INTERVIEW WITH SWAMI SHANKARANANDA GIRI
Q: What is happiness? Happiness and everlasting happiness...
A: In scriptures it is said that the 5th chakra is called - ananda mayakosha, ananda meaning happiness. But it is very difficult to give an understanding about happiness.
Muladhara chakra (first chakra) is annamaya kosha (physical matter), swadisthana chakra (the second chakra) – pranamaya kosha (the life), manipura chakra (third chakra) is manomaya kosha (the mind), fourth chakra, anahata is budhimaya kosha (vijnanamaya) –the knowledge, (super-knowledge), fifth chakra is anandamayakosha –peace or happiness.
But it is also said that the so called peace does not exist, it is mere an illusion.
If you think of happiness, then there is unhappiness too.
If you think of light, there is darkness too. If you think of powerful bright light, then it should be very deep and intense darkness also.
Happiness... everlasting happiness, what we mean by this does not exist. It does not exist... If you say day, indirectly you are talking about the existence of night... And what is that which is everlasting?? The only thing which is everlasting is the..Existence...Now, am I existing here or not? I am existing now...
Many years ago, students living in the hostel of the university which was located just behind our ashram in Bhubaneswar, used to come from time to time to take bath in our premises when they run out of water, especially as there was no boundary wall. There was a group of six or seven teenagers studying Philosophy which started coming to the ashram quite often making it as a habit to have arguments with me. You know, Philosophy students, they like to argue and debate about anything... And they need to investigate, to analyze, to define. What is the definition of peace? What is the definition of problem, what is the solution of the problem and how can you define that. What is sorrow and what is the remedy for it, what is sadness and what is the remedy for it, remedy for this, for that, and so many other questions.. And they started enjoying somehow having spiritual discussions but they would be very unhappy every time they felt defeated by my answers. It was the year 1979-1980, and of course I was much younger by that time. So one day they announced they will come back the same evening but this time they were going to bring their Philosophy professor with them. And we spoke of so many things. All about analyzing, how one has to analyze first in order to define something in proper manner...And again, what is the remedy for so many problems and how can we define all these?
I said “Better not to define. Just use the remedy.”
And they asked, “How?”
I said “Well, meditate, meditate...”
“How can we meditate without knowing first what meditation is? We need to have some descriptions, definitions then we know what it is and we can go ahead for meditation.”
I said “If you know, I am afraid you will not meditate”.
“And why is that?” they asked again.
“I will give you one example:
My grand father gave me once a nice, woolen blanket. He told me it was made of pure wool and it was the best blanket one could have to prevent him from cold. And indeed it was. I had used it for several years and I was very much satisfied with its qualities. One day my brother, who was a Philosophy student too, returned home after some years. It was in winter so the weather was pretty cold. Seeing my blanket he started inquiring about it. “What is this?” “This is a blanket”. “A blanket...I can see, but made of what?” “Well, I don’t need to know. Grandpa gave it to me and I simply use it.”
He said “No, no, it is very important, we need to know, we need to analyze, to investigate what it is.” I said again what I knew that it was pure woolen blanket and that’s it. But then we had long discussions with lots of arguments and finally we reached to a conclusion. The wool was coming either from a ram or sheep.
The same night we both slept in the same bed covering ourselves with the same blanket.
My mind was so busy...I just couldn’t take out of my head that after three years I came to know that the blanket I had been using was actually made of sheep wool. And I felt like I was lying there in that bed and a sheep was also lying over me. As I had started to feel very uncomfortable, all of a sudden my brother jumped out of the bed screaming: Aaaaaa...
“What is going on with you?” I asked.
“I had an awful dream”, he answered still in shock. I have been dreaming that one sheep was sleeping over me. Because of all that talk we had, it remained in my mind that this wool is coming from a sheep...”
I encouraged him to go back to sleep and forget about that but he rejected my proposal fiercely:
“No way for me to sleep here any longer. I can sleep, but not here, little far from you. I just can’t sleep under this blanket”...
