Home - Read Our Books - About All Is One: A Commentary On Sri Vaiyai R. Subramanian’s Ellam Ondre - All Is One–Chapter Four–Peace

All Is One–Chapter Four–Peace

All Is One by Abbot George Burke book cover
Also available a free PDF download from our E-Library and as an ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and at other online bookstores.

Chapter Four in All Is One: A Commentary On Sri Vaiyai R. Subramanian’s Ellam Ondre

Peace–Equanimity–Equal Mindedness

1. What is peace? Although the world persists when a man is in deep sleep, does he have any cares concerning it? His mind is tranquil and refreshed. Should his mind be in the same degree calm and refreshed even when he is face to face with the world and is active therein, then there is peace.

2. Can the mind remain so even when the world confronts us? It depends upon our estimate of the world. The mind is more excited when one’s own property is plundered than when another’s property is similarly plundered. Of one’s own things, the loss of one thing causes greater concern than those of another. Why? Because our estimate of the things is the cause of the degree of the delight or anxiety concerning them. Therefore, should one learn to regard all equally, the mind will be extremely peaceful. Or should all things be considered as our own and highly prized, then too there is no cause for pain. Why? What will a man regret? The mind which knows that universal concern is beyond its capacity, must needs become tranquil. Also when one feels that one has no claim on anything or that everything is perishable, the mind will remain cool. Thus there will be lasting peace if one looks on all as of the same value. Peace is dependent upon one’s intellectual appraisals.

3. I shall now illustrate this. A man wakes up from a dream. His mind is happy or troubled according to his opinion of the things seen in the dream. But on waking, his mind remains unaffected by all the happenings in the dream; it remains the same. Why? Because, only now his mind has learned to value all the matters of the dream equally. He is not sorry for the cessation of the dream. Why? He is convinced that the dream is not everlasting and must end on waking. In the same manner, should a man be convinced that he cannot but wake up sometime from the long dream of the world, his mind will be unchanging. It is the state of freshness. This is the state of Peace.

4. This is not to say that his relation with the world will cease. Now only peace and freshness of the mind are his. His actions cannot but vary according to circumstances. The only change in him after the mind has become peaceful is this: his mind has known the truth and become unattached; therefore, it rests in peace. His actions though changeful will always be impartial. But the actions of others are changing and cannot be impartial. Thus, the coolness of the mind produces enormous good not only to himself but also to the world at large. Peace shows the way to right conduct.

5. A man walks with a lighted lamp in his hand. Can there be any hostility between the light and the ups and downs on the way? There cannot be. But light and darkness cannot be together. The light chases away darkness, it discloses the ups and downs on the way and makes the man walk carefully, whether he moves up, down, or sideways. It removes the cause of vain complaints, such as, “That snag hurt my foot” or “This hollow made me slip.” Similarly, after peace is gained, the state of peace makes the man neither hate nor antagonize the world. Rather it dispels the darkness which conceals from our view the true nature of the world and its snags. In the absence of the light of Peace which enables people to adjust themselves to varying circumstances, they condemn the world as full of misery, as they would complain of the snags on the road. Therefore a man who has gained the utmost peace after knowing the whole world as a complicated dream should not be considered either unrelated to the world or unconcerned with its activities; he alone stands in effective concord with it; only he is competent to be a man of action. Thus Peace is that which regulates one’s duties.

6. The concern of a man of Peace in the actions of the world lies in rectifying them. Should he feel fear before this world, what hope of reformation can there be, especially from those who esteem it and want to possess it? They are in the grip of selfishness, blind to impartiality. To guide the blind on the way or treat the blindness of the eye, one’s eyesight must itself be good. Similarly, it is for him to reform the world who has already discerned his unchanging nature from the changeful nature of the world and become peaceful. These cannot help serving the world. Why? Can anyone be so hard-hearted as not to lift up a child when it slips and falls? So also for the wise ones who can rightly appraise the troubles of the world and help the people. Because he has already withdrawn himself from the mind and body the sage feels no concern under the strain of service to the world, just as the life principle does not suffer even when loaded carts pass over the corpse it has left behind (by itself). He will not shrink from work or trouble. Only truly realized peace can bestow such courage and coolness.

7. To all appearances, Peace will look poor and quite weak. But in effect, it beats all. In tenacity and courage, it surpasses all. After all, success depends on these qualities. Even if Mount Meru should topple over, the incident will hardly produce a gentle smile in the man of peace, or it will leave him unmoved. This state is helpful both for worldly and spiritual matters. True happiness in the world is his, and that happiness comes out of release from bondage. Peace means doing good to any one in any manner.

8. The obstacles to peace are several. They are meant to prove the man. When they confront us we should be wide awake and keep the delicate flower of the mind distant from even their shadows. If the flower of the mind be crushed, it will lose its fragrance, freshness and color; it will neither be useful to you, nor can it be presented to others, nor offered to God. Know that your mind is more delicate than even a blossom. By means of a peaceful mind, all your duties to yourself, to others and to God must be discharged. Let it release the same freshness throughout. All blessings for the mind are contained in Peace.

9. Unremittingly worship the God of your Self with the flower of your mind. Let the children of the mental modes watch this worship. Gradually they will learn to cast away their childish pranks and desire to delight like yourself. As they watch your Peace, they will themselves recoil from their vagaries. Continue the worship patiently. Be not led away by the vagaries of the mind. On the contrary, they should become peaceful by your peace. All must get peace.

