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All Is One–Chapter Three–God

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

1. Who is God? God is He who has transcended all that is seen by us. If transcending this world, is there no relation between Him and this world? Not a particle here is unrelated to Him. Then what is meant by transcending the world? The world comprises us and the objects seen by us. In other words, the animate and inanimate together form the world. What shall we say of Him who created the beings and things? Of these two, we say the conscious beings to be superior. All that we can apprehend is that He belongs to the highest order of beings known to us. Our intellect cannot proceed further. Thus, our Creator is superior to us; He cannot be apprehended by our intellect; therefore His Name, Transcended Being, “Kadawul,” means that He surpasses our intellect. Hence His Name is “Kadawul”–Transcended Being.

2. Can God then not be made known to us? Not quite so. In a way, He is known to us. This much of His Grace is enough for us. We have no need for all His Greatness. He has made known so much of His Greatness as will suffice to eradicate our misery. There is no reason for Him to reveal a jot more of His Power than is necessary to remedy our defects in the present state. Thus He is known according to our needs. Nay, He is in our grasp. However limitless, He is within reach of our knowledge to some extent.

3. What is it which brings Him within reach of our knowledge? That He is known as Being-Consciousness-Bliss.

Being denotes that which is imperishable, that which exists forever. Should He become nonexistent at any time, who is His Destroyer? Who created Him? Since the perishable nature of all leads to the inference that they are lorded over by One who is imperishable, this immortal Overlord is God. His imperishable nature is Being (Sat).

Now, what is Consciousness (Chit)? By Consciousness we mean knowledge. This is absolute Knowledge, and not like our erring intellectual knowledge. Irregularity or mistake cannot stain its actions. It is Knowledge, pure and simple. Frequently He teaches us saying, “Your knowledge is irregular and erring.” How orderly are even the insentient objects of His creation! It is known to many how an atheist was taught a good lesson when he derided the scheme of things saying, “Why did He make the seed so small for the banyan tree which is so big?” That an insentient thing is found in good order and later becomes useful, implies a conscious agency at work. Can a simple, insentient thing do something which is possible for unfailing knowledge only? Or, can’t it be done by our inadequate knowledge? No, it can never be. Therefore God is said to be Consciousness (Chit) also.

Now, what is Bliss? It is the state of being free from desire for anything. It is Peace which is ever full. Were He to desire anything, how could He be better than ourselves? How could we gain Bliss from Him? He Himself would require another being to fulfill His desires. But who would think Him to be so? The state of self-contentment is that of Bliss also. Therefore He is called Bliss (Ananda).

The three–Being, Consciousness and Bliss–are inseparable; otherwise, they would become naught individually. Hence, He is known as Being-Consciousness-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). Thus God remains not only transcendent but also falls within the reach of our knowledge as Being-Consciousness-Bliss.

4. He who has gained the fourth state and sees all as one, only he knows God truly as Being-Consciousness-Bliss. Words cannot express nor the ears hear how such a one is united with God; it is a matter of realization. But there are ways and means for such realization. They can be spoken of, learned and acted upon.

5. He who can be realized thus, is God. He has no name; we give Him a name. He has no form; we give Him a form. Where is the harm in doing so? What name is not His, or what form is not His? Where is the sound or form in which He is not? Therefore, in the absence of true knowledge of Him you can name Him as you please or imagine Him as of any form so to remember Him. Your hope for His Grace without any effort on your part is utterly fruitless. Should it be possible to have His Grace without any effort on your side, all would be alike; there would be no reason for any difference. He has shown us the ways and means. Make effort, reach the goal, be happy. Your idleness and selfishness make you expect His Grace without your effort. The rule for all is for you too. Do not relax your efforts. God can be realized by your effort only.

6. There is an effort which excels all others. This may, however, appear to be less effective than devotion to God with name and form. Nevertheless, this is the more efficient. It is simply the love which you extend to all beings, whether good or bad. In the absence of such love to all, your devotion to God amounts to a mere parody. Of what use are you to God? That you seek fulfillment of your desires from God without doing your duty towards the needy in the world must be attributed to your selfishness. In God’s presence, there is no use for such. The workings that take place in His presence are all unselfish. Therefore, think that all the Centers are His and He is in all the Centers and thus be devoted to Him. God is truly bound by such high devotion.

7. As you go on ascribing names and forms to God and showing love to all because you have understood all names and forms to be His, your mind will gradually mature. Just as the taste improves with the ripening of a fruit, so also you will recognize the waxing of good and the waning of evil in you. As your mind matures, there will come a time when you should meet your Master. This is not to say that you go in search of him or he comes in search of you. At the right time the meeting will happen. All are moving in their own ways. Your fitness brings you together, makes you trust him, makes him teach you the right way, also makes you follow his instructions. That is the straight way to reach God, which is to gain the fourth state. You will follow the way and reach your goal which is Being-Consciousness-Bliss, which is God.

