Launch of Double DVD on Bhagavad Gita


Discover Vedanta Newsletter July 2011 – Special event

Launch of ‘Discover Your Greatness – Insights in the Timeless Teaching of Bhagavad Gita‘ by Neema Majmudar

Dear friends,

We are very happy to announce that the Double DVD pack ‘Discover Your Greatness – Insights in the Timeless Teaching of Bhagavad Gita’ by Neema Majmudar is now available on our new Discover Vedanta on line store

Make sure to check out the photos of the launch of this DVD by our teacher Swami Dayananda Saraswati on 15th July 2011 on our Facebook page

Please note that the selling prices and delivery time differ according to the destination of shipment. Therefore kindly indicate whether the shipment is within India or outside India by ticking the right box at the book store page .

The purchase by major credit and debit cards is accepted and is perfectly safely done through Paypal.

This DVD is invaluable as each of the 23 videos unfolds one essential verse of Gita in less than 10 minutes so that you can capture the whole crux of the vision of the Gita in about 3 and a half hours. A booklet with the summary of each video and the corresponding verses in both English and Sanskrit are included in the DVD pack.

We would appreciate if you could pass on this news to those who you think may be interested.

Looking forward to your support and feedback,

Neema and Surya

Four basic concepts at the core of Indian spirituality, Mircea Eliade

 

Yoga: Immortality and freedom by Mircea Eliade

An insightful passage  from Mircea Eliade, in the ‘Point of departure’ of his book Yoga, Immortality and freedom.

He explains in this introductory passage how any historical study of Indian philosophy has to discuss these four basic concepts and explain their relationship. Obviously, the various systems of Indian philosophy (Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, etc.) and we might also include here the Buddhist traditions, will differ on the definition they give to the concept of Nirvana or Moksa, absolute freedom. That will have consequences on the Yoga, the ways or techniques which have necessarily to be in keeping with the ultimate goal to be reached. Eliade ends by emphasizing that the pursuit of truth by the Indian sage is for achieving liberation or freedom from the limitations of human condition, which distinguishes him from a western philosopher.

Four basic and interdependent concepts, four “kinetic ideas,” bring us directly to the core of Indian spirituality, They are karma, maya, nirvana, and yoga. A coherent history of Indian thought could he written starting from any one of these basic concepts; the other three would inevitably have to be discussed. In terms of Westem philosophy, we can say that, from the post-Vedic period on, India has above all sought to understand:

(1 ) The law of universal causality, which connects man with the cosmos and condemns him to transmigrate indefinitely. This is the law of karma.

(2) The mysterious process that engenders and maintains the cosmos and, in so doing, makes possible the “eternal return” of existences, This is maya, cosmic illusion, endured (even worse- accorded validity) by man as long as he is blinded by ignorance (avidya).

(3) Absolute reality, “situated” somewhere beyond the cosmic illusion woven by maya and beyond human experience as conditioned by karma: pure Being. the Absolute, by whatever name it may be caIled—the Self (atman), brahman, the unconditioned, the transcendent, the immortal, the indestructible, nirvana, etc.

(4) The means of attaining to Being, the effectual techniques for gaining liberation. This corpus of means constitutes Yoga properly speaking.

With these four concepts in mind, we can understand how the fundamental problem of all philosophy, the search for truth, presents itself to Indian thought. For India, truth is not precious in itself; it becomes precious by virtue of its soteriological function, because knowledge of truth helps man to liberate himself. It is not the possession of truth that is the supreme end of the Indian sage; it is liberation, the conquest of absolute freedom. The sacrifices that the European philosopher is prepared to make to attain truth in and for itself: sacrifice of religious faith, of worldly ambitions, of wealth, personal freedom, and even life—to these the Indian sage consents only in order to conquer liberation. To “free oneself” is equivalent to forcing another plane of existence, to appropriating another mode of being transcending the human condition. This is as much as to say that, for India, not only is metaphysical knowledge translated into terms of rupture and death (“breaking” the human  condition, one “dies” to all that was human); it necessarily implies a consequence of mystical nature: rebirth to a non conditioned mode of being. And this is liberation, absolute freedom.

