Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Conquest through Compassion

“There are two urns that stand on the door-sill of Zeus. They are unlike for the gifts they bestow: an urn of evils, an urn of blessings.
If Zeus who delights in thunder mingles these and bestows them on man, he shifts, and moves now in evil, again in good fortune. But when Zeus bestows from an urn of sorrows, he makes a failure of man, and the evil hunger drives him over the shining earth, and he wanders respected neither of gods nor mortals.” ………Homer’s Iliad

The above stanza is taken from the section where Priam, the aged king and father of Hector who has been brutally killed by Achilles in revenge and whose corpse has been desecrated and a decent burial denied, begs Achilles, his arch enemy and the murderer of his son, to hand over the corpse for a proper burial so that Hector’s soul may rest in peace.

In the scene that precedes this eloquent saying on the nature of what drives man to evil and how it is the dispensation of the Gods that drive man to evil, the hard hearted Achilles is moved by the picture of Priam as he is able to see in Priam his own father who was killed in battle. The ten year Trojan war has taken a heavy toll on both sides and both the families and friends of Achilles and Priam.

The three urns from which Zeus dispenses various attributed on men are Evils, Blessings and Sorrow.
While man is subject to his lower and higher nature of operating in the evil mode or in the nature of goodness, when he is bestowed sorrow, a total alienation takes place as he views himself falling short of his ego driven expectations and employs all means to achieve the ego driven expectations though this is not beneficial to his human or Divine nature.

The perception of sorrow is a very subjective experience. As the great Gautama said “perception of sorrow is the consequence of desire”. This also raises the question how God can induce desire and hence sorrow. Zeus is the Olympian God and In Neo-Platonism, Zeus' relation to the gods familiar from mythology is taught as the Demiurge or Divine Mind. The Demiurge is the divine artisan and hence the primary source of human emotions and resulting actions.

The change of mind of Achilles demonstrates that though one is bestowed with sorrow and the resulting evil action, there is the original divine mind, not subject to the whims and fancies of Zeus, in each person which can be evoked to show compassion which is a Divine attribute. The scene of reconciliation and compassion between the two men is captured by Homer in these words:
“Priam, son of Dardanos, gazed upon Achilles, wondering at his size and beauty, for he seemed like an outright vision of gods. Achilles in turn gazed on Dardanian Priam and wondered, as he saw his brave looks and listened to him talking. . . .[Then Achilles] took the aged king by the right hand
at the wrist, so that his heart might have no fear”

Though we encounter evil in our lives, the dictum of Toba Beta, the author of “My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut” is the essence of what Priam did; “Respecting people is my default state of mind. But if there is a man does the otherwise to me, I'll make him understand in anyway he'll listen.”   
This is a great lesson for us to follow.

Love to you all

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Illusion through Ignorance

“One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?” ……….Isa Upanishad Verse 7

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, explains this verse by equating the quality and quantity content of spark derived from a fire. While the qualitative content of the spark is same as that of the original fire from which it has evolved, the quantitative content and its true potential are very limited. The same applies to the salt in a drop of water from the ocean, as the saltiness of the drop of water is same as that of the ocean but the quantum of salt is infinitesimally small as compared to the ocean.

Modern scientific studies and cosmology gives us a better understanding and we can move beyond an analogous  linear analysis to the wisdom that is intended to be conveyed by the above verse. 

Our perception of the world has been very much conditioned by our consciousness being rooted in the evolutionary and space-time paradigm. As the perception of reality is an evolutionary process, we are never in an unqualified position to comprehend the absolute reality from our current state of consciousness. Then how is it possible to reach an understanding of this great truth.

If we analyze the process of time based modification of consciousness in the human mind, in the 13.7 billion years of the evolution of this universe, the transformation from a singularity of nothingness to this vast manifestation has sign posts or markers which help us understand the unity of all that exists. Though this discussion is a bit scientific and a lay person may find it difficult to comprehend, a pure rational and sequential approach to understand the steps in this evolutionary process will backward integrate the multiplicity of manifestation into the essence of oneness of creation.

Humans as a complex organism evolved from a single celled origin. The composition of this single celled organism and its essence, which are basically its structure and the natural laws that governed their evolution, are part of a cosmic process. This process started with the separation of the four fundamental forces of nature at the very beginning of space-time creation thus setting the ambiance for the most fundamental material particles which are known as Quarks and Leptons to evolve. The four fundamental forces and the fundamental material particles are from the very same energy which existed in the very instant of first creation. Hence all that we perceive in terms of matter and forces are of the same primal energy in quality but perceived in a limited sense, by the human intellect, in quantum and form assigned to them by our evolved consciousness. This is the limitation and illusion which is spoken off in this verse.

