SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 12 - 26/03/23
Chinmaya UK Study Class, Śaṅkarācārya, Swami Chinmayananda (Sw. C.)
yāvatpavano nivasati dehe tāvatpṛcchati kuśalaṁ gehe |
gatavati vāyau dehāpāye bhāryā bibhyati tasminkāye || 6 ||
As long as there dwells breath (life) in the body,
so long as they enquire of your welfare at home.
But once the breath (life) leaves, the body decays,
even your own beloved spouse fears that very same body (corpse).
Verse 6: It's the life in us that is loved...
Detach but not completely.
In order to turn the mind towards something higher, a certain level of detachment from blindly running after temporary material pleasures is necessary.
In some paths, the sorrow of the world is so overemphasized that the zest and zeal to live this human life to its fullest and highest is dulled and dampened.
Contemplation and reflection on the meaning and purpose of life should not lead us into a 'dark pit of lifeless pessimism,' to mere indifference or to inertia - this is NOT the purpose of spirituality. However, being blindly optimistic and reverential about worldly achievements and brittle vanities is also not advised.
Vedanta dissuades us from overindulgence in a totally extroverted life and points us to a life of service and a healthy dose of reflective introvertedness.
Whilst breaking through the illusions of our current conditioning and limited belief systems through honest reflection and introspection, these teachings are careful to substitute our old conditioned, unexamined, habitual ways of life with a set of healthier and more enduring values of positive living.
Such values do not drive away the incentive to live and to progress; rather, they ask us to live sustainably and progress wisely towards an examined purpose of life.
What the purpose of human life is NOT
Spending our entire lives in worship of the body, in chasing wealth and acclaim to further feed the vanities of the body and mind (ego) 'is one of the abominable intellectual stupidities into which we (humanity) readily sink'.
The body is a shaky altar of worship as it is temporary and moment by moment changing, ageing and decaying.
Of course, it's necessary to sweat and toil, to fight and procure for, to feed and breed, to clothe and shelter the body - BUT to spend our lifetimes doing this alone as if this is the very purpose of our lives is 'a criminal waste of human abilities.'
If we live merely to do just these things, what makes us (humans) different from any other animal? What a waste of human birth!
So, what to do?
The body will grow and die - however, whilst we have it, treat it as the temple that it is: a temple that houses our ātman (conditioned soul/consciousness) and that provides us with the tools and structure to realise that ātman.
The body needs very little in order to do this: to seek, to purify, to lighten, to serve, and to share...
Yet we pamper it unnecessarily because we think our bodies are who we are. Even though we know, intellectually at least, that we are not the body.
[We were there in all times and ages of the body - the two-year-old body, the 20-year-old body, the thirty-year-old body, the fifty-year-old body...and we will still be there in the ninety-year-old body...so who is the 'I' that was/is/will be there in all these bodies, in all these differing minds at all these different times?
This 'I' or capital 'S' Self is who you are. This sat-chit-ananda consciousness-existence-bliss.]
When we truly realise this, our self-worth no longer depends on how the body looks or the clothes it wears or the house it lives in etc...we may have these things (youth, beauty, wealth, health) enjoy them - but the need or lust to possess them always, to build an identity on them, to put our happiness and value and worth in them dissolves. We are happy with and equally happy without. We can age gracefully. We can see the body for the temple-instrument that it is and treat it accordingly...
More on this in the next class