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Postby Stan » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:59 am

Hi All,

James recently posted on our facebook site with an excerpt from his forthcoming book on the gunas.
It was posted as a responce to a swami dayananda teaching on the Mastery over the mind.
More updates about the release of the book as and when it becomes known. It promises to be a barn stormer !


When Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that atmavinigraha, mastery over the mind, is part of the preparatory knowledge for Self-knowledge, this qualification must be taken as relative.

What is relative mastery?

Complete mastery is characterized by spontaneity. If I am impulsive or conditioned, I am not a master. If I am deliberate, I am not a complete master. But through deliberateness I can be a relative master.

Relative mastery is characterized by alertness and deliberateness. I have relative mastery over my ways of thinking when I rationally examine my thoughts and either consciously accept them or dismiss them. Relative mastery means both submitting all impulse to rational scrutiny and breaking any habit of lapsing into mechanicalness.

Day after Day with Swami Dayananda

Here's an expansion of Swamiji's idea from my new book on the three gunas.

There are four types of thinking that you need to recognize before you can begin to work on yourself.

(A) Impulsive involuntary thinking. Maya is a very subtle, complex and difficult topic to understand. We are looking at it from the point of view of the three gunas, the basic energies that create, maintain and destroy all the objects in the field of existence. In addition to producing the three gunas, each of which has an upside and a downside, it creates a big downside for jivas with one of its powers, viparaya. Viparaya is a very important word so please commit it to memory. It means reversal. What does it reverse? It disastrously reverses the basic relationship between the self, the subject and the objects the self experiences. It so happens that the jiva, the doer/enjoyer entity, is an object known to the self. But the doer/enjoyer thinks it is the subject and everything else is an object! If it hears of the self, it understands the self to be another object and if it has spiritual vasanas it will be inclined to pursue it as an object, when in fact it is the essence of the doer/enjoyer. This futile pursuit is supported by most modern spiritual teachers. The samsari-seeker is informed that he or she must experience the self and that their methods will provide such experience, when in fact the seeker is, was, and ever will be experiencing the self, because the self is all there is. With the help of Vedanta, an enlightened person transcends the gunas, reverses the reversal and returns the subject and the objects to their natural order.

When the reversal takes place, a secondary reversal takes place in the jiva’s equipment; the natural relationship between the emotions and the intellect is also reversed. The intellect of mature samsaris and enlightened people is the boss and the emotions take their orders from it. But if you have been under the spell of Maya, meaning the gunas, for a very long time, you have never matured and your emotions call the shots. You ‘think’ with your feelings.

Feelings are not something that should do your thinking because they keep you from thinking. They are just unconscious reactions to events based on your likes and dislikes, your vasanas. Previously a certain situation caused anger, which may or may not have been justified but the next time a similar situation arises you become angry even though anger is totally inappropriate. If someone points out the fact that you are angry, the extent of your thinking usually involves (1) denying you are angry in an angry voice, and (2) providing copious reasons why anger is the right call. Obviously impulsive thinking is not the way to go if you want to control your destiny.

Vedanta has no quarrel with feelings and emotions. You are always feeling something. And if you are happy as your emotions push you around, fine. Unfortunately, nobody enjoys negative emotions. Negative emotions are generated by negative thoughts…thoughts that are not in harmony with the nature of reality…so glamorizing and romanticizing your feelings just keeps you from choosing the thoughts that produce enjoyable feelings

(B) Mechanical automatic thinking. At least impulsive thinking, painful as it maybe, makes you imagine that you are alive, which is probably better than mechanical thinking, which more or less reminds you that you are virtually dead. Most samsaris are little better than robots, sleepwalking through life, owing to the fact that they are completely controlled by their vasanas. Once you have your routines, the burden of conscious thought is lifted and, well, you do what you do. But then so does your watch. Unfortunately, mechanical thinking, haven that it is for the unimaginative, doesn’t work that well because the dharma field presents situations that require responses that are different from your stock replies. If you fail to respond appropriately, you can count on a dose of pain.

Projection and Denial

Projection and denial aren’t really ‘thinking’ as we understand the word because you are usually aware of your thoughts. These twin forces come from the deepest level of Maya and cause endless suffering. Projection is rajas. Projection means that avidya puts a thought in your mind that may or may not correspond to the reality of a given situation and tamas makes you think that the thought is the reality of the situation. It denies you access to the source so you think it is true because it is ‘your’ thought and that reality will benefit from it, which may or may not be true. In other words, you can’t tell the difference between what you think and what is going on in the world around.

Do thoughts actually belong to you? They do but they don’t. They don’t because they are generated unconsciously by habit vasanas born of self ignorance, but since no one but you identifies with them, they becomes ‘your’ thoughts. You could also argue that ‘you’ created the vasanas because vasanas don’t exist without actions and ‘you’ did the actions but did ‘you’ do them or did the gunas, which you didn’t create, cause the thoughts and the actions?

Other conscious beings who are the benefactors of your thoughts are unaware that avidya is the source and that avidya is hard at work in their subconscious minds projecting beliefs and opinions which they think are real, so they can’t understand what you mean and you can’t understand what they mean causing conflict, usually an argument.

Projection also means that you think the object that you’re experiencing, another person for instance, caused the thought, but is that true? For instance, you are riding in a car and your normally voluble companion is quiet, for no other reason than that she has nothing to say. But you believe that her silence is a comment on your driving, which hasn’t been particularly spectacular to be sure; you nearly collided with a car a few blocks back because your cell phone rang and you were fumbling in your purse to retrieve it, but you didn’t think it was your fault because you answer your phone all the time when you are driving and nothing happens so you blame (rajas) the other driver. Blame is the poster child for projection.

