Purpose and Role of a Vedanta Teacher – Part 29


In part 28, we attempted to correct a deeply ingrained false notion. A silent killer.

It's the cause of belittling thought as, “I am a victim. Powerless. Not in control. A puppet of God, government, family, society, etc

Even respected spiritual masters trumpeted a misinterpreted version to disciples. Adding to sense of limitation and postponing one's right to healthy growth in life.

What are we talking about?…

The capacity to discern. Potential to grow. Ability to deliberately decide. Power to understand. Might to solve a problem.

For example…

The very saint we all look up to today, was a sinner in the past.

So what capacity turned the sinner worthy of respect today?

The sinners own self-effort.

Inch by inch and everything's a cinch!

At beginning, hard it is. Memories of our past haunts us. It's momentum holds us back.

But everyone is in the same position more or less. You'll always find someone more unprivileged then you.

Yet they rose. By themselves.

Therefore the maturity of a human being is directly proportional to using one's own self-effort to grow, expand, evolve.

ratnakara-valmiki-ramayanaRatnakar found himself unable to feed his large family. So he took to robbery of unsuspecting travelers in the forest.

One day Sage Narada was confronted by Ratnakar.

What makes you do this?“, asked Narada.

Ratnakar explained it's for the sake of his family, who doesn't object to his sins of robbing, stealing, lying and cheating.

Narada wasn't convinced. And challenged him to confirm this assumption by directly asking his family.

Would you partake in my sins, O spouse? Do you approve of my strange way of showing my love for you?“.

His family disapproved.

Ratnakar was shocked and embarrassed. He went back to Narada. “You're right, help me! What do you I do now?“.

Today, Ratnakar is known as the great Valmiki of Ramayana. The epic of dharma looked up to, studied, and contemplated upon by the wisest of sages.

This is the definition of “freedom to will” or “freewill” in Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

Now getting back to our three eager students…

The very teaching of free will brought a sense of over-confidence in one of the students. It is assumed knowing the total vision of Reality is only matter of self-effort.

Thus the eager student said, “I agree understanding ego's reality necessitates a study of our sacred books and scriptures. And I can do this on my own! I need not be a parrot echoing verses in class. It shouldn't be difficult to capture the reality of Oneness without prejudices. In fact, there are many translations for me to read and know at my own time. Where is the need for a master, a teacher? 

” Unlike other studies, the Truth of the One and ‘I' is so easy to misinterpret or misunderstand.

You will need a guide. A master knows without a doubt and absolute certainty…

One who knows the implied meaning of the words in Upanishads.

And knows the words directly speak of the truth of himself or herself. The vision is assimilated. It's not a mere belief easily threatened by a future scientific discovery or a better perspective.

Such a master should also have teaching experience. He or she employs words carefully and follows the methodology of the scriptures.

Never deviates into a personal tangent or colors the teaching with biases.

Such a person can prevent a world of mistakes which solo-seeker, a nomad, will surely make.

For example…

Without an adult to teach a child — how would you have managed?

Or as an advanced research scholar — can you cope without a qualified guide?

There is another important aspect why a guide is needed…

If you need to know any text, we have to move through it step-by-step.

If too fast, we don't assimilate the details. It's superficial.

If too slow, our mind builds too many doubts. With none to address them immediately, we become skeptical of the text.

To capture the meaning, context and detail within each verse, each paragraph… you would need to know the vision of the entire text.

But the reality is the reader doesn't have the full vision.

Just willingness to read implies, “I don't know“.

This means the understanding gotten from the first page will change by the time you've gotten to the tenth page.

But most don't realize this since how many actually read a book twice?

Therefore the student carries an incomplete vision. Yet convinced it's complete and in line with the scriptures.

Now you tell me, with so many factors behind the scenes, how will you manage without a guide?

And before you ask me, let me pre-empt…

A teacher learns from his or her teacher. Like this, right up the line, without an end.

This is called the guru-śiṣya-paraṃpara or saṃpradāya. The unbroken tradition of Vedānta.

It is the same as asking, “Who was the first father?“. How will you even answer that, unless speculating?

Vision of Oneness has no room for speculation or assumptions.

One false understand contaminates all other understandings down the line.

Therefore a master is a must. One's who is learned in the sacred texts, with perfect understanding. And has a means to communicate the truth of the world and the One. “

Listener objects, ” The truth of the world and the One is only a point of view. It is up to us to choose from the many perspectives of looking at reality.

” No, Truth is not a point of view.

There must first be a view before you have a point or slant. And it always depends on one's conditioning or education.

A “view” by societal definition is taken as THE Truth, the reality.

But in actuality such “view” is changing through stages of life.

For example, what we thought as horny teenagers about reality, is totally different from stage of parenting.

However definition of Truth we speak of — cannot change. Else it cannot be the Truth.

Truth means it's the same in past, present and future. It never modifies. It's never lesser or more. It's never fuller or emptier.

It remains as it is, eternally.

And when the words of our sacred texts repeat endlessly, “You are the whole” — where is the question of interpretation?

Because any interpretation by any mind is not away from the WHOLE.

When the view itself is the truth, “I am the One changeless whole” — how can there be points of view?

In other words, it's a statement of non-negatable fact. Truth stays independent of various viewpoints.

To demonstrate…

The nature of assumption, bias, perception, points of views, ignorance.

Six blind men of Hindustan wondered what an experience of an elephant might be like.

So they set out on a journey to find an elephant.

Their chance came.

Eagerly they groped their way about and concluded or defined the WHOLE elephant from each one's perspective.

One touched it's belly, “It's like a wall“.

Another groped it's leg, “It's a pillar!“.

Another felt the trunk, “It's like a snake“.

Piecing together their individual perceptions — the elephant would resemble abstracts. Superficial approximations. Vague definitions.

Now imagine some of them write a book on bases of their conclusion.

Some even start a spiritual community and become famous.

Hundred of thirsty blind listeners for truth, without motivation to verify — are now convinced of these partial viewpoints. Who then pass it onto next generation.

Each point of view is misrepresented.

This is common case with prophets. Like Buddha or Jesus, Ala, etc.

Yes, they are mentioning aspects of Reality. And it's helpful to a certain point.

But it's not the WHOLE.

Thus the teaching becomes misinterpreted to means the final word. This creates distortions and irrational behavior in the followers.

Some run of to monasteries, claiming “Woman are source of desire. Don't look at them“.

Others aggressively blast the name of their messiah to unsuspecting ears.

This is not what Vedic knowledge, nor Hinduism, nor Vedanta is about.

We are talking about Truth which is the cause of everything.

Just like the elephant is the cause of various opinions of it. Yet remains independent of those opinions. “

Another skeptical thought, ” If I follow the books, I will be just a clone of the master, parroting the master's words.

” If you understand the sacred books are valid means of knowledge — where is the questions of being a clone?

Just like your eyes and ears are a valid means of knowledge — where the empirical (vyāvahārika) world is concerned.

It is the same with the words of the teacher and our sacred texts, the Upanishads.

They are valid means to know the truth of ourselves. They are the means the reveal the One Reality which we cannot know without the help of these words.

Therefore how can we dismiss them as mere ventriloquism?

If we do feel like we're just echoing another's words, then we have not clearly understood the importance of the sacred words.

Scriptures (Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads) are timeless valid means of knowledge, to know the truth of the knower, the truth of our self. “

Conversation in part 30 escalates with skepticism and disagreement. “I don't agree. Knowledge from teacher or scriptures can't help. Truth has to be EXPERIENCED in meditation by first watching our breath,  concentration. Mind has to be free of thoughts!”

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