Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birth in the Cave

“The motif of birth in a cave is . . . very ancient. This symbol is associated particularly with the winter solstice, when the sun has travelled to its farthest point away from the tilted earth and the light is in the nadir of the abyss. That is the date of the birth of the god Mithra, who is lord of light. He was born—we recall that his mother is the Earth—holding a rock-hewn weapon in his hand. Mithra was the principle competitor with Christianity, in the period of the first three centuries. The Christmas date was placed on December twenty-fifth, which was the solstice time, in order to compete with The Lord of Light, Mithra. No one really knows when Christ was born. It was settled on December twenty-fifth for mythological, not historical, reason.” …………Joseph Campbell

It is not to refute any tradition that this post is done, rather to illustrate the rich fabric of mythology in which many a deep spiritual wisdom are embedded. Mythology is the bedrock of spiritual insights. It is a format for ease of communicating spiritual mysteries. As Joseph Campbell explains the cave birth signifies the emergent phenomenon of Divine light.
It is important that the burial of Christ takes place in a cave to rise again in three days.
In her article “Mithra – The Pagan Christ”, D. M. Murdock writes:
“..the cave shown at Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus was actually a rock shrine in which the god Tammuz or Adonis was worshipped, as the early Christian father Jerome tells us; and its adoption as the scene of the birth of our Lord was one of those frequent instances of the taking over by Christians of a pagan sacred site. The propriety of this appropriation was increased by the fact that the worship of a god in a cave was commonplace in paganism: Apollo, Cybele, Demeter, Herakles, Hermes, Mithra and Poseidon were all adored in caves; Hermes, the Greek Logos, being actually born of Maia in a cave, and Mithra being "rock-born."………”

All sacred texts must be read as sacred history and not should not be subject to historical critique or analysis.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa compares the birth in the cave to the spiritual light which abolished the darkness of death that ruled the world.  The incarnation of Christ has humility as its beginning and its end.  His death is prefigured in the manger:  the swaddling clothes foretell of His burial clothes.

In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr stated that Jesus had been born in a cave outside the town, while the ‘Protoevangelium of James’ described a legendary birth in a cave nearby.

In the “infancy Narrative of James” which is an apocryphal text, witness of the midwife at the birth Christ is explained in the following passage:
“And the light, when it was born, multiplied, and it obscured the light of the sun itself by its shining rays. The cave was filled by the bright light together with a most sweet odour. The light was born just as the dew descends from Heaven to the earth. For its odour is fragrant beyond all the sweet smell of ointments.
I, however, stood stupefied and amazed. Awe grasped me. I was gazing intently at the fantastically bright light which had been born. The light, however, after a while, shrank, imitated the shape of an infant, then immediately became outwardly an infant in the usual manner of born infants. I became bold and leaned over and touched him. I lifted him in my hands with great awe, and I was terrified because he had no weight like other babies who are born. I looked at him closely; there was no blemish on him, but he was in his body totally shining, ……….”
It is very important to understand that this is not a historical narrative but rather a deep mystical experience of the evangelist expressed in common language.

In the same text we witness another symbolical reference to the three day waiting before emerging from the cave; “On the third day after the Lord's birth, Mary went out of the cave; she went into the stable and placed the child in a manger, ………….."

The rich mythology in the nativity narrative should prompt us to understand the spiritual significance of these writings.

May the blessing of Divine light eradicate the darkness of narrow views and free us from the slavery of ordained belief systems.

Love to you all

Monday, December 24, 2012

Humanity - Word Made Flesh

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” ………Isaiah 55: 10-11

"The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” ……….Proverb 8:20,21,30,31

Tomorrow the world celebrates Christmas, the birth of Christ. What is so special about Christmas and why this particular birth is celebrated in such a significant way. This question leads us to some of the esoteric writings in the Old testament and the two quotes I have selected portray the meaning and purpose of human creation in this world. Prophet Isaiah, form whose scroll Jesus read out in the synagogue the purpose of his mission….Luke 4:17-18, lays out in clear terms the purpose with which the process of creation takes place in the Divine plan.

