Monday, September 29, 2008

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

……… Robert Frost (1920)

When I read Robert Frost’s poem it touched a chord somewhere deep down in my thinking and wanted to write what I felt. Sometime ago I wrote an article on the spiritual significance of the flood myth in the various religious and pagan traditions and I dwelt in depth on Vishnu Purana, wherein the pralaya or ultimate destruction of the world is through seven fires. The Purana is rich in imparting cosmic wisdom as the destruction or dissolution signifies the end of an individual through which the world comes to end in this existence. The seven fires denote the uncontrolled desires allotted to the seven chakra centres of the human body. It is very apt that Frost, writing from a western culture which had very little influence from the eastern thought, would have written from his own personal intuition as he says “…….From what I’ve tasted of desire”. This why we have the saying in English "all consuming desire".

This leads us to think what made him write the next stanza. For those of you who had seen the movie “Batman and Robin” the villain of the story is Mr. Freeze and his plot is to freeze Gotham city. But Mr. Mr. Freeze starts off as Doctor Victor Fries, a brilliant scientist, who is consumed by hatred for Batman for he thinks that his wife was killed by Batman. All the dynamic creativity of a fantastic scientist is frozen into a singular attribute of hatred.
The symbolism of the character is important. When one is consumed by hatred all of one’s positive emotions and responses freeze over. In physics we study that all motions and dynamics come to total standstill at absolute zero temperature and this is true of cold hatred.
In today’s world cold hatred freezes men’s heart to destroy innocent lives and themselves through the fires of incendiary devices. Psychopaths, fundamentalists and serial killers operate in this domain of cold hatred. Religious fundamentalism, in all forms, has killed more than 80 million humans in the last two millenium.

Only the warmth of love and wisdom can thaw the cold freeze of alienation from our fellow humans and hence from the cosmic force which has always operated in perfect harmony.

Love to you all

Monday, September 22, 2008

Indra’s jewelled net

"Far away in the heavenly abode of the great God Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net's every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in it's polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels so that the process of reflection is infinite."

--The Avatamsaka Sutra Francis H. Cook: Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra 1977

This last aspect of the jewelled net is explored in a question/answer dialog of teacher and student in the Avatamsaka Sutra. In answer to the question: "how can all these jewels be considered one jewel?" it is replied: "If you don't believe that one all the jewels...just put a dot on the jewel [in question]. When one jewel is dotted, there are dots on all the jewels...Since there are dots on all the jewels...We know that all the jewels are one jewel"

Dr. Fritjof Capra, Nobel Prize winner in Physics writes in his famous book “Tao of Physics”:

"...particles are dynamically composed of one another in a self-consistent way, and in that sense can be said to 'contain' one another. In Mahayana Buddhism, a very similar notion is applied to the whole universe. This cosmic network of interpenetrating things is illustrated in the Avatamsaka Sutra by the metaphor of Indra's net, a vast network of precious gems hanging over the palace of the god Indra."

This is the JIJIMUGE doctrine of the Kegon School of Japanese Buddhism:
"All things are one and have no life apart from it; the One is all things and is incomplete without the least of them. Yet the parts are parts within the whole, not merged in it; they are interfused with Reality while retaining the full identity of the part, and the One is no less One for the fact that it is a million-million parts."

The moral of Indra's net is that the compassionate and the constructive interventions a person makes or does can produce a ripple effect of beneficial action that will reverberate throughout the universe or until it plays out. By the same token you cannot damage one strand of the web without damaging the others or setting off a cascade effect of destruction. So send your positive strokes at every moment of time.

Love to you all

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pygmalion revisited

"Eternal mind the Potter is,
And thought the eternal clay.
The hand that fashions is divine;
His works pass not away.
God could not make imperfect man,
His model Infinite, Unhallowed thought,
He could not plan—
Love's work and Love must fit." ...........Alice Dayton.

Remember the story of the sculptor Pygmalion? How he made a statue of marble so beautiful that every woman who saw it envied it? So perfect was it that he fell in love with it himself, hung it with flowers and jewels, spent day after day in rapt admiration of it, until finally the gods took pity upon him and breathed into it the breath of life.There is more than Pagan mythology to that story. There is this much truth in it—that any man or woman can set before his or her mind's eye the image of the figure one would like to be, and then breathe the breath of life into it merely by keeping that image before one’s subconscious mind as the model on which to do their daily building.

For health and strength are natural. It is ill-health and weakness that are unnatural. Your body was meant to be lithe, supple, muscular, full of red-blooded energy and vitality. A clear brain, a powerful heart, a sensuous and strong body, all these were meant for you and all these you can have if you will but know, and feel, and think aright. You are the temple of God and should not this temple be more splendid than the Temple of Solomon.

