Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sabotaging Inner Happiness

Lama Marut, a friend of mine on the Facebook wrote “Real evil is that part of you that sabotages your own true happiness.”

I wrote back to him on the process of how this subtlety takes root in one’s psyche. This is mainly due to two reasons. The first is clinging to the past and the second is our own ignorance of our life’s purpose. These mental states which exhibit themselves as thoughts are so deceptive that many times they are seen in the guise of a benefactor, with all their attributes of providing comfort. While there is a feeling of a false euphoria your inner happiness is robbed without you being aware. These mental states mostly evolve from the past and are highly fragmented without linkages to the ultimate experience which is invariably negative. In my counseling, I have come across many who go through self victimization because of this process.

In Bhagavad-Gita, the reason for Arjuna’s sadness is that his own ignorance of life purpose that leads him to think that he is the slayer. He does not see his true role as a Kshatriya who has to fight for justice and root out evil. The evil that he is facing is his own kith and kin symbolizing an inherent part of one’s existence. Arjuna’s unhappiness is due to his own ignorance.

The verse 14 of the first chapter of Bhagavad-Gita captures the essence of how the power that is bestowed in our soul can lead us to true inner happiness. I specifically quote the Sanskrit transliteration to bring out the deep symbolism.

“tatah svetair hayair yukte
mahati syandane sthitau
madhavah pandavas caiva
divyau sankhau pradadhmatuh”

“On the other side, both Lord Krishna and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conch shells.”

The names given to each of the words in this verse are highly metaphoric. Here, the chariot represents the vehicle of primal wisdom or the original logos, the Origin of all the Vedas and the whole of the Universe itself. The chariot was thus referred with the word
‘syandana’ which means ‘that leads towards the ultimate destination of the souls’ journey’. This is the true ‘vidya’ or wisdom.
And the word
‘mahathi’ means ‘all conquering’ and is only attribute or nature of the original logos or wisdom. The word for horses used here is 'hayaihi' which also means ‘something that gives knowledge’, In Sanskrit ‘harit’ means horse, but also bright and shining. Horses were reared by Druids in Europe, especially white ones (therefore bright and pure) and that they believed them capable of knowing the plans of the heavens. Hence the white horses drawing the chariot symbolize the concept of wisdom being deployed in the right direction towards the ultimate attainment of the Godhead. Thus the word assigned in the verse to the soul is 'pandava'. ‘Panda’ means ‘knowledge’. One who possesses that knowledge is called ‘panduhu’. The one belongs to that lineage is called 'pandavaha'.
Blowing on the
‘divyau sankhau’ or the divine conch shells represents emanation of the pure wisdom or logos for annihilation of all ignorance through both the individual atma as the seeking soul and Paramatma as the harbinger of this wisdom.

Every moment of our life let us pray for divine wisdom to take root in our consciousness so that we may be led from ignorance to wisdom.

Love to you all

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Obligations, Rewards and Detachment

Basically continuing from last post on the importance of virtue, I would like to take the first verse of the sixth chapter of Bhagavad-Gita and go in depth as to the possibility of achieving the seemingly impossible task of performing our worldly duties. In the first verse Lord Krishna tells Arjuna:

“One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.”.
......Bhagavad-Gita 6:1

There are a number of elements in this saying. They are:
- fruits of one’s work
- non-attachment and finally
- Obligatory work to be performed
It is better to start from the understanding of obligatory work and then move on to what is to be seen as the fruits of such work and finally the detachment or renunciation of all that is derived from such fruits of labour.

Creation has a purpose and the main purpose as I see it is one of phenomenal transcendence. The transcendence must be towards higher level of consciousness. The creative purpose is not self centred but involves the entire milieu of our existence. Hence there are two distinct aspects of our creation namely; being and acting. While being is self driven, acting involves agencies such as to act upon or to act with. The objective world becomes the stage of our existence and acting. This is the reason that the concluding part of the first verse says “………he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty”.

