Disciple: You say that one has to leave ritualistic practices while moving forward to spiritual practices. But there are so many mantras and many of them are given by Shiva Himself to Shakti. Apart from this, there are many mantras formulated by sages and saints. Do you mean to say that recitation of any of these mantras is not necessary while pursuing spiritual path? What you say appears to be the thoughts of an atheist.
Guru: I told you in the beginning itself that you are not matured enough to migrate to spiritual path. You should not even attempt to enter the spiritual path without strong foundation. If your wisdom is not complete, your spiritual journey will be ineffective. First, understand the difference between mind and intellect. Mind is a tool for knowing and intellect is a tool for researching and exploring. Though intellect is far more superior to mind, God realization can take place only in the mind. Intellect is something that can be made effective only through acquiring knowledge. When I say knowledge, I always mean spiritual knowledge. There is difference between material knowledge and spiritual knowledge. Material knowledge can be attained through objects and spiritual knowledge can be attained only through Guru’s teachings and by reading certain select texts. Not all the texts give the highest form of spiritual knowledge. Most of the Gurus impart highest kind of knowledge by one to one interaction with their disciples. One to one interaction is very important in Guru-disciple relationship. For example, you have many trivial doubts and you have got freedom to ask me when you and I talk like this comfortably. But if there is more than one person, each person will have different wavelength, different attitude, different spiritual advancement, different perception, etc. What I teach you cannot be the same when I teach someone else. For you, I begin from VII grade lessons and probably I might begin for someone else either from I grade lessons or X grade lessons. Spiritual sessions are different from what you learn in your school or university and spiritual knowledge is tougher to acquire than you think. This is because, in spiritual knowledge, we have to deal with all subtle things such as soul, mind, intellect, ego, prāṇa, cosmos, etc. Hence you have to be more attentive in spiritual teaching sessions.
Coming back to your question about mantras, yes, there are innumerable mantras, declared by Shiva and other sages. I will explain this to you through this example. Your daily worship (pūjā) is like your elementary school; your japa mantras are like your high school education; acquiring spiritual knowledge is like your university degree; meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, etc are like your post graduation; as a result of your past education, you begin to pursue your doctorate and this can be compared to the state of Bliss. When you are fed up with all these studies and when you feel that you are not inclined to study further and when your mind tells you that you need not pursue your studies further, it is the state of Self-realization. Even in this stage, your realization is not complete. You have to have more experience in this stage and suddenly you realize God and that is the end of your spiritual journey. There is no need for you to learn further because there is nothing to learn as you are God yourself.
Disciple: I think I begin to understand. Probably a few more sessions with you should help. But I find many gurus are initiating their disciples with multiple mantras. What is your opinion about it?
Guru: It is very difficult to give an answer for this. Secondly, my answers should not hurt anybody. There are certain laid down guidelines how a disciple should be initiated. For example, in Sri Vidya cult, first Ganapati mantra is initiated followed by Bālā mantra. Depending upon disciple’s advancement, he is initiated into Pañcadaśī and latter into Ṣoḍaśī mantras. Mantras make a person to develop devotion to a particular form of deity. When the devotion becomes intent, it transforms into love for that deity. Love for god is far more superior to devotion. When the love becomes too intent, the devotee becomes one with that deity. This is the basic concept of mantra japas and daily worships. This is fine as long as you recite mantra for a deity. If there are too many mantras, how can you become one with too many deities? This is not humanly possible and even if you think that you have become one with so many deities, your thought is deceptive in nature. This is the reason why many do not advance in spiritual path. They recite too many mantras too many hymns, etc. Be with one god and he or she will certainly make you advance in your spiritual path. Becoming one with these gods is not realization. Becoming one with such gods does not offer you liberation. Liberation means merging with God, without any attributes. This can happen only through your mind with and the help of your consciousness.
Disciple: I recite Lalitā Sahasranāma daily, which is part of my routine. But I do not haveany mental satisfaction by doing so. Why?
