Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Compassion and Emptiness

"Compassion is not just a feeling of pity and empathy, but an active force, a fundamental energy that is ceaselessly at work to remove the causes of suffering. It cannot help arising, because in the realization of emptiness there are no boundaries between oneself and others. Compassion is absolute sensitivity, unbiased love, and limitless concern for everything in existence. It is the natural outward expression of the bliss of enlightenment. Even in ordinary life, when we are happy and fulfilled, we feel more loving towards the world and we want to express that love. Skillful means is the application of compassion, the enlightened activity that strives to remove suffering and to lead all sentient beings toward supreme happiness.
Emptiness and compassion are completely intertwined. The relationship between them has been compared to that of a flame and its light, or a tree and its leaves. Activity in the world is not truly enlightened unless it springs from the awareness that, in the absolute sense, nothing is being done or needs to be done. Yet at the same time, the awakened heart feels as its own the suffering of all who are not yet awakened. The bodhisattvas embody this activity for the welfare of all beings."
.........Francesca Fremantle, "Luminous Emptiness - Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead"

A very important tenet is proposed in the above writing. Many a time one associates compassion with a mental attitude of feeling of pity or empathy. In this mode one becomes reactive in response and has no access to the fundamental nature of why compassion gets evoked in the human heart. This is very similar to treating the symptom of the disease rather than addressing the root cause. The nature of compassion needs to emanate from deep within human awareness. This is why Francesca calls it a "fundamental energy that is ceaselessly at work to remove the causes of suffering". Please note that it does not remove suffering but removes the causes of suffering. The nature of compassion then has to equivocally act across all objective perception. Soren Kierkegard differentiated between objective truths and subjective truths. Objective truths are filtered and altered by our subjective truths. This creates distinct boundaries in our perceptions. If compassion is to be unbiased love for all creation then it has to dismantle all boundaries constructed through objective perception.

The root cause of suffering is attachment and whether one is attached to any mental or ego construct, be it a belief system or personal possession in the material or power domain, the germination process is set in motion. To root out this cause there can only be a subjective realization of any individual operating in this state, through the giver of compassion. This is achieved through the natural outward expression of the bliss of enlightenment which is all healing consciousness of the realized individual.
This well illustrated in the story of Lord Buddha and Angulimala, the personification of that which causes suffering. Angulimala causes suffering through murder for personal gratification and sports a garland of human fingers and terrorizes the whole region. When Buddha encounters him in the forest he offers himself. The force of compassion flowing outward so touched the consciousness of the perpetrator of evil that he surrenders to the  boundless ocean of love. So also when Christ encountered the woman accused of adultery and the woman at the well, there is a change in the consciousness of all participants in the event. This is the outward flow of the force of compassion. When the soldiers encounter Christ at the garden to arrest him for killing him, his self identification to the soldiers so that no suffering result for his followers, throws the soldiers to the ground. This the force of compassionate energy flowing out from an enlightened individual.

The next level of understanding is the core theme of today's article. Emptiness and compassion cannot be segregated. They are the integral part of the same state of being of one who has realized the true nature of compassion. If one has to utilize the power of compassion then the individual self has to merge with the universal self so that the boundless or borderless ocean of creation can be perceived without differentiation. This is the concept of Emptiness. This emptiness is the limitless capacity to hold the entire creation. In this mode, the suffering of any entity in creation becomes the suffering of the Self.

At its most fundamental level any suffering is the state of being of the self that is rooted only in ego consciousness thus suffering through false attachments.

Let us make a sincere effort to be Bodhisattvas through a state of emptying ourselves of all ego attachments so that we become dispensers of true compassion.

Love to you all.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Inverted Tree of Reality

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas." ................Bhagavad-Gita Ch 15:1

"This banyan tree, which has got roots above the soil and branches underneath, is quite ancient. That (its root) is pure, that is Brahman, that is the eternal and immortal. On it rest all the worlds. No one goes beyond that. This is that." ............Katha Upanishad Ch 4:1

If a Banyan tree is surrounded by water, the pure reflection of the tree will cause one to wonder which is real. With its multitude of aerial roots, the connectivity to the real and the reflection defies differentiation. This is true of any situation where one witnesses a true reflection like the landscape in the accompanying picture. This is the reason we get disoriented in the polar regions when there is a white-out, that is snow on the ground and white clouds in the sky. Man's consciousness has been groomed through referential inference. We need a frame of reference and the validity of our perception is as good as, but never better than, the validity of our frame of reference. It is therefore true that we only perceive illusion as all our references are based on sense data derived from objective grasping.

