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Being a student

of Vedanta


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 1 ..................................................................... 3
Being a Student of Vedanta Part 2 ...................................................................... 8
Being a student of Vedanta part 3 ..................................................................... 13
Being a Student of Vedanta Part 4 .................................................................... 19
Being a Student of Vedanta Part 5 .................................................................... 25
Being a Student of Vedanta Part 6 .................................................................... 28
Being a Student of Vedanta Part 7 .................................................................... 36
Being a student of Vedanta part 8 ..................................................................... 46
Being a Student of Vedanta Part 9 .................................................................... 52
Being a student of Vedanta part 10 ................................................................... 57
Being a student of Vedanta part 11 ................................................................... 66
Being a student of Vedanta part 12 ................................................................... 78
Being a student of Vedanta part 13 ................................................................... 85
Part 1 Conversations ............................................................................................. 94
Part 2 Conversations ............................................................................................. 96
Part 3 Conversations ........................................................................................... 104
Part 4 Conversations ........................................................................................... 105
Part 5 Conversations ........................................................................................... 115
Part 6 Conversations ........................................................................................... 117
Part 7 Conversations ........................................................................................... 118
Part 8 conversations ........................................................................................... 127

Part 9 conversations .......................................................................................... 128
Part 10 conversations ........................................................................................ 130
Part 11 conversations ........................................................................................ 132


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 1
Everything that happens in our lives has a meaning to
us. When we are loved, that means something to us.
When we are hated, this hatred has a different meaning
to us than when we are loved. So everything that we see
has a meaning for us. Now here is the thing. What
determines how we understand ourselves, other people
and our world? Obviously everything that happens to us
means something to us. We go I like that. Or I dont
like that or I am indifferent to that. Before we make
conclusions like these we have ascertained what the
event or person means to us. When someone says that
rotten person did a horrible thing. That person is
communicating the meaning that that person has for
them. But again here is the interesting question. What
determines the meaning? If you asked the person who
thinks that the person is rotten why they think that way
they will tell you that it is because of what they have

done. This sounds reasonable however this is not the
determining factor that determines the meaning you
have about the things that happen to you. Another
factor remains hidden in the background.

Let us say that I told you about a guy who ripped open
another guys belly with a knife. Now that means
something to you straight away. You probably wont like
the guy because you dont like violent actions like that.
But what if you found out that the guy was a young
surgeon trying to save anothers life under enemy fire.
Now the same event has an entirely different meaning
for you. You see it differently. Now the point we need to
take from this is this. THE CONTEXT FROM WHICH WE


The oxford dictionary defines context in this way.

Context: the circumstances that form the setting for an
event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can
be fully understood

this is a good definition but we are going to modify it
slightly for our Vedantic our purposes here
Context: the standpoint that forms the setting for an
event, statement, or idea, in terms of which the event,
statement, or idea is understood.

When you found out that the setting was a battlefield
and the guy was a surgeon there was a sudden context
shift which transformed your cognition of the event.
Within this context and only within this context could
you understand this event in the right way? This shifting

of our way of seeing or cognising Swami Dayananda
gives the term cognitive shift.

Now you may be thinking Bede has gone of on a
tangent. This is supposed to be about Vedanta. In fact it
is about the most important thing for us as students of
Vedanta. The most important thing for us as students of
Vedanta is to study Vedanta from the right context. If
we fail to do this we will not understand the teaching in
the right way. We will understand it in our way.

My teacher early on in my Vedantic studies made it very
clear that there was only one context and one context
alone that Vedanta can be understood. If we dont study
from WITHIN this context Vedanta will have a meaning
for us but not the one intended by the scriptures. We will
be wasting our time. Everything we hear will be taken in
the wrong way. This was very important thing for me to

understand and I wish to share this with my fellow
students. I will do it in parts so I can go step by step. I
just wanted to set the context first so you would
understand me in the right way.


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 2
When I first meet up with Swamini Atmaprakasananda
on skype I asked her why there was suffering. I didn't say
why am I suffering that was too close. I wanted to
know what she would say. I had never talked to a guru
before and it was embarrassing to ask. In the past I had
rubbished people who needed them. It seemed to me like
weakness. Swamini said the following. the reason people
suffer is that that are dependant of people and things
for their happiness. Because I had lost most of the
things I depended on for my happiness and was
suffering extremely as a result what she said made
complete sense. She also said in this first conversation
people and things never hurt us they are just
instrumental in revealing the pain that is already with
us. This understanding is the beginning of emotional


I got the point very clearly. I did not like it but I could
see that what she was saying was that people and events
which SEEM to be the cause of our misery and
unhappiness. I mean the experience of being hurt by
events and others seems to be convincingly real. But here
she was saying that MY DEPENDENCE ON PEOPLE AND
PRIMARY PROBLEM. So here I was with my atrophied
discrimination giving consent to what she was saying
but in terms of experience and a very convincing
experience at that, what she was saying did not seem to
true. This was the first time and no means the last that
the standpoint of the scriptures was in direct opposition
to my own standpoint which is based on my experience
which APPEARS so true. I mean I had a whole life time of
experiencing the absence of objects CAUSING me pain

and a whole lifetime of the presence of objects CAUSING
me pain. Swamini was making it very clear that
blaming was not only futile but incorrect. What was
causing my pain was my dependence.

Until I met this Vedanta teacher I lived entirely in the
context of a world of objects (people and conditions)
that were giving me happiness or taking it away. All I
wanted was the happenings of the universe to line up
with what I wanted so I could be happy. Because if it did
not I was very unhappy. I also knew that the fault lay
with the universe not me. I looked at the world and
drew a big line down the middle. I put all the things
that MADE me happy on the left hand side and put all
the things that MADE me unhappy on the right hand
side. Then I built my life around staying on the left
hand side because my happiness depended on staying
on that side. This context WITHIN which I lived

determined entirely how I lived in the world and what
everything that happened meant to me. My way of seeing
was determined by this context and the way I lived in
my world came out of this way of seeing. My living in my
world was my way of seeing the world in action. Any
efforts to improve myself was like rearranging the chairs
on the Titanic. It seemed like I was doing something but
it was all done within the same context that was the
problem. So the same old suffering in new forms kept on
appearing no matter what I did.

This is what we call samsara- the dependence upon
another person, another situation, for your own sense of
well-being Swami Dayananda.

Before my conversation with Swamini I thought like the
Buddhists that life was samasra. Life was suffering.
Something was wrong with life because it was suffering.

From appearances this seemed to be very true. But this
was not was being said here. This teacher was saying
that my dependence on objects was MY problem. This
made me wrong of course but at the same time I knew
that if the problem lay with me and not the world maybe
something radical (going to the root) might be able to
take place in my life. I felt I was beginning something.
8I just didn't know what it was. Even though she was
saying was very tough she was very kind at the same
time which enabled me to take on board what she was
saying. Something within me knew that the problem lay
with me in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.


Being a student of Vedanta part 3
note:This is part of a series. For understanding please
make sure you have read the previous ones with the
same title and in order from part one.

This is what we call samsara- the dependence upon
another person, another situation, for your own sense of
well-being Swami Dayananda.

So here I was living in the context of complete and utter
dependence on objects other than myself and trying to
get a sense of well being from them. According to this
Indian teacher my entire life was built around this but
I did not know it and I did not know that I didn't know
it. It was only in the presence of certain experiences
(objects) and the absence of certain other experiences
(objects ) did I feel secure, peaceful and happy. What
could I say this was true.

What was being suggested here was that there was a
sense of well being (security, peace and happiness) that
stands alone in and as itself. A well being which is
unshakable in the face of any circumstance even such
extreme extreme ones like failure, social rejection,
imprisonment, the physical pain of sickness and the fact
of and experience of death. A well being which could not
be acquired by effort but was ever present as the truth of
myself. It was also pointed out that the only distance
between myself and this absolute freedom was
ignorance. Not the world. Not other people. Not even
myself. There was something very important I was not
seeing and the only solution was seeing it.

I didn't even recognise the existential condition of
samsara let alone have any notions of its solution. I just
wanted to be happy. Freedom from dependence was not

my issue. My emotional upsets and unhappiness lay with
things other than my self. The relief from these things
also lay with things other than myself. At the time this
basic conclusion or notion seemed fairly obvious. This
was my entrenched standpoint on life. This was the
context in which I lived moved and had my being but
it as a context was entirely hidden from me though it
determined entirely how I lived in the world. .

This was my first encounter with the standpoint of the
Vedanta scriptures. They were scriptures that werent
telling me what to do but rather what to see. Frankly
from my Christian Judaic background scriptures used in
this way is unknown. In the light of this scripture I could
see myself and my situation in an entirely different way.
From my own standpoint life looked one way. From the
standpoint of the Vedantic scriptures it looked entirely
different. I did not know I was seeing my life in the light

of the Vedantic Vision. I was talking to a stranger who
was unfolding a way of seeing which was entirely new to
me. I was yet to appreciate she was the scriptures in
living form. I wasn't Indian so I didn't know about such

In this first conversation I asked Swamini what was the
best way to approach this problem of dependence on
objects. She said that I must depend on the guru,
scripture and God. I could already see that talking to
her opened my eyes to things that I could not see myself.
Depending on my own standpoint had proved to be very
unhelpful given my emotional misery at the time. I knew
the teaching was from the Vedantic scriptures so I
thought that was acceptable. The God thing was hard. I
just wanted the teaching without the religious stuff. I
knew from her photos she was some kind of Hindu monk
because she wore yellow clothing. Also she was often

surrounded by Hindu deities which made me
uncomfortable. I could not understand how she could
have such clarity about life and living but be so
religious and prayerful at the same time. I had rejected
prayer long ago. Also I didn't have a religious bone in
my body. However I set aside all my misgivings about
that and just stuck to what did make sense which was
what she had unfolded so clearly to me . I was desperate
at the time so I had nothing to lose.

So at the end of that conversation I was prepared to
depend on her as a teacher. Not only was she wise she
was also very kind. I was a stranger to her of a different
race and a different culture. Yet she was willing to talk
to me and she had such a accepting manner about her I
could speak frankly without reservation. I opened up
like a clam which was unusual for me. After the first
conversation I didn't feel as helpless and as unhappy as

before we talked. I knew I had finally come across
something good. Looking back I had no idea what I was
getting myself into.


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 4
note:This is part of a series. For understanding please
make sure you have read the previous ones with the
same title and in order from part one.

When we talk about depending on the scriptures we
really need to see what this really means. Swamini told
me that the scriptures are like a mother. They look after
us. This was strange to me because I was brought up
Roman Catholic and it was more of a weapon of
coercion to keep me in line. The threat of hell fire and
and the rules to obey to avoid it were contained in the

The idea that the scriptures were a way of seeing was an
entirely new thing for me. One such way of seeing was
that behind all my suffering was my dependence on
people and situations for my happiness. We can easily

accept this as a philosophical proposition where we agree
with it or not based on our intellectual background. But
agreement is not seeing in the Vedantic sense. Because
mental agreement is not based on listening, awareness
and discrimination it is simply a mental reaction. If I
said to you I think the republican party is the best party
to run the country you will find agreement or
disagreement will arise automatically without
awareness or our faculty of discrimination coming into
play. I could say you are the Self, distinct from the mind
body complex and give you the reasoning behind this
and you can agree with it or not depending on your
intellectual or religious background. The Vedantic
vision arises entirely from a different context than these
mental reactions of agreement.

