Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Emptiness and Compassion

“Emptiness and compassion are completely intertwined. The relationship between them has been compared to that of the flame and the light or the tree and the leaves. Activity in the world is not truly enlightened unless it springs from the awareness that, in the absolute sense, nothing is being done or needs be done. Yet at the same time the awakened heart feels as its own the suffering of all who not yet awakened” ...... 'Luminous Emptiness’ by Francesca Fremantle

In the symbolism of Vajrayana, emptiness and wisdom are regarded as the female principle of enlightenment, inseparably united with the masculine principle of compassion and skilful means or method. We need to understand why emptiness is clubbed with wisdom and assigned a feminine creative principle. Emptiness is the state of non-attachment that can only be realized through a process of dismantling the ego created boundaries. The mind is so conditioned that ego isolation becomes the accepted norm in our relationships to all created entities. This leads to development of attachments as a process of ego affirmation. A process of dismantling the ego can only take place through wisdom which can be acquired through various spiritual practices. Vajrayana meditation called deity-yoga, which is intimately connected with the visualization of the mandala, is a key tool in this process. At the root of this deity-yoga practice is the unification of blissful experiences with a single-pointed concentration of mind on the emptiness of all things, known as the indivisible union of bliss and emptiness. This profound meaning of the Vajrayana path is portrayed explicitly in the complex iconography of the Tibetan Buddhist world, within which mandalas occupy a vital place. The Vajrayana meditation also includes sophisticated techniques involving the utilization of certain aspects of the human physiology such as channels, chakras (energy centres) and the vital energies that flow within them.

Compassion is not just a feeling of pity or empathy, but an active force, a fundamental energy that is ceaselessly working to remove the cause of suffering. It cannot help arising, because in the realization of emptiness there are no boundaries between oneself and others. Compassion is the absolute sensitivity, unbiased love and limitless concern for all that is in existence. Compassion cannot remain in isolation as true compassion always and inherently implies a course of action. This is the reason a male principle is attached to compassion and skilful means or method of its employment as it always is related to a committed action.
Now we can understand how the two fundamental aspects of Buddhist philosophy of emptiness and compassion are inseparably connected. Emptiness and the associated wisdom of realization is the essence that gives birth to awakening of the energy of compassion and its deployment in our lives.
The Buddha always insisted on the inseparability of human existence from the world of action. We are created to be creatures of this world. A state of bliss is not to be achieved through abandoning the world or abandoning oneself as is often commonly believed and erroneously taught, but through transforming our perception of both - transforming this perception slowly, continuously, incrementally and very thoroughly. This is the awakening that Buddha taught.

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche says “Meditating on emptiness cuts the root of existence. Love and compassion free you from the extreme of peace, of clinging to a one-sided, static kind of peace that is only for one's own benefit. The union of compassion and the wisdom realizing emptiness results in the union of skilful means and wisdom in a way that is stuck in neither the cycle of existence nor in a one-sided selfish kind of peace. Bringing these two, wisdom and skilful means, together in this way is a practice that makes us very fortunate. If we can do that, that is what it means to be lucky.”

Hope we are the lucky ones who can realize this great truth.

Love to you all

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Object of Our Devotion

Yeshua said, "When you see one who was not born of woman, fall on your faces and worship. That one is your Father."....Saying 15 Gospel of Thomas.

This is a difficult saying from the point of view of an understanding that was intended by Yeshua and it is necessary for us to take a more esoteric route to fathom a great truth that is revealed in this saying. The meaning of this verse is “that which is unborn, self-existing, supreme is the source of everything and everyone and the only one that is worthy of true worship. This is the essence of bhakti yoga.” All manifestations have their immediate source in a birthing process which we refer her as ‘born of woman’. The feminine principle symbolizes the source of all creation.

This leads to the question of how one can perceive something that is not born out of pre-existent cause. Yeshua is not talking here about the sense perception of a created entity. This leads to another question, if it is not a created entity what are we then perceiving and with what do we perceive?
Clearly this perception has to be outside the realm of the mind. An approach from the area of consciousness gives us a better grasp of this exercise.

The Bhagavad-Gita explains the mode of attaining the absolute, the Father of all, in the verses 3 and 4 of chapter 12, which illustrates the concept of bhakti yoga. The supreme wisdom of the divine states “But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, unchanging, fixed and immovable—the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth—by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me."

