Swarupa - Your Inner Form

Your inner form is called Swarupa. Nothingness is the true form of our nature as a human being. Because it is nothingness, nothing is there. It is always in a very peaceful or paramashant state. Vices are all a result of thought. We need a tool that can help us manage the control of our thoughts. That is meditation. If we did not need to learn to control our thoughts we wouldn’t need meditation. Meditation is a system that helps you rediscover your true form; your true Swarupa. How can this be done? You unknowingly lost your Swarupa. This is because of ignorance. Let’s investigate this concept.

Because of ignorance, you live in a doing state rather than a state of being. And because of this, ego comes into play. Because of ego, attachment comes, because of attachment greed comes, because of greed anger comes. This is how we wrap ourselves in layers like a cocoon. These layers cover your true form. Paramaswarupa, your true form, gets covered in all of these layers. This is the root of suffering.

Because of ego there is duality. Nature and creator you see as different, while in actuality they are one. Nature is the body of the creator. Everything that you visualize you visualize as nature, or as matter. But you need to visualize the pure existence behind the matter! But you don’t know how to visualize nature as a pure existence, rather you see it as separate, confined by names and forms. Because of this approach of looking at things, all forms of the same true existence appear different. The question is how to go back and recognize our True form. Somehow we have become detached from our true form. How do you change your state of mind from a doer state to a viewer state?

The connection we have to our minds makes us limited, because the mind by nature is limited because it is matter. Because it is matter it has no capacity to unite with a limitless state. Mind is the same as the ego. We understand our mind through thoughts; thoughts of our ego i. This is what creates confusion. You are considering your ego as your real i, real Self, True Self, Atman Self. That eternal peaceful divine Self that you want to experience is there, but you have to make an effort to come out from the i that is ego. One way to do this is through deductive reasoning. By removing everything that you are NOT, you can isolate what is the True you. I am not a body. I am not a mind. I am not thoughts. I am not breath. Whatever you can say is mine is not the True Self.

Just like a tree, the True form may be lost behind all of the branches and leaves. All of these little branches and leaves will shed and regrow and change, but they are not the Real tree. You have to look at what is behind everything.

It’s as if you are playing tintal (16 beat rhythm cycle) on the Indian drum, the tabla, many compositions. If you are just trying to learn the compositions, your focus will only be on the mechanics of the music, but you will not understand what is behind it. If you want to have a deeper experience, you will understand that there is one continuous and behind it. That is the True beauty of the tinta. The composition is the movie playing on the screen that is nad. We have a habit of focusing on the moving pictures projected on the screen rather than the actual screen. The screen is what is real. This is due to ignorance. If you learn to see the screen, all of the confusion lessens. The films may change; today’s tintal is tomorrow’s rupak tal (7 beat rhythm cycle).

The screen that remains the same is the same as the True Self. However we focus all of our attention on the thoughts that are the changing films. Often we are not even aware that there is a screen. The mind is a mass production factory of thoughts. These thoughts have you running here and there in search of worldly pleasures. And because of ignorance, you see thought in a sequence. But thoughts are not actually moving in sequence, rather they are still frames played in sequence. In between all of these thoughts, or all of these still frames, are small spaces of nothingness. That gap is where you need to focus. If you focus on these gaps you can see the screen. This is the place where your Self is sitting forever. As you learn to focus on the gaps rather than on the pictures, over time you no longer focus on the pictures. If there are no pictures, then you are in a paramashanta state.

It is only because of habit that we look at the pictures and fail to see the gap or the screen. Once you can train yourself to have a habit of focusing on the gap, you will no longer see the pictures. This is how you come out from the grip of the mind and reconnect with the True Self.

When you come out from the grip of your i state, you will immediately connect with the True I state that is a viewer state, not a doer state. The viewer state is there by default, but the cloud of your i is covering it with a dark shadow. This prevents you from seeing your True I. As you remove that cloud, you will be showered in the light of your True Existence, your True Self. And the nature of that True Self is Anand. This is where you find pure bliss.

When we do the experiment of Nati, which means the deductive reasoning of what you are not, what do we find? When we take away everything that is not I, it allows us to find the True I. But it can never take you farther than “I am not my breath.” Why will it never take it beyond your breath? Because our intellect cannot go further than the breath. The process of Nati is dependent on your intellect which is what is saying “I am not this, I am that.”