What I started to do after that first phone call was
whenever I noticed myself getting upset I would pause

and consciously and deliberately look at the situation
from the scriptural standpoint that this suffering was a
result of my dependence on people or things for my
happiness. Now you can't do this sort of practice without
committing to it. You won't commit to it unless you see
the value of it. You won't see the value of it unless you
discover it. You won't discover it unless you see it. You
won't see it unless it is unfolded by someone who sees it
this way and helps you see it this way yourself. You also
need someone who knows how to unfold it in the right
way otherwise you won't see it in the first place. Once you
have seen it you have to actively depend on it if you wish
to establish this way of seeing in your life. What we are
looking at here is constantly shifting from looking at
our lives from our own standpoint , which SEEMS so true
and real, to looking at our life in the light of the
scriptures. If we do not depend on the scriptures this way
we will study Vedanta but continue to look at ourselves,

others and the world in the same way. There will be no
change in our vision because we are looking at our lives
from the context of our own standpoint not from the
context of the vision of the scriptures.

What would happen was that something would happen
that I became unhappy about. At the beginning I would
forget to pause and look at in in the light of what
Swamini had unfolded to me. But the more I did this
the more I remembered. We only learn in the real sense
when we assimilate experience in the light of the
teaching. This makes the teaching clearer. The initial
understanding is not complete it is a starting point. The
more I paused in the middle of an upset and consciously
looked at my upsets as another expression of my
dependence the more I saw my upsets from an entirely
different light. And strangely enough the less upset I got.
You see when I get upset with people my attention is

riveted on them and what they have done. But here is
the thing. When we reawaken to the vision of the
scripture, right in the middle of our upsets this vision
gathers us up and lifts us beyond our upset. We are still
in the same situation but seeing it in an entirely
different light. Swami Dayananda calls this a cognitive
shift. The more we depend on the scriptures in this way
the more we live in the light of the Vedantic vision.

We can only learn by assimilating experience in the
light of the scriptures. To do this we have to rely on the
standpoint of the scripture to look at ourselves, others
and events. We still very much live in the world but from
an entirely different context. Try this. The next time you
are upset. Pause and consciously and deliberately recall
an understanding you were given in class that is
relevant to this present upset and look at this event in
the light of this understanding. Bear in mind you don't

have to transform how you see this event because the
understanding you were given will do that. This is what
is meant by dependence. This understanding is a gift
from the lord and will lift you above your upsets if you
rely on it not yourself. I am going to say more about this
later . But at this point I just wanted to start on the
practical meaning of relying on the scriptures and how
valuable this is. There is nothing that beats practice so
long as it is the practice is in the context of


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 5

note:This is part of a series. For understanding please
make sure you have read the previous ones with the
same title and in order from part one.

One of the most interesting things that Swamini has
made clear to me is the growth of clarity and what it
involves. What we become clear about is ever present and
therefore beyond time. It is rather our clarity
concerning what is ever present that undergoes a
change and this change happens over time. Clarity of
vision does not just happen. Swamini talks about how as
we listen to the teaching layers of vagueness is removed
bit by bit. The range and the depth of our SEEING is what
is transformed not ourselves. What we are in reality does
not undergo any change it does not need to. Sunlight in

the morning does not produce what is seen it just reveals
what is already there. The light becomes slowly evident
until it takes up all the room. This transformation of our
vision or our way of seeing is what Vedanta is all about.
As Swamini pointed out to me from the start. Vedanta is
a vision not a philosophy. Swami Dayanada uses the
analogy of a developing photo to describe the growing of
clarity from small beginnings to the total vision.

When I first met her I was confused and unhappy. I did
not know my problem was lack of clarity. I thought the
self that I took myself to be was the problem and I knew
all my efforts to fix it had failed and I had no hope of
any resolution. I did not just have despair as something
that existed by itself. I was suffering from self despair. My
life appeared to me as a very convincing tale told by
an idiot and as Swami Dayanada says we can't stand
being unacceptable to ourselves. I couldn't stand it but

there was nothing I could DO about it. And you know
what I was about to find out that there was nothing I
could do about it. My problem was not that I was DOING
wrongly it was I was SEEING wrongly. This teacher had
no interest in fixing me she just proceeded to correct how
I saw myself, other people, the world and God. She really
did not see me as the problem.

The shift from struggling with myself and trying to
improve myself and my life to correcting how I was
seeing myself and my life was the real beginning of my
vedantic studies. Seeing the value of knowledge shifts
our lives into an entirely different context. It is our real
starting point as students of vedanta.


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 6

note:This is part of a series. For understanding please
make sure you have read the previous ones with the
same title and in order from part one.

When I asked Swamini about how do we know right from
wrong. She was unequivocal. You know what is right and
wrong but you don't know the value of doing the right
and avoiding the wrong. She also said that when you go
against your knowledge of right and wrong you become
split and become disturbed within your self and in
conflict with the environment.

As I found out, through our conversations in which she
clarified this whole issue, she was not talking about
being a nice person or being good at social relations.
Sociopaths and politicians have great social skills. What

she was saying was that a life of dharma involved being
aware of each situation as it presented and responding
in ways that are terms of what needed to be done. What
she calls doing the needful with presence of mind.

A knowledge of right and wrong is an innate part of us
as an individual and as we relate ourselves to the world
in the light of this knowledge we come into harmony
with the whole. What was interesting to me here was that
by coming into harmony with the whole we come into
harmony with ourselves. Dharma is written into us. We
find it there. It is a dynamic ( has force and direction)
tendency within us. As Swamini says we don't have to go
to university to learn what is right or wrong. By making
our way of living conform to what we know to be right or
wrong, our way of living and our knowledge of right
and wrong become one complete unfragmented whole.
Our minds become relatively peaceful within themselves

and our relation to other people and situations become
relatively free of conflict.

Later on after much difficultly with the God thing I
came to see that each situation was given to me by the
hand of the Lord and it was given as something to be
done or responded to. And that by offering my mind
and body in the service of that given task ,the best way I
could, was the life of a devotee. Swamini said this was
real devotion. This was not some form of religious
slavery but is a way to truly living in the world happily,
peacefully and responsively. This was not some external
code to be followed and obeyed. It was responsiveness in
terms of what is in our very best interests. I might feel
like (a desire)speaking in a harsh manner to my spouse
because of real or imagined wrongs (aversion). But
when I do, my knowledge of right and wrong and my
way of living come into conflict and so I become

disturbed within myself. Because talking in harsh ways
is an attack on my spouse I come into conflict with my
spouse. So here I am doing something that feels right to
do yet I cease to live happily with myself because I have
violated what is basic to myself as an individual (my
knowledge of right and wrong) and cease to live happily
and peacefully with others. This is really not in my best
interests. Swamini says when you protect dharma
dharma protects you. This I have found is a dependable

In the context of the Vedantic understanding of God,
everything has an entirely different meaning than in
the context of our desires and aversions. Our
understanding of God becomes the basis of a way of
living in the world characterised by graceful acceptance
and beneficial responsiveness. This is opposed to when
our desires and aversions are the basis of our way of

living in the world. This way of living is characterised by
refusal to accept facts, resistance and harmful acts
prompted by our emotional reactivity, disturbance
within ourselves and conflict with others.

In English duty means to give what is due. Each
situation that is given to us. Before I met my teacher I
never saw situations as something given to me they were
just there to please me or annoy me) I did not see
situations requiring something from me in terms of
bringing some value to it by doing what is needful. I
wanted the world to give me the happiness that I hoped
for and often I found it was not doing a very good job at
doing this and like a child I would spit the dummy. An
orientation to life that is characterised by contribution
is far different from the give me give me orientation of
this wonderful consumer culture we live within. When we
give or offer what is due we are doing our duty. Duty is

not a stick that whips us into line. Rather it is the fullest
and finest expression of our lives. We live in a consumer
society. We want to get happiness rather than living
happily and peacefully which requires contribution on
our part. Without duty in the real sense of that word
(responsiveness to the needs of the moment by giving
what is due) living happily and peacefully is not possible
for us.

Our desires and aversions are so very strong when we are
unhappy within ourselves. This is because we make
things that be believe can make us happy so very very
important. The more miserable we are the more
desperate we are about objects that seem to take the
unhappiness away. Now here is the beautiful thing about
living a life of dharma. Living in the context of God
(dharma) transforms the quality of your mind into a
relatively happy an peaceful one. Certain objects are

craved for because in their presence we feel happy and
peaceful inside. This is why they are important to us and
desperately feel the need for them. These desperate
desires that we depend on for our happiness, Swami
Dayananda calls binding desires because we seem to be
held by them. But if we become relatively happy within
ourselves the desperate needs are neutralised because
they no longer have the same value because we already
have what they give. They become redundant.

Swamini helped we with a particular issue that I always
found difficult. I asked her how could I be happy in a
world where there was so much misery and pain. She
told me that if I was unhappy and miserable in myself I
would by necessity harm people. Looking back at my
harmful acts which have been many and varied I really
saw what she was saying was true. When I was unhappy
in myself certain things became inordinately important

and I would tend to pursue them irrespective of the
harm to myself and others.

One thing for sure. I was going to have to learn to live
in the light of dharma not in the light of my desires and
aversions if I wished to live a happier and more peaceful
life. It was not like she was being moralistic and
threatening me with pain or damnation. None of that.
She was offering me a choice like if you go that way it
will not be in your best interests because you will fall off
the cliff and get smacked up. If you go this other way
that I am suggesting you won't fall, the trip will be
pleasant and will get pleasanter as you go along and
on top of that you will get to the same place you have
been trying to get to by the other way; being more
happier and peaceful within yourself.

Not much of a choice really is it?

Being a Student of Vedanta Part 7

note:This is part of a series. For understanding please
make sure you have read the previous ones with the
same title and in order from part one.

I was sitting down by a bus stop reading a a very
interesting book. There was an old person sitting next to
me. They tried to start up a conversation with me.
Somewhat hesitantly because indifference to their
existence is normal. I answered politely but then went
back to reading my book what was what I was interested
in doing.

God obtains in us in the form of dharma. I clearly was
given awareness of what was happening. I could sense
this person was lonely and wanted to talk. Also a clear
indication as to what be the most beneficial act which

would meet was needed in the best way. What I needed
to do was also obtaining in me loud and clear. Give my
attention to this human being and talk with her. Also a
prompting obtained within me in the direction of this
needed responsiveness. What did I do. I continued to
read this very interesting book on Vedanta which by the
way was probably talking about dharma.

Now did I act impolitely. Not at all. Did I break social
convention. No. I was very polite. Is it a good thing to
read a Vedanta book. Of course it is. So here I was not
violating any social rules and doing my thing as is my
right. So in terms of social conventions, interpersonal
relations and my individual rights there is absolutely
no problem. However in the light of dharma, which is an
entirely different context from social conventions,
interpersonal relations and my personal liberties
(though it includes them all) my actions towards that

old lady have a different meaning.

The light of dharma is a clear and guiding light which
is ever present. It is what we would really want if we were
really free. When we listen to and respond to it our way
of living in the world undergoes a radical change.
According to my teacher , if we don't discover the value
of a life of dharma, commit to it and live in the light of
it the knowledge that is Vedanta won't take. Discovering
the value of dharma is knowing that it is in our very
best interests to live in accordance with it. This depends
on us seeing clearly how we benefit from living in the
light of it and how we lose by not living in the light of it.

When we violate dharma we become unhappy with
ourselves. When we live in its light we become happy with
ourselves because we are consciously living in harmony
with the whole. Now living a life of dharma is not a set

of rules that we live by or try to live up to. It is an
awareness of the situation in terms of what needs to be
done and a beneficial responsiveness based on that
awareness. This involves doing the right and avoiding
the wrong. We know what is right and what is wrong.
This is the fundamental discrimination in living. We
are always aware of this but that does not mean we live
our lives in the light of this awareness.