10. I shall finish in one word: The essence of all the Vedas is “Peace.”

Commentary

1. What is peace? Although the world persists when a man is in deep sleep, does he have any cares concerning it? His mind is tranquil and refreshed. Should his mind be in the same degree calm and refreshed even when he is face to face with the world and is active therein, then there is peace.

The state of deep sleep while yet awake is the highest form of Yoga Nidra–Yogic Sleep. This state arises in deep meditation and by the continual practice of meditation comes to pervade our waking hours even when we are engaged in activity and interaction with the world around us. And by meditation I mean meditation on Soham–not the pondering of the meaning “I Am That,” but an entering into the experience of that fact through Soham Yoga Sadhana: intoning So throughout every inhalation and Ham [“Hum”] throughout every exhalation.

This is the way to true and lasting peace.

2. Can the mind remain so even when the world confronts us? It depends upon our estimate of the world. The mind is more excited when one’s own property is plundered than when another’s property is similarly plundered. Of one’s own things, the loss of one thing causes greater concern than those of another. Why? Because our estimate of the things is the cause of the degree of the delight or anxiety concerning them. Therefore, should one learn to regard all equally, the mind will be extremely peaceful. Or should all things be considered as our own and highly prized, then too there is no cause for pain. Why? What will a man regret? The mind which knows that universal concern is beyond its capacity, must needs become tranquil. Also when one feels that one has no claim on anything or that everything is perishable, the mind will remain cool. Thus there will be lasting peace if one looks on all as of the same value. Peace is dependent upon one’s intellectual appraisals.

Can the mind remain so even when the world confronts us? It depends upon our estimate of the world.

Our opinion of the nature of the world determines the state of our mind when we experience it. As Sri Ramakrishna said, “The mind is everything.” Our reaction to the world, including motion pictures and the words of others, is according to our view of the world and those within it. And in certain aspects our view of the world determines its reaction on us rather than its innate character.

I am reminded of the time a young girl who traveled with Anandamayi Ma got it into her head that she was not being treated as she should be and went with her parents (whom I knew) to complain to Ma. She laid out her case in great detail and waited with her parents for Ma to apologize or say she would see that the girl was treated better in the future. But Ma quite firmly said to the three of them: “Since you have chosen to see it this way: then it is this way.” All three of them cried, of course, as weak, spiteful people always do, but Ma remained firm.

My father-mother-teacher Aunt Faye Mitchell once read me this poem:

Don’t be a Croaker

Once by the edge of a pleasant pool,
Under the bank where it was dark and cool,
Where the bushes over the water hung,
And the grasses nodded and the rushes swung.
Just where the brook flowed out of the bog,
There lived a gouty and mean old frog,
Who’d sit all day in the mud and soak,
And do just nothing but croak and croak.

Till a blackbird whistled, “I say you know–
What’s the matter down there below?
Are you in pain, or sorrow or what?”
And the frog answered, “Mine is a gruesome lot–
Nothing but dirt and mud and slime
For me to look at all the live-long time.
’Tis a dismal world,” he sadly spoke,
And voiced his woes with a mournful croak.

“But you’re looking down,” the blackbird said,
“Look at the blossoms overhead,
Look at the beautiful summer skies,
Look at the bees and the butterflies.
Look up, old fellow, why bless my soul,
You’re looking down in a muskrat’s hole.”
But still with gurgling sob and choke
The frog continued to croak and croak.

But a wise old turtle–who boarded near–
Said to the blackbird, “Friend, see here,
Don’t waste your tears on him, for he
Is miserable ’cause he wants to be–
He is one of the kind that won’t be glad,
And it makes him happy to think he’s sad,
I’ll tell you something–and it’s no joke–
Don’t waste your pity on those who croak.”

Ma said it briefer, but the truth is the same.

The mind is more excited when one’s own property is plundered than when another’s property is similarly plundered. Of one’s own things, the loss of one thing causes greater concern than those of another. Why? Because our estimate of the things is the cause of the degree of the delight or anxiety concerning them. Therefore, should one learn to regard all equally, the mind will be extremely peaceful. Or should all things be considered as our own and highly prized, then too there is no cause for pain. Why? What will a man regret? The mind which knows that universal concern is beyond its capacity, must needs become tranquil. Also when one feels that one has no claim on anything or that everything is perishable, the mind will remain cool. Thus there will be lasting peace if one looks on all as of the same value. Peace is dependent upon one’s intellectual appraisals.

We should neither have too high or too low a regard for anything. They are simply waves in the ocean of creative energy that surrounds us and of which even our bodies are a part. In one viewpoint we should realize that nothing really has intrinsic value, being just an appearance. At the same time we should consider everything of infinite value because it is a manifestation of the Infinite. So we should simultaneously disregard and value all things–and all people as well. This is the detachment the Bhagavad Gita urges upon us throughout. Viveka and vairagya are the divine keys to the world of peace.

3. I shall now illustrate this. A man wakes up from a dream. His mind is happy or troubled according to his opinion of the things seen in the dream. But on waking, his mind remains unaffected by all the happenings in the dream; it remains the same. Why? Because, only now his mind has learned to value all the matters of the dream equally. He is not sorry for the cessation of the dream. Why? He is convinced that the dream is not everlasting and must end on waking. In the same manner, should a man be convinced that he cannot but wake up sometime from the long dream of the world, his mind will be unchanging. It is the state of freshness. This is the state of Peace.

