Part 6 – Why other methods fail?

Agniveer

Nanyah Panthah Vidyate Anayaya

There is no other way!

WHO AM I?

WHERE DID I COME FROM?

WHERE WILL I GO?

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS LIFE?

Answers to these fundamental questions cannot be written in form of an essay, that you mug up and you are done! These need to be realized through all your senses and the master controller – the mind so that you grasp it fully. To talk in Vedic language. this entire life has the sole purpose of helping us seek answers to these fundamental questions, and through that achieve ultimate bliss.

To the uninitiated, the mere reference to these questions might increase the heart-beats, and even cause a sense of fear or depression. After  all we all admit that the entire human life and all our activities are in a way, an attempt to ignore this fear of death. Our mind rebels at the very thought of death – that everything shall end one day – no senses, no feelings, nothing…and forever! And yet we know that if there is one certain things about life, it is death. We tend to ignore this feeling, we tend to ignore our soul, when suddenly in middle of everything, it shouts that “one day this shall come to end.. a blank end!”. We then distract ourselves, get busy in our career, activities, entertainment etc etc. We try to desensitize ourselves to these questions. But they still exist.

Science has progressed a lot in terms of the number of toys it has produced and theories it has developed to understand these toys. But the progress of modern science has been an absolute zero when it comes to these most fundamental questions. In its frustration, it claims that anything that its instruments cannot detect does not exist! Yet, it admits that the most fundamental questions that started this journey of exploration still remain equally unanswered and it has no clue on how they can be unanswered.

Do you know why most self-help programs fail? (I came to know that the noted founder of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Patterning – that claims to change attitudes and beliefs in matter of minutes himself was a drug abuser fighting depression till last known! ) The reason that these programs fail is that they want you to get motivated and inspired but fail to understand and explain WHY? The human mind, when it knows that despite all great successes, highest levels of motivation, enthusiasm, charisma, blah blah…one day the show shall come to a dead end; it reasons – why the hell should I bother to change when no change is permanent? When it all appears so purposeless, the mind tends to stick to the directions it has already undertaken. The motivation to self-help ceases to exist in wake of an impending end of everything that is definite.

One gets into spiritualism to seek answers to these questions. There are momentary moments of happiness when one reads about stories of Heaven, Hell, Lord, Prophet, Avatars, etc. This is so soothing and relaxing. We tend to stick with these and dwell deeper and deeper. “No!”, the mind decides, “I shall analyze no further. This has to be the answer because I can no more tolerate the questions can shake me to end!”. But the questions remain. The loopholes in the fantastic stories of miracles are amply evident to the mind. It knows that it has never seen a single miracle ever and has only heard stories about it. Yet the solution to these puzzling questions lie only in blind belief in these miraculous assumptions that have never ever happened in life! The soul rebels somewhere, “Hey! This seems to be not true? Get better answers!”. And mind replies, “Shut up!”. When sound of soul becomes louder, we drown it into the hymns, songs of faith, recitations, etc etc – whatever way we can. Thus the business of spiritualism flourishes! And we remain the scapegoats with these unanswered questions.

Vedas succeed where all these approaches fail. It provides such a scientific framework to address these questions that once this is in place, there is no way that any form of fear or doubt can even touch upon us. As we analyze and explore these questions further, with the Vedic toolkit, the doubts start vanishing, motivation starts emerging from the core, enthusiasm becomes our fundamental nature and we are able to enjoy the present and look ahead in future with a level of bliss that was never possible so far. And as we progress this keeps increasing. The very process of seeking these answers becomes a source of permanent happiness that we had been seeking so far!

It does not remain a mechanical process like NLP, it does not demand blind belief in any stories or miracles, it does not demand shutting down the analytical brain. On contrary, it is so intuitive, so much in sync with our true nature and so logical that its a part of our own self. And hence we no more require any further self-help of any sort. Vedas say that the entire knowledge of Vedas is already within you. What is means is that the Vedic knowledge appears as if it were you who gave the answers. There is no external imposition required anymore. It all comes from within. And that is why it works! That is why it is the only approach that works!

We shall discover the answers very soon.

By the way, don’t worry – Vedas prove that we can never die, because we define the very opposite of death…forever!

