Sunday, November 8, 2015

The art of discrimination (viveka) by Swami Sivananda

The art of discrimination (viveka)

A  firm  conviction  that  Brahman  alone  is reaiity,  and  all  else  is  unreality,  is  Viveka.  It  is discrimination  between  the  real  and  the  unreal (Sat  and  Asat),  permanent  and  impermanent (Nitya  and  Anitya),  Self  and  not-Self  (Atman  and Anatman).  

Viveka  dawns  in  a  man  on  account  of the  grace  of  God.  The  grace  can  come  only  when one  has  done  incessant  selfless  service  in previous births  with  the  feeling  of  offering  everything  to  the Lord.  The  door  of  the  higher  mind  is  flung  open when  there  is  awakening  of  discrimination. 

This  discrimination  is  a  strong  sword  to destroy  worldly  desires,  ambitions  and  earthly attachments.  It  is  an  agent  of  wisdom,  a  secondary, intuitive  eye  of  wisdom.  It  is  a  spiritual  faculty  that annihilates  the  clinging  of  the  mind  to  earthly objects. 

Discrimination  also  dawns  through  virtuous actions  done  in  past  births,  holy  company  or  study of  sacred  scriptures  and  selfless  service  or  work done  without  the  expectation  of  fruits  and  without egoism.

The  body,  mind,  senses,  intellect  and  the worldly  phenomena  are  temporary.  Their  value  is impermanent.  They  are  identified  with  the  pairs  of opposites,  therefore  they  are  unreal  and  not  to  be sought  after.  Tiuth  is  timeless,  causeless, enduringly  blissful,  one  without  a  second,  the  only entity  to  be  sought  after,  the  only  thing  that  can give  real  happiness. 

The  five  sheaths  are  floating  in  the  universal consciousness  like  straw  in  water.  The  five changing  Kosas (sheaths) or  the  physical,  mental,  vital, intellectual  and  bliss  sheaths  are  mixed  up  with the  eternal  Atman  or  the  Self.  There  is  childhood, boyhood,  adolescence  and  old  age  for  this  physical body,  but  there  is  an  unchanging  background  for this  ever-changing  body  and  mind,  like  the black-board  in  a  class  room  or  screen  in  a  cinema on  which  are  manifested  various  forms  and  figures. The  witness  or  the  silent  spectator  of  these changes  of  the  body  and  mind  is permanent  and unchanging.  He  is  like  the  all-pervading  ether.  He pervades,  permeates  and  interpenetrates  all  these changing  forms  like  the  thread  in  a  garland  of flowers.  This  eternal  essence  or  Atman  is  present everywhere  and  in  everything-atoms,  electrons, ants  and  mountains.  He  dwells  in  the  chambers  of your  own  heart.  He  is  the  soul  of  this  tree,  stone, flower,  goat,  dog,  cat,  man  and  saint.  He  is  the common  property  of  all-a  saint  or  a  sinner'  a king  or  a  peasant,  a  beggar  or  a  baron,  a  scavenger or  a  cobbler.  He  is  the  very  source  of  life  and thought.

The  aspirant  should  learn  to  discriminate between  this  eternal  and  unchanging  substratum  of all  objects  and  the  ever-changing  names  and forms.  He  should  seriously  engage  himself  at  all times  to  separate  the  eternal  unchanging  Self  from these  names  and  forms.  He  should  try  to  separate himself  from  the  changing,  impermanent  five sheaths,  from  the  passions,  emotions,  feelings, thoughts  and  sentiments  and  from  the  oscillating mind  itself.  He  should  distinguish  between  the mind  and  the  witness  who  moves  and  illumines  the mind;  between  ordinary  sensation,  feelings  and sentiments  and  perfect  awareness  of  pure consciousness  which  remains  unaffected  and unattached;  between  personality  and  individuality. He  must  also  separate  himself  from  the  false superimpositions  of  the  body-position,  rank, avocation,  birth,  caste,  stage  and  order  of  life. These  are  all  accidental  appendages  of  the  false personality. 

When  he  sees  a  fascinating  flower  or  any attractive  form,  he  should  philosophise  within himself:  "This  beautiful  flower  will  fade  within  a day,  however  sweet  it  may  be.  It  will  be  turned into  dust  tomorrow.  This  beautiful  woman  also  will turn  to  dust. Even  the  mighty  Himalayas,  though they  appear  to  be  permanent,  are  sure  to  tumble down  like  a  pack  of  cards  one  day.  The  beauty  in the  flower,  the  feminine  form  and  the  icy Himalayas  is  only  a  reflection  of  that  unchanging Self  within  the  infinite  undecaying  Beauty  of beauties.

