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QUESTION: Namaste Guru,

After much deep contemplation, I have a few questions that I would like to bring to you.

Sometimes I look at Swami Venkatesananda and Chidananda and feel envious that they were able to meet Swami Sivananda when he was alive! Oh, what I would do to be able to exchange even a few words with the great Master.

Nevertheless, I have a few queries.

1) I have read your answers for many years now and it appears that your view if somewhat fatalistic. Your view seems to be that regardless of our action, things will only happen if the Atman is willing. Kindly educate me on how this is compatible with Swami Sivananda's assertion that we are the masters of our own destiny and have free will to bring ourselves closer to God. Right now, I (this fake, uneternal ego) can either pursue base pleasures or turn my mind toward Atman. Only after one is fully established in the supreme splendor of brahman does the ego and mind not exist. Until then, don't we have free will to pursue a better path?

2) The mind is a weird beast. When I get an improper thought, from external surroundings or past sexual vasanas, I force myself to think toward Atman. Therefore, I am using the mind to control the mind! How can this be? Can the mind observe itself? Is it not the case? Ultimately, all is merely a layering on the one true truth yet I need to understand this to progress in my sadhana. I am always grateful for the fact that His grace has been showered on my via having access to your portal here.

3) I thought long and hard about the nature of pain. Ramana bhagawan did not take anaesthesia while undergoing surgery! He said that the body felt pain, but he was not the body. Of course, all aspiring sadhus realize this, but the moment pain strikes, attachment and concern to the body arise! Is it not startling! This being said, when a yogi is on the earthly plane, 1) how will he react to physical pain and 2) will his mind shift from contemplation on atman when the body suffers? It is like Maslow's hierarchy; even Sivananda suggested that students have blankets in cold weather to ensure mind was comfortable for sadhana.

4) I notice a pattern in my sadhana that is disturbing. Regardless of sadhana commitment, after I sin by abusing myself, I have tremendous resolve to maintain brahmacharya and behave resolutely. Yet, inevitably after 2 weeks, the mind becomes restless and pulls me toward a visual or physical break. How can we ensure that this toxic buildup is cleaned regularly?

Humbly yours,
Milton, thy own self

ANSWER: 1. Whose destiny? Does the Atman (self) have a destiny? No. It is changeless, without a beginning & end. Hence there is no freewill as regards the pure self.

It is the Ego, which is concerned with these things. It is the Ego which has destiny. Freewill exists as long as the 'Aham' (Ego) exists, to that Ego. Whether actions carried out under freewill bear or do not bear fruit is however not within its control.

One has been asked to enforce his freewill in the quest of the self, as it is the Ego which has to strive in negating itself, to reveal the unblemished Atman (self) within. However, it is the Lord alone, through whose grace, the self is irreversibly revealed in reality, for the Ego does not exist in terms of the absolute. It is only an illusion.

Just as a coiled rope is mistaken for a snake at night and revealed as merely a rope on Sunrise, the Ego is mistaken to be the limited self under the darkness of 'Agnyana' (Ignorance) and is realized to be non-existent after the Sunrise of 'Gnyana' (realization of the absolute)

2. The 'Sukshma Sharira' (subtle body) is made of the 'Manas' (mind), 'Buddhi' (intellect), 'Chitta' (awareness) and 'Ahamkara' (I-ness), which, drawing from the power of the Atman, leads to the illusion of a separate entity called the 'Jiva - I'.

An improper thought is manifest in the mind from the seeds of past karma. The 'Buddhi' (intellect) reminds the 'Manas' (mind) that it is to be shunned.

3. As long as consciousness is identified with the body & mind, one feels pain and pleasure. The realized Yogi has withdrawn identification with these and can hence remain independent.

Since bearing cold does not in any way help realization of the self, the aspirant might as well use a blanket.

4. Through regular meditation on the Atman (self).

ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: OK, a few follow ups.

1) How is Buddhi distinct from the mind? Is it simply the act of logical processing while Manas refers to emotions? Also, you mentioned Buddhi is intellect. What is the difference between intellect and intelligence, if such a difference exists?

2) In the process of meditation, when I force the mind to think of Atman, am I using Buddhi to do so?

3) When people speak of cognitive ability, IQ, and such, are they referring to Buddhi? In that case, is the reason brahmacharya improves this Buddhi because it replenishes the cerebrospinal fluid of the brain? I find this confusing: You have mentioned Buddhi is part of the subtle body but the brain, the source of intellect, is part of the sthoola sharira, physical body. How to reconcile these differences?

4) Gurudev Sivananda spoke also of the astral body and said that astral plane is filled with a tube each time one has sexual relations with another which does not dissolve for many years. When an individual takes a new birth, does he have astral connections with the individuals around him? Many times I think of the strong feelings I have to those around me and know that such deep feelings could not be the result of interactions in this birth alone.