Any object oriented ontology must address this primary parameter. In the act of functioning every human being has to interact with a variety of objects. If you were a teacher then you had students and content of what you taught, if you were a king you had your kingdom and the subjects and the ethical and empowering conduct of governance, if you were a trader you had your customers and goods and its quality and if you were a person providing services then again you had the recipient of services and the quality of services themselves which had set objectives. The reason I elaborate on the nature of work is because obligation is not exterior to existence or a choice of free will but, if properly understood, is the karmic resultant in every new creation. This is the first renunciation. Though through the mind and intellect one may assume that he has a choice of work, accepting a current position or state in life and performing duties arising there of, qualifies one to be called as one “who works as he is obligated”.

The fruits of such a work would be rewarding in two distinct planes. The first and most visible or comprehensible level is a reward at the intellectual and materialistic level. The second is at the spiritual level where there is no visible or perceivable self gratification. There is always a strong tendency to get stuck in the intellectual or materialistic level especially in this Kali Yuga, where the spiritual consciousness lies under very heavy smog of materialistic and sensory existence. This is the reason that a strong advice is given towards non-attachment. This advice is seen in the Bible “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”
…….Matthew 6:3

To be in the renounced order of life does not mean that one has to stop doing things and go away to a forest. But as Lord Krishna says it is those who perform obligated duty with intent on spiritual elevation through their own transcendence and those who understand this great truth that all actions are part of the great interplay of the supreme consciousness can be called true mystic or renunciate.

Love to you all

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Virtue – The Perennial Wealth

Plutarch wrote in 75 CE about the legendary wisdom of Solon who lived during the fifth century before Christ. It is understood that Solon was a moral philosopher and advised the King of Lydia, Croesus, who believed that his wealth was the primary source of his happiness.

Plutarch echoes the thoughts of Solon in the following lines.

“Some wicked men are rich, some good are poor,
We will not change our virtue for their store:
Virtue's a thing that none can take away;
But money changes owners all the day.”

Let us first examine the attributes of material wealth.

The first attribute of wealth is its acquisitive character. Wealth is either inherited or earned. The earning could be either by fair means or by unscrupulous and devious means. I will then say that the three categories of riches a man can have fall into IW (inherited wealth), FW (wealth obtained through fair means) and DW (wealth acquired through devious means). While the first two categories fall under arth moderated by dharma or wealth through fair means, the last category is definitely not to be entertained. Any wealth that is acquired through speculation or chance also falls under the last category.

The second attribute is its usage. If wealth is used in a purely self aggregation mode, whatever is the mode of its acquisition then it degenerates into morally degrading appendix to one’s life. Wealth must be employed in life empowering activities. These activities include knowledge acquisition and dissemination, balanced nourishment and proactive sharing. This should encompass the self, family, society and the ecosystem.
Regarding unattached acts of empowerment
Bhagavad-Gita chapter 3 verse 25 says: “As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned may similarly act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.”

The third attribute is its ego drive. What I mean by this is that wealth tends to boost one’s ego through a false sense of security and inflation of manipulative power.

The fourth attribute is its impermanence. Worldly wealth is a pure by-product of human activity and has no place in the spiritual life. As the Spirit is immortal and all creations are transient so also wealth is highly fickle in nature. Holding onto this impermanence leads to suffering.

Given these, all holy men and men who valued their inner peace and true happiness either put to empowering use their wealth or gave away their wealth for a life of poverty. We have a long list of Christian saints who gave up their luxurious lives to embrace an ascetic life. Outstanding examples are
St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier.
In the Vedic tradition, even the householder, was admonished that during his days of life as
Brahmacharya (celibate), Grihastha (family) his Kama (desire) and Arth (wealth) should be controlled by dharma.
It is the dharma which one upholds which ultimately controls his destiny or the imprints that one’s consciousness or Atma carries into its next manifestation.
This is the reason that Solon admonishes that any day he would prefer perennial virtue over impermanent riches.

Love to you all

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Preparation for Transcendence

Today the Christian calendar celebrates ‘Ash Wednesday’. What is the significance of this start day and why we have a forty day period of the season of Lent as a precursor to the event of resurrection of Jesus from death? I have earlier pointed out that we make the mistake of treating the Biblical events as purely historical rather then symbolic narration in a historical context.

The significance of the start day is that forty days before the day of crucifixion always falls on Wednesday, as usually a lunar calendar is used for fixing the day of Easter.
It is also important to note that Wednesday, in Hebrew chronology was fourth day of the week as the Sabbath was on the Saturday. The fourth day was the day on which light and darkness were separated in the creation story of Genesis. It is a day of new consciousness.