8. The way shown by the Master is final, straight and making for unity. It is well-tried, natural, and free from pain. When you are following the way shown by the master, doubts will not arise; there will be no fear. Are not fear and doubt the characteristics of the ways of darkness? How can they meet you in the way of Truth shown by the Master? In this manner, the way will itself speak to you and say that it is the right one. In that way, there will be nothing more for you to do but to meet your Master and learn from him. That way will be familiar to you, as the Master and God have made it so. Before you, he had treaded the way. He has shown you the way and you are following him. To how many will you show the same way? And how many more will follow the same way later? Obviously fear and doubt have no place in the way of truth. When once you have taken a step forward you will step back. The master’s help is only for the first step forward. You need not do anything for your master in order to have the way shown to you. Know him to be the messenger of God sent down to disclose the way to the fit who have become ripe by their own efforts in either or both the directions mentioned earlier. It is God who sends this godly messenger just when you are ripe.

9. Practice with faith in the period of ignorance is called Bhakti (path of Devotion); the same, with knowledge, is called Jnana (the path of Wisdom). Of the two divisions of Bhakti, the one is devotion to God with name and form, and the other is karma which is love for all. Of the two divisions of Jnana, the practice of the true way shown by the Master is called yoga and the resulting state is called Jnana (knowledge). It is natural for all to believe in something which is not seen and then to find it. Those who do not believe can never find. Therefore, the believers will gain something sometime or other and the unbelievers never gain anything. You can believe even for the simple reason that faith in God is not harmful. Thereby you can share the good effects. This world is meant only for creating faith in you. This is the purpose of creation. Have faith and you can reach God.

10. Though you may not believe all that is said of God, believe at least “There is God.” This seed is very potent in its growth. It is so mighty as to negate all else and fill all by itself. It is so almighty that you will not see anything besides God, not even yourself. Truly, God is all.

Commentary

Before considering this section I need to state that it is not known what Sanskrit word is being translated as “God.” Since God is referred to as “our Creator” and “His Grace” is mentioned, whatever the word this obviously refers to Ishwara, the “personal” consciousness that pervades the cosmos and guides its evolution along with the evolution of all sentient being within it. The title “Bhagavan” is applicable also. These words are defined in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary as follows:

Ishwara: “God” or “Lord” in the sense of the Supreme Power, Ruler, Master or Controller of the cosmos. “Ishwara” implies the powers of omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience.

Bhagavan: The Lord; the One endowed with the attributes: infinite dominion, infinite might, infinite glory, infinite splendor, infinite wisdom and infinite renunciation; the Personal God.

1. Who is God? God is He who has transcended all that is seen by us. If transcending this world, is there no relation between Him and this world? Not a particle here is unrelated to Him. Then what is meant by transcending the world? The world comprises us and the objects seen by us. In other words, the animate and inanimate together form the world. What shall we say of Him who created the beings and things? Of these two, we say the conscious beings to be superior. All that we can apprehend is that He belongs to the highest order of beings known to us. Our intellect cannot proceed further. Thus, our Creator is superior to us; He cannot be apprehended by our intellect; therefore His Name, Transcendent Being, “Kadawul,” means that He surpasses our intellect. Hence His Name is “Kadawul”–Transcendent Being.

God is He who has transcended all that is seen by us. This implies that God–Ishwara/Bhagavan once was a relative being himself within this creation and having transcended the realm of relative existence is now pervading it as its inner controller and fosterer. Whether this is His “yoga” by which He is continuing to evolve to Infinity, or whether He is already in the infinite state right now is not known, but some people in India hold one view or the other. Actually, it is irrelevant to us, for we are following the usual path that leads up to Infinity without requiring that we be Ishwaras/Bhagavans ourself as part of the enlightenment process. Fortunately we do not all have to spend creation cycles being Ishwaras/Bhagavans.

The rest of this verse is quite clear and needs no comment by me except to point out that every particle of every atom in this creation in which we find ourselves (and there are many creations–this is but one of them) is in intimate relation with God, and that the idea we must seek God or establish some personal relation with Him is ridiculous. We already have that relation. Rather, we must cooperate with Him and eventually awaken in his Light so we can pass onward to Infinity as did He Himself some time in the past.

By the way, Kadawul is a Tamil word, not Sanskrit, so it will not be found in any Sanskrit dictionary.

2. Can God then not be made known to us? Not quite so. In a way, He is known to us. This much of His Grace is enough for us. We have no need for all His Greatness. He has made known so much of His Greatness as will suffice to eradicate our misery. There is no reason for Him to reveal a jot more of His Power than is necessary to remedy our defects in the present state. Thus He is known according to our needs. Nay, He is in our grasp. However limitless, He is within reach of our knowledge to some extent.

Can God then not be made known to us? Not quite so. In a way, He is known to us. Since God is all-pervading consciousness, there is nothing that is unknown to Him. Even more important is that fact that His mind is in total contact with our mind, and it works both ways. In the ultimate heights or depths of our consciousness we are in contact with his consciousness. But presently we are only subliminally or potentially aware of his consciousness, and so we must awaken to/into it insofar as we are capable. That is, we will only have a finite scope to that awareness, we will not suddenly become infinite ourselves. A reflection in a mirror is not the thing that is reflected. When we stand on the shore of the ocean, facing the ocean, we can say, “I see the ocean.” But we are really only seeing a tiny part, a speck, of the vast ocean. So we both do and do not see it, since we do not see the whole thing.