Another example I gave to the “philosophers” was about a beautiful banana tree we grew near the ashram’s building. I offered some bananas to them and they found them very delicious.
“Now, if you want to analyze these bananas, let’s hear the story behind...” And I started telling them how just fey years back, as the ashram was very new, having no proper bathroom with toilets, we decided to build one latrine outside, only few yards away. Later on, when we didn’t need it any more, we thought we could use the soil as a fertilizer and therefore we planted a banana tree. That banana tree...When I reached this point of my story they interrupted me saying: “No, no...This is too much. We can’t bear to listen anymore”.
“You see, I answered. Just think of these examples. If you really want to analyze, you want to find a definition, can you imagine where you could reach? And if you want to analyze God, do you have any idea how far you could go?”
Then there were many other arguments...
The professor asked:”Don’t you believe that this stick is straight?” (For some reason I never deciphered, philosophers always go around with one stick)
I said “No.”
“How can you say no, can’t you see the stick is straight?”
I said: “It depends how you see it, through what”
“Give me a definition of your statement if you can” he replied
“I will give you no definition, but I can give you one example.” Immediately I snatched the stick from his hands and I immersed it into a water tank we had nearby. I put half of the stick into the water and then I asked: “Is this stick straight?”
He said: “A, no, it looks completely bent”.
“Do not try to be so intellectual. It is good to know things, but analyzing them is not always recommended.”
This is what happens with philosophic arguments.
My point is here: Peace, what you mean by peace, does not exist. I tell you... If you think about a specific state which you can call happiness, a specific pleasure, this is, of course, not everlasting. What to say of everlasting peace?
My point is: Everlasting peace? ...Does not exist. And yet, it exists...
You see, trying to define peace...I will say, where there is no mind, no thoughts, no intellect, no ego, no smell, no taste, no vision, no sensation, nothing...No knowledge, not even wisdom...that is the only place everlasting. Me? Not everlasting. Can you imagine the Sun, the Moon, the planets, the Earth, they are not everlasting.
They do not exist for ever. What does exist for ever is the non-existence.
All existence starts from cidakasha. Sky is here, sky is called akasha. Then beyond akasha we have cidakasha, prakasha, daharakasha, atmakasha. All this existence is in fact nothingness, existence –zero, which can also be defined as peace, happiness or true life.
But in this world, from the day of our manifestation, everyone is running behind peace, happiness. But to obtain peace we should understand where we have already entered, as we entered into this material world, dense like a forest, where each moment is an expression of pain. Each moment of our life bears pain, and not only that, but death. Each moment of our life we are dying...
So, if you think there is an ultimate, everlasting place that is the non-existence, which is the real existence. And everything is there. If you want to find happiness, is there. If you want to find karma, is there. Everything you want to find is there as the seed of everything is there... The existence...In another word, you can say the formless God. It is impossible to define this by words. Impossible to define God...
How can you experience this?? It is also impossible. You should not forget that to experience something you have to use your senses. All your experiences are assumed, presumed, accumulated, and preserved with the help of the five sense organs. The smell, taste, vision, sensation and sound, they are still matter and it is not possible to experience but only to merge, to dissolve, to end...finish...done...saturated. And that is called Samadhi. So...you meditate, become. You can’t have or experience happiness but you can be happiness. You can’t see God but you can be God. Clear? Not possible to see, but possible to be. That is what Jesus said, lord Krishna said, all scriptures say. If you meditate, you can be. How and why you can be? Because you are coming from there, therefore you can go there. You came out of nothingness; you came from the state of zero absolute, so from where you came, you can go back there. From where you came, you have to go back...
Sit quite, spine straight...close your eyes and meditate.
INTERVIEW WITH SWAMI SHANKARANANDA GIRI
Q: How would you describe freedom?
A: We need freedom. We wanted it since always, from our youngest age, it is in our instinct. We all want to be free.
Going back to the first days of our life we can imagine mother breast feeding us, holding us tight into her arms, playing with us, kissing and cuddling.