So with your intellect you can deny everything that is not I until you get to your breath. But when you state that you are not your breath, the i that makes that statement is the ego, and that ego will remain. The thought of your ego i is the first thing that corrupted you when you began in an absolutely true being form. That must be the first thought of your ego i. And from that ego i all other i’s come; all other thoughts. When you reach the last level of your ego i, what needs to be done? You have to understand from where that ego was born. So we know that only the ego i remains, so how do we get rid of that? In order to do that we need to understand from where it came; how it was created.

Was it created in the brain? No. It is born in your heart. The first thought always comes from the heart – not the physical heart, but the mind heart. Today’s science is beginning to speak a lot about the mind heart. So the first thought of your ego i was born in your mind heart. We get confused by words, semantics. Because of words we don’t know how to see things properly. You may think that Existence is Truth and that the world is Maya. At the same time, you say that whatever exists has existence and is Truth. The means that the whole concept of your Maya came from nothing. If you just see each and every creature as a being with Existence, then it is no longer Maya. If you see each creature as matter, then it remains as Maya. This duality comes from ignorance. Otherwise there is no point to have to have two names for the same things. Everything is pure existence. But because of ignorance you have made it into two.

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In Memory of RasBhai

In Memory of RasBhai

Today, I received unfortunate news about the death of my friend and colleague Sri Ras Bihari Desai, whom I called Rasbhai.

When I heard the news, my mind immediately went back to a morning long ago when I received a phone call at 5am.

It was Rasbhai on the other end.

“Divyangbhai, please listen to this. I know I’ve woken you up, but you must listen to this. We’ll talk after,” he said. Before I could really say anything, I heard the sound of drumming on the line. The patterns were set in mishra jati.

After about 50 seconds, he came back on the phone.

“Who is that?” I asked.

“It is a bird. It is on the water bowl for birds. It is actually dancing on it. I’ve been watching him for the last 40 minutes. I was thinking that I must call something and realized that I had to share with you. That is why I called you so early in the morning.”

He actually recorded the bird dancing that day. I told him when we met next that I wanted to hear the whole thing. We met several times soon after that, but never at his home. Time, as it always does, passed by and today when I heard of his passing, I recall our agreement to listen to the bird dancing together and how that never came to be.

Rasbhai and I shared many memories together. He was one of my favourite Gujarati singers. He was a good-hearted and knowledgeable person with a deep interest in philosophy. For the last 30 years, he has been using my students as his tabla player whenever possible. He was always a supporter of my work and I of his.

I pray to God that his soul will have greatest place in heaven.

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To be a Master of Indian Music

To be a Master of Indian Music

I am amazed at how many students I get who want master Indian music or tabla. The desire is commendable, but the effort that is made to achieve this aim does not reflect this goal. The world has changed. There was a time not long ago, when students of music would practice 7, 8, 10 hours a day. Besides practice, they did nothing. There were no weekends, no days off. It was single-pointed focus to become a master. There were no birthday parties and movies, no social commitments. For a period of time, they left behind the world in order to achieve greatness. And once that level is attained, a beautiful world opens up that cannot be described in words.

Today, I believe that there great distractions and more ways that a person can have their attention diverted, but human capacity of focus and determination still exist. And without fully utilizing them, greatness cannot be attained. I am not speaking of greatness in terms of becoming a star, being a star and having true mastery are two different things and don’t necessarily go hand in hand. To be a master requires the same qualities it did centuries ago, decades ago and a few years ago: focus, devotion and ability to leave everything. While the world may change, these qualities don’t change over time.

Here is a wonderful poem by Brahmanand that summarizes what a classical musician must do if they truly want to realize God through their music. Note that this can be applied to any field or work, if one desires to reach that level of mastery in it. This poem has been sung beautifully by Bhimsenji, who is a great model of a true sadhak.

Jo bhaje hari so sada
Wohi param pad payega
Chhod duniya ke majhe sub
Bhaith kar ekant mein
Dhyandhar guru ke charanaka
To prabhu mil jayega

Literal translation:

The one who remembers/praises God always
Will attain the Ultimate goal
Leave the pleasures of the world
Sit alone (in meditation)
Meditate upon the feet of your guru
And you will realize God

The actual meaning of the poem is:

The one who always and fully engages in ones work (this can be any work)
Attains the highest aim
Leave behind worldly pleasures
Sits alone with full concentration
Aspire to follow the path your guru(’s feet) have walked (upon)
And you will realize God

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