The Hebrew letter
‘mem’ is the thirteenth letter and corresponds to the same position in a full expression of twenty two letters of the Hebrew alphabets as the fourth day in a week of seven days. The number value of ‘mem’ is forty. As I had written in my earlier blog titled “Discernment for Spiritual Elevation‘mem’, the letter of "water" (mayim) symbolizes the fountain of the Divine Wisdom of Torah. Just as the waters of a physical fountain (spring) ascend from their unknown subterranean source (the secret of the abyss in the account of Creation) to reveal themselves on earth, so does the fountain of wisdom express the power of flow from the super conscious source. In the terminology of Kabbalah, this flow is from keter ("crown") to chochmah ("wisdom"). The stream is symbolized in Proverbs as "the flowing stream, the source of wisdom.

As Vivekmani Lakra, writes in the Times of India ‘Speaking Tree’ column; “The reasons as to why the Lenten season is observed for a period of forty days are many. There is an important relation of the number 'forty' with the Holy Bible. We can find in the book of Exodus of the Old Testament that Moses prayed to God while staying on Mount Sinai for forty days. After getting freedom from the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Israelites travelled for forty long years to reach their native land, Israel. During Noah’s time, it rained continuously for forty days and the whole earth was flooded
(Genesis 7:17). And before beginning His ministry Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days in the desert (Luke 44:2-13), he was laid in the tomb for forty hours after his death and before He was taken up into Heaven, He stayed with His people for forty days (John 21). Hence the number 'forty' has been included by different churches in the Lent as a numeral of great significance.”

Hence 'forty' symbolizes a period of fullness usually associated with transcending from a lower level of consciousness to a higher level. The Lenten period, which starts with smearing of Ash on the forehead of the faithful on Ash Wednesday, represents an intense period of realization that we are the creation in God’s image and the body that has been given to us is only a vehicle of the supernal energy which is our true nature. This journey culminates on Calvary where the merging of the horizontal dimension of human creation and the vertical dimension of divine transcendence takes place on the cross which is the great symbol of Christian faith. A true Christian is an integrated and fully realized being of his humanity and divinity.

While fasting and other acts of external rituals aid us in this process of deeper realization, it is the inner purification that is more important. This is reflected in Prophet Joel’s saying; “Now therefore”, says the Lord, “turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments”
(Joel 2:12-13).

Love to you all

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Vehicle of Shakthi

On Friday night we celebrated Mahashivaratri and what does this festival mean to us today as individuals seeking spiritual growth.

The universe presents a picture of continuous energy flow. There is constant interchange of energy from the smallest organism to the Galaxies. There are always the polar opposites which form the actors in this play of creation. Darkness is the absence of light; silence the absence of sound. Duality in nature, the coexistence of the positive and the negative, lends meaning to the whole of existence.

Today science is struggling to understand the composition of reality. The observable universe is only 4%. Millions of ‘Black Holes’ inhabit the universe and they are all pure energy centres. There are both manifestations available to the human mind as well as reality beyond comprehension. The only thing fitting such a description is the formless, the
Nirakaar or Para Brahman. This is the swaroop or essence of Shiva. In the words of Shankaracharya: “Na punyam na paapam na saukhyam na dukham, chidananda rupa Shivoham Shivoham” – Neither good nor bad, there is no joy or sorrow, only the Universal Presence.

When Creation began, there existed one Supreme Consciousness manifested as Adi Shakti, the Primordial feminine energy. From her emerged Shiva, who symbolizes the essence of transformation of creative energy. All forms of Shiva, as
Bhairava, Mahāyogin, Nataraja, Ardhanarishvara are but mythological representations of the manifestations of the primordial energy of creation with various attributes. Perhaps the apt symbolism of Shiva portraying the undifferentiated form of primary energy is Tripurantaka where he is shown destroying the triple nature of Sthula sharira—the external embodiment, Sukshma sharira—the intellectual corpus, and Karana sharira—the consciousness or the soul. The Tripurantaka manifestation of the Lord destroys and extinguishes the tri-partite compartmentalisation of the being and merges all three essential components of man into the supreme consciousness. The lord as Tripurantaka destroys the veil of Maya, agyaan (ignorance), and affects the unision of the individual soul with the supreme consciousness.

