Last updated on 20th December 2016
Thought I should share a comment I made on a Facebook post which had some views on Advaita
Thought I would add my two bits here:
I have heard Bhagavan say in public discourses LIVE in Sai Kulwant Hall, "Mano moolam idam Jagath" i.e. the mind is at the root (is the cause) of this world. Which implies that if one is able to die-mind then the illusive jagath (world) disappears, leaving behind the eternal Atma (self) alone.
I have also heard Bhagavan in public discourses LIVE in Sai Kulwant Hall talk about "Tath Twam Asi" Mahavakya (great pithy statement) from the Upanishads - You are that. Implying that all of us (at our essential reality level) are God. But I found one discourse of his that I heard LIVE sitting in Sai Kulwant Hall, to be very, very useful in my own spiritual journey where he said "I am I". Maybe he had said that in discourses earlier too but I had not caught it properly. This time it went home very well, like a light bulb being switched on. To me it meant that at the ultimate reality level there is only I the Atma/Self, which projects the whole universe.
In earlier in-depth Advaita type discourse segments I have heard him very strongly emphasize that there is ONLY ONE not TWO. While I don't recall the exact words right now it was something like if one says You are God someone might (incorrectly) view it as there are two entities here You and God, and that the entity you is God (or of the same essence as God). If I recall correctly, Swami would hammer in that NO there aren't two, you and God, there is ONLY GOD.
I think that I cottoned on to this aspect of Bhagavan's teaching much better when he put it as I am I. Fascinatingly I read somewhere about Judaism having this revelation/teaching of I am that I am, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_that_I_Am.
About getting rid of false identification with body-mind-ego to realize oneself as the Atma: Sometimes, Moksha (liberation) is explained as a combination of Moha (infatuation/delusion) and Kshaya (destruction). One of Swami's discourses that I read explained this, and, if I recall correctly, said that removal of the infatuation/false identification with the body (& the world) was Moha-Kshaya i.e. Moksha which would then allow the divine Atma/self to be experienced. So liberation (moksha) is not something external to ourselves that we have to gain; it is just removal of the false (Maya) to realize that we are the unchanging Atma/Self/Awareness.
I shared the above comments on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1673426742873896. I have given below my comment exchange on that Facebook post with Sai Das. Please note that Sai Das was OK with me sharing his comments on this FREE blog.
Sai Das wrote:
For many years, Swami taught Tat Tvam Asi (that thou art) and So Ham (I am He/That) and emphasized bhakti with told many traditional Hindu bhakti stories. Towards the last 10-15 years or so, to me He started shifting more towards Advaita Vedanta. It went from I am He/That to I am I to I AM I to just I AM. This is when I began to seriously shift my attention to Jnana yoga from Bhakti yoga. I haven't discarded Bhakti, just shifting my attention from it specifically. I consider my marga (path) to be Sai Jnana rather than just the commonly understood Advaita marga.
With Bhakti yoga, there is always duality and separation from God by definition. Many Bhaktas very much want to remain in duality while some want to merge with their Ishta Deva. With the latter, Bhakti becomes Advaita or non duality; different means to the same end.
When I was more of a Bhakta, I tended to think of Liberation as something to be achieved, acquired or bestowed from my current condition. When shifting my attention and focus to Advaita, I much better realized that it was my very nature; I understood that intellectually and objectively as a Bhakta. After some time, I noticed that my experience of "the world" changed; it became less and less of an objective experience and more subjective.
As you said, Maya really means false identification; seeing the unreal as real. What has been helpful for me is really seeing the waking state as a waking dream just as our sleeping dreams state is a sleeping dream. We are that which experiences the waking and sleeping dream states as well as the no dream state (deep sleep).
Liberation means liberation from false identification and it is the mind that creates this false identification. Liberation means the liberation from or end to the illusion of reincarnation and karma because there is nothing for karma to "cling to" and karma creates the illusion of reincarnation.
In MDH now, we see devotees who just aren't able or willing to graduate to the next level and are in my opinion, actually regressing by creating a form that isn't there to fill their need and actually perpetuates the maya of separation. This whole bizarre saga reminds me of the famous Hans Christian Anderson fable, The Emperors New Clothes....but I digress.
In conclusion, to me personally, in the last few years of Swami's physical presence, He was telling us it was time to shift our attention towards our real nature as God/Self/Pure Consciousness. I compare Swami's teachings to the traditional educational process where you continue to be educated and progress to the next level until you get your graduate degree. As we all know, some go on to that end directly, others dilly-dally, and others are held back and have to repeat.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Very interesting comment brother Sai Das. I guess I have been more of a theory Advaita guy right from my college days/youth as I had read large amount of Hindu scripture & commentary related to it (Upanishads and Bhagavad Geeta being the most important of them), but lacked faith in its truth. Sathya Sai gave me that faith in the Advaita taught in these Hindu scripture as he ENDORSED them. However, I also learned the power of Bhakti from Sathya Sai Himself (through darshan interactions as well as His discourses heard LIVE in Sai Kulwant Hall), and the Sathya Sai fraternity.
