Philosophy And What It Means To Me.

“Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.”

Despite having written before about my tryst with philosophy  in my blog, it is still nice to be able to revisit my story from a different perch as it were.

I approach the topic with a historic perspective highly personal in nature as, I am deeply involved in the study of philosophy.  I was not always so and hence this approach.

I was burning both ends of the candle in the late seventies of the last century when a dear friend, concerned about my well being put me in touch with Transcendental Meditation. I learnt it and started practicing it in earnest with amazing results. While practicing, I also studied the first six chapters of the Bhagwat Gita translated and commented on by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

This continued till 1983 when on a dare, I attended a ten day Vipassana camp and got hooked to that form of meditation which I continue to practice till today.  That little adventure also led me to study Buddhist philosophy.

Two  more synchronistic developments that led to further incidents that got me thoroughly involved in Indian philosophy.

While on a business visit to Chennai, another dear friend insisted that I accompany him to a lecture on Vedanta by Swami Paramarthananda. That got me further interested and when the same friend on a visit to Pune requested me to take him to a colleague and fellow Sanyasi of the Chennai Swamiji, I did and met Swami Satswarupananda of Pune.

I not only met him, but became his student and studied Vedanta under him in our Guru Shishya Parampara for fifteen years.

He finally retired to full time sanyasa to Rishikesh after instructing his students in Pune that Shravanam. (Learning) and Mananam (Internalising the learning) were over and the time had come for them to focus on Nidhidyasanam. And that is what I have been doing since the last many years.

In the meanwhile, I also had the privilege of meeting Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the Guru to both the Swamijis mentioned earlier, both at Anaikatti, his head quarters and in Pune during two of his visits.

Having bored my readers with that background, let me now explain what Vedanta, means to me.

In the Vedantic system, one goes through various stages of life with four goals called the Purushartha.. Having crossed the first three fairly successfully, I am at the last stage of my progress to achieve Moksha.

End of my story.

To understand the contents of my post, please do use the links given for various words without which, it will be difficult to.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 4 On 1 blog posts where Conrad, Sanjana, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been suggested by Sanjana. Please do go over to the other two blogs to see what they have to say on the same topic. Thank you.

A Reason For Being.

Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

The Japanese have a word for this – Ikigai.

Try as I might, I cannot find this particular type of Reason For Being at my present age of three score and fifteen. What possible reason can motivate me to get up in the morning to face another day? I often write about the impact that Viktor Frakl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning had on me some decades ago, and now struggle to find some meaning to his conclusion of the Western kind. He concludes “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Truth be told, what gets me up in the morning is simply that I cannot sleep after 5.00 am no matter how late I go to sleep because of habit ingrained from boyhood when a martinet of a father insisted that we got up when the crows cawed which was inevitably well before sunrise and day break.

Subsequently, I got into the habit of meditating and yogabhyas in the mornings which continue to occupy my time in the mornings but, those two activities are not the reason for my being.

I look forward to reading the morning newspapers and solving the crossword puzzles in them. Is that the reason for my being? Once I finish those very likeable activities at around 12.00 noon, what will keep me going? The prospect of lunch, the siesta that inevitably follows, the session at the computer to catch up with mail, facebook posts etc?

I wonder what the Japanese will suggest as a word for someone like me!

Which wondering brings me to the Indian philosophical approach to the same situation. It is called Purushartha or The Object Of Human Pursuit. Please do spend some time on the Wikipedia exposition on this concept so that, you can follow my take on life’s purpose in my current stage of development.

The four components, Dharma, Artha, Kaama, Moksha can be compared to a bracelet of three beads with Dharma being the holding string that holds the three otehr beads together. In other words, a morally lived life of acquiring means to enjoy the pleasures of life which hopefully will take one to a stage of satiety and the last stage of seeking freedom from the very essence of life, wanting! Moksha is the ultimate goal for Indians which can be obtained by learning and understanding the highest philosophical ideas. This process is called Shravanam, mananam, nidhidhyasanam, or, learining, understanding and reflecting on the knowledge gained. Quite a bit of my time is taken on this activity and so my Ikigai may well be Moksha!