Saturday, April 22, 2017

Frog as a Symbol of Metamorphosis

Recently I read an article by Leigh Melander, Phd., a Joseph Campbell scholar on the symbolism of the frog in various cultures and mythologies signifying fertility, fortune, resurrection, and magic. She opens the article with what she experienced in the Catskill Mountain in New York state of how the Spring Peppers, a little green frog native to these regions, sing the very first warm night of Spring.
I experience this every monsoon in Chennai, India of how the tiny frogs come out with the onset of the very first heavy monsoon shower and continue their chorus throughout the night.
The few examples she had brought out were the following:
“Egyptian mythology, the Frog Goddess Heqet is a creator of life as the force that brings life into the womb, mirroring the regenerative life of the Nile as it blew past its banks each spring, bringing with it not only water and rich soil, but thousands of spring frogs. She was the patron of midwives, who called themselves ‘Servants of Heqet’ and protector of women giving birth, who often wore amulets of her as they went into labour.  But not simply a fertility and birth goddess, Heqet became a symbol of resurrection as she breathed life into Horus at the moment of his birth and his father Osiris’ death at the hand of his brother in the central myth cycle of Egyptian culture.” [1]
We can all recall the fairy tales which we read as children of the Frog price and the princess. In this story we read how the kiss of the princess transform the frog into a handsome prince. This story is a mythological episode to convey how the Divine Sophia or wisdom develops an intimate relationship with a lower nature of created manifestation resulting in a metamorphosis  into higher consciousness level.
An important point that we need to note is the capacity to hibernate till the right ambiance is available. It is the withdrawal from worldly sustenance and attachments into a deeply tranquil state, a near death state of the physical, which ensures the survival of these species. This world in which we live is the crucible where the spiritual sustenance that we need is poured. If we do not wait for the right nourishment of the soul but fully engage in activities to cling on to physical sustenance and life, we miss the moment of the arrival of true sustenance.
The new element which I wanted to bring to the reader’s attention is the deeper significance of the frog in Vedic writings.
“THEY who lay quiet for a year, the Brahmans who fulfil their vows, The Frogs have lifted up their voice, the voice Parjanya hath inspired.” [2]
“SING forth and laud Parjanya, son of Heaven, who sends the gift of rain. May he provide our pasturage. Parjanya is the God who forms in kine, in mares, in plants of earth, And womankind, the germ of life. Offer and pour into his mouth oblation rich in savoury juice: May he for ever give us food.”[3]
Life giving water is the symbol of universal consciousness in many spiritual traditions. The letter ‘Mem’ in Hebrew spiritual tradition is water, the waters of wisdom, knowledge, the Torah. Representing both waters and manifestation, it is the ability to dive deep into the wisdom. It is said that in every person is the thirst for the words of the Creator, which are the waters of life. As the frog awaits the arrival of heavenly water so also every manifested creation longs for the touch of the waters of wisdom.
This water of wisdom is the Divine consciousness which is creative force in the elevation of our consciousness to the higher domain.
One of the greatest spiritual significance of the frog can be seen in the naming of the sixth most important of the 108 Upanishads as ‘Mandukya Upanishad’. Mandukya in Sanskrit means ‘Frog’ or ‘arousal’. This Upanishad is the shortest and comprises of only twelve verses. This Upanishad forms the basis of Advaita philosophy of Adi Sankara.
“We are told [in Mandukya Upanishad] how, "the syllable Om is verily all that exists. Under it is included all the past, the present and the future, as well as that which transcends time. Verily all this is Brahman. The Atman is Brahman. This Atman is four-footed. The first foot is the Vaisvanara, who enjoys gross things, in the state of wakefulness. The second foot is the Taijasa, who enjoys exquisite things in the state of dream. The third is the Prajna who enjoys bliss in the state of deep sleep. The fourth is Atman, who is alone without a second, calm, holy and tranquil". This passage has been verily the basis upon which all the later systems of Vedantic philosophy have come to be built.” [4]                
So when we hear the frogs croak in unison, let us feel our heart resonate longing for the Divine Wisdom to drench our being.
Love to you all

[1] MythBlast: Life, Resurrection, and the Mythic Teachings of Frogs ………… Leigh Melander, Ph.D.
[2] Rigveda 7.103 verse 1
[3] Rig Veda Hymn to Parjanya
[4] RD Ranade, “A Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy”, Chapter 1, pages 35-36

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Resurrected Christ as an Image

