Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mind by Many Names

The universal mind is Brahman from which the Cosmic mind of Brahma, creative consciousness, rose and all manifestations of individuated minds arose from the plurality of this cosmic mind. This is clearly stated in Katha Upanishad:

“Above the senses is the mind. Above the mind is the intellect. Above the intellect is the ego. Above the ego is the unmanifested seed, the Primal Cause. And verily beyond the unmanifested seed is Brahman, the all-pervading spirit, the unconditioned, knowing whom one attains to freedom and achieves immortality.” …………………………(Katha Upanishad 2:3:7, 8)

Yet we experience the world from our individual mind playing out its multiple characters through its restless nature.
In the introduction to Vāsiśthadarśanam, the philosophy of Vāsiśtha, B. L. Atreya, illustrates the progression of the mind in its manifested nature and the various forms and names it assumes in the following lines.

“It is one and the same mind that assumes various forms and is called by various names on account of their different functions. It is called buddhi (intellect), when it knows something definitely; ahańkāra (ego), when it assumes for itself a distinct individual existence; citta (thought), when it displays fickleness; karma (activity), when it is moved towards a desired end; kalpanā (imagination), when it thinks of some desired object; vāsanā (desire), when it longs for some object; indriyas (sense-organs), when it reveals external objects to the self; and prakŗti (matter)because it creates objects out of itself.”

A realization of this nature of the mind is embedded in the process of liberation.
This realization is a process. First of all we have to understand that the body which is the seat of individuated consciousness is known, according to Vāsiśtha, as the eight fold city. This consists of the five senses of vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste together with the mind, the intellect and the ego. There appears to be a conundrum as we have just seen in the philosophy of Vāsiśtha that the intellect and the ego are just different names and forms of the mind. This can be resolved by looking not at the concrete objective entities known as intellect and ego but as categories of  the attributes of the mind. Even the five senses are processed outputs of the human brain tapping into imprints in the mind field. So the human body is the aggregation of eight aspects or attributes of the individuated mind. It is only through dissolution of these objective perceptions one can transcend to the cosmic mind. But individual existence itself depends on these eight fold attribute of the mind. How do we then resolve and merge this dual polarity of existence and dissolution.
Philosophy can give us the guidelines and the in depth wisdom but a definition of the practice is mandatory.

In this arena of practice in attaining liberation or nirvana the teachings of Buddha comes to our help.
The concept of combining the mind with the senses in combating false perception was first seen in the teachings of Buddha. In my writing on the “Teachings of Abhidhammattha Sangaha” I had amplified the nature of the senses as propounded by the Great Sakyamuni.

In ‘Nagara Sutta’, Lord Buddha says:

“In the same way I saw an ancient path, an ancient road, travelled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path, that ancient road, travelled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of aging & death, direct knowledge of the origination of aging & death, direct knowledge of the cessation of aging & death, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of aging & death...Knowing that directly, I have revealed it to monks, nuns, male lay followers & female lay followers...”
The deeper understanding of the mental mode of perception combined with the following of noble eightfold path leads one to self realization.

Love to you all

Friday, April 20, 2012

Emptiness in Manifestation

“The capacity of the mind is broad and huge, like the vast sky. Do not sit with a mind fixed on emptiness. If you do, you will fall into a neutral kind of emptiness. Emptiness includes the sun, moon, stars, and planets, the great earth, mountains and rivers, all trees and grasses, bad people and good people, bad things and good things, heaven and hell; they are all in the midst of emptiness. The emptiness of human nature is also like this.” …………. Dajian Huineng

Huineng has been traditionally viewed as the Sixth and Last Patriarch of Chán Buddhism. He was illiterate but had deep insight into the human nature. The above words of wisdom, though it appears to be contrary to traditional thought on the practice of meditation, is loaded with deep meaning.
This statement is steeped in non-duality. We are prone to think that manifestation and non-manifestation are two different attributes of the creative essence, but it is not.

The human mind is infinite in its scope as all that we perceive is only through our mind. To be more realistic all creations are rooted in our mind. The universe and all the multitude of manifestation from our immediate vicinity to the stars and galaxies are the result of conscious observation through the action of our mind. When Dajian compare the capacity of the mind to the vast sky, he has this intention in his mind.

His definition of neutral kind of emptiness needs to be amplified. The very act of calming the mind in meditation is to bring about greater awareness which transcends our sensory limits. The very nature of duality in manifestations is to appreciate the null point or emptiness that results when the two polarities are in perfect balance. This what particle physics also teaches us. Right from the very beginning of the Universe, particle, antiparticle annihilation was at the root of creation. Quantum fluctuation resulted in a minute excess of particles over antiparticles and these were the seeds of the Quark era of material manifestation.

