Author Topic: Greetings, everyone.  (Read 4637 times)

Paul108h

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Greetings, everyone.
« on: May 27, 2011, 11:02:03 AM »
Hello.  It's very nice to have found a place like this, though I haven't had much time to read a lot of the forum yet.  I first started studying Ramana's teachings at the University at Buffalo, NY, around 1993.  I don't know if I've ever told the early part of this story, and I have a few minutes so let's see how it went...

I was enrolled in a hatha yoga class maybe I guess my second year of college, and I thought to check out the section in one of the libraries and found that there was a huge amount of yoga books there.  I picked out a few; one that I remember was _The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga_ by Swami Visnudevananada.  His physical abilities struck me as peculiar, and I thought this must be about more than health.  The last third of the book explained the philosophy, and I found it fascinating.  I read about 100 of the yoga books I found there, with my favorites being Vasistha's Yoga (It was a beautiful set of two hardcover books, about 8x6 inches, with fancy ribbon bookmarks) and the Talks with Ramana book.  I remember at one point in chemistry lab mixing chemicals and having to figure out what they were, and wondering what is this stuff REALLY...  So I just dove into these jnana books and was trying to get it, and was also practicing from Rammurti Mishra's Raja Yoga book and having to graduate a semester late because I stopped had my schoolwork but was able to finish with a course on mysticism and the yoga class for the fourth or fifth time. 

I also had an active social life, but my plan was that after graduation I would go live in a distant forest as a hidden hermit and either get enlightened or die trying.  Funny thing, two weeks before my departure date I became emotionally intimate with a young lady acquaintance which ended up a month instead, but I was fully determined to leave everything and go, and I went. 

The destination was the Olympic National Forest, and I knew one friend who had moved to Olympia and I planned to stay with him briefly before setting out to the woods.  One thing I had noticed was that my herbalist and foraging knowledge was not of much use since only maybe 15% of the plants were in common with the Northeast US.  I arrived a Thursday night (Sept 28, 1995) and the next morning went to Olympia.  There I bought a Bhagavad-gita by Bhaktivedanta Swami, thinking that its scholarly presentation could help me learn some Sanskrit, because I wanted to someday study Vasistha's Yoga in Sanskrit.  However, to make a long story short (and I probably should fill in some more details, but I have to go to bed now), my mind was captured by this Bhagavad-gita and became a Hare Krishna devotee for most of fifteen years.  Unfortunately (I suppose), I had a heck of a time dealing with too many things in their society that just didn't seem spiritual, scandals, corruption , "falldowns", conflict, etc., to the point where I decided I'd had enough and it was time to stop.

That's easier said than done.  According to the Vaisnava philosophy I learned, there are five types of liberation, and the kind of liberation that pertains to the advaita conception of oneness is unacceptable because it excludes the spiritual relationships between the Lord and the soul who gets that.  They say there is no bliss in it and that because of that it is not eternal.  They say that real bhakti is the only actual spiritual condition, and that it is achieved only in the absence of not only karma but also jnana.  To go from an aspiring bhakta to a path of self inquiry, they say is spiritual suicide.  However, what my experience has been lately is that thinking about Krishna is emotionally painful, and going back to Ramana's teachings quickly helped me to feel some peace again. 

I meant to also say that due to Krishna's intervention, I did not end up doing my hermit plan at all, and instead got married to the woman who I had left in Buffalo, and had five kids, one big happy family.  Spiritually though, I feel a lot of anxiety because of such contradictory messages.  I'm hopeful that some of you will be pleased to help me understand this better, but also please understand that I am not a pushover and sometimes cannot resist arguing a point for the sake of either understanding the other's point of view or getting mine across.  I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss these matters with you and hope that I am not too much of a disturbance.

Now I'd better get some sleep.  Ramana makes me eager for it but Prabhupada taught that it was ignorance and a waste of time.  Either way, I'm tired and have to get up in the morning.  I suppose "I" means different things in different contexts. 

Also please forgive any typos or other oddities.  I can't proofread now.


Subramanian.R

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2011, 01:13:36 PM »


Dear friend,

Prabhupada's understanding was incorrect. The individual soul [Jiva] and the Lord [Atma], if when united, either through devotion culminating in self surrender or through Vichara [Self Inquiry], the where is spiritual relationship?  Relationship means duality. A should relate to B and vice versa. Relativity again talks about time and space relationships. Advaita talks relationship only upto the merger
of Jiva and the Self.  Thereafter there is only oneness.