This much of His Grace is enough for us. We have no need for all His Greatness.

That is, we do not–and cannot–know the whole of God’s consciousness as He does the whole of our consciousness. But what we can know of Him in the form of a deep intuition is sufficient to help us by stimulating us to consciously move onward in the evolution/expansion of the scope of our present state of consciousness, to reflect His eternal being. We do not need to know all about God (we cannot) and all His glories and powers–only that which relates to our own evolution and eventually perfect Realization.

Sri Ramakrishna said: “The one thing you need is to realize God. Why do you bother so much about the world, creation, ‘science,’ and all that? Your business is to eat mangoes [realize God]. What need have you to know how many hundreds of trees there are in the orchard, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves? You have come to the garden to eat mangoes. Go and eat them. Man is born in this world to realize God; it is not good to forget that and divert the mind to other things. You have come to eat mangoes. Eat the mangoes and be happy.”

He has made known so much of His Greatness as will suffice to eradicate our misery. There is no reason for Him to reveal a jot more of His Power than is necessary to remedy our defects in the present state. Thus He is known according to our needs.

This says it all.

Nay, He is in our grasp. However limitless, He is within reach of our knowledge to some extent.

This is all we need to know–and act upon. We are inseparable from God in our inmost being. Therefore to know God we need only know our Self which is one with God. Yoga is the one essential to do so.

3. What is it which brings Him within reach of our knowledge? That He is known as Being-Consciousness-Bliss [Satchidananda].
Being denotes that which is imperishable, that which exists forever. Should He become nonexistent at any time, who is His Destroyer? Who created Him? Since the perishable nature of all leads to the inference that they are lorded over by One who is imperishable, this immortal Overlord is God. His imperishable nature is Being (Sat).
Now, what is Consciousness (Chit)? By Consciousness we mean knowledge. This is absolute Knowledge, and not like our erring intellectual knowledge. Irregularity or mistake cannot stain its actions. It is Knowledge, pure and simple. Frequently He teaches us saying, “Your knowledge is irregular and erring.” How orderly are even the insentient objects of His creation! It is known to many how an atheist was taught a good lesson when he derided the scheme of things saying, “Why did He make the seed so small for the banyan tree which is so big?” [This must refer to a story commonly known in Tamilnad, so he does not relay it.] That an insentient thing is found in good order and later becomes useful, implies a conscious agency at work. Can a simple, insentient thing do something which is possible for unfailing knowledge only? Or, can’t it be done by our inadequate knowledge? No, it can never be. Therefore God is said to be Consciousness (Chit) also.
Now, what is Bliss? It is the state of being free from desire for anything. It is Peace which is ever full. Were He to desire anything, how could He be better than ourselves? How could we gain Bliss from Him? He Himself would require another being to fulfill His desires. But who would think Him to be so? The state of self-contentment is that of Bliss also. Therefore He is called Bliss (Ananda).
The three–Being, Consciousness and Bliss–are inseparable; otherwise, they would become naught individually. Hence, He is known as Being-Consciousness-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). Thus God remains not only transcendent but also falls within the reach of our knowledge as Being-Consciousness-Bliss.

It is a wise child that knows its father, and I am wise enough to know I cannot improve upon this by any commentary.

4. He who has gained the fourth state [of turiya] and sees all as one, only he knows God truly as Being-Consciousness-Bliss. Words cannot express nor the ears hear how such a one is united with God; it is a matter of realization.

As the venerable saying goes: Talk Does Not Cook The Rice. Nor does merely reading books such as Ellam Ondre and “believing” them without acting upon their precepts. Talking about the ideas of such books and going on and on about them in order to appear wise and a “serious seeker” is pure folly and leads nowhere but into the ego.

But there are ways and means for such realization. They can be spoken of, learned and acted upon.

The ways and means for realization are the learning and the practice of true yoga: Soham Sadhana. Nothing else. That is why Sri Ramana Maharshi wrote in his commentary on Devikallotara Jnanachara Vichara Padalam: “Soham Sadhana is the last pilgrimage.… Meditate thus for a long time on the Self.”

5. He who can be realized thus, is God. He has no name; we give Him a name. He has no form; we give Him a form. Where is the harm in doing so? What name is not His, or what form is not His? Where is the sound or form in which He is not? Therefore, in the absence of true knowledge of Him you can name Him as you please or imagine Him as of any form so to remember Him. Your hope for His Grace without any effort on your part is utterly fruitless. Should it be possible to have His Grace without any effort on your side, all would be alike; there would be no reason for any difference. He has shown us the ways and means. Make effort, reach the goal, be happy. Your idleness and selfishness make you expect His Grace without your effort. The rule for all is for you too. Do not relax your efforts. God can be realized by your effort only.

