Refining Thinking, Dharma is Relative, About Intuition, 5 Sadhanas (111)

Refining Your Thinking, Dharma is Relative, About Intuition, 5 Sadhanas (111)

Summary:

Lesson 111 gives pointers how to optimize our thinking process which helps the mind see deeper into things.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12, General discussion.


Summary:

  • What is the aim of Bhagavad Gita? It is 2-fold…
    • Know the Final Reality:
      • Meaning besides perceptible forms-names, if look into them, they all collapse into final reality (Brahman).
      • How is Brahman known? As the most obvious presence which needs no proof, “I AM”. Knock-knock. Whose there? “I AM”. Presence in Sanskrit is called “Atma”.
      • Thus you are the final reality.
    • Bringing You Down To Earth:
      • After actualizing this fact firmly, how do you make life reflect that knowledge through thoughts, decisions, actions?
      • To answer, you need to bring in one more reality, Ishvara.
        • Meaning, this world of forms-names is organized intelligently. IE: All forms are intelligently put together at each assembly. What's more, each form is interconnected having a meaningful relationship.
        • Therefore all-knowledge-power organizes this world and governs the interactions.
        • Meaning, you need to incorporate the fact of all-knowledge-power into your life, because you are constantly surrounded by forms-names. Only then your interactions with world change. You start to live responsibly, intelligently.
      • Why is bringing Ishvara into life important?
        • Because things don't always go our way. Internal & External challenges which we have to deal with.
        • If we don't recognize that everything is governed by an order, then it becomes more difficult to cope.
        • Hence we need to REFINE our thinking so it's more aligned with the grand order. Just as you need to align your body to food, for body to function.
  • How to refine thinking?
    • See that world is your friend for self-growth:
      • First see that world of forms gives you opportunity to undo disempowering patterns of thinking.
      • World servers as mirror (give clues). Shows which situations throw you off and where you remain composed.
      • Hence it's not about leaving the world for sake of pursuing spirituality, but about leaving old perspectives about the world. (More in CH13 on vairāgyam)
    • Acting in harmony with order of Dharma:
      • What is dharma? Universal values which are commonly sensed and accepted by everyone, which forms the basis for our behavior in society.
        • EG: Nobody wants to be cheated, lied to, hurt. We also know others don’t want this.
      • Regardless of where you come from, everybody is endowed with this knowledge.
      • The problem is we struggle to adhere to these universal values.
        • EG: Government official who has opportunity to accept a bribe in order to receive large amounts of money for his campaign.
        • So simply saying “follow dharma” is insufficient, unless you see the enormous loss you incur by disregarding universal values.
      • Therefore, the more we don’t act in harmony with dharma, the more guilt, shame and inner conflict builds. And these feelings make you available to yourself and world. Meaning contentment is denied.
        • Because all mind power is either fixed in past (trying to deal with the thorns) or future (trying to ignore the thorns).

Dharma:

