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viveka chuuDaamaNi

The following are excerpts from mail from satsanghiis regarding viveka chuuDamaNi discussions. I am archiving them here for my own benefit. The full text of viveka chuuDamaNi is available at Sanskrit Douments Site.

sa.nsaarabandhavich{}chhittyai tad.h dvayaM pradahedyatiH .
vaasanaavR^iddhiretaabhyaaM chin{}tayaa kriyayaa bahiH .. 314..

Bhagavatham is covered at the Satsangh on Thursdays. We do vivekachuuDaamaNi on Friday mornings. Now we are doing Chap V of the Gita on Saturdays. Last Friday, we had an interesting discussion based on vivekachuuDaamaNi. We are doing Verse 314, which says that we should totally give up selfish work and selfish desire in order to give up the bondages of the world.

We had a discussion on how we can try to give up selfish work, since almost all the things that we do are selfish in nature. We wanted a method that can be practised by us.

Firstly, Guruji said, we have to check each and every thought that arises in our mind. We have to accept that we have selfish thoughts and this itself is a step in the right direction.

We then took the example of a person building a house for himself. Though the mind justifies that it is for the sake of his family etc, no doubt, it is a selfish thought. Guruji wanted us to say, how this could be made unselfish. We all agreed that, if we could make our house as simple as possible, so as to meet our needs and not our luxuries then we can convert it to an unselfish action.

Yes, Easily said and not done! But there is a need to have this thought ingrained into our self, so that we do think about it atleast occasionally in the beginning and slowly it will sink into our every thoght and action.

Guruji also suggested that every month, we can put away a small amount of our earnings into a separate account. It is not necessary that we need to immediately contribute it to charity (ofcourse, you can if you want to), but if we can build up a good amount, over time, we can then use it for a good cause. Even, if we can contribute 10% or even 1%, over time, it becomes a significant amount. He calls this a person's, own "Trust fund". Guruji also mentioned that, the higher a person's earnings are, the lower is the tendency to put away money, since even 1% might be a big amount. When such thoughts come, just remember the 99% that we have retained for ourself. So, this is the way to convert a selfish act, such as saving for oneself (forget the justification, given by our clever minds that it is for the sake of others), into an unselfish one.

viveekachuuDaamaNi is a very profound text and quite difficult to understand and practice. But the Friday classes are interesting because of the discussions that we have and hence something does sink into our minds :-)

Shankara emphasises that selfish work leads to desire and vice-versa and results in transmigration. Actually, any work done with the dehatma buddhi (I am the body) has karmic consequences. It is indeed the fault of the person who thinks he is the doer which is the root of avidya.

We often discuss this in advaita list, the archives of which can be found in Regarding vivekachudamani itself, though there are several translations (the simple one by Madhavananda is well known), Chandrasekara Bharati, the former head of Sringeri Math, has written an excellent commentary on this work. The sanskrit version is available in jaguar, while John Richards is translating all the verses.

taabhyaaM pravardhamaanaa saa suute sa.nsR^itimaatmanaH .
trayaaNaaM cha kshayopaayaH sarvaavasthaasu sarvadaa .. 315..

sarvatra sarvataH sarvabrahmamaatraavalokanaiH .
sad.hbhaavavaasanaadaarDhyaattat.htrayaM layamash{}nute .. 316..

I shall briefly update you on last week's Satsangh on Friday. We dealt with verses 315 and 316 of the vivekachuDaamaNi which say: Selfish work and selfish desires cause us to hanker after the desires and this hankering as well as the selfish work and desires can be destroyed only by seeing the Lord everywhere and in everything. When we see and hanker after Brahman, only then we stop desiring for material things.

The discussions centered on How we can see Brahman everywhere and how we can stop hankering after something. Guruji asked us, "Some of us like to watch cricket matches during cricket season. Others like movies. If Brahman is present everywhere, then he is present in movies and cricket also. So by simply watching all these can we become one with Brahman?"

We also find some people really obnoxious. So how do we see Brahman in them?

We then discussed that, anything that merely gratifies our sense objects does not give permanent pleasure. So when we seek these, we lose track of our long term goal, that is, being one with God. we should consider that every minute that we do not spend trying to become one with God is wasted. This attitude could help in reducing the amount of time we spend in useless pastimes, if not completely eliminating them.