I know if I am lonely it is nice to be able to talk to
someone. I did not learn this at university. I know how I
like to be treated by others. This knowledge is natural to
me. I also know that I don't want to be betrayed or
talked about behind my back in a bad way. I know this.
There is no uncertainty here. I know I want to be paid
back if I lend money. This is not a vague or uncertain
knowledge it is loud and clear. I know I don't wish to be
hurt. Because I know how I would like others to treat me

I know that this is the best way to treat others.

If I was honest it is far more important for me that
others treat me in ways I like than to treat others in the
same way. I value this far more than I value treating
others in the same way. The hit man knows he would not
like to be shot. He is very clear on this. We know what is
the right way to treat others. Swamini says the scriptures
don't bother unfolding this knowledge to us because
there is no need. What the scriptures unfold to us is the
value of living in this way with others because if we
don't we become very unhappy within ourselves and
come into conflict with others and unavailable to the
teaching of Vedanta.

Once you understand the value of living a life of
dharma and commit to living you have to choose daily
what voice you will listen to. Dharma or our binding

desires and aversions. This applies to every situation. We
know when we need to write an email that it would be
the best thing for us to do to do but but don't do it. We
don't follow the promptings of dharma in this situation
but rather we follow the promptings of our desires. Even
though this brings about a satisfaction it puts us at odds
with ourselves. We neglect to respond in the best possible
way. Like I neglected that old woman because I desired
to read a book even though the promptings of dharma
was loud and clear. What is important here is that all
these little things add up. Going against dharma builds
unhappiness into us. A feeling of rightness within
ourselves is not possible when we violate our awareness of
what is right and what is wrong. How can we be at peace
with ourselves be we are constantly building disturbance
within ourselves. Swami Dayananda says if you rub
against the law and order the law and order rubs
against you Even though I continued to read my

Vedanta book I did not feel comfortable in myself.
Because I refused the promptings of dharma which
always obtain in me in a loud and clear way, I paid for
it by not feeling right within myself. Add up all the little
violations and they add up to a mind which is disturbed
within itself and it becomes full of desires for things that
we hope will remedy this unhappiness within ourselves.

When I started learning to live a life of dharma I
became very much aware how I loved doing my own
thing at the neglect of what the presenting moment
needed. When I would go out with my kids along time
ago when they were little I would sit with them in a cafe
with them reading a book. Doing my own thing was
more important than doing the needful in terms of what
the situation needed. I had no knowledge of the value of
serving the situation let alone the lord by offering what
was needed. I didn't have a relationship to others and

situations on the basis of contribution. I was just busy
extracting whatever pleasure I could. Did I know what
the best thing to do was. Of course I did . I have always
known this but as a human being I got very skilled at
minimising the wrongness of my acts and maintaining
rightness in the face of wrong living on my part.

When I spoke to Swamini at my horror at what I was
now seeing she told me that Vedanta was not here to
add to my burden but that the correct study of it
lightens the load. She told me from the beginning that
living a life of dharma was hard. I just had to
acknowledge to myself when I was violating dharma
and then recommit. My practice of dharma mainly
consists of this constant acknowledging and
recommitting. Acknowledging and recommitting. Is it
hard? Yes it is. I have not reached the maturity that
swami Dayananda talks about. Which is reached when

we want to do what needs to be done. At this point we
have assimilated the value of living a life of values. He
also said at the beginning we will have a conflict
between what we want to do and what we need to do. In
this he is so right. When the lord appears in the form of
dishes to be done I often would like to do something else.
Do I serve him or myself. If I serve him it not self sacrifice
or being virtuous. This is the very best way to live as
evidenced by the improvement in the quality of our
mind and the way we live with others and the world.
This quality of mind is what we call a contemplative

Without a contemplative disposition, which is the
disposition of mind that takes us home to ourselves as we
really are, we will not become established in the Vision
which frees us from self ignorance. The ground out of
which this disposition can arise is living a life of values.

This is what makes this way of living and committing to
this way of living so valuable.


Being a student of Vedanta part 8

This is a part of a series. For understanding best to start
from part 1

All my life friction and conflict have played a central
role. I have been in friction with myself. I have been in
friction with others and I have been in friction with the
circumstances that I have found myself to be in. What I
mean by friction is refusal to accept facts, a resistance
which renders a strong feeling of being against. A
feeling of fighting or struggling against.

Swamini had an unusual understanding of the
meaning of love. It was non fault finding
accommodation. Now accommodation in English
means to make room for. What she was talking about
was a relation to whatever was happening, including

my reactions in which there was no fault finding and a
relation in which there was no resistance or refusal but
rather making room for whatever was there. I saw at
once this was not some sweetness and light spiritual
notion of love. I also knew it was important because
Swami Dayananda has made it very clear. If we can't
accommodate people totally the Vedantic vision will not
be available to us. I was in trouble. I was a chronic fault
finder in relation to myself, others and the world. I was
not willing to make room for a lot of things especially
things I found unpleasant and disagreed with.

Now just so we are clear it was not being suggested that I
like or agree with unpleasant facts. It was suggested
that I make room for these facts no matter how
disagreeable or unpleasant without friction or conflict.
I knew straight away that this was big and what she was
talking about was being in harmony with what is. It was

strange. I would have said of course I want to live
peacefully and happily with others and the world. Well
the truth was I was only willing to have this non fault
finding relation which was accommodative with others
and the world when I found these others and the world
in ways that were peasant and agreeable.

When we are in friction or conflict our minds are
disturbed. When our minds are disturbed we react we
don't respond. Doing our duty (meeting situations in
the best possible way) requires responsiveness. Being in
harmony with what is no matter what that is is the
ground out of which responsiveness arises. Being in
harmony with what is produces a stable and clear
quality of mind. Being in friction or conflict with what
is produces a mind that is disturbed and not seeing
clearly. Here again was this very interesting idea that
the problem is not in our mind but in our relation to

people and things other than ourselves which also
includes our psychological reactions because these are
also other these ourselves. This sort of emphasis was new
for me. I had always assumed the problem was in my
mind and if I could fix that everything would be honky
dorrie. But here what was being suggested was that my
problem was MY RELATION to people and things that was
the problem and this determined the quality of my
mind. What I was looking at now was what attitudes
did I hold that came between myself and my mind,
between myself and others and between myself and the
world. A fault finding non accommodating attitude
was always there between myself and others or between
myself and situations that I found unpleasant or

Again the problem was not people and situations that
were causing my being in conflict with them or the

unpeaceful quality of my mind. They were not to blame
even though often this seemed to me to be true. The
attitudes I held and held on to for dear life, that came
BETWEEN myself self and my mind, myself and others
and myself and situations were ensuring that I
constantly in conflict and friction. These attitudes were
determining the kind of relation I had with my
psychological reactions, with other people even the ones I
cared about and situations that kept cropping up again
and again. It was clear unless these attitudes were
replaced I could look forward to more of the same for
the rest of my life. Looking back on my life this was not a
good prospect.

I was starting to look at my life from a different light. A
very revealing light at that. This was revelation in a
real sense. It was not some Indian spiritual trip even
though I was talking to a very Indian looking teacher.

It was not some new age peace and love philosophy it
was just a clear light which was enabling me to see
things that have always been with me but that I never
saw. Thankfully it did not come from me. Rather it was
given. It was a blessing and so was this teacher who was
unfolding it to me. I have a lot more to say about non
fault finding accommodation because it is for me the
value of it is one of the most important discoveries I have
ever made. Because of this I wish to go into a lot of
detail about it which I will do in the next few parts. I
just wanted to set up the ground work.


Being a Student of Vedanta Part 9

note:This is part of a series. For understanding please
make sure you have read the previous ones with the
same title and in order from part one.

All my life a had thought of my mind as something
within me and the world as something outside of me. All
through my formal training as a psychotherapist was
the idea that the problem lay with the mind. The work of
Freud, which is brilliant in my opinion, especially his
work on ego defences and unconscious forces exerting
influences on our conscious life is a major achievement
of Western thinking. However the premise is that the
problem is within the mind and this is where the
solution is to be found. Modern cognitive psychotherapy
say that the problem lies in cognitive distortions or
irrational thinking and if these can be changed or

removed this is the solution. Again the problem is in the
mind which is on the inside and if this can be fixed the
then the persons emotional responses and behaviour will
improve. The behaviourist psychologists think that
unhelpful behaviour is the problem and if that can be
modified and people get better behavioural outcomes
this is a better direction to go. This means that the
behaviour patterns which are within the individual are
what need to be dealt with. I could go on but the
premise is always the same. The problem is inside the
individual and there is where the solution is to be

Vedanta views all this in a new and extraordinary
light. It starts with the individual in the universe and
that the universe and the individual are different. Well
this is nothing new. But here is the thing. In the
Vedantic vision the mind and all its contents are part of

the intelligent working this enormously complex and
vast universe. We are not the author of what we call our
mind and don't determine how it functions. This means
that the mind is not in me but is simply a part of the
universe like every other thing. It gets worse. Well when I
first had this explained to me this is how it felt.
Everything was happening as it should according a law
and order which was the working of infallibility itself. It
ME AS INDIVIDUAL. I as an individual was included in
the whole much the same way that a wave is part of the
ocean. Without ocean there is no wave. In my case there
was no village idiot without a village. You know that
pop song what about isn't fair etc. That expressed
my disconcerting feelings about all this. It gets worse!!! I

asked Swamini in exasperation what are you telling me
that all the killing and violence in Iraq is the Lord? She
said of course it is the Lord I was stunned. I did not
know what to say. I thought to myself why am I
listening to this woman who could have such a strange
idea It just seemed so outrageous. EVERYTHING WAS
GOD. My Christian Judaic notions of God started to
rattle and jump around in my head. What really
exasperated me was the matter of fact tone she said it. As
if it was a plain fact that could be seen by anybody. Well
I was not anybody. However her disarming manner
allowed me to at least consider it. She was so clear on
other things I could not dismiss it out of hand. The idea
seemed mad on one hand but made sense on another.

Everything was given. Everything was in order.
Everything was out of my hands except choice over

action. Everything was God which included me as an
individual. Talk about clashing against all my basic
assumptions about myself, the world and God. Was it
going to get worse. It certainly was!!!!


Being a student of Vedanta part 10
This is a part of a series. For understanding best to start
from part 1
Continuing on with love non fault finding
I was with my son and we were working together and I
go into a very contentious disagreement with him. The
more we interacted the worse it got. He walked off which
left me with doing the rest of the work. I was angry
because I found what he did and said disagreeable. I
was guilty because I had spoken harshly to him. It felt
like everything was a mess and I really hated that fact. I
was in conflict with my son. I was in conflict with how I
acted. I was unhappy emotionally and I was in conflict
about that. I was now also in conflict with the situation
where I was left to finish off things by my self. I think you
might know what I felt if I described with the Australian
phrase everything was a bloody mess I could not do a

thing about it and I was in conflict with that fact as
well. I felt an extreme feeling of helplessness and
burdened by it all. I mean seriously weighed down. In
this context every move I was making was an effort.

Suddenly what I had been contemplating in the last
week came to mind in the form of the meaning of love as
unfolded by my teacher. Did I make this come to mind
by an act of thinking. No it was given. It came to me in
the form of a recognition that I was enclosed in a way of
living in the world which was in conflict or friction with
the whole. I was lifted up out of the whole story about
what was happening by the recognition that I was in
conflict with the whole. The relation I had with myself,
my son and the situation was one of friction or conflict.
I was in a relation of fighting against and I was the
one who was fighting.