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Part 5 – The Third Principle

The natural doubt that comes by now is that scope of knowledge is virtually infinite in expanse and depth. Even terrorists learn a lot, thieves learn a lot. We cannot stop learning even for a moment until our sense organs are active and mind is working. Each sensory input processed by the brain is a new learning. Thus learning and knowledge acquisition is already a natural process. Does it then mean that I should keep learning every other thing, which is already the default process and will that keep giving me more and more bliss?

The answer is both yes and no. The very mechanics of acquiring new skills or knowledge does provide bliss, regardless of what it is, so far the mind is trained to aspire for it. More actively you pursue it, and more the bliss. However, our goal is to reach ultimate bliss. So unless the knowledge acquired lead us further to the highway of ultimate bliss, we may be wasting our time. And any form of wastage again brings the forces of death and sorrow to fore. Put simply, not all methods and forms of knowledge acquisition lead us to highway.

This is like the game of ‘Prince of Persia’ that we used to play in the nineties. The Prince is trapped in a labyrinth and has to come out its different levels within thirty minutes and defeat the vizier who has kidnapped the princess. Now its a fun fighting with the guards and defeating them. Its also a fun jumping around and breaking walls and ceiling around, drinking magic potions and roaming about. But time is limited. So one has to smartly optimize his efforts and defeat only those guards, and move only in those alleys that lead to the goal. Now this game is a gross simplification of the real-game that we are playing. But the lesson is amply clear – act with a sense of direction.

The entire Vedas are a guidebook to help us in this game. As we shall understand the fundamental concepts, the direction would become clearer. But to summarize the suspense ahead – we all are intrigued by certain fundamental questions. Science, religion, philosophy – all seem to be attempts to answer them. None are able to answer them adequately. However they do seem to refute several assumptions made by each of them. Vedas provide a clue to them and lay a framework to seek these answers – a very scientific and logical framework indeed, and leave the rest for our own exploration.

The Vedic message is clear – the purpose of life is to seek answers to these fundamental questions and the state of ultimate bliss shall come the moment we are able to realize these answers.

The Basic question is only one.

The rest are mere expansions of this basic question. And the process of exploration of answers to these questions form the direction of our knowledge seeking. Anything and everything that leads us to answers to these questions is towards the path of bliss. Everything else is a waste of time and move towards sorrow and death.

So this is the basic question:
WHO AM I?

And the associated fundamental questions are:
WHERE DID I COME FROM?
WHERE WILL I GO?
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS LIFE?

Part 4 – The Corollary

Knowledge is multi-dimensional

When we refer to knowledge or process of reaching truth, we should understand that we do not imply mere mugging of books and memorization of facts. There is a whole science in Vedas on what is meant by knowledge and various forms of acquiring it. But to put things in simple perspective, truth means knowing something the way it is. And knowledge is the process leading towards it. This is a multidimensional approach.

The toolkit with us to acquire knowledge is 6 fold – 5 senses (eyes, ears, nose, skin, tongue) and its controller – the mind. The toolkit for us to experiment with knowledge is again our body (hands, legs, speech etc) and its controller – the mind again. The mind is supported  by the hard disk or the brain cells where we store and retrieve information. All these tools should be used maximally for acquisition of knowledge.

In Vedic parlance, it is supposed to be done through a three-fold approach – Knowledge, Action and Contemplation. Knowledge here means input of information through five senses and mind. Action implies use of our body and mind to implement this knowledge as output. Contemplation means analysis of input and output to derive distilled lessons. All the three should go hand in hand. And simultaneously, the efforts to keep the toolkit well-maintained should also go hand in hand. In fact this effort towards maintenance of the toolkit is another means of expanding knowledge.

Thus we can well understand that this knowledge spans across all our senses and organs and hence is truly multi-dimensional. And unless a multidimensional approach is undertaken, our efforts of knowledge acquisition and hence bliss maximization would remain incomplete. Further, this has to be undertaken in most objective manner. There is no place for blind beliefs and unreasoned assumptions in the Vedic dharma.

Part 3 – The Second Principle

Indram Vardhanto Apturah
May we enhance our strength and progress!