I shall now illustrate this. A man wakes up from a dream. His mind is happy or troubled according to his opinion of the things seen in the dream. But on waking, his mind remains unaffected by all the happenings in the dream; it remains the same. Why? Because, only now his mind has learned to value all the matters of the dream equally.

And there is a bit more. His waking perspective enables him to see that the dream had no basis even in the relative reality such as this world is. It really was “all in his head” and insubstantial on every level. It existed only as a mirage, an hallucination, even. Therefore:

He is not sorry for the cessation of the dream. Why? He is convinced that the dream is not everlasting and must end on waking. In the same manner, should a man be convinced that he cannot but wake up sometime from the long dream of the world, his mind will be unchanging. It is the state of freshness. This is the state of Peace.

Now this requires an intense act of will, of resistance to our lower mind which naturally believes all the illusions and even may strive itself to maintain them, mistaking them for reality. This also demands a profound degree of faith because it goes completely against all our experiences–what we have always thought we knew as real or true. So to attain that peace of will is not a small thing. Actually it is spiritually heroic.

Peace comes at a price, and to the conditioned mind it is an impossible and even undesirable price. We should never be quick to condemn or disapprove of those who adamantly or even emotionally resist the highest truth of things since it does not tally with their lifelong experience. To consider that all “things” are illusions is to confess oneself and nearly everyone else in the world as deluded! This is very difficult for the conditioned, logical mind, what to say of the ego that has been in charge of everything in our life for so long and who considers the acceptance of Advaitic principles and acting upon them as its death sentence–which it is!

4. This is not to say that his relation with the world will cease. Now only peace and freshness of the mind are his. His actions cannot but vary according to circumstances. The only change in him after the mind has become peaceful is this: his mind has known the truth and become unattached; therefore, it rests in peace. His actions though changeful will always be impartial. But the actions of others are changing and cannot be impartial. Thus, the coolness of the mind produces enormous good not only to himself but also to the world at large. Peace shows the way to right conduct.

This is not to say that his relation with the world will cease.

But to the deluded and uncomprehending ego-mind it will seem inevitable. And it actually is, since understanding the nature of something must change our idea of and about it. So we can sympathize with those who resist these truths, for they are only liberating to those who see truly and accept them as they are: bedrock truth.

The awakened individual’s relation to the world is drastically altered in his mind and later conduct. To the truly insightful person this is a blessed and freeing event, but to another, outside observer it can be seen as imprisonment or destruction. So the sadhaka must always cultivate an understanding and tolerant attitude toward those who are intolerant and resistant to what we know as blessed truths.

Now only peace and freshness of the mind are his.

But often only after a great struggle within himself and with those who point him to the freedom he considers imaginary and enslaving.

It is not easy to be a child, because adults universally forget what it was like for them to be a child. In fact, even when they remember their own childhood they do so while projecting into their memories their adult attitudes and outlook on the events–which of course they did not have at the time–and therefore do not at all remember the inner, emotional and personal experience of their childhood. Instead they are impatient with children whom they consider unreasonable and difficult when they are themselves the unreasonable and difficult ones. Consequently they demand that a child think and act like and adult: an impossibility. So conflict and pain result over and over from generation to generation.

When I was a child it was a blessed relief to meet an adult who remembered what it was like to be a child and therefore treated me with insight and understanding. So I am aware that it is essential that spiritual adults remember when they were spiritual children and treat those they meet with understanding and help then to their own gaining of understanding.

His actions cannot but vary according to circumstances.

This is a trait of a broad, multifaceted mind. In this statement it means a person whose mind has been expanded, not just intellectually but through the development of the higher mode of thought we call intuition, which is really the knowing of the buddhi (intellect) rather than the simple manas (mind). It also indicates a sensitivity to other people and a clear understanding of circumstances that has arisen from insight rather than mere reasoning or past experience.

The Bhagavad Gita (18:22) says that a person of darkened and dull (tamasic) intellect thinks there is only one side to anything; that a single thing is the whole. These are the people that consider there is only one way to deal with a situation, for example, and who also think that one idea or principle is the whole perspective. In religion, for example, they choose some idea or action and say that idea or action is all there is to some philosophical view or virtuous action. “All you need do…” is their preface to a single idea or deed they consider is the whole of truth or right conduct.

The only change in him after the mind has become peaceful is this: his mind has known the truth and become unattached; therefore, it rests in peace.

Genuine knowing produces these changes in the individual’s mind and personality. Detachment is a quality of satisfaction and fulfillment. “When a man has found delight and satisfaction and peace in the Atman, then he is no longer obliged to perform any kind of action. He has nothing to gain in this world by action, and nothing to lose by refraining from action. He is independent of everybody and everything” (Bhagavad Gita 3:17-18). Therefore he is totally at peace in the Self.

His actions though changeful will always be impartial. But the actions of others are changing and cannot be impartial.

The enlightened man never looks at things from the perspective of the lower ego-mind, for that has been transmuted into the pure light (shuddha sattwa) of the buddhi established in the Self. He sees all thing in a still mind like a flawless mirror. And his actions proceed from this perspective.

Thus, the coolness of the mind produces enormous good not only to himself but also to the world at large.

To have a cool mind means that the individual does not stir up either himself or others. He sees and approaches all things with equanimity, with clarity and calm of mind. In this way he benefits both himself and the world (including people) that he encounters.

