Just Two Words

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‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are arguably the most important words in the vocabulary of any language. Like the power of the ocean, their range and application are limitless. Sometimes they slide across our conversations imperceptibly; or they may surprise and shock, vanquishing hope, or igniting new possibilities. The infant, still imprisoned in the pram or buggy,…

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Some Teachings from the Katha Upanishad

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One thing that all human lives have in common is their unpredictability. There always seems to be something that escapes our control or eludes our knowledge. On the other hand, to apparently lose is to win if what happens to us prompts us to reflect on the meaning and purpose of life as a whole,…

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Meditation and Cheerfulness

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A short talk and practice session led by the Warden of Shanti Sadan One of the qualities that can help us on our path is cheerfulness. This does not mean the temporary uplift brought about by good news, but a well-established normal state of well-being and magnanimity that extends its warmth to the whole of…

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Giving Up and Letting Go

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The Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18, part one. The final chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the eighteenth, is the culmination and summary of the whole teachings. It is one of several chapters that begin with a question. Here the student asks, what is the precise meaning of and difference between ‘renunciation’ (sanyasa) and ‘letting go’ (tyaga)?…

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The Non-Duality of Shri Shankara

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Further extracts from H P Shastri’s essay on the Outline of the Advaita of Shri Shankara Contemplation (Nididhyasana) The philosophy expounded by Shri Shankara is not rationalism like the philosophy of Descartes or Spinoza. It is a metaphysical ontology which has no peer in Western thought. The way to be established mentally in the truth…

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Towards Inner Freedom

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The mind creates bondage and the mind can also create freedom. Amrita-Bindu Upanishad When we hear of some kind action, selflessly performed, we sometimes say: ‘It has restored my faith in human nature.’ This contrasts with our response to selfish and cruel behaviour, which incurs censure and regret. The wider question of whether human nature…

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The Challenge of Suffering

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The fact of suffering is a problem which concerns humanity at large. There is no one who is not afflicted by suffering, whether it be a vague dissatisfaction not fully understood by us, or anxiety which seems always to be with us, even when, outwardly, all is well. Thus the time is bound to come…

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Non-duality and Sufism

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It is one of the glories of Sufism that it has never lost sight of the universality of ultimate Truth. It has not fallen into a narrow fanaticism. Jalaluddin Rumi tells in his Mathnawi how four comrades were once given a dirhem to spend between them. One of them, a Persian, said: ‘I will spend…

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In What Sense Is the World Unreal in Shankara’s Philosophy?

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Critics of Shri Shankara sometimes say that the practical world, with all its beauty and utility, is treated by him as an illusion, as a mere appearance, having no stuff of reality in it. They base their criticism on a statement which they imagine typifies the non-dual position: ‘Brahman (the Absolute) is real; the world…

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