Welcome to this book about the person. This book factually consists of two books. One is found on the internet at bhagavata.org and is written by Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsadeva, the greatest of all Indian philosophers and possibly of all philosophers who ever lived, and the other book before you now is written by me, Swami Anand Aadhar a former clinical psychologist with sincere devotion for the philosophy of Bādarāyaṇa, another name of Vyāsa. The book of Vyāsa, who also wrote the Bhagavad Gītā spiritual instruction and the Mahābhārata epic of the great Indian war, is a frame story about the fall of a Vedic emperor about 5000 years ago, who because of being cursed by a brahmin sage, sits down at the Ganges to fast until death. The seven days remaining for his life he then spends talking to Śukadeva Gosvāmi, a young man of 16 years old, a saint and sage, who is the son of Vyāsa. In the company of many sages of the time, Śuka tells him everything about the Vedic culture of holy and less divine kings that once ruled the entire earth but has collapsed since the disappearance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Krishna), a prince of that culture, who is a divine personality. The book of Vyāsadeva, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, also called the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, translated with 'The Story of the Fortunate One', consists of 12 parts, called Cantos, and the greatest part of this collection of stories centers around the person of Kṛṣṇa. Vyāsa presents Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality, the Lord, we actually all should remember for enlightenment and liberation, peace and prosperity.
This book before you contains the inspirations on the chapters of the first and second Canto. In book one, there are inspirations on the spiritual themes introduced by a sage called Sūta Gosvāmi before an audience of sages gathered for a lengthy sacrifice in a forest. Next in book 2 the inspirations on the words of Śukadeva Gosvāmi follow in the form of a dialogue between a seeker and a teacher. The inspirations follow each of the chapters of the first and second Canto. In these inspirations I hope to create clarity about the essence of Vyāsadeva's philosophy about the person in a manner which, to my opinion, for us modern people is understandable and acceptable. In the first book I am in particular philosophizing about the antecedents and consequences of Vyāsadeva's conceptual framework, in the second book I follow the text of Śukadeva closely in a paraphrasing style, with a use of words and an adaptation of the content I think he would have used nowadays.
To introduce you to this account, I would like to begin with a question. The question is: 'What question comes to your mind concerning the subject of self-realization in relation to the established culture of spiritual knowledge that you know?' Of course you as a reader cannot directly answer now. So, in the inspirations in this book I will try to answer this question myself repeatedly, in a way typical for my person. It is not a neat scholarly vedāntic commentary as is already presented by several commentators of the Bhāgavatam. There is a rich tradition, called Vaishnavism, of respecting this book this way and in other ways. My way is also one such other way I finally arrived at after about 28 years ago in Amsterdam in the Netherlands having been introduced to the culture of bhakti, or devotion, around this book. Essential to this other way is my personal way of meditating on Śrī Kṛṣṇa. My approach has two essential parts. The impersonal and personal part. The impersonal of Kṛṣṇa is time. For that purpose I use a meditation clock set to the sun, a so-called tempometer as also a calendar marked with a regular distribution of days in relation to the sun and the moon. Timing thus one is in line with the natural command of time. This facilitates one's meditation and natural physical and psychic integrity. For the personal part I engage in alone meditating on the so-called Mahāmantra as also in singing together that mantra including traditional bhajans, devotional songs that one sings by taking turns.
In order to be able to follow my argument in this book, I would like to invite you next to do a little meditation together with me so as to get access to the spiritual dimension that ruled me in writing down my thoughts. The meditation goes as follows. As a beginner, not used to the personal approach of meditation, one can begin learning to meditate with following the rhythm of one's heartbeat, counting four beats for inhaling and four beats for exhaling. Regulating one's breath in this tempo the meditation process, for restraining the restless mind and finding enlightenment from material concerns, is initiated and maintained. But meditating on numbers of heartbeats constitutes not much of a reference for the wayward mind. Considering the purpose of the person, a more meaningful alternative and a stronger form of control over the mind is achieved with the personal approach of devotion from the tradition of focussing on Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is also called the Lord of Yoga. If you click at this sound link you will hear a file playing with me in a certain tempo ten times saying the great mantra of Kṛṣṇa. Now, for a more personal meditation, carefully pick up the rhythm of these words and try to inhale when I say Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare. That takes about five seconds. Next exhale when I say Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. That also takes about five seconds. I repeat this ten times. Please try to follow me breathing in the tempo of my words. That will take about one minute 40 seconds. When the file has ended, please try to keep the sequence of these three words of the great mantra of Kṛṣṇa in mind while quietly following them with your breath the way you did with me speaking. Continue breathing thus meditating on Kṛṣṇa in silence until you feel relaxed and focussed. To check your alertness you can use prayer beads to count the number of Mahāmantra's repeated. Rāma is another name of another avatāra, a personal descent, of Kṛṣṇa. Hare is a reference to Hari, the Lord. So Hare Kṛṣṇa means the love of Lord Kṛṣṇa or the energy of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The mantra is considered to be the sound incarnation of Him and is called the Mahāmantra, the 'great mantra', because it can be sung together, meditated aloud as also be meditated in silence alone. After finishing this meditation, please pick up this book and start to read. Now you have the spirit of this book. Without it, it will not be easy to follow what will be discussed by Vyāsa and by me.