But the baby doesn’t like it all the time. It wants to be free from its mother even from the first days of its life.
When it is too much of something, the baby just rejects its mother crying and pushing her away.
And it is like that simply because we don’t want so much bondage. In fact we don’t want bondage at all.
We want to be free from our father because always father tells us what to do, ordering in everything: “Do this! Do that!”
We want to be free from our teacher, at school. Free from duties and responsibilities, free from waking up early and going to some place when we actually want to be somewhere else doing completely something else.
Later when we became adults, similar things: go to work, do the job… We feel like slaves in a way…We have no freedom…
Boyfriend wants to be free from his girlfriend and similarly girlfriend wants to be free from her boyfriend. And poor husband always complains to his wife:” Oh, my dear, you are just too much… I should have little space, little time for myself!”
Why do we have this idea that we need freedom and what is actually the state of being free?
If we look at the planets in our solar system we see that they are following strict rules and they cannot go out of that, they are maintaining their own jurisdiction.
We are here, in this physical, material body, but we are not the body, we are just confined in it. But the body has its urges and we are forced to satisfy them.
In our previous numerous lives we had the body of monkey, donkey, crocodile, insect, bird, plant and of course we had no freedom, but we had no knowledge also. Therefore we came into a human body, having been given the chance to understand, to get the knowledge which is so important for our evolution. The understanding I am talking about, animals and plants do not have. Animal beings have a very limited understanding that goes only to a minor extent. Especially when we speak of freedom, they do not have any thought of it but the need of it can be clearly expressed in their actions. Tigers and cats, as an example, do not follow any master. They like to do what they want, they like to be free. Snakes also. Apparently they can be trained by a master but they can bite them later cunningly.
The aim of the life is to know.
Why? Why am I here? Why do I have to be born? Why am I going to die? What a God and what nonsense rules! I have joy for some time and then I face sorrow and sadness. Do you have any idea why?
You know, before, I was the heaven, I was the flower. But now… I am only a petal. But long ago I was the heaven and not part of the heaven but the heaven. Then I came down and became the air, then I became the fire, then the water, then the earth. All of these, heaven (ether), air, fire, water and earth do not have any knowledge. Although they are so great. The father of air is ether. The father of fire is air, father of water is fire, mother of earth is water and mother Earth is the mother of all beings. Mother Earth seems to be much greater than us. Yet she does not have the knowledge. We do. We have the capacity of understanding. All the elements have some actions and reactions but only by nature, they do not know anything. In the same way the animals have reactions. Something is going to happen in the close future so they will have reactions but they do not actually know anything. They have reactions; therefore they run away from the place where disaster is going to strike. We have the same, we used to know that. We knew, we had right instinct and we had knowledge. But now we lost that knowledge and we lost our natural instinct too. Therefore we are born because we do not know anything and we have to learn. You may be a pure soul but you don’t acknowledge it.
Therefore you were born as human being to know everything, to become all- knowing. And that is the state of God, a state of God who knows everything. And you are the one who could get the knowledge of everything and becoming God like Him. We are born only to have this knowledge. And the moment you will have it than you will want to be free even from God the Father, the one who is maintaining you. That is the only reason you are born and born again, until you know everything. Possible you will be born millions times and if you do not get the knowledge you will have to die and come back again and again and again. In this way you obviously have no freedom. Try to understand…
It is not only about you but we are all in a queue, in a long line. And you are obstructing other people who are in line from other lives, who are also in the queue for their understanding. So you are occupying one space, one place. Physically you have a body, but you also have parents, land and properties. You are keeping people in the line behind you waiting and keeping also physical places for your use only, preventing others to step onto it.
So all you have to do is breathe. Breathe consciously as your breath is the source of knowledge, source of your life, source of everything. Breathe and get vidya – this is how true knowledge is called.
Desires…Having desires we lack freedom. But where are the desires coming from and why?