When I was enclosed in the story I was not aware of my
being in conflict. It felt that my sons actions were in
conflict against me. What I had done in terms of the
way I had talked to him was also weighing me down.
That fact it seemed was attacking me also. The situation
was also too much for me. In fact it could have been
said that the whole situation was assaulting me and
that was why I upset about it. There was no doubt in my
mind if I was to go by how I was experiencing this whole
bloody mess I was a victim of what I had done myself,
others had done and the difficulty of the world. And I
was reacting accordingly with helplessness, self pity and
an experience of myself as a victim. I was blaming my
actions, my son and the way the universe was
appearing. Enclosed in this story there was no clear
cognition that I was in conflict with the whole. Finding
fault with the whole. The whole was in conflict with me
and I was upset about that. The problem lay with the

whole not my relation to the whole.

So there I was brought to a halt as the vision of my
teacher became active in me. I was clearly seeing that I
was the one who was in conflict. I had an attitude of
fault finding non accommodation that was coming
between me and the whole and this was my problem.
There was no self condemnation about any of this. It
was not like there you go again Bede being non
accommodative It was rather a clear light of a vision
that revealed my conflictual relation to the whole and
at the same time resolved it. This was the light of the
teaching gathering me up and lifting me out of trouble.
Swamini was right the scriptures were like a mother. This
was not some religious sentimentalism or irrational
allegiance to what is to be taken as holy scripture. The
fact was I was being as though carried in the arms of
the vision. The weight and the burden were gone and I

was brought to a relation to the whole in which there
was no fault finding present, and I found myself
making room for everything. My guilt, my despair, my
helplessness, my anger, my sons actions, the difficult
situation. What was extraordinary was that the
experience of the whole event as a bloody mess
disappeared. The experience that had arose out of the
relation of conflict was replaced by the experience that
arose out of a relation of being in harmony with the
whole. This was an experience of being quietly happy.
Which for me was rather strange.

Here I was in exactly the same situation. Nothing had
changed yet everything was different. I was happily, yes
happily going about doing what needed to be done.
Everything was in order. Everything I was doing was

being done in the context of this relation to the whole
which my teacher called non fault finding
accommodation Everything including my reactions
(because they are part of everything) were given room to
be as as they were. I was not thinking to myself I must
be non fault-finding and accommodative. I had
discovered a relation to the whole in which fault-
finding, resistance, conflict, friction had no place. A
relation which makes room for everything. This relation
is always available and becomes evident when we abide
in Love. This love is not sentimentality or anything like
that it is non fault finding accommodation that can
be discovered and then established as a way of living
through practice. It is not a spiritual idea it is rather
an existential condition, a way of living in the world,
that is in harmony with the whole. Religiously we could
say in this relation we rest in the arms of the Lord
taking refuge in the Lord .

Please note this is not the same as being passive. It is the
only ground out of which responsiveness can arise.
Karma yoga is passive in the sense that there is an
understanding everything comes from the Lord.
Understanding is not something we do. But Karma yoga
is at the same time active in the sense that we serve that
Lord by responding to what he gives us to do in the form
of each moment. I was yet to learn about the meaning of
the Lord because for my own reasons I had great
resistance to it. But this grounding I was being given
was very helpful.

Just so we are clear. This is not the vision of the truth of
the individual and the truth of the whole being one and
the same. This is the relation to the whole that
transforms the quality of our minds so that absolute
vision can be ascertained. If we don't learn to live ,to a

relative degree, happily and peacefully with ourselves,
others and the world the vision that is Vedanta is not
possible for us.

I skyped Peter Bonnici that night and told him I was
finally in love. He shock his head in disbelief and said
what? I took delight in the fact he thought I was
talking in the usual sense. I immediately stopped
teasing him and told him what I really meant. I loved
to have him on. When I am in love, which comes
evident when I am related to the whole without friction
I live in an entirely different relation to my usual
relation of conflict and resistance. What Swami
Dayanada calls the Ninja stance. This relation is always
there like the wave and the ocean are always in
relation. However we waves can be cut off that fact
cognitively. I have more to say about this but I wanted
to convey the day I discovered this relation. However this

was only the beginning, for discovery is far cry from
making that discovery an established as a way of living
and my teacher said that this was going to have to
happen if the knowledge was going to take. Again it was
this notion that how we lived determined the quality of
our minds. Without living in the light of dharma
nothing was possible. But with this said, I had arrived
at a very good starting point.


Being a student of Vedanta part 11

Part of a series best to start from beginning

The subject matter of Vedanta is ourselves. It is not a
intellectual theory to be grasped and understood.
Vedanta is a vision. We start seeing as the teaching sees.
The meanings within the scriptures are present in living
form as the seeing of the teacher who uses words like a
mirror so that we are not aware of the words as words
but are seeing what is being unfolded. If I open my sees
what I see is not a result of my will or an action I
perform. The means of knowledge (the eyes)makes form
and colour visible. The means of knowledge produces the
knowledge. I can choose to put myself in a position to see
but the seeing is the operation of the means of
knowledge. Similarly when we listen to a qualified
teacher the means of knowledge comes into operation

and we find ourselves seeing what the teacher sees. Does
what we see in the Vedanta class stay in the class. If it
does it would be of no use.

One of the first things I saw about non fault-finding
accommodation was that it was a light that shed light
on my attitude of fault-finding non accommodation.
What was interesting here was that before I discovered
what non fault finding accommodation was there was
no awareness of its contrary. So here was the
understanding that came active in me in the presence
of my teacher becoming active in me in my life as a very
clear and revealing light. This light is given. I was not
the author of it. There was no sense of myself trying to
observe myself. There was just this understanding that
would become active and lift me above my thoroughly
fixed views about myself, others and the world. In the
presence of this light of understanding I just saw things


The thing about understanding is that it does not
accuse. It did not say there you go again idiot being
non accommodative. It is never like that. It is more like
when you suddenly see that you are cold and want to
move to a warmer place. You recognise you are cold and
shift to a better place. This is the whole point of
discovering a value like accommodation. You desire
what you value. You can't help it. This is why discovery of
a value captures our attention.

Now my teacher says assimilation of knowledge goes
through three steps. She mainly talked about this in
reference to the absolute vision but I will confine myself
to how it applies in our living in this world. First is the
discovery. This is where you see in a new way. This comes
through listening. Because we are talking about values

we see something as valuable that we didn't see as
valuable before. We see that when we are
accommodating things are lighter and there is a sense
of the burden of life not being present. This might not be
a doubt free understanding. We may also hold
contradictory notions about it. We might think like I
did that accommodation was a very valuable value but
when somebody does something I don't like I would give
a value to retaliation of some sort. Our actions are a
very true mirror as to what we really value. So even
though I discovered the value of non fault-finding
accommodation I doubted the value of it in certain
circumstances. A value of accommodation on one hand
and a doubt about its value on the other hand. I am
still in two minds as they say. My teacher says that this
does not mean that I didn't have the understanding
but the it was not a doubt free understanding. In
Vedanta the method we use to resolve doubts is


So here we are we have discovered in class the value of
non fault-finding accommodation. We feel we
understand completely. The next thing we know
somebody or some situation is disagreeable. We find
ourselves in two minds. We are wavering between
accepting the person or situation and rejecting the
person or situation. We see the value of accommodation
but at the same time retaliating or resisting also have
appeal. We need to be honest here. Swamini says we can
only doubt what we have understood. The revelation of
the notions we hold that obstruct the vision of Vedanta
are not a problem but a blessing. Because when I see
that I am suffering from a doubt which is always the
case when I am wavering between living the
understanding and doing something else I can look at
that doubt in the light of the teaching. What I find

helpful is simply just describe to myself what is
happening. this a disagreeable situation. I hate it and
am resisting and finding fault. I feel in the right or
that anybody in my situation would feel the same. I
become very clear on the standpoint that I am looking
at the situation I am in. Vedanta is not living up to an
ideal so this is easy. It is just a truthful description of
facts. The only reason I can see the fault-finding non
accommodation is because I have previously discovered
the value of non fault-finding accommodation.
Recognition of being caught up in a standpoint
contrary to the scriptural vision can't happen without
the vision in the first place. Then you ask yourself how to
look at this person or situation in the light of Vedanta.
In this case if you are committed to living a life in
which there is non fault-finding accommodation you
recall what this is. THAT IS ALL. You are engaged in
reflection on what you have understood and looking at

your situation in the light of it. This is where you recall
an understanding and bring that understanding to
bear on the current situation you are in. now you will
find a very interesting thing here. The understanding
lifts you out of the personal standpoint you have been
enclosed in. Reflection is the only thing that resolves the

Just as an aside. Swami Dayananda unfolded the way
to see people who are acting disagreeable ways. He said
you are just see it as cause and effect. Given their
understanding and background they can't help but act
the way they do. I got a fairly clear understanding of
this in discussions with Swamini. As I said the
understanding is always our starting point and it
comes to us when we listen so we see what is being talked
about. Once this is established in us to a certain degree
we can recall and reflect on it when we need to. Which

will be often because we lose sight of it daily and get
caught up in our own standpoints which go contrary to
the vision. Anyway when I would recall the
understanding in the presence of unpleasant actions on
the part of others I would consciously and deliberately
practice recalling the understanding and when I did I
would find myself looking at the person in a different
light. I didn't try to be nice or anything like that. I
would just recall the understanding and the
understanding (way of seeing) would do the rest. There
is nothing mystical here but it is rather extraordinary. I
have lived without the vision of the teaching all my life.
I relied only on myself and I was proud of that. It
turned out to be the road to perdition. I now rely on my
teacher and the scriptures to see my life in the right
light. I do this not because I am a saint or holy. I am
neither. Far from it. I do so because it is in my best
interest to do so.

If you keep doing this reflection the understanding
becomes what Swamini calls doubt free understanding.
This is when it gets good. There is no wavering. You
recall the understanding or it just becomes active in you
without you becoming conscious and deliberate about it
(result of commitment and reflection, in other words
practice) and you just SEE it that way. We recognise that
we are not in a relation of non fault finding
accommodation and that is enough. The
understanding is the action. It is not our action. We just
find ourselves living it. No doubts here. However it the
understanding is not complete because it is still

The final stage is where the understanding becomes
unforgettable. I know nothing about this stage. On the
existential context it can only be relatively

unforgettable. These three kind of knowledge of course
apply to the vision of what we are. Next time a fear of
death arises try this. Welcome it a revelation of a doubt.
Instead of resisting it or denying it because of spiritual
or religious pretensions, simply contemplate the
understanding of that which is not subject to death. This
simple awareness that you are. Did it ever get born? Did
it ever change? How can our nature which is beyond
time end? It is very interesting to simply reflect on the
teaching. Just watch the doubts depart.

We listen, we reflect and we contemplate. This is what we
do Swamini says this is our practice. I have doubt free
knowledge in reference to non fault-finding
accommodation. What I mean by that I just have to
recall it and I am living it. Do I have unforgettable
knowledge or understanding of it . Absolutely not. But
when I see this fact I accommodate it as well.