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.30) it says:

"O Supreme Eternal! If the embodied living entities were eternal and all-pervading like You, then they would not be under Your control. But if the living entities are accepted as minute energies of Your Lordship, then they are at once subject to Your supreme control. Therefore real liberation entails surrender by the living entities to Your control, and that surrender will make them happy. In that constitutional position only can they be controllers. Therefore, men with limited knowledge who advocate the monistic theory that God and the living entities are equal in all respects are actually guided by a faulty and polluted opinion."

The reason why the qualities of the absolute and that of the manifest have to be same is very aptly explained above. It is not only the essence of the material manifestations but also the defining parameters of its existence and manifestation and the natural laws directing its evolution are also the derivative of the primal absolute Self. All the components of the "Von Neumann Universal Constructor" * consists of the same essence.

This understanding leads to universal love and a perception that all that exists are of the Self and resides in the Self.

Love to you all 

Note: Those of you who would like to know more about "Von Neumann Universal Constructor", please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_universal_constructor

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Emergent Patterns - Revealed Reality

“Evolution moves towards greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without limitation: infinite knowledge, infinite intelligence, infinite beauty, infinite creativity, infinite love, and so on. Of course, even the accelerating growth of evolution never achieves an infinite level, but as it explodes exponentially it certainly moves rapidly in that direction. So evolution moves inexorably towards this conception of God, although never quite reaching this ideal. We can regard, therefore, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form to be an essentially spiritual undertaking.” ………..Ray Kurzweil

“The Soul of man, a traveller, wanders in this cycle of Brahman, huge, a totality of lives, a totality of states, thinking itself different from the Impeller of the journey. Accepted by Him, it attains its goal of Immortality.” …………….Swetaswatara Upanishad. (I.6.)

Beautiful magnified view of a snow crystal is the accompanying picture of this article.
Nature creates order out of chaos. Just as the pearl is the result of a of a grain of sand that enters closed shell of an Oyster and the secreted protective layer around the irritant sand grain becomes the beautiful pearl, the snowflake originates from a dust particle in the upper atmosphere.

These days, with all of our attention so focused on the enormous challenges we're facing—from increasing violence in society, climate change to the global economic crisis—it's always a revelation to me to consider how much progress we've made as a species even just in the past two centuries.
The healthcare system has improved increasing the longevity of the species and technology and innovation has taken mankind to the very beginning of the creation of the universe. We are able to peer into the motion of electrons within the atom and discover the basic binding force particle, the Higgs Boson.

And that's why I wonder why it seems that so few people these days notice how much our world has changed and continues to change for the better. The Mayan calendar visualized this rapid exponential change. Their nine underworld classification each consisting of seven days and six nights captures the near logarithmic acceleration of evolution of consciousness and hence the species itself. It is within this positive change man must learn how to remove the dross of evil and negativity that rears its head as a by product of these advancements. In the twentieth century the technologies that were developed focused on utility rather than on sustainability. But we are poised in an era when sustainability becomes the core issue. This applies not only to science and technology but also applies to value systems and socio-political and religious value structures that are in vogue today.
Systemic thinking oriented towards long term sustainability of the species and its habitat is the most vital parameter which should determine all our actions hereafter. The true purpose of man’s journey on this planet has to be comprehended.

In his book “The Life Divine” Sri Aurobindo writes:
“The progressive revelation of a great, a transcendent, a luminous Reality with the multitudinous relativities of this world that we see and those other worlds that we do not see as means and material, condition and field, this would seem then to be the meaning of the universe, — since meaning and aim it has and is neither a purposeless illusion nor a fortuitous accident.”
What we witness in our daily lives in this twenty first century is “neither a purposeless illusion nor a fortuitous accident” but a Divinely ordained evolutionary path in which the interplay of all creative potentials increasingly finds higher order of complex expressions in the process of actualization and to the unprepared consciousness appears to be the bipolar opposite of the imagery in which our consciousness had been rooted in the immediate past stages of our evolution.

The transcendence towards a open acceptance of infinite probabilities out of which realty is created is the spiritual progress of Ray Kurzweil speaks of in the opening quotation.

Wish you a New Year filled with spiritual bliss.