Swami Veda Bharati holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. He is also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He has authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.
Recently I have been thinking over something that I have spoken of a little elsewhere, especially in my teaching of the Yoga-sutras. That as we progress spiritually, one of the marks of our spiritual progress is that our usage of language changes. The way we used certain words, we no longer use them in that sense. The rest of society with whom we communicate think we are using the same word, but we are actually expressing a completely different meaning.
This sometimes creates a problem between the teacher and the students because the teacher is using words and phrases in a definition which is entirely different that what the students are hearing. This is one of the matters I would like to address taking certain words and understanding their meaning.
I have also found that even when the teacher or the texts or the inspiring books do define a word, do explain it differently, and even though it may be done repeatedly by way of a reminder, yet the listeners continue to understand the word as they understood it before. Because our understanding of words is not based only conventional usage, not only on logical processes, but on very deep-rooted emotional associations.
In fact, with our entire personality build-up, with our entire accumulation of karmas and samskaras that we have gathered over many, many lifetimes, so that when a word is heard, the unconscious mind immediately attaches certain tags to it, gives it certain colorings, certain tones, certain connotations. And that is what the mind hears. And what the mind hears, the mind reproduces. And then the students go out and quote the teacher, saying this is how it was said; but that is not how it was really meant. Therefore, we need to train our minds so that we may use, at least the spiritual part of the language, in a way that transcends our psychological personality traits.
I have repeatedly said that spirituality is far beyond the mind. A truly spiritual person acts, in his spiritual capacity, by going beyond his psychological personality. That is what the "teacher within" is. Let me read to you something that actually I wrote to someone today:
The Earth rotates without anyone to turn it.
The sea is churned without anyone to churn it.
The sun flies daily without any wings.
The moon is lit monthly without any lighters.
Whoever heard of anyone ever kindling the lightning?
The teacher within teaches without ever donning a personality,
as God in our sleep, without voice or words, sings.
Seek no more anyone to ensoul your own soul.
Do not imagine partitions in partless, absolute whole.
Do recognize, pay homage when,
Wearing Absence's garbs,
Presence wanders into your heart, mind, person,
To visit with you and in you to dwell.
Let not Absences, wearing fabrics of illusion,
Play for you Presence's role,
As nothing short of Infinity
Remains ever your only goal.
So one must rise above the concept of a psychological personality in establishing a relationship between the students and the teachers. And the teacher must not permit his psychological personality to come between himself and the students. And the student also must look to something beyond psychological personality when looking at the teacher and when seeking the presence of a master.
This process of spiritual refinement I would not say begins with language, although some schools of Indian philosophy would favor this view, but rather with levels of realization. Realization comes to us in many ways. It comes by refining our acts. It comes by deepening our meditation. And it comes to us by sharpening our practice of contemplation, which initially often is an exercise in mental linguistics, the mind's use of language, analyzing the words.
Take for example, the word illness. Now in Ayurveda, the ancient Vedic science of health, there are two words used for illness: adhi and vyadhi. Adhi is the mental conditioning which gives rise to physical illness and also the mental suffering associated with physical illness. And vyadhi is the actual physical illness. While these two words are used in this sense, in the technical literature on health sciences in the ancient Sanskrit tradition of Ayurveda, the same words are used quite often interchangeably in the spiritual literature.
An illness, both in its mental and physical state, both in its mental cause and its physical manifestation, is defined a follows. (Now here, perhaps you are expecting an earth-shaking new theory of medicine, but what we have here is redefining the mental associations with the word illness. What do you mean you say you suffer from an illness. Pause here for a moment, and in your own mind define illness. Now you will probably look at it from many different angles.
Let me give you the definition of illness from the tantra literature. It says, Adhaya eva vyadhya. "The very adhis (mental conditionings) are the vyadhis (the illnesses)." It is not that the mental conditionings cause the illnesses, but that they are the illnesses. What kind of mental conditions are the illness? Paripurna bhavasya shivasya maya evam edat karthavyam nava iti vikalpa rupa adhaya eva vyadhya. The alternating thoughts (vikalpas) being presented to the mind which are almost antonyms to sankalpa (acts of volition, resolution, will) those that prevent us from acting from a single-minded resolution, those divisions of mind, conflicts of mind.
What kinds of conflicts of mind? One who is beyond adhis and vyadhis is paripurna bhava shiva, is none less than the Lord himself, whose being within and without from non-beginning to non-end is all fullness, completeness, perfectness, such a one that I am. When I lose somehow and it is a mystery how I do happen to lose it this paripurna bhava, this completeness, this fullness of my own being and thereby become divided against myself "I ought to do this, or I ought not to do this? I ought to think this, or I ought not to think this. I ought to be inclined to think this way, or I ought not to be inclined this way?"