I have found the commitment to and the practice of
looking at my life in the light of the teaching a
wonderful thing. The more I practice this the more I
recognise when I am not and the more I shift to the
vision that has been unfolded to me. I now bow to my
teacher. The head on the floor .The whole lot. This is even
though I said to her at the beginning it was something I
would never do because I was not really into that kind
of thing. I wanted to be upfront because I didn't like the
idea. I had no intention of taking the guru thing too
far. I thought I would leave that to the Indians. It was
more their thing. Now for me it has a very deep
meaning. It is submitting to the vision. For me she is the
vision in living form. Did I see it like this in the
beginning. Of course not. She was just a very nice and
wise lady who was willing to spend time with a stranger,
who wasn't from her culture, willingly clarifying and

resolving my many many confusions and notions about
myself, others, the world and God. I was dragged yelling
and screaming away from my viewpoint to the vision
that is Vedanta by the clarity and kindness of this


Being a student of Vedanta part 12
I was steeped in the Western Tradition. I couldn't help
but think in terms of levels of being. My teacher however
made it very clear that being (Sat)could not be
expanded or improved on for it was complete already as
fullness. Nothing could be added to it or taken away
from it. Vedanta was not about a growth of my being
but a growth of clarity which makes what is already
here (the truth of myself) clearly evident. In English the
word discover means in its root form removing
something that was covering or hiding something and
what was there all along so that it becomes evident. Now
this was interesting because it meant my problem was
not a defect as to my being (there is something wrong
with me) but the defect lay in how I saw myself. Did I
believe what this Swamini was saying. Of course not.
Why? Because what I EXPERIENCED to be true I took to be

In our lives we have accumulated many notions about
ourselves others the world and God. These notions don't
just sit in our heads. They become active in us as ways of
seeing and render an experience of ourselves, others, the
world and God that is taken to be a fact. This means
that when notions turn into experience they are
invisible as notions. Did I see that I was suffering from a
notion about myself; what Swami Dayananda calls a
self judgement. No. I wasn't experiencing a self
judgement because as far as I was concerned I was
experiencing myself as I was. It is true I was not happy
with myself and of course I wanted to do something
about it.

Before Vedanta I was sure that the problem was the
mind and because of this mind I was thinking in
certain ways. What Swamini was suggesting was that the

whole problem was rather centred on I. This was the
locus of the problem. I am sad. I am confused. I am
anxious. I am angry. I am wanting . I am longing. I
am afraid. I am sad. I am happy. I am envious. I am
jealous. I am lonely. I feel empty. I don't understand.
When I looked at it I saw what was for me a remarkable
thing. All my pain, suffering and misery always arose as
an I sense which I took to be myself. There was no
exception to this. It is not possible to have unhappiness
without an unhappy I sense. This is because there is
always somebody there who is having the experience of
being unhappy.

I was living in the world as a suffering person. A
confused person. A hateful person. A bitter person. A
complaining person. A critical person. A scared person. A
weak person. An angry person. A sad person. For example
I could look at myself and become a self hating person.

Or I could look at others and become a judgemental
person. Or I could look the world and become a cynical
person. The type of person I experienced myself to be in
relation to myself, others or the world changed
constantly. This examination gave new meaning to the
term identity crisis. It was clear to me that one moment
I was one kind of person and the next moment I was
another kind of person. During the day it was as though
I became many different people. A loving partner one
moment and a hateful one the next. Each person I took
myself to be looked at the world in a certain way. Felt in
a certain way and acted in a certain way. Then this I
sense that I was convinced was myself and was replaced
by a different I sense I was convinced was myself. I mean
really what is going on here!!

The whole point is that an I sense is a way of seeing.
When I say I want such and such in order to be happy I

am saying that I am deficient in some way. I am seeing
myself as deficient. If I am saying to myself that I am
unhappy, I am suffering from what swami Dayananda
calls a self judgement. I am seeing myself as an unhappy
person. I am talking about the sense of I arising from
the self judgement I am unhappy this self notion that
turns into an experience that SEEMS TO BE TRUE. This
notion does not just sit in my head, as I have said, it is
rather transmutes itself into a sense of identity that is
self depreciating and painful. When my sense of I and a
notion become one and the same I have an I sense
around which my psychology is built. Before Vedanta I
thought my sense of I was built around my psychology.
Here I was being introduced to the idea that I don't
have a psychological problem I have an identity
problem. My Swamini conveyed to me in clear and
uncertain terms that all notions I had about myself ,
positive or negative where erroneous and that I have

these confused notions about myself because I don't
know who and what I am.

To start trying to fix up the psychology really is the
wrong way to go. Unhappiness is not the problem. The
sense of being an I who is unhappy is the problem. When
I believe that my nature, what I am in reality is
unhappiness, this is what I am as far as I am concerned.
I don't see that this is an erroneous notion which is
simply an erroneous way of seeing. If I experience myself
as unhappiness then as far as I am concerned this is
what I am. And as I have said the forms of unhappiness
(ways of seeing) are always chopping and changing. I
am sad. I am angry. I am a loser. I am confused. I am
lonely. I am desperate. I could see that while I was
confused as to who and what I was I would be subject to
all sorts of notions concerning myself. One of the things

that Swami Dayananda often says. we are the problem.
we are the solution What was interesting for me was the
idea that the locus of the problem was also the locus of
the solution. The whole problem and the whole solution
revolved around identity. What am I really as opposed
to what I seem to be. This was becoming for me a central
nagging question.


Being a student of Vedanta part 13
This is part of a series. For understanding best to start at
part one.

Vedanta is relevant to human existence. This is what
makes it so valuable. If it is not relevant to our human
existence it would have no value. So what is this value
and why do we call it the ultimate good. Unless we are
clear as to the ultimate value of Vedanta study we will
not be inclined towards a wholehearted interest in the
Vedantic enquiry. Our attention will be too easily
swayed by other things.

As a human being I knew there was always an
underlying insecurity. I could see this clearly in myself
and also in others. No matter what spiritual or
philosophical notions we hold to the contrary almost
without exception we take ourselves to be the body. This

means that existence (Sat) for us and the life of the body
is one and the same. If this is true then we are at all
times subject to destruction and death. The life of the
mind/body/sense complex is insecure by nature. It is
made up of parts and when these parts breakup or wear
out, life ends for it. If we take our reality and the reality
of the body to be one and the same we can't help but be
insecure. Because insecurity is so unpleasant it is
normally denied. So many of our desperate strivings
have as their end things that we believe will act as a
good defence against this basic terror of destruction.
The religious fanatic has to convert others because their
beliefs protect them against this extreme fear of
destruction or death. For the religious fanatic the more
people believe the more safety or security is felt. Hence
the hatred and extreme forms of violence done in the
name of the one true God against heretics or
unbelievers. Hence the obsession with power and greed.

Status, material possessions and people can be used as a
defence against insecurity. When such things become so
important the way we live becomes brutal and harsh
because behind it all we are afraid. The question comes
what could resolve this insecurity completely. Because if
it could be resolved it would transform our minds and
therefore the way we live our lives.

If we were to discover as a fact that the truth of ourselves
was absolute security, that what we are in reality was
not subject to destruction or death because it stands
alone without any dependence on anything for its
existence, we would find ourselves totally secure while
living our lives as human beings. Our human existence
would still be insecure and will still end but we would
cease to be afflicted by insecurity about ourselves being
subject to destruction because we would KNOW we were
indestructible by nature.

In the vision of Vedanta non dependant existence is our
nature. Indestructibility is our nature. If this is so how
come we are so insecure? Easy. We are ignorant of this
fact and therefore it is as though we are subject to
destruction. Our insecurity is not based on what we are
in fact but our ignorance of what we really are.
Swamini gave an example of our being in a dark room
where we can't see. We are always getting knocked about
because we bump into things. We try to pray to get rid of
the darkness. We meditate to make it go away. We do
good works but it still stays. Anything we try to DO about
it fails. Why? Because only light is opposed to darkness.
In the presence of light the darkness is resolved.
Similarly only knowledge resolves ignorance. It was at
this point she said a very interesting thing. We can't
achieve what we are because we are that already but
knowledge of what we are is as though attaining what

we are. To KNOW we are absolute security is to BE
absolutely secure.

When we take ourselves to be a thing located in time
and space we are up against every other thing. Conflict
or friction is a basic fact of human life. We are always in
conflict with how we are, how others are and how the
world is. Awareness (chit) on the other hand never is in
friction with anybody or anything. Like a TV screen it is
unaffected by all the happenings go on. Cars can blow
up. People can die. But the nature of awareness is to
totally accommodate everything. Similarly if we were to
have a doubt free vision of ourselves being awareness
only, the quality of friction and conflict so
characteristic of human life would have no place.
Because awareness and what we are is one and the same
and we are clear on this fact, conflict and friction
would cease to exist for us. With this knowledge we are

still living a human life. However it is a way of living
devoid of hatred and violence because our nature is
discovered to be absolute peace. Knowledge of ourselves
as awareness alone resolves totally friction and violence.

As human beings we are always dissatisfied. We
experience ourselves incomplete and are always seeking
things other than ourselves to fill us up with
completeness. We take ourselves to be incomplete in
ourselves. Out of this comes dependency and all the
unhappiness and misery that follows from. Dependency
takes the form of fear when we think we might lose what
makes us feel complete. Dependency takes the form of
hatred when others take from us what we think we need
to feel complete. Dependency takes the form of sadness
when we lose what we feel makes us complete. Discovery
that we are fullness (ananda) resolves totally our sense

of incompleteness. Because our nature is completeness
nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away
from it. We are happy within ourselves because of
ourselves not any other thing.

Knowledge of what we are is the clear vision that we are
absolute security, peace and happiness. Our very nature
is Existence, Awareness and Fullness. To know ourselves
as this is as though the attaining of this. This is why
knowledge of our real nature is the ultimate good. As we
can see everybody seeks security, peace and happiness. In
this we are all alike. But for us Vedanta students we seek
security, peace and happiness through knowledge
because we understand that security, peace and
happiness are not available through other means.
(remember the dark room)We are all living our lives to
find absolute happiness. For us who have discovered the
value of knowledge (this value can't be discovered

without a teacher) the purpose of our life becomes the
discovery of who and what we really are. This devoted
pursuit of ours is not because we are religious, spiritual
or holy. It is because we have discovered the value of
knowledge and realised without discovering who and
what we are the ultimate good of human life will not be
available to us. Because we have discovered the ultimate
value of knowledge and are very clear on what we gain
from it and what we lose by not attaining it we can't
help but become devoted to its pursuit. We as human
beings can't help but pursue what we understand to be
in our very best interests. The fact is self knowledge is in
our very best interests. It is the most valuable thing in
our lives.

