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Nov. 27, 2022

Wisdom of the Mystics: Swami Vivekananda

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In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the wisdom of the great mystic Swami Vivekananda, who brought Vedanta to the West and remains a central figure in Eastern Spirituality along with true devotion towards his guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, who we discussed last month. Swami ji gave the perfect blend of spiritual teachings like devotion, knowledge and reasoning, meditation and serving others. Ultimately, Swami Vivekananda has inspired many generations after him and will continue to do so. 

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host, Rahul N. Singh. Thank you for taking out the time today to either watch or listen to this podcast episode. Today, we'll be continuing on with our series called Wisdom of the Mystics. But before we do begin if you would like to support The Bearded Mystic Podcast, do sign up to the podcast Patreon page for ad-free and bonus episodes. Details are in the show notes and video description below. The other way you can sign up for these ad-free and bonus episodes is through the monthly subscription that's available on the Apple Podcast app itself. And just to note that next month, we'll be starting the bonus episodes for my thoughts on the Upanishads. So do sign up as soon as you can. Every Saturday there is a free meditation session that's followed by a discussion and Q and A. If you would like to join, please find the details in the show notes and video description below. If you would also like to have a one-on-one meeting with me, as a friend to help you on your spiritual journey, you can find the details in the show notes and video description below. Last month we looked at the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. In this episode today, we will be looking at the teachings of one of the most important spiritual teachers, who first came to the West to teach Hinduism and that is Swami Vivekananda Ji, who is a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and what we will be doing today is looking at a few of his sayings and contemplating upon them. Now, Swami Vivekananda is a great primer to Advaita Vedanta and Hinduism in general. Most importantly, he is a thinker, a philosopher that really understood how to adapt Hinduism in today's day and age. Now, his vision for a pluralistic society that allows each religion to flourish is one that I really, really admire and one that I constantly advocate for even though I may disagree with a religion's philosophy, it does not mean that that is not valid for a lot of people, or it should not be practiced by a lot of people. It should be because everybody is at a different level. And I do wanna say that although Swami Vivekananda Ji believed that everything was more or less equal, the only thing where I depart from is that I think that Advaita Vedanta is the pinnacle of spirituality and to really understand spirituality is to go through Advaita Vedanta. But that does not mean that we cannot modernize Advaita Vedanta and Swami Vivekananda Ji was one person that really did that. The other thing that I want to say is that Swami Vivekananda Ji is behind all the Vedanta Societies or the Vedanta Centers that are here in the west and he's behind the whole Sri Ramakrishna Mission and what I would say that is one of the spiritual organizations that I think are excellent, that really teach the truth and they embody that truth as well. As you know, one of the teachers that I really respect is Swami Sarvapriyananda Ji, and he's part of the Ramakrishna Order that Swami Vivekananda set up, and he also teaches at the Vedanta Society in New York where he is the Head Minister. I have a lot of respect for this, spiritual organization and its teachers. Now, let's begin with the first quote. Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be; if you think yourselves impure, impure you will be; if you think yourselves pure, pure you will be. This teaches us not to think ourselves as weak, but as strong, omnipotent, omniscient. Now, this straightaway reminds me, and it seems to be emphasizing upon the teachings that are there in the Ashtavakra Gita. Now, if you remember in there there's a verse where Ashtavakra Ji says, if you think you are liberated, then you are liberated. If you think you are bound, then you are bound, and this is literally saying the same thing. A lot of people say, well, I'm impure. How can I know God? I am weak. How can I know God? God is so strong. God is so mighty. The truth is so difficult to understand. I'm someone of little intellect and you know, sometimes our mystics said this in poetry, but what people tend to miss out is the eventual realization that these mystics had, and because of that, they do not fully understand the intention behind what was being said. Now, Swami Vivekananda Ji here is literally saying in the very first line, whatever you think that you will be. Now imagine if you think you are liberated, your whole action will change. Your whole embodiment of the teachings will change, your whole understanding of the teaching will change because now you'll see that the teachings from a liberated perspective rather than feeling bound. And if you feel bound, how are you going to set yourself free? So this is the very beautiful thing about what Swami Vivekananda Ji is saying here, is that whatever you think that you will be, and here in our podcast and in our community, we constantly talk about how we are that Nirguna Brahman itself. We are that Formless Awareness and nothing else. Although we do not reduce the transactional reality in any way. But we do make sure we know how to utilize the transactional reality into the Ultimate Reality, Nirguna Brahman, Formless Awareness. The good thing is, while we're going through these quotes of Swami Vivekananda Ji, we are literally going through the philosophy that I mostly actually agree with, and which is sometimes surprising for me because I may disagree with things here and there, or have major disagreements, but with Swami Vivekananda Ji, I don't have much to disagree with. I probably agree with him more than I do with Adi Shankara Ji so that says a lot. Anyway, let's get back to the quote. He also says, this teaches us not to think ourselves as weak, but as strong, omnipotent and omniscient. Now if you have that feeling that you can be liberated or that you are liberated, that