Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Identity of Contraries

Lionel Giles the author of “Musings of a Chinese Mystic” quotes the Taoist sage Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi), regarding the dichotomy or duality of all construction of a subjective and objective composition of human perception.

He says take the breath of the universe, what we call the wind, when it is active it sounds as the sigh of the bamboo or the howling in the valley. But when employed in a flute or a pipe it is a melodious music. The effect of the wind upon these various apertures is not uniform. But what is it that gives to each the individuality, to all the potentiality, of sound? It is the same essence of moving air.

In the human body all the parts have various functions. Some may appear extremely complex like that of the brain. Some appear very ordinary like the movement of the hand. But what drives every cell in the body is the same energy.

The subjective and objective duality is the construct of a conditioned thinking through limited knowledge. Only from subjective knowledge is it possible to proceed to objective knowledge. Hence it can be said that the objective emanates from the subjective; the subjective is consequent upon the objective. All actualities are manifest form of potentialities and all potentialities are unmanifest form of actualities.

An undifferentiated view is the axis of Tao. This is lucidly said by Chuang Tzu in the following words:

"And inasmuch as the subjective is also objective, and the objective also subjective, and as the contraries under each are indistinguishably blended, does it not become impossible for us to say whether subjective and objective really exist at all?

"When subjective and objective are both without their correlates, that is the very axis of Tao. And when that axis passes through the centre at which all Infinities converge, positive and negative alike blend into an infinite One. . . Therefore it is that, viewed from the standpoint of Tao, a beam and a pillar are identical. So are ugliness and beauty, greatness, wickedness, perverseness, and strangeness. Separation is the same as construction: construction is the same as destruction. Nothing is subject either to construction or to destruction, for these conditions are brought together into One.”

Root cause for world strife and misery lies in this differentiation. With this knowledge and through deep reflection and meditation, let us move to a higher plane of existence.

Love to you all

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Knowledge of God

As man’s knowledge explodes in the twenty first century, the knowledge of God is increasingly finding an urgent need for redefining if human consciousness needs to evolve to the next higher level through an egalitarian spirituality.
In his book “The Human Side”, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press-1946, Einstein wrote:
“I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality.”

The main tension between the religious and the scientific community today is the view that one demands unconditional faith and the other a ‘cast in concrete’ proof through reasoning and experimental observation. While this may be the official position of the two warring factions in defining metaphysical attributes, there is a grudging acceptance that there is some validity of perception in each others camp.

The Catholic Church repositioned itself from a purely dogmatic domain through the insights of Pope John Paul II. In his famous document “Fides et Ratio - 1998” (Faith & Reason), he opens his encyclical with the following words:
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

Albert Einstein, the greatest scientific mind of the twentieth century writes about the value of mystical experience as being the foundation of true science in his book “The Merging of Spirit and Science” in the following words:
“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness.”

In his book “God Does Not Play Dice: The Fulfillment of Einstein’s Quest for Law and Order in Nature” by David A Shiang, he writes:

“The question of God is ultimately one of knowledge vs. ignorance, not faith vs. reason. It is possible to be reasonable and have faith at the same time.”

Hence let us all seek this true knowledge through inherent faith in our intuitive reasoning based on the cumulative wealth of scriptural and mystical revelations

Love to you all

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Symbiosis in Nature

“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, 1964

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.” ~ Elwyn Brooks White, Essays of E.B. White, 1977


Today (22nd April 2009) is Earth Day. Nature can teach us many great lessons. One such lesson is the cooperation between species of different capabilities for healthy mutual co-existence. In a study done by Departamento de Zoologia e Museu de História Natural, São Paulo, Brazil, the following amazing discovery was made in 2004.

At the oceanic island of Fernando de Noronha, off northeast Brazil, the team recorded the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) visiting cleaning stations tended by the barber pole shrimp (Stenopus hispidus). This seems to be the first record of cleaning symbiosis between marine turtles and shrimps. During their foraging on the reef flat, the turtles regularly visited and posed at the stations. The same stations were visited by a few species of reef fishes, which posed and were cleaned by the shrimps. It is suggested that cleaning symbiosis between turtles and shrimps is widespread and went unrecognised due to the superficial resemblance between a resting turtle and a posing and cleaned one.
In this kind of interaction, the cleaner fishes obtain food, and the turtles get rid of the organisms’ growth on their shells and/or soft body parts.
After foraging for a while, the hawksbill turtle swam directly towards the cleaning station, landed in front of it and adjusted its position to accommodate the left or right portion of its hind-body and limbs under the rocky ledge. Its posture while at the station was very characteristic: its hind limbs were sprawled and the forelimbs were stretched holding its fore body and head elevated. The turtle held this
posture for 50-60 sec after which it moved away. While at the shrimp station the turtle remained watchful and prone to flee at an observer’s close approach.