If you remember in the first part of this series I clarified
the meaning of context. I made the point that context
determines meaning. According to my teacher

insistent on this and for good reason. If we are caught
up valuing things which are not in our best interests we
can't just say I will leave them alone. We can't stop
pursuing what we think will make us happy.
Psychologically we just can't do this. When we discover
something better at bringing us security, peace and
happiness than status, power, sex, material possessions,
entertainment etc we quite naturally give up the
importance that these things have in our lives. The
Sanskrit term she always keeps mentioning is
purushartha nischeya. Without purushartha nischeya we
won't be able to understand Vedanta in the right way
because we won't be in the right context. We won't be
able to be wholehearted in our study. Please note that
this study has nothing to do with self sacrifice. Rather is

a devotion to the pursuit of knowledge based on an
understanding of the value of such a pursuit. Absolute
security, peace and happiness while living our human

Part 1 Conversations

o 12 people like this.
Shivaram Krishnan Om shri gurubhyo namaha
June 7 at 1:50pm via mobile Like
Subbu Subramaniam This wrong context takes us on a
chaotic route ... takes a while to set it right and onto the
scenic route ..
June 9 at 2:46am Like 2
Shalini Shukla Infact it already took us on a chaotic
route .
June 10 at 8:43pm via mobile Like 2

Bede Clifford Well said Subbu Subramaniam
June 10 at 11:36pm Like
Shantti Chandra WE should study from the right context
and understand the meaning in a right way. One more
important things is we should learn Vedanta through a
proper guru if not we will understand this knowledge
according to our frame of mind.
June 11 at 1:27pm Like 3
Bede Clifford I could not have put it better. We can't rely
on our own personal standpoint because this standpoint
is our problem
June 11 at 11:55pm via mobile Like 2
Bede Clifford Sounds self negating doesn't it shantti but
it happens to be true
June 11 at 11:59pm via mobile Like 1


Part 2 Conversations
o 16 people like this.
Ashwani Kr Lodhi Rajput Very interesting. Plz keep it on.
thanks a lot for sharing.
June 7 at 11:17am via mobile Like
Shanta Sankaran We know that we lean on the outside
world and people but dont like giving that up. It is
wonderful how you bring a modern context and
reasoning for Uparati.
June 7 at 12:28pm Like 2
Ashwin Khambadkone This is insightful;
Samsara=dependence upon another person, another
situation for validation of own sense of well being.
Therefore, it follows, freedom is being free from this
June 7 at 1:50pm Edited Like 2
Sudha Jayagopal Somewhere down the line we all come
to realise this. But realisation and acceptance is one
thing, and working on it entirely another cup of tea..
not easy as it leaves very little else for one to lay the
blame on..people, things, circumstances, etc, etc! Felt like
someone was reading into my own thought process as I

was reading your wonderful insights. Looking forward
to more on the same:-)
June 7 at 2:03pm Like 3
Sush Vij So amazing. Realizing and practicing are two
different things. It is so nice to read this and keep up the
practice. Thank you for sharing.
June 7 at 3:50pm via mobile Unlike 2
Anjani Duddu This is so true that we all depend on
people ,external objects, situations and gadgets to make
us feel happy and secured . they give us only temporary
happiness and security , until we wake up to this reality
we are caught up in this samsara.
June 7 at 5:31pm Like 2
Shivaram Krishnan I feel realizing and practicing are
the same thing.
June 7 at 7:43pm Like 3
Shivaram Krishnan If not, one just needs to listen
again. hear again.
June 7 at 7:44pm Like 2

Bede Clifford you might discover the value of non
harmfulness and be clear about what you get by living
that value as a way of life and understand what you
lose by nor living that way. But to assimilate that value
you must consciously and deliberately make that
understanding and your way of living come together to
form a whole. Swami Dayananda is very clear on this in
his book value of values. To assimilate a value requires
awareness and the exercising of our discrimination
between what is right and what is wrong and our choice
over action. These are the three faculties my teacher says
makes us human beings different from Animals.When
our understanding and our way of living are one and
the same our realizing and practicing are one and the
same. the bridge to this is awareness, discrimination
and choice over action. Value of values is my existential
bible. It deals with existential knowledge. knowledge of
values related to how we live our lives. this knowledge is
distinct from the ontological (truth of being) knowledge
which is the truth of what we are. in the context of this
knowledge the discrimination that applies is between
what is eternal and what is transient. in the context of
our daily living the discrimination between what is
right and what is wrong is the important one. The
practice of karma yoga transforms the quality of our
minds in order to make it subtle enough to listen to and
understand the ontological teaching. This is the only
way the teaching can work according to my teacher.
Our fundamental choice in terms of living is being a
mindless reactor or being a conscious, discriminative
and responsive doer. Without this we can't change our
way of living. if we don't change the way we are living
our minds remain the same. Understanding and living
must be brought together. This is what firmly establishes
the understanding in us.I suggest you read "Action and
Reaction" and "Value of Values" they contain the

existential teaching. the teaching that deals with the
transformation of the way we live in the world.
June 7 at 8:17pm Like 5
Shivaram Krishnan In some cases I trusted SPS ji, in
other cases I did not follow what he told, and learnt the
hard way
June 7 at 8:47pm Like 1
Shanta Sankaran Our usual problem is that we view
these values as something that we 'have to' rather than
what we 'want to'. When reasoning given in this article
is understood, we can see that the practice can reduce
and eventually remove our mental suffering in our
every day life.
That additional immediate gain in terms of mental
peace and health can provide us the motivation.
June 8 at 5:20am Like 2
Bede Clifford Shanta you make a very good point here. If
a value is not our value then our minds will not tend
towards it. It is only by the discovery for ourselves the
value of a value. Swami Dayananda says "when the
value of the value becomes valuable to me it is only then
that the value is mine. Without trying i will have a
striving in me that tends toward that value. Only then
can I effectively practice living it. Dharma is written in
our hearts. It is the voice of God. in every situation we

face we will listen to the voice of God in the form of a
prompting to do what is right or we will listen to the
voice of our disires and aversions prompting us to do
they prompt us to do. my teacher says that surrendering
our will to dharma is the true bharkti because we
surrender to the lord in the form of dharma.
June 8 at 6:23am Like 5
Bede Clifford we either serve the Lord by responding to
what is given by his hand. or we serve our desires and
aversions. It is in our very best interests to serve the lord
by listening and obeying. this brings us into harmony
with the the universe obtaining as the law and order.
god does not punish us for our sins. Swamini says it is
like if we eat poisonous food we get a belly ache this is
simply how the laws work. it is not personal. If we protect
Dharma Dharma will protect us. we can rely on this
principle because it is relying on God.
June 8 at 6:31am Like 2
Vinita Lakshmy Venkataraman This part of your article
raised a doubt - is it necessary to first experience the
suffering due to this dependence in order to gain
freedom ? Is there a natural sequence here - first
samsara and then moksha ?
June 8 at 7:43am Like

Ashwin Khambadkone Suffering happens due to wrong
assumption that I am with limited adjuncts...if there is
no wanting or wanting to is freedom. Atman
is always free...confusion causes the assumption that one
is limited...removal of that false notion removes the need
for external objects. Concept of freedom is only for them
who assumed that they were not free.
June 8 at 7:46am Unlike 3
Shivaram Krishnan So have I done a mistake by
assuming I am not free.; ) ( trick question )
June 8 at 7:55am via mobile Like
Bede Clifford Dayanada says something to the effect
that only when we see that we suffer the disease will we
see the value of the solution. with this said Vedanta
study will make this clearer as well. the recognition of
our dependence on objects as an existential condition of
slavery. the condition is an "as though condition". it is
not a reality but an expereince. if it was our reality
there would be no solution. but the desire for moksha is
what will make our minds turn to vedanta more and
more .good desire to have. a blessing in fact even
though it is resolved in the final vision. when you need
objects for your happiness you will suffer. every time
people don't do what you want you will hate consciously
or unconsciously.when you lose what you think you need
you will be sad.the thought that you might lose what you
have is the basis of fear.
June 8 at 7:59am Unlike 3

Shivaram Krishnan I think its like watching a 3d movie
with 3d glasses. Guru gives you a nice 3d glass (
teaching) one has to wear it and see. But in order to
wear it we need some preparation, the head does not
accept this 3d glass. So we do karma yoga and finally
the glass that is in the pocket all the time ( enough
shravanam nidhidhyasansm) and you just wear it and
see . Things become bit clearer. Same old movie though
June 8 at 8:02am via mobile Unlike 2
Ashwin Khambadkone Assumption is I am limited and I
need something or need to become someone. Freedom is
need from external objects and circumstances.
June 8 at 8:03am Like
Bede Clifford Shivaram very nice analogy
June 8 at 8:09am Like
Bede Clifford here is a few quotes by my teacher the last
one is very important and tends to be overlooked.
June 8 at 8:16am Like
Bede Clifford Stillness
Stillness is always with us. When it is discovered, you

never lose it; if it is attained, it does not stay.

Love is nonfaultfinding accommodation.

Meditation upon anything other than the nature of the
Atma will simply result in mental steadiness. Meditation
upon the nature of the Atma alone (contemplation) will
result in its ascertained vision, which itself is moksha.

Karma yoga without jnanam (knowledge) will be
incomplete. Jnanam without karma yoga will be
June 8 at 8:16am Unlike 8
Shivaram Krishnan Ya I often felt the last one was
important. Thanks for this.
June 8 at 8:18am via mobile Like
Ashwin Khambadkone Excellent! Stillness discovered.
Swami Dayananda says Karma Yoga is attitude.
Attitude comes from knowing what is most important.
June 8 at 2:28pm Edited Like 1


Part 3 Conversations
o 13 people like this.
Shantti Chandra Depend on the guru, scripture and
God Is the truth.It will lead us to the right path and it
will open our eyes to the things that we could not see
June 16 at 7:40am Like 2


Part 4 Conversations
o Prashant Parikh and 18 others like this.
Dinesh Vasandani Your discussion is very similar to the
teaching of observing or witnessing the mind. Ex - I am
upset with someone vs oh my mind is upset and I the self
is the observer of the mind. Pretty cool stuff
June 11 at 4:59am via mobile Like
Bede Clifford When it comes to the teaching about
observing or witnessing the mind Swami Dayananda
has an interesting take on this. He says you are the
problem you are the solution. We tend to think other
things are the problem. People, conditions and in this
case the mind. This is an unfortunate erroneous idea.
One my teacher cured me of early on thank God. I had
suffered from this erroneous all my life and as a result
engaged in a lot of wasted effort struggling with the

When I was formally studying psychotherapy I was
taught and believed the problem was the mind. This is
understandable because people present with depression,
anger, anxiety, interpersonal conflict, compulsively
doing things that are not in their best interests and
compulsively not doing what would be in their best
interests. Because people think that the mind is the
problem they think that the mind is upset and because of
this they set about trying to do something about it. If
they take a spiritual approach they try to deal with the
mind by witnessing it in order to deal with the problem.

This is a misdirected effort. Swami Dayananda has a
radically different view and a radically different

A mental reaction is a happening and it can be
unpleasant just like cold weather. But that is never the
problem. The problem is not centred on the mind it is
centred on I. I am the one who is angry say. Not my
mind is angry. When the I sense and the emotional
reaction become one and the same then I have a sense
of identity with the emotion. It is as though I have
become the mind. In this case the mind in the form of
the anger. (we never become anything in terms of
reality because we are always ourselves) If the mind is
the problem then the solution is out of our hands.
Through the teaching I can come to a sense of myself as
distinct from the mind /sense/ body complex. Not the
idea that I am distinct from the mind, but a real sense
of myself as distinct from my mind. When a mental
reaction occurs I either don't become it but am myself
in spite of it. Or if I do become it as soon as I take
ownership of my sense of myself as distinct from the mind
there is no problem. This happens when the
understanding (what I am in the light of the scriptures)
becomes active in me because when this happens I will
recover this sense of myself. The mind was never the
problem it was my being identified with the anger. I am
also the solution.

The differentiation of the subject of knowledge from the
objects of knowledge is vital as a first step In Vedanta.
This is not an idea but the discovery of a sense of myself
as distinct from the mind body complex. My teacher
made it very clear from the beginning you can't
contemplate what you don't know. The contemplative
disposition of the mind can't arise without this first

basic step. This is not mystical or some spiritual la la
land. It is simply cognitive. This disposition is simply the
disposition towards simply being with myself as myself.
This is not possible when my sense of self is the same as
my physical condition, sense organs, organs of action
and the condition of the mind.

When I am with myself as myself the mind is never a
problem. It is true that in the ultimate vision the truth
of the observer and the truth of the object are one and
the same. But there is no epistemological(in terms of
knowledge) leap from identification with the mind to
the total vision . Unless you happen to be a Ramana
Marharshi. We have to discover a distinctness as a
knowing subject from the mind/body/sense complex first.
June 11 at 9:52am Like 9
Ashwin Khambadkone Nidhidyasana! continuous and
conscientious effort to bring in the teaching in every
June 11 at 1:11pm Like 1
Ravi Easwaran The Yoga Sutras also given a keen
insight into this. I am giving the first four sutras in
Chapter 1; along with my commentary (any defects are
solely mine )- The fourth Sutra tells us that as long as
we do not see the mind as something separate from "I" ,
we are bound to experience its modifications.

