Sunday, March 29, 2009

Selfless Service is Divine

The centre of the mandala on the left is totally devoid of any presence. It symbolizes the emptying of oneself through an outward pouring which not only pervades the immediate ambiance but extends in all principle directions as eight rivers of emanation. This is the divine symbol of selfless action.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me………..Matthew 25: 35-36

Arise and accept an antidote to ward off old age and death; it is the knowledge that all wealth and prosperity, all pleasures and enjoyments are harmful to us unless devoted to the good of others; they tend only to sicken and enervate our frames. ……………………Yoga Vasishta

Just as a flower gives out its fragrance to whomsoever approaches or uses it, so love from within us radiates towards everybody and manifests as spontaneous service... When we feed, clothe and attend on anybody, we feel like doing all these things to our own body, for which we do not expect any return or praise or commendation, because all bodies are our own: for, we as the all-pervading Atman or Spirit reside in all bodies. ………………………………Swami Ramdas

In all spiritual tradition, the healing value of selfless love is manifest as the preeminent teaching.
Jesus tells the story of the King, who is judging his subjects for the final reward and the yardstick he uses is the acts of selfless service to fellow brethren as being equal to the service that the subjects have rendered to the King himself.

Yoga Vasishta says that all wealth and prosperity must flow through us to others. Impeding this natural flow and aggregation to oneself leads to disease and decay. Thinking a little deeply shows how very apt this statement is when we see all around us that any process which is in aggregation mode tends to be in constant tension and stress. Whether it be a heavily flooded dam in the river, a tree branch overloaded with fruit or energy flow within the human system (current science view in cellular biology is that most cancer is the result of severe blockage of energy channels within the body) the end result of accumulation is self destruction.

The wisdom of Swami Ramdas is manifest in his profound words. He points out that the flower’s character is to give out its fragrance. It does not decide to whom to give or not to give. There is a constant flow of fragrance the moment it emanates from the flower in its short life cycle.

We all come from one beginning, the Big Bang origination of this universe. All the atoms in our body are the remnants that we received from collapse of massive stars. Our genes have been passed on to us by single cell organism and bacteria. This complexity which is called humans is indebted to what we received over millions of years from our environment. Even our consciousness can never be called our own. We are an evolved consciousness on a journey just like the river. Given all these facts, are we not created to partake in this greatest attribute of selfless giving? This is the reason Swami Ramdas says “because all bodies are our own: for, we as the all-pervading Atman or Spirit reside in all bodies”

Love to you all

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Babylonian Prayer

Babylonian Prayer for the City of Ur: like its archetype written and published.
Tablet of Ishtar-shuma-eresh, Chief Scribe of Asshur-bani-pal, King of the Universe.

"FATHER NANNAR, Lord of the firmament, Lord of the gods, Merciful One, Begetter of the universe, who founded among living creatures His illustrious seat; Father, long-suffering and full of forgiveness, whose hand uphold the life of all mankind;
Lord, Thy divinity, like the far-off heaven, fills the wide sea with fear; First-born, Omnipotent, whose heart is immensity, and there is none who may discover it.
Who dost march in glory from the horizon to the zenith, opening wide the doors of heaven, and establishing light in the world; the Ordainer of the laws of heaven and earth, whose command may not be broken; Thou holdest the rain and the lightning, Defender of all living things. In heaven, who is great? Thou alone. On earth who is exalted? Thou alone. When Thy voice resounds in heaven, the very gods fall prostrate. When Thy voice resounds on earth, the spirits kiss the dust.
Thy will is seen in stall and stable; it increases all living things. Thy word hath created law and justice, so that mankind hath established law.
King of Kings, whose divinity no god resembles, where your eye doth glance there cometh harmony; where Thou dost grasp the hand there cometh salvation; look with favour on Thy temple! Look with favour on Thy city Ur! "……………………….
Between 669 B.C. and 626 B.C.

To all Christians and others who have studied in Christian schools the above words would bring on a sense of astonishment because of its close resemblance to the Lord’s Prayer which Jesus taught to his followers and which is the most common prayer of Christendom today.
The deep rooted connection between the children of Abraham, who settled in the region north of Sinai or the Promised Land, and their cultural and pagan roots very much imprinted in their psyche can not be ignored when we study the life of the prophets of the region from Moses to Mohammed.