“Let us beware of creating a darkness at noonday for ourselves by gazing, so to say, direct at the sun …………………… as though we could hope to attain adequate vision and perception of Wisdom with mortal eyes. It will be the safer course to turn our gaze on an image of the object of our quest.”  ……….Plato in ‘The Athenian Stranger’
The image of the resurrected Christ which we see in all Christian churches immediately draws us to a great spiritual mystery. Why did the canonical Gospel writers surround this great mystery with physical events? What was the purpose of this episode? Unfortunately, the doctrine of the church has assigned a miraculous and unique evet of Jesus conquering physical death through a physical resurrection. This is counter intuitive to the very great and deep spiritual mystery and dilutes a universal truth to a very individual event in an individual’s life. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans is very clear in a language a common man can understand:
“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.” ………Romans 6: 4-6
The universal nature of death and resurrection is very clearly explained by St. Paul. This happened in his own life as if Saul had not died Paul would not have resurrected. To circumvent this ontological conundrum, we have conveniently instituted a universal time delay for humanity to a physical resurrection at the end of time. With today’s truth revealed in modern cosmology, the Earth has a potential life span of billions of years and as scientific advancement takes place, humanity will spread far beyond the solar system. This raises a big question on the ‘end of days’.
The words of St. Paul has to be seen from a deeper level. When Paul talks of sin, it means the corrupted nature of the physical embodiment and when he talks of the ‘Father’, it is a reference to the Divine consciousness from which all manifestations happen.
Raghavan Iyer, a great theosophist writes in an article “The Gospel According to St. John”
“There is another meaning of the 'Father' which is relevant to the opportunity open to every human being to take a decision to devote his or her entire life to the service of the entire human family. The ancient Jews held that from the illimitable Ain-Soph there came a reflection, which could never be more than a partial participation in that illimitable light which transcends manifestation. This reflection exists in the world as archetypal humanity – Adam Kadmon. Every human being belongs to one single humanity, and that collectively stands in relation to the Ain-Soph as any one human being to his or her own father.”
A number of things have to be revealed through deeper introspection. In my previous blog article, I had dealt with the mystery of Christ and the significance of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. It is a process of redeeming the Divine consciousness which is housed in the poverty of the human body. Jesus, by subjecting himself to physical suffering and death, demonstrated how a human life has to be lived. This is the course that every human life should follow before ultimate liberation of the Divine consciousness through dispensation of the lower habitations to ultimately unite with the Father.
Jesus demonstrates the fact that it is the Divine consciousness that inhabits every manifestation through a transfiguration on Mount Tabor as well as appearing to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection and appearing thrice to the disciples.
As Plato says, human eyes cannot behold the grandeur of the Divine light which has a powerful potential of annihilation all material manifestations. Our eyes can be blinded by a direct look at the Sun.
In Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 11, Lord Krishna bestows a special sight to Arjuna to behold his universal form.
“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence. …………………… If hundreds of thousands of suns rose up at once into the sky, they might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form.” ……….BG Ch 11:8,10  
The bridge between human consciousness and the Divine consciousness is fraught with hurdles and difficulties to traverse. When seeking a passage through our mental capabilities only a limited perception is possible.
In the very first chapter of the Gospel of St. John, the apostle writes:
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it..” ……….John 1:4-5
Human beings have increasingly evolved in the darkness of illusion, of self-forgetfulness, and forgetfulness of their divine lineage. The whole of humanity may be tarnished by forgetfulness of their true eternal and universal mission. Every man or woman is born for a purpose. Every person has a Divine destiny. Every individual has a unique contribution to make, to enrich the lives of others, but no one can say what this is for anyone else. Each one has to find it, first by arousing and kindling and then by sustaining and nourishing the little lamp within the heart.        
The human Jesus and the Divine Christ in a single embodiment is the greatest gift we could receive,  As Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas:
"I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart." …………..Gospel of Thomas, Saying 17
It is very unfortunate in the past 2000 years we are trying to see with our physical eyes and hear with our physical ears and touch with our physical hands. Only a handful of mystics have gone to the heart level to perceive the Divine light. Let us transcend the physical and historical dimension and grasp the inner revelation that is given to us in Easter mystery.

Love to you all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Mystery of Christ

‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering,’ Abraham tells Isaac, and although there on the mountain at first we see only two figures – Abraham and Isaac, father and son – after a time it turns out that there is someone else in the picture: the ram caught in a thicket by its horns. The lamb, which God provided for Himself for the burnt offering! Neither Abraham nor we the readers could see how and when the ram got there; he simply was there, and had been from the very beginning. In Jewish sources, this ram is considered a creature of great importance and is included in the list of the things created at twilight at the end of the 6th day of Creation. The entirety of God’s design for the ages, His complete plan for humanity, is within this scene. At first, there are two: the father and the son; however, in the dispensation of the fullness of the times it turns out that there is also the Lamb, who from the creation of the world, was destined for sacrifice. “I heard from behind the Heavenly Veil these words: ‘Not Isaac, but the ram predestined for the burnt offering.” The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world replaces, on the altar, the one whom Father Himself has called His son and firstborn. ………… Julia Blum, Aqedah: Sacrifice of Isaac
I am writing this article as a dedication to the Holy week of the Christian calendar which we commemorate this week. The central theme of this celebration is the sacrifice of Jesus.
As Fr. Richard Rohr, the great Franciscan theologian says; the Christian community has lost the rich tapestry of the relevance of Christ consciousness as it is rooted in the historical Jesus in all its dissemination of the sacred knowledge that has come to us through the Biblical writings. The above passage from the writings of Julia Blum and how the backdrop of Christ consciousness can be seen from the very beginning of creation from a mythological perspective could be useful in our seeking the deeper truth hidden in the Biblical writings. In the New Testament Jesus himself declares:
“Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” ……..John 8:58.
Also in John’s Gospel the very first chapter deals with Logos. The Logos or Vac in Vedic philosophy is the ever-existent Divine consciousness. "Vac is essentially the creative force that brings forth all forms expressions as also the existence. It is an emanation from out of silence which is the Absolute. Vac is also the river and the embodied or god-personified as word," ……..Chandogya Upanishad Ch 3:2:1
This consciousness finds its fullness in the physical Jesus as the Christ manifest. It is contained in limitation. This is a great mystery and difficult to comprehend. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas:
"If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.” …….Gospel of Thomas - Saying 29
The children of Abraham were shown this mystery through a mythological symbolism of the ever present Lamb which is intended for sacrifice. The father and son existence is ever present as the Divine consciousness and in its temporal embodiment, but it is Jesus the Lamb that is sacrificed and the ever-existent Christ who is raised to be seated at the right hand of the Father. This Christ consciousness is imbibed in the second coming when every son and daughter of man is born again of the spirit. This is the Trinitarian third person as Holy Spirit.
Orthodox Christian faith believes that Jesus of Nazareth was personally identical with the eternally existent Son of God or Logos. Here Christians hold the pre-existence of a divine person—something distinct from other notions such as the pre-existence of the Jewish Torah in which we have the mythological symbolism of the Lamb created on the sixth day of creation.
Pre-existence means rather that Jesus (not Christ) personally belongs to an order of being other than the created, temporal one. His personal, divine existence transcends temporal (and spatial) categories; it might be better expressed as trans-existence, meta-existence, or, quite simply, eternal existence. Current theological view is a very limited and distorted one in the light of current cosmology where time is only a product of the human mind and revelations in our study of nature of consciousness.
In one of my talks to a group of theologians, I was asked if what I hold be true then given that there could be billions of planets only in the Milky Way and the billions of galaxies in the universe, can it be assumed that Jesus came to redeem only humanity on earth and what about other planets where we could have human like souls. I think the question itself answers our limitation when we equate mythology to history.
The all-pervading Divine consciousness can only be perceived in limitation with the human mind and mythology plays a role in revealing the deeper layers of higher order truth and capping it with a fossilized dogma is crippling in our spiritual journey.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Defining the Holy Grail

