ground, together with water, wind, fire and sky,
functioning ego, right knowledge and the mind—
and ocean: what else is there?
these worlds, having arisen, are changing into knowledge.
impressions of earth, water, fire, wind, sky, the ego-sense, knowledge, mind,
and of all aspects of the one and the many, such as waves and the ocean—on
entering into consciousness these transform into knowledge as they rise into
the hierarchic series of states of awareness.
With earth and water, air and fire likewise,
Also the great void, the ego, cognition and mind,
All worlds including the waves and ocean too
Do they all arise and to awareness change.
is another one of those commentaries where I’m tempted to say, “Just read it!”
and not say a word. What can you possibly add to it? Nitya knits so much
together, with such a poetic touch, that it’s simply breathtaking. I still
remember him that morning, in top form, the way he put thrilling emphasis into
every word, the humor bubbling up out of his deep meditation, his astonishment
over the sentence, “A fiction that is uniting all the facts,” as if it had just
popped out of its own accord, the demon at the center of the earth, and
especially the part about treating the ego as if it’s a little pet puppy,
parading it around, pleading, “Do you like my dog?” I guess there are more than
a dozen A+ commentaries in That Alone, and this surely qualifies as one.
of the fun of the class, though, is that we always do come up with new
insights, and often the verses where you can’t say anything produce the best.
Last night was definitely like that.
stage is set with Nitya characterizing the glorious first half of Atmo as
merely laying the groundwork for what lies ahead, similar to Patanjali’s asana.
We have come to a turning point in
Narayana Guru’s instruction. In the last forty-nine verses, the Guru was
speaking to us more or less from a transactional point of view. Of course, we
were given an idea of what we are besides this body. He also saw us as part of
a society in which there are other individual members just like us. There are
various kinds of relationships existing between people. There is this world,
the society, and the individual. All these were taken into full consideration.
He worked out a system by which we first can find peace with our environment,
with the social setup, and peace on earth and good will among people. These are
the first requirements. Now we are going to have a more serious entry into our
own real being.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, after
the initial discipline is given he asks you to cultivate a posture where you
can sit peacefully and comfortably, to make yourself stable for your practice.
He did not say you should sit in a padmasana
or a mayurasana or anything. Those
were all invented by others. They may be good as exercises, but they don’t
especially aid your pursuit. All Patanjali wanted was a firm, steady posture so
that you can forget about your body.
Likewise, in forty-nine verses
Narayana Guru has prepared us to sit in peace so that now we can commence our
search…. What next? What comes next is very important. We commence the real
course, we’ve been thinking we were making the real probe all along, and in a
sense we aren't wrong. We have learned a great deal. The trick is that the ego
can usurp any search to bypass itself, basically converting it into a
self-glorification program. We have had to placate and discipline our egos to
the point where they can dare to relinquish command, dare to take their
rightful place on the periphery of our being instead of hogging the limelight
all the time. This is likely the most difficult challenge in spiritual life,
and we may not have been completely successful. But Narayana Guru can’t wait
forever for us to prepare ourselves properly. He has to continue the
instruction as if we have gotten it.
described the first half of Atmopadesa Satakam as a system of peace and
understanding. We had to work through all of it so that we no longer view the
world as a threat. She thought we should ask ourself, “What is fabricating your
knowledge?” She noted that everyone all around the globe reacts the same way.
We are all constructed the same, egos and all. Yet our faulty knowledge insists
that we are different, so we have to consciously countermand those beliefs.
Nitya’s idea of asana includes getting a firm seat of understanding so we can
properly interpret the other person’s point of view. This can only happen when
we no longer feel we have to defend our position.
often led us through a very simple meditation to demonstrate how we are
captivated by our knowledge and use it as a substitute for experience. He had
us sit quietly and close our eyes, then just feel the firmness we are sitting
on. When we concentrate on that, it is nothing like our mental image of our
body and the floor or chair we are sitting on. We can’t even tell where our
body ends and the room begins. There is a vague pressure on our lower body, but
it doesn’t conjure up any scientific belief. We are perfectly knowledgeable
about our body and the law of gravity, but in this state we aren’t really
paying attention to them, except perhaps to momentarily notice their absence.