This Earth Day, this discovery and insight could be a great lesson in our life to become sensitive to the needs of every element of our environment and be a player of earth empowerment in whatever capacity we can.

Love to you all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Power of the Unmanifest

In his book “Indian Myth and Legend” by Donald A. Mackenzie page 273, the visit of Duryodhana and Arjuna to Lord Krishna requesting his assistance in the battle of Kurukshetra is enumerated in the following words:

“After Krishna had returned home, he was visited by Duryodhana and Arjuna, for both parties desired greatly his help in the war. He spoke to the rival kinsmen and said: “Behold, I stand before you as in the balance; I have put myself on one side, and all my army is on the other. Choose now between you whether you desire me or my forces. I shall not fight, but will give advice in battle.”
Then Duryodhana asked for the army, but Arjuna preferred to have Krishna alone. And Krishna promised to be Arjuna's charioteer.”

This reported incident has a powerful spiritual message. We all understand that the war of Kurukshetra is the symbolism of battle of the two opposing forces of evil and good in the field of Dharmashektra in every human being. God is never partial to even the most besotted and evil individual. He offers himself to all individuals, irrespective of their state of purity or goodness. It is only we who choose what we want. We always prefer the manifested resources, in the guise of God given gifts, but always, in our selfishness, distort their intrinsic value through our usage. The army of Lord Krishna are the wonderful gifts that we receive through nature and our living environment and the social milieu of parents, teachers and so many other wonderful people we come across in our lives. We concentrate only on the exterior value, as Duryodhana thought of the army of Lord Krishna only as fighting implement reduced to a low value through his own human manipulation.

The glaring difference is the request of Arjuna. He desires nothing but the Lord himself. He is able to understand that human council is limited and though Lord Krishna says “I shall not fight, but will give advice in battle”, Arjuna prefers the ultimate weapon which is cosmic in proportion. The power of the manifest and the unmanifest were never really understood except through mystical experience till recently.

Today Astrophysicist have found out that the so called ‘Vacuum Energy’ (Unmanifest yet pervading the entire universe) has a density of 1087 (Ten followed by 87 zeros) tons per cubic centimetre. It has enough power to decimate and cleanse entire creation but is held in check through a very fine balance as explained by Lord Krishna. The manifest consciousness is infinitesimal compared to the Cosmic consciousness. This is the Punamadha (fullness) from which we can enrich and direct our intellect or consciousness (Purnamidam).

This is the symbolism of Lord Krishna as the charioteer guiding our individual consciousness which resides in our mind-body construct, the horse driven chariot.

(For those of you who want a detail reference to Vacuum Energy density study please visit: http://www.cheniere.org/references/energydensityofvacuum.htm )

Love to you all

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dharma – A Limiting Principle

“An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the single minded pursuit of wealth – in short materialism – does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited” ………… E.F. Schumacher (1911- 1977)

What an appropriate observation from the noted Economist and Author of “Small is Beautiful”.

Man goes about the business of living in constant fulfilment of his needs. In the hierarchy of needs, as defined by Abraham Maslow, the base four levels are highly open ended. It is only through voluntary exercise and self regulation can one decide to advance to the next level. At an individual level sky is the limit for what one needs at the base four levels. When one is driven from a purely selfish motive, with no thought on the consequences of one’s action on the environment and society, it is similar to the bull in the China shop. You are so highly focused on what you want to get that you never give any thought to what happens around you.
This is the reason in ‘Sanatana Dharma’ man was always considered as an integral part of the whole. In Vedic tatpurusha (human purpose) Maslow model can be mapped to a broader correspondence as Kama, Artha, Dharma and Moksha.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati explains the concept as follows:

“Dharma occupies the first place in the four categories of human goals, because the pursuit of security, artha, and pleasures, Kama, need to be governed by ethical standards. Artha, striving for security, comes second, because it is the foremost desire of everyone. Everyone is obedient under the doctor's scalpel precisely because everyone wants to live. Granted life, one then wants to be happy, to pursue pleasures, Kama. I want to live and live happily; and both pursuits, the struggle for security and the search for pleasure, must be governed by ethics. The last category is the goal of liberation, Moksa, ranked last because it becomes a direct pursuit only when one has realized the limitations inherent in the first three pursuits.”