  • What is the difference between Ethics and Dharma?
    • Ethics:
      • Absolute values. Rigid black/white. Can become highly critical of world because you're stuck to black/white.
      • Paradox: The more you want to abide to absolutes, the less likely you'll follow them.
    • Dharma:
      • Accounts the immediate situation. It's also flexible. Not rigid like “ethics”.
      • 2 Types:
        • Samanya dharma: Universal ethical values.
        • Svadharma: Personal duties. I have unique place in this world.
        • EG: Different roles throughout day. But each role “I’m deliberate in my thinking to avoid hurting”.
  • Why can't we make dharma ABSOLUTE?
    • Because entire world itself is not absolute. It's relative. Nevertheless, the world of forms/laws/orders still adheres to a certain eternal order (samanya dharma).
      • EG 1:
        • Driving on the road involves adhering to “Road Rules Dharma”.
        • In the presence of those road rules, the drivers operates the vehicle per his free will. If that free will crosses the boundaries of the road rules, there are consequences (punya-papa).
        • However sometimes crossing the boundary doesn’t lead to negative consequences.
          • EG: When there is accident, you can cross the lines, even go opposite direction in order to get out of the situation.
      • EG 2: Arjuna was asked to wage war and shed blood.
      • EG 3: Even court of law recognizes relativity of dharma. EG: Self-defense.
    • So living life of dharma needs lots of discerning (refined thinking). Because it’s not black/white.
  • Dharma is a law:
    • Furthermore, Vedas says “Dharma” is a law. Meaning it can't be disregarded, because exists just like gravity.
      • Therefore what is intelligent living (refined thinking)?
        • Ask: If the law is there, and I'm oblivious to it (thus disregard it), can I actually circumvent the consequences (just because I don't see it)? No.
        • Understand: Because it’s a law, it means every cause (no matter how minute) produces an effect. Everything counts!
      • So following dharma has nothing to do with appearing good, but understanding, “I don't want to be burned by violating it”.
      • What if I don’t recognize dharma as a LAW?
        • Then if you're following dharma, while seeing others violate it, you'll say “It's very hard for me to follow dharma“. It’ll seems like following them has no value.
        • But if you see dharma as a law, then you won't be tempted to join the compromisers.
          • EG: Everyone around you is overcharging foreigners and insisting it’s standard local price.
  • Summary of dharma:
    • Dharma is relative. Meaning punya-papa is relative.
    • It's a law. Can't be bypassed.
    • It's impersonal. There's noone punishing you from above.
  • Case Studies of Dharma (To Demonstrate How It’s Relative):
    • How do you handle this?
      • You’re working in advertising company, where 100% honesty is impossible, else no one will buy.
      • Suppose you’re traveling in foreign land. And fastest way to get through the hoops is by bribery. Infact locals expect it from tourists.
      • You find yourself in a job whose role isn’t totally congruent with ethics.
    • What do we do in above situations?
      • See if there is an inbetween solution. Meaning it’s one step “cleaner”. Requires innovative thinking. EG:
        • Regarding traveling, maybe there's an online application form where you can print the ticket. That way no bribes if buying at dodgy ticket stand.
        • Schindler's List: He was member of Nazi Party. He used his employer position to hire Jews, so they wouldn't be killed.
        • Official from IAS (Indian Administrative Service) used innovation to overcome bribery where it was the norm. Other officials felt threatened by his honesty. Out of fear of being sent to a lesser paying department, he decided to take bribes also. But next day, returned the money and asked the business to distribute it as charity. So (1) He retained his job (2) Others didn't feel threatened (3) He adhered to dharmic values.
    • Conclusion:
      • If you're 100% firm in ethics, you won't move forward at all. Because earth is mixture of dharma/adharma.
      • Meaning absolute dharma, unfortunately gets you to a place where you're paralysed (can't get through the world), because all around is mixture of dharma/adharma.
        • EG: You'll never find work, because which company follows 100% ethics?
  • How to negate the effects of violating dharma (bending to adharma)?
    • Apply prayaścitta-karma. You actively do something good.
      • EG: Suppose only way one can earn for now is doing something that’s not 100% clean. To negate effects, one can contribute each month to a charity they believe in.
      • CAUTION: Can’t use prayaścitta-karma as means to increase adharmic acts. Because everything is Ishvara, thus noone can covertly cheat the system”.
  • Original question was: How to refine our thinking? (Because quality of thinking is quality of living).
    • See that world is your friend for self-growth.
    • Acting in harmony with order of Dharma.
  • Brings up question: Where role does Intuition have in helping make thoughtful decisions?

Intuition:

  • What is intuition? At times, without processing data consciously, we receive some insight (which seems strong/lucid). Which we often call intuition.
  • What is source of intuition? There are 2 sources:
    • Sub-conscious mind:
      • All events you gone through are stored in subconscious mind. In it, many connections are made (related to past events). These connections are beyond conscious knowledge, else unable to operate.
      • At times, the subconscious mind outputs a message to the conscious mind (which we call intuition).
      • Why we call it intuition? Because we haven't used conscious cognitive mind to arrive to the message.
      • Our response?
        • Ignore: Because we're habituated to using conscious thinking. If it's not conscious, we disregard it.
        • Listen and act upon it.
      • CAUTION:
        • Not every connection in subconscious is based on wisdom. Thus it's messages (which we call Intuition) can misguide you.
        • If always go by this subconscious intuition, then may become judgemental. EG: This person doesn't give me good vibes.
      • SUMMARY: Intuition is 50/50 (wise/unwise). Therefore also apply conscious analysis as backup.
      • What about Discoveries Which Came Through Intuitions:
        • Through sub-conscious intuition is how many discoveries are made.
        • Intuition originated discovery is based on being involved in the subject matter for years.
          • EG: Einstein was surprised upon his own mind discovering relativity of time/space.
        • In science community, these intuitive discoveries are then presented to experts, who ensure Intuition can't be contradicted by logic. Only then it's accepted as Knowledge.
    • Ishvara:
      • We create own stories/conclusions in our mind. The very mind which is operated by Isvara. So wherever mind is, that’s exactly where Ishvara (all-knowledge-power) is.
        • However our own narratives make the mind (as though) distant from Ishvara.
      • Through time, as person cleans this mind, it gains wider access to Ishvara (because where mind is, that's where Bhagavan is, making that mind work the way it does).
        • Meaning mind can draw from Lord’s all-knowledge-power.
        • Hence wise people, exhibit this kind of intuition.
      • EG: Movie “Man Who Knew Infinity“. Ramanuja intuitively knew, yet Professor Hardy at Cambridge wanted logic to prove it.
        • 2 Minds Meeting:
          • Rational: Logical deduction.
          • Intuition (Ishvara based): Intuitively understands. EG: Ramanujan, Shakuntala Devi.
        • Professor told Ramanuja, “You have to train your mind to logically show what you're seeing is right. Can't just say it's all right”.
      • Conclusion: Some people only go by rational (dismissing intuition), and some only by intuition (and ignore cognitive processes).
      • SUMMARY:
        • PURE mind gets attuned to Ishvara, which is expressed as Intuition.
        • Intuition (both sub-conscious and Ishvara-based) is only a by-product of your maturity. It's not meant to be turned into a highlight of life.