Abraham was the citizen of Ur and he was the son of an idol maker. His father was a Pagan. It was the spiritual insight of Abraham, whose elevated consciousness sought a more meaningful understanding of the all pervading divine element, which lead him to listen to his internal spiritual calling to move away from Ur (which symbolized idol worshipping pantheism) into the wilderness of the unknown or unknowable (symbolizing the universal and yet monotheistic attribute of Yahweh) to become the progenitor of a humanity whose fundamental life principle is ultimate union with one unaltered all pervading consciousness or one God. This is the ultimate divine element of all religions whether it be Christianity (God the Father), Judaism (Yahweh or Ein Sof), Hinduism (Nirguna Brahma) or Islam (Allah).

The seed of this understanding already existed in the culture of Sumer and it is evident in the above prayer.

Love to you all

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Symbolism of the Trident

Piotr Ouspensky (1878 – 1947), a Russian philosopher-mystic says in his book “The Symbolism of the Tarot” about the Tarot card - Emperor:

“I am in the four signs of the Tarot.
I am action, I am resistance, I am completion, I am result.
For him who knows the way to see me, there are no mysteries on the earth.
As the earth contains fire, water and air, as the fourth letter of the name contains the first three and itself becomes the first, so my sceptre contains the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new triangle.

And while the Emperor spoke, his helmet and the golden armour visible beneath his mantle shone ever more and more fiercely, until I could no longer bear their radiance and dropped my eyes. And when I tried to raise them again, before me was an all-pervading radiance, and light and fire. And I fell prostrate worshipping the Fiery Word.”

True kingship symbolizes the four principles of empowering action, protection through defence or resistance, a totality of fulfilment, in himself and in the domain of his stewardship, and a final outcome wherein originates a desire for further a role enhancement, both intrinsic and extrinsic. The role of the divine has to be understood from this perspective and if we need to lead a spiritual life our own roles have to map on to this definition.

The very cosmic principle operates in this mode of gravitation (action), dark energy repulsion (resistance), unaltered total energy of origination (completion) and manifestation (result). Understanding this equals to understanding all mysteries of the Universe.

The enfolded aspect of manifestation through energy, its fluidity and its all pervasive nature is explained in understandable terms as “As the earth contains fire, water and air, as the fourth letter of the name contains the first three and itself becomes the first”.
This is the reason the trident of Siva, symbolizing the creative principle, is a three pointed convergent sceptre.

Whoever understands this meets the divine in himself as demonstrated in the transfiguration of Jesus on Mont Tabor or the radiance of Krishna’s universal form in Bhagavad-Gita. Just as the disciples and Arjuna prostrated themselves understanding the deep significance of the emanation of new Logos from the unalterable unmodified original Logos (vac in Sanskrit) so also we will bow to this eternal truth.

Love to you all

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drinking with the Moon

Li Po (701-762) was probably the greatest Chinese poets of pre-modern times. Li Po's distinction lies in the fact that he brought an unparalleled grace and eloquence to his treatment of the traditional themes, a flow and grandeur that lift his work far above of mere imitation of the past. Another characteristic of his poetry is the air of playfulness, hyperbole and outright fantasy that infuses much of it.
Though the theme is mundane, the following poetry is a work of beauty carrying a very deep meaning to the discerning mind.

A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.

The interconnectedness of all our perception is brought out gracefully in the first four lines of this poetry. For the poet without the moon there is no shadow of himself in his existence and the triumvirate of the primal light in the cosmos, the incarnate consciousness and the shadow of the self that falls upon the world as ego are the three indivisible companions.

The primal light is above the human wants and does not partake in the follies of man while his ego is the slave to his current consciousness. This relationship is inevitable and we must make the best use of that which is given when life exists in our body signified by the season of spring which is the harbinger of life.

The songs of our life, which are the lyrics that are continuously written through our thoughts, affect the reception of the cosmic and divine illumination and the ego dances to this tune. If we live in divine intoxication there is harmony and joy but intoxication through material pleasures results in disharmony and disintegration of the holistic existence. This is the reason that the poet says "now we are drunk, each goes his way".

