Nitya Teachings

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Darsana Two - Introduction


Apavada Darsana Introduction

Truth by Consistent Refutation of the False


         The introduction to the second darsana is a little less weighty than the upcoming verses, so it left room to continue our discussion of the ground or core of being and how we experience it. Happily this subject was food for thought this week for several of us, and those who read the class notes were further inspired by Jan’s and Deb’s written responses. This is a great example of how words can prompt us to travel far on very rewarding trains of thought. Without the prompting, most of us simply wouldn’t bother, wouldn’t even know what to look for.

         We will cover some of the ground of being discussion later. First though, Nitya defines the subject matter of the next darsana, as is fitting for an introduction:


   The systematic method of correcting a false notion is in Sanskrit called apavada. When the qualities or properties of one thing are wrongly projected or superimposed on another, it is called adhyaropa. Apavada is the antidote for adhyaropa. Thus apavada is a philosophical method used to reclaim and reestablish truth. After clearly presenting various aspects of the mental projections we are prone to make because of our ignorance and the limitations imposed by our generic psychophysical nature, Narayana Guru wants now to provide us with a method with which we can eradicate from our minds all false identifications….

   Unfortunately, prejudices cannot be easily eradicated. But apavada is an effective method we can use for this purpose. It addresses itself both to prejudices arising from misguided spiritual enthusiasms, and to those stemming from the slogan-chanting exaggerations of materialism.


That’s an understatement if ever there was one: prejudices cannot be easily eradicated. Their tenaciousness is legendary. Scotty visualizes them as mental cocoons. Yet by making a dedicated attempt to come to grips with our prejudices, they can be greatly diminished. With effort the impossible becomes possible.

         We began the class with a nod to Nitya’s dialectic uniting of spirituality and materialism, which has much to teach us in terms of technique. Regarding the professed opposition of these two camps, Nitya writes:


Both groups try to prove their stand with the aid of reason. If we examine the contention of the contending forces, we shall see that their apparent differences contain a large measure of agreement. Both sides want truth to prevail; both want the mind to be systematically directed towards truth, so that whatever an individual does will be consistent with a truthful conviction; both hold that only truth will set man free from incorrect beliefs and wrongful conditioning; and both want their votaries to be happy. In addition, both spiritualists and materialists believe they should share happiness with others and work towards the perpetuation of peace, justice, love, and happiness for all through the achievement of the goals of their philosophies. What both groups are trying to do is remove false notions or wrongly indoctrinated convictions. It is wonderful to see that except for doctrinal points there is almost complete agreement between them….


When we compare the doctrines, aims, and methods proposed to achieve these goals by both the spiritualists and the materialists, then the materialists may be amazed and not a little discomfited to see there are no essential differences between the two groups. The continuing warfare between them arises from the obscuration caused by a confusion of tongues. As Bertrand Russell rightly said: “Man can never attain lasting peace without finding adequate measures to solve his semantic problems.”


Of course, Nitya was speaking of the most exemplary members of both sides of the argument. In America at least, there are many religious people who want happiness only for the chosen few, and who delight in imagining the rest of humanity roasting in misery for all eternity, and there are many materialists who only want to exploit the rest for every drop of blood they can wring out of us. That’s a different matter. Nitya was limiting his remarks to compassionate open-minded idealistic people. He had in mind Marxists and similar materialistic idealists, rather than non-philosophic physicists, for instance. And there are plenty of open-minded religious people on all hands, though they seldom merit media attention the way that bigots and loudmouths do, and Nitya was thinking of them. Emphasizing the positive, showing the way.

         I asked the class to notice what was askew in the seemingly exemplary positions of the two sides as presented in the introduction. The reason these ideals are never realized is not specifically noted, but it’s worth paying attention to. Both are aimed at fixing problems “out there” in the world. Other people’s problems. Humans are allergic to admitting our own shortcomings. In Narayana Guru’s philosophy we are charged with recognizing our natural limitations. Because all positions are necessarily partial, they are inadequate for bringing about the ideal states they envision. The proper place to work, then, is within ourselves. As many Chinese philosophers have insisted, the social world is an expression of the inner state of individuals, and we bring harmony to society by being harmonious ourselves. Or we bring chaos by being chaotic. People will always be eager to solve problems in their surroundings, and in so doing will create new problems to be solved. That’s okay. But we want to be happy before all the world’s problems are solved, because we likely won’t live long enough to find that heavenly state realized. We should see how the world as it is now, with all its flaws, is not only perfect, it is more than perfect. It is miraculous, through and through. Dialing in to the essence of everything is an open door to meaningful and transformative happiness. Nitya mentions that here:


If a man comes to know this reality he will see everything as a manifestation of the Self, and such a realization will automatically make him a lover of the manifested world. So far as his interpersonal relationships are concerned he will neither hate nor wish to possess or dominate anyone, for he will see all men as manifestations of the one Self. If all men saw the Self everywhere we would live in a world of absolute peace, with a spontaneous sharing of joy and happiness.