This conflict itself is the adhis, the mental sufferings. The root of that is simply the fact of our losing the awareness of our fullness, oneness, completeness, perfection, as the very sovereign Lord himself. And eva adhya. Those very conflicts which constitute the mental suffering, they are the illnesses. In other words, says the tantra, Apurnam manyuta vyadhi. Assuming one's perfect, absolute transcendental Self to be imperfect, incomplete, divided and divisive, and having that wrong assumption, that wrong definition of the Self.
"Well." you would say, "Oh, I have heard that in modern psychology we have to clear our idea of selfhood." Yes, indeed we have to clear our idea of selfhood, but I don't mean the word self here in the sense in which it is commonly used. Certainly not in the sense like a magazine like Self uses it. To me that is propagating only non-Self. So we'll come to the definition of self like the ancient founders of philosophy, like Kapila, the founder of Sankhya, who addressed in the very first sutra the question of suffering. Like the Buddha who went out looking for the cause of suffering.
Here we take this question of defining illness, defining suffering, be it a mental disturbance or be it its not its product its synonym, the physical illness. For this loss of Self-awareness, loss of the awareness of our true Self as absolute, perfect, total transcendent being, this alone is the ground that can be diagnosed as the only place of misery, causing us many afflictions, visiting us with many, many sorrows and pains.
Now we have not quite understood the word self. We shall come to that. Now for this illness, what is the therapy. Elsewhere I have told you the story of a lady named Madalasa in my lectures titled She and the Women Saints in California in 1990. I'll not repeat the whole story here, but just one line from the two verses that she had written and had placed in the hollow in the signet ring of her son. At a moment of utter helpless adversity, sitting under a tree in the forest when he opened the signet ring and he read what the mother had written and placed in the hollow of his ring to resort to when there was no one ever to turn to. And he read the formula: Sattam sangohi bhesajam, the company of the saintly is the only therapy. We call that satsanga.
Satsanga is the ancient kind of therapy session. In the company of the saintly, the divisiveness of our mind vanishes. The wrinkles of the mind are smoothed. The partitions are pulled down. That which was split and wounded is made whole, is healed. The only healthy people on this earth who have ever been are the saintly. And here we are speaking of the mind's condition. So the first therapy is the company of the saintly. You want therapeutic effects in life, change your company, and seek out the saintly. And sit at their feet. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya upadeksyanti te janam jnaninas tattva-darsinah. We read in the Bhagavad-gita IV.34: Know that by bowing down, by prostrating, then asking, and not only asking but also through service, and the knowing ones, the ones that endowed with knowledge, those who have the insight into Reality, they will teach you; they will pass on their knowledge and wisdom to you.
The tantra actually goes on very much further and explains where in the Sri Yantra, that is our macrocosmic and microcosmic personality, transcendent and immanent, there is a chakra called Sarva-roga-hara, the chakra that eliminates all illnesses. Now again, you see, you are listening to this word, and you are immediately thinking of fevers and flu, bodily aches and pains, livers and palate. And here, we are not talking of those at all. We are talking of that place where the spirit just touches the deepest, the hidden-most, the interior-most layer of the mind. When a warp occurs that that place, then it passes through the other layers of the mind, thereby warping the mind. Please understand what it is that I am talking about.
Again, you need to re-define. When you hear the word, no longer, please, use it, no longer understand it to mean what you have meant in the conventional usage. So that the tantra speaks of a state called khechari. Now you pick up an ordinary text on hatha yoga. Now what is khechari? Oh, sit straight and turn your tongue into the palate. Some people even go about cutting the little membrane that joins the tongue to the floor of the mouth or whatever you might call it. I don't know the anatomical term. I had planned actually in 1991 to give a seminar on the spiritual texts of hatha yoga; and I would have defined khechari differently. And it is the awakening of that chakra, called Sarva-roga-hara, the eliminator of all diseases.
That is the mental state called khechari, which means the Sky-wandering One, the Space-flying One. The purpose today is not to go into the details of that. I'm sure that everyone would like to find about this chakra, and they would think, "Well, if I can locate this one and if I know the practice of khechari, well, I will be free of all diseases. And how come some of these teachers end up being ill if they know so much about disease?" But, again, we must very carefully re-define the word. Until such time that one transcends the mind and dwells only in the spirit, until such time, such mental illness, that is, "dis-ease," continues. So the first therapy is the company of the saintly.
Now have I defined it fully so that in the future you may use it with great care? If it is not fully understood, ask a senior teacher First know your question, because understanding one's own question is getting half the answer. A lot of people send questions that they themselves have not understood. And if it has not been answered, we'll attempt to answer it in our future discussions.
