Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dear Gurudev, in the context of creation and Pralaya (meaning the ultimate dissolution of creation), two terms are often used: Mahatattva (the supreme principle or element of creation) and Tanmaatra, which are both difficult to understand. Can you please throw some light on this?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Tanmaatra means a measure of any sensation or phenomenon that happens within our body (the minimum quantity of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch that can be perceptibly experienced by our five senses).

It is a measure of anything that manifests at the level of the physical body. For example, our eyes see things with the help of the light that enters our eyes. It is because there is light within our eyes that we are able to see objects.

Often when people lose their eyesight, it is said that the light has left their eyes (meaning that light no longer enters their eyes to help them see). Now, the amount of light that we can see varies in different species. An owl can see even in the dark or in very dim light, but we will not be able to. A cat also can see very well in the dark. So we say that an owl’s Tanmaatra or that of a cat’s is much higher than ours. As humans, our Tanmaatrato be able to see in dim light is far less. That is why even when there is no power or light, a cat is able to clearly see what is kept where.
In the same way, we can understand this difference in Tanmaatra when it comes to the sense of smell. An elephant has a very strong sense (or Tanmaatra) of smell. It can smell things clearly from far away and can correctly judge as to what lies ahead, or what is coming towards it, and from which direction. And it remembers that for years to come.
In the same way, there is a Tanmaatra associated with the sense of taste. A food object has a defined taste, but we experience different tastes when we eat it. For example, if you eat a little sugar and then drink your tea, then you are not able to taste the sweetness of the tea.

If a particular experience (of an object by the senses) is below the Tanmaatra associated with it, then you are able to experience and understand it, but if it greater than theTanmaatra associated with it, then you are not able to comprehend it properly. So when you eat sugar first and then taste your tea, then you are not able to taste the sweetness, because the Tanmaatra has changed. So this is what is meant by Tanmaatra.

Each of our five senses – the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin – are collectively called the panch jnaanendriya (the five senses of cognition), and each of these has a Tanmaatraassociated with it. It is because of this Tanmaatra that we are able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

Q: Gurudev, How can I gain the determination to face a situation? Or should I change my path? How can I know what is my dharma (duty)?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, we ask such questions many times. There is no dearth of knowledge about anything we want to know about. Nowadays, knowledge is available at a click of a button. Type your query on Google and you will get everything. But that is not the actual thing. There is something else. What is that? You need to just wake up and realize that everything is going to end one day.

Everything that has ever happened till this day, till this very moment, does not exist anymore. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad. No matter what happened till now, no longer exists. It is all finished.

As we go ahead in life, we will realize that everything is going to end. Nothing will remain. And yet, we still sit and go on thinking over it, worrying about this and that.
Shake everything off yourself, just wake up and see – there is nothing. Everything is nothing, that’s it. This very realization is enough for wisdom to dawn within you.

The nothing that remains is what everything truly is. You need to remind yourself of this again and again, so that it gets instilled in your memory.
After listening to the entire Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna says, 'I remember now'.

What does he remember? That all this is nothing! I am not this. If I was this then I would have ended. I have surpassed all this and moved on, this hasn’t even touched me.

This we must remember again and again.
See, you go to school or college and somebody curses you - hasn’t it happened to you?

In college, there is nobody who hasn’t heard curses from someone, whether friend or enemy. At that moment, we might have felt so heavy, but is that heaviness still present? It is not there, it has passed away. Just see how you have surpassed all that and moved ahead.
So, Everything is Nothing - this is called the Hridaya Sutra (aphorism of heart) as was told by Lord Buddha. This is also what Adi Shankaracharya called as the philosophy ofAdvaita. All the five elements are nothing. The five senses are nothing. I am nothing. You are nothing.

In the language of the knowledgeable, this translates to, 'All this is nothing'.

Devotees say the same thing in a different way – they say, 'I am akinchan' (I am nothing). If you just understand this, great awareness dawns within you.

So whenever something worries you, awaken yourself. Remind yourself that one day we all have to die. No matter how much you decorate and adorn this body, one day it will burn on the funeral pyre.
See every problem as a challenge. Take it as a challenge and see. Then there is no power in this world that can wipe the smile off your face.

To know this, how many books will you have to read? What all will you do, where will you go? You don’t have to do anything. This is what you are learning - the art of doing nothing! 

People have gotten so tired asking again and again, 'What do I do?' And the gurus who keep saying, 'Do this, do that, do this', have grown tired of saying it. So you have to do nothing - just know that all this is nothing.

Now this doesn’t mean you sit and keep chanting this. Then it will become a kind of a disease.
They have caught a new kind of disease overseas - they call it 'affirmations'. Think a particular though within you repeatedly.

In Switzerland, we had a workshop once. And after the workshop we went to a nearby hotel to have some tea and snacks. There, a couple was sitting and they asked me, what do I do. I said that I teach meditation.

I asked them what they do. They said that they practice and teach affirmations.

A husband wakes up at 3am, sits on the bed and says, 'I love myself, I love myself, I love myself' to himself repeatedly. Does one have to do all that to understand such a simple fact?

Our devotees and seekers, who were there at that time, said 'We don’t have to do anything like that. We do Sudarshan Kriya and we automatically feel that ‘I love myself’. We don’t have to say it again and again.'
Now you are here in Rishikesh, do you have to remind yourself that you are in Rishikesh? You know where you are. If you say this repeatedly then sometimes doubt comes. Then one may think, 'Am I really here?' (Laughter)


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