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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dharma and God

August 2005

Animals are connected with what is there existing in front of their senses. Once it is out of their sense perception, they may attach with that for a few moments but it vanishes like the writing on the water. You can experience this when you go to the temples in India, when you come out of temple with a fruit in your hand; monkey tries to follow you for the fruit. Once you notice that, then hide the fruit from the sight of monkey, after a couple of steps, monkey leaves you behind, wondering why am I following this person. Even the human being is also so much connected with and associates himself with what is existing and how long it is existing and where and when it is existing, etc. All this information is provided by our senses, because all this information is in the form of manifestation. This we call it as material. Therefore it is natural that our concern with what is existing is the material concern.
The moment that what is existing goes away, we suffer the separation and we are in pain. We wish what we touched should not go from the view of our touch, what we see should not go away from our sight, what we interact should not go into non-existence. Even the very thought of it we suffer.
I was working in a small job in Hyderabad, on the weekends I would go for 2 days to my aunt’s house in a colony and I would play with all the children there. These children including of course my aunt’s children would be waiting the whole week very eagerly and they are excited to see me coming. But simultaneously they also become aware that I would be going away after 2 days. Out of innocence they question, when I am going away as soon as I come. In the culture it is like this, when somebody comes, the first question should not be “when do you go” It is not decent. The mother would be whispering behind, that they should not question like that. But it is all the same for the children. They start worrying about the time I go away. It is all because what comes has to go away one day.
Even as star light travels to you from distance of billions of light years, scientists say by the time you are actually seeing the star, it may not be there. It would have disintegrated and vanished.
On the other hand look at the soap bubble, which exists for less than a few minutes, it has imperceptible thin wall, which is also totally transparent, inside and out it has the same air, and the bubble has very insignificant mass, not even has a single skeleton structure to support it. In spite of it, the soap bubble with that kind of a structure in that short time, freely sails on the wings of the wind in the free space not only reflecting but also refracting the beautiful sun rays with 7 colors dancing around in all liveliness, proudly showing it is extraordinary ability to do all that and not caring for whether anybody appreciates the bubble or not. A short life but a very lively way of living, you can see in that soap bubble. When we are associated with what is existing, then we realize what is there today is not going to be there tomorrow. Particularly, when we know that it is not going to be there tomorrow, we are more saddened and we are so much preoccupied about tomorrow that the sadness that it is not going to be there tomorrow will influence even today and we are spoiled. The object that is existing if we hold on to it, our hold is limited to one object only and we know that that object will not come back. However great the object may be, however precious the object may be or even if the object may be a great personality, anything for that matter will not come back in its original form.
Like the world has been visited by many great persons like Buddha, Ram, Jesus or Vivekananda, on day or the other all of them had to go away sooner or later. And in that form that they were existing, they never come back. Even when people say about reincarnation, it is not the same person who comes back but it is a different person in a different form. And absolutely very unique.
But then why do we say reincarnation? We can see the reincarnation is of the degree of compassion, the degree of knowledge and wisdom, or the degree of freedom and love for humanity. These are the things which reincarnate. And these are the qualities which remind about the person existing previously. So the reincarnation is possible, not for the person but for these qualities.
What is existing today may not be existing tomorrow. If you are holding to an object from outside, you are bound to lose it one day or the other.
The child is so lovely to look at. It is so enjoyable to see the innocence of the child. But the mother who is enjoying the innocence of the child and engrossed in it, so realizes that the child is growing and the innocence is going away. Mother already feels missing and losing the child. But that is the law of life.
Don’t relate to what is existing – that is material. That is the materialistic way of being. In spite of relating to what is existing, if you connect to the existence it self, that is spiritual, that is divinity. You can find that existence everywhere, in ever so many forms. What is existing is limited, whereas what is the existence is unlimited. What is existing is finite and the existence behind is infinite. And it has to variety, never-ending. And the infinite is called as the Brahman. That is why the scriptures to say “Existence is God.” The existence you may call it as Ahuramasta or Allah or Brahman. It is all the same. Only if you can understand them and give them the meaning as infinite, and what is not existing but the existence itself, then there is no difference. This existence itself is called as “sat” in Sanskrit.
The second aspect that wonders me, is when I look at a simple plant very insignificantly standing on the earth, having very nice beautiful delicate flowers, I wonder. After all that plant needs only a small of lump of clay, and a little water and sunshine and the air around. What are that extraordinary intelligence and the practical mechanism that exists in that tiny plant, that it can convert all that it receives from the lump of clay into a nice delicate lovely flower? Even the most genius of the human beings, when he is given a lump of clay, and with all his brilliance he cannot convert this clay into flower. There is such a great wisdom hidden inside the tiny plant.