automatically makes you feel strong, that automatically makes you think, I can achieve this. I can get there, I will do my most to get there. I have all the strength, all the capability to do so. That's what happens when we think ourselves as strong. If we think ourselves as pure because remember that pure and strong is that Formless Awareness. Remember, we have that right understanding, not the incorrect understanding of avidya, where we are in ignorance of what we really are. He also says, omnipotent. So, omnipotent here means having all the power. What do you have all the power to do? Not to rule over people and gain political power or gain power in terms of country or a nation. That is just a facade of power. The real power is transforming your life. There's a saying by Guru Nanak, Dev ji, that man jeetai jag jeet. When you win your mind, when you're victorious over your mind, you are victorious over the whole world because if you can really have victory over the mind, if you can control your vrittis, the movement in your mind, the conditionings, the tendencies, the habits, the memories, the thoughts, the emotions, the feelings, or if you can control all of that, you are ultimately strong. That's why you are powerful, because you have the ability to do this because you are Formless Awareness, and that's why you have all that power to transform your life. First of all, we have to understand that that is the inherent power within us. Then he says, omniscient. Omniscient means to have infinite awareness. Now, some people say it's about being all knowing, but not in the sense of you will know the lottery numbers or you can read people's thoughts or you can second guess events that are going to happen. Those are clairvoyant powers. But the real one is Infinite Awareness. Now, when it says all knowing, it means knowing the all meaning, knowing Nirguna Brahman knowing the Ultimate Reality. That's where you are omniscient because you have that infinite awareness of what you really are. The infinite awareness of Formless Awareness. So let's say you have infinite Formless Awareness. So that's what that means. Also, a point to make. Sometimes people use the word Antaryami. Now, antaryami, the real meaning behind that is not knowing everything. You know, sometimes you say the Guru is antaryami and it's interpreted as, oh, well the Guru knows everything. No, the Guru only knows the truth. If you ask the Guru what you had for breakfast, the guru's not gonna know. Or the guru's not gonna know what thought you just had, that's not the job of the Guru. The Guru is there to transform your life. And how does it do that? It knows that One. So that's also a word that people use. But the antaryami is the inner dweller, which is Nirguna Brahman, the real subject, the One that's always behind our senses and its projections. The one that's always watching but is unchanged. Sometimes we say, well, I am mukt, I've received the Brahm Gyana. I have received that knowledge of Brahman. And now that I know Brahman, I'm liberated. In a lot of spiritual organizations this is said a lot, but then at the same time, they say that they are bound, they are bounded by the walls of that spiritual organization or that religious organization, or they're bounded by Maya. They have not been able to address their desires or their raga and dveshas, their likes and dislikes. They're not been able to deal with what attracts them and what is repulsive. They're not able to do that. So by saying that you are mukt, but then bounded by the world because you start asking for forgiveness because you feel that you have sinned, well, you know, you can't do that. That makes no sense. So growing your inner strength is necessary for spiritual evolution. So remember that you are strong, omnipotent, omniscient, and you are Formless Awareness. The second quote, and this is a long quote, the reason why I picked this is because we ask this question a lot. Let's see what Swami Vivekananda Ji says: the one question that is most difficult to grasp in understanding the Advaita philosophy, and the one question that will be asked again and again and that will always remain is how has the Infinite, the Absolute become the finite? I will now take up this question, and in order to illustrate it, I will use a figure. Here is the Absolute (a) and this is the universe (b). The Absolute has become the universe. But this is not only meant the material world, but the mental world, the spiritual world, heavens and earths, and in fact everything that exists. Mind is the name of change, and body the name of another change and so on. And all these changes compose our universe. So this Absolute ( a) has become the universe (b) by coming through time, space, and causation (c). So that C is right here in between. This is a central idea of Advaita. Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen, and when it is seen on the lower side, it appears as the universe. Now we at once gather from this that in the Absolute, there is neither time, space, nor causation. The idea of time cannot be there. Seeing that there is no mind, no thought, the idea of space cannot be there. Seeing that there is no external change. What you call motion and causation cannot exist where there is only One. We have to understand this and impress it on our minds, that what we call causation begins after, if we may be permitted to say so, the degeneration of the Absolute into the phenomenal or transactional, and not before; that our will, our desire and all these things always come after that. This is a common question. Why did God create the world or manifest this world? Why is there Maya? How can Maya hide Brahman? Why do we find that Maya is absolutely real? But Brahman is more of an abstract, unreal thing. Why is that the case? And it's all about how we perceive things. Now, as he said, if we see this, if we see this as the Absolute, this, as the universe and time, space and causation in between. So when we see through time, space, and causation, we see the universe. But when we get rid of time, space, and causation, then there is no universe. It's only the absolute. So that's the way to understand that. Let me explain even further. Everything is considered as the universe or the material world. All of our mental faculties as well is the material world. Mind is one tool that shows us change and that there is name and form of another. That's ultimately what, the mind does. Now what we do know is that name and form will change. It has a cause behind