He who can be realized thus, is God.

Here we have the essence of all wisdom: God can be realized through Yoga Sadhana–Soham Sadhana specifically. I myself am doing it and I recommend that you do it also. Read Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self and Light of Soham.

He has no name; we give Him a name. He has no form; we give Him a form. Where is the harm in doing so? What name is not His, or what form is not His? Where is the sound or form in which He is not? Therefore, in the absence of true knowledge of Him you can name Him as you please or imagine Him as of any form so to remember Him.

This is quite revolutionary if you are used to the narrow, elitist Advaita platitudes (More Non-dual Than Thou) and the disdain of “bothering” with name and form in your relation (or attempted relation) with God since essentially God has no name or form. But as the author rightly points out, since in the realm of projected relativity all names and forms are God’s, there is no violation of truth or spiritual law by attributing name and form to God as long as we do not confuse them with the eternal reality of God’s nature, and we intend to in time go beyond these symbols into encounter with the Reality to which they point us. It is very much like the common observance that if we get a thorn in our foot we can take it out by means of another thorn and then need neither of them any longer. In the same way, since we are immersed in and even addicted to name and form we can attribute them to God and by continued concentration on them as symbols of Him reach beyond them to Whom they represent.

Your hope for His Grace without any effort on your part is utterly fruitless.

Once someone asked Yogananda for his blessing. Yogananda replied: “You already have God’s blessing and you have my blessing. What you lack is your blessing.” The truth is that we have nothing but grace from God at all times, and part of that grace is the ability to save ourselves through yoga sadhana. Our free will is a gift of God that cannot fail when diligently applied in the right manner and in the right direction.

Several times in my writings I have mentioned a cartoon I saw long ago in which a drunk was lying in the gutter while a Salvation Army lady was bending over him. The caption was: “Do I have to go somewhere, or can you save me here?” This is the way of the incorrigible, the “invincibly ignorant.” They do not want to do any thing, but have it all done for them. It will not happen.

When I was a novice in an Athonite monastery the abbot told me that at his first meeting with a great spiritual director (elder) he had asked him, “Please pray for me.” “No,” said the holy man. “I cannot eat for you or breathe or sleep for you, so I cannot pray for you. You must pray for yourself.” As Saint Paul wrote, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise” (Ephesians 5:14). And the Prodigal Son, realizing his degraded condition resolved: “I will arise and go” (Luke 15:18). As the hymn says: “O soul, be up and doing, you have no time to lose. There is life and death before you: O which one will you choose?”

It is all up to us to awake and arise. The ability to awake and arise is Grace, but we must match that grace and save (liberate) ourselves. Passive trust in God gets us nowhere.

Should it be possible to have His Grace without any effort on your side, all would be alike; there would be no reason for any difference.

The grace of God if active in all would long ago have brought all to liberation. Sri Gajanana Maharaj (see Light of Soham) pointed out that since saints are one with God and are pure vessels of his love, if it were possible for a saint to save anyone, they would long ago have done so, and all would be liberated alike.

He has shown us the ways and means.

Dharma and Yoga are the ways and means: Right Living and Right Meditation, to use Buddha’s terms.

Make effort, reach the goal, be happy.

This is the only true order of the path to liberation. First we make effort, then we begin to attain to higher consciousness and then we enjoy the bliss of the Self. But first and foremost is effort in the form of following the principles of dharma and continually being engaged in the process of yoga sadhana.

Your idleness and selfishness make you expect His Grace without your effort.

Until we eliminate this laziness and self-indulgence the grace of God cannot really reach us and work in us to attainment of the Divine Goal.

The rule for all is for you too.

We all want God to “make an exception” in our case and and give us liberation just because we think we want it. But we do not–our inactivity proves that. How amazing it is that we acknowledge the need for effort to attain our small, short term goals in what we call “my life,” but in the matter of attaining the Absolute Consciousness we claim that we should not be required to do anything but just “receive” God’s grace. It will not work.

Do not relax your efforts. God can be realized by your effort only.

Again: the only “saving grace” is our own grace on ourselves by our working to achieve Infinity through yoga sadhana. We must not hesitate or stop, we must move ahead intent on the Goal.

6. There is an effort which excels all others. This may, however, appear to be less effective than devotion to God with name and form. Nevertheless, this is the more efficient. It is simply the love which you extend to all beings, whether good or bad. In the absence of such love to all, your devotion to God amounts to a mere parody. Of what use are you to God? That you seek fulfillment of your desires from God without doing your duty towards the needy in the world must be attributed to your selfishness. In God’s presence, there is no use for such. The workings that take place in His presence are all unselfish. Therefore, think that all the Centers are His and He is in all the Centers and thus be devoted to Him. God is truly bound by such high devotion.

There is an effort which excels all others. This may, however, appear to be less effective than devotion to God with name and form. Nevertheless, this is the more efficient.

This is very important, because the author is preparing us for facts of life in this world that extend into the realm of the spirit and render us capable of higher life in relation to God. And I must say that I have never found this perspective in any other book on spiritual matters, whatever the religious tradition might be.