This goal seems no closer now than it ever has been. So we have to take another piece of advice from Nitya: to “save the world” add one more happy person to it: yourself! This is done at home, out of the public gaze.

         We talked about how seductive it is to identify with a certain popular group. Since we tend to feel uncertain in ourselves, we graft ourselves onto an appealing movement that gives us a sense of being right. We proudly extol our chosen group and hurl insults at those who prefer something else. We also take offense when we are the recipients of baleful attitudes. As a “hippie” myself—a believer in love, kindness, generosity, universal happiness and all that—I well know how cutting it is to be written off as the scum of the earth by another person who has a very different conception of what a hippie is. I have been despised because of some word label, not for anything I actually happen to be. And so it goes.

         So even the best of labels can turn against us. Once upon a time, liberal was a high compliment. Who could fault a progressive, open-minded, generous attitude, free from prejudice? Now it has become a curse word in much of America, one step this side of terrorism. Public dialogue has descended to glorified name-calling, and if we identify with the name being called, it is bound to be hurtful. But why do we need that kind of superficial identity? What we are, is not expressed by any label, and yet we are tempted to cling to them nevertheless. The best move would be to wean ourselves from dependency on such unreliable crutches.

         I mentioned Nitya’s wonderful essay that addresses this point: What Religion Is To Me, which is now up on his website. I’ll also post it here in Part II. Nitya believed truth was everywhere, and he eagerly took it in wherever he could find it. He had the most ecumenical attitude of anyone I’ve ever known. I don’t recall him ever labeling himself, either. He lived what Deb described: “if we are able to be settled in ourselves, then we can be involved in issues and we don’t become aligned one way or the other.” But oh, to be settled in our selves! It’s a lifelong challenge.

         We live in a world where fixed groups cling tenaciously to their identity and often come into serious conflict. The cure envisioned by people like Narayana Guru is to broaden the identity to ideally include everyone and everything. It isn’t a matter of getting everyone to agree on certain core principles, which is impossible. Much less agree with us. Rather, by apprehending the core of unity in the ground of existence, unity quite naturally becomes a tangible reality. Within its ambit, everyone is free to pursue their own visions and associate as they will, yet the impetus for conflict is dissolved.

         Karen observed how our political system in the US is almost totally based on labeling and demonizing the other. It is indeed a time-honored technique for stampeding the gullible into your camp. Scotty added that the one liberal in the fray, Bernie Sanders, wants to find allies, to find common ground, so he’s ignored by the media. They thrive on fighting, on divisiveness.

         Speaking of common ground, Karen wasn’t comfortable with “the ground of being.” It seemed too solid, too earthy, for her. Her honest assessment propelled us into that important subject.

         I suggested to Karen that “ground” here meant basis, the unmanifested potential out of which everything, including the physical ground, arises. Of course we are free to use whatever term most suits us, and many of us prefer the Absolute as a thoroughly neutral, inconceivable term. Rest assured there are those who think of the Absolute in terms like the political absolutism of the Nazis, so they can’t abide it, either. No label is going to satisfy everyone. “God” worked for a long time, but it no longer serves its purpose for modern thinkers. Karen did change her view: “Oh, I see. The ground of being is that spark inside us, the never changing place.” Perfect. No dirt there at all.

         Several people offered versions of what Kant called the a priori and the a posteriori: the before and after of manifestation. The ground is the a priori, the yet-to-be-manifested. When we conceive of it, label it, and assign it a value, it becomes a posteriori. You cannot go backwards: you cannot retrieve the original from what it was made into. Paul recalled that the Absolute cannot cross the threshold of consciousness—waking consciousness, that is. We read only last week that “the core is forbidden to consciousness.” It is present, but unrecognized. The minute we identify it, it is no longer the core. It has become manifest, if only as an idea. Paul felt that this concept has helped him be less rigid in his positions, and that is likely to save him from repeating some of the mistakes that he has made in the past. I am sure that’s true. But we can always make new mistakes, and probably will. J