There is nothing threatening to force us to cling to our concepts, it’s all
very gentle and natural. Just like that we are separated from the enchantment
of our ideas, our knowledge. We’re making ourselves real.
noted the seeming contradiction that by being more open we are actually
becoming more stable, more grounded. Once we realize that’s the way it works,
we welcome the opening out process rather than shunning it. When we take things
personally, we aren’t allowing the greater world to happen around us or in us.
we can truly feel how our knowledge is oppressing us, we can learn to stand
firm, free of its dominance. The class really got that, and it led to an
intensely wonderful discussion and the eventual closing meditation. We were
helped by Nitya’s amazing exhortations, including:
Is there no way out? Oh, yes,
certainly. That is to know that if you say I am bad and I think I am good, it
is all only knowledge. And because it is only knowledge, I can straighten it up
even if you mess with it. All I have to do is remember it is knowledge and not
get carried away by it.
The central pivot in all this is
called ahamkrti, the ‘I’ generating
rascal who is sitting in the midst of it all. This is a tremendous problem. You
don’t know the nature of this machine that goes on clicking one ‘I’ after
another—like drops from a leaky faucet—the consciousness of ‘I’.
remember being riveted by this discourse, and feel as if it’s still boring into
me. The next part is especially crucial, because the easy (and wrong) answer is
to do away with the ego, which after all is largely or totally fictional, not
to mention the source of all our travails:
It’s not that there
shouldn’t be a lovely device called an ‘I’ as the central orientation point of
your world. That’s very good. But it should only be for that one purpose of
orientation, and nothing else. You don’t really need other peoples’ opinions in
order to know how to feel. So don’t make your ‘I’ your pet baby you’re always
fawning over. You make it your lap dog. You have to pet it all the time, taking
it around for walks and asking your neighbor “how do you like my dog?” You feel
very happy if somebody says “beautiful!” but you are upset if they say “I have
seen a better dog!”
My friends, there is
nothing more beautiful than this freedom of which I am speaking. Try to
experience it. The whole day can be so wonderful! Whenever someone is making
you turn and churn inside, causing a knot within you, remember it is time to
add water and make things flexible once again. The world is so stupid! Someone
or other may breathe poison in your ear—cast it into the wind or onto the fire.
Do not take it seriously. Know that it is all happening where the generating of
the ‘I’ is going on. This is the only place where real darkness prevails.
Moreover, it is without our knowledge that the ‘I’ is being generated and
passed on to us. We have no idea what tricky hand is doing it.
have no idea.” Truer words were never spoken! We have employed our ego to make
an assault on our ego, which splits it in half and makes both sides grow bigger
and stronger, more firmly entrenched as our central verity. Narayana Guru is
gently wooing us away from our fixation, so we can wake up to a universe of
benign possibilities. Nitya again: “When you tune yourself to this inner
mechanism in your meditation you get a whole new freedom: the freedom not to be
agitated, the freedom to enjoy or not enjoy, the freedom to relate or not
relate. From the most gross you can slip away to the most sublime, the most subtle.”
is tragic that due to social constraints and instilled fears, most people
content themselves with shriveled lives that are a mere vestige of their
potential. Somehow we get comfortable enough with our shrunken self to put up
with it. We convince ourselves that we don’t deserve anything better, because
we don’t really matter. After all, isn’t it only the ego that thinks we are
important? No, we are very important, especially to ourself. Narayana Guru is
offering us the chance to actualize much more of who we are, and in the process
become happier as well as more inspiring to our friends and associates.
must own up to the fact that stepping outside our ‘I’ is a very challenging
act, and one that is more often than not faked. I just listened to an interview
with James Fadiman, one of the founders of the Institute of Transpersonal
Psychology in Palo Alto, California. He noted that psychedelic therapy was
successful in part because it demonstrated irrefutably that the ‘I’ was merely
one small part of who we are. For people who spend their whole lives wrestling
with the ego and unable to ever stand outside it, suddenly it seems almost
irrelevant, just a small part of their true self. It is a great relief for them
to leave that whole arena of misery and bathe in freedom. Often one experience
like that is enough to alter the entire course of their lives for the better.
In fact, in Fadiman’s experience, about four out of five people who use LSD
therapeutically consider it the single most important event of their lives.
free of the ego’s dominance is definitely the single most important
accomplishment of a spiritual reorientation, however it comes about. Needless
to say, a course like Atmo, taken to heart, can have the same impact. There is
definitely a tendency to slip back into oblivion when the ego feels threatened,
however. It’s an aspect that has to be dealt with, or the opportunity will be
diluted down to just another amusing pastime.
more critical point is made at the very end of the commentary. We are
completing our 36th year of hosting Gurukula classes, and yet we
still frequently encounter the spiritual cliché that we have to stop thinking,
stop having urges, escape from the chaos to have peace. So many great teachers
say so. But that kind of peace is likely to be static and uncreative.