It is simply the love which you extend to all beings, whether good or bad.

To love all, whether they are positive or negative, is a tremendous goal for anyone to set for themselves. In fact, it is impossible for anyone who is not methodically and continuously awakening and expanding all their faculties, including those of the heart. And whatever may be claimed for others, I can tell you absolutely that no one but an adept yogi could possibly attain this universal love.

Love is faked up all the time under the veneer of emotion and external actions made to appear as love–which is not difficult considering that very few in this world even know what true love is. So I can assure you that only those already a goodly distance along the upward path can possibly develop such an all-embracing love. I have only seen one person in my life that was capable of such vast love, and that was Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, the supreme master of yoga.

However, every sadhaka must aspire to this ability and work toward it through his sadhana and his contact with others daily.

In the absence of such love to all, your devotion to God amounts to a mere parody.

This is because God is present in every atom of creation and especially in the heart of every sentient being. In the Bhagavad Gita we are told, “The Lord lives in the heart of every creature” (Bhagavad Gita 18:61). And God himself says: “I am the Atman [Self] that dwells in the heart of every mortal creature” (Bhagavad Gita 10:20). “I am in all hearts” (Bhagavad Gita 15:15). Therefore, if we do not love all we do not love God. And we should admit it if we do not so love, and keep on with our sadhana until that capacity arises in our expanding consciousness. This is no time or place for Let’s Pretend. For God tells us: “Who[ever] burns with the bliss and suffers the sorrow of every creature within his own heart, making his own each bliss and each sorrow: him I hold highest of all the yogis” (Bhagavad Gita 6:32).

Of what use are you to God?

God is drawing all beings toward himself from within, and those that love all beings with God’s love are his instruments by which he draws them to himself from without. Both are needed, and we alone can assist God in the second mode of drawing. Then we will be gods and parts of the love of God.

That you seek fulfillment of your desires from God without doing your duty towards the needy in the world must be attributed to your selfishness. In God’s presence, there is no use for such. The workings that take place in His presence are all unselfish. Therefore, think that all the Centers are His and He is in all the Centers and thus be devoted to Him. God is truly bound by such high devotion.

By “Centers” the author means all living beings, for God dwells in their inmost being, making them centers of his indwelling. Since we are part of those centers, God is already in our heart awaiting our awakening to his presence from which his love can go forth to every atom in this universe, especially to the heart of every human being. This is true bhakti, true devotion to God, otherwise as already said, our devotion to God “amounts to a mere parody.”

This is a high ideal. How can we fulfill it? Saint Thomas Aquinas was asked the same question, and his answer was simple and direct: “Will it.” Our will is the highest personal power we possess, and we should use it to become and manifest the Universal Love that is God.

How do we do it? “Therefore be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).

7. As you go on ascribing names and forms to God and showing love to all because you have understood all names and forms to be His, your mind will gradually mature.

This is the real evolution we seek. Many think that it is merely stacking up intellectual philosophical and religious ideas and repeating them while doing “good” in a rote, but not heartfelt, manner. Such is expansion of the ego, not evolution of our consciousness.

Only by our love for all beings in God can we really grow into our full potential as gods within God. Why, then, do we become yogis and meditate? Because true meditation, true yoga sadhana, purifies the heart and enables it to expand and evolve. And we must realize that fixing the awareness on the Divine Self within us during meditation is the highest form of loving God who is the Self of our Self. And continuing outside meditation to center our mind on God through the sacred japa of Soham in time with the breath is also the highest form of loving God. Again: see Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self and Light of Soham.

Only those who love can expand and grow.

Just as the taste improves with the ripening of a fruit, so also you will recognize the waxing of good and the waning of evil in you.

There is no place here for blinding ourselves to the fact that we are a mixture of positive and negative, and as yogis must become keenly aware of these two elements and continually apply the practice of sadhana for the increase of the positive and the decrease (eventually total annihilation) of the negative. In other words, we are to be watching our inner and outer being at all times and honestly evaluating what we find there while applying ourselves to continuous inner construction by Soham Yoga meditation and japa.

I have mentioned Soham Yoga so much that I should pause now to give you the teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi on the matter.

Sri Ramana Maharshi and Soham Sadhana

Someone asked Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi: “What is the purport of the teaching that one should meditate, through the ‘I am That’ 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).

Once Bhagavan 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.

As your mind matures, there will come a time when you should meet your Master.

In India in the nineteenth century when this was written, “Master” commonly meant an employer or a teacher of some kind. Sri Mahendranath Gupta, author of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, was called “Master Mahasaya” by his fellow devotees. At that time both Master and Mahasaya meant a school teacher. And it is pretty much the same today. For example, I was present at a conference of school teachers in rural Bengal. Each teacher introduced himself, saying his name and adding “mahasaya” after it. (“Shuddir Bandopadhyaya Mahasaya,” for example.)