“He who agitates not the world, and whom the world agitates not, who is freed from joy, envy, fear and distress–he is dear to me” (Bhagavad Gita 12:15).

“Like the ocean, which becomes filled yet remains unmoved and stands still as the waters enter it, he whom all desires enter and who remains unmoved attains peace–not so the man who is full of desire. He who abandons all desires attains peace, acts free from longing, indifferent to possessions and free from egotism” (Bhagavad Gita 2:70-71).

Peace shows the way to right conduct.

This is because peace is also clarity of mind, as just said. As a mirror reflects the objects before it, so the steady and clear mind imparts to us an accurate and steady view of the world, and our reactions will also be accurate and steady, for the conduct of a person mirrors his mind.

5. A man walks with a lighted lamp in his hand. Can there be any hostility between the light and the ups and downs on the way? There cannot be.

There is no hostility or conflict between the ups and down on a path because they are only modifications in a single thing: the earth. So when there is unity of mind and everything is seen as one, the light of the individual’s mind simply reflects and does not react to differences, but remains objective. There is no permanent peace outside of unity of subject and object, of the seer and the seen.

But light and darkness cannot be together. The light chases away darkness, it discloses the ups and downs on the way and makes the man walk carefully, whether he moves up, down, or sideways. It removes the cause of vain complaints, such as, “That snag hurt my foot” or “This hollow made me slip.” Similarly, after peace is gained, the state of peace makes the man neither hate nor antagonize the world. Rather it dispels the darkness which conceals from our view the true nature of the world and its snags.

Illumination of the buddhi is the secret of this state. This is a wonderful description of the enlightened mind and should be read over carefully more than once.

In the absence of the light of Peace which enables people to adjust themselves to varying circumstances, they condemn the world as full of misery, as they would complain of the snags on the road.

Again we see the fundamental truth of Sri Ramakrishna’s statement that the mind is everything. The way we see the world is the way our mind is. In a sense we see our mind, ourself, we when we look out at the world. If the window is dirty or fogged up we see the world as obscure, and if the window is clean we see the world as clear. If a mirror is bent, we see the world as bent. If it is straight, we see the world as straight. I knew a woman whose little boy came in from playing. When he passed the mirror he saw his smudgy and dusty face as the result of his playing. Later he washed face and when he passed the mirror stopped and said: “We must have a new mirror!”

The change we need is a change inside.

Therefore a man who has gained the utmost peace after knowing the whole world as a complicated dream, should not be considered either unrelated to the world or unconcerned with its activities; he alone stands in effective concord with it; only he is competent to be a man of action. Thus Peace is that which regulates one’s duties.

This is a remarkable insight. The jnani does not engage in the usual unthinking interaction with the world that characterizes an ordinary person, yet he is not truly aloof or indifferent. Rather, he is cool of mind and only engages himself when it is consonant with absolute wisdom. He sees all aspects of a situation and determines whether action or inaction is the most effective toward the state of liberation. He never foolishly thinks he has attained the All, and is never unaware of the need for caution and care at all times as he wends his way through this world, putting his steps only where they will move him upward. He is fearless, but never careless or unheeding. He sees with both the eyes of the body and the eyes of the mind simultaneously. His every action is a movement toward enlightenment.

6. The concern of a man of Peace in the actions of the world lies in rectifying them.

Correction often comes in the form of healing, and it takes a high level of consciousness to truly heal right to the roots of the problem–otherwise it recurs in the future. Such healing is total purification, a dispelling of all that blocks or is a potentially harmful factor. In other words, healing has to go to the root in its effect. Only a person who has plumbed the depths and the heights of his own person and its constituents can effect permanent healing or correction. He must himself be free of any element that needs correcting or healing. Otherwise even his good will is useless. It is an absolute principle: “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke 4:23). Yogananda often said, “Save yourself and you will save thousands.” Earlier Saint Seraphim of Sarov said: “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and thousands around you will be saved.”

First we make ourselves right, then our very thought or presence can make situations and others right. I have read of great souls who merely walked through troubled or negative places and left them peaceful and pure. Only a look from such a highly evolved person can work miracles. The shadow of Saint Peter the Apostle cured the sick. “They brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:15-16). Cloths touched to the body of Saint Paul exorcised evil spirits. “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

This can only happen when a person has become transmuted in his entire being. And as said before, it is yoga sadhana alone that works this divine alchemy.

Should he feel fear before this world, what hope of reformation can there be, especially from those who esteem it and want to possess it?

No one can uplift the world who is any way intimidated by the world and feels the slightest fear or hesitation in speaking the truth about it or exposing its manifold flaws. There is no hope of reforming any aspect of the world or any of those who living in the world by someone who values and seeks after anything which is “of the earth earthly.” Nor can those who value and seek after anything of this world be reformed by anyone, no matter how great the would-be reformer might be. For as Abraham said to the man in Jesus’ parable of the beggar Lazarus, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26). The inner, spiritual separation is great and impassable, though it is invisible to earthly eyes. The wise know this and never attempt to enlighten or change those who love and desire this world or anything in it. “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hosea 4:17). In other words, as the old adage says: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It only wastes your time and annoys the pig.” This may seem “negative” to those who pretty-think all the time to cover up their own negativity, but the author continues, describing the hopeless cases:

They are in the grip of selfishness, blind to impartiality.