My understanding of this explanation is that it is to our manifested mind that we see these fluctuations and the resultant act of creation but for a universal mind the balance always exits.
The good and the evil, light and darkness are all observation from an observing mind with opposing polarity. From our conventional world view this understanding is fraught with difficulty as the Ego consciousness dominates the observation.

It is a richer and more spiritually empowering experience if we are able to employ the mind and its sensory derivatives to understand the deeper truth through a rational and yet intuitive journey. The problem we normally face that whenever we come across a reality which through evolutionary conditioning is perceived as truth, it becomes an massively endorsed belief system. J. Krishnamurthy tells this story in his book “Total Freedom”:

“One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. he saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.” “Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?” his attendant asked. “No,” Mara replied. “Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it.”

This what has happened in our traditional belief systems and in our thinking mind. True Zen should remove the cloak of ‘belief’ and wear the robe of 'enquiry' as to the true nature of manifestation with all its attributes. The true nature of Sunyata can only then be realized.

Love to you all

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reality behind Mental Objects

“Manifestations from store consciousness
Can be perceived directly in the modes of things-in themselves
As representations or mere images.
All are included in the eighteen elements of being.” …….. Teachings of Abhidhammattha Sangaha

In Buddhist thought, the eighteen elements of being are the resultant of the six sense organs operating in conjunction with the three possible state of being as causes, potentials or seeds. The six sense organs are the eye and visible objects, ear and sound, nose and odour, tongue and taste, body and touch and mind and mental objects. Contrary to other epistemologies, Buddhism treats mind as a sense organ. This I feel is more holistic as evolutionary and karmic imprints of consciousness operate through the mind with the physical brain being the sense processor.
All sufferings are due to clinging to these mental objects.

To foster this type of penetrative knowing and seeing and the resultant release from suffering, in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha instructs monks to meditate on the sense bases and the dependently arising fetters as follows:

“Here, O initiate, an initiate understands the eye and material forms and the fetter that arises dependent on both (eye and forms); he understands how the arising of the non-arisen fetter comes to be; he understands how the abandoning of the arisen fetter comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be. [In a similar manner:] He understands the ear and sounds ... the organ of smell and odours ... the organ of taste and flavours ... the organ of touch and tactual objects ... the consciousness and mental objects....
“Thus he lives contemplating mental object in mental objects ... and clings to naught in the world.”

All our memories are mental objects and are resultant from the store consciousness. When reading this part of the sacred writing what came to my about my memories are brought out as a poem.

Please read and contemplate.

On my mind’s wall hang many a pictures,
Subject to perennial scan with specific intent,
To lock on to a single mutilated frame,
Yet the content in vivid colours displaying,
Deeply etched with exhilarated emotions,
Mind’s retaining folds shoring in abundance,
The paints of sorrow, joy, pain and relief,
Unlike the woven canvas of traditional art,
A medium of slow and prolonged decay,
These pictures of memory quickly dissolve,
Without the holding frame of experience,
A retaining anchor of the image set adrift,
In the vast sea of fathomless consciousness,
Deep felt within the ramparts of emotions,
A solid mooring assigned of superior strength,
Withstanding the vagaries of inhibiting stress,
These ageless treasures of the distant past,
Are my companion in my life’s lonely hours,
Life rich in experience of relations fostered,
Empowering love lavishly given and received,
From a mind of pure intent to a creation,
So endowed with beauty and grandeur supreme,
I close my eyes in deep meditation as all frames fuse,
A single luminescent picture of divine splendour.

Love to you all

Friday, April 13, 2012

Assigning Attributes to the Indefinable

“Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.”…….. Isa Upanishad - 4

The contradictions that introduces the concept of the absolute has to be understood as not being related to space-time. When we use the words such as swifter, running and approach, immediately we are drawn to motion and action in a physical plane, with the upper limit of parameters defined in the mental plane. There are two qualities of the absolute which needs understanding, First, it has an all encompassing permanence and second the absolute is beyond space-time.

In his commentary on this verse His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, says:
“In the Bhagavad-gītā (10.2) the Lord says that not even the great ṛṣis and suras can know Him. And what to speak of the asuras, for whom there is no question of understanding the ways of the Lord? This fourth mantra of Śrī Īśopaniṣad very clearly suggests that the Absolute Truth is ultimately the Absolute Person; otherwise there would have been no need to mention so many details in support of His personal features.”

There are two elements of this comment that need to be positioned in the context of today’s knowledge.