The Mind  wants  repetition  of  a  pleasure  once enjoyed.  Memory  of  pleasure  arises  in  the  mind. Memory  induces  imagination  and  thinking.  In  this way,  attachment  arises.  Thiough  repetition  a  habit is  formed.  Habit  causes  strong  craving.  Mind  then exercises  its  rule  over  the  poor,  helpless, weak-willed  worldlings.

 As  soon  as  discrimination  arises,  the  mind,s power  becomes  weakened.  It  tries  to  recede  and retrace  its  steps  to  its  original  home,  the  heart.  Its poisonous  fangs  are  extracted  by  discrimination.  It cannot  do  anything  in  the  presence  of discrimination.  The  will  becomes  stronger  and stronger  when  discrimination  is  awakened,  thus enabling  us  to  get  out  of  the  miserable  worldly life.

 When  you  are  fully  aware  of  the  magnitude  of human  suffering  in  this  miserable  'relative'  world, you  will  naturally  begin  to  discriminate  between what  is  real  and  what  is  unreal.  Then  sincerity  or faith  will  develop  and  aspiration  or  keen  longing to  realise  God  will  be  felt.  You  will  have  to remember  the  Truth  constantly  and  assert repeatedly  'Aham  Brahmasmi  -I  am  Brahrnan'.  By incessant  practice  name,  form  and  thoughts  will vanish  and  you  will  realise  Brahman.  This  is Vedanta  Sadhana.  Discrimination,  sincerity, aspiration  and  remembrance  are  the  various  stages for  realisation  of  Brahman.

The  ordinary  man  of  the  world  identifies himself  with  the  perishable  body,  impermanent objects,  wife,  son,  cattle  and  property,  and  hence gets  attached  to  these  external  names  and  forms. He  develops  delusion,  love  and  hatred,  pride  of caste,  position,  etc.  He  says:  "I  am  a  Brahmin,  I am  a  rich  man,  I  am  a  genius,  I  am  very  powerful, my  wife  comes  from  a  noble  family  and  she  is  a graduate  of  the  Bombay  University,  and  I  myself am  a  member  of  the  Legislative  Assembly."  He thus  brags  of  his  false  beauty,  false  possessions, intellectual  attainments,  etc.  Thus  he  is  caught  up in  the  ever-revolving  wheel  of  births  and  deaths. He  is  born  again  and  again  in  this  world  of  sorrow, undergoing  various  sorts  of  miseries,  troubles, sorrows  and  pains  only  on  account  of non-discrimination. 

Discrimination  gives  inner  strength  and mental  peace.  One  who  has  discrimination  gets  no troubles.  He  is  always  on  the  alert.  He  never  gets entangled  in  anything.  He  has  far-sightedness  and knows  the  true  value  of  the  objects  of  this universe.  He  is  fully  aware  of  the  worthlessness  of these  shallow  toys.  Nothing  can  tempt  him.  Maya cannot  approach  him  now. 

Viveka  should  be  developed  to  the  maximum degree;  one  should  be  well-established  in  it.  It should  not  be  an  ephemeral  or  occasional  mood  in an  aspirant,  but  become  part  and  parcel  of  his nature.  It  should  not  fail  him  when  he  is  in trouble,  when  any  difficulty  stares  him  in  the  face. He  should  exercise  it  at  all  times  without  any effort. Those  who  have  done  countless  virtuous deeds  in  their  previous  births  will  have  the  good fortune  through  the  grace  of  God  to  have  Satsanga of  Mahatmas,  Sadhus,  Bhaktas,  Yogis,  Jnanis  and Sannyasis.  If  one  is  careless  in  the  beginning, Viveka  may  come  and  go,  so  the  aspirant  should live  in  the  company  of  sages  for  a  long  time  till  it burns  in  him  like  a  big  steadY  flame. 

Maya  is  very  powerful.  She  tries  her  extreme level  best  to  lead  the  aspirant  astray.  She  throws many  temptations  and  obstacles  on  the  path  of young  inexperienced  aspirants.  Therefore  the company  of  sages  and  Mahatmas  is  like  an impenetrable  fortress  for  the  neophyte.  Now  no temptations  can  assail  him.  He  will  undoubtedly develop  true  and  lasting  discrimination  which  will be  permanent  and  spontaneous.  Then  only  is  he truly  and  perfectly  safe.  The  dangerous  zone  is passed.  Only  a  true  Viveki  can  claim  to  be  the richest,  happiest  and  most  powerful  man  in  the world.  He  is  a  rare  spiritual  gem,  a  beacon light and  torch bearer.  If  Viveka  is  developed,  all  other qualifications  will  come  by  themselves. 

The  aspirant  should  separate  himself  from  the Shad-Urmis  or  six  waves  in  the  'ocean'  of  Samsara, viz.,  birth,  death,  hunger,  thirst,  exhilaration  and grief.  Birth  and  death  belong  to  the  physical  body; hunger  and  thirst  belong  to  the  Prana;  exhilaration and  grief  are  the  attributes  of  the  mind.  The  Soul is  unattached.  These  six  cannot  touch  the  Atman which  is  subtle  like  the  all-pervading  ether.

