Updated: May 1
SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 10 - 12/03/23
Chinmaya UK Study Class, Śaṅkarācārya, Swami Chinmayananda (Sw. C.)
nalinīdalagatajalamatitaralaṃ tadvajjīvitamatiśayacapalam |
viddhi vyādhyabhimānagrastaṃ lōkaṃ śōkahataṃ ca samastam || 4
The water-drop playing on a lotus petal has an extremely uncertain existence;
so also is life ever unstable.
Understand, the very world is consumed by disease and conceit, and is riddled with pangs.
Verse 4 cont. Keeping balance in an uncertain world
Even though we see uncertainty everywhere, we see/hear about people dying, often before 'their time', or we collectively experience a fatal crisis (covid, the financial crisis, the cost of living crisis etc, etc.), we either don't believe it will happen to us, or we live life with so much fear that something will happen, that we don't do anything!
Śaṅkarācārya, very directly reminds us that nothing remains forever; life is uncertain and riddled with all sorts of pain and conceit. He does this not to depress us, but in line with this text, his aim is to lovingly wake us up from the fires of our own imaginations.
We create so much of our own sorrow and suffering through our likes and dislikes, judgements and sentimentalities of how the world should be, Śaṅkarācārya, is asking us to wake up and stop wasting time.
Death cares not about bank balances or status, our abilities or who's right; Death gives little forewarning and respects neither person nor place. Therefore, use this precious time to strive for Realisation, right Here and Now.
Is the 15-minute evening protocol of running through the day (without brooding) as a mental inventory of how we lived this day, and what we would ideally do in any given situation if, in the heat of the moment, or by habit/default, we didn't behave in a way that was beneficial to all. 2. Reflecting on the insignificant significance.
By zooming out from ourselves for a moment and expanding our awareness to our families, our friends, our village/town/city, our country, our Earth, the Milky Way, the Universe, the Multiverse, we again realise firstly how insignificant our lives are in the greater scheme of things and secondly, the wonder of our lives...the absolute, immense, amazingness that we are here at all.
What are the chances?!
That YOU and I get to experience this immense thing called life that runs through the entire cosmos at every moment!
This instrument will, at some point in time, perish, no thing lasts forever. So whilst we are in the fortunate position to have a human birth, wake up - see and appreciate the sheer awesomeness and wonder of it all. Of the human standing in front of you, and all their unique experiences, of that cat, sitting still watching the birds singing in the tree, of the beauty of the earth systems, whose opposite forces, when not too loose and not too tight create a balance that supports the life of millions of quite spectacular species. Of the hundreds of shades of grey of the clouds roaming across the sky, of how the broccoli or potato grew and came to be on your plate. Of how all of these things are constantly changing. What was once there will soon be gone.
Life is incredible. Stop sweating the small stuff. Wake up to the wonder of it Here and Now!
The Advaitic symbolism of the Lotus flower
The Lotus grows in water, exists in water, is nurtured and nourished by the waters, and ultimately perishes in water. Thus the flower is nothing but an expression of the waters, sprung forth to manifestation due to the see that was at the bottom!
Brahman (infinite consciousness) expresses as the 'lotus of the subtle-body' (the mind and intellect) due to its own sankalpa (desire/wish).
A minute ray of Brahman aka Ātman, functions in and through the mind-intellect (M-I) equipment becomes known as the jīva (you/me/him/her...the individual)
When the Ātman leaves the jīva and transcends the M-I, it returns and merges with the waters of the all-pervading consciousness - Brahman.
The return of the trembling water drop back into the waters of the lake is indicated in the Mahāvākya: ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ - That Thou Art (or You are That).
The drop of water (jīva) takes the Lotus to be the real world and tries to “attach” itself to it. In the end, both jīva and the manifested world merge back into the unmanifested Brahman.
In Indic philosophy, neither time nor life is not linear; it is cyclical.
There are four Yugas or epochs. It is said that the current epoch, Kali Yuga, is the final one that leads to dissolution.
This, however, is no excuse to live a life of indifference, apathy, or nihilism - we can and must create bubbles of saatva which allow us to transcend and realise That consciousness right here, right now.
Mahāvākyas - blue pills!
There are four Mahāvākyas (great statements), one found in each of the four Vedas, that when meditated upon, opens up a whole other understanding of our relationship with the Infinite:
1. prajñānam Brahma – 'Consciousness is Brahaman' (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)
2. Tat tvam asi - 'Thou art That' (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda)
3. ayam ātmā Brahma - 'This Self (Atman) is Brahman' (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda)
4. aham bBrahmāsmi - 'I am Brahman' (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda)
Other class discussion points:
1. What does True Love mean? We look for the love of another as acceptance of ourselves. Until we are perfectly OK with who we are, with or without another, there can never be True Love.
2. The spiritual reason for having children (or anything really) is to exhaust karma. We cannot run away from our karma, no matter how much we may try! Those souls that we need to interact with will manifest in some form or another in the relationship that is most conducive to exhausting that karma. Of the 8 billion people in the world, why did you end up with your family, with these friends/colleagues/acquaintances, in this country, at this time? Going to the school/places you went to, having the experiences you have had with those particular people? It is not at all coincidence.
Every person, place, experience is a self-addressed envelope determined by our past action (karma).
3. We don't experience Brahman because of the veils of our M-I equipment.
The whole purpose of spiritual practices is to start wiping clean those veils so the M-I becomes lighter and clearer in order to transcend them.
- That is why if we are particularly heavy/inert/stagnant or tamasic in our lives and habits, we must first move to rajas - activity. This will at first be selfish activity to acquire and gain wealth, status etc to prove ourselves. Slowly, once we have tasted enough of these things and realised that the happiness we seek isn't there, the activity moves in a more selfless direction. These are supposedly the leaders of the world. Good leaders lead for the people and the greater good, not for there own interests (yes...we are in Kali Yuga and everything is a bit topsy-turvey).
- Then from rajas we move to saatva, which is actionless, action. We act without personal motive, accepting the self-addressed envelopes and exhausting the karma as it comes along. In this way our karmic load gets lighter and we are able to transcend and realise all that we've been searching for, is right here, right now...sat-chit-ananda - existence-consciosnss-bliss. We transcend the wheel of sāmsāra!
In summary, Śaṅkarācārya has so far declared:
Life is uncertain and ever so short...so stop worrying so much, stop hoarding so much, stop lusting after things so much...this is not the point of this human birth....wake up, oh fool and bhaja Govinda. Go beyond uncertainty, disease and conceit to the beauty and wonder and awe of the All.
We continue onto the next verse, stanza 5, in the next class...