Sunday, May 22, 2011

Practice of Austerity

In the “Mahāsīhanāda Sutta - The Great Lion’s Roar”, which is part of the Pali canon “Digha Nikaya”, the naked ascetic Kassapa came to Lord Buddha and asked whether, as followers of the Buddha were saying, the Buddha had decried the practice of asceticism and mortification.
Lord Buddha replied his as follows:

“Kassapa, those who say this are not telling the truth, they slander me with lies. The situation occurs, Kassapa, that I see one practiser of mortification, and with the divine eye which is purified beyond the sight of humans I see him arising after death, at the breaking-up of the body, in a place of woe, a baleful state, a place of destruction, in hell. Again, I see one practiser of mortification…arising after death in a good place, a heavenly state. Again, I see one who practices little austerity…arising in a state of woe…Again, I see one who practices little austerity…arising after death in a good place, a heavenly state. Since I can see as it is the arising, the destiny, the death and re-arising of those ascetics, how could I disapprove of all austerities, and censure and blame all those who lead a harsh life of self-mortification?”

Through his powerful spiritual insight Lord Buddha reveals a great truth regarding rituals and spiritual practices. To recapture the essence of what he says one has to first look at the authenticity of the comment he makes. His conclusions come not from the sense observation or from intellectual debate but from a spiritual vision of the state of affairs of those who either have practiced mortification or those who had not resorted to any practice of austerity. The individual consciousness that arises, after the dissolution of the physical body, takes residence in either in woeful or blissful state irrespective of the extent of practice of austerity or mortification.
What is important is not a specific ritualistic adherence to austerity or mortification but how one’s mind is controlled through The Eightfold Noble Path, namely Right View, Right Thought; Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood; Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.
Austerity and mortification must enable one to walk in the Eightfold Noble Path.

The Buddha further elaborates in the same canon the importance of developing one’s ethical behaviour, his compassion and deep wisdom in the following saying:

“Kassapa, a practiser of self-mortification may do all these things, but if his morality, his heart and his wisdom are not developed and brought to realization, then indeed he is still far from being an ascetic or a Brahmin. But, Kassapa, when a monk develops non-enmity, non-ill-will and a heart full of loving-kindness and, abandoning the corruptions, realizes and dwells in the uncorrupted deliverance of mind, the deliverance through wisdom, having realized it in this very life by his own insight, then, Kassapa, that monk is termed an ascetic and a Brahmin.”

This dialogue is similar to the dialogue Christ had with the Pharisees when He and His disciples started eating without ritual cleaning of hands. He made a powerful rebuke by saying:

“What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth that is what makes him 'unclean.'”…………….Matthew 15:11

It is very essential we ponder over what the Buddha advocates. Today we are inundated with ritualistic requirements in every religion. If these practices do not lead us to a higher state of living in love, compassion and high morality, it is a pure waste of time and physical inconvenience.

Love to you all.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Subverting the Goddess

“Goddess is being more intensively subverted than ever before, and Her words are constantly contradicted by the duplicity and misogyny of the 'great patriarchy'; and the sad thing is, the general public is manipulated through the veil of the false matrix to unquestionably accept and comply with what they are told. We do need the Return of the Divine Feminine, and we need it now! Her Return can only be led by Sophia -- the Lost Goddess, the Goddess of Wisdom. For She is the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit) and the leader of the Holy Trinity -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (who leads the feminine way, or even better, 'Sophia’s Way'). She will prevail for Gaia and all her flora and fauna if we will unite behind Her. We of only human spirit just need to be of like mind and lend our support to Sophia's feminine way, Her return, and the complementary nature of Her divine spirit. . . and then we will find felicity”…………. ‘Heaven on Earth’ by Albert Lloyd Williams

On Sunday 08.05.2011, we celebrated ‘Mother’s Day’. This date instead of providing an opportunity to contemplate the true nature of motherhood has been reduced to an occasion for commercial exploitation.

A culture that is rooted in materialism has no place for Divine Feminine or the wisdom of the spirit. Humans evolve within the matrix of Gaia through various stages of experiential and intellectual expansion. The human child first is formed in the womb matrix of the mother and after appropriate gestation and when it is ready for the next matrix shift enters the earth matrix. Dr. Joseph Chilton Pearce in his very popular book ‘The Magical Child’ stresses on the importance of the natural process through this transition form the human mother to the earth mother is important. Wisdom is obtained not by external input but through leveraging the natural inbuilt potential of the child in various transitions of the matrices. From the Earth matrix the child moves on to the social matrix.

Today we systematically isolate the child from birth from this natural evolution and inculcate, in the name of well being and education, a thoroughly unnatural set of values and experiences which impedes wisdom and intellect development.
The greatest crime that the materialistic culture commits today is that it imposes a set of values which are totally alien to our well being. A woman becomes an object. The patriarchal misogyny is executed at the perception level. The Mother Goddess, which is a symbol of womb of wisdom constantly giving birth to a consciousness in transition, is reduced to an object for self gratifying adoration on the catwalks of fashion shows, on the images of media and advertisements.