Guru: Because you have practiced this as your routine like eating and sleeping. You have to learn to appreciate its beauty and you can appreciate its beauty only if you are able to understand the meaning of thousand names. If you know the meaning and then recite this Sahasranāma, you will derive satisfaction. Your mode of recitation will also change if you know the meaning. I have said in the beginning itself that perfection in spiritual path is directly related to one’s knowledge.
Disciple: But according to you, these Scriptures do not matter in realization. But now you say that I have to know the meaning.
Guru: No, I have not said that. What I said was that one cannot continue to dwell in these types of Scriptures. For example, if you thoroughly understand Lalitā Sahasranāma, your mind will try, in fact it should try to explore further details on these names. For example, Lalitā Sahasranāma 822 is Brahma, meaning that She is Brahman. What you understand from this nāma is that Lalitāmbikā, as described in this Sahasranāma is Brahman. What you do not understand is that Brahman has two aspects – one with attributes (saguṇa Brahman) and another without attributes (nirguṇa Brahman). What you understand in Sahasranāma is Brahman with attributes. But, if you read Brahma Sūtra (III.ii.23), it says that Brahman is unmanifest. Upaniṣad-s also say that Brahman has no form. Thus, unless you know a particular god with a shape and form, realization of formless Brahman is not possible. You cannot move from elementary school to post graduation overnight. You have move slowly, but steadily and firmly to realize Brahman. Vivekacūḍāmaṇī is another Scripture that gives detailed explanation about realizing Brahman.
Disciple: Why you are not teaching me Brahma Sūtra and Vivekacūḍāmaṇī?
Guru: They cannot be taught simply like this. You have to discuss in person with a Guru. These Scriptures are beyond any mundane explanations. When such scriptures are taught, you are bound to have too many doubts and many of them may appear trivial to you. In the path of Self-realization, you should not nurture even a simplest doubt. When you proceed with doubts, your spiritual foundation becomes weak. When you proceed with doubts, you assume certain answers for your doubts, which may not be right always. Hence, I am insisting that one to one contact is essential in spiritual path. If you have a doubt in your daily ritual, there could many who can clarify your doubts. But if you have doubts about Brahman, there may not be many to give you the right answer. Suppose you ask what Self-realization is, the answer which I said earlier is realizing the Self within. But it is not simply that. When you are Brahman, you should look at the whole world as Brahman. You alone cannot be Brahman and if you think so, it is deceptive realization. When everybody around you is Brahman, you should learn to love everyone around you and you should be beyond all dualities. You have to make this possible. Then only you become a fully realized person. To attain this level, you need to complete spiritual knowledge.
Disciple: How do you explain the difference between Lalitā Sahasranāma, Brahma Sūtra and Vivekacūḍāmaṇī?
Guru: Without studying and understanding Lalitā Sahasranāma, there is no point in studying the other two. Though Lalitā Sahasranāma is explained from the point of Self-realization, there are still traces of dualism in it. These traces can be removed by understanding Brahma Sūtra and Vivekacūḍāmaṇī.
But these two Scriptures can be understood only by questions and answers and not be merely reading interpretations. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (III.i.viii) says, “Self is formless, beyond description, beyond perception and cannot even be realized by austerities and sacrifices. Only if your mind becomes pure, only then you can realize the formless Self.” However, in the present day word, one to one contact with Guru-s may not be possible. At least, you should be able to communicate with your Guru electronically.
Disciple: Why you have not taught this concept earlier?
Guru: Certain things cannot be taught publicly. Secondly, you are yet to enter into your spiritual path. If you give me an assurance that you will meticulously follow my instructions, I can assure you that I can make your spiritual journey as comfortable and as perfect as possible. But you should have the right kind of mind set to give me this assurance. In other words, you should be able to move from god to Brahman without any oscillation in your mind. Faith is the crucial factor in spirituality and you should have faith in me. Once you begin your spiritual journey, you should not ask me whether to worship this form of god or that form of god. You should be able to move with faith and confidence towards spiritual goal, which is the same for everyone.
(to be continued)