Revision of 5 sadhanas which constitute Bhakti-Yoga (CH12 of B.Gita):

  • Jnana Yoga (V3-5):
    • Removing false notions which make it impossible for buddhi to clearly discern the consciousness principle (caitanyam tattvam / ātmā / parā-prakṛti) and the body-mind.
  • UY L2 (V6-8):
    • Placing your emotions and buddhi in Ishvara. God is everything, everywhere, all the time.
    • In UY L2 there is a subtle division between myself and Bhagavān. EG: Arjuna was separate witness to viśva-rūpa-īśvara.
    • Whereas jnana-yoga is discovering “Truth of self and Ishvara is not-two. I alone am”.
  • UY L1 (V9):
    • Aṣṭānga-yoga is to develop composure and concentration to hold an object in mind for length of time.
  • KY L2 (V10):
    • Bringing Parameśvaraḥ into the picture when going about your daily actions. Making your likes/dislikes subserve to dharma and avoiding adharma much as possible.
    • Naturally find yourself in situations which demand responses. These responses are in conformity with moral order (dharma). At same time, you look up to dharma as form of Ishvara.
  • KY L1 (V11):
    • If likes/dislikes are too strong, yet still desire liberation, then continue fulfilling likes/dislikes, but in conformity with dharma. Also look up to dharma as form of Ishvara.
    • Also, when results come, think of God FIRST (because everything is from Him), then accept the result.

Crux of Upāsana-Yoga L2 (Verse 6-8):

  • We are currently studying UY L2 (V6-8), which involves centering your mind on the fact that all around you, including you (the doer), is governed by all-knowledge-power.
  • Question is “How do I center my mind on Ishvara? What does it involve?”
    • You must match your saṅkalpa and vikalpa.
    • What is Saṅkalpa?
      • Your most-wanted intention. Chief goal. Primary desire.
        • EG: Ever increasing clarity. Freedom. Place of no confusion, world is transparent.
      • Why is saṅkalpa necessary?
        • Because mind is whimsical. It has wills, wishes, desires, doubts. If don’t have a goal, then all your mental availability will be occupied by them.
    • What is vikalpa?
      • Secondary, intermediary goals. Subsidiary desires.
      • EG: If main goal (saṅkalpa) is to cook meal, then secondary goals (vikalpa) is chopping, washing veggies, cleaning sink.
    • So what does it mean to say: Saṅkalpa and vikalpa must match ?
      • All secondary goals (vikalpa) become subservient to the primary goal (saṅkalpa).
        • EG: Young man wishes to become doctor to serve mankind (saṅkalpa). But also has secondary desire (vikalpa) to become politician. Secondary is also done for sake of serving mankind (saṅkalpa).
      • This means: Bhakta resolves to entertain conducive intentions to the main goal. And distance herself from those which are contrary to main goal.
        • EG: To remain slim: (1) One avoids cake-shop (distance) (2) Exercise (conducive).
  • Next session we’ll see what Krishna says about UY L2?…

 

Keywords: sankalpa, vikalpa, prayascitta, prayashcitta, punya, papa, atma, para-prakrti, prakriti,


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 2 Feb, 2021

 

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