Adi Shakti then chose to be the consort of Shiva as Parvati. While Creation (including Shiva) draws energy from Shakti, Shakti without Shiva is just pure energy that needs a vehicle to channelise itself. Complete evolution becomes a union of opposing forces. This evolution is seen as the awakening of the Kundalini or seat of energy in us. The process involves rising through the chakras, what rises up being Kundalini or Shakti. This is a semi-dormant force residing at the base chakra. Shiva seated at the highest chakra has to come down and unite with Shakti at every subsequent chakra. Samudra Manthan or churning of the celestial ocean where nectar and poison were both produced is the Kundalini’s awakening. This is a process that takes place in every human at the five chakras between
Mūlādhāra and Sahasrara.

The union of Shakthi and Shiva, representing the inseparable union of supreme consciousness and its vehicle or embodiment and symbolized by the union of Parvathi and Shiva, is celebrated as Mahashivaratri.
Let us reflect on this deep symbolism and understand the greatness of human creation.

Love to you all

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sower and the Seeds

“Jesus said, Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they didn't take root in the soil and didn't produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.” ……… Saying 9 Gospel of Thomas

The light of wisdom that emanates from the teachings of Jesus has to be spread. The disciples are the evangelizers of this wisdom and Jesus in this saying forewarns of the need for caution in the methodology to be employed. There are four situations that Jesus illustrates as possible scenarios.

He uses the powerful example of a sower sowing seeds.
Seeds that fall on the road are gathered by birds. There is a powerful symbolism in this example. A road is a predetermined path and refers to an inflexible and dogmatic mindset and any seed of wisdom that is sown will be hijacked immediately towards an interpretation to an existing perception herein beautifully described as being gathered by birds.

Some seeds fall on the rock. Jesus indicated that you need to address and impart wisdom only to those who have an open mind. The rock symbolizes an impenetrable consciousness. This may result from a total lack of desire to know anything spiritually empowering due to a consciousness rooted in ego dominated materialistic living. To such individuals the words of wisdom just bounce off and do not take root.

Some seeds fell on thorns and they were chocked and the worms ate them. Thorns in plants are ordained as self preservative devices against predators. A consciousness indulging in physical and material self preservation will resist all exterior approaches as immanent danger, it will only intake all its sustenance from its root which is in the terrestrial realm and superficial aggregations. This is explained by Jesus in
Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13 verse 22: “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”
Proverb 24 verses 30, 31 the state of a person who is not vigilant and does not prioritize his actions towards spiritually bearing fruit, is compared to a field that has been overrun by weeds and thorns. “I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins”

Finally the seeds that fell on good soil produce a bountiful crop. There are two important meanings in this part of the saying. The first is that when wisdom finds a receptive consciousness it fructifies and thrives. For wisdom to find a resting place you need two agents namely; a sincerely seeking soul (good soil) as the primary agent and the divine act of sowing the seeds of wisdom as the secondary agent. The second is the significance of “sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure”.
Value sixty is assigned to the Hebrew letter
Samech (ס) and relates to the Ouroboros, which is that serpent biting its own tail. In Kabbalah, Samech, the Ouroboros, relates to that Ray that we call Okidanokh, the Ray of Creation that emerges from the Unknowable Divine. This is the integrative aspect of individual consciousness with the divine. This is the ultimate harvest.

Love to you all

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rhythms of the Universe

“O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.”……..Bhagavad-Gita 7:8

“Rhythms of the Universe”, a musical project to "sonify" the universe by renowned contemporary percussionist and Grammy award-winning artist Mickey Hart caught the attention of Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist George Smoot of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Hart presented his composition using supernova (an exploding star from which all the heavier elements of our body and the earth are made) and other astrophysics data during the Cosmology at the Beach Conference held Jan. 11-15, 2010 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The conference is cosponsored by Smoot after he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2006.
When a star goes out with a bang as a supernova, scientists on earth gather the electromagnetic waves from these stellar explosions to learn more about the universe, from understanding its birth 13 billion years ago, to determining what the universe is of made of, to predicting how it may eventually end. Light and Gamma ray from the exploding star are electromagnetic data, but with a very high frequency. What the project did is turn it into sound by slowing down the frequency and 'stretching' it into an audio form. Both light and sound are all wave forms -- just at different frequencies. Our goal was to turn the electromagnetic data into audio data while still preserving the correlation to the original data. The sound that was produced was a deep vibrational rumble, punctuated with deeper, louder sounds -- almost what one would think an earthquake sounds like.

