or having the right attitude. It is also the knowledge by which we progressively grow in our understanding of ourselves and the realities of life. Jnana-yoga is the subsequent knowledge of the true nature of the Self. Each stage serves to bring us closer to an awareness of our true Self. Karma-yoga removes the bigger obstacles in this quest and jnana-yoga removes the finer obstacles.

It is like the two tuning knobs of a radio. Karma yoga may be likened to the big knob, which let us hear the music near the desired frequency. Jnana yoga is like the other knob, which helps in fine-tuning, so that we can hear it properly. Karma-yoga makes the mind sattvika or contemplative, so that we can experience the Self, which is happiness. Progressively, there is a desire to understand this Self. This is when jnana-yoga helps with the ’fine-tuning,’ to reveal that happiness is the very nature of our true Self. Therefore, just as the two knobs of the radio serve the same purpose, so also, karma-yoga and jnana-yoga are not two separate paths, but two stages on the path to self-realization.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Satasanga with Swami Viditatmananda, Vol: 1

Links to Swamiji’s Discourses

What is (the meaning of word) Dharma धर्म?

gurudev (2)
The word dharma is derived from the root dhr धऋ, which means to sustains or upheld. By definition, dhrarayati iti dharmah धार्यति इति धर्मः, that which upholds is called dhrama धर्म.

It is based on the understanding that there is something that sustains this universe. All the different components and elements that comprise the universe follow a certain order. Everything has its innate nature and it never transgresses it. There is unity in diversity and harmony in what may appear to be chaotic. This harmony or order is called dharma because this is the fundamental principle that informs, upholds and sustains everything.

An act in keeping with the order also can be called dharma. It is one of the four human ends and is the goal that one achieves as a result of following a life of dharma. The word dharma is, used both in the sense of means and ends. Normally it signifies means, in the sense of a certain conduct-righteous conduct, the right or proper way of conducting oneself that is in keeping with the order. Question can be as to how do we know what the order is and what would be the right way to conduct ourselves in a given situation.

We are all born with the awareness that we want to live and live happily, just as other living beings also want to. Our freedom and happiness should not be encroached upon. What I expect of others is what they expect of me. Conduct in accordance with this awareness is dharma. It may be called universal dharma or righteousness. Pujya Swamiji calls it common-sense-dharma. It is common sense inasmuch as everybody has this sense. This is samanya dhrama सामान्य धर्म, general dharma. Then there is visesa-dharma विशेष धर्म, conduct that is followed in’ particular situations. Every individual has to play a variety of roles and they call for appropriate responses. There are guidelines as to how one should act under various conditions. That is the visesa-dharma विशेष धर्म of a person.

The first part of the Veda prescribes dharma, the right code of conduct. This is conveyed in the form of do’s and don’ts. It is not so much that the Vedas give commands as to what to do and what not to, do, but they teach what is in the best interest of a person. What will help the person in terms of his well-being and growth is prescribed as do’ s and the opposite in the form of don’ ts. Ultimately it is up to the person to decide what he wants to do, whether he wants to conform to the guidance of the scriptures or wants to surrender to his own impulses.

Everyone knows what is right and wrong. Each one is in agreement as to how they would like to be treated by others This is known through common sense. Even if one does not know what the prescribed code in a particular situation; is, the universal code can be applied and interpreted in a given situation. In interpreting dharma the principle is universal and its application m a given situation is particular. Every individual has to understand What non-violence, truthfulness, compassion etc. is and what it means in a given situation. Non-Violence is not a particular conduct; it is the understanding that goes with the conduct. Dharma that is in the form of values requires to be interpreted in a given situation and followed accordingly.

Dharma can be explained as righteousness or right or. appropriate conduct. The result that is produced by this kind of conduct is also called dharma or punya पुण्य. This is conducive to the spiritual growth of. a person. Right conduct requires a one to subdue impulses of adharma अधर्म. The negative impulses, are there in us though they are not our nature. They are incidental to us. By nature we are loving and compassionate. To become free of the negative forces is spiritual growth. Because they are incidental they can be removed by asserting the positive tendencies in all possible situations. Kindness etc., being the very nature of oneself, can never be removed.

