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The Frog Upanishad
Ed: Hi, James. Can you clarify the difference between vasanas and samskaras?
James: The vasanas are individual traces of action that develop into habits, likes and dislikes. Over time similar habit-energies gather together in the causal body and become “formations,” or “complexes,” to use the psychological term. They then become a person’s character, his or her basic nature. You could call them archetypes for want of a better term. You cannot do anything about your basic nature, your svadharma. It is etched in granite. But you can alter and delete specific habits that conflict with it.
Ed: Thanks for the response to the question concerning vasanas and samskaras. I get it now. And please don’t feel embarrassed about the lag time in your responses to any emails I have or will send. I completely understand that you are getting inundated with questions from many people. When thirsty travelers finally discover a well from which to get fresh, clean water after so many disheartening encounters with sources that were, at best, murky with muck and, at worst, parasite-polluted, word gets out and the line grows long.
I pretty much feel like I am in daily contact with you anyway. You accompany me every morning on my walk (as well as during breakfast and anytime I am driving anywhere, and often while I am sitting around the house) via the self-inquiry talks I purchased from you, which I listen to on my iPod.
Speaking of which, something clicked with me while listening to your explanation of the three states as described in the Mandukya Upanishad the other day. During the talk you said that mandukya means “frog,” and that you were not sure why this Upanishad would be named after such a creature. You mentioned that Swami Chinmayananda used to explain that it was because it was like a frog croaking out the truth. Maybe, but here’s what clicked in me: just as a frog can jump from place to place, pond to pond, lily pad to lily pad, whatever, yet remains ever free of these locales, so the self can apparently associate, through the power of ignorance, with any of the three states or, as they are referred to in the Kaivalya Upanishad, “abodes,” yet remains ever free of all of them. Maybe you already thought of that, but I just thought I’d share it with you.
Anyway, as you said, meeting you in Telluride was a pleasure for me as well. I hope to spend some more time with you, Sundari and the scriptures in the future.
By the way, I also really enjoyed the recent webinar on the Tripura Rahasya. Your translations and explications rock! I love the humor with which the teachings are encrusted. Imagining the discombobulated looks on Hemachuda’s face in light of his wife’s disinterest in the pleasures of the matrimonial bed and her subsequent commentary on reality really brought the whole dialogue to life in a vivid, hilarious and engaging way. I really value your appreciation of the elegant phrasings and archaic vocabulary. Such linguistic effects were the source of a lot of the humor that my father, who was really my best friend while he was alive, and I shared. He would have loved your take on Hemachuda and Hemalekha’s relationship.
Take care, my friend. I look forward to hearing from you when you get a chance. Much love to you and Sundari.
James: Lovely to hear from you, Ed. I am glad Vedanta is working so nicely. Thanks for the explanation of the Mandukya. It is the best I have heard! It will become part of the teaching. Anyway, it was great to meet you and I am sure our paths will cross again.
~ Much love, James