The  aspirant  should  also  separate  himself from  the  senses.  He  should  not  take  upon  himself the  functions  of  the  senses.  He  should  stand  as  a spectator  and  witness  of  the  activities  of  the  mind, Prana  and  the  senses.  The  senses  and  the  mind  are like  iron  pieces  in  contact  with  a  magnet.  They function  by  borrowing  the  light  and  power  from the  source,  the  eternal  Atman. 

Meditation  on  the  following  verses  of  the Bhagavad  Gita  and  on  the  special  formula  of  Sri Sankara  will  pave  a  long  way  in  the  development of  your  Viveka  and  in  separating  yourself  from  the illusory  vehicles-the  Indriyas,  prana,  mind  and the  five  sheaths.  The  formula  of  Sri  Sankara  is "Brahma  satyam  jagat-mithya;  jivo  brahmaiva  na aparah" - Brahman  (the  Eternal)  alone  is  Truth, this  world  is  unreal;  the  Jiva  is  identical  with Brahman."  

The  Bhagavad  Gita  says: The  unreal has  no  being,  the  real  never  ceases  to  be;  the  truth about  both  have  been  perceived  by  the  seers  of the  essences of  things."  (I-16)  
Reflection  on  this verse  will  infuse  discrimination. " I do nothing  at all',  thus  would  the  harmonised  knower  of  Truth think; when seeing,  hearing,  touching,  smelling,  eating, moving,  sleeping,  breathing,  speaking,  giving!, grasping,  opening  and  closing  the  eyes is happening, he is convinced that  the  senses  move  among  the  sense-objects. (V-8,  9).  
You  can  separate  yourself  from  the  senses by  meditating  upon  the  meaning  of  these  two verses.

"All  actions  are  wrought  by  the  qualities  of nature  only.  The  self,  deluded  by  egoism,  thinks,  'I am  the  doer'.  But  he,  O  mighty  armed,  who  knows the  essence  of  the  divisions  of  the  qualities  and functions,  holding  that  'The  qualities  move  amid the  qualities',  is  not  attached."  Bhagavad  Gita (lll-27,  28).  By  meditating  upon  this  idea  you  can separate  yourself  from  the  three  gums.  "He  who sees  that  Prakriti  verily  performs  all  actions  and that  the  Self  is  actionless,  he  alone  sees." Bhagavad  Gita  (XIII-29). 

It  is  a  faculty  of  Sattva  (purity)  that differentiates  the  permanent  from  the impermanent,  the  Atman  from  the  Anatman.  This means  the  ability  to  do  the  right  thing  at  the  right time  and  in  the  right  place.  You  can  develop discrimination  through  the  grace  of  the  Lord, selfless  service,  enquiry  and  study  of  scriptures. Keep  this  faculty  bright  and  sharp.  It  may  become blunt  if  you  are  careless  and  non-vigilant,  if  your dispassion  and  Sadhana  slacken,  if  you  mix  freely with  worldly  persons. 

Discrimination  acts  like  a  sieve.  It  rejects  all undesirable  things  and  accepts  or  selects  the  one desirable  or  real  thing  (the  Atman).  If  it  is  not well-grounded,  it  will  evaporate  like  ether  very soon.  Always  protect  and  intensify  discrimination. Inquiry  of  'Who  am  I?' will  proceed  automatically. This  inquiry  is  like  the  emanation  of  scent  from the  burning  incense-stick  of  discrimination.  If  you have  no  discrimination  and  dispassion,  energy  will leak  out  freely  like  water  from  the  holes  of  a  pot. If  you  are  well-established  in  them,  they  will  act  as a  restraining  agent.

 In  the  beginning  there  will  be  the  need  of deliberate  attempts  in  the  practice  of discrimination  and  inquiry.  Later  on,  through constant  practise  they  will  become  habitual  and you  will  be  established  in  them.  You  can  practise them  even while  doing  work.  They  are  not qualities  alone  but  are regular  daily  modes  of practice  as  well.  You  must  practise  them  till  they become  habitual  in  you.   Meditate  constantly  on the  formula mentioned  earlier.  Discrimination may  wane  if  you  are  careless  and  not  regular  in your  Sadhana.  If  you  have  discrimination,  surely you  will  have  lasting  dispassion.  The  edifice  of wisdom  is  built  upon  the  strong  foundation  of discrimination.   

Viveka  is  the  corner  stone  of  the edifice  of  Vedanta.  lt  is  the most  important,  vital qualification.  Vairagya (dispassion) comes  by  itself  when  one gets  established  in  Viveka.
and the book Jnana Yoga - Swami Sivananda

Peace, love, harmony