The renowned master yogi, Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri, was called “Lahiri Mahasaya” by his devotees and admirers, not “Guru.” This is in keeping with the Nath Yogi tradition in which the teacher and taught are simply called “teacher” and “student,” though usually just “friends.” (See Light of Soham.) It reduces a lot of danger from the ego.

Whether the Master-Teacher will be a person, a book or a spiritual tradition that is encountered by the seeker is determined by the karma, samskara and the situation of the seeker’s external circumstances. Sometimes a living (worthy) teacher is not to be found nearby. Either way, the Master is not groveled before and worshipped and served, but is listened to and learned from and the teaching is applied in the student’s life.

Without maturation of the mind any teacher is rendered worthless by the seeker’s lack of preparedness. So a true seeker eventually meets a true teacher and teaching; a partial seeker meets a partially qualified teacher; and a completely unqualified seeker meets a completely unqualified teacher or none at all. And a fake seeker finds a fake teacher. It is all determined by the qualities of the individual seeker and teacher.

This is not to say that you go in search of him or he comes in search of you. At the right time the meeting will happen. All are moving in their own ways.

In the Nath Yogi tradition it is a basic principle that the student seeks the teacher, the teacher does not seek the student. The idea is that the student must be thoroughly self-motivated and not moved or influenced by anything but the conscious desire and intention to attain higher consciousness. He is not to be “attracted” by the words or personality of the prospective teacher.

This is perfectly shown in the life and teachings of Sri Gajanana Maharaj (Gajanana Murlidhar Gupte) of Nashik found in Light of Soham. He prohibited his students from even speaking his name or revealing his existence. On occasion a student might tell him of an acquaintance that was interested in spiritual life. If Gajanana Maharaj intuited that the acquaintance was spiritually qualified, he might suggest that he bring him to meet him, but the meeting should be as a purely social meeting and not a spiritual event. Then things should go on from there. Some people came back just to meet Gajanana Maharaj as a person whose company and conversation they liked, and then realized he could teach them spiritually, so they asked him for teaching. He did not volunteer it. Others, of course, never came back, and that was that. The initiative always had to be on the person’s part. Maharaj was just there to respond.

As I heard Yogananda say in a recorded talk: “The Masters that liberate do not want disciples” in the sense of desiring or seeking disciples. Naturally, they will accept a worthy, self-activated person. But they will not enter into a dependent parent-child kind of relationship that is so avidly sought after in both East and West as it eliminates all personal responsibility on the part of the disciple while imposing a total dependency on the guru–something a true spiritual master teacher would never tolerate or permit.

Your fitness brings you together, makes you trust him, makes him teach you the right way, also makes you follow his instructions.

The determining quality is the fitness of the aspirant, his already-developed qualities. Making the seeker fit for learning is not the work of the teacher. This is the motivating force that ensures the worthy teacher is met and recognized and trusted by the seeker. And it is the fitness of the teacher that ensures he will teach him the right way, the following of which is determined not by his persuasion or encouragement, but solely by the fitness of the seeker. It is not enough to have a qualified teacher; one must be a qualified student. Elsewhere I have written about two clueless Western “yogis” I met during my first pilgrimage to India. When they told me, “We are looking for a qualified guru,” I asked them if they were qualified to be disciples. They looked shocked; then one of them said, “Probably not.” But when I met them again in a few months they had been getting initiation from every “guru” they met. Nothing comes from nothing.

That is the straight way to reach God, which is to gain the fourth state.

Understanding this is absolutely essential for the aspirant. Finding the true teaching and following it to the revelation of the aspirant’s own truth–the Self–is the direct way to turiya, to the entry into one’s own true being. And this alone is liberation (moksha).

You will follow the way and reach your goal which is Being-Consciousness-Bliss, which is God.

That completes the picture.

8. The way shown by the Master is final, straight and making for unity. It is well-tried, natural, and free from pain. When you are following the way shown by the master, doubts will not arise; there will be no fear. Are not fear and doubt the characteristics of the ways of darkness? How can they meet you in the way of Truth shown by the Master? In this manner, the way will itself speak to you and say that it is the right one. In that way, there will be nothing more for you to do but to meet your Master and learn from him. That way will be familiar to you, as the Master and God have made it so. Before you, he had treaded the way. He has shown you the way and you are following him. To how many will you show the same way? And how many more will follow the same way later? Obviously fear and doubt have no place in the way of truth. When once you have taken a step forward you will step back. The master’s help is only for the first step forward. You need not do anything for your master in order to have the way shown to you. Know him to be the messenger of God sent down to disclose the way to the fit who have become ripe by their own efforts in either or both the directions mentioned earlier. It is God who sends this godly messenger just when you are ripe.

The way shown by the Master is final, straight and making for unity.

How do you recognize a Master? Since a true Master will never teach a false way, you can determine the character of the Master by the way itself which he teaches. So let’s look at the characteristics of the true teaching of a true Master.

The way is final in the sense that it leads to the final step of evolution, and is itself also a consequence of that last evolutionary step.

It is Straight in the since that it leads directly to the ultimate condition: total and permanent conscious union and identity with Brahman as the essence of all Being. And that is Unity.