it. Change is a constant in this universe. Planets change, galaxies go through changes, this earth is going through changes. Everything is changing. Even though, it may seem stationary, there is subtle change actually happening. All this change is what we refer to as the material universe. Now, how has this Absolute Reality become part of the transactional reality? That's the main question. First of all, we have to understand that the Absolute Reality or Nirguna Brahman is infinite, undivided, unchanging, Sat, Chit, Ananda - Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. Yet we experience it as a limited name of form, finite bound by space, which is divided, and time which is changing. Maya has two main aspects. One is samasti, which is the cosmic appearance and world of senses, which is not a projection of the finite mind, and then vyasti, which is the individual ignorance, which is avidya, which obstructs right discrimination, remember between the Real and unreal, like Sri Krishna mentions in the chapter two of Bhagavad Gita. Once we remove the avidya, we see only the Absolute Reality. So once we understand that everything that is unreal is that which changes, then we realize that time is always changing and it perpetuates change, space divides things and name and form or causation, has a finite existence because of being divided and changed. It is not that infinite, undivided, Sat Chit Ananda, therefore it's not the Nirguna Brahman. So because of that, we need to understand that once we remove avidya, we see only Nirguna Brahman because there is no time, space, and causation, there is no finiteness. If we see through avidya, we will see the universe and it's multiple manifestations like we are doing right now. So once you remove avidya, then we see things as they are. Everything that we perceive through this body of time, space and causation is subject to change and therefore is an appearance. And yet the Absolute Reality remains regardless if we see the transactional reality or not. So remember, the subject is always there regardless of this objective world, this world of objects, this universe of objects is always there changing. But when that is all gone, then this Absolute Reality, this Nirguna Brahman remains as it is. What Swami Vivekananda Ji really means is we have not utilized our intellect and we've not been able to utilize our discernment correctly. What's happened is we have got the Absolute Reality and basically degenerated it into the phenomenal world. So then we see this material world as being the only God. You know, that's like the Charvaka kind of philosophy, the materialist philosophy that everything is matter. Matter is the absolute truth, the Absolute Reality. But in Advaita Vedanta we say, well, that's not the case. It appears to be so, but actually because it's, divided, it can change. Remember even atoms, you can divide atoms into subatomic particles and so forth. So that means ultimately that that is also unreal. Even space, even though it may appear empty, you can also divide that. What Swami Vivekananda Ji saying is, once we understand there is no mind, there's no time, space, or causation. Now how can we experience that is through meditation. And that's why if you want to experience a glimpse of this, I will say attend the Saturday meditation sessions because we use a method which actually helps us to understand this even further. Let's go to the third quote. Brahman is the infinite, impersonal being - ever existent, unchanging, immortal, fearless; and you are all His incarnations, His embodiments. This is the God of Vedanta, and His heaven is everywhere. In this heaven dwell all the Personal Deities there are - you yourselves. Exit praying and laying flowers in the temples! This is a very interesting quote. First of all, he explains what Brahman is. He says, understand what Brahman is, that everything is Brahman. this impersonal being, this Impersonal Formless Being, it's ever existent. It's always here. It's eternal. It's unchanging because it's absolutely real, and it's Immortal because it doesn't belong to time. It cannot die and it's fearless. There is no other, so why would there be fear? Then he says, you are all his incarnations. Now here he's referring to all the Avatars like Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, he's saying that all of them are you. So don't think that they are separate and every embodiment, every deity is also you. Every Deity that is worshiped in the temple. That is you too. That is the god of Vedanta. There is only that one Ultimate Supreme Reality, and that is Brahman. This is what is considered to be Nirguna Brahman. This is what's considered to be the God in Vedanta. Actually, if you think about it, the God of Vedanta is very different to the God of the Abrahamics. and this is the distinction he's making in this verse. Then he addresses the aspect of heaven. Well, where else can heaven be? If there is only Brahman because it's ever existent, unchanging, Immortal, fearless, You are all It's incarnations and its embodiment. Then it must be amongst us. It must be everywhere. It must exist wherever you may be. It has to be within us, around us, and everywhere. If all is Brahman, how can it be soiled or ruined in any way? How can it be bad in any way or evil in any way? There can only be heaven. There cannot be hell. Swami Vivekananda Ji is addressing. If we go to the ultimate level, if we understand the Ultimate Truth, the Ultimate Reality. Now, all the personal deities that are worshiped, everybody may have a personal Deity, whether that's Hanuman Ji, Ganesh Ji, Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, anyone, any deity. He's also saying that these are you too They are not anything different. It is you, so don't think they are separate. Don't think they are different. Don't think that they are beyond you. They are YOU! Swami Vivekananda Ji speaks the Highest Truth here, and this is hard for a lot of people to understand and maybe even accept. He says, exit praying and laying flowers in the temple. This is the highest truth. What he's saying is that all these rituals that we do, all these prayers that we do, all these are okay, but they're not necessary. Once we understand the Ultimate Truth, once we have Brahm Gyana, once we have the knowledge of Brahman, the insights into Brahman, none of those things are necessary. Who to pray to? You're praying to yourself. Why lay flowers in the temples or why wear the sacred thread? Any of those things. Why do those