June 4, 2017: Reading the Bhagavad Gita in the Age of Trump

For the Planet

MAY 22, 2017: BHAGAVAD GITA TALK #13

CHAPTER SIX: THE YOGA OF MEDITATION
ATTACHMENT TO GOALS NEVER WORKS BECAUSE LIFE IS A MESS
AND WE JUST NEVER KNOW HOW THINGS WILL TURN OUT

The self is a friend for him
who masters himself by the Self;
but for him who is not self-mastered,
the self is the cruelest foe.  [6.6]

Last week’s stunner was Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement. He truly embodies the above quote from the Gita: “but for him who is not self-mastered, the self is the cruelest foe.” Unfortunately in this case, Trump is “the cruelest foe,” not just of himself, but of the entire planet. And then last night, more terrorist madness in London.

Cruelty. There really are no words…

This post contains content from the May 22 Monday Night Class.  I’m keeping my written commentary short tonight. Along with Chapter Six Gita verses, I read a short section on the Self from Swami Muktananda’s book, Where Are You Going. Audio clips follow. Text below that. I’m not including chanting audio. I did get a new microphone. Alas, every solution creates a new problem. The new mike is so sensitive, the harmonium drone drowns out the vocals. So still in process re tech issues…

Opening Dharana: The Beautiful Broken Heart and Dharma Talk on the first eight verses of Chapter Six:

Closing Dharana

We had a guest at this class unfamiliar with the text so I gave him a bit of an intro.  If you’re new to this blog and the Gita, you might enjoy listening to this audio clip:

Here are the verses we read:

THE BLESSED LORD SAID:

He who performs his duty
with no concern for results
is the true man of yoga—not
he who refrains from action.

Know that right action itself
is renunciation, Arjuna;
in the yoga of action, you first
renounce your own selfish will. 

For the man who wishes to mature,
the yoga of action is the path;
for the man already mature,
serenity is the path.

When a man has become unattached
to sense-objects or to actions,
renouncing his selfish will,
then he is mature in yoga.

He should lift up the self by the Self
and not sink into the selfish;
for the self is the only friend
of the Self, and its only foe.

The self is a friend for him
who masters himself by the Self;
but for him who is not self-mastered,
the self is the cruelest foe.

When a man has mastered himself,
he is perfectly at ease in cold,
in heat, in pleasure or pain,
in honor or in disgrace.

The mature man, fulfilled in wisdom,
resolute, looks with equal
detachment at a lump of dirt,
a rock, or a piece of pure gold.  [6. 1-8]

Baba Muktananda’s book Where Are You Going has always been one of my favorites. Very precise and accessible. Here’s the quote I read at class:

The Pure “I”

What is the Self? It is the pure awareness of “I am,” the original “I”-consciousness which has been within us ever since we came into this world. Even though that “I” exists in a woman, it is not a woman. Even though it exists in a man, it is not a man. That “I” is without form, color, or any other attribute. We have superimposed different notions onto it—notions like “I am a man,” “I am a woman,” I am an American.” But when we wipe them all away, that “I” is nothing but pure Consciousness and it is the supreme Truth. Perceiving that “I,” the great Shankaracharya proclaimed, Aham brahmasmi—“I am the Absolute.” Perceiving that “I,” the great Sufi saint Mansur Mastana said, Anal-haq—“I am God.”

   That “I” is the source of this world. A banyan seed is tiny, and if you crack it open you will find nothing inside. Yet that seed contains an entire tree with its roots, branches, and leaves. In the same way, the Self is the seed which contains the whole universe. Everything is within the Self, and therefore, when we know the Self, we know everything that can be known. That is why the sages continually contemplate the Self, meditate on the Self, and lose themselves in the Self.

I rarely include the written text of my talks here, but it seems appropriate to end with the closing dharana from this class:

Let all these teachings from the Gita keep entering into you and awaken what you already know. That’s all the Gita is doing. It’s telling us what we already know when we really stop to listen. Rest in your own experience. Rest in the experience of the Self, of your own presence, of that in you which sees, of that in you which knows, of that in you which has always been looking out through your eyes, listening through your ears. If the mind wanders, remind it to rest in the Self, which is the source of the mind. Allow your mind to dissolve into this infinite presence so very alive within us. This is all we need to do.

