Author Topic: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen  (Read 4631 times)

Subramanian.R

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Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« on: January 14, 2013, 06:21:40 PM »
CHAPTER I

The Qualified Disciple

This is the age of shortcuts. Time has shrunk and space more so, and the dual inconvenience has affected men's moods and
temper. Even the Supreme Knowledge has nowadays to be given in massive doses and has to produce quick results too, or
they will have none of it.

In olden days Brahmajnana (the Knowledge of the Absolute) used to be imparted by the Rishis (Self Realized Sages) to their
sannyasi (world renouncers) disciples only over a number of years. Staying with the Guru in seclusion, often in the forests, for
the whole period of was a prerequisite for many good reasons, which disciples could not question. Now we cannot do that. Time
presses and our patience has, likewise, suffered and the prize at issue.

Besides, the culture which most of us have inherited is too extroverted and too aggressively intellectual to permit us to understand
within a short time, what it all means to be a Sadhaka, a practical aspirant for a truth of which in our homes and colleges we were
not given an inkling.

We are apt, moreover, to bring with us scraps of knowledge gleaned from a wide reading of miracle-ridden theology and 'occultism'
including an endeavor to accommodate the Vedanta inside them. The result is that we return from the Guru (the qualified Teacher) and
his Ashram with our doubts still in our heads, uncleared, and our minds, about truth and untruth, still befogged.

It is necessary at the outset to understand that it is not possible to hound out Avidya (the primeval ignorance arising out of the
sense perceptions) with a halfhearted  approach, with scanty faith, with a mind weighed down by preconceptions, stubborn worldliness,
fixed ideas, and inordinate haste, These do not qualify for the Supreme Knowledge (Jnana), which exacts a steady, unwavering,
wholehearted discipline.

Authentic seekers are humble and modest in their expectations and do not, as a rule, lay down conditions in advance for their yogic
practice, nor fix time as to the possible attainment of the Goal, but surrender themselves unreservedly to their sadhana and to guidance of the teacher, unmindful of the results.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2013, 01:32:31 PM »
QUALIFIED DISCIPLE:

continues.....

The seeker of the Absolute must have no object in life but the persistent pursuit of the Absolute, to which he bends all the power of
his soul/ To approach it in any other attitude, say with motives not strictly spiritual, or with a surfeited, insubordinate intellect, or to
expect the Absolute to bend and yield its secrets in the first week or first month for one's own sake, for the sake of one's worldly
achievements, illustrious ancestry or community, denotes a lack of the most elementary qualities that make one eligible for it. Eclecticism
likewise has no place in this path. It application is poor,  its understanding diffused, so are its spiritual yearnings.

It will be observed that this approach attacks the object, that is the world appearance, from two fronts -- the one by investigation,
which helps distinguish he sentient, changeless Seer from the insentient, ever changing seen, the body. And the other by meditation
which suppresses the seen and reveals the Seer. With the former we dialectically expose the fallacy and worthlessness of the sense
date and, thus demolish the foundations over which we have been accustomed to raise the false structure of our knowledge, and with
the other, we dive deep into their substratum to find the subject as he is in himself, the owner of the senses, who is the Absolute
Reality.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 04:05:11 PM »
Dear Tusnim,

Exceptions do not make general rule.

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 12:44:37 PM »
The Qualified Disciple:

continues.....

Sri Sankara gives a picturesque description of the aspirant who qualifies for this knowledge and his approach to the Self-
Realized Guru in ancient times:

'We shall now explain the method by which Liberation is attained, for the benefit of those who aspire for it and who
desire to know this method with full faith.

'This means to Liberation, namely, Knowledge, should be explained again and again, until it is firmly grasped to a pure
a brahmana (seeker of Brahman, the Absolute) disciple, who is indifferent to everything that is transitory; who has given  up
the desire for a son, for wealth, for this world and the next; who has taken to a life of sannyasa (renunciation and asceticism)
and who has control over his mind and senses; who possesses compassion and all the qualities of a disciple  enjoined by the
scriptures, and who has approached the Guru in the prescribed manner and has been examined in respect of his profession,
conduct, learning and parentage.'