The first is that the ‘the great ṛṣis and suras’ are persons who seek the absolute through an intuitive journey but yet limited in their seeking in a mental mode and the ‘asuras’ are those who are rooted in materialistic and physical reality. For both these categories of persons the absolute is beyond grasping.

The second element that needs repositioning is the concept that the absolute is a person or entity with specific attributes. This is again very limiting due to the fact that this positioning results from an anthropomorphic view. It is the language limitation within which the Vedic ṛṣis propounded these concepts and it is our endeavour to transcend beyond the words into an indicative concept, which while defining a path will not in any concrete way define the destination.

While commenting on this verse one who is scientifically inclined would see the striking parallel in Quantum physics where the concept of Quantum entanglement is a well accepted fact. In the Big Bang cosmology, as every element of creation comes from a single source, all fundamental constituents of creation are entangled. It is only the modification of the observer consciousness which produces the subject-object duality. The imprint of all actions both in the physical and mental plane are immutably etched in the sub-quantum or consciousness field. There is growing awareness in the science community that all manifestations are the explicit order evolving from an underlying implicate order.

This is the reason that the Isa Upanishad concludes this verse “Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.”
The ‘one place’ is the Quantum entangled non space-time Singularity which supplies all the elements we breathe and the waters which nourishes us as well as feeds the food we eat.

The superior attribute which makes this source excel everything else is the residence of this all pervading entity. “The Brahma-samhitā (5.37) further describes that the Absolute Personality of Godhead has His transcendental abode, known as Goloka, where He remains and engages.”… His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.

Goloka is defined elsewhere in Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 8.163 as follows:

“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who resides in His own realm, Goloka, with Rādhā, who resembles His own spiritual figure and who embodies the ecstatic potency [hlādinī]. Their companions are Her confidantes, who embody extensions of Her bodily form and who are imbued and permeated with ever-blissful spiritual rasa.”

‘Go’ in ‘Govinda’ and ‘Goloka’, as I had earlier commented in my writings, is the supra-physical or higher dimensional energy and the entire verse sited above clearly indicates the all pervasive consciousness field as the abode of the absolute by defining non-dual principle of form and potency with all its attributes permeating the manifest and the unmanifest.

It is only through this sadhana of supra mental positioning that one can attempt to reach the understanding of the absolute.

Love to you all.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Entry into Jerusalem

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”--------------Mark 11:1-3

Today is Palm Sunday when we triumphantly celebrate the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Most Christians and preachers are rooted in the historical context of this event rather than the spiritual significance with which Mark must have written under the guidance of Peter.

The entry into Jerusalem signifies each one of our entry into this material world during birth.
A unique body is invested with an unique soul. Christ, the Son of God, which is unpolluted Divine consciousness, requesting for a colt which no one has ridden, signifies this great mystery of individual incarnation. The colt that no one sat on is the individuated body which no consciousness has possessed and will be returned to the worldly domain. This reflects the declaration on Ash Wednesday when the priest anoints the faithful with the words “From dust you came, and unto dust you shall return.”……. Genesis 3:19

The birth of any child is welcomed with great joy for all the near and dear ones, many of whom will be the corrupting agencies of this pure consciousness. This is reflected in the very same people who were shouting 'Hallelujah' on the way to Jerusalem were shouting for Christ's blood before Pontius Pilate. There are two factors why the individual soul is subjected to modification from its pure nature. The first is very presence in this world of materialism and evolutionary and karmic impacts and the second factor is the social conditioning through our parents, teachers and people we come in contact during our lives.

Jerusalem of the Christ period is esoterically compared to the bodily existence of the soul in this world and the temple of Jerusalem represents the seat of the Divine in the human form.

This is the reason that the John writes:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” ………… Revelation 21:1-3

As I had written in my earlier blog *, in Kabbalstic mysticism, the sea was the seat of the unconscious or hidden consciousness which can be equated to the Avidya or ignorance. In the New Jerusalem, the sea disappears, signifying the removal of ignorance of the true nature of the soul and the union of the Divine and the human into higher state of existence.

This is also the reason why Carl Jung in his very insightful book “Seven Sermons to the Dead” makes the opening remark “The dead came back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought. They prayed me let them in and besought my word, and thus I began my teaching.”

If we seek salvation and our true identity in this world we will be disappointed. This is a beautiful thought with which we can begin our Holy Week preparation.

The whole journey of salvation from our birth till our death is to be lifted up to a new dimension of existence wherein will be revealed the New Jerusalem, the Holy City the pure dwelling of our true nature.

Love to you all.