things when You are Brahman itself? Brahman doesn't wear a thread. You know the Brahmin thread. Brahman doesn't go on a fast. Brahman doesn't pray three times a day or five times a day, or 10 times a day. And That is You. So why are you doing that? Brahman doesn't need anything or desire anything. So why are you asking Brahman for things? Why are you asking these deities for anything when they are you? A very, very important truth, and not everybody is willing to go there. We like to feel separate. We like to feel different. We like to feel distinct. It's easier but if we, as it said in the first quote, if we gain that strength and we understand our internal power, we can achieve it. We can achieve the Greatest, the Highest because we are That Highest. And then he continues to say, only those who don't know Brahman say that you must do these things, all these pandits, all these priests, all these so-called religious people, they say you have to do these things, you must do these things, they are necessary. But an enlightened being will say, " yes, rituals and prayers they may help. They may be good, but they won't give you enlightenment. For enlightenment, you have to understand and you have to embody the Brahm Gyana, and only that knowledge of Brahman can lead you there." And this is said in the scriptures itself. This is not something that deviates from the scriptures. This is the very teachings of the scriptures too. Even the scriptures will say, there's no point reading the scriptures, if all you're doing is blindly reading and not embodying the teachings. So a true teacher, a true guide, a true friend will tell you understand what Brahman is because that's what you are. All these rituals you've been doing, they are delaying you from understanding this. Work on understanding this, not on these false pretense of doing something spiritual. If your mind is still not getting pure, what is the point? And we have to be very, very honest in our introspection. Let's go to the fourth quote. You are Brahman, and whatever else you may think is wrong. You must worship the Self in Krishna, not Krishna as Krishna. Only by worshiping the Self can freedom be won. Even the personal God is but the Self objectified. Again, very direct, teaching a very direct quote by Swami Vivekananda Ji, This is clear for us on what he's trying to say. That you are this Brahman and have no doubt about it. Do not doubt this truth of what You are. If you think you're anything else like this body and mind, or if you think you are this soul, this Jiva, gross or subtle or even the subtlest like empty space, then that is also wrong. If you think you're those things. If you think you are any form of any kind, that is wrong. And Swami Vivekananda Ji is very clear because his first three words are, You Are Brahman. Very clear. Remember when he's saying "You", he's talking about the Self. He also says that you must worship the Self in Krishna, not Krishna as Krishna. When we read the Bhagavad Gita, how should we read it? You know, I often talk about this in my, commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. We should see Krishna as Nirguna Brahman alone. That's the only way we should see Krishna, not as this person at all. You know, we should not think of Krishna as the historical figure in the Bhagavad Gita, we should see that that historical figure that's being referred to is Brahman itself and Brahman only. And because Krishna understood that there is only Brahman and he embodied that teaching. He embodied that insight. He embodied the Brahm Gyana and that's why we should worship the real essence in Krishna, which is Nirguna Brahman, this Ultimate Reality, this Formless Reality. Swami Vivekananda Ji says this maybe anticipating the way people have started to deify, Sri Krishna as the absolute therefore, bringing in duality. We are lower than Krishna. We are lower aspects, and they deify Krishna and ignore Nirguna Brahman and we see this in ISKCON and their philosophy. They see Krishna as the Ultimate and everybody is separate and different and unique to Sri Krishna. But this is a wrong understanding because even Sri Krishna does not agree with this. Once one sees with that understanding that you are Brahman, that we are worshiping the Self in Krishna, and this is not just Sri Krishna, but Sri Rama or Shiva Ji or any Vishnu Avatar. We see the Self in them, nothing else. But if we start seeing that Sri Krishna is separate to us and we bring in that duality, then our whole interpretation of the Gita will end up being wrong. That is the harsh truth that is being said and established here. If you want liberation, if you want freedom, then understanding the only thing worthy of worship is Nirguna Brahman, this Formless Awareness. Now the personal God of the Abrahamics is nothing but the Self seen through as an object. This is exactly the same thing that ISKCON does or the Hare Krishnas do with what they've done with Krishna. It's the same thing as the God of the Christians and the Allah of the Muslims. What they have done is they have made that God into an object. You must worship that God, that God is going to judge you, that God is going to define whether you're going to be liberated or not, that God is going to decide whether you are going to achieve freedom and that's another thing that Swami Vivekananda Ji's pointing towards. That's what he means by the Self objectified. Now, one thing I will say is remember the crux of this quote, which is You Are Brahman. Quote Five. The Self is the eternal subject, and we are eternally struggling to objectify that Self. And out of that struggle has come this phenomenon

of the universe:

that which we call matter. But these are weak attempts and the highest objectification of the Self possible to us is the Personal God. Now we have to understand that this whole manifestation that is perceived as an object, everything to the tiniest quark, and whatever now is after that. All that is an object because we can observe it. Anything that is observed is an object. Let's say that this whole universe that we see is basically full of objects and because we objectify that Pure Self, we then start dividing it and then start naming it, giving it a form, and then therefore it's constantly changing and it has a finite existence. Now that's what we call Maya. So Maya is the object or content of that Pure Consciousness or Pure Awareness. Now even the eyes that sees or observes is also an object. The true 'I', the 'I' meaning, you know, 'I am' type of thing, is the eternal subject regardless of what is observed or seen. So the true 'I' is the Self. The true 'I' is Nirguna Brahman, is your Formless Awareness. That is what you are. Just remember that while the eyes see and the senses perceives the world , and objectifies it through the mind, remember that it is the Self that is observing all this yet remains untouched by everything that you are trying to objectify. Even though you objectify everything else, you cannot objectify that awareness. Okay? It's really deep but it's really fascinating. I really love this stuff. Then Swami Vivekananda Ji says, even the Personal God that we observe is also an object. Despite how lofty it may be or how much we may worship it and see it as the all powerful, the merciful and compassionate and all these things that's just, the highest objectification of the Self. But at the end of the day, it's still an object. High or low, it's an object, and therefore it's subject to time, subject to space, subject to a finite existence. Therefore, it's ultimately unreal. What we need to do is keep returning to being the eternal subject, that Formless Awareness, and remind ourselves that anything that changes despite appearing changeless is nothing but an object or content of Consciousness, of that Formless Awareness. Let's go to the sixth quote. Swami Vivekananda Ji says Knowledge of the Absolute depends upon no book nor upon anything; it is Absolute in Itself. No amount of study will give this knowledge; it is not theory, it is realization. Cleanse the dust from the mirror, purify your own mind and in a flash you know that you are Brahman. You know, when I even say these words, I can feel the strength and the insight of Swami Vivekananda Ji. I really can and I hope it's translating to you too, it's fascinating for me. This is amazing. I mean, discussing this is what I really enjoy, what I really love. So let's go into this. The Absolute is the Ultimate Knowledge Itself. This Nirguna Brahman, this Formless Awareness is the Ultimate Knowledge Itself. No book can manifest this Absolute, this Formless Awareness because it's not a form. So it cannot manifest in any way. No book can do that. It can go about it a roundabout way, but it cannot lead you directly to it. Now, because it is the Absolute that holds the contents or the knowledge of the book. No book can manifest the Absolute because it is the Absolute that holds the contents or knowledge of the book. The Absolute is realized by Being Itself. By understanding what we are, we understand what the Absolute is. My Guru would say that Self-realization through God realization, now the meaning behind that is once you realize what God is, what Brahman is, then you will understand what you are, which is the one and the same. This knowledge of Brahman is not understood through study because it is not a theory. It's not something you learn. Yes, it begins as a learning, but then you end up embodying it. You end up becoming It. Swami Sarvapriyananda Ji when he defines Brahm Gyana, he says, it's the insights into Brahman instead of knowledge of Brahman. I really like that. I think that's a really great take on it because it's insight, it's intuition that allows you to understand it. Now, when Brahm Gyana is understood through insight, there's a place within the mind that is kind of beyond the mind, beyond the vrittis, beyond the movements of tendencies and habits and memories and all sorts, beyond the thoughts and images. Once we get to that place, this placeless place within the mind, It's actually the Formless Awareness, the Subject, that insight brings in the realization. Now what I want to say is go back to the knowledge of the Absolute is absolute in itself. I want to revisit this. Brahm Gyana is the Absolute in itself, that is the Ultimate itself. That is the real Guru. That is the real teacher. That is the real Brahm Gyani. Yeah. The Knower of Brahman. The Knower of Brahman is Brahman itself Swami Vivekananda Ji utilizes a dust in the mirror. Now cleanse the dust from the mirror, meaning clean all the sense projections, the memories, the images, the thoughts, feelings, emotions, habits, tendencies, all these things. These are the dust of the mirror. Cleanse all that away. Purify your mind, meaning establish your viveka. Establish your discernment of the Permanent and the impermanent, the Real and the unreal. And the intellect guides the mind. Once the intellect says well everything that you are perceiving and projecting, oh mind, that is not what you are. Do not fall under delusion that these objects are what you are and that these objects are real. No, you are the Immortal Self. You are that Formless Awareness. That is the Subject that is witnessing all this, that is observing all this yet is untouched and, unblemished by all of this. Once that happens, once you purify your mind, through this understanding of what is Permanent and impermanent then you ultimately know that you are Brahman and that there is nothing but Brahman that is Brahm Gyana. That is the insight and it's not something that one just says or one just reads or hears. One ultimately understands that this is the reality. What embodies that realization? One cannot then deny this very fact, this very Truth. And remember one thing, the qualified Guru tells you that Brahm Gyana is simply knowing and embodying that BRAHMAN ONLY IS. The seventh quote, Swami Vivekananda Ji says: if they are men teachers, God teachers or Deva teachers, they are all limited, who was the teacher before them. We are forced to admit, as a last conclusion, One Teacher who is not limited by time, and that One Teacher of Infinite Knowledge without beginning or end is called Brahman. Wow. What a quote. Understand who is the Ultimate Teacher? Who is the Ultimate SatGuru, the Parama Guru? Who is it? What is it? Who do we need to approach? These are questions that we have, and we'll answer this question in a minute. Firstly, as Swami Vivekananda Ji says, you have teachers of the worldly subjects. These are the men, teachers, the human teachers. Then you have teachers who talk about god as an object to know, yeah, remember that god that we talked about, the personal god. Then you have teachers who talk about the Devas, worship the devas, they tell you to objectify the Devas and personify the Devas. And they are the people and they talk about the stories and narratives of the Devas. He says they are all limited. All limited because it's only talk or it's some form of knowledge. It's limited in its