One landmark discourse that I heard LIVE in Sai Kulwant Hall which was a turning point for me, in terms of learning to rely more on my inner Sai/God/Self than the outer Sathya Sai, was Swami telling in a public discourse in Sai Kulwant Hall that nobody should take Padanamaskar of him from then on, as why should God take Padanamaskar of God. I considered this as my Guru's instructions and followed it (I had taken His Padanamaskar as Seva Dal in the second half of the 90s). However, I found that others continued the practise and Swami, perhaps in His role as Loving mother, did not stop them even if they were disobeying his instructions. I was a little confused with that but preferred to follow his publicly delivered instructions, and not get into judging what others are doing.
I think I had heard these instructions from Swami via public discourse in or after 2003 (but I am not sure about it). But he had said it earlier (as well). Here's an extract from his Guru Purnima 2001 discourse in Prasanthi Nilayam, http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume34/sss34-13.pdf:
I want to tell you one more point. You may feel pained by what I am going to tell you now, but I am happy about it. From today onward, I am not going to give Padanamaskar to anybody because I and you are one. God is present in all. Easwara Sarva Bhutanam (God is the indweller of all beings). Understand this truth. From today onward, I have resolved not to give Namaskar, to anybody. You may do Namaskar to your parents as they and you are not aware of the truth that God is present in all. Since I know the truth, I shall follow it. The same Atma is present in you, Me, and everyone else. So, no one needs to do Namaskars to anyone for that matter. If you still want to do Namaskar, do it mentally. Bring your palms together and say, “Swami, I offer my ten senses to You”. That is enough. You don’t need to touch My feet to do Namaskar. Understand the truth that God is in you and act accordingly. Then you become God. If somebody is given Namaskar, others are feeling jealous. I am stopping this practice of giving Namaskars only to see that such feelings of jealousy do not sprout in you. Wherever you are, offer your Namaskar mentally. That gives Me happiness. I have told you this many times, but you have not put it into practice. Touching Swami’s feet and extolling Him are wrong practices. From this Guru Purnima, develop sacred feelings and enjoy supreme peace and bliss.
--- end discourse extract ---
Ravi: What I recall hearing LIVE in Sai Kulwant Hall from Swami was on similar lines. What a MASTER he was! He wanted his devotees to go beyond attachment to His form, and experience that they are DIVINITY/God themselves! Perhaps one can consider this 2001 Guru Purnima discourse of Swami as a milestone in His physical body spiritual master mission, where he wanted devotees to now "Understand the truth that God is in you and act accordingly. Then you become God." In other words, he wanted devotees to get into Advaita stage.
BTW May I share your comment on my free spiritual blog, ravisiyer.blogspot.in, for the benefit of that blog's readers & visitors?
Sai Das wrote:
Of course you may share it Ravi S. Iyer
Even the great Advaita master Nisargadatta Maharaj did daily puja to his guru even up until his end and Ramana Maharshi accepted prasadam and often referred to holy forms. Re padnamaskar...it is the intention behind it. Swami is talking about the Divine acknowledging the Divine and not in the typical bhakti dualist separation gesture (not demeaning...just saying).
"Understand the truth that God is in you and act accordingly. Then you become God" - I don't mean to reinterpret anything Swami said but my take on this is that it should be understood in a certain context because Swami said many more times that "we are God"...not becoming God. I would say that the teaching in current context for Sai devotees (and anyone else) should be, "Understand the truth that you are God and act accordingly." This is a very important and potent teaching to ponder.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Will share your comment on my blog, thanks. Yes the words becoming God should NOT BE interpreted as people changing into something that already are not. But I think sometimes Advaita truths like you realize you are God do not go down well sometimes with the audience and so perhaps Swami used Telugu words which the audience could relate to better, and that got translated to English as "become God". I always felt that it was a HUGE TASK for Swami to convey highest truths to a large variety of devotees listening to his discourses. Sometimes he would use terms that made sense to most in the audience. E.g. I am your shadow. That conveyed how inseparable he was with his devotees. Then he hastened to clarify that not shadow but I am the indweller within you.
Sai Das wrote:
Ravi S. Iyer I have thought the same thing. I think that Swami is masterful how in one statement he can appeal to the unlearned and the learned. Swami is an Avatar for the masses so His teaching at large can't get to esoteric and still appeal to them. As you point out, there is more to His words than just their face value. As one Awakens, one can get deeper meaning from the same teachings. Having said that, "I do not speak through anyone else" can and should be taken at face value; it means exactly what it says. I couldn't resist that one. :-)
I also think Swami's teachings are seeds He plants within us to grow, mature, blossom and ultimately bear fruit. I believe it is incumbent on us to care and nurture these seeds and not just let them lie fallow. Back to the education analogy, all we are meant to learn from education has never been limited to just what is taught but what that education stimulates and produces.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
So well written, brother Sai Das. What a wonderful skill & gift you have in English expression! It is quite a treat to read some of your comments solely for your English!
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As I was browsing the net to get some Sathya Sai quotes on "Ekoham Bahusyam", I came across this very interesting document, in the context of I am I teaching of Bhagavan, http://www.sathyasai.org/files2010/I-Am-I.doc, titled "I am I" by Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation, seemingly dated 2010, having discourse extracts of Bhagavan related to I am I teaching of his.