                                 - UpadesasAhasri - I - 1, 1-3)

continued.....

Arunachala Siva. 
                                           
     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 09:24:21 AM »
CHAPTER II:

Necessity of Sadhana:

The unsteady min has no knowledge of the Supreme; nor has he mediation. To the unmeditating there is no peace; and to the
unpeaceful how can there be happiness?

                                                                              - Bhagavad Gita II.66.

These lines are a philosophy of life in a nutshell. They guide him who desires to live in peace with the world and with himself,
as well as him who is bent upon taking the pilgrim's staff in search of the truth absolute and the freedom for which his soul
yearns. They tell the former that peace is unattainable without mental steadiness, and the latter that mind control through
meditation is absolutely essential to attain that Knowledge which alone can give release.

The mind, which is the only instrument of knowledge, man possesses, is usually never at rest and too entangled in the object
of desire, it perceives and in the duties, responsibilities and attachments, which these impose upon it, to know how to release
itself from them. The help of the Master becomes necessary to show the way out of the sense mess and into the aloneness of the
Being (kaivalya), of the pure mind itself, which is all purity and tranquility. This is the supreme knowledge to which the following lines
refer:

I know this mighty Being, who shines effulgent like the Sun beyond darkness. One triumphs over death only by knowing Him. There
is indeed no other way to Liberation.

                                             (SvetasvatAra Upanishad III, 8).

To 'triumph over death' discipline of the mind (sadhana) is, therefore, necessary. As in deep sleep, the subject enjoys the massive bliss
of kaivalya when he sees no sights, hears no sounds, and is completely free from thoughts, so much the yogi in the waking state
withdraw into kaivalya of himself through meditation to attain the knowledge of Being or the Self, which is the Supreme Liberation.
This method is called Jnana Maga (path of knowledge). In no system is the practice made so easy and safe as in this yoga, because,
first, it is dialectical and, secondly, it is free from the dangers, which often result from misdirected practices which which interfere
with the natural functions of the body, or with super sensible forces lying beyond the control of the subject himself.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2013, 08:48:47 AM »
Chapter 2:

cpntinues...

Jnana Yoga, also called Advaitic Sadhana (non dualistic discipline), is the direct path to Liberation. The process can be summed up
only in three words. EMPTY YOUR MIND. In dreamless sleep, the mind is totally empty of thoughts, plunged as it is in the bliss of
its own native state, the pure consciousness, (Chit). But waking is the state of thinking, which projects the worlds of time and space
and covers the being, like the dust that covers a clean mirror. In order therefore to perceive this effulgent Being, thoughts have to
be arrested; the mirror of the mind has to be cleared of its dust.  This is called Turiya (the Fourth State), to distinguish it from the
other three states, of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, which experiences the blissful  aloneness of Sushupti, deep sleep, in the full
view of the waking, Jagrat, when the senses and the faculty of cognition are present but rendered inactive by practice. Its other name
is Samadhi, the ecstasy of self cognition.

It goes without saying that the first attempts to arrest on the onrush of thoughts, appear frustrating, sometimes even painful,
but success is sure to result from persistent efforts. Constant practice releases the mind from its inhibitions, its habits, memories,
fear, suppressed longing, anxiety, etc., and establishes a free flow of the dhyAnic current at the same time every day, if regularity
in the practice is scrupulously maintained.

continued....

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 09:57:50 AM »
CHAPTER 2:

Necessity for Sadhana:

continues....