nature. Then Swami Vivekananda Ji asks a question for us to contemplate upon who was the teacher before them? Who is it? Who is prior to all these types of teachers? Who is it? What is the Param Guru? Who is it? How can I know? The only Teacher that is Limitless, that is Infinite, that knows Itself completely, who has no beginning nor end, is self existent, who is beyond change. That teacher is Brahman Itself. That Infinite Knowledge is Brahman Itself and only Brahman can give you the knowledge of Brahman. Nobody else, no form can do this for you. The form can point, but it is Brahman that has to realize its own Self and only you can do that. The Guru can help, and that is a true teacher who tells you how to embody Brahman. Let me establish this. You may have a teacher that tells you that you can know God. A lot of places say this, a lot of spiritual organizations say this, that you can know God from us. But once they give you that knowledge, Brahman then becomes your only Guru and Brahman should be your Guru only after that point. If you still worship the body of the Guru, then you've not understood Brahm Gyana. You've not embodied Brahm Gyana. I'm not saying you cannot have gratitude. That's something totally different. I'm talking about Brahm Gyana. Brahman. Transcend the physical Guru of the five elements, and remember the one true Guru who is beyond all elements. Which is Brahman Itself. That is the True Guru and the True Friend, Teacher is one that tells you to do this. They will never tell you to cling onto the form. In fact, most likely they will never call themselves a teacher in fact. They are the ones hiding amongst us. So Approach that one and you can recognize them by the things they say. If they talk about these very things that we are talking about today, those are the Real Gurus. Go to them and they will tell you, okay, this form is going to tell you what the Truth is through words through methods. But ultimately, once you get this knowledge, Brahman then is your Guru. Go to Brahman. Only Brahman can know Itself and that is what You are. That is basically the Ultimate Teaching. The eighth quote. Swami Vivekananda Ji says, think of nothing but liberation. Have faith in Guru, in his teachings and in the surety that you can get free. Say, Soham, Soham, whatever comes. Tell yourself this even in eating, walking, suffering. Tell the mind this incessantly that what we see never existed. That there is only ' I'. Flash - the dream will break! Think day and night, this universe is zero, only Brahman is. Have intense desire to get free. Liberation needs to be our only goal and target, nothing else. That has to be the ultimate goal and target. Have no other goal or target in your life other than this one. Spiritually speaking. You know, you can have your material goals. But remember your spiritual goal and spiritual target is liberation, to be free, to have mukti and have faith in the Guru, meaning in the teachings of the Guru and that is the Brahm Gyana itself. That's what you have faith in and that is only given by the Guru. A real Guru only talks about Brahm Gyana. Nothing else. Yeah, nothing else interests the Guru. Only Brahm Gyana and that Guru will set you free. They have all the ability to set you free, and that will liberate you. And I can say this for a fact. My Guru told me the same thing. When He was alive, that's literally what he taught me. You have this Brahm Gyana. Now you focus upon That. That is your Guru. Be aware of this 24 7 and literally, that's what I did, and that's what I have faith in. That's what I have complete trust in. Then he (Swami Vivekananda Ji) says, Soham, Soham. Now what does Soham mean? Soham means I am That. I am That. Yeah. Soham Soham. I am That, I am That. I am is the Ultimate Subject and That which is being referred to is Brahman Itself. By saying, Soham, we avoid any objectification as someone can make Brahman into an object. Hence we can turn Nirguna Brahman into Saguna Brahman or we turn God into the personal god. But when you say, Soham, Soham, I am That, I am That, you cannot objectify It. How can you objectify That? You can't. But That is what You are Now, whatever problems come into your life, remember this mantra alone and embody this mantra. Soham. Soham. I am That. I am That. Think of this mantra when you are going through all the activities of life. When you're walking, talking, eating, drinking, sleeping, brushing your teeth, listening to this podcast, watching this podcast, recording this podcast working. From the most joyous and adventurous activities to the most sufferable and mundane activities think of this mantra I am That, I am That. Soham, Soham. Keep on telling the mind that I am That, I am That Brahman. Soham, Soham Tell the mind that this body and mind itself has never existed. Everything the body through the senses perceives has never existed. There is only That. There is only Brahman. Only That is. Only Brahman is. Remember this, remember this. Tell your mind this continuously and constantly. Once you keep doing this, once you keep practicing this, once you keep embodying this then the dream will break in a moment. In a flash of lightning, you suddenly understand and this maya will break away. It will start dissolving in front of your very eyes and only Brahman will be there because only Brahman is. Only That is. The Ultimate stands there unveiled as it always was. Just like the sun is always there despite the clouds that cover it. You are That. You are that Brahman. This body and mind is like the clouds, but you are that Infinite Formless Awareness. So day and night, think that this universe is zero. This is basically doing Neti-Neti. Get rid of everything that's in this universe, made of matter, one by one. Take them away until there is only empty space. Then you negate that too. What remains then is just the Eternal Subject, when the universe is zero. Have an immense desire to be free. Want and desire liberation with all your heart, with absolute devotion, absolute dedication. Be like a thirsty person walking through the scorching heat of the desert, that would do anything for just one drop of water. Seek liberation with that same intensity. Say Soham, Soham with that same intensity. That's what we need to do. Then the ninth quote. While we think of the world, it is only the world for us, but let us come to it with the feeling that the world is Brahman and we shall have Brahman. This should be our thought towards everyone and everything. Parents, children, husbands, wives, friends