Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dismantling Conventional Structures

“The person who has not courageously confronted the basic unreality of conventional structures – including both individual and collective egocentricity, including as well the very notion of a substantial universe – can never sincerely love the Real or long for the Real, much less become Reality”……. ‘Great Swan: Meeting with Ramakrishna’

I came across this saying while reading John Major Jenkins book “2012 Story” and it was few days after the devastating tsunami that hit Sendai and the resulting nuclear disaster. The whole concept of technical development especially in the field of energy generation has been very wrongly derived. We tend to burn coal, split the atom or harness the water. For a moment look at the verbs used to describe these processes. To burn, split or harness is potent with an act of destruction and alienation from a natural state of existence, an existence of demonstrable symbiosis and mutual inclusion. A holistic understanding of how things work in nature and how that process can be redeployed without disruption has never been the agenda of technology developers.
The wake up call has come with increasing disasters and climate change.
Let us look at how science has tried to fathom its understanding of natural laws. It has increasingly used analytical methodology and a technique of fragmentation to probe reality. The futility of this process had been well understood by ancient wisdom traditions and spiritual masters. The words of Ramakrishna echo this anguish.

To understand Reality there must be an ego death. While the ego is fundamental to physical survival as a species, in our evolutionary journey it has hijacked practically every aspect of human existence. There was a disconnect from what indigenous wisdom traditions understood and a pure rational approach was deployed to seek greater understanding of the true nature of Reality. The pre-rational and trans-rational consciousness was consigned to a state of neurosis and dismissed. While scientific research and development employed the fragmented and rational route to comprehend reality, the ever widening increase between what solutions we were arriving at and what increasing questions these very solutions generated led us by an unshakable grip to understand that reality was far from our grasp. This journey of discovery began with the advent of Quantum Physics but has become more accentuated when we try to come up with an attempt to unite all the four fundamental forces of nature.
Carl Jung says:
“it seems to me like an omnipresent continuum, an unextended Everywhere. That is to say, when something happens here at point A which touches upon or affects the collective unconscious, it has happened everywhere.”
It is mandatory that trans-rational consciousness be employed in seeking an understanding of our true nature as this is the domain of the universal unconsciousness.
This aspect has been brought out by Peter Russell in his book “The Global Brain, Speculations on the Evolutionary Leap to Planetary Consciousness” where he states:
“We need to realize our essential oneness with nature, not just with our intellect and reason but with our feelings and with our souls. It must become an undeniable part of our reality.”

This is a stage of expanded consciousness or ego death. The experience can be frightening for some. Because all comfort zone are removed as all linkages to perceived reality is negated. Following ego-death, or the destruction of the individuals 'self', what remains is intense, non-reflective (or non-self-conscious) consciousness, the radiant 'Self' (presumably, this is the same 'Self' as revealed in Vedic texts such as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads, the same as experienced during states of 'Cosmic Consciousness', and the same as experienced by religious mystics).
This is the state where all conventional structures are disbanded. What it involves in trying to achieve this state will be the topic of the next post.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Criteria for Choice

Yeshua said, “I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one.”………..Saying 23, Gospel of Thomas.

The words of Yeshua have to be understood from a totally different perspective.
In an essay “The Gospel of Thomas and the Hermeneutics of Vision” by Dr. Lance Owens writes that “This tradition is defined by its hermeneutics (study of interpretation theory): Only one who understands the method of interpretation will understand the message. It is a psychological paradox: the message is the method; the method is vision – a perceptive, spiritually uplifted, visionary encounter with the message. The Words of the Living Jesus presented in Thomas became doorways to an experience of knowing. Implicitly and explicitly, they demand from their interpreter an anagogical hermeneutics – a technique of interpretation vouchsafed by vision. This argument does not date the origins of Thomas into a second century "Gnostic milieu" but rather asserts the hermeneutics of vision that engendered Gnostic Christianity was taking form around Jesus at a very early date.”

For one to choose, a certain qualification is needed. In the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, this person is addressed as ‘Tzaddik’ and his relationship to God is defined as “those who have completely nullified themselves and their desires to what God wants, their Godly soul (which like every Godly soul is part of God) is revealed within them more than other people who have not completely nullified themselves to God.” This is important to understand why only such a person can choose those who could “stand as a single one”. The target of choice is the one who has attained unity of consciousness with the Divine plane.
This status can only be sensed or experienced by someone who is already established in this supreme and elevated state of unity consciousness.