Now begins the study of Yoga .

Atha = Now. : Yoga= Yoga-the science of Unity;
Anushashanam study, discipline.

Atha means Now. It can be taken to mean that this is
the appropriate time to begin the study of Yoga Sutras.
What is meant by Now ? The present moment. The past is
over. No action is possible in the past. The future has not
yet come. No action is possible in the future. Therefore
the only time to begin the study is the present moment.
The import of this statement is that that best time to
begin the study of yoga is just now. Do not wait for the
future, for there is no certainty about the future. Begin

: ||1.02||

Yoga is the cessation of modifications of the mind.
(a) YogaDerived from the Sanskrit root Yuj meaning
to yoke, join, unite. Yoga is therefore the term used to
describe the practices through which we (Jiva-
individual consciousness) unite with the Atman
(Universal Consciousness).
(b) Citta.. There is no exact equivalent in English for
Citta. It may be noted that Citta used in the Yoga
Sutras is not the same as the Citta of Vedanta. Citta of
Vedanta is one role in the four roles played by the mind
ie Manas, Buddhi, Citta and Ahankar. In Vedanta Citta
is used to refer to the mind when it is delving into
memory. Patanjali however uses the term to refer to the
total mind, a use which has led commentators to coin
expressions like mind stuff to explain the meaning of
the phrase. If one consults the Sanskrit dictionary, one
sees various meanings adduced to it eg. noticing,

wishing, thinking, aiming, intending, reasoning,
observing, imagining, reflecting, memory,
attending,knowledge, intelligence etc. For our purposes
it is simpler to equate the Citta here to the human
mind and as the dictionary analysis it will consist of the
sum totality of the various tasks performed by the mind
ie to say Citta takes on the task of the manifestation of
Consciousness in us. It may be noted that the word
comes ftom the Sanskrit root Cit meaning to be made
aware or conscious.

(c) Vritti- Derived from root Vrt meaning to moving,
turning. Thus the word Vritti indicates movement --
Where ? In the Citta. In the mind. The Citta at rest can
therefore be thought of as the Ocean and the Vrittis as
the waves in the Ocean. A very apt comparison as the
force of the Vrittis are as much, if not more, than the
force of the waves.

(d) Nirodha- meaning prevention, stilling,
confinement, suppression.

As noted above, Vritti is movement in the mind. What
are these Vrittis ? When the mind moves, it gets modified
and it is this modification which is called a thought.
These are thoughts, emotions, desires, likes and dislikes
which arise in the mind. It is important to realize that
the Vritti is not a different entity from the Citta. That is
why we use the term modification in the same sense
that we understand a Wave to be a modification in the
otherwise calmness of the Ocean. Hence when the
modifications have ceased, thoughts have ceased. Many
spiritual and meditation teachers tell us Empty your
mind. It is not as if you can take vacuum cleaner and
take away the Vrittis. These are part of the Citta and the
only way to calm the mind is to take steps to see that the

disturbances die away. For that we need to look at the
root cause of such disturbances.

: .

Then, the witness regains his own form.

(a) Tada- Then
(b) Drustr (uhu)- witness (of) of the witness
(c) Sva Own
(d) Rupe form
(e) Avasthana- residence, abiding, taking up, standing

The word Tada is usually paired with Yada ie Yada
Tada ie to say Yada condition X Tada Condition Y. In
English we can translate roughly as When.then.
Therefore in the previous Sutra Yada is to be
understood. Therefore the two Sutras are to be read in
conjunction and the meaning is to be understood as
When the modifications of the mind cease, then the
Witness resides in his own nature, own true form.
Who is the witness ? The individual soul the Jiva. The
Jiva is the one who resides in this body and uses this
Body-mind-Intellect complex as a vehicle for its journey
through life. Unfortunately, the Jiva, through
ignorance, is completely identified with the Body Mind-
Complex and is convinced that this (complex) is his true
nature. This being so, all the experiences which the body
mind complex is subject to in the journey of life are
taken by the Jiva as its own experiences and therefore
the Jiva(we) experience all the ups and downs of life
which we call likes, dislikes, joy, sorrow etc. It is not the
experiences themselves which bother us is our

reactions to those experiences which cause the pleasure
and pain. These reactions are what we call thoughts..the
Vrittis in the Citta.
These Vrittis are disturbances and, as we all know, at
times when the flow of thoughts slow down ( early
morning, approaching sleep or just getting up ), we
experience a sense of peace. This peace is because as the
thoughts slow down, the veil between Atman, our true
nature-Svarupa, and us gets thinner. In truth, the
thoughts themselves are the material from which this
veil is constructed. As thoughts thin down, it is the faint
ray of bliss of the Atman, shining through the veil, that
causes us to be more peaceful at such times. Imagine
then the Bliss that will arise when all thoughts cease, the
veil completely vanishes and we are established in the
The Sutra confirms this by stating that when thoughts
have been stilled, what remains is our true nature
(Svarupa), the Atman.


| |1.04||
At other times he is identified with the Modifications.
(a) Vritti- modifications in the Citta, ie thoughts
(b) Sarupa- like, resembling, having the same form.
Sarupya therefore means having the same form as
(c) Itaratra- on the other hand, at other times, else

At other times, ie when the witness is not resting in his
true nature, when the mind is not free of thoughts, the
witness takes on the form of the Vritti, the thought.
Therefore, when there are thoughts in the mind and you
are therefore not in a state of Yoga, at that time you are

identified with whatever thought has arisen in the
mind. Thus if you are reliving an experience which was
joyful, you will be happy, if the thought is a sad one, you
will be sad.
These four sutras form the philosophical backbone of
Raja Yoga. They tell us that as long as we allow our
mind to reign uncontrolled, there will be thoughts and
whenever there are thoughts, we have forsaken our basic
nature which is Bliss, and we are doomed to experience
the emotional content of those thoughts.
June 14 at 10:11am Like 2
Bede Clifford This is a group whose subject matter is the
teaching of Vedanta as unfolded by swami Dayananda
. It is no a forum for other things even things that in
another context my be very good and valuable. There
are other forums dedicated to such matters. If you wish
to discuss the subject matter that this group is restricted
to you are most welcome. But please stick to topic
June 15 at 2:00am via mobile Like 6
Bede Clifford I see that the post I was referring to has
been deleted.
June 17 at 3:34am via mobile Like
Shanta Sankaran You are very right about the process of
becoming determined about the practice. This is
especially true as societal opinion is opposed to it and so

one needs a real strong sense of affiliation to the
teacher and the idea.
But I believe that the practice itself gives one a strong
internal motivation and an enthusiasm in every-day
life. Would you agree?
June 22 at 11:20am Like
Bede Clifford Yes I do agree in this sense. Because we are
talking about Vedanta it always starts with inquiry and
the fruit of that inquiry is discovery and understanding.
This forms the context for practice. When our
understanding and the way we live becomes one and
the same a sense of wholeness becomes very evident. This
is what the practice of an understanding is. We
consciously and deliberately make our way of living
conform to our our understanding with the result being
that our understanding and our way of living ARE ONE
AND THE SAME. As you say an enthusiasm becomes
evident. Because practice is understanding in the form
of our way of living in the world it is important in itself
as you say. It is not understanding and then practice as
a lesser thing. It is the understanding in the form of
practice. In this way practice is very meaningful.
June 24 at 2:51am Like 1
Shanta Sankaran My experience is that serious
practitioners exude enthusiasm and motivation even
when they are doing the mundane tasks. While others
complain and moan, these people are not mindlessly
happy, but they are aware and thinking about what
they are doing - only they manage to see the good and

positive missed by others. I used to think that it was the
result of their constant practice and it's associated
Now, reading your analysis, it seems that they are just
living their understanding - not making a marathon
effort for maintaining their motivation.
Yesterday at 9:13am Like
Bede Clifford That right. we can practice when we are
not enthusiastic about it.we start to practice when we
might feel alot of inertia but then we go into activity
despite how we feel. and then we often move into a
lighter state.but maybe not. the feelings are not the
point. because we realize the value of knowledge we
engage in practice despite feelings. if we see the value of
practice we will practice even if we don't feel like it
which in the beginning we won't. at least this is what i
found. we can't judge our practice on the basis of
feeling. when i began to withhold saying what i felt and
did not give expression to the urge it was hard because i
wanted to. I would not feel good about it but i
understood it was in my best interests for me to speak
unless it was helpful. Awareness and discrimination and
acting on these is the whole point of practice. leave
results up to God.. feelings come and go they are not the
basis of evaluation of our practice or our
understanding. what we do is because this we have
choice over action not the feelings. in spite of not feeling
motivated we can just do it. i hope this is helpful
Yesterday at 9:43am Like 1


Part 5 Conversations

o You, Prashant Parikh and 15 others like this.
Ashwin Khambadkone @Bede: In order to come to the
understanding that it is the way of seeing and not
doing there should have been a certain amount of
receptivity to the teaching. In addition, from what you
describe there is a certain amount of acceptance that I
can't fix myself as I have tried it. This would lead to
surrendering the doing and becoming. This acceptance
would be brought about by living the values. Living a
life of values is making deliberate choices. It will appear
I am doing something if I believe I have an object to
achieve. However, if there is shradha in teaching, this
apparent doing is also acceptance: acceptance of
Ishwara. So it looks like to get to the real starting point
of vedanta, one needs both the acceptance of the
teaching and living in the light of teaching. Otherwise
the living in light would be perceived by me as self-
June 16 at 4:49am Like 2
Bede Clifford when you discover something that your
intellect can't help but give consent to it. knowledge
does not depend on the choice nor is it an action. when
we see the value of values making our acts conform to
them is seen in our best interest. in this as you say there
is not trying to improve our self but only making our
acts conform to what we know to be good and right. we

are not trying to be a "good person" but be in harmony
with the law and order in the form of dharma.
June 16 at 9:29am Like 4

Part 6 Conversations
o 9 people like this.
Ashwin Khambadkone Beautiful!
June 17 at 1:55pm Like
Shantti Chandra Harih Om! "Learn to live in the light of
dharma not in the light of my desires and aversions if I
wished to live a happier and more peaceful life". Very
clear explanation. Its my morning Prasad, Thank you ji!
June 18 at 3:17am Like 1

Part 7 Conversations
o 9 people like this.
Ashwin Khambadkone While growing up I have seen
many people (including my mother) living a life where
they went about doing things that needed to be done
and not what the desired to do. But poor understanding
of Dharma by me and people around made it sound as
if these people were sacrificing their lives (desires and
ambition) for others. Karma yoga interpreted as work
without desire for fruits of action added to the
confusion and made their lives sound like life in
servitude. Swami Dayananda's explanation shows how
Karma yoga is about making an informed choice in
light of knowledge (Karma kausalam) and acting out
with understanding of Ishwara makes karma yoga an
act of love (devotion to Ishwara). If that attitude is
continuously recognized then it would make life of
dharma smoother else it is very difficult indeed. One
acts foolishly then feels the pain of dharma rubbing
against you, wakes up to the values and rededicates to
following dharma. - Thanlks for the thought provoking
write Bede.
June 22 at 4:30am Like 3
Shivaram Krishnan It is to be sensitive and live real by
heart. It may be difficult but it is more lovely.
June 22 at 4:53am via mobile Like 1

Raj Kumar Bede ji, Lets say, the old woman saw you
immersed in reading the book. Wasn't her dharma to
not disturb you ? She wanted to strike a conversation so
that she could get some pleasure from it and drive away
the loneliness. this might be a rather simple scenario.
But in case of a more complex scenario, are we to
honour our dharma just to please someone who is
adharmic ? Say, there is a terrorist who is wounded and
wants your help to get medical help. Once you offer the
help he is going to be healthy again and maybe blast a
bomb. What should be your dharma in that case ?
June 22 at 7:27am Like 2

@Raj ji take him to a military hospital

June 22 at 7:31am via mobile Like 1
Raj Kumar @Shyam... In that case they are going to kill
him anyways
June 22 at 7:33am Like

yes thats what usually happens. but yes we

can let him die!
June 22 at 7:38am via mobile Like

Bede Clifford From what I understand dharma comes to
us as a clear and distinct sense of right or wrong given
the situation we find ourselves within and a prompting
to move in that direction. This disire to follow dharma
is not present without seeing the value of it. When I
studied philosophy we would talk about what is right
and what is wrong. Dharma in the sense I am talking
about it is not philosophical it is rather a responsiveness
based on awareness and discrimination. It is not a
prescription or a rule or a question as to what is right or
wrong. We do or not do or do differently in the light of
June 22 at 7:39am Like 1

On the other hand pujya swamiji says

there is no criminal only criminal mind/personlaity
June 22 at 7:39am via mobile Like
Bede Clifford Also dharma is not a measure we apply to
others. That puts our attention on the wrong issue which
is always our awareness of the situation we are in and
the basis from which we act. our binding desires and
aversions or our awareness of dharma.
June 22 at 7:42am Like 3
Gokul Kenath Raj. Well said. Mostly, an act of Dharma
will not be complete, if it is unilateral.