This brings us to the second fundamental principle of Vedic philosophy – Life means growth. So far we are growing, we are working in sync with life forces. The moment we cease to grow, we are in hands of forces of death. Now this principle coupled with the first principle implies that bliss can be maximized by maximizing our growth. The moment we limit our knowledge or understanding of truth, we limit our level of bliss. We abandon the opportunity for further bliss.  We enjoy illusion and ignorance, because we consider them as truth, and hence acquire limited bliss from them. But if we have to increase our bliss further, we need to enhance our knowledge further, break the shackles of illusion and ignorance, and extract more bliss. This is an ongoing journey in life, and the only natural way to live – healthy and blissfully.

The moment we stagnate, the moment we stop this process of knowledge enhancement, or try to put limits to it, or try to reverse it, we are working against our basic nature. To put metaphorically, we are digging our own graves. In pursuit of momentary bliss, we are forcing ourselves into the dark pit of frustration, tension, sorrow and grief. It is impossible to restrict the nature. So this urge for growth channelizes into all sorts of areas – some very undesirable, some less undesirable and some simply self-defeating. Thus we see so much of terrorism, warfare, drugs abuse, pornography, wasteful living, addictions, psychopathy all around. These are nothing but manifestations of attempts made by soul to cope up with this force to nature that demands us to grow, progress and come closer to truth.

An average soul spends bulk of its life tackling this urge for growth, without understanding the source of problem, and keeps fighting throughout the life in a variety of forms. Sometimes it will drown itself into various variants of ignorance and bliss, sometimes it will try to express itself through regressive means, sometimes it will indulge into sensual pleasures that numb the senses, sometimes it will tend to progress further and then again reverse the direction due to other compulsions. And finally when mortal death takes over, the story is over.

Normally, we tend to believe that phase of growth ends with completion of our physiological growth (growth of body). It is approximately then that our education also ends. And we continue living in illusion that phase of growth is over. However, if you have studied a bit about the human brain, you would realize that it is the most complex system known to us in the entire universe. We hardly know anything about human brain and how it works. But from whatever we know, the potential of human brain to learn, acquire skills, and gain knowledge is virtually limitless. And we also know that brain is like other muscles. The more you use it, stronger it becomes. Stop using it, and you are leading yourself towards dementia. This provides the greatest clue towards purpose of our life..or direction of our life – to grow further, know further and reach closer to truth.

Part 2 – The First Principle

Idam aham anritaat satyam upaimi
I shall move away from falsehood towards truth=bliss!

The very first principle of Vedic philosophy is that truth and bliss are synonymous. The root ‘Sat’ is used to denote truth as in “Satya” and also bliss as in “Sadgati”. This forms the core foundation of the entire Vedic framework. In fact, this search for bliss through discovery of truth defines the most essential trait of human life. The entire progress of science and attempts made by human beings to know the world better is driven by this urge to achieve bliss through truth. This defines our humanness. In Sanskrit, humans are called Manushya, which literally means ‘one who can analyze or evaluate truth’.

Now, often we see that illusions and ignorance also bring bliss. The entire entertainment industry and even most of the cults thrive on gaining by providing bliss to masses through illusion and ignorance. This seems to contradict the principle of ‘truth’ and ‘bliss’ being synonymous. In fact this has led to many a philosophers to believe that bliss is merely a matter of perception and one cannot assess the same on parameter of true or false; right or wrong. And from a restricted standpoint, they are right as well. We shall be able to address this apparent paradox subsequently as we learn about some more fundamental principles of Vedic philosophy.

But to provide some hints, consider the fact that truth and bliss do not represent absolute points. They represent a journey…a path of progress..a process. Thus technically knowledge is another term to define the process that leads us to truth. To simplify, we can treat them as synonymous.

We enjoy apparent illusions because while we are enjoying them, we consider them as truth, based on our limited understanding and capabilities. So far an illusion appears to be true, or ignorance appears to be knowledge, we tend to enjoy them. But as our knowledge and understanding increases, we are no more able to enjoy what was bliss yesterday. We no longer enjoy putting fingers in switch-boards that we used to do when we were infants, simply because new knowledge has dawned upon us. Even the food we used to enjoy as children are not the ones we enjoy as grown-up adults. Our food preferences change, our reading habits change, our hobbies change, our aspirations change – all because we now possess more knowledge. And hence only those things that provide us bliss suited to our enhanced knowledge levels are the ones that provide us bliss.