         I couldn’t help but offer a meditation I had had the previous evening related to the core. Deb and I were at the symphony, where the last piece of a terrific concert was Gustav Holst’s The Planets. It was a spectacular performance of our excellent orchestra, and the music gently launched me into outer space, pondering the solar system from out in my home turf of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. I was first struck by how ridiculously miniscule the living surface of our planet Earth is compared to even the local region of the galaxy, let alone the whole universe. I just looked it up and got one estimate: 0.0000000000000000000042 percent. Seems a little generous, but it’s kind of what I was thinking. Then I was reminded that “empty space” is not empty—it is filled with light, though the light is dark (invisible) until it encounters an object. Between lives we are beams of light, which take no time at all to reach every corner of the universe. It’s a great feeling, I’m sure. Maybe a little lonely. But what a miracle that it has become possible for those light beams to take on flesh, to become actualized as living beings on a stupendously gorgeous planet! It reemphasized my inner dedication to experience every moment to the utmost, to share love with friends, to care for all living things, to notice the glories of expression all around me. (I know this sounds liberal, but bear with me….) That light can become all this, and then dissolve again into its essential elements, is the greatest miracle of all. So I was visualizing the core, the ground, in my seat high in the concert hall, as the all-pervading light rather than the more typical singularity of no dimension. I well knew, thanks to Darsanamala, that however I conceived of it, it was only a metaphor, only a simulacrum. The core cannot be delineated. But the right metaphor can inspire us, and this one worked just fine for me.

         The importance of cherishing life as we are given it reminded Susan of what a difference our attitude can make:


I just heard about a friend’s sister in law who was paralyzed two weeks ago by a huge wave while swimming in the ocean in Mexico. The wave hit her and luckily her husband was right next to her and could carry her out of the water or she would have drowned. I asked how she was doing, assuming that she was a wreck emotionally. My friend said she is doing well. She’s tough, she said, and she’s so happy to be alive. I felt really inspired by this, thinking that this woman was not clinging to her identities (such as being a walking person) so much that she could not still see the beauty of her being.


         The space theme led Deb to mention that astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who had a famous epiphany while returning from the moon, died recently. Unique among US astronauts, who were chosen partly on the basis of a lack of imagination as a kind of protective barrier against the unknown hazards of space travel, Mitchell became an explorer of inner space. Here’s a bio from the IONS website, the institute he founded after he came back to earth:


Traveling back to Earth, having just walked on the moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell had an experience for which nothing in his life had prepared him. As he approached the planet we know as home, he was filled with an inner conviction as certain as any mathematical equation he'd ever solved. He knew that the beautiful blue world to which he was returning is part of a living system, harmonious and whole—and that we all participate, as he expressed it later, “in a universe of consciousness.”

   Trained as an engineer and scientist, Captain Mitchell was most comfortable in the world of rationality and physical precision. Yet the understanding that came to him as he journeyed back from space felt just as trustworthy—it represented another way of knowing.

  This experience radically altered his worldview: Despite science's superb technological achievements, he realized that we had barely begun to probe the deepest mystery of the universe—the fact of consciousness itself. He became convinced that the uncharted territory of the human mind was the next frontier to explore, and that it contained possibilities we had hardly begun to imagine. Within two years of his expedition, Edgar Mitchell founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973.


Deb read that in his epiphany he realized that the molecules of the spaceship and the moon and his body were all made up of the exact same dust from a stellar explosion, so there was no essential difference in any of it. A core idea for sure.

         Prabu, visiting from California, told us of a crew in Antarctica searching for neutrinos. Neutrinos are almost totally invisible. Thousands of them are passing through us all the time, and we never know it. I suggested that neutrinos were the sannyasins of the particle world, since they don’t interact with anything.

         Moni agreed that the core is very subtle, and we can’t say what it is. She knows she has carried her core with her wherever she goes. She also well knows she has a core in her that helps others. It engenders empathy and truth.

         The unifying thread in all our accounts was that, while we cannot know the ground of being in the way we know our physical world, we can turn toward it and invite it to inspire us. If we don’t, we are likely to miss many opportunities it is dying to give us. When we do open ourselves to it, in whatever way suits us best, exciting possibilities continually arise. Not material things. Empathy and truth, for instance, are not material: they are far more valuable than any matter.