The last two lines of the poem really sums up the ultimate reality that all fragmentation of consciousness must come to unity in the realm of cosmic consciousness.

This thought is devoted to the Spring Equinox, a day which dedicated to celebrating continuous creation.

Love to you all

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hymn of the Pearl

In the “Act of Thomas” an second century Syrian Christian document, there is a beautiful poem called the “hymn of the Pearl”. Though the poem appears to be a story it contains a deeper meaning.

I wanted to share with you one passage which is very much relevant to our lives today.

"From your father, the king of kings,
And your mother, the governor of the East,
And from your brother, our second in command,
To you, our son, who is in Egypt, peace.
Awake and arise from your sleep,
And hear the words of our letter.
Remember that you are a son of kings,
Consider the slavery you are serving.
Remember the pearl,
On account of which you were sent to Egypt.
Think of your glorious garment,
Remember your splendid toga,
Which you will put on and wear
When your name is called out from the book of the combatants (athletes).
And with your brother, our viceroy,
With him, you will be in our kingdom."

Every human being is the son of the Divine, the King of Kings. The slavery is to the worldly desires and on this earth we wear the soiled garment of the earthly body. We are in a state of slumber and God, the King of Kings, sends His letter to remind us that we were sent to recover the pearl of wisdom which was guarded by the serpent from Egypt. The deep Gnostic symbolism is apparent here. In Gnostic scripture the serpent was the revealer of wisdom and Egypt as against Jerusalem was the place of divine wisdom (refer to my article on “pleroma and Sunyata”).
The glorious garment and toga are the spiritual body about which St. Paul speaks in Epistle to the Corinthians. The brother that is referred is Jesus or Buddha or Krishna or any of the enlightened souls which had attained Divine Bliss without the contamination of worldly attachments.

This is our true calling.
For those of you who wants to read the whole poem you can read or download from:
Love to you all

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Perennial Hunger

Heinrich Suso (1300 – 1366) was a German mystic and student of Meister Eckhart. The passage I have quoted here is from his book “Little Book of Eternal Wisdom”.

“In the first day of my youth I tried to find it in the creatures, as I saw others do: but the more I sought, the less I found it, and the nearer I went to it, the further off it was. For of every image that appeared to me, before I had fully tested it, or abandoned myself to peace in it, and inner voice said to me: 'This is not what thou seekest”.

There is an innate dissatisfaction when we savour the beauty or the extrinsic value of all created things. You look at the beauty of a lovely girl or a handsome man and if you contemplate a little deeply you know this quality is not permanent. As one ages you loose all the glamour. So also with what nature bestows upon us; be it pets, flowers, food or whatever is our fancy. The initial euphoria dies down as quickly as it came on.

Abraham Maslow, the father of humanistic psychology said:
“If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life”.

This is what we do when we seek out satisfaction through extrinsic values. Every exercise in this pursuit leads us to disappointment and a craving for more in the false hope that in quantity we will ultimately attain quality. Human capability is phenomenal and we deliberately restrict ourselves to remaining in the lower strata of easily available and readymade objects to be our goal in achieving happiness. This as Maslow points out leads to a life time of unhappiness. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs most of us never reach the ‘self-actualization’ stage.

True happiness can be found only in seeking wisdom. It is a perilous path. Walter Hilton, a Carthusian monk, in his celebrated work "Parable of the Pilgrim" writes about a pilgrim who is proceeding to Jerusalem and is seeking the advice of the guide. The guide here refers to the spiritual guide and Jerusalem is the symbolism of wisdom. The advice given is that one should

“be sure to have with you two necessary instruments, Humility and Charity. These are contained in the words above mentioned, which must always be present to your mind, "I am naught, I have naught, I desire only one thing”

This single minded focus should be the goal our journey. Suso says that when we are thus focused eternal wisdom answers:

“Dost thou not know it? And yet it has lovingly embraced thee, has often stopped thee in the way, until it has at length won thee for itself alone”.