The dreamer does not undergo any change when the objects of the dream-world come out of him. Cotton appears as cloth without undergoing a real change. The cloth is nothing but cotton in a different form. The gold chain comes out of gold without any real change in gold itself. Similarly, clay appears as pot. Clay remains clay before the creation of the pot, during the creation of the pot, and after the pot is destroyed. There was no pot ever; it was clay all the time. Clay appeared as pot; water appears as ocean, waves and bubbles; gold became a chain; dreamer became dream objects without undergoing any real change. The fundamental truth is that the very substrate of existence is the Godhead or Cosmic consciousness.

Yeshua’s saying also reflects this supreme truth that we need to worship the unmanifested, that which is fundamental to the creation. The distinction between the earthly begotten body and the eternal soul, which is an integral part of the Divine Father, must be clearly understood in lavishing our devotion. In most religions, the necessity for providing a proper grasp of the divine, through iconic representations, has resulted in the distortion of the fundamental nature of the divine and the very distortions are being worshipped as the real object of our devotion. This error has to be corrected and this is the instruction that Yeshua gives his disciples and followers.
Your true being is not that which emanates from the maternal womb of the earthly mother but the spirit which has come from the Father. Here the Father is the symbolic representation of Cosmic consciousness from which our true being finds identity.

Love to you all

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rootedness of Existence

“Whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained, in food immoderate, indolent, inactive, him verily Mara overthrows, as the wind (overthrows) a weak tree.
Whoever lives contemplating “the Impurities”', with senses restrained, in food moderate, full of faith, full of sustained energy, him Mara overthrows not, as the wind (does not overthrow) a rocky mountain.”..... Dhammapada Chapter 1: 7-8

Continuing the commentary on the Dhammapada, the above lines stress the importance of being grounded in an existence that is conducive to spiritual progress. It is essential that we understand what the Gautama meant when he said that the act of being overthrown is attributed to Mara. Mara is usually referred as the Satan. Where does the Satan reside or originate from. Both in Christianity and in Buddhism, accounts may be interpreted figuratively, as referring to a principle, rather than a being, of evil and seduction. Indeed, some Buddhist texts clearly present Mara as a state of the human mind--a metaphor for the principle of evil, passion, and diversion from the Dharma: "Heretical views and the three poisonous elements [i.e. greed, anger, and delusion] are Mara.... When our nature is dominated by [these], we are said to be possessed by the devil." Other passages, such as the account of the Buddha's temptation in the ‘Sutta Nipata’, refer to such evil mental states as the armies or forces of Mara, while maintaining his existence as a real being who stands “right next to the Buddha.” The conclusion to be drawn is that the Buddhist concept of Mara--as being or as principle--is at least as much open to debate as is the similar question in Western theology. Personal conceptions of the Tempter among believers undoubtedly range from popular superstition to abstract allegorical philosophy, just as in the West. A notable difference is that in the more overtly philosophical Buddhist tradition, many scriptures literally support the more allegorical concept of the devil, while Western scripture nearly always personifies him.
In my view Mara or Satan refers to the ‘nature of operating principle’ of the human mind from which thoughts and actions emanate.
The reference to the wind, whose direction and intensity is extremely difficult to predict, as the cause that uproots a weak tree further endorses the unpredictable nature of the source which is a mental construct. This is the reason that the Buddha clearly states the nature of contemplation which leads to the power of Mara becoming active in one’s being. When the sense oriented state of euphoria are given undue priority there is an aggregation of unwanted state of consciousness which leads to alienation from own divine nature. The next statement is very essential for a practical way of life wherein one achieves a higher level of consciousness for living a spiritually oriented life. The Buddha states that there is an inevitability of contemplating the corrupting nature of ‘the impurities’ thrown up by the senses. But how one should handle this situation is further elaborated by him. Senses should be restrained and all nourishments of the body, the emotions and the mind should be moderated. This is similar to the Sattvic principle advocated by the Vedic philosophy. In order to achieve this one should have faith and sustained energy. The faith that the Buddha talks of is not a dogmatic faith in some manmade belief system but rather in the innate power of the self which can be unleashed through an inner journey.

Let us contemplate on this two beautiful saying so full of meaning.

Love to you all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seat of Illumination

“He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone’s heart.” …….Bhagavad-Gita 13:18

Kesava Kashmiri, who is the 34th Guru in the great Vaishnava tradition of Nimbaditya (Founder of the Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya) in his commentary on this verse, says “It is solely His effulgence that illuminates all luminaries such as the sun, the stars, lightning, jewels, etc. with light. These luminaries only dispel the darkness hindering the vision between the eyes and their objects whereas the knowledge of a mere spark of the Supreme Lord being the atma or immortal soul illuminates all physical lights and without the atma knowledge of illumination is not possible.” The meaning of this comment is that the very source of all physical light, though self originating, is another sub-stratum which more fundamental to its existence.

