The meeting started by sharing experiences of last week's exercise. An account can be seen here posted as a reply to last week's meeting report on Dhee.
This week's topic was Vidya – the need to acquire the knowledge of the Vedas. The attached paper was circulated to the group before the meeting. It was partly for use in the meeting but mainly as a repository of guidance from H.H. on private study of Vedic scriptures during our normal day to day lives. It brings together advice on why we should study the scriptures, what we should study, how to put it into practice, problems with words and translations, and understanding the relationship between the knowledge from the Vedas and that found in other traditions and religions. We used only a small part of the paper in the meeting and instead focused mainly on the two group exercises (first verse of Isa Upanishad, and quotation from Good Company).
One person thought that reading ‘good’ books was no more useful than reading the newspaper. You can’t become Self-realised that way. Another found that when reading the Record or other things from the same tradition, suddenly she would come across something that induced complete quiet and made her stop and rest in stillness for a while.
Two members of the group had tried reading the Rig Veda. One of them said he found it very beautiful and had set some of the hymns to music. But both agreed that it was hard to see it as anything more than hymns to various forces/gods. They had not found any trace of the teaching of the Upanishads in it.
We began to see how the first verse of Isa Upanishad might actually contain all the teachings of the Gita, and how we could try to put it into practice by not claiming. One person gave an example of a piece of music he composed being transmitted through him. It was something that surprised him with its beauty when he listened to it, and he knew he could not possibly claim it. We also looked at Shankara’s commentary on this verse (attached), which gave us an idea of how much can be understood from each word when considered deeply.
The group greatly enjoyed H.H.’s joke about a mistranslation of a verse from the Gita. It demonstrated the sense of humour of a Realised Man.
The (corrected) quote in Good Company “… you are in everything in the world and everything in the world is in you, since for you it only exists because it is mirrored in you; and at the same time you are that – everything” seemed rather harder to put into practice particularly if you have not had an experience of that type at some time or other. It’s the sort of experience that just happens – there’s nothing you can do to make happen. But one person felt that just through a lot of fairly continuous practice it might come back, and then recur more frequently, for longer. While reading “I Am That” at the hairdressers she came across the following passage that instantly reminded her of the Good Company quotation and seemed to say very strongly to her ‘this is the practice that is needed all the time to encourage that experience and understanding to return’:
M: Why not turn away from the experience to the experiencer and realise the full import of the only true statement you can make: 'I am'?
Q: How is it done?
M: There is no ‘how’ here. Just keep in mind the feeling 'I am', merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling 'I am'. Whatever you think, say, or do, this sense of immutable and affectionate being remains as the ever-present background of the mind.
(Nisargadatta - I Am That)