"The individual psyche is the Holy Grail, made holy by what it contains, produced by the experience of the opposites suffered, not blindly, but in living awareness. Every human experience, to the extent that it is lived in awareness, augments the sum total of consciousness in the universe. This provides "meaning" for every experience and gives each individual a role in the ongoing world drama of creation." ………………………..Edward Edinger, Page 32 of “Creation of Consciousness”
This passage invokes a deep cosmological principle.
When the basic question as to how matter was created in the early universe is asked, we have to go back to the very beginning and if symmetry was maintained, we should have seen equal amount of matter and antimatter being created but we do not see any antimatter but only matter in the universe. This is because of  Some unknown entity intervening in this process in the early universe which could have caused oscillating particles to decay as matter more often than they decayed as antimatter. This signature can be seen in the Microwave Background Radiation which has been mapped very accurately by the Planck Satellite launched in 2009.
Forget the scientific stuff - what general principle that is glaring at us is that the breaking of symmetry is what causes a matter based species consciousness to observe a matter based universe. Similarly an antimatter based species consciousness would observe through its own unique sensory apparatus an antimatter universe.
This analysis is equally applicable to composition of the individual psyche. As the great Theosophist Madame Blavatsky observed:
“THE mind is dual in its potentiality: it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul, the Kama (desire) principle. There are persons who never think with the higher faculties of their mind at all; those who do so are the minority and are thus, in a way, beyond, if not above, the average human kind. …………………….. This difference depends simply on the innate power of the mind to think on the higher or on the lower plane, with the astral or with the physical brain. ………………….This is why it is so very difficult for a materialist – the metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied – to raise himself, or for one who is naturally spiritually minded, to descend to the level of the matter-of-fact vulgar thought..”
The dual nature of the mind is akin to the matter-antimatter world. The inner apparatus of the mind has the potential to access both the higher and lower nature of the mind, the physical and the metaphysical.
When Christ says in Matthew chapter 13 verses 13-15:
“This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”
Both Blavatsky and Isaiah use the same language in describing the lower mind and the heart of those rooted in the material world. In them “……the metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied” and their hearts “has become calloused”.
The metaphysical or astral or what Edinger describes as the Holy Grail is the higher mind, attaining which the mission of the holy warrior in the mythological lore.
There are two types of creation that we witness in the universe. One is the material world from atoms to Galaxies and the other is the expansion of the universe or creation of perceived spacetime. While the first process is created by gravitational attraction the second is created by the anti-gravity effect of Dark Energy which is the more mysterious and yet to be experimentally observed. All our mental energy to comprehend both these processes puts out information into the universe. This is what Edinger calls “the sum total of consciousness in the universe”
Modern cosmology has come to the conclusion that it is not matter or energy which is the fundamental constituent of the universe but information. When we say information, which John Wheeler called “It from Bit”, we mean a unit of some fundamental constituent beyond energy. Only through this the physics of Black Holes can be even thought of.
This is the same information that we are putting out into the universe in terms of active involvement of our consciousness.
It is only in grasping the seamless interconnection between our individual consciousness and the consciousness pervading the entire universe the Holy Grail can be sought.
The Holy Grail is not a goal but an ever expanding flow of experience of the individual consciousness into the infinite vessel of Cosmic Mind.