and enemies. Think how it would change the whole universe for us if we could consciously fill it with Brahman. See nothing but Brahman. All sorrow, all struggle, all pain would be forever lost to us. Let's explain this a little bit more. If we see through the body and mind, then all we see is the world, very simple. Now, if we start feeling that this existence and that all its content is Brahman, then we will surely understand and realize that there is only Brahman. Not that everything is Brahman. What we see is that Brahman is everything. There's a difference. Yeah. When we say everything is Brahman then, we may go into the delusion that everything, every little tiny thing is Brahman and it has a separate existence. No, it's that One Underlying Ground of Existence or as Rupert Spira calls the Shared Being. That is Brahman and it's only one. This should be the way we think always. Towards people and any material object. It doesn't matter if it's our spouse, our parents, our children, our friends, our colleagues, our enemies, the car we have, the house we have, the clothes we have, anything and everything. We should see it through as Brahman. That Brahman is All. If we fill this whole universe with Brahman. So basically take out the changing and see it as the changeless, perceive the Formless within the form then everything interacted with becomes an object of worship. Even the most mundane act becomes the object of worship. Consciously, with full attention, fill this world, appearing empty or with form, with the presence of Brahman, then there is ananda, then there is joy. By living this Integrated Advaita or Non-duality that Swami Vivekananda Ji is providing here, that is giving to us all as a gift, all of our problems in the world, all of our issues, all of our suffering will be lost. It will dissolve away, and it will never return to us, if we continuously embody what we learned in the previous quote. Soham, Soham. I am That. I am That. I am Formless Awareness. I am. Formless Awareness. Simple. Then the final quote of the day.

Swami Vivekananda Ji says:

the religious ideals of the future must embrace all that exists in the world and is good and great, and at the same time have infinite scope for future development. All that was good in the past, must be preserved and the doors must be kept open for future additions to the already existing store. Religions must also be inclusive and not look down with contempt upon one another because their particular ideals of Brahman are different. This is a very interesting verse. I really like this verse and I wanted to end with this. What is the future of religion or spirituality? That's something we are going to contemplate upon now. How do we build up a new generation of seekers, especially in this age of science? How do we in the age of science bring up alongside it a strong spiritual teaching? So with science and spirituality, how can we allow them to travel together? How can we do this? First of all, we must always embrace technological development. We should embrace it. Then what we need to do is understand that whatever is going on in the world and accept it. But that doesn't mean that we will not do something about it, but we need to accept it for what it is and use it as a reason to develop further. Instead of saying that something is bad, utilize that thing to then advance further. Allow yourself to evolve basically. However, in this act of acceptance, it does bring in the infinite scope for change and transformation. By seeing all as great and good, what we do is we look to evolve by shedding what is old. So we are saying is it was great for one time, but now there's a scope for something greater. That's what we do. If we see all as bad and then worst, then we will change very little because all we'll be concentrating on that is bad and worse. And we won't transform anyone and everyone, but if you give somebody an alternative that is better. So you can say, well this is okay, this is good, but here's the alternative. For example, I always tell people there's no point telling people to not drink alcohol or not do drugs. Show them a better form of intoxication, which is meditation. That's much better than just saying, don't drink, don't do drugs. Nobody listens to that. Nobody follows that. Don't limit how much we can develop in the future either. Spirituality has to develop too. We may have had great ideas, good practices, decent practices, but now they may not serve a purpose, so we need to develop them even further. Whatever was good in the past must be saved. Keep them. If it's helped, keep it, preserve it. Protect it, for sure and whatever we find that we can improve, what was good in the past, we can open the door for future editions, for future evolution. That's what Swami Vivekananda Ji is saying and I am completely in agreement with him on this. The religion of the future will not be afraid to transform and that's Advaita Vedanta, it is willing to change. It is fearless, it fully allows itself to evolve further. Now, the moment that any religion, any spiritual organization starts to be afraid of transformation, to be afraid of changing with the times, it's on its way of becoming an established religion. And I agree with Deepak Chopra Ji on this one point that the major religions are basically organized cults. Mass organized cult, that's what religion is, and I agree with him. If Advaita Vedanta wants to still hold it's relevance today, to be an inspiration for the youth, like it was for me and for many other people my age or younger who went through this period of atheism because we were sick and tired of the existing traditions because they didn't answer our questions. But then when we came across non-duality and Advaita Vedanta it changed our lives, it transformed us because we could see how we could apply it today and how it can transform lives today. And that's the most important thing. When people talk about how can we protect Hinduism, you know what first embody the spirituality. That's what you do. That's the ultimate way. Just talking about what the colonizers did and all that is a distraction from doing something spiritual and you keep yourself bounded limited and ultimately you don't see things clearly. Like we have apps on our phones and we see that they constantly get updated. Different versions start being created. Spirituality or religion must upgrade too in a similar way. Today, gurus should be like friends. They should not have this thing of being on the pedestal