         Scotty realized this past week, after our initial discussion in class, that his childhood illness he described last week had led him—practically forced him—to accept life as a great gift. Barely alive on the edge of death, he chose to live, and so he did. This is a deliberate and momentous decision we might all renew on a regular basis. Scotty feels that his own renewal has led him to shed many cocoons in which he has been incubating, and now he is ready to flutter free as an unfettered butterfly. Letting go of the cocoons is a critical stage of the process. His new motto: chaos, cleanse, purge! Right on.


Part II


         Susan shared a few quotes from Astronaut Mitchell:


“The desire to live life to its fullest, to acquire more knowledge, to abandon the economic treadmill, are all typical reactions to these experiences in altered states of consciousness. The previous fear of death is typically quelled. If the individual generally remains thereafter in the existential state of awareness, the deep internal feeling of eternity is quite profound and unshakable.” 

Edgar D. Mitchell, The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey Through the Material and Mystical Worlds


 Instead of an intellectual search, there was suddenly a very deep gut feeling that something was different. It occurred when looking at Earth and seeing this blue-and-white planet floating there, and knowing it was orbiting the Sun, seeing that Sun, seeing it set in the background of the very deep black and velvety cosmos, seeing - rather, knowing for sure - that there was a purposefullness of flow, of energy, of time, of space in the cosmos - that it was beyond man's rational ability to understand, that suddenly there was a nonrational way of understanding that had been beyond my previous experience.


There seems to be more to the universe than random, chaotic, purposeless movement of a collection of molecular particles.

On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.


*         *         *


         Here is Nitya’s essay on religious identity, which has been posted on his website also:


                  WHAT RELIGION IS TO ME


        I was born and brought up in India. When I was at school, once a year the teacher asked the class to respond to a classification. On my first time, he called out “Muslims,” and some of my friends stood up. Suleyman was my best friend and he stood up. As I believed that I belonged to whatever he did, I naturally got up and stood with him. The teacher looked at me with unbelieving eyes and asked me to sit down. I could not understand this high handedness that separated me from my best friend, but, respecting the teacher’s arbitration, I sat. “Christians!” the teacher shouted next. This time I saw that my good friend Peter was standing up. As I did not want to lose both Suleyman and Peter, I stood up again, and again the teacher told me to sit down, this time with a note of annoyance. At this point I decided I did not understand what game the teacher wanted us to play. Finally he said, “Hindus!” Next to me sat Paramesvara, the carpenter’s son. He stood up, but, as I had never joined him in any of his endeavors, I sat where I was. The teacher looked fiercely into my eyes and shouted at me: “Stand up you stupid ass. You are a Hindu!”

        This made me think “Hindu” was another name for an ass. I knew that I was not an ass; how then did I classify as a Hindu? When I returned home I told my mother that my teacher had ruthlessly characterized me as a Hindu, which seemed synonymous to an ass. When my mother confirmed that I was indeed a Hindu, I felt crestfallen, but she continued by explaining that Hindu did not mean ass, but referred generally to the majority of Indians who did not go to churches on Sundays or mosques on Fridays. In those days there was no temple nearby and I did not see the inside of one until Mahatma Gandhi came to our village to open a temple for all Hindus. For a long time the word Hindu was a contemptuous term in my mind, and Christian and Muslim were horrifying categorizations that segregated many of my friends, at least on certain days or hours in a day. This experience of mine is shared in varying degrees of shame or horror by at least the three-fourths of the population of India who are financially deprived and are considered socially taboo.

         After considerable exposure to education and religious display, I have come to terms with my Hindu grass roots and I have taken pains to understand the philosophy, mythology, ritual, ethics and above all the psycho-cosmologic dimensions of this mammoth, ancient culture which is at once dynamic and lethargic, universal and parochial, impersonal and individualistic, transcendental and exploitive. In spite of my devoted study of the vast Hindu literature and that of its aftergrowths—Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—I am still as much an outsider to Hinduism as I am to Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Shintoism. The main reason for such a sad alienation from my own hereditary grass roots is the natural aversion and anger that has grown in me towards the cancerous social observance of caste and all the anomalies connected with it. No one who cannot accept the caste system will ever become an ardent protagonist of Hinduism.

       This deep, agonizing conviction of the otherness of the very unconscious to which my mythic and archetypal emotions belong, is not a solitary freak incidence with me alone. There are millions of well-meaning, educated Indians who feel a natural abhorrence to the claims that Hinduism makes upon them. However, this gives little or no impetus to show love or sympathy for other religions. There is, of course, the glowing exception of Dr. Ambedkar, who sought refuge in Buddhism out of sheer exasperation, though history proved this to be a false step which was suicidal and self-defeating. Fortunately Hinduism is not felt in the average Indian life as an organized monolithic institution, even though many politically ambitious fanatics have, time and again, tried to exploit the people’s emotional affiliation to it for the purpose of building up a Hindu fundamentalist India. This has not succeeded and will not succeed, because a more genuine and immensely valuable spirit prevails upon the Indian mind. This is none other than India herself.