I give a short summary at the beginning of each chapter of what I am going to explain. To be clear about my own person to begin with, first something about my background in psychology and spirituality. As I said I was educated to be a psychologist. My father was a psychologist and so I also became one. Psychology studies human behavior and thus fosters a fundamental respect for the person. I was always motivated to help people spiritually and/or psychologically and thus I followed my father's advice to help people this way as a therapist. During my studies I discovered that spiritual literature and practices constitute a better discipline and focus on the purpose of the person in a positive sense, in the sense of finding relief from misery by meditation. Where psychotherapy offers e.g. self-confrontation and breathing exercises for a better adaptation to society, spirituality offers a path of purification and training for the mind to deal properly and safely with the inner person of the ideal of self-realization in spiritual association with like-minded people. This last purification aspect of personal idealism was missing in the scientific approach. To the science of psychology this was ideology and not value free. For a long time there were two different rows of books in my book case: spiritual ones and scientific ones. But gradually the spiritual part took over my life with me getting deeper into the social spheres of yoga in its different forms. I followed courses in meditation centers, joined for about a year a bhakti-yoga community to acquire discipline in meditation and study and went to India, where I visited several ashrams and studied various gurus and their scriptures, as also their cultural common background and finally got initiated. Developing independence in my yoga practice, I found in psychology a clear bridge to the spiritual dimension that makes the two approaches of the person complementary. Psychology offers scientific facts while spirituality assigns meaning to them.
So let me tell you something about this bridge and thereafter I will in the inspirations expound on the insights belonging to the spiritual dimension, most excellently defended by Vyāsa's story about Kṛṣṇa and His culture. This psychology reference only serves as a stepping stone and will be abandoned for the rest of this book. The study of psychology about the person since 1961 happens to speak of a theory suggesting five dimensions by which the character or personality of persons can be described. One arrived empirically at these dimensions of personality factors by classifying all the words in the dictionary that relate to personality traits. The five fundamental groups of traits thus found by quantitative analysis, turned out to apply even to the way we think about children and animals. And so a test, a personality inventory, was derived from this theory (the so-called FFPI in 1999). These dimensions of the person, known under the name of the Big Five Model, consist of pairs of complementary personal qualities. The dimensions found by this psychology research were: extraversion paired to self-absorption, agreeableness paired to detachment, sensitivity paired to confidence, conscientiousness paired to carelessness and openness paired to cautiousness. There are different versions of the description of these dimensions depending the author, but this formulation belongs to the terms one may use.
This is a good example of what modern science has to say about the person. Science as said, cannot value these matters though, other than by checking people against certain standards of intelligence and success and such. Therefore this list of traits seems to carry no meaning, all one can say about them is that they together pretty well cover the greater part of our human character. But from a spiritual point of view matters look different. Spirituality, according to Vyāsadvea, is defined by a clear set of human values. With these values, that we later on will discuss, taking a look at these empirically found dimensions of human behavior, we suddenly see a structure appear of what can be considered the essence of the ideal person of Kṛṣṇa as an extra dimension of order to the five found. It concerns the dimension inside/outside. There is the person inside and the material affair outside. Thus we have a set of character traits oriented inside and a set of being oriented outside. Psychology in the popular department might try to value the external qualities over the internal ones, supporting that with research data. Extraverted one would be more successful and popular etc. But that kind of valuing is not really scientific and we do not want to abandon science, however limited its scope might be.
Spiritual philosophy is mainly concerned with the difference between spirit and matter and acknowledges both the need of inner stability and of outer effectiveness. It thus structures these dimensions with a sixth one. It constitutes an idealist dualistic approach for the sake of a personal balance between the outer and inner person we both are, wherein the person (the so-called puruṣa in Vedic philosophy, an essential Sanskrit root word) as a timeless witness is placed in and before the temporary material world full of dualities. The spiritual values support the purpose of the stability of the person. The dimensions of the Big Five thus in the interest of spirituality can be restructured in positive formulations of the traits so that one may identify oneself with all of them and thus may position oneself with them meaningfully on the inside/outside scale of the sixth dimension as mentioned. Thus we rather speak of sensitivity than of neuroticism or nervousness and paired to it rather of confidence than of emotional stability. That way conceived they then define, or constitute, a certain relationship with Kṛṣṇa, a kind of 'high five' with Him, He who in the literature and practices of His culture of Vaishnavism is regarded as the Supreme Personality endowed with all the qualities needed for one's self-realization. As opposed to the science of psychology that in fact only makes an inventory in missing the sixth dimension, spirituality values these traits - and adds much more structure as we will see - for being clear about the way to find inner peace and harmony and a better world of living to such examples and precepts. Being restructured to assign spiritual meaning, one half of these five dimensions brings us closer to Kṛṣṇa inside, the essence of the inner witness, while the other half makes us follow Him as the original integrity outside in a more sense-oriented way. Thus having 'centered' the dimensions of these empirically established polarities of character traits, we have a kind of scientifically defined morality of relating to Him. Outside relating to Him we tend to be conscientious, extraverted, open to suggestion, agreeable and sensitive. But relating inside to Him we are careless about material matters, self-absorbed, cautious, detached, and confident. So, however one is oriented, one is always associated with Him as long as the proper distinction outside/inside of the sixth spiritual dimension is remembered by regular meditation. The denial of this type of spiritual order would constitute confusion and uncertainty in one's self-realization. Vyāsa would call this state material contamination or impurity.
