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23 November, 2008


Recorded by Paul Brunton and
Munagala Venkataramiah

Question: We grieve when a person whom we love dies. Shall we avoid such grief by either loving all alike or by not loving at all?

Answer: If one person dies there is grief for the other person who still lives. The way to get rid of grief is not to live. Kill the one who grieves. Who will then remain to suffer? The ego must die. That is the only way. The two alternatives amount to the same state. When all is the Self, who is there to be loved or hated?
There is a class of people who want to know all about the future and past births, but they ignore the present. The load from the past is the present misery. Why recall the past, it is a waste of time.
The Self is the electric dynamo, the mind is the contact switchboard, while the body is the lamp. When the karma hour comes to give death, the mind switches off the current and withdraws the light-life from the body. Both mind and vitality are manifestations of the supreme life force, the Self.

Question: What happens to an individual after death?

Answer: Engage yourself in the living present. The future will take care of itself. Do not worry about the future. The state before creation and the process of creation are dealt with in the scriptures in order that you may know the present. Because you say you are born, therefore talk about it.
What is birth? Is it of the “I-thought” or of the body? Is “I” separate from the body or identical? How did this “I-thought” arise” Is the “I-thought” your nature? Or is something else your nature?
The “I” of the wise man includes the body but he does not identify himself with the body. For there cannot be anything apart from “I” for him. If the body falls, there is no loss for the “I”. “I” remains the same. If the body feels dead, let it raise the question. Being inert, it cannot “I”. “I” never dies and dos not ask. Who then dies? Who aks?

Question: From where does the ego arise?

Answer: Soul, mind, ego are mere words. There are no true entities of the kind. Consciousness is the only truth. Forgetfulness of your real nature is the real death; remembrance of it is the true birth. It puts an end to successive births. Yours is the eternal life. How does the desire for eternal life arise? Because the present state is unbearable. Why? Because it is not your true nature. Had it been your real nature, there would be no desire to agitate you. How does the present state differ from your real nature? You are spirit in truth.
Troubles arise because we consider ourselves limited. The idea is wrong. In sleep there was no world, no ego, and no trouble. Something wakes up from that happy state and says “I”. To that ego the world appears. It is the rise of the ego that is the cause of the trouble. Let him trace the ego to its source and he will reach that undifferentiated Source, a state that is sleepless sleep. The Self is ever there; wisdom only appears to dawn, though it is but natural.

Question: Are ego and Self the same?

Answer: Self can be without the ego, but the ego cannot be without the Self. Egos are like bubbles in the ocean. Impurities and worldly attachments affect only the ego; the Self remains pure and unaffected. All these are only mental concepts. You are now identifying yourself with a wrong “I” which the “I-thought.” This “I-thought” rises and sinks whereas the true significance of “I” cannot do so. There cannot be a break in your being. The father of your personal “I” is the real “I,” God. Try to find out the source of the individual “I” and then you will reach the other “I.” When the individual goes, the desire also go.

True Self-Reliance
I was once very self-reliant I fear in old age that people will laugh at me?

Answer: Even when you said you were self-reliant, it was not so—you were ego-reliant. Instead of this, if you let go of ego, you will get real Self-reliance. Your pride was merely pride of ego. As long as you identify yourself with the ego, you will recognize others as individuals also, then there is room for pride. Let that drop and you drop others’ ego as well and so there is no more room for pride. As long as there is the sense of separation, there will be afflicting thoughts. If the original source is regained and the sense of separation is put to an end, then there is peace.

Consider what happens when a stone is thrown up. It leaves its source, is projected up, tries to come down, and is always in motion until it regains its source where it is at rest. Similarly the waters of the ocean evaporate, form clouds that are moved by winds, condense into water, and falls as rain. The water rolls down the hill in streams and rivers until it reaches its original, source the ocean. After reaching there it is at peace.

So you see where there is sense of separateness from the source there is agitation and movement until the sense of separateness is lost. So it is with yourself. Now that you identify yourself with the body, you think that you are separate. Before this false identify ceases, you must regain your source, then you can be happy.

Gold is not an ornament but the ornament is nothing but gold. Whatever shape the ornament may assume and however different the shapes of the ornaments are, there is only one reality, which is gold. Similarly with the bodies and the Self, the Reality is the Self. To identify ourselves with the body and to seek happiness is like attempting to ford to take a lake on the back of an alligator. The body identity is due to extroversion and the wandering of the mind. To continue in that state will only keep one in an endless tangle and there will be no peace. Seek your source, merge in the Self and remain as one.