Co-creation is the purpose of all creation. We are participants in the creative process and thus we become Sons of God and His extension in this world. This is a process of empowerment. The creative potential of the Divine does not directly act in every single act of creation from the primary source. The primary source is a pure potential. It is non-moving, still, a non-duality and yet the ‘primum evocare’ (primary call-out) of all creation from which all creation proceeds. This is what the prophet, in simple language calls “… word that goes out from my mouth….”. This word itself is the potential that carries out the act of creation. The raw material, the tool, the design, the instruction and the artisan are all contained in this very potential that emanates from the Divine. Through this unique process, the product of creation and the Divine Creator become indistinguishable. The role of the creature thus becomes that of the creator and this is the true purpose for which creation takes place. It is wrong to assume that the creative process was a one time act of the Divine. This concept became prevalent due to conditioning of our mind based on a linear time scale. For the Divine which is beyond time there cannot be an action with a time tag.

In simple language, the Proverb, in the 8th chapter authored by King Solomon, captures the inseparable nature of the creature and the Divine creator by eliminating the time dimension and positioning all human creation to the very first instant of creation. This is why he times the call to be a Divine craftsman as one that has been “………appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began……”

This is in the same vein that John talks of the birth of Christ in the first chapter of his Gospel
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” …….John 1: 1-3

It must be understood that the Divine word which emanates from the Divine mind is an expression of an intent, yet this intention is not limited by the constraints of the human mind but operates beyond the space-time limitation and formulation. Every creation is endowed with this potential but we are limited due to our own nature which seeks to reside in the sensory domain. To be called to become Divine co-creators, we need to emulate Christ Consciousness which while being born in the world and residing in this world always stood apart in the creative process of endowing a superior consciousness to all whom he touched. This is the second birth of which Christ talks to Nichodemus; namely to be born of the spirit.

May the birth of Christ reignite the spark of our true creative potential.

Love to you all

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Self Propagation of the Absolute

“The Augustinian idea that the good tends by its very nature to communicate itself, is at bottom Platonic: this idea is self evident since, according to Plato, the Absolute is by definition the “Sovereign Good”, the Agathón (αγαθών), and is to say “Good” is to say Radiation or Manifestation. And that is why in Islam the second name of God is the “infinitely merciful”, Rahman; it is in its virtue of Rahmah that God created the world, He who “was a hidden treasure” and who “wished to be known”, according to a hadith. …” …………Frithjof Schuon

In his book “Survey of Metaphysics and Esotericism”  in the chapter “Creation as a Divine Quality” the above passage occurs. When reading this passage, it touched me because what has been intuitively understood by many mystics and sages prior to the information age, today we can take a mental journey to pry open the deep truth brought out in these words. Let us first analyse from where the various elements of these metaphysical and esoteric thoughts evolve.

Plato represents the inward arena, subjective extrapolation, synthesis and reintegration, he would have been influenced both early thinkers as well as by intuitive intellection. The linkage between the Absolute, Sovereign Good and Manifestation though Platonic in nature it could have been derived from earlier postulates derived from Pythagoreanism and also the Egyptian tradition originating in the wisdom of Thoth which would have survived in alchemy. This link has been extrapolated into the future through various philosophers and theologians in various spiritual traditions.

The link between Plato and Islam is very apparent in the perception of early Sufi saints and mystics.
Abdul Karim Jili had a vision of him “filling the whole of space with light”; also, that the disciples of Rumi see in Plato (Sayyid-na Aflatun) a kind of prophet. Moslem authors in general see in him an eminent master of music, like Orpheus charming wild beasts with his lute in virgin nature whither he had withdrawn after a disagreement with Aristotle, which is full of meaning. It may be added that Plato, like Socrates and Pythagoras, was the providential spokesman of Orphism. Some Sufis consider Plato and other Greeks to be prophets.

Similarly Christian mystics and thinkers, starting from St. Augustine to Meister Eckhart had a great influence by Plato’s philosophy and theology.
Neo-Platonism was a major influence on Christian theology throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the West notably due to St. Augustine of Hippo, who was influenced by the early Neo-Platonist Plotinus and Porphyry, and the works of the Christian writer Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, who was influenced by later Neo-Platonist, such as Proclus and Damascius.
It should be noted that Meister Eckhart called Plato “the great priest”.
In the twentieth century, Rudolf Steiner’s  Spiritual science under the brand of Anthroposophy had Neo-platonic fabric.