The perception of an object through sight requires light. This physical light or streams of photons are waves of vibrating energy which when observed through the conscious mind appear as particles responsible for creating a set of impulses. This matrix of impulses creates an image or a representation of the object from which the photons have arrived. This matrix is interaction of neuronal activity and a pre-existent consciousness field wherein holographically information is stored. This is the reason that consciousness is fundamental to the observation and operation of perception. All matter in the universe would have no meaning or would be beyond perception in the absence of this consciousness that pervades our being. This is true of all five sense perceptions. Hence we can safely state that without the supernal light of consciousness, the entire manifestation and its knowledge lies beyond comprehension. While consciousness is needed for material manifestation, consciousness itself lies beyond the physical or manifested realm. There is a great principle involved in understanding this truth. In any process, the response of the process as a whole, for any input, is by far slower than the response of any constituent sub-processes in the system. There is a clear hierarchy of response as we move from the lowest constituent of the process to the system as a whole. Based on the principle stated, if the process is objective observation then consciousness, being the fundamental constituent process, can not be subject to observation from the manifested realm.

Are we then doomed to ignorance of this very fundamental constituent of reality? No. here the last part of the verse states
‘hrdi sarvasya dhisthitam’ (situated in everyone’s heart) emphasises that this awareness, of supreme consciousness, is specially situated in the etheric heart of all living entities.
The heart here refers to the very fundamental and integrated organ of existence. This is what 21st century science is pointing to. We have moved beyond particle physics in understanding matter into the area of sub-quantum field where the forces in action and their vibrational qualities point to the existence of an implicate order from which all sub-atomic particles and their sustaining forces evolve.

The insight into this realm is not possible through the senses or the mind but only through direct experiential perception that will create a state of being in our very existence. Lord Krishna advises his devotee from chapter 8 to 12, in the Gita, on how one should approach this task. The paths of
Bhakti (devotion), Nishkama Karma (selfless service) and Jñana (knowledge) are the sadhanas (spiritual practices) that can lead one to achieving this state of being where by the union of atma and paramatma alone can give us a comprehension of this illumining consciousness which is our true realty.

Love to you all

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cataract of the Intellect

“Thus the mind, accustomed to the opaqueness in beings and the phantoms of the visible things, appears to be seeing nothing when it gazes on the light of Being. It cannot understand that this very darkness is the supreme illumination of our minds, just as when the eye sees pure light, it seems to be seeing nothing”……. “The Journey of Mind to God” by Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure was a doctor of the church and a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas. Bonaventure accepted the Platonic doctrine that ideas do not exist
in rerum natura (in the nature of things), but as principles exemplified by the Divine Being, according to which actual things were formed; and this conception has no slight influence upon his philosophy.
The mind in contemplating God has three distinct aspects, stages or grades—the
senses, giving empirical knowledge of what is without and discerning the traces (vestigia) of the divine in the world; the reason, which examines the soul itself, the image of the divine Being; and lastly, pure intellect (intelligentia), which, in a transcendent act, grasps the Being of the divine cause.

Though there are current metaphysical and cosmological difficulties in accepting the process and nature of precepts that were defined by Bonaventure, the depth of his understanding is way ahead of his time. Why I say this is because his definition of how ideas evolve in the mind form a pre-existent set of principles in the divine mind is the contemporary understanding that the 'universal unconscious field' does carry the imprints from which all conscious activity in the mind in the waking state takes place. We do not consciously feel this and assume that ideas are immanent and come into the mental ambience as soon as the senses observe an object in nature. If one is not exposed to the impression in consciousness, which occurs through an evolutionary process, an observation of an object outside such pre-existent impression, is never registered.

The three elements in the process of grasping any idea are the senses, reasoning through the mind and intellect. This is beautifully captured in the Katha Upanishad “Beyond the senses are the objects, beyond them is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, beyond the intellect is the Cosmic Mind which is
hiranyagarbha (golden womb).”