Such people have neither viveka nor vairagya, neither discrimination nor detachment, regarding the world and its ways. They like what they see, and they see what they like. Therefore the author says further:

To guide the blind on the way or treat the blindness of the eye, one’s eyesight must itself be good.

“Abiding in the midst of ignorance, wise in their own esteem, thinking themselves to be learned, fools, afflicted with troubles, go about like blind men led by one who is himself blind” (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.8). Ignorant people like to be guided by those that are equally ignorant, for their attitudes and outlook will be the same. The words and sayings of the wise conflict with theirs, so they avoid the wise. But there is no hope for the blind who do not listen to and be led by those who see, and see clearly. Therefore those who would lead others must know the way, having themselves traveled it before.

The religious and spiritual world is filled with blind and half-blind leaders of those blind and half-blind like themselves. They get along very well and are contented with one another. A false seeker finds a false teacher and is satisfied. This is the way it has always been and will continue to be so.

Similarly, it is for him to reform the world who has already discerned his unchanging nature from the changeful nature of the world and become peaceful.

Only a person who is fully established in the knowledge of the Self is qualified to assist others in their journey toward enlightenment in the Self. Even a qualified teacher can do nothing with those who are not qualified students, nor can they benefit from anyone else but a qualified teacher. So the worthy teacher only teaches worthy aspirants. The best example of both worthy teacher and students I know is that of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik whose life and teachings can be found in the book Light of Soham.

One who has known the Self knows well what is not the Self, but the world and its ways in no way unsettles or saddens him. Rather, he is glad he has awakened into reality and knows the difference between the unreal and the Real. Truly he is at peace within himself and with all around him.

These cannot help serving the world. Why? Can anyone be so hard-hearted as not to lift up a child when it slips and falls? So also for the wise ones who can rightly appraise the troubles of the world and help the people.

It is natural and spontaneous for a person of true Self-realization to help those who are ready to turn from pursuit of the world and seek their own Self-realization. But he is not “innocent” or naive, and knows that most people do not want true Brahmajnana/Atmajnana. And he not only rightly appraises the troubles of the world, he rightly appraises the inner disposition of those in the world. He can distinguish between those whom he can help and those he cannot help because they do not want deliverance from samsara and its miseries, since they esteem and desire to possess the world. He takes from the troubles of the world only those who wish to be freed from them.

There is a story of a boy scout who tried to follow the motto of Do A Good Turn Daily. One time a boy came to his scout meeting all bruised and scratched and with his clothes torn. When the scoutmaster asked him what had happened, he said, “I helped an old lady across the street, and she did this to me.” “But, why would she do that?” demanded the scoutmaster. “She didn’t want to go across the street,” was the reply. There are those who feel at home in the world, and those that know they are strangers here. The wise know that they are just passing through this world to higher realms of consciousness. So they seek to gain higher consciousness so they will pass beyond this world and enter those realms.

The first time I consulted Dr. Josef Lenninger, the greatest medical practitioner I have ever known, he sat in silence a bit and then looked at me and said, “Why did you come to this lousy world? This is no place for you.” The truth is, none of us really belong here. It is just a rung on a ladder of evolutionary experience which we must step up from and keep on moving up until we can step off the ladder itself and into Freedom.

But the problem is that we are immortal, eternal spirit-selves encased in the energy forms that are our physical, astral and causal bodies with which we mistakenly identify. All these bodies are vehicles for us, but they are not us. But because of so many incarnations in the lower worlds we identify with our prisons and not with the prisoner within. But a worthy teacher can show us the way to freedom. He turns the true seekers into true finders.

Because he has already withdrawn himself from the mind and body the sage feels no concern under the strain of service to the world, just as the life principle does not suffer even when loaded carts pass over the corpse it has left behind (by itself). He will not shrink from work or trouble. Only truly realized peace can bestow such courage and coolness.

It is often amazing the amount of work that can be done by a person of spiritual realization. Many renowned saints have astounded observers by their accomplishments. This is because they live in the Source of life energies. Many never slept, or only very little. Saint John Maximovitch slept only thirty minutes or less in a day. Anandamayi Ma never slept, though she would lie down quietly (mostly to avoid being bothered by people). Saint John Bosco was another living dynamo. It is thought that Ramana Maharshi never slept. Waking, sleep and dreamless sleep are states of the body and mind. Those who have realized themselves as beyond these three are living always in the fourth level of pure consciousness known as turiya. So they are in no “state” at all, but in That which is beyond and yet pervades all such states. It cannot be intellectually defined or described. They really are not anything, and at the same time everything. Instead of trying to understand them we should strive to become the same as they are, for this is our true nature as much as theirs. I knew a yogi that was traveling outside India. When he took a ferry from an island to the mainland, a little girl came up to him, looking at his clothing and general appearance, and asked him: “What are you supposed to be?” He smiled and quietly answered, “Oh, just what I am supposed to be.” Perhaps that is why on the three-hour ferry journey a line of seagulls flew opposite the window of his stateroom, watching him intently. I know. I was there.

7. To all appearances, Peace will look poor and quite weak. But in effect, it beats [conquers; overcomes] all. In tenacity and courage, it surpasses all. After all, success depends on these qualities.

To brutish and simplistic minds peace and gentleness have always been mocked and despised as weakness and even stupidity by evil and violent bullies, what to speak of aggressive egotists. But the truly peaceful person is both confident and endurant, and therefore courageous. Such a person is also tenacious and perseverant and therefore succeeds over even great odds, for as the author says, success depends on these qualities. And peace is the source of them all.