Love to you all.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Longing Creates the World

“To be or not to be – that is the question” is the very famous line from the play Hamlet. Hamlet is contemplating suicide, and this phrase, according to philosopher Schopenhauer “is, in condensed form, that our state is so wretched that complete non-existence would be decidedly preferable to it.”
Nagarjuna, the proponent of the concept of “Sunyata”  refuted all logical combination of ‘being’ and ‘non-being’. His reasoning was that the two states are the result of concepts from a rational mind and true reality has to have a ground state beyond the mind.
In a recent talk the great Vietnam Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, clarified that the origin of the classification of the state of being and non- being as purely related to human existence. He said:
“If we are caught in the notion of being we will also be caught in the notion of non-being. From the perspective of life span, we think we start to exist at the point of time we call birth; and we think we continue to exist until the point of time we call death, after which we think we cease to exist. Thus the notions of birth and death form the basis of the notions of being and non-being.”
From a cosmological perspective, in his famous book “A Brief History of Time”, Stephen Hawking argues that quantum mechanics shows us that the classical picture of a “well-defined spacetime arises as a limiting case of the quantum perspective.” Time is less fundamental than space and, as a consequence, spacetime cannot have a singular, initial boundary. There is no singularity, no initial boundary at all; the universe has no beginning! Even though unbounded, the universe is finite. Here is how Hawking sets forth his view:
“The quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behaviour at the boundary. One could say: ‘The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.’ The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.”
Hence the concept of being is intimately correlated with time and hence our post Big Bang dualistic concept of Being and Non-being.
But embedded within the fundamental substrate of all creation is the first principle or cause which is time independent and hence eternal from a temporal perspective and all manifested realm is spatial-temporal and hence have a very limited reality. This principle which is the cause is hence eternal but the effect is temporal. To the human mind the definition of this first principle is called ‘desire’ or ‘longing’.
In the macrostructure we can relate this cause and effect through an allegory to the great ocean which has great tranquillity and extended existence but the moment it meets a boundary, which we can equate to the Big Bang spatial boundary, waves, estuaries and shorelines are created, The essence of the ocean by its innate nature is to spread to find equilibrium but this desire is realized at the boundary condition as a different manifestation.
From a western mystical tradition, the German Cobbler mystic, Jacob Boehme said:
“the basis of the world is nonbeing... because the beginning [of the world] is desire, longing, and only an absolute vacuum can have longing. A vacuum, nonbeing, can by longing draw or attract into itself.. something exceedingly positive because it creates the world.” ……C.G. Jung, Visions, Vol.1, p.524-5
Vacuum Boehme refers to is perhaps akin to the Lurianic Kabbalist notion of ‘tzimtzum’: contraction that proceeds emanation. Again resorting to the ocean analogy, when there is a great pressure generated deep within the ocean floor due to an earthquake, the innate pressure tries to find expression as a propagating sub-surface pressure differential. When this pressure differential reaches near the shore, first there is a great contraction of the shoreline and then a very huge tsunami wave created. The creation of our universe is very similar. We are in the forefront of this travelling wave which due its rapid expansion (cosmological theory of inflation) will dissipate all its energy and return to the equilibrium. This in Vedic philosophy is called Pralaya.
Our understanding of Tzimtzum can be clarified through an analogy from the world of mathematics. An infinite perfect mind sees immediately that the arithmetical expressions (21/3), (126/18), (6.72 + .28), etc., etc., are all equivalents of the number 7: it is only from the point of view of a limited intellect that these expressions appear to represent different mathematical ideas. Indeed, as the mathematical philosophers Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead painstakingly demonstrated, all of mathematics is predicated on a very small number of logical axioms, and an infinite mind would in an instant intuit the entire world of higher mathematical construct as an amplification of the simplest of ideas. So it is with the world. It is a multifarious manifestation of unique singular principle which only the Divine intellect can comprehend.
We are a small effect of the Divine cause which pervades all creation and all universes. Let us enjoy this ride with the assurance that one day we will transcend this temporal manifestation and merge with the Divine reality.

Love to you all

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Alchemy as a Transcendent Function

