[Advaita-l] Dying to Live Peacefully - III

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 26 22:28:12 EST 2017

Dying to Live Peacefully - III

Death is, in essence, leaving everything of the past up to the last minute. If that mental state is kept in the mind, dying to every minute that is gone, one discovers that living in the present becomes so fresh and dynamic and even enchanting, if one is mentally free from the dead-past. That involves leaving mental attachments to all our possessions, obligations, relationships and transactions (PORT). All the rat race that we were involved, in trying to get this and that and that, ‘that; includes worldly materials, positions, name and fame, urge to be recognized by peers and fellow beings, sometimes even as knowledgeable person for others to recognize and respect, or as Vedantin, or even as an Acharya with mass scale numbers of followers to be proud of oneself, including with the number of likes that one gets in Facebook accounts; dying to everything of the past. That means leaving everything that does not really belong to us since whether one likes it or not, one is eventually going to leave everything anyway, when one physically dies. Then, why not die mentally to all that, right now. The more we try, the more it becomes easy for us to leave everything. When all that past dead-weight is gone, the mind naturally becomes fresh and dynamic as the burden of the past is gone. Along with it goes all the worries and depressions associated with would have, could have, or should have done type of regrets of the past. Likewise also goes the past glories which have no meaning and which get buried slowly with time anyway. Of the billions of the people who lived on the face of this earth, how many made a mark in the history that one remembers. I am reminded of the famous Telugu poem by the great poet Potana in his Telugu Bhagavatam. Bali chakravatri says to Sukracharya as he was ready to give up everything to meet the demands of the Lord who came in the form of Vamana, that the urge to possess material wealth is a useless pursuit in relation to giving up everything for a right cause which is more praiseworthy.

kaare raajulu rajyamul galugave garvonnathimbondare
vareree siri mutagattukoni povamjaalire bhuumipai
perainagalade sibipramukhulumbrethin yaShakaamulai
eere korkulu vaaralan marachire ikkalamun bhargava||

In essence, it says; were there not many great kings, who conquered and made vast kingdoms and become so proud of their accomplishments, and yet where are all those kings and kingdoms? Could they pack all their wealth and possessions, and took it with them, when they left this world? Does anybody remember them at all, as generations have passed? People only remember kings like Shibi who was ready to give up even his body to save a bird which he promised to protect when it took shelter under him (He was ready to carve out his own flesh to save a pigeon from being killed by an eagle – gods who came in those form to test Shibi). One remembers only those who gave up what they have than who tried to grab to possess more. I am reminded of the part of Chinmaya Mission pledge that everyone repeats. – It says ‘ …producing more than what we consume, and giving more than what we take …’ Not sure how many really follow the pledge they make. It is the greatest massage if one follows to the letter than one just repeats, as Swamiji puts it, like a parrot.

While death is evitable for one who was born, understanding of the death involves a constant awareness that I am that pure witnessing consciousness that will never die. While the death involves separation of everything that one can be identified as ‘this is mine’, understanding death involves recognition that ‘this’ is never mine, even while living and using ‘this’ that is provided by praarabda. Hence at least cognitively one has to drop all attachments, that is essentially what Viveka means – discrimination of nithya anitya vastu viveka – discrimination of what is eternal and what is ephemeral. Dispassion is required to drop attachments to any ‘this’. Any ‘this’ continuously undergoes a change while I am (the subject) is pure existence-consciousness that is eternal and unchanging. Dispassion includes ‘this is not mine’ and ‘I am not this’ that is dropping false ownership (mamakaara) and dropping wrong identification (ahankaara). This can only be accomplished by the right understanding of my true nature.

We are currently doing Ashtavakra Geeta (Livestream talks are available at https://livestream.com/AcharyaSadaji/events/7965430 ). These talks are slowly made available on yu-tube by Advaita Academy, and they are listed under Acharya Sadaji. In the fifth chapter, sage Ashtavakra talks about renunciation, in just four slokas. The teaching is very subtle and intended for those who have adequately prepared their minds. In Ashtavakra Geeta, the teacher is Sage Ashtavakra, whose story appears in Mahabharata. The student is Janaka Maharaj who is very evolved being. In the very first chapter, Ashtravakra presents the highest truth in response to the three questions posed by Janaka Maharaj namely, a) how do we gain the knowledge, b) how to get liberated from this ocean of samsara and c) how to develop dispassion. In the fifth chapter, the teacher is addressing, in a way, the question of dispassion, although he discusses this more elaborately later.

Sage Ashtavakra asks – How can you renounce anything when you never own anything in the first place? It is like the story of Mr. Jones and the rat. For some reason, Mr. Jones thought he was a rat. Since he understood that he was a rat, he was hiding in the closet whenever he saw a ferocious looking cat. Somehow his wife came to know his problem and took him to a psychologist who showed him that he cannot be a rat since he appears more like a human being while rat looks different. After many sittings, Mr. Jones understood that he is a man and not a rat. With that understanding, Mr. Jones went back home. To his horror, he saw that the terrible looking cat was sitting as usual on the porch, as though waiting for him. Mr. Jones ran back to the Doctor and said, I understand that I am a man and not a rat, but I am not sure if the cat understands that I am a man and not a rat. Mr. Jones has to renounce that he was never a rat and claim himself to be a man. That knowledge does not depend on anybody else other than him. In addition, whatever he did while thinking that he was a rat has no bearing on him since he was never a rat, at any time. Mr. Jones has to recognize that ‘I am a man all along ’ and that understanding has to be abiding in the sense he will never be afraid of facing any cat at any time, anywhere. 
To be continued

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