The idea here in this short article is to see the continuous chain of thought that culminates in Frithjof Schuon’s statement quoted above. Sovereign or Absolute good is the that which has no qualifiable attributes as any assignment of attribute leads to duality. If manifestation consists, at the most fundamental level, a primal entity then this entity has to be non-dual in nature. This is what we are discovering in Quantum physics. The phenomenon of Entanglement necessitates removal of all restrictions imposed by space-time and both special and general theory of relativity. Hence, in no less term than consciousness, many leading physicists define the basic ‘ground of being’ of all manifestations.
The Divine consciousness being devoid of all dualities is the Absolute Good from which all manifestations evolve.

In the words of David Bohm, the pioneering Quantum Physicist:
“In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders.”  (Bohm, 1980)

Love to you all

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fortress on a Hill

Yeshua said, "A city built on a high hill and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden."
……Saying 32, Gospel of Thomas

Deep truth can only be revealed through simple stories or examples when communicating them to an audience of average or below average people of spiritual consciousness. This saying appears very simple and very evident and yet contains two very important requirements of a spiritual aspirant.

The human body is the temple of God or Divine consciousness. It is the fortress in which Divinity resides. It is compared to a city because just as a city has many mansions as well as moderate dwellings along with that of the governor or king, yet subject to the rule in achieving social harmony, so also the human consciousness is the sum total of all karmic imprints manifest in the present form striving towards perfection to unite with the Divine which is the essence of all that exists within this domain.

The fortification which Yeshua talks of is the clothing of the individual manifest soul with a garment of unbreakable yarn bound and woven together to ward off sensory modifications and worldly attachments. A fortress is not made of only stones. The stones are held together with mortar and mortar itself consists of various ingredients which gives it the needed strength. In spiritual progress these fortifications are achieved through detachment from sensory pleasures, controlling the mind through meditation, acquiring superior knowledge through experiential and intuitive journey within and by surrendering to the Divine will to achieve superior consciousness.
A person who achieves these can be compared to a fortified city and whatever assails it, whether it be the force of nature or the enemy from outside, cannot destroy it. So also a person of superior consciousness will not be defeated by the forces of darkness as the city is fortified and bathed in the light of Christ.

It is also a necessity to understand why this city of which Yeshua speaks has to be built on a high hill. Any well fortified city can withstand the assault of an enemy but a fortified city on a hill becomes all the more difficult to take because of the climb and exposure. In Hebraic spiritual language, the hill is symbolic of the hierarchy of Sefirot in the tree of life and the highest level is the Ein Sof or the divine origin of all created existence.

The old Testament prophets used the same language when communicating the unassailable nature Divine consciousness. “this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him.” ……. Isaiah 33:16
Yeshua thus declares “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” …….John 6:35

The entire reference to the “city on the high hill and well fortified” thus points to an individual who is a superior state of consciousness and thus lives in the light of Divine or Christ consciousness.

When this stage is reached this illuminated individual becomes like a beacon on a hill top and cannot be hidden. The darkness dispelling quality that one acquires when enlightened to Christ consciousness becomes the illuminating source for the entire creation.

Love to you all

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grounding Our Awareness in Nature

“Every day, priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon.” ……………… Ikkyu Sojun

Ikkyu Sojun was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist priest, poet and calligrapher. Though he had a notorious reputation as an erotic poet, the practical way to spiritual life is highlighted by the Zen poem quoted above. The grounding of the mental process in what the senses perceive around them in nature is a vital component of spiritual path.

There is a story of Ikkyu Sojun which brings out the depth of his practical spirituality.
Once he stayed in a temple. The night was very cold and there were three wooden Buddhas in the temple, so he burned one Buddha to warm himself. The priest, who was the custodian of the temple, became aware that something was going on, so he looked.
Buddha was burning! -- and this man Ikkyu was sitting, happy, warming his hands. The priest became mad; he said, "What are you doing? Are you a madman? -- and I thought you to be a Buddhist monk, that's why I allowed you to stay in the temple. And you have done the most sacrilegious act."
Ikkyu looked at the priest and said, "But the Buddha within me was feeling very cold. So it was a question whether to sacrifice the living Buddha to the wooden one, or to sacrifice the wooden one to the living one. And I decided for life."