"The secret of alchemy was in fact the transcendent function, the transformation of personality through the blending and fusion of the noble with the base components, of the differentiated with the inferior functions, of the conscious with the unconscious. No one who has undergone the process of assimilating the unconscious will deny that it gripped his very vitals and changed him.. [moving the centre of awareness to the Middle Plane between the inner and outer worlds] where the centre of the total personality no longer coincides with the ego, but with a point midway between the conscious & the unconscious. This would be the point of new equilibrium.. which ensures.. a new & more solid foundation." …………………………….C,G, Jung, Two Essays, para.365
Traditionally, alchemy was understood as a chemical process where a base material is converted into a noble metal such as Gold. The esoteric interpretation of alchemy as a process of inner transformation is being dealt with in the above quote from the writings of Carl Jung.
In the Bible, we find some events of radical changes in the consciousness of people: there is the "thief on the cross" at Golgotha who realizes the spiritual nature of Christ and was promised by Jesus that he would be with him in paradise the next day as a reward for his transformation; and the chief of a gang of robbers who was converted by Francis of Assisi and became a monk. Cases like these have always moved the hearts of the religious-minded and have raised the question how such changes could be possible. Angulimala's story might give an answer to these questions.
In the Buddhist story of Angulimala, though warned of the notorious bandit Angulimala, who wore a garland of the fingers of his victims – ( "necklace of fingers" in Pali is Angulimala) hence his name, Buddha, unflinchingly went into the forest infested by this bandit. The bandit gave chase but could never catch up with the holy one, though Buddha was walking at a normal pace. Then this conversation took place: The murderer said "Stop, monk! Stop, monk!". Buddha replied "I have stopped, Angulimala. Do you stop, too."
Then the bandit Angulimala thought: "These monks, followers of the Sakya scion, speak truth, assert truth; but though this monk is walking, yet he says 'I have stopped, Angulimala; do you stop, too.' Suppose I question the monk?" Then he addressed the Blessed One thus:
"While you are walking monk, you tell me you have stopped; But now, when I have stopped, you say I have not stopped. I ask you now, O monk what is the meaning of it; How is it you have stopped and I have not?" The Blessed One replied: "Angulimala, I have stopped for ever, Forswearing violence to every living being; But you have no restraint towards things that breathe; So that is why I have stopped and you have not."
The above events pointed out are to emphasise the spiritual alchemy that is at work when lower order consciousness is instantly transformed to higher level consciousness.
I would like to point out another event in the life of Christ where we witness a transitory alchemical process. In the Bible the symbol of a higher consciousness revelation is always the mountain top or the peak experience. It was on Mount Sinai that Moses is revealed the Divine presence, it was in Mount Horeb that Elijah found Divine presence and it was on Mount Tabor that Christ reveals his higher consciousness nature through a radiant transfiguration as witnessed by his chosen apostles. Finally it is on the mount Golgotha that he undertakes his journey to his final transcendent nature of a physical death and a spiritual resurrection
Let me conclude with a classical story of transformation:
A great warrior samurai once went to see a little holy monk.
“Monk!” He barked, in a voice accustomed to evoking instant obedience.
“Teach me about heaven and hell!”
The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain,
“Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you.”
The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly, “That’s hell.”
The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly, “And that’s heaven.”
This instantaneous transformation in the Samurai is an alchemical process where a base nature is instantly transformed into a nobler nature.
May we all realize our true higher nature and undertake this life journey to eradicate our ego dominated lower nature

Love to you all.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Process of Spiritual Awakening

"Christ is the western formulation of what the East calls the Self, Atman, the Purusha or Buddha. If one may interpret him as a symbol, he symbolizes the Self. The dogma claims that Christ was God who became man. In psychological language this means that the Self approached the consciousness of man.. And indeed in a very peculiar form, the Self approached from outside autonomously, not as a human realization." ………………..C.G. Jung,

In the first part of this article, I intend to bring out the bestowing nature of Divine consciousness and in the second part the needed preparation of the individual consciousness to accept this great gift.
There are two specific elements of the Self that we need to understand when reading Jung’s take on the autonomous nature of the Self.
The first element which distinguishes the Self is its purely independent nature and when we say independent it means that the Self cannot be defined through perceptual or physical spatiotemporal boundaries and qualities. It is beyond the grasp of the human mind. Hence all adjectives that we use such as omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient are inadequate. Language struggles with definition and hence calls it Self, Atman, Purusha or Buddha or Christ.
The second element which differentiates Self is its relation to all forms of manifested consciousness. Hence when we talk of Christ being God, it is the ingress of untainted consciousness into the human frame in the virgin birth of Yeshua or Jesus (Yeshua is the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Joshua.” Iesous is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Jesus.”). Hence it is in the virgin birth that Yeshua becomes Christos or Christ. Gautama becomes Buddha.
As Jung says it is not through human realization but through a Divine or cosmic gift that the Self bestows itself on the individual. While an individual, deeply desirous of knowing one’s true nature, seeks incessantly to realize the Divine within, the moment of realization and the state of a realized individual is a bestowed gift.
In Zen Buddhism, it is called Satori. Satori refers to a mystical experience of kenshō, "seeing into one's true nature". Ken means "seeing," shō means "nature" or "essence." This is commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to define the state of Bodhi, Prajna and Buddhahood. It is an insight that is more or less deep and thorough, but an insight none-the-less. It could be temporary. Rare few are gifted the state where one ceases to be a human experiencing it's true nature, and instead one becomes a true nature experiencing being a human. At that point one no longer has an existence in duality but is fully conscious of one’s true nature.
What are the hurdles we face in this transformative process as well as the only tool that can leverage the state of the individual soul to reach this higher state of enlightenment, are again pointed out by Jung in the following quote.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ……………….C.G. Jung
At all cost the conditioned consciousness fights tooth and nail to evade its own annihilation. The dross sticks to the inner being and it is only through a conscious and painful scrubbing the receptacle of the inner being can be brought to readiness to accept the Self.
What Jung means by saying “………making the darkness conscious” is that in our lives we are constantly engaged in using the ‘light of the world’ in constructing false perceptions through the inputs we receive from our senses. But these false perceptions can be eradicated only be utilizing the hidden potential of the darkness, here signifying non sensory potential, to become the conscious organizer of our perception of our true reality.
Matt Licata, a psychotherapist, spiritual counsellor, and teacher, from the Preface of his book, “It’s Okay to Be Broken: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening.” Says:
“Much is being said these days about spiritual awakening, and the causeless joy, clarity, and peace that are inevitable milestones of the inner journey. Not all that much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment of awakening, or of the ways it can break our hearts, cracking us open to the reality of the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way. In the full embrace of life—right inside the yucky, messy, shadowy nether regions of the heart—we are invited to meet the wholeness of what we are, which includes the dark and the light, the movement of separation and union, and the entirety of what it means to be an embodied human being.
As Carl Jung so poignantly reminds us, we do not become enlightened by “imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” He went on to say that the integral journey of the dark and the light is one that is often “disagreeable” and thus would never be popular. I believe Jung is offering very important guidance for us and the voyage of the heart in contemporary times.”
Let me close this article with a real experience of mine.
When I was in college there was a drama staged which had the main character, a man who wanted to know the mind of a woman and used a concoction like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to transform himself into a woman. In the pre digital age in 1960s, we had to use light and darkness with some amount of smoke to effect this transformation on stage with a live audience. The main actor was standing as he took the magic potion and there was smoke and then darkness. Quickly we introduce a second actor dressed as a woman and made him lie down on the stage while the main actor stood perpendicular to the second actor. A sheet glass was introduced at 45 degrees and two lights were use one on the main actor and the second on the lady. At first the light on the main actor was in full brightness and the light on figure lying down was switched off. There was smoke drifting and then the light on the main actor started dimming and at the same time the light on the female figure started to increase. The effect was magical as the male figure through the glass vanished the female reflection became prominent and ‘voila’ the transformation was complete.
Indeed the darkness brought into the conscious is great in achieving a radical transformation.