When one is trapped purely in the operation of the object, senses and mind, there is a limitation that sets in and this is the opaqueness that Bonaventure talks of. When intellect is excluded from the process of understanding the nature of reality, the intellect is blinded. Just as a person, who has been imprisoned in a dark dungeon for many years, when exposed to daylight, would be blinded and would not be able to appreciate the beauty of the free world and its associated nature, a person operating in the sensory and mental mode would not be able to grasp the reality of the divine.
Eyes that see pure light would be blinded and would see nothing.
This is the reason that Lord Krishna says “But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes. Behold My mystic opulence”…………...
Bhagavad-Gita 11:8

The difference between the physical, sensory organ of observation and the intuitive inner eye which operates only at the command of the intellect (
buddhi) is that sensory observation can give us knowledge of only the present which is conditioned by an a priori evolutionary history purely at the space-time realm of existence and which is non experiential at the level of the self and an extrapolated future, hence an aggregated comprehension of false reality, while the inner intuitive observation can comprehend the infinite ocean of cosmic consciousness. The portal through which cosmic consciousness or the cosmic mind enters the realm of the human creation is the intellect. If this portal is opaque, this cataract must be burnt away by a constant exposure to the supreme illumination to experience the Divine.

Love to you all

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bread of Life

“I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”………..John 6:48-51

John was probably the most esoteric writer of Christ’s wisdom within the Canonical Gospels. The passage above is a very difficult to comprehend for its deeper meaning and hence gets mutilated in interpretation in the most simplistic way. It also leads to a literal interpretation and endorsement of the institution of the Eucharist. John never mentions the institution of the Eucharist in the last super and it is theologically explained that John is believed to have omitted the institution because he wrote his Gospel to supplement what the other evangelists had already written.

In a careful reading of the above passage, first, we see Christ making a categorical statement about Him being the ‘bread of life’. This really means that He is the sustaining energy of humanity. If this is accepted then we have to examine at what level and through what attributes He sustains humanity? His next statement clarifies this doubt that is already arising in our mind. It is not the physical food that He is talking about. For the ‘God given’ food of manna, which was miraculously sent to the Israelites during their time in the Sinai desert, could not give them perennial life. The inevitability of physical death is thus confirmed. Hence the symbolism of the life giving bread is to do with the health of one’s soul or Atma. The individual soul goes through defilement when resident in human body due to the influence of ego, sensory impressions and the actions of the mind.

‘Bread that comes down from heaven’ is more readily understood when viewed from Kabbalistic interpretation. The manifest world which includes humanity is at the lower most realm of the tree of life known as ‘Malchut’ and at its highest realm is ‘Ein Sof’. When Christ, with his deep wisdom of the Zohar mysteries, says from heaven, He means from ‘Ein Sof’.
What is Ein Sof? The book of Zohar says: “Before He gave any shape to the world, before He produced any form, He was alone, without form and without resemblance to anything else. Who then can comprehend how He was before the Creation? Hence it is forbidden to lend Him any form or similitude, or even to call Him by His sacred name, or to indicate Him by a single letter or a single point. . . . But after He created the form of the Heavenly Man, He used him as a chariot wherein to descend, and He wishes to be called after His form, which is the sacred name 'YHWH’”
Christ, being one with the Father, is the ‘heavenly man’ and descends to this creation through this life giving bread. Christ gave a deeper meaning to humanity’s inseparable participation in the divinity.
In the dualistic approach to God-Man relationship of the ancient Hebrew covenant, the chariot was the vehicle of the ‘heavenly man’ but in the new covenant through a participatory process Christ, the heavenly man, becomes the bread which you ingest and thus become part of the divinity. This partaking process symbolizes the Advaitic process of undifferentiated consciousness that pervades the entire tree of life.

By incarnating, Christ in the human form, the divinity takes flesh. Bread and flesh are two sides of the same coin. Whatever food we partake it is converted into our flesh. The entire purpose of taking a human form is to demonstrate how, even in this worldly manifestation, one can also become the Son of the Father.
Let those of us who receive Holy Communion always approach this partaking from this deeper knowledge that Christ’s presence is the symbolic descending of the divinity to make each one of us a divine being. Through the external symbolism an internal process must be activated to constantly renew our selves to become divine and thus attain eternal life.