The cosmological way of relating to the sun-Brian Swimme

Brian Swimme is a mathematical cosmologist I have quoted several times in this blog. In a TV series called ‘The Sacred Balance‘, he explains how the new understanding of the universe modern science has given us can help us relate in a profound and meaningful manner to nature and more specifically in these three following quotes, to the sun.

One of the gifts of science is in understanding that life exists by drawing in the sun; one of the gifts of science is to realize that what is surging through us in every moment of our life, with every breath we take, is the sun. So in a real sense the human is the human form of a solar flare. It is surging into the life of the Earth, and in all beings, in the fish, in the mammals, and in the human we have another form of the energy that first was captured by the early photosynthetic organisms. We are the sun in a new form.

He further speaks about the process of inner transformation and self sacrifice on the part of the sun which he qualifies as an act of ‘cosmic generosity’. This unconditional and incessant pouring of energy is what enables all life forms including us human beings to live on this Earth, from a distance of some 93 million miles.

Ninety-three million miles the light has to come, and already we’re being warmed up by it. You know, if it weren’t for the sun, the entire Earth would be 400 degrees below zero. It just constantly pours out all of that light, and what’s amazing is to think about the sun being a million times as huge as the Earth. It’s just this vast fire that enables all of life to take place here. And what I really find fascinating is the way in which the sun produces this light. Right at the core it’s transforming hydrogen into helium. And in that transformation it’s converting some of its mass into energy. Every second, four million tons of the sun is being transformed into this light. That’s like a million elephants. So there’s another million elephants, another million elephants, and if it weren’t for that ongoing bestowal of energy, we wouldn’t have any life on earth. So one way to think about the sun, every time you see it at dawn, is to think of it as an act of cosmic generosity. It’s this vast giveaway of energy that enables us to survive, enables all of life to thrive. So we are surfing around the source of ongoing cosmic generosity.

Brian Swimme then says in this last quote how he greets every morning the sun. This passage cannot but  remind me how his relating to the sun is close to the vision of Vedic seers or rishis who invited us a few thousands of years ago to appreciate the presence of one Intelligence and Power manifest in the universe in the form of the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, etc. and which makes them what they are. In other words, just like a wave is connected to the ocean from which it is born, is sustained by and goes back to, our connection as an individual to the sun, and therefore to the cause of the universe, is so fundamental that we need to appreciate and understand it as it is. Because it is a reality of our living as a human being in this universe which cannot be ignored or bypassed.

I greet the sun each morning just by reflecting for just a moment on the vastness of the sun, a million times the size of the Earth, in bestowing all this energy. And just in that moment, I remember that we are spinning around the star, and it’s because of the star’s energy that we exist. So that we are this star in a new form. And by doing that I remember my cosmological dimension. And it puts everything in perspective for the whole day.

To know more, some links to the website Vedanta, Being alive to what is:

[1] The equation ‘You are that’, the cause of the universe

[2] The equation ‘You are that’, the nature of ‘that’

[3] Article in pdf format, The vedic vision of God

Other links :

[1] Brian SwimmeSéries of documentaries (Global Mind shift : ‘The new story’ et ‘Current Moment’) on http://www.global-mindshift.org/discover/viewMeme.asp?memeid=291

[2] Article in this blog: Modern cosmology & Vedanta – Does the universe have a beginning?

[3] Article in this blog: Sun and clarity of thinking : Gayatri

Life can be a ritual, this whole universe the altar…

A simple and profound poem based on the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita from our friend from Brazil, Bharadvaja, who kindly accepted to share it on this blog.

Go further :

From the Series on Videos ‘The timeless teaching of the Bhagavad Gita‘, on Youtube

14. Chapter II, Verse 47 – You have a choice over action but not over the result

15. Chapter II, Verse 48 – How is sameness towards situations or results of action possible?

16. Chapter III, Verse 9 – Interconnectedness and seeing oneself in larger scheme of things

Links to website Vedanta, Being alive to what is

[1] Article in pdf format, The vision of Vedanta

[2] Maturity & knowledge, The individual and the total

[3] Maturity & knowledge, How life become a means to gains maturity & Being in harmony with the universal ethical order

[4] Action and result, What is karma yoga?