Very often the word dharma is translated as religion, Hindu religion etc. In that sense it can be said that there are many religious traditions. We can say that dharma in the sense of a religion is a way of life which is prescribed by the founders of that tradition to help the followers adhere to dharma that is the universal values with a view to help them reach dharma that is the universal truth. Dharma as the end is what each one is seeking and that is unconditional freedom. Ultimately that goal becomes dharma.

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Hindu Dhrama, Basics & Beyond

Link to Swamiji’s Discourses

You already are, what you are seeking to be!

gurudev (2)

I am seeking to become something all the time. I am seeking to become different from what I am on account of the fact that I am not happy with the way l am. Therefore there is an endeavor on my part to constantly bring about a change in me so that I will be different, and happier, than what I am, acceptable to myself. In Pujya Dayanandji’s words, I am seeking to be a pleased self, a happy self, a satisfied self. Why do I want to become a pleased self? Because I am not pleased with myself as I find myself  to be. I have a certain perception of myself, and in that perception, I find myself not measuring up to my own expectations of myself. In my perception of myself, I find myself to be Inadequate, Wanting or lacking, and I am not satisfied being a wanting or a lacking or an inadequate being. Therefore, I want to be free from any limitation; meaning that I want to be limitless.

When we analyze what it is that we are seeking to be, it will be discovered that we are seeking to be free from every form of limitation. We are seeking to be limitless: then alone we can be pleased with ourselves. In the Chandogyopanisad, sage Sanatkumara says to Narada, यो वै भूमा तत्सुखम् न अल्पे सुखम् अस्ति  – yo vai bhuma tatsutkham nalpe sukham asti. That which is bhuma, abundant, limitless, that indeed is happiness. Only limitless can be happiness. Na alpe sukham asti. “In anything that is limited, there cannot be sukha, happiness.” This is a very fundamental definition of happiness given by the Upanisad. Happiness can only be in the limitless; there cannot be happiness in anything that is limited. Therefore, whenever: I find myself limited or lacking in any way, I become unhappy, because in limitedness there cannot be happiness. Thus When I say that I want to be happy, it amounts to saying that I want to be limitless.

This may not be so understood by most people, because people usually associate happiness with things other than themselves, such as wealth, name, fame, recognition, heaven and so on, and that is therefore what they are trying to achieve, accomplish, or become. But going by the definition given in the Upanisad, it is very clear that happiness can only be in the limitlessness, and that there cannot be happiness in being limited.

I want to be adequate, I want to be happy, I want to be pleased, meaning that I want to be free from every limitation. This is what my endeavor is. It is this endeavor to become limitless that has been making me assume embodiment one after the other from beginningless time. Vedanta says that will] this desire to become limitless can be satisfied only when I discover that I am limitless. A limited being cannot become limitless. Regardless of what I do with myself, regardless of how much I multiply myself, how much I add things upon myself, I can never become limitless. As Mundakopanisad says, नास्ति अक्रतः क्रेत्न nasti akratah krtena. Akrta, un-created, cannot be created by karma (action). Limitless has to be un-created, it has to be free of time, and timeless means that which is here right now. What is right now doesn’t have to be created, it has to be discovered.

Therefore, the limitless has to be discovered, has to be known, which amounts to saying that what I want to become is what I want to know, because becoming limitless can only be accomplished by knowing that I am limitless. Vedanta says, तत्वमसि  tat tvam asi, “that thou art.” You are what you are seeking to be. You are seeking to be limitless. You are limitless, so knowing and becoming is one here, because what I seek is my nature. That is called knowledge, when I spontaneously become limitless, spontaneously own my true nature, which is limitlessness. That spontaneous, abiding knowledge is called knowledge. If I have to remember, that cannot be called knowledge. It may need remembrance for a while until it becomes abiding knowledge, but as long as there is an effort on my part to remain limitless, so long it is not an abiding knowledge. Knowledge is called निश्चितम् ज्ञानं niscitam janam when it is free from any error or vagueness or doubt.