Life in man and in nature is imbued with the Divine. The Earth, along with all that nature, brings to our awareness a strengthening of the inner fabric of existence on which life is based. The story above indicates how we assign a greater value to the representations or iconic imagery of Divinity rather than focusing on the true nature of Divinity which abides in life empowering qualities such as love and compassion. Today the accent is on rituals and recitation as tools for spiritual progress devoid of embedding our consciousness in the abundance of Divine gifts which nature bestows upon us.

God has to be understood as the continuous unfolding of Divine potential in nature.
“Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.” …..Genesis 1:11
The love letters which Ikkyu speaks off are nature’s energies that actualizes the innate potential in the seed.

St. Paul writing to the Romans says: “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” ……..Romans 1:20”.

In Chandogya Upanishad in part VI chapter 12 there is discussion on the True Self between Uddalaka and his son Svetaketu. This is by far a very apt example of how Divine nature can be understood. The discussion between father and son is as follows:
“"Bring me a fruit of that nyagrodha (banyan) tree." "Here it is’ venerable Sir." "Break it." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see there?" "These seeds, exceedingly small, "Break one of these, my son." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see there?" "Nothing at all, venerable Sir."
The father said: "That subtle essence, my dear, which you do not perceive there—from that very essence this great nyagrodha arises. Believe me, my dear.
"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.”

Nature is our best teacher to start us off in the spiritual path.

Love to you all

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Common Mythical Symbolisms

‎"There are mythologies that are scattered, broken up, all around us. We stand on what I call the terminal moraine* of shattered mythic systems that once structured society. They can be detected all around us. You can select any of these fragments that activate your imagination for your own use. Let it help shape your own relationship to the unconscious system out of which these symbols have come." …… Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, p.86-87

The tapestry of mythology is very rich given their age and duration during which the deeper knowledge was expressed through these stories. Many myths are available to us today but when we try to reconstruct their meaning we seem to lack a coherent narrative. This is not the problem of the narrative itself but it is the consciousness with which we try to seek meaning.

Man has progressed from mythical consciousness into rational consciousness in the last 400 years, ever since the age of renaissance.

To give an example I would like to quote what Mormon church President John Taylor quoted more than 300 years ago.
“The knowledge that the Mexicans, and other aboriginal races of America had, at the time of their discovery by the Spaniards, of the life of the Saviour, was so exact that the Catholics suggested two theories (both incorrect, however) to solve the mystery. One was that the devil had invented an imitation gospel to delude the Indians; the other, that the Apostle Thomas had visited the Americas and taught its people the plan of Salvation. The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the Saviour; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being. But the history of the former has been handed down to us through an impure Lamanitish source, which has sadly disfigured and perverted the original incidents and teachings of the Saviour’s life and ministry.”

This is typically a reverse structuring of deeper essence of ancient wisdom from the perceiver’s current knowledge base. First of all there is an apriori position of one assuming to possess an irrefutable set of ideas and then trying to position a set of past information in the context of this insufficient current knowledge.

If one takes a more pragmatic view that a set of near identical events in a number of mythological narrations in various cultures could be told or written down to illustrate basic principles and values which were held inviolate by society, beyond a cultural and temporal dimension, then a more unbiased view can be arrived at.

Whether it be Quetzalcoatl and Christ as saviour or Krishna’s and Christ early childhood events, especially the massacre of the innocents by an ego dominated king all point to deeper strata of spiritual truth as sacred history for the common man to understand. It is when we assign a pure historical dimension to these narratives hat we fail to grasp the deeper import these events meant to convey.

The deeper symbolism of Quetzalcoatl and Christ as the ‘feathered serpent’ and ‘Pascal lamb’ signify two distinct dimensions of salvation in their respective cultures. The symbol of the serpent was associated in mythology with keeper of higher wisdom and the Pascal lamb whose blood saved the Israelis from the wrath of the avenging angel in Egypt on the night of liberation from bondage both convey to the psyche the archetypes of salvation.
Quetzalcoatl was also considered to be  the redeemer of the world from an astrological and agrarian perspective. Most Mesoamerican beliefs included cycles of suns. Usually, our current time was considered the fifth sun, the previous four having been destroyed by flood, fire and the like. Quetzalcoatl went to Mictlan, the underworld, and created fifth-world mankind from the bones of the previous races (with the help of Cihuacoatl), using his own blood, from a wound he inflicted on his earlobes, calyes, tongue, and penis, to imbue the dead bones with new life.
This sees a parallel in Christ having suffered and died went to the underworld for three days to be resurrected to liberate humanity from the slavery of sin.

