This blog post is in response to Questions asked by the blog readers. Checkout, ask questions and Questions and Answers List.
Q: Would be nice if you shared some photography tips on the blog, maybe like a weekly article so that we could benefit.
A: Hi Abhishek. I don’t think I am qualified to do that. My insights about photography and the visual image are pretty subjective and deal more with the metaphysical or philosophical aspect of how we view the world. However, here is a site that might help you; they send weekly updates, tips and reviews (for free), and are quite up-to-date http://digital-photography-school.com/
The other inspiring site for me is Michael Reichmann’s http://www.luminous-landscape.com/
Do check these out and let me know what you think.
Q: I wanted to know the difference between a sadhak and a bhakta. If someone does lots of pooja, goes to the temple, does so many rituals but doesn’t do any sadhana, is it alright for a spiritual seeker? Is it possible to do pooja without any fear or greed? Pooja and sadhana where do they stand on a spiritual path? Doing regular meditation and not believing in rituals or pooja ,is it alright? Plz throw some light and tell if u r a sadhak or a bhakta or both.
A: The sword that cuts through ignorance has two blades — gyaan and prem ie knowledge and love (devotion). In my experience, if you are doing even one of them 100%, then the other follows naturally. A musician who does intense sadhana to master an instrument develops a deep love and respect for music itself; a scientist who enquires deeply into the mysteries of creation experiences such wonder, peace and love. Mostly, the conflicts that you may have encountered can be traced back to not immersing oneself deeply enough in the path of one’s choice. I have met many people who only do poojas and rituals, but are so centred and peaceful. They also develop a very disciplined, meticulous and scientific approach to life. I have also met people who don’t go to temples at all, but are very devout even though they never express it. Their practice of meditation inculcates a vast sense of love and respect for everything in creation.
Therefore I don’t see a contradiction in the two. Actually, I suspect your question isn’t a question at all, but rather an example of a specific argument that you may have had with one person 🙂
As for me, I like the following categorization that our shastras offer (rough translations/interpretations are my own):
1. Shishya (student) — one who follows the teachings of a Guru
2. Bhakta (devotee) — one who worships the Guru, and keeps Him in his heart always
3. Antahvaasi (one who dwells within) — one whom the Guru keeps in His heart always
Q: I am a Journalist working in The Economic Times at present, however the time I did my first Yes+ course, I knew that I had to become an AOL teacher. Now also there isn’t any doubt on my becoming one but I always attach a condition to my becoming a teacher…that I have to become like you or Dinesh Bhaiya, Atika DI, Aravind, Rashmin Bhaiya, as in I have to become one of the best. I don’t wish to waste time doing Journalism (I’m doing so only to gain some professional experience — needed to become a dignified teacher?) but as soon as I think of doing TTC within a year, I doubt if I would have got the amount of knowledge, maturity, that thing which one perceives when one does a course with you all.
I have a very strong belief and faith in what I’m doing, but when people ask me their doubts regarding what I’m doing, I don’t have anything to argue or contradict them…I don’t know will I be able to answer the questions that students grill the teachers with.
A: That’s a wonderful perspective. if you ask any of the seniormost teachers of AOL they wd tell you that they know very little (or nothing) of what they are doing — it’s such an infinite knowledge that if we were to wait to master it before teaching others, we would wait forever! That said, we do study and practice constantly, and keep helping each other to upgrade our skills, and of course Guruji has really groomed us with such diligence, patience and love that we had no choice but to become good at what we do! I would encourage you to do TTC and then practice practice practice!
As far as your job goes, it might interest you to know that by profession I am a journalist myself; and even while teaching AOL full-time I never stopped writing or following media trends closely. If you think journalism is a waste of time then you are in the wrong job anyway. Don’t confuse that with your AOL activities.
Q: Am I real for Guruji or just a dream (Maya)?
Is Guruji real for me or just a dream (Maya)?
A: Bipinbhai, at last we get around to your question, which may be one of the best questions that I have ever been asked. I am happy that someone at least got this thought!
Guruji had once said, “Ignorance is seeing a dream as reality, and wisdom is knowing reality as a dream.”
I had heard about a prasang (episode) between Lord Narayana and Narada muni, where Naradaji keeps asking the Lord, “What is Maya?”
The Divine, mysterious as always, never clarifies but only smiles. Then one day as they are travelling on Earth, the Lord asks Narada to get him some water from a nearby village as he rests on its outskirts. Narada goes to a house, asks for water, is smitten by the daughter of the house, stays back, marries her, joins her father’s business, has children, and settles into a life of domestic bliss. many years pass, and then there is some natural calamity whereby he loses all his money, then his children, and his wife. In desperation, he turns heavenward and cries out for the Lord! At this point he awakens from a dream to find the Lord smiling beside him, saying “This is maya, Narada.”
There is a wonderful discussion about reality and dream that begins the Ashtavakra Gita. Also, the Yoga Vasishtha has a detailed exposition on how our world is a projection of our own sankalpa. My overall experience has been that this entire creation is but a play of consciousness. For me, it is repeated glimpses in meditation that have led to the crystallization of this view. Interestingly, I don’t hold fast to this view, as the experiences get subtler and less definable day by day, and I have absolutely no clue where they will take me. But I too wonder, for Guruji, being established in this experience at all times (actually for me He is the very basis or substance of creation), do we really come across as the identities we presume? Or are we just pinpoints of energy in a field of electromagnetic waves?
Once a seeker sat querying Guruji about Ashravakra Gita, countering His every explanation with intellectual logic which seemed to have little authentic experience to back it up. However, since the questions were both sincere and refined, Guruji kept replying (for our benefit, I suspect!) Finally, he asked, “Guruji, you say that everything is Maya; then even the Guru’s vaani (words) should be maya?”
Guruji paused, and gently nodded, “Yes, even the Guru’s words are Maya. The only truth is the Guru’s silence (satya hai to keval Guru ka maun)”
And all our sadhana, seva, satsang is lovingly crafted to nudge us ever deeper into this Silence, this Presence.