Anyway, as you pass a familiar landmark your companion says, ‘We’re almost there, we just passed the Pizza hut,” which you did. You were paying attention to the road after the close call so you didn’t see it, and because your mind was distracted by the irritation caused by the other driver who had just ‘carelessly jeopardized your life,’ to use your own words, you snapped at your companion, ‘’That wasn’t the Pizza Hut! It’s coming up.”

Your companion, who was quiet and paying attention to the scenery, calmly said, “No, that was the Pizza Hut” because it was. No projection, just an observable fact. This made you even angrier so you said, “You always contradict me!” which wasn’t true. It was just a statement of fact that interfered with your belief that the thought in your mind was real. Game on.

To wrap up this sad story, you honestly believed that your companion secretly thinks you are a bad driver, which does your self esteem no good. You honestly believed that the close call was the other guy’s fault and you sincerely believed that your companion was wrong about the location of the Pizza Hut. Nothing can convince you otherwise because you ‘experienced’ reality that way. You may have experienced reality that way but you didn’t experience reality unless reality for you is your thoughts.

(C) Deliberate thinking. The notion in the spiritual world that the mind needs to be destroyed or transcended if you want to be happy is caused by the belief that thought is only impulsive or mechanical. When you are under the spell of either or both types of thought you suffer. Your thoughts seem to be etched in stone because they relentlessly occupy your mind whether you want them or not. The same thoughts torture you ad naseum. You just want to shut them off. The perennial attraction to drugs and alcohol and other pastimes lies in their ability to give relief from the tyranny of your thoughts. I once asked a woman why she kept a messy house and without a trace of irony she replied, “Because my mother did.” There is absolutely no reason why her house should be messy except for the thought that she developed as a result of observing her mother’s housekeeping skills. Actually, her messy house was a bother and she would have been a lot happier if she was able to find things when she wanted them.

You will be happy to hear this news: your thoughts are not etched in granite. You can think deliberately. This book is not writing itself. I am deliberately selecting thoughts and arranging them in logical sequences because thinking these thoughts will transform your life. I’m not selecting every thought that passes through my mind, only those that are relevant to the topic, and I often change a thought minutes after I have written it. If you have an emotional problem you can remove it quickly if you take your mind off the emotion, find the thought that is creating it and choose a replacement thought that produces a more helpful emotion. Vedanta is a big Christmas package of replacement thoughts that will totally transform your life and set you free.

(D) Spontaneous thinking. Those who transcend the gunas think spontaneously. To get there, you need to know what reality is and deliberately think thoughts that correspond to reality. This is where Vedanta is useful. It teaches you what reality is. When you understand what it is, you can very clearly see which of your thoughts are true and which are projections. If you know you are projecting, you automatically stop projecting because projections don’t make you happy. Vedanta is deliberate thinking; it requires effort, unlike emotional and mechanical thinking. This is why it is not popular. This book will not become a best seller, even though it contains the secret to success.

People are extremely lazy when it comes to disciplining their minds, particularly the spiritual crowd. They threw the intellectual baby out with the bath a long time ago. They just want to feel good, not realizing that feelings are intimately bound up with thoughts. If you think, “I’m a useless worm,” you are not going to feel wonderful. It you think, “I am the light of lights” you will feel great, assuming you understand what it means. Actually, the spiritual world is fascinated with thoughts, mantras for instance. Mantras are just cleverly designed thoughts. They have an experiential component created by the careful arrangement of pleasing sounds and they have an intellectual component, a particular meaning which needs to be taught and then contemplated. The experiential component calms the mind and produces bliss. The knowledge component gives insight into the nature of reality. But teasing the meaning out of the mantra and applying it to the mind on a moment to moment basis is hard work. Better just get in a trance and bliss out.

Spontaneous thinking is appropriate to every situation and it is effortless. It takes a lot of disciplined thinking to get to this point, but it is totally worth it. Its feels as if you aren’t thinking, which you aren’t! Reality in the form of the dharma field is thinking through you. The thoughts just naturally arise and pass and through your mind without disturbing you. There is no resistance (rajas) or attachment (tamas) to them because the rajasic doer entity has been neutralized by self knowledge and only the sattvic enjoyer entity remains. The thoughts are appropriate, interesting, humourous, ironical and truthful and they always have a beneficial effect on others. They are guna free in the sense that they are not motivated by a desire to get something or to fix something.
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Postby Anja » Tue Nov 29, 2016 5:09 pm

I'm glad and thankfull Sri Satyananda Nirvana Maharaj (James name as a member of the navnath sampradaya, former student of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj) is writing a book on the gunas and their impact on the jiva. As far as I'm informed nobody did that before. It is very much needed and appreciated in order to better understand the teachings of traditional/old-school advaita vedanta.

I, personally, think the last paragraph posted above nails it perfectely what spontaineous thinking is. And how it can be attained isn't a mere walk in the park, as some neo-non-duality blokes seem to suggest. It's the result of having done sufficient sadhana. And who ever denies sadhana as a means of reaching such kind of thinking is just another talking-head on the stage.

"...full of sound and fury....signifying nothing..."

I think I did and said my bit for now. I'm not going to derail threads here any further. Please continue...doing the good work.


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