All this is achieved by following the way. There is no meandering or wandering in various planes. The follower of this way never says, “I know it will be many lifetimes before I reach enlightenment.” Someone saying that is unconsciously expressing his intuition that he is not following a direct path. And there is nothing but the Direct Path. The others are false and lead right back to where a person starts. And usually not older or wiser.

It is well-tried, natural, and free from pain.

Pay absolutely no attention to those who claim they have a “new” teaching or practice for a “new age.” Rather, the true path is well-tried, having been known and followed for millennia beyond number. The names of those who followed it and attained the highest realization are known. Truly, it is well-tried, so we need not hesitate to travel it and reach the Goal. It is natural, because it is based on the very nature and primal makeup of the human being. Further, it is natural because it is a process that has been going on from before any world existed. And it is going on within every human being right now. It need only be told to an aspirant to set him doing consciously what he has heretofore been doing on the unconscious-subconscious level. Therefore it is also free from pain or strain since it is the first, primeval impulse of every sentient being–not just humans. But only humans have the ability to consciously begin and to carry it on. And that path is the path of the Nath Panth Yogis, the path of Soham Sadhana as outlined in Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self and Light of Soham.

When you are following the way shown by the master, doubts will not arise; there will be no fear. Are not fear and doubt the characteristics of the ways of darkness? How can they meet you in the way of Truth shown by the Master? In this manner, the way will itself speak to you and say that it is the right one.

You will not just have faith, you will know the way is the true way. Fear, anxiety and doubt will be things of the past, because from the first time you inwardly intone “So” as you inhale and “Ham” as you exhale and then keep doing so, both when you sit quietly and when you move around and engage in external action, you will know you have found the way. After only a few minutes of this practice for the very first time I surprised myself by spontaneously saying to myself inwardly: “Oh, I love this!” And kept on feeling that way. Having wasted over fifty years in “yoga” methods of many kinds that ultimately always turned out to be a mirage, I had found the Real Thing. Naturally my ego-mind wanted to distract me and suggested trying something else, and sometimes I did try something else for a few minutes and realized it was bogus. So I went back to Soham and stayed there. And literally enjoyed my Self. Soham Sadhana is its own proof of reality and authenticity.

In that way, there will be nothing more for you to do but to meet your Master and learn from him. That way will be familiar to you, as the Master and God have made it so.

In time you learn that God is the only guru and that your sadhana is the direct action of God in your life. The sadhana itself will teach you and open to you the inner realization and knowledge that you always had deep inside but could not access.

Before you, he had treaded the way. He has shown you the way and you are following him.

The teacher does not empower the student to walk the way, nor would he be so insane or a charlatan as to claim he has already walked the way for the student. It is a matter of simple knowledge, since the way is inherent in the student, and on the higher unconscious levels of his being he is already repeating the eternal japa of Soham. It only needs to be revealed to him in simple instruction without the mystification of secrecy or ritual.

This is why Sri Gajanana Maharaj was said to show, give or teach the way of Soham Sadhana. The matter was simple: before meeting Maharaj the student (whom Maharaj always referred to as a “friend”) did not know the way, and afterward he did know the way. It was literally as simple as ABC. And from then on everything was totally up to the student. All he needed was practice and the experience gained by the practice. There was no dependence on Maharaj, for he was adamant that he was a friend, not a guru, and the friend was not a disciple. One friend wrote, “There is not even the idea of any dependence on him. Rather he makes us independent and free.” This is the only true way of a true master teacher.

The author therefore continues:

To how many will you show the same way? And how many more will follow the same way later?

He who has gained experience in Soham Sadhana is qualified to teach others in the same simple way of instruction. He need not be a master yogi or liberated: only knowing and teaching the way clearly to the friend who by his own initiative and practice will set forth on the way in complete freedom and independence. No strings attached! Ever. And that friend may teach other friends in the same way and so the knowledge continues to be given in this simple manner in an unbroken exchange for generations. That is all there is to it.

Obviously fear and doubt have no place in the way of truth.

For this reason a sadhaka must be a person of stability and maturity who can trust his own experience and his own conclusions therefrom.

When once you have taken a step forward you will step back.

The idea is that you step forward to the teacher to learn, and having learned, are a student no longer, but step back and continue on your own in complete independence. You may occasionally meet with the teacher, but now as a friend and fellow-traveller on the path.

The master’s help is only for the first step forward.

From then on the journey is yours alone, though the teacher remains your friend and colleague. Your contact with him will be as much or as little as you desire. But never again will you be a student–only a friend–even if you consult with him and ask him about something. His response will be to a friend and equal.

You need not do anything for your master in order to have the way shown to you.

Never does the student worship the teacher (guru puja) or give him anything (guru dakshina) in order to be instructed in sadhana. He comes empty-handed and goes empty-handed, but bears within himself the knowledge of The Way. This is the blessing of contact with a true teacher.

Know him to be the messenger of God sent down to disclose the way to the fit who have become ripe by their own efforts in either or both the directions mentioned earlier.