Love to you all

Monday, February 20, 2017

True Flight from the World

“There is only one true flight from the world; it is not an escape from conflict, anguish, and suffering, but the flight from disunity and separation, to unity and peace in the love of other men. When we give power to suffering and to the cause of suffering, we lose touch with the inner self that knows we are one with the Divine. The inner being knows that this sacred union can never be dissolved although it may be obscured. By trusting the illusion of suffering, we forget, and our spiritual wings are clipped. We are unable to lift off much less soar to the heights of ecstatic union with the Divine. To release ourselves from the bond of this illusion and the forgetfulness it causes, we must see suffering not as a destructive power but as a transcendent gift from the Divine. This shift in understanding releases us from disunity and separateness.” ………………..Thomas Merton
I thought I will write this short article on this subject because we tend to associate moving away from the world in a spiritual exercise as an escape from the living reality. Thomas Merton is very clear on this in his opening sentence in the quoted saying. Conflict, anguish and suffering are inherent to life and results from the ego self. The ego cannot be completely dispensed with as it is first level of personal identity. The role we allow ego to play is vital. A good example is salt in our food. Salt cannot be totally eliminated as it is vital not only for taste but also as an essential ingredient for good health as Sodium enables the transmission of nerve impulses around the body. It is an electrolyte, like Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium; it regulates the electrical charges moving in and out of the cells in the body.
All negative emotional reactions such as anger, conflict and hatred results when the ego stubbornly refuses to be expunged from the system as excess salt in the body has to be removed through the kidney for maintaining good health.
Human suffering, in this context, is not that which is caused by physical harm. This suffering which Thomas Merton is referring is the mental suffering due to our inability to detach ourselves from the promptings of the ego.
It is unfortunate that in Christianity the spiritual exercise of suffering is rooted in the physical modelled after the suffering of Christ on the cross. Mortification as a spiritual exercise is seen as causing discomfort or pain in the physical dimension of the individual. Early Christians took it to the extreme level of martyrdom or physical death.
The understanding of St. Paul regarding suffering is of great help to us. Paul says:
“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his suffering, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” ……………….Philippians 3:8-11
We must note that Paul talks of “suffering through loss of all things”. This is the deeper meaning and resonates with the Buddhist concept of “Dukkha” or suffering as a result of attachment. Every suffering is our stubborn adherence to the dictates of the ego and this must be eliminated, which is metaphorically identified with death, and must be followed by the resurrection of the spirit.
Another vital dimension of Paul’s take on the meaning of suffering is his deeper understanding of suffering as a means for sanctification, keeping the ego at a minimum and trust in God at a maximum. He says:
“And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak then I am strong” …….2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Thomas Merton provides the methodology through which we can undertake this difficult task of detachment. When our understanding of our true nature transcends from disunity and separation to one of non-duality, we eradicate the very foundation on which the ego has placed its throne. Our true inner nature is elevated to its higher potential giving flight to ascend to an ecstatic union with the Divine.

