Sunday, August 9, 2015
Sage Vasistha’s Jnana Yoga" – Br. Shankara
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August is a month for the study of Jnana Yoga, an approach to realization through analysis, discrimination, and reason. The goal is freedom from all limitation. Our scriptures and teachers say that life’s misery — its sense of imprisonment — is caused by seeing inaccurately (maya). The jnana yogi may break through this framework of delusion and see only the Divine everywhere, in every thing and everyone.
While still a young prince, Lord Rama tours Ayodhya, the kingdom he is to inherit. He sees samsara — the “quiet desperation” of human life — in all its many forms. Rama returns home depressed and disillusioned; his father, King Dasaratha, worries that Rama will renounce the world.
The king seeks advice from the Great Sage Vasistha, who assures him that Rama’s dispassion (vairagya) is no cause for concern. Instead, it a sign that Rama has begun to understand profound spiritual truths and is ready for spiritual enlightenment.
Rama’s father summons the prince to his court, where Vasistha begins a course of instruction that goes on for 21 days. His teachings and the answers to Rama’s questions are the scripture we know as Yoga Vasistha. The essence of that discourse was translated into English by Swami Sarvadevananda as, “Nectar of Supreme Knowledge.”
Vasishta offers the young prince many spiritual truths, including these from Chapter 2 – The Unreal Nature of the Universe:
“O my dear child! How strange is this world-bewitching maya! Being deluded by this maya, one cannot know the Self; though the Self has pervaded all through the limbs of the body.” (2:7) And, “As (a stage set) or as the mirage water in the desert, are not true, in the similar manner this observable universe is not true.” (2:8)
In this talk, Br. Shankara discusses these verses, and others that explain what the sage means by “not true,” and tell us how to escape maya’s “magic show” and realize the all-pervading, ever blissful Self that is our birthright.