The target group of thousand and ten thousand are multiples of ten and carries an important significance. According to St. Emanuel Swedenborg, in his magnum opus ‘Arcana Coelestia’, he says; “The number "ten" in the Holy Scriptures, as also "tenths" signify and represent remains, which are preserved by the Lord in the internal man, and which are holy, because they are of the Lord alone”
Out of entire humanity, the thousand and the ten thousand that are being scanned for the choice are already spiritual adepts, as they represent the higher stages of spiritual consciousness. This can be equated to the Master of the vineyard who picks the ripened grapes from the vines for the wine press.

From this elite group only one from the first level of spiritual consciousness and two from the higher level are chosen. The significance of one and two are also important. Both the candidates have a common requirement, namely; they have to stand as one which means that all duality must be eradicated and the individual consciousness must be merged with the Divine. This can be achieved by those who have unity of purpose (one) in karmic duties and worship and those who carry this unity of purpose to a higher level through the power of their spiritual wisdom. The consciousness uplifting act is equated to the power of (two) wings in many Scriptural passages.

St. Emanuel Swedenborg, in his writings ‘Apocalypse Revealed’, says “Concerning the wings of the cherubim we read in Ezekiel that: The wings kissed each other, and that they also covered their bodies, and that under them there was the likeness of hands (Ezek. 1:23-24; 3:13; 10:5, 21). By "kissing each other," is signified to act in conjunction and unanimously; by "covering their bodies," is signified to guard lest the interior truths which belong to the spiritual sense of the Word be violated; and by "the hands under the wings" are signified powers. Concerning "the Seraphim," it is also said, that: They had six wings; with two of which they covered the face, and with two the feet, and with two they flew (Isa. 6:2).”

The extent and depth of this saying while pointing out the difficulty that we might encounter in our spiritual pursuit, points to a methodology through powerful interpretation and symbolism.

Love to you all

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Contemplative Outreach

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”……….Matthew Chapter 6:5-8

This is taken from the Gospel reading for the Ash Wednesday, which is the Wednesday of the coming week. For my non-Christian friends; Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lent season in Christianity when we prepare for contemplation on the life of Christ and his ultimate sacrifice.
Spiritual practices such as Charity, Fasting and prayer (meditation) are very important part of our preparation during this period of the liturgical calendar. Of all the spiritual practices, praying is a very fundamental part of any spiritual tradition. But we seem to have got it all mixed up when we pray with a lot of words and through proclamation. It is exactly opposite of what Christ taught as seen from the above passage in the Gospel.

In theological classification, there are two types of approach to Christian mysticism and they are kataphatic and apophatic approach. Fr. Thomas Keating, the contemporary Trappist monk, has argued that Christian mysticism strongly endorses God's being unknowable. Instead, the distinction between kataphatic and apophatic refers solely to differences in the preparatory regimen employed in the “mystical way,” the former using “positive” techniques, the latter only “negative” techniques. Kataphatic preparation, he states, employs reason, imagination, memory, and visualization for getting into position for mystical consciousness. Apophatic preparation involves a practice of “emptying” out of other conscious content in order to “make room” for the apprehension of God, who is beyond our discursive, sensual natures.

Every one of us can use the apophatic route as mostly the kataphatic route tends to keep us in the mental and rational mode. I have many times asked my Catholic friends how can any one say the rosary effectively, as you are contemplating on a given mystery, saying a verbal prayer and counting the beads.

This is the reason why the concept of prayer itself should be clearly understood and in my personal experience apophatic method is effective when the intention of any prayer is clearly understood.
“The movement of total receptivity in prayer through infused contemplation is the direct route to two things: first, the affirmation of our basic goodness and the activation of all the powers that grace has given us to act in a divine way, like the Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit and the Beatitudes;
and, on the other hand, the healing or the cleaning up of all the negative attitudes in the unconscious that we repressed when emotional trauma was too painful to bear, but whose energy
is warehoused in the body and is an obstacle to the free flow of grace and natural energies, however you might conceive those.”…….. Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ by Fr. Thomas Keating and Dr. Betty Sue

Meditating on a short verse from the sacred texts (Lectio Divina) and also employing contemplative prayer, wherein we are filled with a sense of gratitude for all that we have receive and all that we will receive in body and mind and opening up to the operation of the Holy Spirit in a process of purification. Remember the words of St. John of the Cross “Silence is the first language of God”. Hence if we want to converse with the Divine only silence is the best route.

May our spiritual journey in this season of Lent cleanse our body and mind so as to elevate our consciousness to a higher level.