Even if Mount Meru should topple over, the incident will hardly produce a gentle smile in the man of peace, or it will leave him unmoved.

“Unshaken amidst the crash of falling worlds” is how Yogananda described this state.

This state is helpful both for worldly and spiritual matters.

The logic of this is so apparent that there is no real need for comment except to note that peace prevails in both worldly and spiritual matters because, as Sri Ramakrishna often said, “If you can weigh salt you can weigh sugar.” That is, if you have intelligence, will power and endurance in secular endeavors you will succeed, and if you have those qualities in spiritual life you will succeed equally well.

At the root of this statement is also the absolute need to live both worldly and spiritual life to the best of your abilities, for both lives are means for the production of the karmas and samskaras that lead to the highest realization when the sadhaka applies himself equally well in both, for the One is itself at the root of all things and situations as their essential being, just as it is at the root of us as our essential being.

True happiness in the world is his, and that happiness comes out of release from bondage.

Moksha is only attained by the fully competent in all aspects of their existence. And here, too, only the yogi is fully able to demonstrate this. When I was a feeble aspirant practicing fake yoga, this idea would have repulsed me as hypocritical and materialistic because I was, like all falsely “spiritual” people, incompetent in both my inner and outer lives. But when I became a real yogi, to my own astonishment I found that the author is right, and I was able to live both lives in contentment and assurance. This is why the yogi is abhaya–without fear or anxiety. Those not in this state are not yogis, however much they may mistakenly think they are. “Otherworldly” people are not fit for any world. And those who are not Here and Now will never reach the Infinite There.

Peace means doing good to any one in any manner.

I believe that a better way to express this would be: The state of Peace manifests as doing good to anyone in any manner. It necessarily implies that good is done to every one in the orbit of a person’s life–not just a chosen number. So a true person of peace will always live in this manner and act in this way to all without exception. In India they say that a rose and sandalwood both emanate sweet perfume when crushed underfoot; and in the same way the truly good only give good in return for evil. This, too, would be an aspect of this peace.

8. The obstacles to peace are several. They are meant to prove the man.

In the world of samsara, the realm of duality, there is always opposition of the negative to the positive. Furthermore, there are several obstacles to peace–though the author does not list them. But we will encounter them inevitably as we move toward the state (bhava) of true peace. And if we recognize and meet them in the right, dharmic manner they shall make us strong and steadfast, unwavering in our journey to Freedom, just as powerful wind causes the roots of a tree to grow deeper and stronger.

We must not forget the opening words of the Bhagavad Gita: Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre Samaveta Yuyutsavah: “On the field of Dharma, Kurukshetra, assembled together, desiring to fight….” The place of dharma is the place where there is willing and united struggle of good against evil, a struggle destined to end in the victory of good over evil and the banishment of evil. No fight–no victory.

The heart, mind and life of the sadhaka is the field of battle in which we fight. It is significant that the Field of Dharma is called the Field of the Kurus–the evil ones that were opposing the good. Both the world around and within us are in the possession-control of ignorance and negativity symbolized by the Kurus. We must reverse this condition through continuous and intense inner and outer processes of purification. We must place the Pandavas (the original owners of the field) on their rightful throne. The five Pandava brothers represent the positive conditions of the five elements that comprise our five bodies and five senses as well as the entire range of relative existence. All of our being must be engaged in the process of spiritual empowerment and victory. And this process is both external and internal, encompassing our outer and inner life. This alone brings Freedom.

When they confront us we should be wide awake and keep the delicate flower of the mind distant from even their shadows.

Before looking at the whole sentence, there are two very important points I would like to consider that are themselves to be kept in mind at all times by the sadhaka.

First, we must at all time be “wide awake”–not just somewhat or even to a great extent, but totally awake and alert. Otherwise we may not notice something that is potentially to our benefit or our harm. Nothing must be considered not worth examining. We must in a sense be “all eyes” at all times, because subtle negativity or neglect can be more deadly than very overt negativity or neglect. To not be fully awake is to not be fully alive.

Second, that the mind is delicate by virtue of its subtlety, that its cultivation must not be neglected, and it must be protected at all times. This is done by shielding it from all that is negative and detrimental, and most of all by keeping it strong and resistant. The mind of a yogi by its refinement and multifaceted development is like a flower in its unfoldment and must be looked after as a flower is tended and sheltered. There is no place in the sadhaka’s life for brashness and foolish confidence that will render it vulnerable through failure to be vigilant and cautious.

The obstacles to our Self-realization are literally deadly, as I have already said. Those inexperienced in the yoga life almost never have a right response to those things, but think they are of little or no consequence because they do not realize the great harm they can produce in the long run. This is especially true when the obstacles are the qualities or elements of their own mind and personality–their samskaras. It is always necessary to keep the mind and heart “distant even from their shadows.” Not even a hint of delusion and illusion should be allow to remain in us.

If the flower of the mind be crushed, it will lose its fragrance, freshness and color; it will neither be useful to you, nor can it be presented to others, nor offered to God.

This is truly being lost and negated.

Know that your mind is more delicate than even a blossom.

I should say here that when the word “mind” is used the usual word is manas: the sensory mind; the perceiving faculty that receives the messages of the senses. But in this book it includes the buddhi: intellect; intelligence; understanding; reason; the thinking mind; the higher mind, which is the seat of wisdom; the discriminating faculty.