Hence even disparate mythological fragments can evoke a common evolutionary meaning in the human psyche.

Love to you all.

* Terminal moraine is the formation at the snout of a glacier, marking its maximum advance

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Perennial Unchanging Fullness

“…….'As Yahweh your God lives,' she replied, 'I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.' But Elijah said to her, 'Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said; but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son. For Yahweh, God of Israel, says this: Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when Yahweh sends rain on the face of the earth.'
The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son.
The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as Yahweh had foretold through Elijah.” ……………First Kings 17:12-16

“That is Full; this is full. From the Full does the Full proceed. After the coming of the Full from the full, the Full alone remains. Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!” ……….Bhadāraṇyaka Upanishad

Prophet Elijah demonstrates the power of the Divine essence through this episode that figures in the First book of Kings. The concept that when something is taken out from a specific location, there is a felt absence in the original place of residence of the original quantum of material or an object, is true when dealing with matter at its coarsest nature. This was the understanding in classical Newtonian physics. With the advent of quantum physics and the concept of Quantum Entanglement, matter at its very basic constituent seems to defy the classical Newtonian model and can exist in multiple locations. This is fundamental to our understanding of the nature of our consciousness which predominantly operates in the dualistic subject-object mode of perception due to mental imprints through sensory agencies.

It is important for us to understand the words that prophet Elijah uses in admonishing the poor woman in order to dispel her fears of depletion of the vital resource that she has in her possession.
He says “Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when Yahweh sends rain on the face of the earth”

All material manifestations are ever present in one form or another. There is a constant process of annihilation or consummation but at the same time there is process of reformation and restoration into an existence of different nature. These processes continue till the day of final dissolution. In the Biblical text or other sacred scriptures the rain or the deluge which we speak of is the dissolution of manifest consciousness and integration into the cosmic or Divine consciousness. The establishment of a new covenant or the installation of a new Manu in Vedic scriptures entails a new order of manifestation in the Cosmic cycle. This cycle cannot be perceived through a temporal mindset or intellectual grasping.

The invocation, at the beginning of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which is quoted along with the Biblical text at the beginning of this article, states this profound truth in a concise way. This statement defies logic when analysed from a space-time plenum but can be grasped when we re-position our thinking from a Cosmic continuum as all that is manifest and unmanifest are the purest from of Divine consciousness. In manifestation a name and form is acquired due to conditioned consciousness of the very manifestation itself. It is a self-inflicted falsification which needs to be transcended.

Love to you all

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Question of Human Destiny

"The question of the destiny of our lives is very serious, as it concerns the most important question for man: for what purpose are we placed on earth?
If man takes a correct stance on this issue; if he finds his true destiny; then he will be able to take a correct viewpoint in relation to particular questions that arise in our daily life; in our relationships with our fellow men; in our studies, profession, marriage and the bearing and upbringing of children.
If he does not relate correctly to this basic issue, then he will also fail in life's particular purposes, for what meaning can a particular purpose have if human life as a whole has no meaning?" .................Archimandrite George, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregorios on Mount Athos.

When studying evolution, the past becomes a very important part of our perception. It is through a series of events in the past and their interconnectedness that we are able to comprehend the evolutionary process. The question that this article addresses is to do with our ultimate future evolution, our destiny. How can we ever grasp the goal towards which we are evolving and how can the past and the present ever give us a clue as to what is in store for us? A linear model would entail, extrapolation,but we know with our present knowledge that linearity was not an attribute of human evolution. Complexity rules this domain. Added to this situation, the human consciousness or the human mind itself, with which we are trying to grasp a future reality, is evolving and hence how can we ever comprehend the nature of the higher mind or its consciousness in the future.
Added to this difficulty, we are so preoccupied with our present day worries as individuals in various roles such as fathers, mothers, bread winners, professionals etc., that we have barely any time for this deep reflection as to what the human destiny is and towards what purpose we are evolving. Organized religious belief systems and teachings have fallen awfully short of expectations in this regard.