This is how you should think of the teacher in relation to yourself. He does indeed bear the message of God to you in the form of instruction in meditation–the way to reach union with the Divine. And that is the sum of it all.

But a real teacher will only teach the fit–those who can and will apply the sadhana he teaches. And they must realize that only their own efforts in the form of practicing meditation will “ripen” them and enable them to attain Atmajnana/Brahmajnana.

The grace we most need is our grace upon ourselves in the form of intense and prolonged sadhana practice.

It is God who sends this godly messenger just when you are ripe.

We we have to be ripe to some extent as a result of our own positive samskaras before we can encounter, recognize and adopt the ways of effective sadhana imparted to us by a worthy teacher. But a worthy teacher can only help a worthy disciple. True teachers of enlightenment do not waste their time with the unworthy.

An interesting example of the messenger coming “just when you are ripe” is that of the great yogi Swami Rama, whose ashram was at the Ram Kunj in Hardwar. I was fortunate enough to know Swamiji for some years. He had been born in a village in Kashmir. One day when he was nine years old and playing in the street, an old sadhu came walking through the village. He said to the boy, “Come with me,” and walked on. He followed the sadhu, and when they were at some distance from the village, the sadhu taught him a mantra and said, “Repeat this always.” Then he turned and walked away. The boy never saw him again, but he followed those few words and attained real spiritual greatness.

9. Practice with faith in the period of ignorance is called Bhakti (path of Devotion); the same, with knowledge, is called Jnana (the path of Wisdom). Of the two divisions of Bhakti, the one is devotion to God with name and form, and the other is karma which is love for all. Of the two divisions of Jnana, the practice of the true way shown by the Master is called yoga and the resulting state is called Jnana (knowledge). It is natural for all to believe in something which is not seen and then to find it. Those who do not believe can never find. Therefore, the believers will gain something sometime or other and the unbelievers never gain anything. You can believe even for the simple reason that faith in God is not harmful. Thereby you can share the good effects. This world is meant only for creating faith in you. This is the purpose of creation. Have faith and you can reach God.

Practice with faith in the period of ignorance is called Bhakti (path of Devotion); the same, with knowledge, is called Jnana (the path of Wisdom).

This is a remarkable statement, one that the whole world should know, but hardly anyone does.

Swami Sivananda often said, “Devotion is not emotion.” Rather, true devotion is dedication of oneself to God by the constant practice of sadhana. That is the sum of the whole matter.

Of the two divisions of Bhakti, the one is devotion to God with name and form, and the other is karma [yoga] which is love for all.

The first division is worship of God, singing the Names and Glories of God and–most importantly–japa of, and meditation on, the chosen Name of God. This is usually considered the whole of Bhakti, but it is not. Love of all humanity should be manifested in the practice of karma yoga in the form of benefitting others in all the ways we know and can carry out. This is true Purna [Complete] Bhakti.

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
Leigh Hunt

Of the two divisions of Jnana, the practice of the true way shown by the Master is called yoga and the resulting state is called Jnana (knowledge).

Sadhana is itself Jnana, for it is the Way of Wisdom and Knowledge. And no one is a perfect Jnani until he has attain Perfect Wisdom-Knowledge in Self-realization.

It is natural for all to believe in something which is not seen and then to find it.

Every goal we set ourselves is first just an idea or imagination in our mind. Then we apply ourselves and that goal is attained as an actual objective reality. That is one reason why we say Thoughts Are Things.

Saying we do not believe in what we do not see is not according to any reality and is utterly foolish, revealing a shallow and cheap mind. Of course believing is not enough. We have to make our goals objective realities. Then we can consider ourselves to have real faith.

Those who do not believe can never find.

Their life, mind and heart are all barren.

Therefore, the believers will gain something sometime or other and the unbelievers never gain anything.

Anandamayi Ma said, “The desire for God is the way to God.” Desire for something is itself an inner action, a karmic force that if persisted in will bring about the desired object or result. Believing is the first step in Receiving.

You can believe even for the simple reason that faith in God is not harmful.

It will not harm anyone to believe in God. Rather it will open up in time their inner spiritual awareness and intuition if they go ahead and live and act “as though” God is real. He will manifest his existence to them.

If there is faith in something that is positive and beneficial it will come true in time as an experienced reality. Or it will lead us to something even better to believe in and actualize in our life.

Thereby you can share the good effects.

Faith does not just elevate the believer. In time it benefits all those around him–including the unbelievers.

This world is meant only for creating faith in you. This is the purpose of creation.

The very existence of the world and its marvels and miracles is a statement to us of God’s existence and the possibilities open to us who believe and act accordingly.

Have faith and you can reach God.

For this is the highest benefit intended for us, the ultimate gain: Brahmajnana which by its nature is also Atmajnana.

10. Though you may not believe all that is said of God, believe at least “There is God.” This seed is very potent in its growth. It is so mighty as to negate all else and fill all by itself. It is so almighty that you will not see anything besides God, not even yourself. Truly, God is all.

And THOU ART THAT.

***

Next: Chapter Four–Peace

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

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