Kabir sings beautifully:
Do not go to the garden of flowers!
O Friend! go not there;
In your body is the garden of flowers.
Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there gaze on the Infinite Beauty.

As the Kathoupanishad says:
"Know the Self as Lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot itself, the discriminating intellect as the charioteer, and the mind as the reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; selfish desires are the roads they travel"

Let us then desire for a strong chariot to travel this perilous road to travel towards our ultimate goal of self realization and not selfish desires.
Photograph credit: Modesty (1866) by Giosue Argenti in marble at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

Love to you all

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Evolution through anihilation

The composite picture on the left evokes many feelings in me which I would like to share with you.
The picture represents annihilation at three levels.

The topmost picture is that of a Gamma ray burst from the star GRB 080319B which was so intense that, despite happening halfway across the Universe, it could have been seen briefly with the unaided eye. In a paper to appear in the 11 September 2008 issue of Nature magazine this was reported. In cataclysmic annihilation such as this all heavier elements of nature are produced.

The middle picture is that which is so strongly etched in our memory namely the annihilation of the twin tower on 9/11. An annihilation that has fuelled hate so much that it seems to have no end in sight.

The bottommost picture is the CERN-LHC or super collider, where on 10 September 2008 experiment to find the God particle or Higgs Boson was launched. Even renowned scientist such as Stephen Hawking has expressed grave misgiving on the outcome of this experiment. I think even if we find the so called God particle it will not be the fundamental construct of the cosmos. The reason I say this is because there is an absolute commonality, at the most fundamental level, between the observed and the observer (man, machine etc.). So how can we disengage or differentiate to make an observation? I feel the entire field of particle physics is barking up the wrong tree. But as in all progressive investigation this step may lead to direction change which is a fundamental aspect of any innovation.

The three pictures represent

Cosmic evolution
Hatred evolution
Consciousness evolution

The prayer in all our lips

Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness to light
From mortality to immortality

Love to you all

Monday, September 8, 2008

Setting our sails

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self same winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life,
‘Tis the set of the soul
That decides the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

I love this poem by the great American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919) and the poem title is ‘Winds of fate’. She is also credited with the famous lines; ‘Laugh the world laughs with you, Weep, and you weep alone.’

The tremendous insight into our mental disposition, with respect to the direction of our life, is beautifully brought out in the above poetry. It is human nature to blame fate or destiny and constantly we feel helpless in situations with the self defeating thought that things are not in our control. We are endowed with free will or choice as a birth right and we fail to take cognizance of this wonderful gift. How do we exercise this action of free choice?
Bhagavad-Gita tells us that unattached action (nishkama karma) focused on the divine is the path of freedom from bondage of Karma (BG 2:39).
Thought leads to desire; desire to fear of loss; fear of loss to anger; anger to delusion; delusion to loss of discrimination; loss of discrimination to peril of the spirit and this is the danger of attachment.

Whatever is the direction of the wind let us set our sails in the path of pure detachment.

Love to you all

Monday, September 1, 2008

Perception of reality

If a person has always lived far from the sea and has never had an idea of a shell, he would look at the picture on the right and say that it is a butterfly. Perception of reality is a derivative of conscious mental maps that we store through our sensory inputs. But senses can be misleading as we see in the picture of the opened shell. The world we live in has been the source of our knowledge but we are given the gift of intuitive seeking beyond the apparent. Spiritual masters have taught the way and Eastern philosophy heavily relies on an intuitive journey rather than analytical and logical reasoning.
The Gospel of Thomas has 114 sayings of Jesus and the style of writing is very eastern in approach.
Much is left to the seeker to find out the hidden wisdom and this process takes the ultimate recipient of wisdom to remove layers of falsification that covers our conscious thinking mind.
This is similar to the way Zen masters taught disciples through Koans where a deep meaning is embedded in a crisp and short communication.
Now we will look at a saying which seems full of contradiction but approached from an intuitive level renders itself to deeper interpretation.

Jesus said, “This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. During the days when you ate what is dead, you made it come alive. When you are in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?” ….. Saying 11 – Gospel of Thomas.

The meaning I see here is that:
The physical manifestation of space-time is short lived and hence all that is created through the senses will pass away but the everlasting spirit or prana will never perish. In this temporal manifestation a continuous creation takes place when aggregation of matter, which is inanimate, is given life in our bodies. When we realize our integral nature with Godhead all individuality and attributes cease to exist and there is no becoming (dynamic action) but only being. In our human birth we become two with the human nature predominating and our spiritual self hidden by illusion. When Jesus asks what will you do? The answer is we should remove the illusion or maya which arises through our avidya (ignorance) and strive to become one again.

Love to you all