Dear Yogis,

Yesterday I got so caught up in the book “SELF KNOWLEDGE” Sri Sankaracharya, I lost track of time, and  I rushed the end of the message which could take weeks but won’t.

The Key is this:  A liberated soul lives in the body as long as the momentum of past actions that have produced it endures.  He dwells in the physical body and may experience disease, deformity, old age, decay which are the characteristics of all physical forms… He may be blind, deaf and deformed in many ways.  He may feel hunger or thirst or be  victim of grief or sorrow, however, he is never overwhelmed by them,  understanding that they are momentary characteristics of the body, the senses and the mind.  He never imagines them to be real, although he is able to enjoy the performance to his heart’s content.    In the Vedas it is said: “He who sees nothing in the waking state, even as in dreamless sleep; who though beholding duality does not really behold it, since he beholds only the Absolute; who though engaged in work is really inactive – he and no other, is the knower of Self.  This is the Truth.

When I was a tiny tot, I lived in the beginnings of a suburb way out in the back blocks. At the one room school, there was one “schoolyard tree” (Australian peppercorn) little or no grass, but lots of rocks and pebbles.  We couldn’t build cubby or tree houses so we laid out floor plans with pebbles, and play acted games of “mothers and fathers” in these imaginary houses.  They were so real to me then and now,  that when I walk through my house, it is as if I was still there, in the imagination, doing and being, and having, but all in a dream.  Everything seems dreamlike and not real.  Nothing much has changed.  I remember walking with my dad and asking “why do people want things – they aren’t real”.  He didn’t understand the question, and therefore couldn’t give an answer that satisfied.  I have a glimmer now, and often trip myself up.  However, that being said,  it is incumbent upon us that having asked and received, that we care for what we have (including the body), and when the time is right,  let go – happily.

SELF KNOWLEDGE (The Vedas):  Verse 48.   “The Tangible universe is verily Atman; nothing whatsoever exists that is other than Atman.  As pots and jars are verily clay and cannot be anything but clay, so to the enlightened, all that is perceived is the self”.

According to Vedanta a cause is non-different from its effect, just as gold is not different from gold ornaments or jewellery, or clay from articles made of clay.  What differentiates cause from effect is just the name.  The realisation of the identity of the Self with the universe enables a wise man to cultivate fearlessness, and love for all.  The need for vigilance is imperative at every step of the spiritual life.  Obstacles will be on your path at every stage until the goal is reached.  The higher the aspirant reaches, the more subtle the obstacles, and the more subtle the goals.

HYMN TO THE DIVINE MOTHER FOR FORGIVENESS OF TRANSGRESSIONS:                    (Hymn of Shankaracarya) Verse 8.  

I do not ask Thee, O Mother!

Riches, good fortune, or salvation;

I seek no happiness no knowledge.

This is my only prayer to thee:

That, as the breath of life forsake me,

Still I may chant Thy holy name.

This prayer was the last words of Ghandiji as he was assassinated one morning walking to prayer. He always said that he would give his life gladly,  with his last words the name of God.  And so it was.  I am sure you have all heard the chant by Krishna Das “God is Real” (from the CD “Door of Faith”) which echoes and builds on Ghandi’s feelings about the Word of God/the Name of God so we all can share .

How to become free of past karma? Meditate, Meditate, Meditate.  If you haven’t done it before, or find it difficult – start with 3 minutes.  Not while you garden, or play golf or whatever.  It is about sitting still.  If you follow Ghandi’s path, he repeated a mantra all day every day and felt it was necessary for life and spiritual growth.  A mala or a Red String is a good reminder.


Dear Yogis,

Every month I spend many hours in front of the computer, read at least a hundred pieces per day, read  4 or 5 books a week do three to eight hours writing per day, publish, link’d and sometimes tweet between 8am and 11pm.  I care about you, and I love doing what I do. I especially love these daily newsletters.

The though of the day (which is a constant thought) has been generated by a beautiful book from my collection.  SELF KNOWLEDGE by Sri Sankaracarya.  This book was published a few months after I was born, but Sankaracharya (or Sankara) was born during the eighth century after Christ.

At the time that this books was published,  Ghandi was still alive, thousands were dying due to the partition of India, Churchill although not PM was still in the Parliament, and the Queen-to-be was playing “mothers and fathers” with her fiancé Phillip funded by the public purse.  This book saw it all and more.

As in most older Indian texts, the preface and the introduction are lengthy, and the “meat” of the texts written in both English and Sanskrit is more than an afternoon’s read.   It is a treatise on Advaita Vendanta, the philosophy of Non-dualistic Vedanta based on the 68 verses composed by Sankara the great philosopher of non-dualism, who devoted his life to the practice of spiritual austerities, meditation and yoga (which at that time certainly had nothing to do with a fitness regime).  He also wrote commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita, the Brahma Sutras and the principal Upanishads.   Before he died at the age of thirty two in the Himalayas, Sankara had established monasteries in Mysore, Puri, Dvorak and Josi math.  He reorganised the ancient order of Sannyasis and assigned to it the leadership of Hindu Society.  Like Patanjali, he was a poet, a mystic, a philosopher, a religious reformer and a passionate lover of God.

His message you have heard many times before.  From the cradle to the grave the unilluminated soul engages in ceaseless action, striving to shun evil and realise the good, but, his actions and activities are influenced by love and hate, attachment and aversion, and he hopes to experience through action, eternal happiness in the outside world.  He roams aimlessly in samsara the world of change and becoming, rising and falling as a result of his action.

The book points towards the  contemplation of Atman, when man can be free from I-consciousness and the longing for results.  In his actions he recognises the influence of the gunas which constitute man’s physical nature, however his soul is always at peace.  Thus appearing to be active he is really action-less.  If his soul is identified with action to even the slightest degree then It has not realised its true nature.

Sankara recognised that few aspirants were/or are strong enough to climb the path.  Most require a symbol of truth or a relationship with a Personal God, and out of compassion for these seekers he composed many hymns in praise of the popular dieties.  These hymns are recited by countless devotees all over India at times of prayer and worship.  Through alll of the hymns, dualistic or monistic is the expressed longing of the devotee for freedom from ignorance, which alone is responsible for suffering in all its forms.

Sankara initiated the workshop of S’akti, or the Divine Mother, in all of his monasteries.  The conclusion of the non-dualistic philosophy are epitomised in four statements – *The Divinity of the soul *The unity of existence * the Oneness of The Godhead and *The harmony of religions.