Dec 24: Bhakti in modern times

24 Dec

Ramyaji fromSan Jose talked about bhakti in modern times. It is very important to discuss it as friends because in this the age where questioning has taken over faith, skepticism has taken over devotion and it is the age where intellect has taken over the heart. So we are in this age where these three elements have taken over the three classical elements of the earlier three. There is a general thought among the youth that our scriptures are not of any reference to this day and that the path of bhakti may not be applicable in the age of Kali. People are interested towards the intellectual portion of Vedanta even when they are in a spiritual path. But the important precept to note is that faith is the backbone of Vedanta itself. When someone is expounding on the path of self-enquiry which is rationale and radical, we first need to repose our faith on the person who is expounding the path and hear him out before one poses questions before the lecturer. Even though questioning is greatly encouraged in our faith, questioning and reasoning has its own limit. It has to start with faith and when we make progress in a path, we find that what we had assumed as truth is indeed true. Even in the cold logic of hypothesis testing, the logicians have a null hypothesis and alternate hypothesis. We need to have a hypothesis and must work on it to finally prove if it right or wrong. But if we don’t even assume on a hypothesis to go on a particular path, then we are not doing any experiment. It is verily why all mahatmas who have decorated the holy land of Bharat have given us hypothesis and they never asked us to believe. Believing is a concept. Religion is for those bold few who dare to walk the path and just not to talk. When we read our scriptures there are things that are very predominant. All our scriptures are in the form of Question and Answers. Right from all puranas, the crown of the Puranas being Srimad Bhagavatham starts with six questions. People who expound on the scriptures encourage the listeners to question. Upanishads are also about a disciple going to a guru and requesting him to delineate about truth, which the guru in turns explicates the concepts to his disciple.  The spirit of learning is an experience. When a pupil questions his guru and the guru does not give him an answer it shows the precept that answering the question is a means of stopping the quest and hence the guru does not answer.

There was this person who had a vital question about purport of life. He went around the world seeking answer to his question. Finally he went to an enlightened Master and earnestly desired to seek his darshan. The master did not give him any darshan and this person waited patiently. One day he became very impatient and so he barged in and posed his vital question to the master. He received a resounding slap. He then talked to a devotee nearby and he clarified to him that every action of the master is loaded with meaning. A true shishya will learn from all these things and since this person was new to this master he failed to realize this. The other devotee continued to explain that the master gave him a slap to make you understand that one should not trade a good question for an answer outside. Spirituality ends when the question is answered and when the answer comes from outside, then our spiritual quest also ends. That is verily why all Mahans do not reply to devotee’s questions immediately. They strongly encourage the devotees to find the answers so that the devotees can be light to themselves. This knowledge which is our own nature cannot come from outside. The Mahatmas make the devotees probe deeper and deeper into the truth so that we will uncover the truth and when we unfold the truth ourselves, we will not have any doubts anymore. In the above example, if the master had answered his devotee’s question, that the purpose of life is Self Realization, then everyone will come out with different versions of the answer and the truth is already lost. The master gave him a slap so that he does not pose this to question to anyone else and rather start to ask the question within himself. He slapped him to answer the fact that “question is verily spirituality” and that the answer to the question is not spirituality. The answer to the question is an experience.

All our true mahans and Gurus never disclosed the answers and that they encourage to find the answers ourselves and they provide a path to find the answers. So when we try to decipher the answers, we have to define the purpose of life in our own light and get the Mahans help to define it the right way.

So what is purpose of life? It is very simple and we need not go and refer the shastras for it. Everybody in this world is seeking happiness right from a thief to saint chase happiness. But the path they take to find happiness is different. Some attain it while some are still searching. So let’s try to find out that happiness and the source of happiness. Let’s define happiness from our daily lives. We generally love things because we derive happiness by enjoying those things. Here Mahatmas give a beautiful interpretation that the dearest to one is one’s self. For everybody their self is what they love more than anything else. Since we love ourselves and we derive happiness through it, mahatmas say that happiness in our own self and nothing else. Spiritual journey is not towards north or south, but it a journey towards the self which is verily the innermost. So we need to find that happiness within us and that is verily the reason why all the Vedas and Puranas finally take us to the where we originated from which is our self, which is our happiness and which is our nature. So we are now mistaken by the precept that by my accruing more and more possessions one’s happiness is bound to increase. So why are we intrinsically greedy right from a sinner to saint. A saint wants to attain the higher levels of happiness and a sinner wants more possessions and so he pillages. So why are we greedy? It is truly because people are under the notion that happiness can be multiplied to infinity. Happiness has no bounds. We go through pain in the process of deriving happiness which according to the normal mortals is infinite. Seeking is desire and that is what is forcing us into desire and we know intrinsically that we can get connected to the infinite happiness and that is why we strive hard. We think happiness is outside and hence we are avaricious. Greed arises from the fact that we can get to higher happiness and that the mistaken notion of more possessions results in more happiness. We see people dying around us but we cannot imagine our death because intuitively we know that we are immortal. We know that we are beyond time. People need to realize that they are the embodiment of happiness.

In the state of deep sleep, we enjoy the bliss beyond all the extraneous things. Happiness is derived from deep sleep. SO what do we possess in deep state? Nothing! But we love that deep sleep which goes us to show that adding possessions is not going to increase our happiness. In deep sleep when there are zero assets we derive maximum happiness. So from our experience, more possessions leads to more happiness is disproved and that is verily why all scriptures say “Sanyasae sarvatha sukam”. The path of sanyasa is not to renounce anything but to leave the notion of owning possessions. When possessions have to come it will come but when it has to go, it will go and the take away point is that one should go not cling to these worldly assets. One just keeps watching what is coming and going. Sanyasa means mental acceptance of what is coming and going and to be a witness to all these with a faith that somebody above is taking care of all the mortals. When the lord can take care of all big phenomena’s like sun rise, to take care of the lives of Jivas is a small thing for the lord.  When there is somebody who is ready to take care of all our burdens, let us just leave it to him and let us do our job efficiently. This means that we need to take all the physical efforts and let us mentally leave all burdens to the lord. By doing this we enjoy the present moment to the fullest. Once we start to enjoy the present moment then we do not tend to worry about past and future. When we perform the path of bhakti intrinsically, all the bhaktas do not worry and it is to be said that the path of bhakti is not escapism and that only worrying is escapism from the purpose of life. The purpose of life is to lead a happy life and attain the lord’s feet. We need to remember that we have to go back to the source.

The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.

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