Yes. One can only play his part to perfection. Thats the
'Swadharmaparipalanam'. But, in a common cause,
that Swadharmaparipalanam needs to occur from all
June 22 at 10:38am via mobile Like 1
Bede Clifford true, however I have found if my sense of
dharma involves any sense of demand about how others
act and forms the basis of my judgement of them I will
resist facts and re actively act. Applying dharma to
others is fine in the sense of an objective view of their
behavior. Any more than that causes trouble and we
become disturbed by our own demands.i am speaking of
something that occurs at each moment of our ordinary
lives and its effect on our mind so we can appreciate the
teaching.the conflict between what i would like to do as
opposed to the best thing to do based on awareness,
discrimination and choice over action. We all have a
tendency to move away from what we are doing, what
we are saying and how we are saying it.Our guilt makes
us judge others to relieve a sense of defect that lies with
ourselves. In a relative world none of our daily acts will
be perfect but can be good enough for us to change the
quality of our minds in order to hear the teaching. what
other people do is Gods business. I do the best I can by
making my way of living conform to dharma..
June 22 at 11:00am Like 3
Gokul Kenath Bede ji - Thats right. Making my act of
Dharma dependant on any other person's application of
the same or not has its own draw backs.

But, I was not commenting from an individual point of
view. However, from the Dharmic point of view itself and
for it to be comprehensive.
June 22 at 1:17pm via mobile Like
Shanta Sankaran While I understand your concept of
the acceptance of Dharma, one thing I dont understand
is how you arrived on what you consider as your
Dharma. I know that my understanding is lacking and
I cannot be sure that what I want or like is really the
best thing for me. My wants are changing and my likes
are fickle. So, how can I trust them for determining

As vaideeka followers we are traditionally told that this
is not something we as individuals can pick and choose
- no more than how a drama character cannot pick
and choose the story line.

What is the vedantic approach to identifying one's
Yesterday at 11:32am Like
Bede Clifford there are two different cognitive orders.
one is in reference to desires and aversions. we can't
trust them in terms of what is right or wrong. the other is
awareness and discrimination. the discrimination
between what is right and wrong is given. we know what
is right and know what is right and what is wrong. the
question is do we see the value of what is right and what

is wrong. we might feel like saying something critical of
another. but on the other hand we know that we would
not like others to speak about us behind our backs. what
do we choose to do. Listen to dharma which is in the
form of our knowledge of right and wrong and make
our acts conform to that. in other words don't speak
badly of another. Or do we go with the desire to say
something bad about another. as you say desires come
and go dharma in the form of our knowledge of right
and wrong is always with us.i only know what i have
been taught by my teacher. It is not my dharma it is the
light of dharma. Swami Dayananda says we can desire
to live a dharmic is one of the human strivings.
there is a satisfaction in satisfying it.there is such a
thing as a dharmic desire and it is a very good desire to
have. it becomes active in us when we discover the value
of dharma which means that we see it is in our very best
interests to follow dharma. in this tradition disires are
fine it is the binding ones that are the problem.
Yesterday at 1:26pm Like 3
Bede Clifford we have to choose which voice to listen to
on a daily basis the voice of dharma or the voice of our
desires and aversions. this tradtion teaches that
dharma is not an external code to be followed but a
knowledge to conform our acts to.
Yesterday at 1:52pm Like 3
Shanta Sankaran Living a dharmic life is a very
important goal that underpins everything else, which is
why I think we need to be clear about how to decide

what are roles, duties and how to perform them. It is the
knowing the right and wrong part you mention that I
still dont get.
A spiritually evolved person may 'know', but the majority
of us dont - at least at the time of action. Which is why
you have the saying about hind-vision being 20-20.
A great saint once talked about how he tried to save a
beetle that had fallen from the roof and was being
attacked by ants. So he saved the beetle and then found
later that it went about eating up all the ants. He
explained how this made him question his notion of
right and wrong.
So what is right and what is wrong? Does each
individual gets to decide this? If so, then chances are
that we will delude ourselves and manage to reason
everything we like as dharmic and everything that we
dont like as adharmic. Bhagavad Geeta chapter 1 and
beginning of 2 provide an excellent example of this.
13 hours ago Like
Shivaram Krishnan I thought elders and gurus can
guide. And generally one has an idea, when one feels
guilt etc. Its also in the family.
13 hours ago Like
Bede Clifford The knowledge of right and wrong is not
what we can decide on. It is given. We can only conform
our acts to it. I KNOW I don't want to be cheated.
Therefore on this basis I KNOW that others would find
this painful. I KNOW I dont wished to be betrayed and
because I KNOW this I KNOW others would not like that

to happen to them. I KNOW I don't like being attacked so
I KNOW it is not right to attack.I don't find for myself
think that this knowledge is a delusion. This according
to Swami Dayananda is the basis of our knowledge of
right and wrong. This is not something we decide it is a
blessing that we have been given. If I discover the value
of this value of living a life of Dharma I will desire to
live this way and will learn to live in this way. The value
of non harmfulness is not possible without the knowledge
of what is harmful and what it is not. If we don't have a
knowledge of right and wrong we would as you say
making a guess or relying on others to guide us. Not to
say that in some situations we seek guidance about
issues. We do justify ourselves when we commit harmful
acts. And we do rationalise why following our desires
that harm others is good. This is true. But Swami
Dayanada and my teacher emphatically state that we
are blessed with a knowledge of right and wrong. If you
read the value of values I think it might clear up this
matter. Even though we may be ignorant about the
truth of ourselves we are not ignorant of right and
wrong. It is knowledge it is given and there involves no
choice about it except in making our actions conform to
it. It is an important point you raise and one that we
need to be very clear about.
13 hours ago Like
Gokul Kenath Samanya Dharma is there 'built in'
everyone. Thats in the Human DNA, so to speak. One only
needs to have Chittha Suddhi for this Samanya Dharma
to get clear for him. Only Vishesha Dharma needs to be
learned or thought.


No one needs to teach a fish to swim. That knowledge is
'built in' for a fish. Same with, Samanya Dharma for a

Yes, the Prarabdha Karmas or the acquired Vasanas
from many births could overpower this sense of Samanya
Dharma in one and make him act against it. Thats
where factors like Ishwars's Grace or Chittha Suddhi
come into picture for not letting that happen.
13 hours ago Like
Shanta Sankaran You are very lucky if your mental
powers are always under control and the process of
dharmic life is as simple as just 'know and make a
choice'. But knowledge and intellect are limited. When
there is no emotional attachment, the intellect does a
good job of discrimination and helps figure the correct
course of action. However, when emotions run high, it
can and will kidnap the intellect and the intellect is put
to task to find a reaon to support the emotional need.
This is the plight of the ordinary person. We are ones
whose will weakens and makes an excuse to eat another
bar of chocolate when we 'know' it is bad for us. The
knowing just leaves us guilty, and obviously we need
more help. That is what I am trying to get ask about.
9 hours ago Edited Like


Part 8 conversations
o Prashant Parikh and 7 others like this.
Ashwin Khambadkone Can relate to the writing very
well...struggling with the same friction...keen to read
what comes next...
Yesterday at 1:23am Like 1
Subbu Subramaniam This is the difference between when
we're in the middle of traffic on the street vs watching
the traffic below from a tall building
Yesterday at 2:39am Like 1


Part 9 conversations
o Shanta Sankaran likes this.
Shanta Sankaran Bede, there are 2 Part 7s. Would it be
possible to renumber this and newer ones? If not, at least
make this one 7A?
But keep them coming even if you choose to number
them backwards
about an hour ago Like
Shanta Sankaran I guess hindu children are exposed to
similar logic from a tender age in our traditional
bedtime stories. I had my share of stories and Q&A
sessions with my grand-mother.
For example, there was Ravana, the bad rakshasa king
of Lanka was killed by Sri Rama. Now what happened to
him? Did he go to hell? No he was killed by Sri Rama
and so he did not.
The story of Lord Krishna in Bhagavatam is even more
explicit. A number of these sinful characters try to kill
Lord Krishna. Putana had killed a number of babies
before she tries her hand with Krishna and meets her
end. Bhagavatam states clearly that these characters
were merged into Krishna or entered swarga.

It is this same grand-mother promising me dire
consequences if I lied or cut up the garden plants, now
telling the story of all these bad beings rescued. You can
imagine the questioning from the child 'why?' 'not fair'

etc.. and the answer from the grand-mother would be 'It
is Bhagavan's leela'.
12 minutes ago Like


Part 10 conversations
Like Share July 1 at 9:39am
o Prashant Parikh, Shanta Sankaran and 11 others like
Subbu Subramaniam The Ninja stance conveys it so well
... ready, intense, alert .. I can go on and on shri
gurubhyO namaha !
Tuesday at 2:46am Like
Bede Clifford In that sense yes. But swami Dayananda
uses it in the sense of having a fighting attitude not the
zen type sense in the blue book. This book contains a
complete view of psychology in the light of Vedanta .
Especially the section called Vedanta and the mind. In
all my studies I have never came across such clarity and
depth. It corrected my western psychological notions
and showed them in their correct light. You bring up a

good point. When we are accommodating we are alert to
what is happening and ready to respond instead of
blindly react.
Tuesday at 3:07am via mobile Like
Subbu Subramaniam Agree ... and I may not know ALL
the subtleties conveyed by a Ninja
Tuesday at 3:28am Like


Part 11 conversations
Ashwin Khambadkone I guess to remind one of the
teaching there has to be a deep conviction in the values.
Yesterday at 2:36pm Like
Shivaram Krishnan Shraddha in teaching, using it like
a sense organs enables to connect and see. Even this
shraddha is not willed, but is itself through gururs
teaching, through knowledge and other sadhna
chatushtayam like mumumkshatvam.
Yesterday at 4:23pm via mobile Like
Yugant Sharma knowledge is covered by desire like fire
covered by smoke..
14 hours ago via mobile Like