Sri Ramanuja [the founder of qualified non dualism] said: This Jiva will go to Vaikunta and be in the company of Narayana and after eons, will merge with Narayana. So he also accepts eventual non duality. Prabhupada did not touch about this aspect at all.



Arunachala Siva.

Paul108h

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 10:07:26 AM »
I am yet unable to discern what is actually correct, but what I was taught is that the distinction between jiva and Isvara is real and eternal, and to think otherwise, "There is no greater blasphemy against the Supreme Personality of Godhead."   (http://vedabase.net/cc/adi/7/en  "Śańkarācārya, who is an incarnation of Lord Śiva, is faultless because he is a servant carrying out the orders of the Lord. But those who follow his Māyāvādī philosophy are doomed. They will lose all their advancement in spiritual knowledge.")  The condemnation is actually quite severe, but it is also control by fear.  It was always a little disturbing to me, since I knew I was affected by studying Vasistha's Yoga and Ramana Maharshi's teachings previously.  In Bhaktivinoda Thakur's "Vaisnava Siddhanta Mala," as I recall, he explained that the liberation which is achieved by the jnanis or impersonalists is like hell from the devotee's because it prevents devotional service.  Pure devotional service is said to be far superior to what they would say Ramana experienced.  Both are outside my personal experience, as is the question of whether duality is ultimately real in some way or not, so I am at a loss for how to view that. 

I do not know as much about the specific distinctions between the different Vaisnava sampradayas as perhaps I should, since I was focusing on Srila Prabhupada so much.  But I'm not so interested in here-say lately, which makes a Ramana's teachings quite appealing.  His explanations of self-inquiry have a noticeable effect on me, at least for a moment.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2011, 12:16:48 PM »


Dear Paul

According to Advaita of Sri Sankara [which Sri Ramana has also adopted as the only true teaching] there is no difference between Jiva and Iswara, or the Self. The difference 'appears' due to our ego. Jnanis who have attained liberation even during their life time [i.e.
Jivan Muktas] are totally egoless, which has come about through
vichara or self surrender.

Sri Ramakrishna also advocated Advaita though his life is predominantly of bhakti marga.

For an advaitin, there is no difference between Narayana and Siva - both are personal gods.  The Self or Atma is formless and nameless. One has to climb the ladder of devotion to attain jnana.

God or the Self is Love and nothing but love. But Prabhupada's two groups, one in charge of Mumbai ISKCON and Bangalore ISKCON are fighting legal battles over their ownership of ISKCON. Where is love, where is compassion, where is grace towards each other?

As Prabhupada, these two ISKCON societies are also of inadequate understanding of the Self. Festivals and vigorous dancing and cymbals shall not confer liberation.  Mere tuft of hair and wearing
dhotis alone shall not confer liberation.  Liberation comes from peace within.




Arunachala Siva.           

amiatall

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2011, 04:03:06 PM »
There is no real difference. Bhakti and self-inquiry leads to one and the same, if others tell you otherwise, i suggest to be careful.

Sri Ramana too showed His devotion attitude towards Arunachala.
Sri Nissargadatta Maharaj showed His devotion towards His guru every day.
Sri Ramakrishna, though He was totally devotion-path driven, always had Advaita as the meaning in His teachings.

To my mind, what they are afraid of is losing their individuality, they want to retain their ego and enjoy sugar(Gods bliss). I remember one man, who chanted Hare Krishna for 6 months and Krishna appeared to him and he started teaching from there on. Once he said "why I need to lose individuality, I don't want to lose individuality...". This explains a lot.
It is truly Gods Grace when a man just tries to find his own nature without going through all those religious cults etc.
 
It may sound unbelievable, but the One who lead me to Sri Ramana was non other than Jesus Christ... I believe His main message was of oneness and Advaita too.

By the way, you can find in this forum http://www.arunachala-ramana.org/forum/index.php?topic=6436.0
There srkudai elaborates upon essence of Gita. Sri Krishna too taught Advaita, and actually the Gita is not about Krishna and Arjuna it is about the reader... so it is non understandable for me when I see scholars sitting and arguing about scriptures, while forgetting TO WHOM IT WAS WRITTEN.