The triune matrix in human development is a mirror image of the triune symbolism of cosmic consciousness of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To amplify this statement it can be seen that the human child in maternal womb matrix is the undivided unity of consciousness; in the earth matrix, it is the manifested duality operating yet within the nurturing care of the mother, symbolized by the duality of the Son's human and divine nature and finally in the Social matrix, where a healthy and all empowering relationship with all creation is a prerequisite for attaining life's purpose, it is symbolized by the wisdom of the Spirit which is the essence of all manifestations. This last stage requires a high level of Self awareness through which the integral nature of our coexistence with all creation and a return to non-duality is mandated. This requires the action of the all pervading spirit within individual consciousness. This is the reason that the ‘Holy Spirit’ is the Divine Feminine or Sophia or Mother Goddess. The feminine way is the way of Divine Wisdom through which we perceive the true nature of reality and pierce the veil of Maya. While to our limited intellectual perception a triune nature of the grand Oneness is proposed as an imagery or symbol, the Mother Goddess is the singularity in which the Original source and all its manifestations find meaning. Every woman in creation must evoke this deep spiritual insight contrary to what the image of woman has been reduced to in our present material culture.

Love to you all

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Disappearing Duality

From the un-manifest I came,
And pitched my tent, in the Forest of Material existence.
I passed through mineral and vegetable kingdoms,
Then my mental equipment carried me into the animal kingdom;
Having reached there I crossed beyond it;
Then in the crystal clear shell of human heart
I nursed the drop of self in a Pearl,
And in association with good men
Wandered round the Prayer House,
And having experienced that, crossed beyond it;
Then I took the road that leads to Him,
And became a slave at His gate;
Then the duality disappeared
And I became absorbed in Him.
…………………………………Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006 – 1088)

Khwaja Abdullah Ansari is in the lineage of founding fathers of Islamic mysticism and forefather of great scholars who founded the ‘Firangi Mahal’ a Religious Higher education school in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Dr. Dean Radin, a contemporary scholar involved in the scientific study of paranormal phenomenon says it is high time that we had a meaningful and holistic definition of what is the meaning of spirituality. He defines spirituality "as that inner awareness by which one understands the grand and complex relationship that each one of us has with all that exists."

While science has all along taken the route of reductionism and sliced observed phenomenon into thinner and thinner slices for detail studies thereby specializing in ever finer segments of scientific disciplines, it has missed out completely the complex attributes that are resultant from a vast web of interconnectedness.

The mystics of all religious traditions have taken the alternate route of deep inquiry into a holistic perception which transcends the sense observations. Most of the time this mystical experience was purely internal and was never given any external expression or it became manifest in a physical or paranormal manifestation to the observer and in the Islamic schools of mysticism it was increasingly expressed through poetry. All great Sufi poets wrote from this inner experience. The writings of Khwaja Abdullah Ansari are a classical example.

In this specific poem the connecting thread of rebirth of consciousness through various manifestations, in a slowly ascending scale of self awareness, is beautifully brought out. From the unmanifest back to the unmanifest, through a journey of material existence the Self ultimately finds rest in the undifferentiated domain of the eternal Godhead. It is similar to the wave in the great ocean which the turbulent existence of the same still and calm deep ocean, so also the manifest self finds its way.

This is the year we celebrate the birth centenary of the British Economist E. F. Schumacher and in his book “A Guide to the Perplexed”, he classifies four levels of being which is in the same order as what Khwaja Abdullah Ansari expresses in his poem, namely the mineral, plant, animal and human. The purpose of man is to understand this grand ascendancy and realize that it is his life purpose to elevate his consciousness or the Self to the highest level so that ultimately the duality can disappear.

Love to you all.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Domain of Demons

asuryā nāma te lokā andhena tamasā vṛtāḥ |
tāṁs te pretyābhigacchanti ye ke cātmahano janāḥ ||3||

Those worlds of devils are covered by blinded darkness. Those people that kill the Self go to them after giving up this body….........................................Isa Upanishad Verse 3

There are two diametrically opposing organizing forces in creation. In the action of Samsara the individual consciousness is modelled into manifestation by these two forces. It is not as though the action of these two polarities exist only in configuring manifestation but is an integral part of every existence and exhibits itself in Ego and in the Self.

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, in his commentary says: “Intelligent human beings must always remember that the soul obtains a human form after an evolution of many millions of years in the cycle of transmigration. The material world is sometimes compared to an ocean, and the human body is compared to a solid boat designed especially to cross this ocean. The Vedic scriptures and the ācāryas, or saintly teachers, are compared to expert boatmen, and the facilities of the human body are compared to favourable breezes that help the boat ply smoothly to its desired destination. If, with all these facilities, a human being does not fully utilize his life for self-realization, he must be considered ātma-hā, a killer of the soul.”

This verse of the Upanishad very clearly states that those who kill the Self while giving up the mortal body surrender their consciousness to the darker side which is metaphorically called the ‘world of the devils’.
The veracity of continued existence of the Self through different vehicles of consciousness is clearly propounded by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. He says “As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” ………BG 2:13
He further states “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.”………..BG 2:17

If this so how can one kill the Soul or the Self? Killing is a contextual act whereby the slayer deprives the slain a natural state of existence. We associate killing to deprival of life, which is the natural state of existence of a creature. When we talk about killing the Self, we contemplate an act whereby the natural state of existence of the Self is denied or deprived. This state is a state of pure existence in the Self-knowledge that the Self is an integral element of the absolute ‘Supreme Consciousness’ or Paramatma. The existence of the Self is not in the physical or temporal realm. Acting contrary to this perception leads to deprival of the Self’s natural state.

Why is the domain of the demons filled with blinded darkness? Note carefully the word used is ‘andhena tamasā’. Tamas is a Guna or attribute which relates to a state of being. Self awareness is a privileged gift of human beings as compared to other creations. When we do not utilize this gift to move toward true Self realization, which is our greater life purpose but are rooted in material enjoyment, we tend to sink into a tamasic existence, which is a state of darkness wherein we do not see the real picture. All true knowledge is absent in such existence. Hence the domain of darkness is not a physical or temporal realm but a state of being.

This is the meaning of this verse.