Love to you all

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Self is Beyond Reason

“The true knowledge of the self is not a knowledge. It is not something that you find by searching, by looking everywhere. It is not to be found in space and time. Knowledge is but a memory, a pattern of thought, a mental habit. All these are motivated by pleasure and pain. It is because you are goaded by pleasure and pain that you are in search of knowledge. Being oneself is completely beyond all motivation. You cannot be yourself for some reason. You are yourself and no reason is needed.” ………………………….Nisargadatta Maharaj
“The Self is like a powerful magnet within us. It draws us gradually to Itself, though we imagine we are going to It of our own accord: when we are near enough, It puts an end to our activities, makes us still, and then swallows up our personal current, thus killing our wrong personality. It overwhelms the intellect and overfloods the whole being. We think we are meditating upon It and developing towards It, whereas the truth is that we are iron filings and It is the Atman-magnet that is pulling us towards Itself. Thus the process of finding the Self is a form of Divine magnetism.” ………..Ramana Maharishi
When I read the above two sayings, I was suddenly drawn to a thought and a picture emerged in my mind wherein I was observing the reflection of the full moon in the ocean. It was probably because the day I started writing this short article was a full moon day. In this mental image, I was standing on the shore of the ocean and the waves were coming one after the other in a specific rhythm. I could hardly see the reflection of the moon in the water. The moon was fragmented and dispersed over an immensely big area due to the reflection coming from many different surfaces generated by the waves.
A thought struck me at that very moment. If we compare the moon in the firmament as the Self and the ocean as the individual self or consciousness, which in its true nature should be the embodiment of the Self or Paramatma. But to the observing consciousness of the individual, the Self becomes disfigured while its true nature is constant and unchanging. The more the travails of life and life concerns, represented here by the waves of the ocean, the true Self lies beyond comprehension. Even if we travel in a small boat to the middle of the ocean where there are no waves, the mild breeze or even the passage of the boat disturbs the surface creating ripples which distorts the nature of true reality.
This goes to point out that using the mind and reason, which is represented by the surface of the ocean, the grasp of true nature of the self is beyond our reach. Even if we dive deep into very clear waters of the ocean the surface which here represents the conditioned mind or the self (with small letter s) always is subject to hindering our access to the true nature of the Self.
Just as the true reality of the moon, which is always whole and never waxes and wanes, can be accessed when we go beyond to its true space of being, the access to the Self needs a consciousness unconditioned by the limitations of mental conditioning. Hence the ultimate reality lies beyond the reasoning mind.
Ramana Maharishi uses a very apt comparison of the Self being a magnet. It is common knowledge that it is the magnet that attracts the iron filings and not the other way around. There are two main hindrances to this attraction; they are distance and a medium. If we have distanced ourselves from the Self through our conscious choice of being attached our physical and material nature, we are far from the never changing influence of the magnet or the Self. As long as the medium is empty space representing a state of mind tranquilized only through meditation and devotion through Karma or Bhakti, the irresistible pull of the Self will be overpowering and provide the needed potential to elevate ourselves to a merger with the Self. If we have any medium like a sheet of glass which gives the false perception of being the goal, the iron filing form the pattern of lines of force of magnetic attraction on the  sheet of glass but these iron filings are far from their true goal.
In our lives, the only supplication in our prayers should be to be filled with Divine grace which is the lines of force that attracts us towards the Self. When this prayer is empowered through spiritual practices such as; austerity, compassion, meditation, focused worship and performance of tasks without expectations (nishkamakarma), our true goal can be achieved.
Let me close this short reflection on the need for Divine Grace with a quote from a great Christian mystic:
“O God, teach me to be satisfied with my own helplessness in the spiritual life. Teach me to be content with Your grace that comes to me in darkness and that works things I cannot see. Teach me to be happy that I can depend on You. To depend on You should be enough for an eternity of joy. To depend on You by itself ought to be infinitely greater than any joy which my own intellectual appetite could desire.” …………….Thomas Merton

Love to you all

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Buddhiyoga –Anchoring in the Divine

“I am the source of all. From Me everything emanates. Thinking thus, the wise worship Me, absorbed in ecstatic contemplation.   With their consciousness centred upon Me, with their vital energies drawn into Me, enlightening each other, constantly conversing about Me, they feel contented and revel in delight.   To those who are constantly yoked; and worship Me with love, I confer that intuitive understanding (buddhiyoga) by which they approach Me. Out of pure compassion for them, dwelling in their inmost self, I destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the brilliant lamp of wisdom.”  ……..Bhagavad Gītā 10: 8-11
There are clearly two dimensions addressed in this saying. They are the attributes of the object of devotion and the categories of devotee.
First dimension is that all the content of what is manifest and what is hidden from our senses, as the sum total of the object of devotion and the content of all these emanates from the Divine plenum which is symbolized as an embodiment in the person of Lord Krishna. The recipient of this message must have the knowledge to comprehend both the manifest and the unmanifest. While the manifest could be comprehended through our senses and our conditioned consciousness, the unmanifest can only be grasped through a new tool of perception which can only be dispensed through Divine grace. To illustrate this mystery at the objective level, Arjuna asks the Lord to exhibit his universal form in chapter 11 Bhagavad Gita which immediately follows the chapter in which the above verse appears and the Lord obliges by bestowing his a special sight.
“But you cannot see my cosmic form with these physical eyes of yours. Therefore, I grant you divine vision. Behold my majestic opulence!” …………..……..Bhagavad Gītā 11: 8
Second dimension is the category of devotee. Here again there are two clear categories of devotees and these categories result from the individual’s karmic status of the individual atma. The first is the wise and the second are those who are yoked to earthly toil. These are very clearly spiritual categories.
The wise are those who have attained a status of elevated consciousness through realization of one’s true self through repeated karmic cleansing. They are able to integrate their consciousness with the Divine through deep ecstatic contemplation or meditative practice. When their vital energies are fully focused on the Self, which is the pramatma, the individual atma loses its ego coverings and transcends to the deeper plenum. It is the well of infinite energy from which the individual wisdom gains strength in its journey, or human destiny, which is the ultimate merger with the Divine.
The second category of devotees are those who are still in the infancy of their karmic journey. This category is defined in chapter 9 of Bhagavad Gita and in no less pronouncement, the Lord declares:
“Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. O son of Pthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaiśyas (merchants) as well as śūdras (workers)—can attain the supreme destination. How much more this is so of the righteous brāhmaas, the devotees and the saintly kings. Therefore, having come to this temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service unto Me. Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisance to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” ………………Bhagavad Gītā 9: 30-34
A clear example is provided in the Puranas.
The biography of Valmiki, the author of the great epic Ramayana, is a vivid case of spiritual transformation. Valmiki was not always a saint. He was born Ratnakara, and became an infamous bandit who killed many people by the time he reached his adulthood. One day, he was touched by an act of love between two cranes in a clear river where he was about to bathe. One of the cranes was killed by a hunter’s arrow and the mate cried out in anguish. This event transformed his personality drastically. One day, he met the great sage Narada who questioned him of his duty. Moved by Narada's words, he began to perform penance and chanted the word "Mara" which meant "kill". As he performed his penance for several years, the word became "Rama", the name of Lord Vishnu.  Narada declared Ratnakara to be a great Sage and Brahmin, a member of the high caste. This whole episode signifies the transformation of a sinner into a sage in one life time through constant attachment to the Divine.
It is worth noting how the chant used in meditation “Mara” meaning kill is transformed into “Rama”. This is a symbolic significance of how even the worst of criminals can become spiritually elevated.
Before the eye of the Divine there are no categories. It is only our willingness to elevate our priorities above the mundane and a constant seeking of the higher potential which resides within us. This is what is mandated by the verse quoted at the beginning of this article.