or being an object of worship. Today, scientific facts should establish what part of our scriptures is true or not. And whatever is not, we should be comfortable enough to say, let's take that out. Because remember we don't need to throw the whole scripture out. If we can verify some truths, and if we see that some things that are said in there is not true, take it out. Ignore it. There's no need to keep it. There's no need to keep that baggage. If a sculptor doesn't chip away that block of marble, you won't get that beautiful sculpture, right? The scripture should be the same way. You chip away the untruths to then keep the Truth alone. Basically, everything is a form of constant editing. That's the way to see it. That way today, scriptures can be used, but modernized too. Remember that the Rishis aren't gonna be offended if you take something out because there's a different truth today. If they do get offended, that means they have ego. and that's not true. You see, even in the Vedas, you see there is a transformation of ideas. There's an evolution of ideas that evolution continues even today. Another thing, today, we need to have smaller communities around a Guru. That will be best because then what can happen is with a smaller community, a Guru can give their personal attention like a friend and impact people's lives. Now, in my opinion, there should only be a maximum of 200 true devotes maximum. Now that means a lot of us need to start getting realized and start seeking liberation and attaining liberation and understanding we are liberated. We need to understand the task ahead of us. Religions must also look to be inclusive regardless of its philosophy. What you see with Advaita Vedanta because we entertain Saguna Brahman and we entertain Ishwara, the personal god, it's inclusive. It says, okay, let's for now, if that's what you want to believe in, we'll entertain that. You want to believe in the Deity? Okay, let's allow that to happen and allow you to worship that as your isht-devta. Remember Tat Tvam Asi, You are That. Soham, I am That. Remember this! That's one thing and if a religion says that another religion is wrong and you must convert to ours, stay away from that religion. Stay away. Even if it's a spiritual organization, stay away. No one should look to convert you. A Guru or a spiritual community should be so comfortable that if you find a better alternative, they should say, go there, my friend. Go there. You have our full support. That's how it should be. I saw this with my own teacher, with my own Guru. I remember once, someone had converted to Islam and He embraced that person. He didn't say, oh, you don't follow me anymore. You're wrong. No, you know what he did instead? He spoke about the greatness of Islam with that former devotee, and I found that to be really beautiful. That's the hallmark of a true Guru, a true teacher. Today also, gurus should be challenged with sincere questions. One thing is, I'm gonna say you need to be sincere in your questions, but you should challenge them. You should be able to openly question and get to the answers. If a Guru doesn't allow you to do that, stay away. Leave, don't stay there. Like I said, religions must be inclusive and they should look to embrace all. There's no need to hate anyone outside of your faith, even if the other people are hating your faith. There's no need to hate back. If you hate back then what have you learned? What have you gained? Then that means you do not see everything as Brahman. That means you do not see Brahman alone. We don't need to do that. Due to some seeing Nirguna Brahman, as Saguna Brahman or Ishwara, or the personal God, we are not to look down upon them. We can raise objections and say, well this is not the way we do things here, but we should not be egoic and say, well, I identify as Brahman alone. You are all wrong because you think there's Saguna Brahman and there's Ishwara. No, you allow them to be and say, well we don't teach this in in our community here, but there are other communities that do, go to them. You know they are good for you. Because if we start thinking that we are better than others, then this world will not develop. Society will be stagnant. Religion will be just a mess. The only way to get out of that mess is to be inclusive and to see each path as viable. Now in the truest essence, the only religion that really is, is Brahman and because that's the only religion, it can differ for each person in varying degrees because the way they see Brahman is the way they will see religion. Remember that always. That is now the end of the episode. I had great fun recording this episode. I had great fun just reading and expressing what I feel, and I hope that it's resonated with you. If you're watching this on YouTube, let me know in the comments about what you think. Like this video, share it with your friends and your family. share it with people that understand this truth and people that love to develop and this would be a useful tool for them. If you'll listening to this on any podcast streaming app, subscribe to this podcast. You can get in touch with me and let me know what you think you know on social media. All my social media links are in the video description below. You can even join my WhatsApp community group and in there you can openly discuss and we openly answer and develop our ideas further. You can find that all in the show notes and video description below. The other thing I wanna say is, as I mentioned there's going to be a new series called my Thoughts on the Upanishads and that, is only gonna be on Patreon or if you have a paid subscription on Apple Podcasts. In order to have access to that, do sign up to my Patreon page or to Apple podcast subscriptions where you will get those bonus episodes. You can find the link to my Patreon page in the show notes and video description below. If you would like to further, your development in spirituality. Maybe you have questions. You can have a one-on-one meeting with me and as a friend, I will give you guidance and help. And we can discuss your spiritual questions and you can find the details for that in the show notes and video description below as well. I just wanna say thank you very much for listening or watching this episode. Do take care, stay safe, and let's end this with a little bit of a change. Let's end it with the Soham mantra and the Shanti mantra that we normally end with. Soham, Soham. I am That. I am That. Aum Shanti. Shanti Shanti. Aum Peace Peace. Peace Namaste.