We always find the knowledge of something or the other. The knowledge of chemistry, the knowledge of physics, the knowledge of computer or the knowledge of marketing, this is all what we are aware of – these are the things that we are aware of. But this knowledge is something which is like the painting done on a canvas. It is already expressed, and this knowledge keeps continuously flowing, it keeps changing from time to time. The deeper and deeper, one goes to the knowledge, he realizes the narrower it becomes. Earlier people used to know about medicine, but when one started going deep, there are so many specializations developed. And going further deep, they have become super-specialized and now the knowledge belongs to a very narrow area. It is natural to become like that, because how much information, details you can handle? Like the way that how much information can be written on a canvas or on a blackboard, that is why we see in this world, the more and more we expand our knowledge on one side, we are becoming narrowing and narrowing on the other side.
I really do not know where we can have such simple knowledge the plant has, that we take the lump of soil and we convert it into a nice flower or a delicious fruit. We may not reach that stage. So we can see that with all this development of knowledge, the simple knowledge of the plant looks like unattainable. We feel depressed. All that what we need to do is to look at the knowledge substance on which this knowledge can be written.
We think that knowledge can be especially privilege for human being. This is our arrogance. What humbles me is that a tiny plant has such intelligence to create a flower and that intelligence we can never reach.
The plant also has that knowledge substance, on which the wisdom can be written about making a flower out of lump of clay, and the plant acts accordingly. I was watching an animal channel on TV, the little tortoises come out of their eggs and they rush towards the ocean on the full moon night. Hundreds of them running to the ocean give a spectacular view. Who taught them to go the ocean? They also have that knowledge substance on which this knowledge can be written that the baby tortoise goes to the water as soon as it comes out of the egg. This knowledge itself may be limiting, the tortoise knows only to go the water, the hunters put their nets near the ocean, and these innocent tortoise babies, are walking to these nets. The knowledge of this tortoise is limited. The knowledge of the plant is also limited. The plant can only produce that variety of color or flower. It cannot change. Similarly the knowledge of the human being is also very limited. You write the knowledge of engineering on the knowledge substance of a human being, then that person will only know about the engineering and not about any other subject. This is very limited.
The knowledge may be limited but look at the knowledge of substance, it is unlimited. It is there in the whole creation, right from a plant, to the animal and to the human being. The knowledge substance is there. And this knowledge substance is eternal. This knowledge is fresh for a caveman, and the knowledge substance is fresh and is present a high-tech man. And the knowledge substance is fresh in case of a grass-plant to a huge banyan tree, it is present everywhere. This knowledge substance is infinite and eternal*.
Even a mosquito can be so intelligent. It can sit on your body to have his feast. At such locations that you cannot reach it. And they feast on you.
The knowledge substance is called “chit” in Vedanta. So Brahman or the God is the Chit. This Chit is eternal and infinite. It is the substratum of all the knowledge – past, present and future. Any kind of knowledge belongs to Chit. There are no limitations of this knowledge that Chit can have it. That is why chit is infinite.
Let us come to the third aspect; we are here which the existence aspect – sat aspect is and that we know we are here which is the knowledge aspect or chit aspect. But along with these 2, we have the 3rd aspect, which is the experience. The experience of the joy is the basic pursuit of life. The both sat and Chit pursues the experience of joy as the pursuit of life. Even the plants try to be happy, animals certainly do as human beings we do things because the things give us happiness, we do not do things because they don’t give us happiness. This experience need to be also understood from very deeper perspective. What is apparent outside is that the object or the situations give us happiness. Holding on to that truth at that level is very superficial. It does not have the quality of eternity and infinity. An object which gives one happiness may not give happiness to the other. One may wonder how come that object gives other person happiness, and the same way the 2nd person wonders how that object cannot give happiness to the 1st. Because hastily we come to a general conclusion that what gives me happiness should give happiness to the others too. But the truth is not in that way. The music that I love my own wife and son may wonder how that can give me happiness. But at the same time the music my son listens wonder how come that gives him happiness. The food that I put it in my tongue, gives me the experience of immeasurable joy, whereas the same food my wife has to struggle to take it.
A small little girl invited me to her house when I was in Delhi for some official work. In the evening when I went she wanted my help in preparing the greeting card to present to her teacher. I have some talents of an artist, when she made the card with my help; it came out very artistic and very attractive. That very y moment she felt excited out of bounds of joy, but the next moment she ran to the kitchen to mom crying. I could not understand why she suddenly upset. This time her mother came with her to me saying “Raghuramji the card came out so nice that she liked it very much, but at the same time she is upset because she has to give it away to her teacher. Then to remove her sadness, I agreed to make another card. Making sure that it will not be that nice. So by making the card, she found that I was carrying a book with me. And then she asked me “uncle what is the book that you are reading?” I replied, “It is a book of Vedanta. Philosophy.” “What do you mean by Vedanta?” she asked me. I said, “don’t worry, it is all philosophy and boring for you.” Then she questioned me, “uncle you are so nice, you tell nice stories, and you do great artwork, but why do you have to read such boring books?” I can’t solve her, “look dear, I not only meet children like you, but I also spend some time with elders like your dad. They won’t like me doing artwork. They like me talking about Vedanta.” As if she understood the point, she said, “Yes I can understand my dad, that he likes things boring.”