Confrontations and collisions help us to grow, challenge our complacency. That
means we don’t have to stop the world in order to realize truth, we have to
integrate ourselves harmoniously with it. Life itself is the guru, the source
of our evolutionary development. It is by no means a mistake to be avoided.
Paul put it nicely, that our identity (which is based on our knowledge) has
little to do with actual experience. By introducing even a little fluidity we
can take the rigidity out of our identity.
belief in getting everything to stop turns out to be a clever ego tactic to
indefinitely postpone realization, because the thinking process never really
ends. It can be altered, quieted, honed, but not prevented. We are dynamic
creatures, and that’s a good thing, or should be. This verse is one of the
several places in the Gurukula literature where this misguided belief is
countermanded in no uncertain terms, calling on one of Narayana Guru’s classic
You cannot get rid of all the waves
and just have a pure ocean. That is what everybody is trying to do—sit firm and
close the eyes so that you get rid of all thoughts and ideas, and then finally
you are left with the pure, pure ocean of the Self. Narayana Guru says this is
like someone taking a cake of soap to the washtub and trying to wash all the
lather out of it. No matter how much you wash, it cannot be done. The more
water you pour and the more you rub, the more the lather comes. Trying to get rid
of all the thoughts and ideas in the mind in order to come to pure
consciousness is like that. It is in and through all this that you have to see
pure consciousness. It is not that you kill everyone in the world and then find
peace. Let your good neighbors be there. Their dog may bark, but you can still
be peaceful. See how it works for you today.
Neither This Nor That But . . . Aum:
sit, walk, work and when our limbs are tired we comfortably take our rest on
the solid earth, the terra firma. It rains, water spatters on the roof and
causes puddles on the ground. It flows as rivers to the mighty oceans which
look so vast they seem shoreless. Fire sits concealed in the matchstick; rub it
hard on the match box and it bursts into flame. Fire is everywhere. It is in us
as our body heat, in the stove on which we cook our food, in our lamps to give
us light. It is in the clouds as electricity. It shines in the sky as the
blazing sun. The far-off stars that shimmer at night are also fire. The gentle air
we breathe is hardly noticed except when our nose is clogged or our lungs are
weak. When the air is stirred it becomes an enjoyable breeze. When it blows
hard it is the wind. At its worst it is a hurricane, a tornado. Open the door
and come out. You are in the open. “The open” has no limits. In it are the
neighbourhood, the far-off hills and dales, the whole world. You don't even
need to come out, just open your eyes Þ that brings you to the outer world. All
that is not inside is outside and with equal truth you could say that all that
are outside are inside too.
experiences all this? Well, there is an “I-me-my-mine” generating consciousness
which creates all these experiences. What is consciousness? That is my seeing
and knowing and thinking and feeling and what not. Who causes what? Does “I”
cause consciousness or does consciousness generate “I”? This is an eternal
riddle of the mind. Mind! What is that? It is a fiction that is holding
together all facts, like the sea generating waves. The sea is so cluttered with
its waves, that we see only the waves. Philosophers and psychologists, who are
the frogmen of the mind, assure us that there is a depth to our mind—a deep
unconscious that is hiding beneath our perception, our thoughts and all the
when we ponder over it, all these rise into the single phenomenon of pure
knowledge: the knowledge of firmness, the knowledge of the flow, the knowledge
of warmth, the knowledge of what is in and what is out Þ an ocean of knowledge
cluttered with the knowledge of what was hitherto looked upon as “the known.”
The knower and the known blend in knowledge and knowledge alone triumphs over
everything, enveloping everything and transforming everything into knowledge.
this fiftieth verse, which marks the centre of the hundred verses of the
composition, when read together with the immediately previous one, we have to
note that there is a change-over from one aspect of Self-instruction to
another. The change-over could be described philosophically as passing from the
ontological to the teleological.