When addressing this question, a great thinker and spiritual master comes to my mind, namely; Sri Aurobindo. Sri. Aurobindo’s, whose work “The Life Divine”, deals with the issue We are addressing here. In chapter V of this work , Aurobindo opens with a quote from Isha Upanishad.

“By the Ignorance they cross beyond Death and by the Knowledge enjoy Immortality. . . . By the Non-Birth they cross beyond Death and by the Birth enjoy Immortality.”….Isha Upanishad

Attaining immortality is the purpose of life. This immortality is not at the physical or material level but at the level of the spirit or the soul. The way this can be obtained is only through ‘Brahmavidya’, the supreme knowledge. The ultimate core of all spiritual teachings addresses this through the limitations of language in a specific cultural context. This may not be possible for most of us to comprehend and that is the reason that many lifetimes and planes of existence are needed to transcend to this highest level, our true destiny. In seeking this ultimate purpose from our current level of consciousness, a process of negation predominates. It is like the process of seeking a perfect and very valuable pearl in a huge mountain of artificial or fake jewellery. ‘Net-neti’. ‘Not this, not that’ is the only way that we can weed out all the multiplicity of manifestations at whose core resides the state of non-being a state of ‘satchitananda’ or true bliss or immortality.

This progression is defined by Aurobindo in the following words:

“But as in Thought, so in Life, the true rule of self-realization is a progressive comprehension. Brahman (Supreme consciousness) expresses Itself in many successive forms of consciousness, successive in their relation even if coexistent in being or coeval in Time, and Life in its self-unfolding must also rise to ever-new provinces of its own being.”

I specifically chose a thought, which is expressed in simple language, from Christian thinker as the opening to this article to stress the point that all great spiritual traditions talked of the same message namely the ultimate destiny of the human to become Divine and that is the reason we are placed on this earth.

Love to you all.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Contrasting Supplications

“As long a time as it shall be God's will.
Not even Death, alas! my life will take;
Thus restless I my wretched way must make,
And on the ground, which is my mother's gate,
I knock with my staff early, aye, and late,
And cry: 'O my dear mother, let me in!
Lo, how I'm wasted, flesh and blood and skin!
Alas! When shall my bones come to their rest?” ……….Geoffrey Chaucer “Pardoner’s Tale”

“Then will I headlong run into the earth:
Earth, gape!  O, no, it will not harbour me!
You stars that reign'd at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus, like a foggy mist.
Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud[s],
That, when you vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to heaven!” ……………..Christopher Marlowe “Doctor Faustus”

Today we celebrate “All Souls Day” in the Christian calendar. I was reading Chaucer a few days back and in his poem “Pardoner’s Tale” the above passage struck me as a contrast to another supplication from another great Drama, namely; “Doctor Faustus”.

Typically these two scenarios are what most of us go through on a very practical level.

When we are faced with the difficulties that life throw at us, whether it be ill-health, financial or emotional upheaval or old age, as in the case of the old man in Chaucer’s poem, we pray and plead for a quick exit. Chaucer wrote in the fourteenth century when England was still not exposed to the philosophical mindset as the rest of Europe. This is the reason that his escape from the present life is rooted to the Earth. Chaucer was the first prolific writer in English literature.
There is a deep message in Chaucer’s poetry. Not even one’s mother, who was interned before nor mother earth can respond to our pleading as there is a destined time and purpose in God’s creation, life giving sustenance and finally the transformation at death. The Divine purpose is the author of our entire existence.

In the second scenario, I have taken from the famous work of Marlowe “Doctor Faustus”. Here we read of another type of supplication. This is the torment that we go through if we spend our lives in the lap of luxury and learning, but never aspire to devote our time and energy to our spiritual grooming. Faustus selling his soul means precisely this approach to our life on earth, namely; a life of physical, material and mental mastery and the power we derive from such activity.
The true purpose of life is spiritual ascendancy and all earthly comforts, beauty and knowledge are to be used as supportive tools for this higher purpose.
The despondency of Faustus illustrates the neglected true craving which is the ascendancy of the soul to heaven.
 This message we can take to heart on this day of remembrance and pray with grateful hearts for a life of hope, love and charity which will nourish our soul in this terrestrial journey.

Love to you all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Symbolism of Goddess Saraswati

"May Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-coloured moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance."