Now also consider the fact that the same level of bliss provided again and again makes us bore again. Thus the same tasty gulabjamun eaten again and again seems to degrade the level of happiness we are able to derive from its taste. We now need a change. We want to grow now. The small infant had had enough of blabbering lying in the couch. It now wants to stand up and try to walk. It wants to explore more. And it shall do that regardless of the number of times it falls down or gets hurt. It shall simply not give up until it is able to stand up, walk, run and jump. The basic nature of soul is in full steam in a child – in its urge to grow and progress.

Part 1 – Vedic Self-Help

Sanatan literally means eternal.
Dharma means something worth being accepted.
And Ved means knowledge.

So in essence, Vedic Dharma or Sanatan Dharma refers to those principles or source of knowledge that are eternal, unchangeable and worth being accepted. The source of this knowledge is the 4 Vedas – Rik, Yajuh, Sama and Atharva – which are considered to be existing since dawn of humanity.

This knowledge permeates all branches of knowledge that we are aware of, and are considered the highest levels of refinement that human intellect can aspire to reach.

Before we dwell further into this journey, let me clarify certain things:

a. Vedas are not religious books like Bible, Quran or Avesta. They do not contain description of any rituals or any belief-system that can lead us to either Heaven or Hell. On contrary, they contain pearls of intuitive wisdom that we all can relate to.

b. Vedas do not demand belief in anything as a prerequisite. Instead they simply demand an open mind and a questioning attitude.

c. Vedas do not relate to any particular society, religion, nation or culture. Vedas were revealed during a period when entire humanity was one race, one society, one culture and one nation. And hence the Vedic message would be free from any such restrictive biases.

As you shall discover, this Vedic self-help course does not even require faith in Vedas to start with. Significance of Vedas comes as a conclusion of this journey of analysis, and not as a starting assumption. This is like studying physics, where formulae are derived from basic observations and we use textbook to put the things in proper framework.

Being so vast and deep in scope, to a beginner, understanding of Vedas poses several challenges. One hears of quite conflicting and often confusing concepts regarding Vedas. This is especially true in today’s scenario when the traditional system of understanding Vedas has almost completely broken down due to a long era of darkness and foreign rule in India, the place where this knowledge was preserved since ages.

The purpose of this series of lectures is to bring forth the fundamental concepts of Vedas in a lucid manner without getting into too much of technical details and help develop the basic framework for further explorations. And in process help develop the right perspectives on Vedas. As you will understand in process, this will help develop new perspectives for your own life that would bring the changes you always desired.

Intended Audience
This series would be useful for the layman, not quite adept in Vedic subjects to understand the most fundamental concepts of Vedas. It assumes no prior background except an inclination towards a scientific and objective approach towards life and living, and an ambition to maximize purposefulness and happiness in life.

However it would also be useful for more advanced students of Vedas to put their knowledge in a framework, fill specific gaps and consolidate on their existing learning. The intended audience is the youth of today, who finds an urge to associate with our great heritage, has a passion to do something purposeful with her or his life

Intended Results
This course is not supposed to be merely academic discussions. Plethora of material is available and hundreds of researchers are doing their doctorates and post-doctorates in this field.

The expected results from study of this series however would be a paradigm shift in his or her thought patterns, and an absolute guarantee that regardless of the situations, pressures and compulsions of life, one is still able to enjoy and live life to fullest.

This course promises to be a vaccination against tension, depression, frustration, exhaustion and purposelessness. If one commits 100% to study of this series, I can promise that this would be the only self-help course that he or she would ever need. The rest of the life would then be an exhilarating journey to maximize this state of bliss by exploring this first knowledge of Vedas even further – in thoughts, words and actions – through study, analysis and execution. All you need to do is to keep an open mind, and enjoy the journey towards success!

In this first part, we shall understand the very basic concepts. We shall not go into actual mantras and references here, to ensure that the things are simple and easy for everyone. However for the more academic minded, we shall provide a list of references later that they can consult and discover further details.

Typically discussions on such topics focus more on microscopic scrutiny of each letter of what is written. That is a good approach for the academic researchers and to extract points to debate and counter-argue.

But to make it a life-changing experience, its the spirit that matters more. We expect you to go by the spirit of the discussion and understand the essence rather than scrutiny of each letter.