        India is a unique country of calm and serene contemplative insight, and her children are deeply embedded in her unarticulated commitment to the search and realization of a truth without frontiers and of a beauty that manifests universally in the very music and poetry of life. It is this genuine Indianness that has created such worthy sons and daughters as Mira Bai, Kabir and Tagore.

        Such an open and dynamic sense of belonging to the essential spirit of India more than compensates me for any spontaneous or studied aloofness from all religions, including Hinduism. The adherence to or the avoidance of religion of any sort does not affect in the least one’s spiritual growth and dynamic acceptance of the truth and value of perennial philosophy, irrespective of its source being the Upanishads, the Enneads, the Gospels, or Buddhist lore. A human being is primarily and ultimately human, and there is nothing more tragic and shameful than if his religion should cripple him into being a creedist or a cultist.


Nitya Chaitanya Yati 12-8-1981


Part III


         Susan expanded on something she touched on in class, moving into some valuable insights:


Dear Scott, 


After last week’s class I was really thinking about this particular point, that you covered wonderfully in the class notes:


     I suggested a simple practice to help with this. It is very liberating to stop clinging to a certain identity. I am not who you think I am, and moreover I am not who I think I am, either. Most of us habitually defend our self-image, using an armament of wiles, especially when we are falsely accused. I have been forced many times to own up to false accusations, or ones I believed were false. I know we can fool ourselves on this account. But what if we surrendered and agreed with our accusers? It subverts our own egotism, and the urge to defend becomes less. It helps us to stop identifying so much with our well-crafted persona and instead dive into our core, unformulated being. For all you admirable people, you can do this with compliments too. After all, there is an element of ignorance in whatever others think of us. It is only their perception, and not the whole truth. Either way, it’s a simple but effective technique. Just remind yourself it’s only a partial perception, and it is not you. You may recall Nitya wrote about this in That Alone, at the end of verse 37:


Each day begins a new series of encounters. Each encounter is to be taken as a challenge to reestablish your inner serenity, inner quietness, inner sense of sameness through an act of adoration, an attitude of worship and a sense of the sublime.

   There is no need for you to win all the time. Your greater victory lies in your acceptance of defeat, allowing the other to win. You may be in an argument. What does it matter if you win or not? Give the other person the chance to win. Even if he uses some falsehood, when you allow him to win he rethinks the situation. In his heart of hearts he knows he did not deserve the victory. He knows the truth of your silence. You do not become egoistic and you don’t make the other person egoistic either. It will chastise him as well as purify him.

   Thus, through the cultivation of silence, sameness and serenity, you come to a unitive understanding from within. This brings peace and harmony. Where there is peace and harmony, love spontaneously comes. When you give yourself into the hands of grace, the hands of the Divine, things which are difficult to attain become abundantly possible. Then you can say you have attained the discrimination of the unbroken, by which every ‘this’ is brought under the spell of the universal sameness.


 I was thinking about this and then I spent Tuesday morning with my Aunt Sue. She is more than 80 years old and I’ve known her my whole life. She has three sons and so I have always been one of her adopted daughters. She was dear to my mother and she is dear to me. We have fun together, talking about books and laughing about many things. But I always find that she brings out a certain side of me that makes me crazy. I get so irritated with her and so defensive, with just a few words or a look or a cackle. She gets very anxious about things — like disorder and messiness and driving issues. I see her about once every two weeks and we talk on the phone in between. For the last few months I’ve really been trying to figure out why I get so irritated with her. Before that I was just irritated that I was irritated and I think I saw it as only Aunt Sue’s problem. But now I’ve come to my senses and have realized that I can’t change Aunt Sue to suit my comfort. I have to dig in and figure this out from my end. I think it is hard to let her be right, it is hard to be around her anxiety related to disorder. But that is because I like to be right and I have my own anxieties about my failings with neatness. Perhaps if I let go of the identity I have of myself as a struggling neat person and a driver who always knows where she is going. Perhaps if I just laugh when she comments on my messy car or the squeak in my car door. I will just say, “You’re right, Aunt Sue. My car is a mess and I do need to put some WD 40 on that squeaky door.” I think there is more to it. She triggers something very deep in me. There’s something about her not really listening to me or hearing me that bugs me, but that also has to do with identity. Perhaps there’s my realization and disappointment that she doesn't really know who I am. But that’s not going to happen. After all, I’m still trying to figure out who I am beyond all the superimpositions — how then would anyone else really know me? Why is that something I want? It’s frightening to let go of my identity, as it’s been constructed over 55 years. 