Love to you all

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Being Beyond Limitation

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”………………Patanjali

There are only two great purposes in human life; they are love and service. In trying to provide the best of service there is always love; love of people, love of nature and love of knowledge. Hence we can safely say that the greatest purpose in life is the realization of true love through various modes of our existence. The object of true love can only be the ultimate reality. For if we are pursuing love of any transient reality then we are left with an innate feeling of void. For within the self there is Divine spark that refuses to be appeased except through the attainment of real Self, which is our spiritual nature. As Teilhard de Chardin, the great French Jesuit anthropologist, said “we are not physical beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a physical experience”

Today we understand that there are three modes of existence and they are; matter, energy and information. James G Miller’s living systems theory is based on the idea that cells, organs, organisms, groups, corporations, nations, and supranational organisations all process matter, energy, and information. While matter is defined by structure or geometry at its fundamental level, energy can be defined by ‘a state of being with the capacity for work’ and information can be defined by patterns or ordered sequence of symbols. Going beyond the sciences, what connects these three modes is the field of consciousness. Why am I talking about these things when discussing the words of Patanjali?
Any great purpose or extraordinary project in life comprises of dealing with the three modes of existence namely; matter, energy and information and in any highly creative project or purpose we partake in divine co-creation and our consciousness is involved.

Now going back to the fact that love is the prime mover of all great purposes, while we use and mould matter, energy and information, we realize that only if we understand and operate from a deeper consciousness level, we can effectively transform matter, energy and information to the best of purpose. The expansion of consciousness that Patanjali speaks of is this mode of operation wherein the boundaries of matter, energy and information are broken down and there is a realignment of consciousness to manipulate the higher potentialities that are inherently available to us in these fundamental components. This new consciousness reveals you in a new light and sometimes we can hear ourselves asking “Did I come up with that idea?” Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive only through a realigned consciousness. Many great discoveries in science and many innovations have come through this shift in consciousness. We have instances of difficult mathematical theories which had remained unsolved for ages and suddenly in a dream or flash of brilliance the insight is given. This happens only due to the fact that the scientist or mathematician is already in a state of expanded consciousness.

The above process applies all the more for mystical experience. Here the purpose is the ultimate union with the highest power. Here we have to completely transcend all boundaries of matter, energy and information and operate purely from the deeper consciousness plane. We are all given very brief insight into this stage of bliss during our day to day contemplation, meditation or service to humanity and then you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

Love to you all

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kingdom of Heaven

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said; “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”……… Luke 17: 20-21

John the Baptist and Yeshua were both preaching the Kingdom of God was at hand and told their disciples to do the same. From the beginning we were told that it was at hand, that we were supposed to seek it, that it was in our midst, and within our reach in a present tense.

In the Bible the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is translated from original Aramaic. Did Yeshua preach a new world order? The gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic primarily for the Israelite community. Translating the Aramaic to Greek, the word ‘malkuthach’ becomes ‘basileia ouranos’, or Kingdom of Heaven, meaning a “realm”. According to Thayer’s Lexicon the primary meaning of basileia is “royal power”. Power creates and sustains a “kingdom”. Without power a kingdom cannot exist. Without power a king is nothing. That is why the word “kingdom” is actually a secondary definition of basileia. Basileia is feminine gender and its primary meaning is “royal power” or “governing power”. The definition of ouranos is ‘universe’. In old English the concept of the universe was expressed as “the heavens”. Somewhere along the way the plural expression “heavens” was replaced by the singular expression—“heaven”. The attempt to translate or interpret ouranos –“universe” as “heaven” (singular), is totally erroneous and misleading.

Yeshua speaking in parables says, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son”……
Matthew 22:2, and compares the Kingdom of heaven to a king. The kingdom of heaven is compared specifically to a “king of men,” (anthropos basileus). Through this a spatial attribute is negated in favour of a royal personage. When we read the declaration that ‘kingdom of heaven is within you’ and it is the individual, as the ‘highest of person – a spiritually empowered royalty’, who is the kingdom, the meaning becomes clear. The realization that you are one who carries the sustaining power of the ‘kosmos’ in every cell of your body and the resulting consciousness is the highest you can attain.
The proof of this is already in the scriptures. St. Paul writing to the Corinthians says; “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.”…..
1 Cor 4:20

A microcosm of the universe, the universal ocean of power and bliss, dwells within one’s own heart. The sum total of all of the light, power and bliss that is manifested throughout the entire macrocosm can be experienced within the Spiritual Heart, which is the same as one’s own Self. This the seamless link between the individual consciousness and the cosmic consciousness.
The Bhagavad-Gita also endorses this great truth. Lord Krishna explains the dual nature of human existence and says:
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”…….
BG 7: 4,5

The sustaining power of all consciousness is the cosmic consciousness and they are one and the same. For one who realizes this he has already attained the Kingdom of Heaven.

Love to you all