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Saraswati Puja. It happened that I was listening to the renowned Tamil scholar, Suki Sivam, explain the significance of the puranas and how one should look for the deeper layer of knowledge that every story in the purana imparts. He explained the various symbolism that we see in the iconic representation in the image of Goddess Saraswati. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts, represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the 'Saraswati Vandana' often begin and end Vedic lessons.

In this article I would like to provide not only the gist of what was told by Suki Sivam but also a cosmic view of this powerful symbolism.

The image that we see of Goddess Saraswati is that she is seated on a white lotus, She has four arms and holds the Veena in two hands and has palm leaf scroll in another. The fourth arm is seen in some images to hold a prayer bead of transparent stones and in some a small sceptre. She wears a white sari and has for her vehicle the white swan and accompanying  peacock. Her necklace is made of transparent crystalline beads.

The image of this Goddess of knowledge reflects various aspects of both the quality of knowledge and wisdom and at the same time the attributes of the source or giver of this knowledge.
In classical explanation the four arms represent the four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. But I feel there is another reason why there are four arm assigned to this image, All human learning and knowledge is derived from the four dimensional space-time. The embodiment of this space-time is the body of the Goddess and hence the origination of this knowledge is within the deeper aspects of the domain and not in the perceptual domain of space-time.
The Veena, as a string instrument, is the vibrational source of reverberating energy. Manifest consciousness is the resonance of hyper-dimensional energy of the cosmos. Hence this symbolism represents the higher aspect of learning from a source both within and beyond the perceptual domain of the senses.
In the ancient times during the evolution of Vedic teaching the role of woman was equal to that of men. This we can see in Chandogya Upanishad and in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Gargi Vachaknavi was a renowned Vedic sage as illustrated in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. When they taught it was customary to wear a white sari to symbolize the purity of both their knowledge and their individual self. This is why the Goddess of knowledge wears white. White is the only colour which is the resultant of non-retention. The pure light spectrum when it falls an object and the object reflects and radiates all that it receives, then a perception pure whiteness results.
The scripture in the hand represents the Vedas or the primordial knowledge.
The sceptre represents authority to impart the true knowledge as well as the pure crystalline prayer beads and the necklace which the Goddess wears, represents the quality of purity and resonance. We know that pure quartz crystal, based on its structure, resonates to a specific frequency. So also any devotee or seeker of spirit empowering knowledge can tune into Divine wisdom depending his or her individual frequency or capacity.
The lotus which is the seat of the Goddess represents the Sahasrara chakra which is the seat and entry point of the cosmic energy or cosmic consciousness.

This beautiful symbolism must enable us to venerate in a more meaningful way the divine feminine, the Sophia, without which our human existence is meaningless.

Love to you all.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Process of Free Will Action

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” ………..Deuteronomy 30:19-20

“There is a path of joy and there is the path of pleasure. Pondering on them, the wise (one) chooses the path of joy; the fool takes the path of pleasure. Both the good and the pleasant approach a man. The wise man, pondering over them, discriminates. The wise chooses the good in preference to the pleasant. The simple-minded, for the sake of worldly well-being, prefers the pleasant.” ………….Katha Upanishad 1:2:1-2

I have specifically taken two different verses from the Judeo-Christian and Vedic scriptures to illustrate the purpose of free will operating in man. There is a huge debate as to whether we seriously have free will. Theologically the investment of free will to man by God to make conscious choice in his day to day existence is more tenable in the Judeo-Christian belief system. While in the Vedic philosophy which promotes the concept of Karma and reincarnation, it is rather difficult to accept that man is invested with truly a free will. The purpose of this article is to clarify the deeper meaning of choice as illustrated in the Bible and also to look at the operation of choice in a milieu where predestination appears to dominate.

In the Biblical passage of Deuteronomy there is a choice between life and death given to man by God. This life, of course, we understand is not the physical life. It is life of the spirit in man. But having said that we are faced with another contradiction, namely; knowing that the soul is immortal what is this talk of death? Hence ‘death’ requires a new definition. To aid this definition the second part of the verse is useful. The promised land of which God spoke to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not a physical location but a state of the spirit or the soul. 
This is illustrated in the Gospel of Luke; "And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom” …….Luke 16:22
Life is associated with an integration with the Divine spirit and death is signified by dissociation from this state of ultimate union or the wandering in the wilderness before reaching the promised land.