Now we spoke of "self" many times. And one hears of this "self" and "self-realization" and "selfhood" and so forth. There are times when people have come for a mantra, and they come with great expectations. Three months later they call up and say, "Swami Veda or Pandit so-and-so, I had my mantra three months ago. When am I going to get my self-realization. Because they think, well you take a course, and you get your Bachelor's Degree. You take some number of courses and you get your Masters Degree and you go and get your mantra, and you take your next course, and you get your Self-realization. Because you have not understood the meaning of the word self, nor the meaning of the word self-realization.
Do you know what the precondition for self-realization is? There is a prayer in the ancient Vedas: Visvadani summana ahasya ma. ("May we be pleasant-minded at all times.") May we become pleasant-minded at all times. We always pray for this quality of saumanasya. Long ago I gave a lecture on what I had called eupsychea [eu = 'good', psychyea = 'mindedness']. I thought it was a word of my own coinage, but then a few months later I came across that word being used somewhere else. And since then I have withdrawn that word from my vocabulary because I could easily be accused of plagiarization. But I was not plagiarizing.
Some synchronicity must have occurred and two different people must have thought of the same word at the same time. I have given a number of series of talks on this topic of pleasant-mindedness. There is one particular series of sutras in the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali that teaches the art of pleasant-mindedness [Samadhi Pada (I.33-35) and Sadhana Pada, (II.33-35, II.41-42)], and you can listen to them sometime at your convenience. We often bless and bride and a bridegroom. And when the blessing is imparted to them, we say may they have this saumanasya (pleasant-mindedness) and sammanasya (harmonious-mindedness).
But in the Veda where these words occur, first comes the pleasant-mindedness; then follows the harmonious-mindedness. Unless the mind of each partner, within himself, within herself, is a pleasant mind, it can never enjoy harmony with another mind. A healed mind is a pleasant mind. But that is a partial definition. Now when the mind reaches this state of pleasantness and that pleasantness becomes its natural condition, its natural attribute, only then one transcends the psychological personality traits and dwells as a spiritual being, as a spiritual self.
Nowadays when we use the word self in conventional language, we use it is the sense of whatever one understands oneself to be at any given stage of life. So that the self is afflicted with diseases; the self becomes healthy; the self becomes partially unhealthy; the self becomes strong; the self becomes weak; the self becomes confused; the self is overtaken by darkness, overshadowed by ignorance. What kind of a self is that, that can be overshadowed by ignorance? That is not Self.
Those who have understood the principles of Sankhya philosophy fully have, at least intellectually, defined the Self from the non-Self and vice versa. If you do nothing else, contemplate the difference between the Self and the non-Self. And know the Self to be that which cannot be darkened; that which cannot be overshadowed, that which cannot be diseased, or that which cannot be deceased. Ananu arasvam aditam, which is neither minute nor little, short nor long. That which has neither eyes nor is blind; has neither ears nor is deaf. That is which is more minute than a grain of rice, more minute than a mustard grain. Shamakadva soshadadva. And that which is more expansive than all of this earth and all of that space. When one reaches that Self, only then has he mastered the kechari mudra, the "mode of Being. Mudra here means a 'mode'. When we are in bondage, it means a 'mood'. But when we are in a spiritual station, we are beyond moods. And that mode is kechari, the "Sky-wandering One."
This Self is all of the universes that have ever been, that have ever been created, that have ever been sustained, that have ever dissolved back into their origin. In all of those universes countless, myriad galaxies as though bunches and bunches and bunches of fruits hanging on this upside-down Tree, whose roots are in the transcendent and whose branches are downwards below. The Tree in which universes hang like fruits, and at certain seasons the fruits appear, grow, sweeten and ripen, and drop off. And again at the next seasonal cycle fresh fruits appear, grow and sweeten and ripen and drop off. So that Tree of Brahman, the Expansive One, whose expanse cannot be fathomed, that Brahman is the Supreme Self. The same very One is the one we speak of as the One dwelling within me. That Brahman becomes Vasudeva [the In-dweller].
We have spoken of this Vasudeva principle in our Spiritual Festival of 1991. We had dedicated our Spiritual Purification Festival of 1991 to observing, understanding, contemplating the Vasudeva principle, the principle of the In-dweller Lord, the In-dwelling Deity, dwelling within each entity, dwelling within each being, in all states of being, in all beings, within every cell and every sun, and all interstices in between, all spaces interior and exterior, minute and expansive. The Transcendent, having donned the robes of immanence, having put on us as his robes Ah! How many clothes does He wear?