It all ends up with us, dropping all the knowledge that was landed upon me, how I feel myself? What do I believe? Why I believe? Who is this I?

Subramanian.R

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011, 05:12:51 PM »


Dear amiatall,

Quite Nice. Regarding non-advaita devotees being afraid to lose individuality, and be always in Vaikunta in the august presence of Naryana, there is one story told by Sri Bhagavan:

One Sri Vaishnava devotee came to Sri Bhagavan and asked Him:
I am chanting Narayana's name everyday and am doing pujas for
Narayana, will I go to Vaikunta?

Sri Bhagavan said: Why not? You will certainly go to Vaikunta!

The devotee: What will happen there?

Sri Bhagavan: You will be in Narayana's presence, and several devotees would be singing his glory.  It will all be quite pleasant.
You can see Narayana all the time.

The devotee: What will happen thereafter?

Sri Bhagavan: If Narayana is very pleased , he will ask you to come
near him and sit infront of him. You can also feast on his beauty.

The devotee: What will happen then?

Sri Bhagavan: Well, if Narayana is so much pleased with you, he will call you and whisper in your ears:  Investigate yourself further
with the question Who am I?  You will merge with me.

The devotee: I can do that here itself. Why should I go to Vaikunta?   

Sri Bhagavan: That is what I am also telling you. Do Vichara here
itself.


amiatall

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2011, 07:47:45 PM »
Dear Subramanian.R,


very nice post  :D

Paul108h

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2011, 11:19:28 AM »
LOL.

No, they don't teach that in the Hare Krishna camp.  They would think I am most fallen for even having the slightest desire to come here.  I think it feels great.  I so much appreciate being able to have these conversations.  Today I've been working long and hard, and now my body needs a snack and some rest, so I can't type much. 


One of the first of Prabhupada's books I ever bought (there was a used bookstore nearby that had a few) was a separate printing of Chapter 7 of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi Lila, titled, "Lord Caitanya in Five Features."  Here it is with just verses, each linking to the purports:
http://vedabase.net/cc/adi/7/en

... and here it is in book form, Chapter 7:
http://files.krishna.com/en/pdf/e-books/Caitanya-caritamrita_Adi_Lila.pdf

The main point of the chapter is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu converting the "mayavadi" sannyasis to become Vaisnavas.  Here is a brief excerpt:

CC Ādi 7.109: "Śrīpāda Śańkarācārya has described all the Vedic literatures in terms of indirect meanings. One who hears such explanations is ruined.

CC Ādi 7.110: "Śańkarācārya is not at fault, for it is under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that he has covered the real purpose of the Vedas.

CC Ādi 7.111: "According to direct understanding, the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has all spiritual opulences. No one can be equal to or greater than Him.

CC Ādi 7.112: "Everything about the Supreme Personality of Godhead is spiritual, including His body, opulence and paraphernalia. Māyāvāda philosophy, however, covering His spiritual opulence, advocates the theory of impersonalism.

CC Ādi 7.113: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead is full of spiritual potencies. Therefore His body, name, fame and entourage are all spiritual. The Māyāvādī philosopher, due to ignorance, says that these are all merely transformations of the material mode of goodness.

CC Ādi 7.114: "Śańkarācārya, who is an incarnation of Lord Śiva, is faultless because he is a servant carrying out the orders of the Lord. But those who follow his Māyāvādī philosophy are doomed. They will lose all their advancement in spiritual knowledge.

It's pretty odd to think that God would want to promote atheism at some point, but that's what they say He does in this age.  I figure that for Visnu to tell Siva to trick us just isn't fair, and I'd like to think He wouldn't do that to me after I've put so much into trying to serve Krishna.







Subramanian.R

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2011, 02:58:32 PM »


Dear Paul108h,

You talk about Sri Sankara and also say that mayavadi philosopher
says such and such thing.  It is not true. Sri Sankara only is called
mayavadi. Here again, it is a mistake to call him as mayavadi, because he opposed the maya, ignorance, as anirvachaneeyam, i.e it cannot be described.  He is in fact not a Mayavadi, because he said one should transcend the effects of maya, i.e. ignorance or non-Self and try to do vichara or surrender to merge with god, note, not to serve Siva or Krishna but to merge with Siva or Krishna.  Names and forms are not important. Because the Brahman is nameless and formless.