This is the reason that the mythological episode of the garden of Eden mentioned in Genesis chapter 2 talks of two trees namely; a tree of knowledge and a tree of life. God's command was to eat of the tree of life but never from the tree of knowledge and this type of knowledge is amplified as that of 'good and evil'. Every knowledge which is not life empowering is derived from a judgment resulting from a reference steeped in duality. Duality is not of Divine nature and thus leads to corruption and death.
The unpolluted reflection is the Ashwattha tree the tree of life about which I wrote in my commentary on the Gospel of Thomas and I reproduce what I wrote for the reader's benefit: Article

"All these symbolism of five worlds of consciousness, five levels of awareness, five members of the mind and five tabernacles are unified in Yeshua’s teaching as Five Trees of Paradise in keeping with a more eastern symbolism which can be traced to the Vedic philosophy.
From the universal viewpoint, the Ashwattha, the sacred tree, is an emblem of the "Tree of Life," the symbol of the never-ending universe. Here we have an instance of progress from universals to particulars. This tree has (1) "its roots above," (2) "its branches below," (3) "the lesser shoots," (4) "the leaves," and (5) "those roots which ramify below." Commencing in the unknown, the universal, the beginningless and endless, the Rootless Root of all-being, the Tree is thus reversed. The "roots above," generated in Heaven, represent the "First Cause," the Logos that links manifestation to Purusha-Spirit-SELF."

The pure reflection and the cyclic nature of consciousness is again brought to our attention in the writings of Hermes Trismegistus in his Emerald Tablet, an ancient document probably dating to the Greco-Egyptian time. The verses 2 and 3 says: "That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing. And as all things have been and arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation."

Let us now reflect on this great revelation and love to you all.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Personality of the Godhead

"Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, the Personality of Godhead, who is unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient philosopher who has been fulfilling everyone's desire since time immemorial." ..............Isa Upanishad, Verse 8

Ever since the time our forefathers became aware of their surroundings and the unfathomable processes that happened around them, the primal causation was assigned to an exterior supreme power. The thinking, rational man moved away more and more as his ego dominated the proceedings involved in his interaction with his ambiance and he started witnessing a perceived success resulting in survival and control. The ascendance of this ego dominated and reductionist mental mode reached its pinnacle with the onset of the age of enlightenment and success of rational and scientific thinking resulting in breakdown of religious diktats and regression of the divine into a remote corner of human existence. It was only when classical Newtonian thinking started to fail in grasping reality, with the advent of better instrumentation, both at the macro-cosmic and the microcosmic level, that the power of the unknown started to re-emerge.

The verse 8 is a continuation of the previous verse about which I wrote in my earlier blog article. The qualification of the words "such a person" at the beginning of this verse denotes one who has transcended to a level of seeing the underlying strata of all creation as the Divine essence.
The clear difference between the physical forms that we witness around us and the form of the Divine is the limitation of space-time background. All physical forms that we perceive exists within the four dimensions of space-time but today we understand, through science, that reality extends beyond this four dimensions. Even today, science is struggling with such advance theories as M-Thoery, to grasp the fundamental nature of reality.

In Śrī Brahma-saḿhitā 5.1., it is said; "Lord Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes."
In the above verse, the form that is assigned to the supreme Divine is 'sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ'.  Vigrahah means form and this comprises of three different qualities rather than quantities. They are sat (comprising eternal existence),  cit (absolute knowledge) and  ānanda (absolute bliss). We can grasp this concept only through a deeper appreciation of the limitation of our own rational and purely scientific thinking. I am not condemning scientific thinking but it is not the end in a process but only a way. The destination has to be a transcendental process which is the eye that Lord Krishna bestows upon his devotee, Arjuna, when he exposes his cosmic form.

The Pure space, pure mind and pure state of the Divine Godhead is explained in the concluding part of this verse. "........ unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient philosopher who has been fulfilling everyone's desire since time immemorial."
Though in traditional interpretation of this verse the use of imagery is validated, through a process of iconic matter being transformed into spirit in true worship, this true worship can only come with the deeper wisdom of the absolute nature of the Godhead. It is impossible for the human mind to reach this level except through transcendence and that requires a Jńana marga.

Love to you