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From: Venkat Nagarajan (NAGARAVE_at_fin.gov.on.ca)
Date: Tue Mar 16 1999 - 08:45:26 PST
Dear Bhagavatas, I was introduced to the metaphor *Spiritual Endeavor Is Like climbing Mount Everest* not too long ago by a friend of mine. This metaphor often comes to my mind whenever I am reading or contemplating about our siddantham. As a mode of worship (to cleanse my vaasanaas); I thought, I would add colour to this beautiful metaphor and share it with other bhagavatas. At the top of Mount Everest is Vaikuntham, the place beyond hindrance, Krishna*s eternal Abode. Its Dharmi (substratum) is Ananda and so is its Dharma (attribute).It*s dharma (attribute) can partially manifest itself (make itself apparent) in the mind. Experiencing the bliss of Vaikuntam cannot be described in perfection in the finite realm. At best we can venture to describe an iota of its majesty via metaphors.Most of us, except the blessed few (like our great Acharyas and the Alwars), start at places far away from the base of the mountain. The distance from the base is determined by our prarabdha Karma, but prog! ! ress towards the base is determined concurrently by our Sankalpa (will) and God*s Krpa (Compassion) and Audaarya (generosity.) Upon reaching the base we get a partial manifestation of this dharma, of Vaikuntham, in our mind. The manifestation expands with each upward step.The process of climbing from the base to the first major camp site on the mountain (10000 feet or so) is the most difficult; with each progressive step becoming more difficult than its immediate predecessor. Obstacles that hinder upward progress are the Manas (center of emotions), and the Ahamkaram (false sense of ownership and doership.) The Manas is responsible for generating desire, lust, anger, jealousy, and so on, and the Ahamkaram is responsible for generating a sense of haughtiness. The tools available to overcome these obstacles are Sankalpa (will or buddhi, the center where thoughts originate), and God*s Krpa and Audaarya. Arrival at the first major camp site (performance of prapatti) guarantees! ! our arrival at the summit, at the end of our present lifetime its follows. God*s grace is always there, it is concurrent with our will. Further, the point at which this partial manifestation of this dharma of Vaikuntam occurs in our mind, is the point at which faith becomes conviction. It is the point at which one gains a firm conviction that all mundane pleasures are transitory and that eternal bliss is not an attribute of this finite realm. Having reached this point, one must be vigilant, for the tendency of the Manas and the Ahamkaram is to try cloud this partial manifestation. This is point at which one must cultivate, Vairagya (Detachment), and Sattva (virtuousness) by seeking the company other mountain climbers, and distancing themselves from non climbers (those who have not reached the base, and therefore cannot relate to climbers), who act as ammunition to the Manas and Ahamkaram. Respectfully Yours, Venkat At present, as someone at the base, this is the best I have to offer. My knowledge of Tamil, Sanskrit, and our siddhantham is negligible, at best. However, I draw comfort from the fact that, both the English language and this medium of communication have been appropriately christened (cleansed and blessed) by those in this group, who are close to the first major base camp and those who have reached it and are on their way to the summit.