Saturday, February 24, 2007
Not four paths, but One path.
It is commonly held that there are four paths to enlightenment - karma,yoga,bhakti and jnana.
From my standpoint there is only one goal - moksha and there is only
one path - the spiritual path.
Pursuing the spiritual path will always entail an evolution in multiple facets of our personality all of which will hopefully result in an annihilation of our ego-sense and our false
sense of separation from the whole.thinking, feeling and willing, which are the faculties of the human mind on which these yogas are based do not exist in the human mind in isolation from one another. The human mind is a whole constituted of these faculties and so all these faculties have in some way or other to enter into all these yogas.
Karmayoga is taken by many to mean service to the needy and the
poor, etc. This is not karmayoga. No doubt mahatmas like baba amte
and vinoba bhave etc are referred to as "karmayogis" but nobody can
do "karmayoga". Karma yoga is an attitude that I adopt to attain
chittanaischalyam and chittashuddhi for MYself. I am the one who
needs help,(not the so-called deprived people whom I feel need MY
help) - it is my ragadveshas that are out of control and I am the
one who finds it difficult to focus on contemplation, study, or
prayer, etc and it is MY mind that is wandering off in a thousand
directions. So I develop an attitude of surrender and dedication to
ishwara. "Yad Yad karma karoti tad tad akhilam shambo tavaradhanam" -
that is the attitude. "I am sufficiently deluded O Lord that even
though I am you and you are me, I still wonder where my next meal is
coming from, I still worry about mundane things in life, I still
allow lifes little worries and anxieties to prevent me from
contemplating on the only thing that will help me cross this Ocean
of Samsara. But O Benovelent Ishwara, I have come to You alone with
this recognition, and hence it is that as even I am performing all
these actions, I am dedicating them at Your altar."
With this attitude if I do my duty - be it a clerical job at a bank,
or overseeing a corporation as a CEO, or cleaning the streets as a
municipal worker, etc then that is karma yoga.
"mayi sarvani karmani
nirasir nirmamo bhutva
Now tell me how can karma yoga be possible without bhakti? It will
be a contradiction of the very idea of karmayoga.
With regards to disciplining the mind by Yoga, then is there any
progress possible in our spiritual journey before first developing
(what Patanjali so beautifully outlines as) yama (ahimsa satya
asteya brahmacharya aparigraha) and Niyama (saucha santosha tapas
svadhyaya and AGAIN Ishvarapranidhana) Asanas and pranayama can be
considered optional but dhyana and dharana are prerequisities for
both bhakti as well as jnana sadhana.
With regards to bhakti, only the higher Bhakti which involves
devotion to the Lord for the sake of knowing the Lord alone, with no
selfish ego-centric desires, is the only Bhakti that we refer to in
this context. Now how different is bhakti where-in there is an
intense longing to know the Lord different from mumukshutvam. It
Ultimately it is Ishwara who blesses you with selfknowledge. How is
he going to do it - by presenting Himself in front of you in the
form of a Guru, a shrotriya brahmanishta.
If we do not recognize Ishwara in the form of a Guru, and are
awaiting a darshan in the form of a shanka-chakra-gada etc image
to "deliver us" - then that is an exercise in futility.
Lord krishna need have only shown his darshan to Arjun in that case.
At the same time if we do not regard the Guru, the shruti, our own
capacity to understand, - all these as Ishwara and His Grace, then
any philosophical contemplation or scholarly bookknowledge is an
equal exercise in futility.
Not recognizing our own teacher as Ishwara, who is rewarding us for
our bhakti, by giving us the message of "tat tvam asi" is mere
Claiming that our own selfeffort alone will get us moksha by intense
contemplation via the marga of "jnana yoga" is sheer arrogance.
What needs to be resolved is the false duality that my egosense has
superimposed - only Ishwara can remove that - no doubt about it -
but the only means available even to Him is to impart the teaching
of tat tvam asi - no doubt about this either.
Which of these aspects of our personality needs to be sharpened or finetuned depends on the stage of our spiritual development.
This has also been clearly marked out by Bhagwaan Krishna
"mayy eva mana adhatsva
mayi buddhim nivesaya
nivasisyasi mayy eva
ata urdhvam na samsayah
atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
mam icchaptum dhananjaya
abhyase 'py asamartho 'si
mad-artham api karmani
kurvan siddhim avapsyasi
athaitad apy asakto 'si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
tatah kuru yatatmavan"
Fix the mind on Me alone; in Me alone rest the intellect.
There is no doubt that hereafter you will dwell in Me alone.
If, however, you are unable to establish the mind steadily on Me,
then, O Dhananjaya, seek to attain Me through the Yoga of Practice.
If you are unable even to practise, be intent on works for Me.
By undertaking works for Me as well, you will attain perfection.
If you are unable to do even this, in that case, having resorted to the Yoga for Me,
thereafter renounce the results of all works by becoming controlled in mind.
The atman is already shining in its pristine purity! It is
our own ragadveshas that are blinding us. Bhakti to Ishwara can
certainly help reduce this, but the cure for avidya, the root cause
of these raga dveshas to begin with, can only be jnanam. And this
jnanam will be "given to us" by Ishwara if our selfeffort is sincere
our faith strong.
So where is the question of there being four paths or yogas?
There is no jnanayoga without bhakti, yama,niyama, etc and initially
developing an attitude of karmayoga as we begin and progress on this
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor Ma Amrtam Gamaya