49 ended on the note that one should settle down in inner peace of mind. Those
aspects of Self-realization that are most conducive to this peace, as
understood in this contemplative context, have been treated of by the Guru in a
certain methodological and epistemological order. In both the halves of the
work we notice that the topics discussed are around factors of subjective
import, as the subject matter of the whole composition would warrant.
Introspection, however, becomes affirmed deeper in the second half as deeper
recesses of the Self are brought up into view and scrutinized more carefully,
where again the reader would profit by noting the inward approach to the
and psychology enter into the structure of the verses in their own manner, and
one is to be understood in terms of the other. A contemplatively neutral
psycho-physical method and theory of knowledge, besides an axiology or science
of values, all viewed in an absolutist sense, are implied in the verses as they
now pass on to the latter half of the work.
modern philosophers know that Reality is an ever- changing flux and that
‘being’ and ‘becoming’ are interchangeable terms, with an element of paradox
implied when both are taken together and fitted properly into the context of
the larger and more inclusive background of the notion of the Absolute.
Self and the Cosmos have the same laws belonging to the neutral ground of
psycho-physics. The body-mind duality has to be transcended before one can
visualize this common ground of all truth or reality. Absolute Being has to be
understood in terms of becoming, as one is in reality a counterpart of the
other when looked upon from the standpoint of dialectical thinking. Dialectics
is what reconciles apparent paradoxes; and dialectical methodology, which
belongs to the scientific approach to the Absolute by natural right, has to be
recognized properly if such verses as the above are to be understood in their
full import, and not merely as mystical or poetical effusions.
verse sums up the position and restarts the discussion of self-instruction or
realization which would require many pages to comment upon. It thus only
prepares the way for the second half of the work. As the rest of the
composition itself would serve in many ways as such a comment, we are not here
going into the implications of all that is stated here. It would be helpful to
refer back to verse 2, at the beginning, to be able to see the perspective in
which the meaning of the present verse is to be understood. There it was stated
that there are several worlds, beginning from our own inner instruments of
knowledge or doors of perception, known as karanas in Vedantic language. The
treatment of mind as on a par with other factors such as the worlds that can be
serially conceived as leading up to the highest contemplative values - spoken
of as the sun beyond space and equated to it - is to be justified in the light
of the method followed in the work as a whole.
great circulation of thought here implied in the absolutist contemplative
context, starts with the earth, which is the grossest of the manifested
elementals. Passing in graded fashion through the higher and subtler elements
such as water, air and fire, we come to the sky, which is both subtle and gross
at the same time. There is space that contains matter such as ether; and pure
space which is of an a priori and metaphysical order. Aristotle makes this
distinction clear when he defines space as, ‘That without which bodies could
not exist.’ (‘Physics’ Book IV). If space were a body then we should have to
concede that two bodies existed in the same space. The passing on in the series
here from the elementals which are primarily physical, to those that are
understood to be of a primarily mental order, involves a unitive epistemology
on the basis of which we have already made our comments in the previous half of
“void,” which can represent both the aspects of space that we have tried to
distinguish above at the same time, is the unitive factor which leads us to the
rest of the series in order, such as the ego which cognises through mind etc.
In the Bhagavad Gita we have the enumeration of a similarly conceived series of
categories, which reads:
earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind and reason too, with ego-sense—such are
the eight items of the series of the nature that is of Me (the Absolute).’
Viveka Chudamani of Sankara also
follows similar lines when it enumerates the eight cities that constitute the
subtle (sukshma) body:
are: the groups of five, beginning with speech (1); the five beginning with
hearing (the organs of perception) (2); the five functional factors (3); the
elementals (such as sky) (4); and the mental factors, such as cognition (5),
nescience (6); action (7) and desire (8).’ (verse 98.)
epistemology is thus familiar with this unitive treatment of categories. Other
philosophers like Aristotle, Kant and Spinoza have, in the categories they
enumerate, this same time-honoured methodology and epistemology. The Guru here
follows the same perennial contemplative approach, which is in keeping with the
Science of the Absolute known both in India and outside. Contemplative method
first reduces these factors into a series that, even when the order is
reversed, still refers to the norm of the Absolute. Ascending and descending
dialectics meet in the neutral Absolute. This verse marks the beginning of
visualizing these factors contemplatively, it would be necessary to fit them
into a ‘being’ in terms of a never-ending process of ‘becoming’. ‘Being’ and
‘becoming’ have to yield together a unitive and living picture of the Absolute.