All of us are nothing but His clothing, and we think this clothing to be ourselves. Our mental personalities He wears. Our prana He wears. Our bodies He wears. She does. It does. When we have understood the Vasudeva principle, the accuser is the accused. The tormentor is the tormented. The one to whom you speak the harsh words is you. The one whom you hurt daily, the one other than you, the alien, is also you. So Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "They hurt Me who am dwelling within them and within all beings." In other words, it is not possible for you to express your anger, irritation and frustration to others, for there are no others. And those whom you anger, whom you irritate, whom you cause pain, whom you insult, upon whom you visit your vengefulness, are your own selves.
So let us understand this principle of Self. Never, never in your spiritual seeking use the word self to mean the body physical body: No! subtle body: No! causal body: No! Neti, neti. 'Not this, not that'. Never use it to mean your prana. Never use it to mean the condition of your weakening eyes or your insensitive ears, or a trembling body or a feverish skin. Or a feverish mind, or your anger, or your mental satisfaction at small things. Nor your greed. Nor your conflicts. Conditions of the body, prana and mind are not you.
We begin to get an understanding. All these different species of jivas, of living entities. They are in relation to Brahman piyo rashay rivo maya like the waves upon the surface of the ocean. Dipa divam arichya like rays from a candle flame. Jyolitagni kara eva like a grains of fire from a conflagration. Like strings of flowers upon the coral tree. Like the moonlight coming in waves from the full moon. Inseparable. The waves inseparable from the ocean. The rays inseparable from the candle flame. The sparks inseparable from the conflagration. The strings of flowers inseparable from the vine. The moonlight inseparable from the moon. The beauties of the branches of a tree inseparable from the tree.
For the bangles and the bracelets and the anklets and the earrings and the necklace what are they? All nothing but gold. Like spray, water-drops being sprayed from a waterfall. A jar, tray, a hole in the door, a house nothing but enclosed space. The quality of space within a jar, within a house, or between two planets, between two galaxies is indistinguishable, cannot be separated. Their separation is merely an assumption. When a jar breaks, neither the space within the jar that was enclosed nor the space that was enclosing the jar, is broken. Neither can it be shattered with a shattering jar. Nor does it fall in shards. Nor can it be picked up and put together and made whole with glue.
So it is, as the waves of water on a mirage nothing but the rays of the sun, so it is that we, the jivas, have attained a selfhood. Tad jalanati shantu upasita One who has pacified himself knows it is from that One that we have arisen; it is in that One that we are sustained; it is into that One that we subside. From that One we come into existence. In that One we subsist. Into that One we subside. Inseparable. As bracelet made of gold never ceases to be gold. As ripples and waves and whirlpools never cease to be separate from the water. And whirlwinds never cease to be wind itself.
Till you understand this nature of the Self, you would not understand what we mean by Self-realization. Just as the same one being may be called by a generic name human. And then you may have devolution from there. We may speak of his nationality. We speak of him as a priest or as a philosopher. We may qualify him further as learn'ed or experienced or inspiring. We may speak of him as a teacher. He is a father to someone. He is a husband to someone else . He is a son to someone. He is a son-in-law to someone. But it is the same one. And all of these other conditions are superimpositions. They are adhis. The word adhi means "that something which has been artificially placed in something else an imposition."
The great Shankarcharya says, referring to the way we write the numeral one as a single vertical line (which is the way it was written originally in ancient India), this same one line, in the place of one it is read as a unit, elsewhere it is read as ten, elsewhere is read as a hundred, elsewhere it is read as a thousand, elsewhere it is read as a million. The same one line. By just gradual displacement, it changes its value. When it is carefully looked at, it is nothing but a vertical line. Just so, that Brahman, in all the beings and beyond all the beings, is one consciousness. In relation to this zero, called the world, this hollow place, this place made of spaces and times which have nothing solid in them; placed in relation to that, it seems to shift in value, but in relation to itself it is nothing but that one. So we read in the ancient texts, Chitti sarvam, chitta sarvam, chit sarvam sarvachasta-chit. Chit sat sarvamiketetat dhrishtam tattra myakilam. One who saw the true reality of the universe and described it later to a disciple said, "All in chit (pure Consciousness, not consciousness as a condition or as a process). All in the Consciousness. All, everything, from the Consciousness. The Consciousness itself as the All. The Consciousness arising from the All. The Consciousness itself as the entity of which the All consists. That which consists of the All. All this as one single Consciousness I saw there in my realization."
When you understand this meaning of Self-realization, you will make this as your goal. When you make this as your goal, you will rearrange your value systems. You will rearrange the way you organize your lives because then you will not choose to short-change yourself. At present we short-change ourselves. When Infinity can be ours, we pursue the finite. When Perfectness is our true nature, we identify ourselves with impositions of imperfection. When we can be Transcendent, we remain as little zeros.
In this coming year redefine some words. Contemplate those definitions and see how those definitions then help you change your value systems, your goals, and the means that you imply and employ to achieve those goals.