When I read this news in ScienceDaily my thoughts immediately went to Rig Veda, where the worship of Agni, the primordial energy, is the main theme. In
Rig Veda Book X chapter 71 verse 4 it says:

“Yet certain ones, though seeing, may not see her,
and other ones, though hearing, may not hear her.
But to some the Word reveals herself quite freely,
like fair-robed bride surrendering to her husband.”

The word is the manifestation of the divine in the created universe and to scientist though they might see an occurrence such as the death of a star for them it is nothing but a bright star which has suddenly lost all its mass and even they can not fathom the true nature of its current energy state. To common men who hear of this event we do not comprehend the meaning of this occurrence both at the macro as well as at the micro level. But to a true seeker the permanence of the Divine consciousness, as Agni, which inhabits every atom in the universe and which reveals itself in the innermost depth of one’s consciousness there is a glorious revelation of unchanging permanence.

Atharva Veda Book IV Hymn 1, dealing with Cosmological and mystico-theological doctrine, the saying is:

Abiding by Cosmic Order, he fixed as his seat
the mighty firmaments of Heaven and Earth. ………………..
Just as the luminous day is born from light,
so may the radiant singers shine far and wide!

These words very aptly capture the essence of what Cosmologists, Musicians and ancient seers understand; namely the revelation of cosmic order in the cosmos and its manifestation through light and sound. Every object in the cosmos shines and sings the glory of the innate Divine energy that sustains them.

Love to you all!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bridge to the Divine

When we try to comprehend a deep mystery or a genuine doubt that arises in our heart, we tend to use our rational thinking as the tool for finding an answer. While the rational mind is a useful tool, its zone of operation is mostly limited to our own comprehension and experience in the space-time domain we inhabit. With all modern scholarship pointing to the availability of past knowledge in our evolved consciousness, we find that there are ever increasing questions the rational mind poses as we probe further.

Yet the beauty of human creation is such that we have the innate capacity to comprehend deep mysteries as we are capable of transcending the limitations we have discussed earlier through an inner journey of elevating our consciousness to a higher level. This exercise has to be one of a personal endeavour and even the most enlightened teacher or Guru can not help us. This is the reason that when Arjuna wanted to reach out to perceive the universal form of Krishna, a unique process is set in motion.

First of all there is a
realization that there is a higher potentiality hidden in the human incarnation of Krishna. Then, there is a belief that he has the capacity to transcend his current limitations to perceive the higher reality. Finally there is an earnest desire to reach the state of elevated consciousness.
The following text from Bhagavad-Gita comprehensively articulates the process of attaining a higher state of consciousness and its non-temporality and non-locality.

“O Arjuna, whatever you wish to see, behold at once in this body of Mine! This universal form can show you whatever you now desire to see and whatever you may want to see in the future. Everything—moving and non-moving—is here completely, in one place.”
…..BG 11:7

The undifferentiated and omnipresence nature of the Divine and its location in the being of the observer, though there are limitations, is beautifully brought out in the following verse.

“Your form is difficult to see because of its glaring effulgence, spreading on all sides, like blazing fire or the immeasurable radiance of the sun. Yet I see this glowing form everywhere, adorned with various crowns, clubs and discs.”
…………..BG 11:17

As long as Arjuna is in the mode of an observer there is a subject-object duality. This duality is purposely ordained for without it there is no subjective experience to tell. Therefore this intricate experience in trying to reach the ground of Divine essence can well be explained by what the great German Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart said in one of his sermons:

“… The union of the soul with God is far more inward than that of the soul and body…. Now, I might ask, how stands it with the soul that is merged in God? Does the soul find herself or not? To this I will answer as it appears to me, that the soul finds in the point where every rational being understands itself with itself. Although it sinks in the eternity of Divine essence, yet it can never reach the ground. Therefore God has left a little point wherein the soul turns back upon itself to be a creature ….”

These are the two levels at which higher Self-awareness operates as the manifest and the Divine but ultimately you are the bridge to the Divine.

Love to you all