Those who find it difficult to restrain the mind from the very start, take to japa which is soothing and awe inspiring, preparatory
to meditation. The reduction of thoughts to a substantial degree, is indispensable for  entering the state of samadhi and, as this
cannot be achieved without mind control, all other methods have eventually to pass into dhyana, when the mind will be able to
stand 'like a jet of a lamp that is protected from a breeze' (Patanjali). The japa will  by then have ceased to be repeated orally.
But will have turned into the silent ajapa, the serene quietude in the Heart, which is the end of the aim of dhyana.

Other means of subduing the thinking faculty, such as drugs, breath control to obtain the cataleptic state of laya, interference with the uvula and the frenum lingui etc., do not concern us here. Genuine sadhakas, avoid short cuts which may land  them in dangerous
situations. Dhyana and Vichara, if done steadily, will not fail to take them safely to the glorious Self.  It is not by stupefying or over
exciting the cerebral cells, nor by circumventing the century old discipline, but by purifying and controlling the mind that the vision of
Reality can be ensured.

*****

sub chapter concluded.

Arunachala Siva.           

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2013, 10:36:44 AM »
Chapter 3:

Dhyana (Meditation)

We have seen that sadhana is necessary for those who keenly feel the impermanence and hardships of the world of sense,
and seek redemption from them and from the affliction of avidya (ignorance). We have also discussed the nature and results
of the sadhana in general. Now we shall examine a few practical methods of dhyana which are known to have helped seekers
throughout the centuries to tread the same path and arrive.

I wish to remark that the failure of many people to lead their dhyana to success is due to two principal causes. First is their
inability to concentrate at all, let alone for any appreciable length of time, which induces some of them to makeshifts or follow
a Guru who does not recommend dhyana. The second, by far the greater cause, is their starting with inadequate knowledge,
with hazy, improperly formed ideas about the aim and object of their meditation, which naturally results in their remaining
in the cloud of uncertainty for a long time. The vast majority of beginners are in too great a haste to take to the road of dhyana
before seizing themselves of all its facts and principles. Who is therefore to blame if they feel at a loss to know how to meditate,
how to begin meditation, or if the meditation remains thin and jejune? It is not enough to snatch a few slogans, shut the eyes,
and start questioning oneself Who am I? or suggesting oneself 'I am not the body nor the senses'. etc., A comprehensive grasp
of the Master's teaching and profound reflections are absolutely necessary to endow the meditator with a prior knowledge of what
he is to expect from dhyana and questions?

continued....

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 08:33:54 AM »
3. DHYANA:

continues.....

For the very mind that asks them is itself the Reality it is seeking, and if it has been understood with full conviction, as such, how
can the meditation be clear in its objective to succeed? This is the stage when no one can help the meditator. He has to help
himself by assiduous application and deep cogitation on the words of the Master to draw practical conclusions from them, which
is itself a sort of meditation and which in course of time matures into the meditation proper, whose aim is to annihilate the vritti
(mind transformation or thoughts) which covers the reality of the Self, as has been explained in the last chapter.

Meditation is a self contained process, which goes on correcting itself, to perform by trials and errors in him who comes prepared
for it.  It somehow finds its way by the light of its own torch, catching the smallest hints that rise from within or without and
automatically acting on them without even the knowledge of the surface consciousness. The presence of the Guru is then of the
greatest help, and must be availed of at any cost, if by then Guru has revealed himself. If not dwelling in holy places and clean
environments is essential till the Guru is found. In fact, to those who have attained this state of maturity the Guru does not tarry
to appear somehow. They are never left in the lurch for long in that respect. He is there waiting, as it were, all the time; the seeking,
conscious or unconscious, is definitely mutual.               

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 09:39:42 AM »
DHYANA:

continues.....