Rebirth really means discontent with the present state and a desire to be born where there will be discontent. Birth, being of the body, cannot affect the Self. The Self remains ever, even after the body perishes. The discontent is due to the wrong identity of the eternal Self with the perishable body. The body is a necessary adjunct of the ego. If the ego is killed the eternal Self is revealed in all its glory…

A wise man crushes the ego at its source. It rises again and again, for him as well as for the ignorant, impelled by nature, which is prarbdha. Both in the ignorant and the wise the ego sprouts up, but with this difference; the former ego is quite ignorant of its source, or is not aware of its deep sleep in the dream and wakeful states. On the contrary, a wise man enjoys his transcendental experience with this ego, keeping his attention always on its source. His ego is not dangerous; it is only the ash-skeleton of a burnt rope. Even though it possess a form; it is ineffective. By constantly keeping our focus on our source, our ego is dissolved.

The Nature of the Ego
How is realization made possible?

Answer: There is the absolute Self from which a spark proceeds as from fire. The spark is called ego. In the case of the ignorant it identifies itself with some object simultaneously with its rise. It cannot remain independent of such association. This association is ignorance whose destruction is the object of our efforts. If ego’s objectifying tendency is filled, it remains pure and merges in its source. We can separate ourselves from that which is external but not from that which is one with us. Therefore, ego is not one with the body. This must be realized in the waking state.
The quest of “Who am I” is the axe to cut of the ego. The intellect always seeks to have external knowledge, leaving knowledge of its own origin. The mind is only the identity of the Self with the body. It is false ego that is created; it creates false phenomena in its turn, and appears to move in them. If the false identity vanishes, the Reality becomes apparent. This does not mean that Reality is not even now. It is always there eternally the same.

Question: How to get rid of egoism?

Answer: If you see what the ego really is, that is enough to get rid of it. It is the ego that makes efforts to get rid of itself, so how can it die? If ego is to go, then something else must slay it. Will it ever consent to commit suicide? So first realize that is the true nature of the ego and it will go of its own accord. Examine the nature of ego. That is the process of realization. If one sees what one’s real nature is, then one will get rid of ego. Until then our efforts are just like chasing our own shadow; the more we advance, the more distant is the shadow. If we leave our own Self, then the ego will manifest itself. If we seek our true nature, then ego dies. If we are in our own Reality, then we need not trouble about the ego.
Seek your source. Find out from where the thought of “I” springs. What object can we be surer of and know more certainly than our Self? This is direct experience and cannot further be described. If the present “I” goes, it, the mind, is known for what it is—a myth. What remains is the pure Self. In deep sleep the Self exists without perception of body and world, then happiness reigns.

Question: You say that we shall find the divine centre inside us. If each individual has a centre are there then millions of divine centers?

Answer: There is only one Center to which there is no circumference. Dive deep within and find it. Meditating on Him or on the Seer, the Self, there is a mental vibration “I” to which all are reduced. Tracing the source of “I”, the primal “I” alone remains and It is inexpressible.

Question: Is there not an unchanging Self and a changing self?

Answer: Changefulness is mere thought. All thought rise after the arising of the “I-thought.” See to whom these thoughts arise. Then you transcend them and they subside. That is to say, tracing the source of the “I-thought,” you realize the perfect “I”. “I” is the name of the Self……

Seek the True Self
Question: Is it possible to know the after-death state of a person?

Answer: It is possible, but why try to know it?

Question: Because I consider my son’s death to be real from my level of understanding.

Answer: The birth of the “I-thought” is the son’s birth; its death is the person’s death. After “I-thought” has arisen, the wrong identity with the body arises. Thinking yourself as the body, you give false values to others and identify them with bodies. Did you think of your son before his birth? Only as you are thinking of him, he is your son. Where has he gone? He has gone to the source from which he sprang. He is one with you. As long as you are, he is there too.
See the real Self and this confusion with the body will vanish. You are eternal, and others will be found to be eternal. Until this truth is realized there will always be this grief due to wrong identity. Birth, death and rebirth should only make you investigate the question and find out that there are no births or rebirths, they relate to the body and not to the Self.

Question: What happens to the created ego after the body dies?

Answer: Ego is “I-thought”. In its subtle form, it remains a thought whereas in its gross aspect, it embraces mind, senses and body. They disappear in deep slumber along with the ego. Still the Self is there. Similarly it will be in death. Ego is not an entity independent of the Self in order that it might be created or destroyed by itself. It functions as an instrument of the Self and periodically ceases to function, that is, it appears and disappears as birth and death.