Swami Viditatmannada Saraswati

Excerpts from: Kaivalyopanisad

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What is life? A Series of Actions – an Endeavor to Attain Happiness!

gurudev (2)

What we mean by the word ‘life’? What do we associate the word ‘life’ with? Life means sentiency. It means activity. When do we say this man is alive? When he. is active. Therefore. life may be defined as a series of actions or as a series of experiences. If there is no action, there is no experience. Then there is no life. Life is a series of actions and this is what we find common to all human beings. It is common to all living beings. Action cannot be avoided by anyone at any time.

This is what the Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita

न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् |
कार्यते ह्यवश: कर्म सर्व: प्रकृतिजैर्गुणै:!!  3-5

Verily, none can ever remain, even for a moment, without performing action. Why is it so ? Everyone is made to act helplessly indeed by the qualities born of Prakrti.

Everybody is made to act, as though helplessly, by some force, by some factor. There is some factor which constantly propels one to act. That is the reason why we find every living being persistently acting. Even if a man physically may not be doing any action, mentally he could be very active. I might think that during meditation I am inactive, but I am not really so. In fact the activity is more intense at such moments. Thus action here means either physical or mental action.

Seeking Happiness

When we want to know what is meant by life, our enquiry is directed to the knowledge of what an action is, how and why it takes place. Since life is a series of actions, if we understand one action we will be able to understand life. If we look within, we find that we are constantly prompted to perform actions by something within called desire. It prompts us to. do one thing or another, to go from one place to another. That is why we see people constantly moving, ‘changing places, situations and conditions. Man constantly acts. He constantly moves. To understand the nature of an action, we have to understand the nature of desire, which prompts man to act.

When a person is at home in the morning, he entertains the desire of going to office. While in the office, the only desire that occupies his, mind is to go home. The moment he reaches his office, on. Monday the desire is – to enjoy a holiday or a Sunday at home. When the, holiday comes, he plans to go out. Man does not seem to be satisfied with what he has. He cannot relaxer sit quietly. Therefore when the holiday or the day of relaxation comes people plan for outings, visits, cinemas etc. In and through every action there is a desire to get something which one does not seem to have at the moment.

That ‘something’ goes by the name of happiness. I want to go to a cinema, so that I can be happy. I want to go to work in order to be happy. What makes a man happy may differ from person to person. What makes me happy, may make you miserable. In the train, in the same compartment, some who are smoking are absolutely in ecstasy. They are in heaven, but some others in the same compartment are miserable. Again, what made me happy in the past may not give me happiness now. So what makes me happy keeps on changing but the fact that I want to be happy is constant. Every human being, every living being wants to be happy. For what does a mosquito sit on my hand? For sucking blood, which gives it happiness. No one wants to be unhappy. The moment the mosquito finds that my hand is going to land on it, it flies away.

Thus, what a man tries to do in and through all actions is to seek happiness and avoid unhappiness. The desire to attain happiness and to avoid unhappiness constantly keeps one engaged, making him do something or the other. If this basic desire were not there, there would have been no action. There would have been no life. Vedanta is bold enough to say that the only reason why life is there in the universe, or the only thing that sustains the universe, is this basic urge in the heart of every living being of seeking happiness and avoiding unhappiness. Is there a third kind of activity? Is there any motive other than these two? Examine every action of yours and see whether it falls under one of these two categories or not. Any action, ancient or modern, whether it is performed by the greatest scientist or by a sweeper, is prompted by one of these two motives. Therefore an endeavor to attain happiness is essentially what we mean by life.

Swami Viditatmanand Saraswati

Excerpts from Vedanta in Present Day Life

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