In a related topic, I really appreciated the thoughts you sent out from Jan and Debbie and Michael and Hercules. One of the ways in which I experience the ground of being is in relation to other people — that ultimate kind of connection that is beyond identity and words. More than experiencing it (because it is hard to experience directly) I have faith that it is there. But as it is, I am struggling to get out of the way of the parts of my conditioning that keep me from connecting with others. In particular, I am thinking of how I jump in too quickly with suggestions when someone is hurting or upset. I want to help them and so I often suggest solutions and remedies, rather than just reflecting their pain and making space for them to feel it. This is more about my ego and my need to be right and an authority. And of course suggestions are not always bad but I know how vital it is to allow an opening for that connection of two people that is beyond their identities. With only good intentions I meet my friends with my whole bag of remedies (words and sometimes salves and little jars of homeopathic medicines). But what would happen if I got together with friends and didn’t bring my remedies or my identity or my conditionings? I think there would be more room for the dialectic of our beings. I think it involves faith and surrender. Faith, in that just acknowledging our common ground of being can help to release the tight hold of our self perception. Surrender, in that we have to make a kind of leap or a step off a high dive, a step that isn't part of our well trodden routine and path. I think of all interactions with others as meaningful and important but when two or more people can meet at the core, how wonderful! I have felt this before many times, sometimes because I was able to consciously get out of the way of myself and sometimes just because the circumstances of the interaction allowed for more opening. I have even felt this with Aunt Sue! Looking forward to more of my own undoing. 


Thanks as always for class and the class notes,



Part IV


         Jean has also been contemplating our topic:


What is the ”ground of being”?  For me, this is a very neutral thing-- the blank screen, the unwritten page, the clay, the white canvas awaiting the paint.  The “ground of being” is what underlies the dubious words It's okay, What of that? Never mind, I don't care.  The very existence of this “ground of being” is what can stabilize and calm us in the heat of trauma and passion, so it's good to know about it.  But it's nothing I'll spend much time with every day:  now is the time for life's mixed ideas, vague feelings, and strong emotions.  Even the moments of strange “harmony-with-the-universe” and everything in it, the moments of ethereal light and joy, are part of the painting/movie/pot.  While alive, we are filled with faith, hope and love (or their opposites).  As long as hope springs eternal-- such as before a major operation, or buried in an avalanche-- hope will nullify any “Never mind, I don't care.”  Human emotions just don't mix with the “ground of being,” for there, no emotions exist at all.  Our lifetime is for subjective consciousness and interactions between people and nature, pulsations outward and inward, finally back to the alpha point.  We do like to feel in control and the master of any situation, but when all hope is out, if we know the secret of the “ground of being,” then we can “take control” in a new way:  just give up, in thankful acceptance and understanding.  When there is nothing more to be done or felt, then  It's okay. What of that? Never mind.  I don't care.


I just read Nancy Yeilding's memories of meeting Nitya (newly posted by Scott), and once again the words “seek, and ye shall find” have proven true.  I see “ground of being” described another way, by the master himself:  You come to a neutral area of unity.  Once you know that there is an aspect of knowledge which effaces or cancels out the physical world, the heaviness of phenomenon is not felt anymore.  From this, you gain a new freedom.  The freedom is to relate yourself to the phenomenal world, with all the laws which operate in it, and yet to keep within a calm repose by which you can sit on your own seat of absolute certitude as a witness.


*         *         *


         Amara ( has shared the summary of a relationship workshop she hosted recently, full of helpful ideas about everybody’s favorite problem:


Relationship Retreat 2/6-2/7 2016

Saturday Morning session 

Oneness and Otherness


We come here knowing that we are one. Lovers find each other in an expression of oneness for a certain number of minutes. The egg and the sperm carry that oneness into manifestation of a fetus and then a child. We experience oneness with the mother in our nine months in the womb. And perhaps with the father if a bonding experience happens soon after birth. But in all of us soon after the umbilical cord is cut, we begin to notice that something other than oneness is also happening.  We are also living as a particular thing in a world of many things. We are called the baby and the baby has a name, a gender, and ways that it should behave.