What is happiness for adults or for elders is boring for children. What you would enjoy as a child, you would not enjoy as an adult.
The object of happiness can vary from person to person and from time to time. They are not consistent, they keep changing and the degree of happiness also varies from time to time. And from situation to situation. When somebody says I was absolutely happy, listening to that music, I wonder how he can enjoy that music. But at the same time, I can agree and understand the fact that he is extremely happy.
So instead of going to what gives us happiness, if we hold on to the happiness itself, that is divine. Holding on to the object of happiness is worldly, non-eternal and non-infinite. Another important aspect of that, which is holding on to that object of happiness, is that these objects of happiness may get outdated and newer and newer objects may be coming up with the advance of the technology. The objects get outdated insipid and stupid. But man will be having the experience of happiness all the time. Cave man was also happy around his times, and today’s man of technology is also happy and we really do not know, where the future takes man to. But certainly he is going to be happy. It is wrong to think man is only happy with this technology and without this, he was unhappy.
An American business president went to Bahamas Island for a week long vacation. While lying on the beach, for sun tan, a boy came to him to sell tender coconuts. The man asked for one, and while the boy was breaking the coconut, the man looked at him and said, “Hi, I think I have seen you somewhere?” the boy replied “where else, it must be here only. Because I am here only since the time I was born.” “Yes it must be true” the man recollected, “last year when I came for vacation, you gave me coconut water, I remember.” “I don’t remember” careless answer, “you are one of the million that visits here” “that is true, would you like to come with me to America?” the man asked. “For what?” “I can fix you in my company” the proud answer. “Why?” the boy asks. “How much do you earn per day here? About ten dollars?” than man added, “I can pay you 50 dollars a day, which is 5 times more.” “What do I do with that?” the innocent boy “so that you can save money and go to school” the quick response from man. “And then what?” the boy wants more details “and then you can be a graduate, and I can give you a big job.” “And then?” “And then you can also start a company like me, and have several people working for you” the confident man replied. “And then?” the boy looks with a question mark. “And then they will look after the company, and you can go on vacation, I suppose to this island and spend a week here like me.” He speaks from wisdom. “But that is what I am doing already and all times, staying in this island.” The boy’s final position.
That is what we think. That without all this technology, we think man is unhappy and once the technology is there man can be happy. Man always has been in all circumstances having happiness, whether the technology is there or not, rich or poor, ignorant or knowledgeable, etc. So the happiness appears now to be given by the object outside, but closely observing it is not true. It is our inner nature. Object only helps us to touch our inner nature which is called “Ananda” or bliss. If the object does not help us to touch to our inner nature, then we come to the conclusion that object does not give us happiness. When an object does not help us to touch our inner nature happiness, we think the object does not contain happiness, and therefore it can also not give happiness to the others. This is a hasty conclusion. If only you can hold on to your nature happiness, the object is given to you or not, you can continue to be happy. Holding on to the object outside is short-lived, limited. Holding on to the happiness itself is eternal and infinite. Because the happiness itself is eternal, infinite and Brahman. That is why; Brahman is also “ananda”. So what we call it as God, what we call it as the divinity, is not some individual sitting up in the sky, but is this existence “Sat”, knowledge-based “chit”, and happiness “ananda. It is our fondness for our race that we picturize god to be having a form, precisely a human form with the hands and legs, sensory organs that we have. In some cases, they are so attached not only to their own race but to their gender. They say “God can only be He.” And not even she.
Dharma is that which gives us the ability to reach “satchitananda”; existence, knowledge-based and bliss. Let us not mystify it, let us understand dharma is that which takes us away from our attachment to what exists and takes us towards what is existence. Similarly, takes us away from what knowledge to what is knowledge based. And thirdly Dharma takes us away from the notion that the object gives us happiness, to what happiness itself is, namely “ananda”.
This existence, knowledge-based happiness is our own very nature and divinity hidden deep within.
It is something which will give the useful turn in the direction of pursuit from outside to inside. An outside also should be made use of in such a way that it can takes us inwards. As long as the journey inwards has not started, you are still worldly. However greater a religious man may be, or however greater the philanthropist may be, or however extraordinary truths he may be sharing with his thoughts, however deep rituals he may be practicing, and whatsoever pilgrim centers he may be visiting, it is all worldly, and not spiritual, as long as they did not help that person to turn inwards.
How can dharma help us in the pursuit to take us inwards, we will see in future discussions.