In any open ended process system, control tends to become unstable. All chemical processes, without closed loop control, tend to become, what engineers and scientists term as, ‘runaway reactions’. A typical example is the nuclear reaction. If the control rods are not in place in the reactor or if they go into melt down due to high temperature because of improper cooling, then we have a reactor meltdown due to runaway nuclear reaction like what happened in Chernobyl.

Man’s material and physiological needs require control rods with proper cooling and proper limit definition. Control rods can be equated to proper knowledge of our actions and their consequences. An integrated and ethical approach to material acquisition is of paramount importance. Dharma is the control rod settings in the volatile process of human life. The reactor cooling is the temperance exercised through a controlled mind honed through meditation and prayer. These two, Holistic knowledge and meditation form the tools of Dharma or the limiting principles in our life.

Love to you all

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection – A Continuous Process

“This joy in God, this freedom which raises us in faith and in hope above the bitter struggle that is our lot caught between the flesh and the Law, this is the new canticle in which we join with the blessed angels and the saints in praising God.
Let us not then darken the joy of Christ’s victory by remaining in captivity and in darkness, but let us declare His power, by living as free persons who have been called by Him out of darkness into His admirable light.”
…………… Thomas Merton. “Seasons of Celebration”, p. 157.

A Happy Easter to my Christian friends and a Happy Freedom day for the entire humanity.
If Christ resurrection has to have any meaning today we must reposition our perception of blindly celebrating a very strongly faith oriented event towards a mental positioning that will give a higher credibility and meaning to our spiritual life. Paul clearly says in his letter to the Corinthians “…..it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”….. 1 Cor 15:44
The undisputed claim of men having two bodies is tantamount in many spiritual traditions. The eventual demise of the physical body and the separation of the spiritual body to an elevated state is the natural course of human life.

The true meaning of resurrected is to be elevated or raised. It is not about a physical state that we talk here. It is about a level of consciousness that we are talking. This is the reason Paul says “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either”….1 Cor 15:16. He repositions resurrection as a common phenomenon.

Today we can understand this great truth, which was mainly revealed through mystical experience, much better, as limitations of understanding that existed when the scriptures were written can be overcome from our current understanding of consciousness as the all pervading nature of reality.

Individual consciousness which is result of the individual body-mind construct through the medium of thought is in the lowest plane of manifestation. The individual thought field makes a continuous imprint on the universal consciousness and modifies potentialities through the web of interconnectedness, while the net potentiality is always maintained at the sunyata or void level. Resurrection must be seen as a constant elevation of our 'consciousness potentiality' towards the ‘net void’ level or what is termed in spiritual literature as 'God consciousness'. This leads to positive affirmation of how multitude of experiments with group meditation and prayers lowers disease and crime rate in neighbourhoods.
Christ’s admirable light of which Thomas Merton speaks, is the positive attitude and insight during his entire life and the final surge of breaking free from bodily constraints to empower humanity to a freedom from “the bitter struggle that is our lot caught between the flesh and the Law”.

This constant elevation or upliftment of individual level of consciousness is our continuous resurrection.

Love to you all

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Raising the Dead

Good Friday is an apt time to think of the whole concept of life and death. It is unfortunate that we sometimes live as though the process of life is an accident and we seem to be resigned literally to our fate. As I say life is a process it must have an origin then a sequence of actions to achieve the desired result or goal and then we have a final outcome or product. This is a open ended process. But is human life a open ended process?
There are two broad realms in which human life can be studied; the physical and the spiritual.
In the physical realm, the process of life begins with the birth and ends in death. This is an easy to understand straight forward process. The picture becomes complex when we include the spirit domain, with its associated life giving energies in the quantum level both biological and psychic.

The process of living on a conscious level is more to do with thoughts rather than with biological process. Biological processes are self sustaining as long as the ordained entropy is operative. Ordained entropy is programmed complexity evolution within a closed system. But the main question that comes to mind is whether we can assume the human body-mind system to be a closed system. We are, for all practical purpose, a closed subsystem within the Gaia (Earth) closed system. This network of subsystem within subsystem can be extrapolated to extend to a cosmic scale, the moment we analyse actions at extremely small scale (subatomic) and their effect on a macro scale. This is where the inseparability of the physical and spiritual exhibits itself.

