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.
Read the book SADHANA CHATHUSTAYA of Swami Sivananda
The book of Adisankarcharya Vivekachudamani.pdf
and the book Jnana Yoga - Swami Sivananda
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