Question: I want to find the real “I” and always be effortlessly in touch.

Answer: It is enough that you give up the individual “I” and no effort will be reduced to gain the real “I”. Do not think that there is any such difference between you and the Self; then surrender yourself to Him, merge yourself in Him. There should be no reservations, as you cannot cheat God.

Question: What about after death?

Answer: Inquire first who or what it is that is born. It is the body not you. Why trouble about things beyond you such as death when your Self is here and present?

Question: How long does one stay in other worlds between births an deaths?

Answer: The Sense of time is relative. In a dream you may live a whole day’s events in a couple of hours. In the subtle body of the death world you may do the same and live like what seems a thousand years, although by our time it may be only a hundred years.
Do we fear sleep? Sleep is temporary death. Death is a longer sleep. Why should you want continuance of the bodily shackles? Find out your undying Self and be immortal.
As long as you identify yourself with the gross body, thoughts materialized as gross manifestations must be real to you. Having existed here it certainly survives death. Hence under these circumstances the other world exists. On the other hand, consider that the one reality is the Self from whom has sprung the ego. The ego loses sight of the Self and identifies itself with the body, which results in ignorance and misery. The life-current [the Self] has passed through innumerable incarnations, births and deaths, but is still unaffected. There is no reason to mourn. The mind is of the ego, and the ego rises from the Self.
The sacred bull [Nandi] in India represents the ego, Jiva. It is always shown in our temples facing God with a flat circular stone in front of it. This stone altar is where sacrifices are offered and it all symbolizes that the ego must be sacrificed and must be turned towards the inner God.


Excerpt from the Mananam Series Book on “The Sages Speak About Life & Death”.

16 November, 2008


The crux of the problem that humanity faces today is the failure to distinguish the intellect from intelligence. Even the educated are ignorant of the exact nature of the intellect. Much less do they realise the importance of its role in human life. And educators the world over have been focusing all their attention and effort in merely building intelligence. They have invested little thought or effort in developing the intellect. Consequently the human intellect remains completely neglected.

Intellect is Not Intelligence
Intelligence is built in an individual by gaining information, knowledge from external sources. From teachers and textbooks, from schools and universities and other information bureaux. Using those sources you become informed, knowledgeable, even brilliant in one or more subjects that you take up. Just think for a while. Try to understand what you have achieved. The intelligence that you have gained provides you with the means to make a living. No more. All creatures, save humans, need no education to make living. The carnivores and herbivores are naturally provided with this expertise. So are birds in the sky or fishes in the ocean. The human species alone requires some form of education to sustain itself. With knowledge acquired from external sources you only come up to the level of animals. Education has deteriorated to such an extent.

Distinct and different from intelligence is the intellect. Any amount of intelligence gained cannot per se build your intellect. Intelligence is acquired by you from external agencies much like data fed into a computer. All the information stored in a computer does not enable it to function independently. It cannot use that knowledge on its own. Likewise, you cannot use the knowledge gained without the help of your intellect. You need the intellect to think, plan and programme your life with the available knowledge. In the case of all other species save human, they are provided with a built-in-programme of life. Their lifestyle is fixed. They cannot live apart from their inherent nature. So they do not need to plan and programme their lives. They can do without an intellect to guide them moment to moment.

The intellect is the faculty to think, to reason, to judge, to decide on the pros and cons of life. The capacity to question, enquire and not to take anything for granted. You will have to develop your intellect all by yourself. No external agencies can achieve that for you. Do not blindly follow the line of your predecessors. Instead, build the strength of your own intellect. You can achieve that by using your ability to think, to reason, to question everything you meet in life. Do not accept anything which does not admit logic or reason. The constant exercise of thinking, reasoning, question all through your life would strengthen your intellect. Galilei Galileo, often referred to as the father of modern astronomy, wondered why humans have discarded this wondrous faculty they possess: I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended their use.

Intelligence Does not Develop Intellect
The capacity to absorb fresh knowledge is called udana in Sanskrit terms. This capacity is maximum at infancy. And it diminishes gradually as you grow older. In the passage of life this process of absorption helps you gain information, knowledge, intelligence. But the intelligence acquired does not make you think freely, originally, reason independently. Udana will not build the intellect. There is no cause and effect relationship between intelligence and intellect. Ironically, the entire focus throughout the world is to gain intelligence while the intellect remains poor as ever, undeveloped. Today it is all intelligence, no intellect.