As for liking everyone, we should remember that God is present in all objects big and small. He is responsible for all events good or bad. So just as we see him in good things, he is also present in bad things, and even people we do not like. So it is difficult not to like a person since God is present in everyone. We should also treat everyone the same way that we like to be treated.

The way to stop hankering after anything, is by building up our willpower. Guruji exhorted us to try and give up something that we really like, be it watching TV, drinking coffee or anything. We can see what happens to us? We can see how long we survive and how well we survive without it. This will help to build determination in us.

The morning talk was on "Shravanam" aspect of Bhakthi marg. It talked about how listening alone is sufficient to attain God and is and has been a means of salvation for many people. The reason we have 2 ears and one mouth is because, we should listen twice as much as we talk. Guruji reiterated this and also said that the mouth actually has 2 purposes - eating as well as talking and so we should talk only 1/4 of what we hear!! He also said that the ears are very important organs and this is the reason why, we always decorate our ears. The reason why we pierce our ears is also to increase our concentration and hearing! It was an interesting topic.

kriyaanaashe bhavech{}chin{}taanaasho.asmaadvaasanaakshayaH .
vaasanaaprakshayo mokshaH saa jiivan{}muk{}tirishhyate .. 317..

Last week on March 28, 1997 we did verse 317, which means , When selfish action is stopped, brooding on the sense objects is also stopped and this is followed by the destruction of desires. The destruction of desires is liberation and this liberation is called jiivanmuktiH or liberation on life.

Last week, this was explained with a story. Once there was a Guru and his Shishya. They used to travel and live with whatever they got from devotees. Once they reached a city and the Shishya was told by the Guru to buy some food. The Shishya came back from the shop, excited and said, "Guru, This city is very nice. We get everything very cheap. They sell food at less than half the price in other places. The people are all only involved in self indulgence and they only eat and sleep. Nobody works at all. This seems to be the best place to stay". The Guru was alarmed and he said, "Let us pack our bags and leave at once. Even a minute spent here could deter us from our path of reaching God and he started to leave.

The shishya was however reluctant and he told the Guru that he would not join him and that he preferred to stay. The Guru too left him. The Shishya ate and slept and did no work and became very fat. He did not realise that he was leading a worthless life. One day, in the city, a man committed a minor offence and was taken to the king. The king was as foolish as his subjects and he immediately sentenced that the man should be hanged. When the people tried to hang the man, they found that the noose was too big for him and they reported this to the king. Immediately, the king said, that they should find the man whose neck would fit the noose and hang him. They searched high and low and as fate would have it, the only man whose head was fat enough to fit the noose was this shishya. So he was immediately brought before the king and try as he would, they were not ready to listen to him.

At this instant, it dawned on him that he had been leading a senseless existence and he realised that seeking mere sensual pleasures would definietely lead to ruin. The Shishya thought of his Guru and his words and begged for pardon. Fortuitously, at that time, his Guru was visiting the town to see his Shishya and he came there to see what the commotion was all about. He was shocked to see his shishya about to be hanged and thinking quickly, he went up to the king and said, "Oh! what an intelligent man this man must be. He knew that today is a very auspicious day because anybody who dies today will reach heaven immediately and that is the reason he wants to be hanged. Oh! King! I beg you. Please leave him and hang me because I want to be the person who reaches heaven". The foolish king thought for a moment and said, "Being the King, how can I let anybody else be so lucky. I insist that I be the one who is hanged and saying thus, put the noose around his neck and pushed away the Shishya". The Guru and Shishya immediately left the town and continued their quest of higher things in life!

Confucius said," Only when one commits not to do certain things can one do greater things in life " Similarly one should get over the selfish acts by indulging in selfless acts without any expectation of reward or benefit. By doing this, the desires for sense enjoyments vanish. Verse 317 of Vivekachudaamani compares to verses 36 to 41 of chapter 3 in Bhagavat Gita which says that selfish desire is one of the gates to destructive hell.

Guruji concluded with the following message "We should try to reduce our dependance on others." He told us, "If we expect anything from our spouse, whether we expect the wife to make a cup of coffee or bring us a towel or whatever, we should try to do it ourself."

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Last changed on April 4, 1997