The action of free will is not to be associated solely with the human mind. Human mind acts as a an interface between the pure pre-emptive act of consciousness and the physical plane, namely; the brain and associated emotional and physical actions.

This is why the Katha Upanishad verse associated the path of joy or ananda, which is a pure consciousness experience, with the elevated state of soul and the path of pleasure, which is an emotion, with the lower mind dominated choice.

Since the primary causation is at the pure consciousness level the corruptible nature occurs due to the modifications at the subsequent levels of awareness that come into play. When we view the whole process of choice as emanating from the pure consciousness, the action of karma can also be explained as there is an act of predestination or Divine will. But to the  human mind it appears as free choice due to the action of the ego conditioned response to the primary cause. Whenever we make a life / spirit empowering choice, the primary causation is not filtered through layers of contamination. That is we allow the will of the Divine to operate in us. These layers of contamination can be removed through spiritual sadhana. But when we allow the ego dominated mind to filter the primary life empowering choice there is spiritual decay or death. Even in physical death, the spirit is not yet ready to enter the promised land and has to wander in the lower plane or wilderness until the purification is complete.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cosmic Tuning through Meditation

"Teach me not to drug myself with the opiate of restlessness. Each day I will meditate more deeply than yesterday. Each tomorrow I will meditate more deeply than today.
Today, with the soft touch of intuition, I will tune my soul radio and rid my mind of static restlessness, that I may hear Thy voice of cosmic vibration, the music of atoms, and the melody of love vibrating in my super-consciousness.
I will find perpetual celestial happiness within. Peace will reign in silence, or in the midst of activities. Let me hear Thy voice, O God, in the cave of meditation.” ………Paramhansa Yogananda

Deep spiritual sentiments expressed through beautiful words. The benefit of meditation is well known in today’s world. It is highly recommended both in spiritual practice as well as in bodily healing. But there are many misconceptions about meditation. Many believe that the meditator has to completely avoid all thoughts and also that the mental process has to be totally quietened to the point of absolute silence. These are only possible by the most adept practitioners in an advanced stage of the sadhana of meditation.

Meditation has more to do with focusing our awareness to a specific bandwidth. Paramhansa Yogananda says it is like tuning a radio. A badly tuned channel has a lot of static and you can hear the crackling in the speakers but a well tuned channel faithfully reproduces the content of the channel in high fidelity. The right frequency is the most desirable factor in tuning the channel. This frequency is not determined by the receiver but by the broadcaster. Human beings are endowed with the wisdom and capacity to scan the full range of the Cosmic broadest but in our evolution we have limited ourselves to a very narrow bandwidth through our sensory conditioning. The perception of reality has been limited by the mental imagery predominated by objective desires and possession.

The process of meditation is to tune into the deep reality that underlies the cosmos. This intuitive process enables us to reside in celestial happiness which is true form of our being called Anadamaya kosha. At a practical level, one can experience this state momentarily in the elation we experience when we are one with nature and its beauty or when we encounter a sacred site. Recently I traveled to the Whitby Abbey, which was once a thriving Benedictine monastery, in the Yorkshire coast and as I sat in an alcove in the abbey ruins alone, far from the ambling tourists, and closed my eyes to take in the deep spirituality of the place, I could, in my mind, hear the subtle chanting of the Gregorian chant of the monks. It is the cosmic vibration, which had been generated ages ago in the early morning chillness, the devote intentions of the monks and the supplications chanted by the pure spiritual consciousness, lingers for eternity in the Akashic field.

Finally the last sentence of Paramhansa Yogananda in the above quote is to be understood for its full implication namely “Let me hear Thy voice, O God, in the cave of meditation.”
To every single human being there is a specific revelation of deeper reality possible. This depends on the level of progress one makes in their karmic and spiritual journey.
The reason why the master calls the place of meditation a cave is because of the perceptual isolation that is needed to achieve a state of absolute stillness. In another part of his writing he states: “I will make my inner environment perfect through meditation, that it be impervious to all adverse outside influences.”
The allegory of the cave is to emphasis the isolation and protection that is needed to remain in a state of singular focus and awareness. The past and the future impacts the mind and hence isolation from memories, anticipation and anxieties are essential when one undertakes an inner journey.

May the words of this great sage guide us in our spiritual progress.

Love to you all