That explains why out of millions of doctors turned out by medical schools only a few have proved to be outstanding, extraordinary in their research and findings. Who have discovered life-saving drugs or subtle techniques to transplant organs in a human body. So too out of countless engineers graduated from engineering schools only a few have produced wonders like the Panama Canal, Golden Gate Bridge or Euro Channel Tunnel. In the field of law again there are but a few prodigious lawyers who overshadow even the most reputed ones. The difference arises in the strength of intellect in the former which he latter, possessing abundant knowledge of law, lacks. To cite an example: In Chennai, India over seventy years back, the High Court was deciding a famous case on forgery. The defending lawyer defending the accused made an elaborated presentation covering practically all points of law. And when the opponent layer’s turn came up, he requested the judge to merely put up the original document against the light.

He beseeched, “Do you see a watermark in the document, my Lord?”
The justice cooperated, “Yes, I do see an elephant watermark.”
The lawyer rejoined, “This paper was manufactured in 1932.”
And the original document was dated 1930! Of course, he had earlier obtained the proof of it.

The above observations demonstrate the power of a developed intellect vis-à-vis intelligence, a mere stockpile of knowledge. All the intelligence that people carry without the intellect to apply it in life tantamounts to gold bars on a mule’s back. Again intellect, the steering wheel which controls and directs it. You will do well to make sure you have a power steering!

The faculty to think, to reason is a human prerogative. All other beings lack this faculty since they do not possess an intellect. The intellect renders a human being the chef d’ouevre of creation. But the world is unaware of this unique status. And people do not care to develop this life-sustaining, life-surpassing equipment, the intellect.

Also you fail to realise that thinking, reasoning is skilled work. That you need to learn and practice. Like playing the violin or golf. You believe that thinking is a natural process like seeing, hearing or breathing. That you can think clearly, precisely without putting in the necessary effort on your part. You must understand that to develop the faculty of thinking, reasoning you need to devote as much time and effort to it as you would to learning any other art or skill.

Need to Develop Intellect
For a long period of time there has been no awareness or endeavour by humans to develop the art of thinking. As a result the lives of people are based on groundless beliefs. And their beliefs rest on some absurd superstitions. Or mere assertions which bear no proof. And now they find it difficult to question their veracity.

Following this trend humanity has reached a perilous state. People must wake up. Realise the emergent need to develop, strengthen the intellect. The process of thinking should have started from an early age. Having failed to do so, at least start the process now. Develop the art of thinking. Follow it up with the study of the impeccable truths of life. Delve deep into the truths. Accept those that appeal to logic and reason. Apply them in practical living. Adopt this procedure all through life. It will enable you to build your intellect. Nobel laureate Albert Einstein has observed: Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.

Humans need a strong intellect to exercise the right choice of action in life. The world presents endless trials and tribulations. The human species alone is provided with an intellect to fight against and surmount mundane challenges. All other species, devoid of intellect, are helpless victims of the rigours of the external world. A powerful intellect helps humans overpower these onslaughts. But the role of the human intellect does not end there. Far above its suzerainty in the world the intellect has the unique capacity to even transcend the world and reach the ultimate state of spiritual Enlightenment. No other creature save humans can conceive, much less achieve that exalted state. You must make good use of the intellect to attain this very purpose of human birth.

Unaware of the dire need to build the intellect, people entertain themselves with merely reading others’ periodicals and publications. They indulge in the mere length of study. Just poring over pages of literature apathetic towards the message therein or its deeper implications if any. Rare indeed are the ones who go into the depth of study. Thus little is assimilated, absorbed by the readers. People have been mere educated robots for generations. And have been traversing through life without knowing the meaning and purpose of it. Like mariners who sail through the seven seas without fathoming the depth below. But the rare one who cares to know, drops the plumb line anywhere and instantly finds the depth. So too, one must use the intellect to go into the depth of one’s life to claim to be truly educated. It is the vertical and not the horizontal line of study that matters in life. Herbert Spencer, a thinker and write, was one such truly educated luminary. Someone had asked him if he was a voracious reader. He instantly quipped: No sir, if I were as big a reader as others, I would have been as big an ignoramus as others.

The world abounds in personalities with one-sided development. Intelligence and no intellect. An example of one such person suffering from this human imbalance is a renowned scientist. He is an alcoholic and his liver is damaged. He is extremely short tempered and his blood pressure has shot up. And he is stressed, unable to face even the petty challenges of the world. Just reflect over his state. Analyse his personality carefully. He is brilliant scientist with profound knowledge of his subject. He has acquired abundant intelligence but never cared to develop his intellect. His intellect has always remained weak. It lacks the strength to handle the multifarious demands of the mind. His mind craves for alcohol. His intellect is not powerful enough to control the nagging desire. So too his mind raves in foul temper. His poor intellect is unable to control its ravings. And when his mind is humiliated, strained and stressed by the problems confronting it, his frail intellect looks on helplessly.