With Kṛṣṇa we, with this perspective, realize that the quality of our human character is a matter of a state of consciousness. Moving between the states of being innerly united in meditation and being outwardly moved by devotional activities, we get a clear, and thus also by scientific research empirically confirmed, notion of what we can be with Kṛṣṇa as a personality to meditate upon and as an example to follow. Keeping with a Kṛṣṇa-conscious meditation this sixth dimension in mind we also realize that normal material science, as e.g. the science of psychology, in its value freedom constitutes a very one-sided or reductionistic approach of the person. The inner person is relegated by it to the realm of belief, ideology and conviction for missing an empirical ground or is else suspected by it to constitute a troublesome aloof character, belonging to a 'looser' and to other negative denominations of the inner state. Not feeling comfortable within, the inner person suffers from the negative version of the dimensions. One then would be dogmatic or fearsome instead of cautious, sloppy and unreliable instead of careless, selfish and aloof instead of thoughtfully self-absorbed, untrustworthy and argumentative instead of detached, and uninspiring and indifferent in stead of confident. When we are in trouble with Kṛṣṇa missing His high five so to say, the integrity of the person is not - or cannot be - properly be defined and confirmed by the 'Big Five' dimensions of psychology.
Thus failing in psychology, we engage in an investigation of the science of respecting the person, the way it is described by Vyāsa in terms of purity, consciousness, devotion and service. With the sixth spritual dimension of positive self-realization, we repair the one-sidedness of just being scientific at the one hand or just being spiritual at the other hand and thus arrive at a new - or renewed - perspective on improving our human ways. This is where this book begins. In the inspirations one may be surprised to find an almost opposite mentality from the chapters of the story of Vyāsa. They deal with the analytical order Vyāsa offers rather than with the details of the story told. The story, as said, is of a time long ago and of a way of thinking, a form of logical reasoning and acting, quite strange to our present day perspective of life. The inspirations therefore do not depart from this ancient perspective but from the perspective of our own self-respecting culture of philosophical enlightenment, democracy and science. For that is how we think these days. A bridge or tunnel can be built from two sides. In the inspirations one is led only step by step towards Him, His names, actions, culture and wisdom. Vyāsa builds on the ancient Indian theocentric culture of brahmanism familiar with avatars, gods and demons. The inspirations depart from the more familiar visions of our modern spirituality, religion, philosophy, science, politics and arts. With this contrast between Vyāsa's mind and the mind of the Inspirations offered here, one thus, according to one's preference, may follow the gradual approach of being introduced by the inspirations or to follow the direct approach of being flooded by all the ins and outs of the culture of devotion unto Kṛṣṇa, His glorious deeds and wisdom. One has the choice of walking on both these legsby reading along with each inspiration the respectuve chapter of Vyāsa, or hop along on one of the two books, skipping over either the source or the inspiration thereon.
Now let us start with the inspirations that constitute an independent story, slowly built up from different types of reasoning. The contents of Vyāsa's story may speak for themselves. As for me he describes the same matter of the person in a different language that I or we - I have to say in building on the disciplic succession about Him - have tried to conscientiously translate for you. The first book, the first Canto of Vyāsa's collection of stories, seen from this perspective offers a philosophical overview of the conceptual framework and the kind of names used by Vaishnavism to speak about Kṛṣṇa. It is about His mentality so to say. How does our present world look through His eyes? The relevant Vedic terms I meditate upon in these texts, are indicated at the end of each Inspiration and are further explained in the subject index. The many names used for His Person are improvisations in the style of Vyāsa inspired by the context. At the beginning of each inspiration I offer a summary thereof and point out the essence by which the inspiration dovetails with the original text of Vyāsa.
This first book of inspirations, to begin with the discussion of this complex classical work, thus offers a clear view of an to our time and mind adapted version of the conceptual framework of the spiritual knowledge of Vyāsa that we here call filognosy, the love for the knowledge of self-realization, the love for being devoted to the Person of Our Ideals. From the impersonal feature of Time as a fourth dimension to unite with in meditation, up to the personal feature of the True Self of the Soul of All Souls within us all and to be attained by authentic service in devotion, filognosy, this spiritual knowledge concerning the Person, covers the entire spectrum of human interests. May it be a source of inspiration to all of you readers of this text and bring peace and prosperity to this planet. May this game of order, this mentality of humaneness, this purpose philosophy of becoming more and more the one we really are, rule our lives world-wide and free our souls from burning in the fire of our material existence.
Swami Anand Aadhar
Enschede, the Netherlands 24 may 2016.