The entire subtle energy field of the manas and buddhi together is subtle and delicate, even fragile in some situations. The mind, like the body, can take a lot of abuse–even damage–and survive. But it will be inhibited or limited in its functioning, so the wise person protects and shields it in various ways, especially in what it becomes exposed (and therefore vulnerable) to.

A major factor is diet, for just as the physical substance of food becomes assimilated into our physical body, the subtler energies become united to our inner levels, including our mind. The observant yogi will discover that the diet of the physical body is also the diet of the mind, that whatever is eaten physically will have an effect mentally. Here are some statements about the nature and effect of food that are found in the upanishads.

“From food [has arisen] vital vigor, austerity and works” (Prashna Upanishad 6.4). Obviously the kind of food we eat will determine the quality of our sadhana (austerity: tapasya).

“By food, indeed, do all the vital breaths [pranas, life forces] become great” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.5.4).

“A person consists of the essence of food” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1). So we are what we eat.

“From food, verily, are produced whatsoever creatures dwell on the earth. Moreover, by food alone they live.… From food are beings born. When born they grow up by food.… Verily, different from and within that which consists of the essence of food is the self that consists of life. By that this is filled. This, verily, has the form of a person. According to that one’s personal form is this one with the form of a person.” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2.1). The spiritual (astral/causal) body is drawn exclusively from food, so diet is crucial in spiritual development.

“Food when eaten becomes threefold, its coarsest portion becomes the faeces; its middle (portion) flesh, and its subtlest (portion) mind. Water when drunk becomes threefold, its coarsest portion becomes the urine; its middle (portion) the blood, its subtlest (portion) the breath.… Thus, my dear, mind consists of food, and breath consists of water….” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.5.1-2, 4).

“That which is the subtlest part of curds rises, when they are churned and becomes butter. In the same manner that which is the subtlest part of the food that is eaten rises and becomes mind. Thus the mind consists of food” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.6.1, 2,5; the same is confirmed in 6.6.1-5).

“When food is pure, the mind is pure, When the mind is pure, memory becomes firm. When memory [smriti–memory of our eternal spirit-Self] remains firm, there is release from all knots of the heart. To such a one who has his stains wiped away, Bhagavan Sanatkumara shows the further shore of darkness” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2).

“In food everything rests, whatsoever breathes and what does not” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.5.1).

By means of a peaceful mind, all your duties to yourself, to others and to God must be discharged. Let it release the same freshness throughout. All blessings for the mind are contained in Peace.

This will always be true of the yogi especially. “For the undisciplined there is no wisdom, no meditation. For him who does not meditate there is no peace or happiness” (Bhagavad Gita 2:66).

9. Unremittingly worship the God of your Self with the flower of your mind.

Worship, upasana, means “sitting near” or “drawing near.” This includes meditation, which is a process centered in the mind. We cannot sit in meditation all the day, so how can it be done unremittingly–all the time? By the simple practice of japa: repetition of a mantra. Sri M. P. Pandit wrote the following regarding the practice of japa.

“What is Japa? What is its rationale? What is its process? Japa is the repetition of a Mantra, a potent syllable or syllables, a word or a combination of words, done with the object of realizing the truth embodied in the Mantra [which] has the necessary power within it. And by con­stant repetition under proper conditions the power can be evoked into operation. The vibrations set up each time the Mantra is repeated go to create, in the subtler atmosphere, the conditions that induce the fulfillment of the object in view. The Divine Name, for instance, has the potency to stamp and mould the consciousness which repeats it into the nature of the Divinity for which the Name stands and prepare it for the reception of the gathering Revelation of the Godhead.

“At the basis of the Science of Japa is the ancient perception of sages all over the world that Creation proceeds from Sound. The universe has issued out of Nada Brahman, Brahman as Sound. This perception of the inherent power of sound, shabda, was applied with remarkable success by Indian adepts in Yoga who have reduced their knowledge and experience to an exact Science. When repeated for a long time, the Mantra goes on creating vibrations which press upon the layers of the inner consciousness till one day there comes a sudden opening and the Truth ensouled in the Mantra reveals itself.”

Let the children of the mental modes watch this worship.

Let all the aspects of the mind, which include the inner senses and faculties as well as the moods and actual thoughts, become absorbed in the experiencing of the inner mental repetitions (japa) of the mantra.

What mantra is best for this japa? Sri Ramana Maharshi, who often recommended Ellam Ondre, said: “Since the Self is the reality of all the gods, the meditation on the Self which is oneself is the greatest of all meditations. All other meditations are included in this. It is for gaining this that the other meditations are prescribed. So, if this is gained, the others are not necessary. Knowing one’s Self is knowing God. Without knowing one’s Self that meditates, imagining that there is a deity which is different and meditating on it, is compared by the great ones to the act of measuring with one’s foot one’s own shadow, and to the search for a trivial conch [shell] after throwing away a priceless gem that is already in one’s possession” (Collected Works, section 28).

The perfect mantra is Soham, for Sri Ramana Maharshi was asked: “What is the purport of the teaching that one should meditate, through the ‘I am That’ [Soham] thought, on the truth that one is not different from the self-luminous Reality that shines like a flame?”