But since essentially we are one, and everything essentially also is one, we feel an inner pull towards other things. We call this inner pull relationship. This pull attracts us to all sorts of things, including the pull of one person toward another person. Within this innate oneness there is a dynamic polarization. The wholeness of oneness is true, but just as a compass is one in truth, the compass also has two poles. So we can be both attracted and repulsed by the same person, the same situation, the same intention, or belief.


The idea of “other” is blended into the idea of oneness and we are attracted to aspects that are both different than how we see ourself to be and similar. After a phase  of blissful oneness this idea of other becomes rapidly more dominant in any budding relationship. And our view of oneness transforms from the total oneness of the womb, or the innocent oneness of a newborn, into a oneness that can only exist if you have this other person to make yourself feel whole.


The great gift, which is our intimate knowledge that all is One, fades away. And what replaces it is a feeling of something missing, coupled with an increasing anxiety of desire. We feel more empty than full and another thing or person or activity seems like the fix that we need.


Here is an example from Nitya:

“I have some books in my room, and I know they are mine. Then somebody walks in with another book that is not mine. I asked to see it, and I find it is a really wonderful book. I don't ask if I can have it, but because it is not mine I inwardly desire for that person to give it to me. It's because I don't own it. If it were mine, why would I desire it? The ones that are mine are sitting right there. Most of them I don't even bother to open.

So this otherness is the beginning of trouble in the world of the many number of things we don't think are ours and it agitates our mind. Mind keeps saying, “ How to get, how to get.” We want to get things, people, and put them in our pocket. Then alone will we be happy. We want to be able to pull them out and say “You are mine. Jump around, or walk around or sit around. See this is mine.”  Then we put them back in our pocket.  It is so very comforting.”


Desire is woven into our survival mechanism and it serves us to feed the desire for food, for shelter, for companionship. But desire has a twin, that twin is attachment. The gurus tell us that these two siblings are the route tools of Maya. In other words these two aspects of mind create great suffering for all of us. 


Nitya says:

“Maya makes differentiations of things so it can watch this great game going on, of someone desiring someone else or someone suffering the pangs of attachment to someone else. When they are thwarted, up comes anger and hatred. It makes good theater.”


Right now we are focusing on relationship between people. But the same principle applies to our relationship with food, possessions, ideas of all types like spiritual ideas, political ideas, or even personal identity ideas. Let's look at these principles,desire and attachment, and how they affect our relationships and our happiness and serenity.


Assignment 1

List three or more desires that have been dominant in your life. Contemplate which desire is most active currently. Work with that one desire and see how it's twin attachment manifests in your world.



Write a haiku Valentine to yourself

Break for Lunch


Saturday Afternoon session

Remembering and Forgetting


We all know that relationships oscillate between warm and affectionate times to cool and more separate feeling times. If this natural oscillation is understood and accepted by both people, then there may actually be an enjoyment of this natural ebb and flow. But if this understanding is not alive in one or both of the partners then personal memories may attach themselves to the uncomfortable feelings and issues begin to pile up. Emotions now eclipse the natural rhythm of sharing life with another, and the bright glow of the love which brought the two lovers together begins to fade.


The mind may remind us of previous experiences of hurt feelings, feelings of abandonment or of being misunderstood, feelings of being coerced into doing or being a certain way, and of course feelings of being blamed or criticized.. All of the currently interpreted experiences connect with past memories in our history book of suffering. These memories remanifest as replays which can be maddening or saddening or both.


A classic example of how interpretation can color a shared experience into two completely different truths was in the movie ‘Annie Hall’, a breakthrough relationship movie in the late 70s. A couple moves from joy and happiness to working with a psychotherapist, as their relationship is falling apart. The movie uses the device of a split screen. On one side Diane Keaton is complaining that they have to have sex all the time.  On the other side of the screen, Woody Allen is complaining that they never have sex. This is how it looks when memories are clouding true seeing. In the movie the couple breaks up.


Let's look at another example of how memory can interject itself and create separation. In Tolstoy story called “Love” a wife got very angry with her husband. She started listing all the terrible things he had done during the previous 10 years. The husband asked, “What is the relevancy of that now?” she replied, “ Because they are true, you are like that ! “ What could he do? She didn't remember one good thing he had done, but she hadn’t forgotten any of the bad. Guru Nitya says,” Whenever it's inconvenient we want to forget everything, and when it's convenient we rake up all the memories.”