The same circulation of various psycho-physical entities finds mention in the
Bhagavad Gita (III.14-16) where there is reference to a wheel that goes round
eternally as between items such as food, rain, sacrifice and the absolute value
implied in sacrifice. The rising of the various worlds, understood in serial
and graded order, and finally their transformation into terms of one absolute
value as pure consciousness, is a matter already recognized, and one for
contemplative vision to grasp both schematically, symbolically as well as
further reference here to the ‘waves and the ocean’, as if they fall outside
the elementals, is to show that there is also a relational or formal world
which has to be given its place in the scheme of the Absolute which is both
being and becoming at once. The Nyaya-Vaiseshika philosophers included
‘sambandha’ (relationship) as an independent category, and the Guru here
approves of this way of examining all the possible categories that legitimately
apply to the Absolute. The waves are dialectically related to the ocean, and
the relationship implied is one that belongs to the world of categories which
have all to be comprehensively understood schematically before any full vision
of the Absolute can result.
endowed with this type of reasoning through relationships, the intelligence of
man will be able to see that all factors, ranging from the grossest to the
subtlest, arrange themselves and constitute the cycle of change and becoming in
terms of pure consciousness. A great deal of research and thought has, however,
to proceed before such a vision of the rise of thought through ramified sets of
psycho-physical factors into absolutist awareness can be witnessed as taking
place in oneself.
offered the only feedback on this wonderful verse, which turned out to be a bit
before the fact:
Thanks for the notes and comments. The 100 VERSES
seems to keep creeping into my experience in ways that suggest something there
is going on that is above my mind's pay grade.
I was having a conversation with a close friend who was having
issues with what someone said about her. I suggested that it was all just
information she could decide to entertain or not, that she did not have to wait
for someone else to tell her how she felt. I then said I was trying to do
just that with myself as I encountered other social egos projecting all over
the place and that when I'm on track, it works. She wasn't buying any of
it—just too far off the tried and true.
--The arresting feature of this encounter was that it happened just
before last Tuesday's class and I had not reviewed Verse 50 for a few months.
But there it was as if on cue—
All the best,
about every critique of American culture includes a damnation of its consumer
ethos and general materialism.
Avarice, greed, and narcissism are some of the terms freely thrown
around by many who often then go on to cite American foreign policy as founded
on those very principles. In his
“Intervention in Vietnam and Central America: Parallels and Differences,”
for example, one of the most erudite of opponents of US policies, Noam Chomsky,
cuts to the heart of the matter in his concise discussion of the American post
World War II “Grand Area” planning that the US pursued immediately with its
victory in Japan. The Grand Area
was that part of the globe that was to be subordinated to American economic
needs and was “strategically necessary for world control” (p. 317). Chomsky
then cites a document (PPS 23)
formulated by George Kennan of the State Department in 1948, a rationalization
that puts in stark relief the realpolitik logic behind the Plan (echoes of
which are heard throughout the media today):
We have about 50 percent of the
world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. . . . In this
situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task
in the coming period is
to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this
position of disparity. . . . We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford
today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. . . . We should cease to
talk about vague and . . . unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising
of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in
straight power concepts. The less
we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better. (p. 318)
this dark background as an over-arching national ethic, efforts to interpret
the world in alternative terms often fall on deaf ears or, even more the case,
are seen as trivial or juvenile.
Films and books that are aimed at children get a cultural pass on conforming
to our collective “reality,” but adult efforts to “look on the sunny side” are
almost always relegated to the non-serious or to temporary aberrations that
quickly evaporate as the real world
closes ranks and resumes functioning on a consensus we authorize for one
Verse 50, the Guru and Nitya begin work on how we can operate in transactional
reality while at the same time clearly perceiving it. The world requires our cooperation in order to continue as
it is, and without becoming aware of that fact and then deciding to play or not
play (as events unfold), we are what we find so repellant while simultaneously
dismissing the positive as an impossibly naïve posture for any serious adult to
With this verse, Nitya writes in
his commentary, “we [are about to] commence the real probe” by moving the
inquiry deeper into our consciousness for an exploration of the process through
which we manifest our social/environmental constructions (p. 339). This movement,
says Nitya, constitutes the
work of meditation, the discipline of which offers us the route for this
voyage, but it is a discipline that requires no complicated and painful
exercise. Sitting comfortably and
stably in a peaceful setting constituted the heart of the simple instructions
given by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras
(the ultimate source for yoga practitioners generally). Once the practitioner
minimal requirements, writes Nitya, we simply need to close our eyes and begin
paying attention to what we begin to perceive, to trust our capacity to
directly recognize without the interference presented by someone else
“correcting” our direct experience.