Residence with the Guru during the whole period of practice is of inestimable value (occasional absenteeism excepted), for
reasons which the sadhaka will not fail to discover by himself after passing the stage of apprenticeship and  beginning to know
what is what in the true spiritual life. There will be, moreover, no particular inclination on his part to return to the world, if he means
business and is truly fervent. The time factor is of the utmost importance to him. He abhors being a minute longer than he can help
it in this welter of vanity, superficialities, and wasted efforts. He cannot afford to lead a busy life for pretty nothing, or lead a life of
lax indifference. He has by then developed a positive detachment, contemplative habits, love for seclusion and for sattvic company
particularly that of the Guru. Yet the worldly-mindedness which he brings with him takes a long time to be rubbed off. Its substitution
by the nivritti (return to the being) impressions is made easy by meditative efforts, supplemented by the holiness which ceaselessly
emanates from the Guru. Worldly people call this penance (tapas), of which they are very scared, indeed, imagining it to call for
Herculean efforts and great sacrifices. Nothing is farther from the truth. Apart from the very first steps there exists no suffering worth mentioning for those who are seriously inclined towards it. The suffering seen by others in the tapasvin lies only in their own imagination. The tapasvin himself enjoys the indescribable bliss of the inner freedom which tapas affords --- freedom from the terrible
load with which the world burdens the ordinary life. The tapasvin has thrown down that load and is now free. The strict meaning of
tapas in this path is adherence to the quest for the Self, and if the Self has already been realized, continued inherence in it, not allowing
oneself to slip back again to the world of senses, (Ramana Gita XI, 19).

The true tapasvin is he who has, in his heart and mind, turned his back completely to the world. If he has not done that, domestic life
is the best for him. He will be freer at home than in an Asramam or a temple to pursue his seeking even in the midst of his worldly affairs. It is no use being in an Asramam in seclusion when the instrument through which he expects attain peace --- the mind ---
is itself disturbed by longings.

continued......

Arunachala Siva.       
       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 09:56:09 AM »

continues.....

It goes without saying that this has nothing whatever in common with the flesh and soul mortification of the Hindu and
Christian exteremists, of the cave and desert hermits. The Bhagavad Gita insists on moderation in everything and on
the necessity of maintaining good health and mental ease and comfort.

Once the mind is cleared of dead past, it will be amenable to adjust itself to the new conditions. The Guru, let it be at once
stated, merely reveals this truth and its import to the sadhaka and points the direction of it, but He cannot take the place of
the meditation, which is the preparation of the mind for the supreme experience by yogi himself, no more than a school master
can himself make the study on behalf of his pupils. Nor can the Guru confer the ability to meditate, or, for the matter of that,
Mukti itself by act of His will. For then there would be no need for any practice whatever, or for even self purification. Who would
then take all this trouble when a simple request to the Guru would do the trick? Sadhana would then be a mockery and mukti
valueless. Moreover, the true Guru is not less than a Jivanmukta, one who had divested Himself of all personal volition even
prior to His attainment, and, when He had become the one Self, the Absolute Brahman, not only the personal will but also the
vision of multiplicity, of otherness, had ceased to exist for Him. To ascribe to Him, therefore, partiality and discrimination denotes
ignorance, if not also disloyalty to Him. Yet, miracles, as acts of His Grace, do sometimes appear, but these are not brought about
consciously and deliberately by Him as an individual, but the powers latent  in His pure mind mysteriously respond in their own
gracious ways, if the prarabdha of the devotee concerned is favorable.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2013, 08:49:24 AM »
continues....

The impulse and desire for meditation have thus be born inside the sadhaka's own heart, and they are invariably so born when the
heart by long sustained aspirants has sufficiently blossomed and developed an appreciable degree of detachment (Vairagya)
and the mind  has cooperated  with it in a rational sensitivity to truth and in a power of discrimination (Viveka). The Guru becomes
then extremely valuable, not only as a revealer of the Truth and the way to It, but also as an inspiring, purifying and soothing
influence which calms the storm which agitates  the hearts not yet turned truly ascetic, hastening the maturing of meditation into
Samadhi.

continues....         

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2013, 10:16:10 AM »
continues.....