Bhagavan replied: “The purport of teaching that one should meditate with the ‘I am That’ thought is this: sah-aham: So’ham; sah the supreme Self, aham the Self that is manifest as ‘I.’ If one meditates for a long time, without disturbance, on the Self ceaselessly, with the ‘So’ham–I am That’ thought which is the technique of reflection on the Self, the darkness of ignorance which is in the heart and all the impediments which are but the effects of ignorance will be removed, and the plenary wisdom will be gained.… The body is the temple; the jiva is God (Shiva). If one worships him with the ‘So’ham–I am That’ thought, one will gain release” (Collected Works [Section] 29).

Sri Ramana Maharshi was shown the Sanskrit text of Devikallotara Jnanachara Vichara Padalam (A Study of the Exposition of Supreme Wisdom and Conduct to Goddess Ishwari by Lord Shiva) written on palm leaves. He said that this writing was very, very important, and himself translated it into Tamil with his commentary. Sri T. K. Jayaram then translated it into English, including the following:

[Shiva said to Parvati:] The means by which this mind, which is restless and moves about quicker than the wind, can be brought under control, is indeed the means to obtain liberation; is indeed what is good for those who seek permanent Reality; it itself is pure Consciousness and the state of firmness; moreover, it alone is the righteous duty to be followed by discerning aspirants; it alone is the pilgrimage to holy waters; it alone is charity; it alone is austerities. Know that there is no doubt about this. (8-9)

Bhagavan’s comment: Now all your pilgrimages are over. Soham Sadhana is the last pilgrimage.

Repeatedly say thus: I am That, the eternal, Omnipresent Reality which is Brahman. Meditating thus for a long time, whoever abides imperturbably, will become the Supreme Brahman, thereby attaining immortality. (60)

Bhagavan’s comment: This is the secret of the Nath Panth. Here comes “I am That” or “That Am I”–Soham. Our system also says this. Meditate thus for a long time on the Self. You have to say repeatedly: “That I Am”–Soham. This sixtieth verse is very important.

Gradually they will learn to cast away their childish pranks and desire to delight like yourself. As they watch your Peace, they will themselves recoil from their vagaries.

Through diligent practice of Soham japa as outlined in Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self, all the aspects of the mind will become unified and oriented toward the Self in which they will delight and “cast away their childish pranks.”

The first time I meditated on Soham, at one point I inwardly said: “Oh! I love this!” And I never changed my mind. Every meditation is a wonder and a delight.

Continue the worship patiently. Be not led away by the vagaries of the mind.

The author has spoken about the “children” of the mental modes, and now is speaking about their “parent,” the mind itself from which they spring.

The mind has two vagaries: doubt and distraction.

The doubting vagaries are: Is this really going to work? If so, is it really the best mantra? Will this work for me? Can I be sure? Will it do what its teachers say? Can I trust those who advocate Soham sadhana? How will I know if I am doing it right? How long will it take to produce results? What about all the other methods that are supposed to be the best? Why don’t more people practice this one? Can something so simple as this work and lead to enlightenment? The mind is creative, so there can be a lot more, but just keep on mentally intoning So when you inhale and Ham [pronounced Hum] when you exhale.

Distraction is when the mind suggests other things to do, such as pointing out that you aren’t feeling “on target” today so you should wait until later in the day or until tomorrow to meditate. Or that there is something you really had better do instead of meditating “right now.” There are variations on this, the sole purpose being getting you to quit or do something pointless like “walking meditation” or opening your eyes in meditation instead of keeping them closed, or bothering with hand mudras or strenuous and uncomfortable postures rather than just sitting upright and relaxed.

Another form of distraction is meant to get you to not simply practice as described, but to add to it or vary it, such as intoning Soham at the chakras, doing alternate nostril breathing while intoning Soham with the breath, or intoning the whole word Soham when inhaling and the whole word Soham when exhaling–anything but the simple way of mentally intoning So when you inhale and Ham when you exhale.

And another form of distraction is suggesting you do other practices you may already know, just in case they are really better than Soham sadhana. Or at least do them for some time during your meditation so you can compare them with each other–even though you may have done them before you learned about Soham and already know how they compare with Soham sadhana.

That is the nature of the unpurified and undisciplined mind. Ignore it and practice and experience Soham sadhana in peace.

On the contrary, they should become peaceful by your peace. All must get peace.

By your perseverance and refusal to be deflected from Soham sadhana, all doubts and distractions will fade away and leave you in peace. The Bhagavad Gita (2:65) says of such a yogi: “To obey the Atman is his peaceful joy; sorrow melts into that clear peace: his quiet mind is soon established in peace.” This peace must be attained by all who seek for Self-realization. Otherwise: “The uncontrolled mind does not guess that the Atman is present: how can it meditate? Without meditation, where is peace? Without peace, where is happiness?” (Bhagavad Gita 2:66).

10. I shall finish in one word: The essence of all the Vedas is “Peace.”

That peace is based on abhaya–fearlessness; a state of steadfastness in which one is not swayed by fear of any kind, and there is no worry or upset regarding anything. I personally, in over half a century of “yoga” practice, never experienced this until I began Soham sadhana. And then it came about in only two or three weeks, and has remained.

***

Next: Chapter Five–Action

(Visited 4 time, 1 visit today)

Chapters in All Is One: A Commentary On Sri Vaiyai R. Subramanian’s Ellam Ondre:

About to All Is One

Visit our e-library page for Free Downloads of this and other ebooks in various formats.

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

(Visited 4 time, 1 visit today)