Love to you all

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Apocalypse Versus Apokatastasis

"You may remember that passage in St. Paul about the apokatastasis (Apokatastasis is reconstitution, restitution, or restoration to the original or primordial condition), which is the same idea that the whole of nature, all creatures, are expecting the revelation.
As we are expecting the manifestation as the children of God, a revelation of the Holy Ghost within us, so all creation, even the animals and the plants, are waiting for it too; that spiritual miracle of redemption or completion which happens in man means the crowning of all nature at the same time. So everything that has been fettered will be released with the liberation of the children of God.
The idea is that man is the representative of the whole of creation, and whatever happens to him happens in a magic way to the whole world. It is an exceedingly mystical idea. And as Paul thought, so the unconscious still thinks." …………….. C.G. Jung, Visions Seminars, Vol. 1
Jung reflects the thoughts of theologians like Origen in the third century AD and St. Gregory of Nyssa in the fourth century AD.
It was Origen who gave meaning to Universality of the Redemption and the Final Restoration. His interpretation of St. Paul’s letter1 Corinthians 15:25-28, seem to extend to all rational beings the benefit of the Redemption, and Origen allows himself to be led a philosophical positioning that the end is always like the beginning: "We think that the goodness of God, through the mediation of Christ, will bring all creatures to one and the same end" (De Principiis I.6.1-3). The universal restoration (apokatastasis) follows necessarily from these principles.
St. Gregory of Nyssa who explicitly taught this doctrine.
“It first occurs in his "De animâ et resurrectione" (P.G., XLVI, cols. 100, 101) where, in speaking of the punishment by fire assigned to souls after death, he compares it to the process whereby gold is refined in a furnace, through being separated from the dross with which it is alloyed. The punishment by fire is not, therefore, an end in itself, but is ameliorative; the very reason of its infliction is to separate the good from the evil in the soul. The process, moreover, is a painful one; the sharpness and duration of the pain are in proportion to the evil of which each soul is guilty; the flame lasts so long as there is any evil left to destroy.” …………..New Advent
The language used by Gregory of Nyssa can be mapped to the theory of reincarnation and karmic purification in Vedic and Buddhist philosophies. The process of reincarnation or Sasāra is the continuous cleansing process of the individual soul till it reaches a stage of absolute purity or the original state from which it descended into the material realm.
This doctrinal theology of Apokatastasis has been recast in the twentieth century by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. He conceived the vitalist idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving). As seen with Gregory of Nyssa, Teilhard’s cosmic theology is largely predicated on his interpretation of Pauline scripture, particularly Colossians 1:15-17 (especially verse 1:17b) and 1 Corinthians 15:28. He drew on the ‘Christ consciousness centrism’ of these two Pauline passages to construct a cosmic theology which recognizes the absolute primacy of Divine consciousness. He understood creation to be "a teleological process where individual consciousness evolves towards union with the Godhead or Divine consciousness, effected through the symbolism of incarnation and redemption of Christ. He further posited that creation would not be complete until each "participated being is totally united with God through Christ in the Pleroma, when God will be 'all in all' (1Cor. 15:28)
As the consciousness of humanity evolved over the two million years towards Homo Sapiens, our perception of reality has also evolved to grasp the interconnectedness of all manifestations. Jung’s words that the idea of man as a representative of the whole of creation stems from this heightened awareness. It is through individual and collective human consciousness that we give birth and meaning to the existence of this universe and the concept of the multiverse.
The chronological thought process from St. Paul to Origen to Gregory of Nyssa and then to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the exponential ramping up of our current understanding of the world around us as nothing but our own personal observation in which all possibilities are collapsed to a single identity, we are in a position to have a greater vision of the process of our human journey.

Enjoy the ride and love to you all.