So memories become a tool, so that we can either win or lose  in our relationships. These memories can either aggrandize us or they can punish us, but they can rarely help us to see clearly. In all varieties of relationships, it can be very useful to notice how memories are affecting us. By noticing recurring memories, and how our mind projects them, we can begin to witness these loops and not be made victim to memories.


We will talk about all of this later but for now let's do a little assignment and look at this thing called memory, which includes both remembering and forgetting, and how it plays in our life.


Assignment 2

Make a list of remembrances which may be interjecting themselves in your relationships.

Make a list of any recall you consciously or unconsciously forget, that may be affecting your view of relationships.

Contemplate if some of these remembrances, or forgotten pieces, are only habits of thought that you allow to play and replay in your mind.



Sunday morning session 

Priyam, Fascination and Desire or What is it that we actually love?


Yesterday we looked at the two twins, called desire and attachment. Today we are going to explore the Sanskrit term, priyam. Priyam can be equated with Ananda in the context of the great dictum Satcitananda. When the whole of Satcitananda is understood All is unified. But when the pieces are divided such as sat-existence, cit-consciousness, and ananda-value or priyam, the truth of Satcitananda changes into something else. The ananda or priyam which has the potential to reflect heart's deepest Value, can shift and become almost anything. It can become any fascination or desire, any judgment or opinion, any confusion or doubt.

This ever shifting value expression can certainly affect relationships. Our mind cannot help but go on seeking new priyams, it is continuous. Let us look now at how our ever changing priyams or values may affect relationships. 


If our relationship is not feeling fulfilling and harmonious we most often feel that it is because we are with the wrong person. Or perhaps we feel that we are with someone who changed, and then became the wrong person, and this may be true. But it is also good to explore if you are the one who changed, or more truthfully that your priyam changed. This self inquiry is useful in marriages, romances, friendships, business partnerships, relationships of all sorts. Explore to see if perhaps the priyam or value interest that got you into the relationship in the first place was a fantasy. We must always look inside and be honest with ourselves. This is step number one.


To go to step number two we must realize that as always, name and form has tricked us into giving too much attention to me and other. Our mind thinks, it is because of the other that I am not happy, or it is because of me that I am not happy or it is because of both of us that we are not happy. Once again this may be true from the view of Maya, but if that is really True, then almost no one could be in a relationship that reflected happiness, and we know, or hope, that that is not true.


Nitya says, “When we find interest in some person, what actually is happening is that we get into a situation of endearment for the priyam or happiness of our own self.” What he means by this is that nobody is loved for their own sake, not even as a cherished object, it is always for the happiness of our own self.


In 1988 there was a popular relationship movie called “The Accidental Tourist”. In this film a married couple split up and the husband became involved with a younger woman who was much different than his wife of many years. They appeared to be a completely mismatched couple, but the priyam of the coupling was explained when the actor, William Hurt said, “I love the way I feel when I am around her.” It was for the love of his own self that he chose to be with this quirky young woman and her mentally challenged young son.


If you have the eye of a contemplative you can see that a stream of life is continuously flowing through you. Your own priyams, your own desires are instrumental in how this life flow is channeled through you. In other words your priyams have big influence on what your life looks like, what you experiences not the play.  Before we explore our values, and how they affect our relationships and life experiences, let's look inside and find what we have been loving. 

Such as, the love of harmony, the love of confrontation, the love of seeing the whole, the love of fixating on the particulars, the love of being right, or even the love of being wrong or less than others. 


Assignment 3

The assignment for today is to look at what priyams….meaning what values, desires, or fascinations are consciously operating in you. You may also notice how these priyams are affecting your relationships and life situations.




Concluding offering.

I would like to close our rich time together with a story that is personal to me. Several years ago, my son Bodhi said, in his succinct and precise way, “Mom it is wonderful that you have found someone to love.” That was a profound statement to me. He was not assessing who I found to love, but that I was in a relationship and expressing the love that he knew was alive inside me….and that made him happy. 


Let us remember, that as a person, we are designed to be the vehicle through which our essence as Love is to expressed. We then become aware that the Love in us is the One Love, which is both in and felt by all things!  Plants, animals, people, our home environment, even our car….everything. Then we may realize, the true Nature of what we call relationship. This unified understanding about relationship may be the precious key to expanding our experience as more peace, more love, more happiness, more harmony, more compassion, more contentment, more non-attachment, and more neutrality in our relationship with everything, including our own dear and infinitely Beautiful Self.

Scott Teitsworth