On the contrary, there are luminaries possessing awesome intellects which hold their minds under perfect control. Some of them possess no academic qualification but academies are built around them.

Educational institutions therefore need to maintain an equable balance between acquisition of intelligence and developing an intellect.


From the Book on “THE FALL OF THE HUMAN INTELLECT” by A. Parthasarathy.

10 November, 2008


The greatness and dignity of human beings is their ability to sacrifice their lives for others.
- Swami Tejomayananda

A question often asked by people concerns vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism. This is a relevant topic because it involves the value of ahimsa, which is an important aspect of sanatana dharma.What is the position of manu smrti on the question of eating meat? The general commandment given (called a samanya) is: "Do not eat meat." There are a number of reasons why this injunction is given. One is from the spiritual standpoint, that there is one Self or one Life that pulsates in all beings; since all beings want to live happily in this world, we do not have the moral right to take away a life or to cause any unhappiness or sorrow to others. This is a simple dharma, to understand.The second reason is that the greatness and dignity of human beings is their ability to sacrifice their lives for others. The person, who sacrifices his comforts or wealth, his happiness, or even his life, in order to protect, sustain, and help others, is considered great. Therefore, we are cutting the very root of the glory of human life and degrading ourselves.
In recent times, several organisations have been formed to protect wild life and forestry. A movement of this kind is necessary nowadays because there are so many greedy and cruel people who are concerned only with their own acquisitions and pleasure and are ready to destroy anything for their own sake. Human beings should sacrifice for others, not sacrifice others for their own personal comforts, pleasures of other pursuits.

A third reason for not eating meat is given with respect to an argument put forth by some non-­vegetarians. If all beings have life and vegetarians kill and eat plant life, why should we not eat animals also? However this argument is really a fallacious one, for if we extend this reasoning a little further, we would then be asking why we cannot eat human beings also. If it is necessary to destroy life no matter what we eat, then why is there a shortage of food? But, of course, everyone would reply, "Oh, that is horrible! How can you say that?" No one will agree with the argument when it is taken that far.Even though there is-life in all beings, in both vegetable and animal kingdoms, there are degrees of evolution and of the manifestation of intelligence. The degree of feeling and understanding, of mental and physical pain, is much less developed in plant-life as compared to animal-life. According to our dharma sastra, the purpose of human life is to know the Truth. In order to know the Truth we must sustain our lives, but it needs to be done with proper discrimination.When a patient goes to a doctor, the doctor will try to treat the patient with as little medicine as possible and without an operation. However, if an operation is necessary, the doctor performs it, generally with anesthesia, so as to give the least amount of pain and discomfort to the patient.

In the same way, although life must be sustained with life, it should be done by causing the least pain and disturbance to nature. This means that even when eating vegetarian food we should eat,moderately and with discrimination. Even from an anatomical point of view, the body structure of a carnivorous animal is meant for eating meat whereas the human body is not. From a medical standpoint also, many people today are advised to reduce their fat and cholesterol intake, which generally means the reduction of red meat in the diet. It is needless to explain here that not only meat-eating, but excessive eating of any kind is not good for physical health.


(Courtesy: Mananam - Hindu Culture Part II, Vol. XV, No.1, January 1993)

01 November, 2008


Discover inner space by creating gaps in the stream of thinking. Without those gaps, your thinking becomes repetitive, uninspired, devoid of any creative spark, which is how it still is for most people on the planet. You don’t need to be concerned with the duration of those gaps. A few seconds is good enough. Gradually, they will lengthen by themselves, without any effort on your part. More important than their length is to bring them in frequently so that your daily activities and your stream of thinking becomes interspersed with space.

Being aware of your breathing takes attention away from thinking and creates space. It is one way of generating consciousness. Although the fullness of consciousness is already there as the unmanifested, we are here to bring consciousness into this dimension.

The fact that breath has no form is one of the reason why breath awareness is an extremely effective way of bringing space into your life, of generating consciousness.

Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment—the key to all inner transformation. Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind. But far from being in a trance or half asleep, you are fully awake and highly alert. You are not falling below thinking, but risking above it. And if you look more closely, you will find that those two things—coming fully into the present moment and ceasing thinking without loss of consciousness—are actually one and the same: the arising of space consciousness.


From the Book on “A NEW EARTH – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by ECKART TOLLE.