5) A very serious question, and I mean it in earnest. The joy of contemplating on Atman and the almighty is undeniably the jewel of jewels. However, at a certain point, the mind becomes restless and wonders "oh you! you are but a young man of 21 years. you must explore the world and all it has to offer". Thus, is it OK to have a desire to explore the world and experience new things? All these are done through the unreal senses, but I feel as a young man that my growth and understanding of humanity is stunted if I do not play my role in learning more each day about the subjects that fascinate me, viz. psychology, learning, human history, achievement, and so forth.

Most grateful for your responses,
Milton

ANSWER: 1. Thought is mind, reasoning is Buddhi (intellect).

2. Yes. One should however not force. When the flow of thoughts are ceased, the self alone remains.

3. The abundant vital energy which is saved through the practice replenishes the physical brain, as well as makes Prana available for the development of a fine intellect. This is the meaning.

One should not worry much about these theoretical parameters. Do your Sadhana and simply reside in the self. All that is to be known will be known.

4. Let them exist or not. Why worry about the past? The wise Yogi does not waste his resources on what has happened. He works at Sadhana to dissolve unwanted Samskara-s (impressions) and remains quiet in the Atman (self).

5. If your mind is fixed on the self, those worldly experiences which are a part of 'Prarabdha karma' will be undoubtedly experienced at the right time. The Sadhaka is assured of happiness here and hereafter. No cause for worry.

ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)




---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When one engages in sadhana, the goal is to turn the mind into the omnipresent source of energy from which the mind, prana, buddhi, ahamkara,etc. are derived.

My commitment to sadhana continues to grow. I have a few queries.

1) It is a great source of mental strain to understand what my perspective should be in the world. Although I will relate to the Atman, the one true self, during meditation, when one interacts in the real world, even a yogi must identify with the body and mind right? For instance, when hunger arises, and someone asks a yogi are you hungry, does the yogi not say yes and agree that he identifies with the body? Or when one is sick, WHO is the one who takes the medicine? Is it not buddhi that does so. What is the RIGHT mode of thinking for a yogi?

2) Gurudev Sivananda was a great writer and composed many great dramas. When asked about how he came up with such good pieces, he replied "All God's Grace". When a person takes initiative in this world-for example, to work hard to become an athlete or persevere on the path of brahmacharya-WHO, WHO, is doing the persevering? Is it not the buddhi which rationalizes, "oh man, you must lead a disciplined life for immortal bliss and the fruits of supreme knowledge"?

3) When someone asks a yogi (who is an engineer), "who came up with the patent?", what should the yogi say? If he says "I did" it means he identifies with the buddhi and body which worked on the patent, which is wrong because it strays AWAY from atman, no?

4) When seated in deep meditation, I am, after many tries, finally able to do neti neti-I say I am not the body, not the mind, not the emotions, not the intellect and slowly, a rejuvenating, fuzzy feeling of bliss courses through the body. It is much subtler than the horrible cycle of physical orgasm that depletes vital fluid, but this sensation is truly bliss-inducing.

However the point of merging the mind into atman is to forget the body. Therefore, what is this weird bliss? WHO feels this bliss?

Please take mercy and help me. In a world filled with lust and mindless pursuits of hostility, kama, krodha, sometimes I feel wounded and confused to the point of questioning why I am doing sadhana. The only two things that inspire me to stay on the path relentlessly are the advice of Swami Sivananda gurudev and bhagawan ramana. Unable to ask them, I turn to you, admiring your wisdom and grace in helping aspirants cross this samsara sagara.

Milton

Answer
1. One should hold on to the self, which is a witness of all these things such as sickness, hunger etc and reject all else. Through such a perspective coupled with long Sadhana, the false identification gradually ebbs away.

2. It is all the Lord's Leela. The ignorant mind however assumes doership, thinking itself to be the winner or loser. One should be detached to the world, yet do that which is expected of him, bereft of doership.

3. One is playing a character in the drama. The character of the engineer demands that he claim doership and the engineer does so. The Yogi within him however remains detached, knowing all comes from HIM alone.

4. He who feels bliss or does not is the Ego. The Atman is bliss itself & there is none there to feel or not feel it. When the mind truly merges into the self, there is none to seek it. THAT alone remains, within and without, the void of voids, without a second.

ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)

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Expertise

Questions concerning the practice of 'Brahmacharya' to know the self, & the means required are dealt with here.

Experience

The term 'Yoga' is a derivative of the Samskruth verb 'Yuj' which refers to union. 'Yoga', also called 'Brahma vidy‚' is the eternal dissolution of the individual 'Aham' (Ego) into the Atman (self) for 'Mukti' (liberation). Mere indulgence in '¬sana' or physical postures is not Yoga. ¬sana is only one limb or 'Anga' of Yoga. The eight limbs viz. Yama, Niyama, ¬sana, Pr‚n‚y‚ma, Praty‚h‚ra, Dh‚rana, Dhy‚na and Sam‚dhi are the means to Yoga. Brahmacharya or spiritually based continence is one of the important components of 'Yama'. 'Brahmacharya':- "Brahmani charyathey ithi" - "To surrender one's Ego and go with the will of the Almighty."

Education/Credentials
Bachelors degree in Engineering.

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