The continuous evolution from being alive to being dead is captured beautifully, in the verse, by Rene Daumel in his unfinished book “Mount Analogue”. Daumal was self-taught in the Sanskrit language and translated some of the Tripitaka Buddhist canon into the French language.

“I am dead because I lack desire;
I lack desire because I think I possess;
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
Seeing you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing;
Seeing you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.”


These words can be applied at all three scales namely; cell level, human level and cosmic level. It depicts the continuous movement from potentiality to actualization and back to potentiality.

Potentiality signals birth and actualization signals death.

Love to you all

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lesson of Helen Keller

“My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her.
How much of my delight in all beautiful things is innate, and how much is due to her influence, I can never tell. I feel her being is inseparable from my own and that the footsteps of my life are hers”.

………………… Helen Keller in her book “The story of my Life”

Those of you who had heard the story of Helen Keller and the paradox about her relationship with Anne Sullivan would know that there was always a debate whether Helen Keller did or did not have mental retardation. Study of Helen’s life clearly indicates that as a young child she did have mental retardation--severe retardation. She groveled on the floor for her food, made animalistic sounds, tore her clothes off, wasn't toilet trained and apparently had no civilized attributes. In her own words she says that she was an animal. Then she met her teacher, Anne Sullivan.

The concept of educability implies change. The textbooks always write about the amazing feat of Anne Sullivan in teaching Helen Keller, deaf and blind, to read, write and communicate. It was thought of as a miracle; but the real miracle was not a divinely ordained event, but one of appropriate education and instruction in the face of unsurmountable odds. If there had been an educational plan for Helen’s instruction and an expectation that she would meet those objectives; there never would have been the miracle of Helen Keller. There would have just been 'the appropriate education of Helen Keller'. Anne Sullivan did not take on the responsibility of Helen Keller’s education because she expected her to go to a prestigious institution. She did it because she believed that every human being is entitled to an opportunity to learn and develop. The miracle then, was simply the changes brought about by appropriate instruction, which contrasted vividly against the best practices of the day. Helen was able to take advantage of the talents and confidence of an educator, and she was empowered to achieve through instruction.
Never before in history had a person who was deaf and blind been able to attend a university much less become a great writer, a famous personality, and impact and inspire so many with her life work.

This reminds me of the Bollywood movie “Black” and those of you who had watched it could see the parallel between Anne Sullivan and the role played by Amitabh Batchan as the teacher of a blind mute girl. (For more information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_(2005))

Teaching involves love and caring at the very core of the heart of the teacher. It is all the more important that when we are dealing with physically and mentally challenged children we need abundant love and patience.

Love to you all

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lamentations of the Flute











HEARKEN to the reed-flute, how it complains,
Lamenting its banishment from its home:
"Ever since they tore me from my osier bed,
My plaintive notes have moved men and women to tears.
I burst my breast, striving to give vent to sighs,
And to express the pangs of my yearning for my home.
He who abides far away from his home
Is ever longing for the day ho shall return.
My wailing is heard in every throng,
In concert with them that rejoice and them that weep.
Each interprets my notes in harmony with his own feelings,
But not one fathoms the secrets of my heart.
…………. Mulana Jalau-D-din Rumi

What a beautiful way to begin his Masnavi Book I! The authentic mystic fiber of Rumi is exhibited in this passage. We are like the reed flute that has been transplanted from its natural home at the osier bed in some fertile river. The fertile riverbed is the cosmic realm to which we really belong. We have been reshaped into this earthly body which is so appealing that many have been captivated by its charm. It evoked many emotions in the heart of the beholder.
We are always homesick to return to the source from which we came. Though all our actions in this earthly realm is pleasing for its apparent values, the true earning in our soul is the pining for our true home.

In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says: “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.”
…….saying 29

This saying uttered 2000 years ago is the embodiment of supreme wisdom. Modern science now confirms that all matter, at its most fundamental level is energy. It is the subtle vibration that manifests itself as something we see or touch. This is similar to the inherent music present in the reed of osier bed and as Rumi says “Each interprets my notes in harmony with his own feelings,But not one fathoms the secrets of my heart”.

This is the manifestation but not the reality. Yet the inherent attribute of the reed as the harbinger of sweet melodies is always present whether it is in the riverbed as the rooted plant with insect drilled airways or in the hand of the musician, in its new embodiment as the flute. This is the marvel of marvels. The music emanates from the reed or the flute only when the spirit or air moves through it. Think a little deeply, ultimately the musician is the same.

Love to you all