As Nitya points out, “You don’t’ really need other people’s opinions
in order to know how you feel” (p. 341, underlining added).
Nitya begins with a simple exercise
by asking us to become sensitive to our body’s natural attraction to the earth,
an experience we almost always consign to the effects of gravitation. But naming
it does not explain it any
better than does the idea of a “green demon pulling you down with invisible
claws (p. 339).” Neither
conception explains the strange experience any more accurately than the other
which, says Nitya, is essentially “our knowledge “that cannot be divided
between ourselves and the thing itself.
We cannot tell when gravity ends and our perception of it begins, but we
know the two, which are “held together by what’s called mind” (p. 340).
As Nitya phrases this combination of
the knower, the known, and knowledge, this trifurcation of experience is a
fiction we employ as we navigate the infinite number of forms and forces that
our bodies come into contact with daily.
As a consequence of this mental
exercise, which is so necessary for our physical survival, we forget that the
mind is doing this compartmentalizing and assume its work accurately represents
a total picture of the one true consciousness permeating everything. As the wave
and the water are not two,
our I and someone else’s I are of
the same consciousness. But in our synthetic state in which
that oneness is pushed out of awareness, the knowledge expressed by the other I
is taken to represent the totality of
our consciousness. Through this
category error we almost “naturally” assign to the other an enormous authority
over our perceptions of knowledge.
Having mistaken it for the total, we constantly adapt to what others
tell us about our knowledge, input that we have inflated to an ultimate
importance and attached to our sense of stability and safety (in a world or
constant change). In this
procedure is our ego inflation and deflation. What others tell us about our “selves” becomes vital
information for our very survival, so “when my knowledge changes, I change” (p.
340). As Nitya writes as he
narrates from this cramped perspective, “ I was [previously] under the impression
that I was a good guy, but now you say I’m bad. Now I’m meditating on badness. It makes me feel very negative.”
The key terms in Nitya’s preceding sentence, I think, are the
words “it makes me feel.” If I am
told I am good, bad, sarcastic, jovial, whatever, my Self has not changed at
all, but by assigning a total importance to the in-coming information I
essentially choose to assign it an un-earned and fictitious authority that
absolutely must be dealt with or (as I have convinced myself to be true) I will
die (which may be true in a relative sense). No one makes me feel anything I do not choose to feel,
however much I deny my power.
In this continuous and
instantaneous system, the ego-self operates beyond its necessary function of
acting as an “orienting” position for our lives as we live them here in the
marketplace, so to speak. This ego
over-reach, writes Nitya, this fiction we create, is the source of just about
all psychiatric maladies. By
remaining unaware of this little ego-I continuously attaching to external
stimulation and reacting to it as if it were real, we remain in a condition for
which only temporary remedies exist.
In the US, drug and talk therapies constitute the bulk of the relief,
with drugs far in the lead because of their relative cost benefits. In this cultural
samsaric circle completes as these brief vacations from the
endless/beginningess world of I-ego attached misery suspend awareness now and
then. In these brief fixes, the
power of the little ego is reinforced and hidden from view, an underlying
characteristic of materialism generally. Only by locating value in the ever-present arising of
the external, as the inflated ego continuously demands of us, can any larger
social arrangement founded on avarice, narcissism, and envy exist and prosper.
In Nitya’s commentary on this
verse, he asks us to let go of this little I
attachment, to “water down your ego a little” (p. 341) by following the Guru’s
instructions to “water down” and “let fly in the wind” that little ego-I. The external information we receive is
not our Self, and we have a choice to accept it or not. If someone has a negative
opinion of you, that assessment is external to you and can have no effect
unless you decide it does—or are compelled by internal forces outside your
awareness (samskaras, etc.) to attach to it.
It is in this compulsion that the
world of circular misery is constructed, a principle that Descartes centuries
ago codified for the West (where it has festered ever since and flowered so
brilliantly in post-WWII America) when he coined the phrase, “I think therefore
I am.” But, as Nitya points
out, “we have to go beyond that.
Can you not say, ‘If the thinking is me, then I am not. It is only
a thought’ ” (p. 342).