Love to you all

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sign of Jonah

During the last week two incidents happened which had a great connection. First, I was browsing some old images of my visit to Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, UK. and chanced upon the stained glass image of Jonah and the whale and second, I read the following passage in the Bible, purely by chance, and was struck by the coinsidence and the deep wisdom it conveys.

“For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.
The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.
………………… Luke 11:30-32

Those of you who are familiar with the Bible know the episode of Jonah and his unwillingness to carry the message of Yahweh to the people of Nineveh and how he was trying to escape this assignment and set sail in a ship which was threatened to be wrecked by a storm and he was thrown into the sea by the mariners when they came to know that Jonah had disobeyed his god and his god was angry. He was swallowed up by a whale and deposited on the shore near Nineveh after spending three days in the belly of the whale.

Many of us read the story as evident from the literal interpretation of the words and the meaning it conveys. The deeper understanding from a spiritual dimension is that Jonah after the initial reluctance, was involved in a stormy encounter in his own consciousness relating to the mission given by Yahweh, which was to make the people of Nineveh to turn away from sin to holiness. Sin here really means ignorance of one’s true nature and holiness means the wisdom of realizing one’s divine nature. The Three days in the belly of the whale is the descent of Jonah’s own soul into what St. John of the Cross calls “the dark night of the soul”. It is only when one emerges out of darkness one is able to appreciate the value of light. The emerging out of the belly of the whale is enlightenment or satori.

This is the reason that Luke in his Gospel quotes Jesus words where His role is stated to be above one that was played by Jonah as a conveyer of highest level of wisdom. The queen from the south is the Queen Sheba, who sought the Wisdom of Solomon. The wisdom seekers of Nineveh and Queen Sheba received lesser wisdom which was not in the higher plane of self realization as the wisdom that Jesus was able to impart through His deeds and words.

Bhagavad-Gita is a classical enumeration of wisdom tradition as it reveals the wisdom seeking Arjuna being given the spiritual wisdom of self realization through various modes and the ultimate defeat of forces of ignorance or avidya in the battle of Kurukshetra, which many commentators like Adi Sankara call Dharmakshetra, abode or field of righteousness.

In every spiritual tradition great masters have appeared and continue to appear just as Krishna, Buddha or Jesus but we are blinded by the glamour of material well being and comfort and fail to see the sign of Jonah.

Love to you all

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Being and Beauty

Plotinus (204 – 270 CE) is considered to be the founder of Neo-Platonism. Taking his lead from his reading of Plato, Plotinus developed a complex spiritual cosmology. The depth of his understanding can be seen from the passage quoted below.

“Being is desirable because it is identical with beauty. And beauty is loved because it is being …………… We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our being; ugliness is going to another order, knowing ourselves, we are beautiful, in self ignorance, we are ugly”. ……… Plotinus

I was moved by these words which are very simple yet it is full of wisdom.

In all creation nature bestows two key functions to the created entity; they are its individual function and second its relation to all that exists. The first attribute is intrinsic in nature while the second is holistic in quality.

Let us take as an example the human face. It has an intrinsic function of housing four of the five senses and in relationship forms part of the head which houses the one of the most important organ, the brain. So in reality a face in its being serves the supportive role for the senses and that is its beauty. The overall symmetry of placement of the sense organs, conforming to the Fibonacci ratio, is the aesthetic appeal to the beholder. But what do we do. The entire humanity driven by materialistic existence looks at the beauty of the face from its fairness, the size of the nose and ears, the colour of the eyes and the length of the lashes, evenness of the teeth and so on.
The whole fad of cosmetic laser treatment, botox treatment for removal facial wrinkles and plastic surgery for various corrections in the name beautification is what Plotinus calls ugliness through self ignorance.

Man has to learn from nature. We do not see social discrimination or rejection due to any non conformance of external attributes in primates or lower organism. It is an irony that the most highly evolved consciousness has become judgemental based on totally erroneous ground references. This is the ugliness that we humans in reality should experience and this experience should move us towards realising true beauty through desiring that which is its intrinsic nature and not that which we want it to be through our own false superimpositions. If this approach is applied on a universal scale then the cosmic beauty becomes our everyday experience.

Love to you all