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Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, takes up the question of the meaning of life. He begins his study by putting the question, “What is it that distinguishes man from the rest of beings, and that determines the meaning of his life?” One thing that separates us from the rest is that we are the only animal that writes poetry, that builds schools and colleges, writes books and stores them, and has developed a vocabulary consisting of thousands of words covering all shades of meaning and embodying a large number of concepts. In short, we can say that man excels in his knowledge. …


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When we get into a state of emotional crisis or a depression we might say “I don’t see any light” or “I am in a state of absolute darkness.” There is a contradiction in this statement that we miss to see due to our negative attitude, which is that for us to know we are in a state of ignorance implies a degree of knowledge. If there was no knowledge at all, one would not even see that one was in a state of darkness. There is a self-luminous light of knowledge always flickering within us. It is not which is bought from outside, but is our very awareness. …


arivilumeriyarinnitunavan tannuruvilumottu purattumujjvalikkum karuvinu kannukal anchumulladakki terutere veenuvanangiyotitenam

Permeating the knowledge which brilliantly shines at once within and without the knower is the Karu; to that, with the five senses withheld, prostrate again and again with devotion and chant.

~ Sri Narayana Guru (Atmopadesha Shatakam — 1)

The world within and the world without is but one functional reality which Guru calls the Karu. The philosophy of Spinoza is very close to what is contained in the first verse of Atmopadesha shatakam. What Guru calls Karu appears in Spinoza’s philosophy as substance. The substance of Spinoza is self-founded and self-established; it includes within itself all matrices of causes and effects. Spinoza gives two attributes to substance: extension and cogitation. In Vedanta, extension is called vyapti. Spinoza’s concept of extension appears in the Guru’s verse as ‘outside’, and his idea of cogitation is akin to ‘knowledge’ as it is used here. Guru’s expression “at once brilliantly shining” comes in Spinoza’s philosophy as omnia. …


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As the mind, so the individual. This is a concrete fact in life. We all must deal with our minds if we are transacting in the world. We may run away from situations, people or objects but we cannot deny our own mind and its constant chat with us. When the mind is productive, inspired and able to deal with all situations we call it healthy and if not, otherwise. What makes the mind healthy? How can we make it healthy or how can we make the most out of this beautiful equipment called the mind? …


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The Gita is a wisdom dialogue of a non-religious and non-obligatory, contemplative and philosophical order, consciously and artfully inserted in the heart of the great epic called the Mahabharata by the ancient Sage-Bard Vyasa; in which the rarest of possible coincidences called absolutely just war is taken as presenting itself to be fought by its central character, Arjuna, who, being a sensitive and contemplatively disposed type of soldier, is about to adopt a negative, escapist attitude of regret and retrospection when it was actually too late for him to extricate himself from the situation that had already assumed a harsh and imperatively necessary character. …




The only equipment available for an individual which is consciousness enmeshed within a biological organism is the capacity for mentation. In both Yoga and Vedanta, this antakarana (inner organ) or the inner mechanism have four distinct agencies of operation: the interrogative aspect/objective mind (manas); the faculty of memory and recall (Citta); the faculty of judgment/subjective mind (buddhi) and the sense of individuality (ahamkara). …


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Aphorism: But that Brahman (is known) from the Upanishads (it) being the object of their fullest import.

Brahman, which is omniscient and omnipotent, which is the cause for the origin, existence, and dissolution of the universe, and which is known as such from the Upanishads. How? Because of being the object of their fullest import; for in all Upanishads the texts become fully reconciled when they are accepted as establishing the mentioned fact as their fullest import. For instance: “O amiable one, this universe, before its creation, was but existence one without a second” (Chandogya Upanishad VI.ii.1) “Before creation this universe was but the Self that is one” (Aiteraya Upanishad I.i.1) “That Brahman is without prior or posterior, without interior or exterior (i.e. homogenous and non-dual) “This Self — the perceiver of everything is Brahman” (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad II.V.19) …


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अथातो ब्रह्मजिज्ञासा ।। 1.1.1 ।।

Athatho Brahmajijnasa || 1.1.1 ||

Translation: Hence (is to be undertaken) thereafter a deliberation on Brahman

A wish follows spontaneously from the knowledge that something is achievable by effort, here the wish cannot be begun like that of a discovery — where there is no prior knowledge of whatever is discovered. According to this, the word ‘atha’ (thereafter) is used in the sense of “sequence” and not “commencement”, for Brahma-jijnasa is not a thing to be commenced.

Brahman to be inquired here, being a pre-existing entity, its knowledge is not dependent upon human effort since it is eternally present. Besides, there is a difference between the mental reactions aroused by Vedic texts which impart knowledge about virtuous deeds and make their purport clear while engaging their attention to deeds enjoined, whereas Vedic texts like Upanishads speaking of Brahman give rise only to its knowledge. …

amr·tasya putrā

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