To serve Krishna is a incorrect attitude, as if Krishna has got no one to serve him. I do not marry a girl to serve me, but to have union with me. Merger with Krishna is advaitam and Vallabhacharya of Bengal popularised it.



Arunachala Siva.       

Paul108h

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2011, 07:38:41 PM »
I've never directly studied Sri Sankara's teachings, so I'm not characterizing them by my view.  I know of them indirectly through studying Ramana's teachings and hearing in his books that they are similar, and through the criticisms in Srila Prabhupada's books.  I personally have thought the "mayavadi" label is used by the Hare Krishnas much more than is appropriate.

I have also had doubt about the mayavadi label in general.  In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that the reality always is, and the temporary is unreal, and Ramana says the same thing.  Yet the Vaisnavas argue against teachings like Ramana's by focusing on maya.  Last night I was reading a section from Sri Caitanya Caritamrta while composing my message here then, and I saw one line where Sri Caitanya said that the supremacy of the Personal form of the Lord over the Impersonal aspect is proven by the manifestation of so much variety in the world.  Yet both schools call the material phenomena maya and say it is unreal.  It does not seem fair to me to label another's philosophy according to what they say is unreal rather than what they say is real.

They say the service is natural just my hands and feet serve me, and that one not in service is useless.  Of course, the love is the real thing, but its expression is service.  In the same chapter I mentioned above, Caitanya says:

CC Ādi 7.145: "The Supreme Lord, who is greater than the greatest, becomes submissive to even a very insignificant devotee because of his devotional service. It is the beautiful and exalted nature of devotional service that the infinite Lord becomes submissive to the infinitesimal living entity because of it. In reciprocal devotional activities with the Lord, the devotee actually enjoys the transcendental mellow of devotional service."

It is not portrayed like service in the material world, where people are forced into work they do not like to get something they want for sense gratification. 

Of course, if I was able to actually perceive such a relationship developing, and I think fifteen years of trying is a reasonable beginning, then I presume no doubts would have arisen.

I'm being called away at the moment and can't proofread now, so please forgive if it's not very coherent.


Subramanian.R

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2011, 08:29:25 PM »


Dear Paul108h,

Now that you have been reading Krishna Chaitanya, you also try to
read the abangams of Sant Jnaneswara either in Marathi or in English. He says, in his book Amritanubhava, the Jnana Bodham
ie. Self Realization is experiential and cannot be fathomed by
names and forms of god. Actually Amritanubhava is an Advaitic
text. All Pandaripura bhaktas are treating Siva and Vishnu as inseparable and one should attain formless Brahman finally.

That is why the staunch Vaishnavites do not recommend Bhakta Vijayam stories of Pandaripur devotees or Amritanubhava of Sant
Jnaneswara.  In fact, the Panduranga image in Pandaripur, does not have a conch shell and disc.  On the head of the image is a Siva Linga. And if you see the original image without ornaments, there are huge locks of hair behind, indicating he is not only Siva but also Devi or Mother.



Arunachala Siva.     

amiatall

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2011, 09:58:55 PM »
Hello sirs,

"Śańkarācārya, who is an incarnation of Lord Śiva, is faultless because he is a servant carrying out the orders of the Lord"

So, if they admit that it is Lords doing, why they are not at rest? I can't understand that.

Lords ways are infinite.

ramanaduli

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 10:14:22 AM »
Dear Subramaniyan ji,


There is another unique in Bhandarpur. There all devotees can touch "Vittal" Lord who is presiding deity there. Whoever comes to temple they sing bhajans because they say, if you sing vitoba comes as a person who sings along with us. Lord is happy to be worshiped by Nadopasana. Bhandarpur is vaikuntam on
earth. (Bholoka vaikuntam).


Ramanaduli

Subramanian.R

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Re: Greetings, everyone.
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2011, 10:48:02 AM »


Dear Ramanaduli,

In Pandaripur, in the abangams of saints, they also say, Nateswari,
that is wife of Nataraja, chandrachuda, one who wears chandra, moon. Like this, they do not differentiate between Vishnu and Siva and Devi. Devi is also called Gopala Sundari.  Srimad Devi Bhagavatam describes Devi as Krishna.

Panduranga is all in one.  That is why he is acceptable to all excepting Sri Vaishanvas and Veera Saivas.



Arunachala Siva.