The design of the universe-Georges Smoot-TED video

To display sub-titles in any languages, click on ‘view subtitles’ and select a language. To watch this video on TED, go to the following link.

The astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot shows stunning new images from deep-space surveys, and prods us to ponder how the cosmos — with its giant webs of dark matter and mysterious gaping voids — got built this way.

So the question should come to your mind is, what kind of design, you know, what kind of creative process and what kind of design produced the world like that?

…we have a model, and we can calculate it, and we can use it to make designs of what we think the universe really looks like. And that design is sort of way beyond what our original imagination of it was.

…I’m going to show you the results of a very large-scale simulation of what we think the universe might be like, using essentially, some of the play principles and some of the design principles that, you know, humans have labored so hard to pick up, but apparently nature knew how to do at the beginning.

Georges Smoot – The design of the universe

When one see these amazing images resulting of years of research, these simulations models (which required for some of them 1,000 processors to run during one month), one cannot but wonder about the unimaginable knowledge which manifests in the building process of the universe.  And also wonder about the insatiable curiosity of the human being who is able to dis-cover some of the fundamental structures of the universe.

To know more, some links to the website Vedanta, Being alive to what is:

[1] The equation ‘You are that’, the cause of the universe

[2] The equation ‘You are that’, the nature of ‘that’

[3] Article in pdf format, The vedic vision of God

Other links :

[1] Brian SwimmeSéries of documentaries (Global Mind shift : ‘The new story’ et ‘Current Moment’) on http://www.global-mindshift.org/discover/viewMeme.asp?memeid=291

[2] Article on this blog: Modern cosmology & Vedanta – Does the universe have a beginning?


The brain from top to bottom

Among the subjects which are indirectly connected to the vision of Vedanta and therefore worth exploring are the brain, the human behavior, the emotions and the nature of consciousness.

I found the following website to be an amazingly rich source of information on these subjects. It is called ‘The brain from top to bottom’ and is an initiative affiliated and funded by the Canadian Institute of Health, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and addiction.

It includes different subject matters from the most recent ‘The emergence of consciousness’ to ‘Emotions and the brain’ and ‘Pleasure and pain‘ to cite a few of them. What is remarkable is that the topics can be explored at different levels of explanation (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and organization (social, psychological, neurological, cellular, molecular).

As an illustration, one can go to the different sub topics for ‘The emergence of consciousness’ at the psychological and beginner level : What is consciousness, Philosophical positions on consciousness, Theories of consciousness in cognitive sciences, Flaws in classical model of consciousness.These sub topics can be explored at an intermediate or advanced level.

To know more about the sense of I, the self, the unconscious and consciousness according to Vedanta, you can view and download the pdf article ‘Psychology in Vedanta’ by Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

TED Talk: The neurons that shaped civilization, VS Ramachandran

Another fascinating TED video from the neuroscientist VS Ramachandran about some particular neurons in the human brain called mirror neurons, which he jokingly calls ‘Gandhi’, ‘Dalai Lama’ neurons or empathy neurons. According to VS Ramachandran, these mirror neurons might hold some keys to understand better seemingly unconnected subjects such as imitation and emulation, empathy, self-awareness and the ‘big bang in human evolution’ which took place some 40,000 years ago.

…the mirror neuron system underlies the interface allowing you to rethink about issues like consciousness, representation of self, what separates you from other human beings, what allows you to empathize with other human beings, and also even things like the emergence of culture and civilization, which is unique to human beings. From TED talk, The neurons that shaped civilization, VS Ramachandran

To know more, two articles from VS Ramachandran available in Edge

1. The neurology of self-awareness, Article in Edge [1.8.07]

2. Mirror neurons and imitation learning as the driving force behind “the great leap forward” in human evolution, Article in Edge [6.1.2000]