The human being was born with a physical body. And the five elements (panchabhutani) earth, water, fire, air and ether are the basis of everything physical that was formed. This is how our material world has begun. The actions of the elements give birth to the senses, they control the senses and also destroy them. Duality in each chakra of the human being was established after creation of the Elements.
The five senses (tanmatra) are the smell, taste, vision, sensation and hearing and they manifest from the five elements. And this marks the beginning of bondage. Smell gives one the desire for taste, taste gives a desire for vision, vision for sensation and sensation for sound. Sound (dhvani/nada) provides the initial focus for practicing concentration. Sound produces the light (jyoti) and light produces the mind (mana). Mind is connected to the senses, sense organs, working organs and matter.
Our mind is the blind king of our life. I am saying “king” because is the mind which is ruling our lives and it has its own kingdom. We could say that the mind is the king of hell, of the “underworld”. The mind is always ready to fight, argue, disagree, dislike and of course to creating desires. And it does all these through ego. The manifestation of the mind takes place through the combination of matter, working organs (hands, legs, tongue, sex organ and rectum), sense organs and the senses, which are all “below” the mind. Above the mind is light, sound, vacuum, chittam and ultimately, God. All the qualities above the mind are divine, godly qualities. It is the combination of “positive” and “negative”qualities that gives mind the means for its existence. But the mind exists in an invisible astral world and that is why we cannot control it directly. It is said in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra that we should control the mind indirectly through the breath by the practice of meditation.
Chitta is the root of all actions (vritti) and life force found itself entirely absorbed by these actions. The Soul therefore found itself prisoner of the prana (breath and life) within the body and it needs to free itself from this cage (prakriti or creation) that the vritti had created through the senses.
You will experience the real freedom the day you will be free from yourself, when you will be free even from God the Father. The day when He will stop breathing for you, as you will be able to breathe for yourself.
We are engaged in so many activities but we have no attention for the main job of our life, breathing to maintain life in this body. We pay no attention at all to our breathing although we know that, the moment breath will stop, we die. Still we do not care for that, our Father is there for us to do this job. And that is why we are completely dependent on Him and He has the right of life and death upon us. He is maintaining both our life and body by breathing for us. You seek the ultimate freedom but you are still the child of your Father, completely dependent. You need to be free from your own body. Life wants to be free from the breath because breath is holding the life. Body is holding the breath, breath is holding the life, life is holding the soul and soul alone came out directly from God the Father. You are purusha, the Soul, but the day you become purusha then only you can claim that you are the son of Parama purusha, who is exactly like God the Father. And that is the final freedom, the day you will be free from God the Father pulling your breath all the time. For as long as He does it for us He is the God and we are the slaves. Your papa is giving you money regularly. Even if you are an adult and a married man, still your papa is maintaining you and your family so you are dependent on him. He will annoy you all the time not to spend too much, so where is your freedom? You are dependent on him and you have to admit it. You have money but it is not your own. In the same way our life is limited because it is breathed by God the Father. God the Father is having many children and they are all dependent on Him. Become an adult and do everything by yourself and get your deserved freedom, otherwise you will need the help of Mother and Father.
The ultimate freedom (liberation) is often misunderstood with being free at the time of death. The individual Soul is freed and returns to Heaven or merges into the Soul. However, if the individual Soul is not detached from the senses then logically, that will not become possible. Freedom of the time of death is different from freedom during life. True liberation consists of being free from the senses at all times. No matter how hard a person tries, habits (attachments) will surface at the time of death. These habits, which were created in this life, according to our tendencies, are taken with us when we die. The only way to break these attachments is through meditation.
If we make a habit of concentrating our life force (carried by breath) in bhruva, between our eyebrows, then at the time of death this is the prevailing quality. When life force is accustomed to entering the pituitary gland (bhruva), then one lives constantly in Brahma (God the Father), becoming one with the Soul; working in the material world yet at the same time remaining detached. Without this habit one works in the material world and will belong to the material world.Living constantly in Brahma allows a person go beyond thoughts, whether positive or negative. And this is the perfect freedom and the concrete definition of spirituality.