To all who have suffered from the cruelty of others, I have no words.
I can only offer my love.

Monday, 5.23.16 Class: We Cling to the Present Which Has Already Become the Past Because We’re Terrified of the Future: Om Bhanave Namaha and the Kleshas

The literal translation of the fourth Sun mantra, ॐ भानवे नमः om bhānave namaḥ is “Salutations to Bhānu, the bright splendor of light.”  I’ve also seen it translated as “the diffuser of light.” Thinking about this week’s class, I was intrigued by the notion of diffusing, less as an aspect of the Sun — more in the way the mind diffuses light. Specifically that innate light otherwise knows as the inner Self. Which is the light that actually illuminates the mind so we’re even aware we’re thinking, let alone having peak experience enlightening flashes of insight.

When the mind is crystal clear, this inner light diffuses in its bright splendor aspect. When it’s not, the light diffusing through the mind’s lens (or lenses), will be distorted. Sometimes just a bit. Sometimes so much that it’s obliterated in the opacity.

Which brings me to the kleshas, those lovely lenses so brilliantly articulated in the great text of yogic psychology, Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra. If you’re new to this blog and/or unfamiliar with this text, do visit May 15, 2011 in the Archive. For a quick reference, here you go:

The Kleshas
Avidya is the lens that clouds our ability to know our true nature, which according to Yoga is light.
Asmita is the lens that tricks us into buying into that small sense of self that is prone to suffering.
Raga is pleasure, which, when tangled up with avidya and asmita, gets us all caught up in clinging to what makes us feel good.
Dvesha is aversion, which when tangled up with avidya and asmita, creates a profound separation from everything and anything we label as “bad.”
Abinivesha is clinging to life (or any situation) because we fear death (or change).

Needless to say, the mind is a complex instrument, managing any number of receiving, perceiving, discerning, projecting, remembering, associating, etc. functions at the same time. And the kleshas are right in there, wreaking havoc in the process. So this week’s talk explores the relationship between the kleshas and this fourth Sun mantra.

Here’s the opening dharana:

Here’s my dharma talk:

There were new people in the room this week so I spoke a bit about mantra.  Here is that clip:

 

Finally, here are this week’s readings. First two poem from Coleman Bark’s translation of the poetry of Lalleshwari, Naked Song.  Although Lalla would not have known the Yoga-Sutra, you can see how in both these poems, she is teaching about the kleshas.

 

Two From Lalleshwari

1.
Wear just enough clothes to keep warm.
Eat only enough to stop the hunger-pang.

And as for your mind, let it work
to recognize who you are,
and the Absolute, and that
this body will become food
for the forest crows.

2.
Enlighten your desires.
Meditate on who you are.
Quit imagining.

What you want is profoundly expensive,
and difficult to find,
yet closeby.

Don’t search for it. It is nothing,
and a nothing within nothing.

 

And a Sheikh Nasrudin story and commentary from Swami Muktananda’s, Where Are You Going? A Guide to the Spiritual Journey:

 

Once Sheikh Nasrudin woke up early in the morning, before it was light. He called his disciplele, Mahmud, and said, “Go outside and see if the sun has risen.” Mahmud went out and came back inside.

   “It’s pitch black,” he said. “I cannot see the sun at all.”

   At this, Nasrudin became very angry. “You fool,” he shouted. “Haven’t you got the sense to use a flashlight?”

   That is exactly what we do. To expect a spiritual technique to reveal the indwelling God is like expecting a flashlight to illumine the Sun. A flashlight cannot shine beside the Sun. Like the Sun, the Self is always shining with its own effulgence. What sadhana can illumine the Self. Only through a subtle and sublime intellect can we know it. We meditate and perform spiritual practices only in order to make the intellect pure enough to reflect the effulgence of the Self.    

Baba did teach a great deal from Patanjali and in this quote, although he’s not using technical language, he is very much speaking about spiritual practice as a way to clean and polish the mind (here referred to as intellect) so that nothing hinders, obstructs, distorts, or extinguishes the shining bright splendor of the Self.