The true seeker goes on plodding with his meditation day in and day out, year in and year out, supplementing it in his free hours
with the study of the subject of his meditation, so that his mind may not lie fallow and fall back in its old ruts, or retrospect on
incidents the memory of which does decided harm to his sadhana. A careful watch has to be kept on the tricks of the memory which
keeps bringing to the present sorrowful and remorseful events and associations, which had better remain buried in the past.
Equally distressing is the memory of persons who, in their times, had left profound marks on the heart and mind. All these recollections
have to be guarded against and nipped in the bud the moment they make their appearance. The past in brief, has to be thrown into
limbo to preserve the calm which is necessary for the practice.

Once out of the initial darkness, the mind becomes eager to receive concrete directions and hints, which throw some light on its
journey in this unchartered land of the spirit, which stretches before it to infinity without landmarks or milestones.

We come now to the core of the subject --- meditation. What is meditation, and why it is practiced?

Meditation is simply the repeated attempt to withdraw one's thoughts from the multitudes of objects around and fix them on only
one object --- the subject chosen for concentration. In chapter 2, we have dealt with the restlessness and unhappiness of the
unrestrained, diffused mind. Although the mind is to be fleeter than the wind, fleeter than the lightning and thus uncontrollable,
yet by constant practice it slowly bends and acquires quiescence and depth till it reaches the Heart or Self, which is absolute peace,
the mind's own true nature, free from thoughts. This is the true meditation and its aim in this yoga.

continued......

Arunachala Siva.           

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 09:38:19 AM »
CHAPTER 3 - Dhyana:

continues.....

To those who are unable to choose their own subjects for concentration, the following hints are given:

1. Meditation on the nature of Being, which is the source and substratum of all thoughts known in Srutis as the Akasa of
consciousness, or Heart, develops an intuition of it, wearing away all the images from the meditating mind, polishing it and,
finally revealing it to be the shining sun of knowledge, free from the dark cloud of the phenomena (or thoughts) that have
hitherto been covering it. Its names are Chit, Chaitanya, Atman, Paramatman, etc., Sandilya Upanishad describes this practice
graphically thus:

O Sandilya,  be happy. Place the Self in the midst of the Akasa, and the Akasa in the middle of the Self and, having reduced
everything to Akasa, do not think. You will not entertain then either internal or external thoughts. Abandoning all thoughts,
become abstract thought itself. As a camphor dissolves in fire and salt in water, so does 'manas' (the thinking faculty) dissolver
in Tattva (the Reality). What is termed 'manas' is the knowledge of everything that is cognized. When this and the cognized object
are alike lost, there is no second path. By giving up all cognition of objects, the 'manas' is absorbed and Kaivalya -- aloneness of
the Being -- remains.

It will be observed that this approaches the Reality --- Satchitananda (Existence- Consciousness-Bliss) --- from its Chit aspect,
that is, as Consciousness or Knowledge.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.   
 
 

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Re: Advaitic Sadhana - S.S. Cohen
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2013, 10:43:53 AM »
DHYANA:

continues.....

Another helpful method is to begin meditation with a happy mood, with no object in view but the feeling of happiness in the heart. This can be created in so many ways in the imagination and maintained throughout the duration of meditation. Happiness, being the nature of the Self, facilitates the approach to it, provided the mind  is kept easy, thought-free and alert without self assertion. The mental and physical  relaxation which precedes sleep is also felt here, but without its companion, torpor. This should be held on for as long a time as possible, and, whenever a thought appears, it should be immediately checked to prevent a return to the welter of thinking and feeling. A conscious, thought free and happy alertness is the principal ingredient of this method, and, when made firm by practice, it will eventually turn out to be very consciousness of the quest. If a blank state supervenes in meditation, it should be ignored, for it will dissipate in the course of practice, and not dwelt upon. The thought of the blank is more harmful to the meditation than the blank itself.,

This approaches the Reality from its ananda (bliss) aspect.

******

Arunachala Siva.