*) The difference of infinite and eternal can be explained with the following example in three steps: the flowering is infinite and eternal, while the flowering is a process that will never end (which is the property of eternity) and also with endless possibilities (attribute of infinite). Rose flowering is finite but eternal, while the rose flowering will also be existent in the creation all the time, but it is limited to flowering “rose” only and not anything else (attribute of finite). The rose flower itself is finite and non-eternal, while it is spoiled in a few days and the manifestation of the flower is limited as rose only.


Markus said...

Dear Raghuram
Thankyou for all the articles you are writing for us to help us on the spiritul path.

How can you say that ther is something like a Knowledge substance.
The flower creates itself out of the elements like earth sun etc. And you say that there is a knowledge doing this. But it may be also said that the flower (and everything else)exists just because of the properties of matter. As soon we take away the matter there is no flower and knowledge is also not there. The knowledge which creates the flower only exists in connection with matter. If matter is not there knowledge can also not be there. Even if there is just a slight change in the propertys of matter the flower will not come. For instance if you heat the seeds above a certain temperature the seeds cannot create a plant anymore. There is no knowledge which can even overcome the smallest changes in matter. So where is the knowledge independent from matter?

Even when one says it is not expressed but it is there. How can we say that it is there when we don´t percieve it apart from matter?
When it is percievable only in matter it is matter itself.
And when it is not percievable apart from matter it is not there at all.

Regards markus

Shruti said...

Dear Raghuramji,

This was a beautiful article. It seems like a quantum leap to consider the object as not being the source but the source being within. Maybe life tries to teach us again and again, but it's hard to know without an inspiration.

Also, the body itself is part of the world, and so are the senses and intellect. If the source is within these things all well, then 'where' is the source? I don't know if I could understand the answer... but I just penned my question.