Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lost in Translation

The hierarchy of Divine wisdom transference starts at the most fundamental level through intuitive insight of a spiritual Master. This felt inner experience is then communicated to the initiates or disciples through spoken language which then is written down by the disciples and followers of the tradition. The great Vedic Rishis, Buddha, Christ and the Prophet never wrote down their teachings but only used the spoken word.

Hence language is the conveyor of wisdom which normally is spoken then written down. It helps in preserving ancient wisdom and passing it on to the next generation. In different times, different subsets of the original languages became carriers of wisdom of philosophical traditions that were prevalent in those times and in a specific  culture. In ancient India, Sanskrit was the preferred language of the Rishis — the Upanishads, Puranas and the epics were written in Sanskrit. The Buddha chose Pali as a medium of instruction.  Christ taught in Aramaic and the prophet taught in Arabic.
As we know through current scholarship, cultural memes evolve and is replaced or modified by other memes of individual cultures. Languages and contextual meanings conveyed are also influenced and modified by the cultural milieu in which they take root. Added to this translations also lead to errors.

A few examples would amplify what I am saying.
The renowned Vedic and Sanskrit scholar Pandit Motilal Shastri writes that in ancient Sanskrit the word "Gau", apart from its traditional meaning 'cow', has 27 different meaning including the meaning of "Cosmic energy". When viewed from this meaning the whole episode of Lord Krishna and the Gopis takes a new meaning as "Divine being the consort of the cosmic energy manifestation".

Similarly the original Aramaic word for "sin" in Christ teaching was "hataha" which means "miss the mark as applied to archery". The same meaning was conveyed in the Greek translation. The Greek word "μαρτία  - Hamartia" which is used more than 200 times in the Bible also means “missing the mark”. The deeper meaning conveyed is that when sin is committed one misses the mark of being Divine in nature. It had a reference to an internal moral code.

The word "Jihad" means "to struggle in the way of Allah". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)". A person engaged in jihad is called a "mujahid"; the plural is "mujahideen". Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. Jihad is not a declaration of war against other religions. It is worth noting that the Koran specifically refers to Jews and Christians as "people of the book" who should be protected and respected. All three faiths worship the same God. Allah is just the Arabic word for God, and is used by Christian Arabs as well as Muslims.
 The meaning conveyed is subjective and does not endorse any external conflict or struggle.

Hence any Divine revelation that is written down in a specific age of antiquity and passed down over many centuries had to be scrutinized for these modifications and  an interpretation must be arrived at.

The Buddha said, “Don’t hurry to believe in anything, even if it has been written in the scriptures. Don’t hurry to believe in anything just because a very famous teacher has said it. You should test anything people say with your own experience before you accept or reject it.”

Love to you all

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Cosmic Dedication

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." ............ Philippians 4:8

"Beauty, the eternal Spouse of the Wisdom of God and Angel of his Presence thru' all creation, fashioning her love-realm in the mind of man, attempeth every mortal child with influences of her divine supremacy." ..............Robert Bridges, The Testament of Beauty (1929), Book IV

Today is the second death anniversary of my friend and philosopher, a man of deep spirituality, Fr. R.V. Mathias. A man who was beyond caste and creed and who camouflaged all his talents very deceptively. A scholar who studied  under Jean Paul Sartre at Sorbonne, Paris, a man who was in the forefront of the Polish solidarity movement along with Polish president and the movement leader Lech Walesa, a musical genius and above all a beautiful person of deep spirituality.

I chose to write on cosmic dimension of spirituality today as this was close to his heart, precisely in the manner of what St. Paul writes to the Philippians. He saw beauty in truth irrespective of where it was manifest, he stood for justice at the expense of gaining power within the Church hierarchy and he was always forthcoming in praise where it was due.

There are many dimensions in his life of 73 years which we need to emulate. He was fascinated with science and especially cosmology. Though he had no grounding in science his enthusiasm for scientific knowledge and how it can be related to spirituality was contagious.

He presented me with a book in 2008, "Jesus Today - A Spirituality of Radical Freedom" by Albert Nolan (who is also well known for his book "Jesus Before Christianity") and wrote these lines in the inner cover page: "My dear Raja, Here is a book that reinforces our concepts and convictions on Spirituality, the need of the hour, With love, Mathias Annan (annan means brother)"

Albert Nolan is a Dominican priest from South Africa who writes, ‘My aim is to look … at what Jesus might mean to you and me and our contemporaries in the twenty-first century. This is a book about spirituality, Jesus’ own spirituality, which I have chosen to call a spirituality of radical freedom’.

Jesus' whole life was an expression of this unconditional love. We saw how he reached out to all the individuals he met, whether they were rulers or beggars, saints or sinners. Every individual person is lovable, no matter how hypocritical he or she might be. Genuine love is always unconditional. This is book which celebrates the mysticism of Nolan's spirituality and shows how it leads to unity with God, ourselves, others, and the universe.

In many of his sermons, the most common words that Fr. Mathias used was "unconditional love" which is exhibited in the universe today. All matter is governed by attraction and there are no conditional attributes attached, both to the body being attracted or that which attracts, but one fundamental universal law which operates both at the scales of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm.

May all of us who respect his memory and those who come to know him through me, move towards a spiritual life lived through a cosmic dimension.

Love to you all

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cosmic Nature of Being Twice Born

A Western lay disciple asked to an Eastern Raja Yogi:
“Does every mineral form, vegetable, plant, animal, always contain within it that entity which involves the potentiality of development into a planetary spirit?”
And the Master answered:
“Invariably; only rather call it the germ of a future entity, which it has been for ages. Take the human foetus. From the moment of its first planting until it completes its seventh month of gestation it repeats in miniature the mineral, vegetable, and animal cycles it passed through in its previous encasements, and only during the last two, develops its future human entity. It is completed but towards the child’s seventh year. Yet it existed without any increase or decrease aeons on aeons before it worked its way onward, through and in the womb of mother nature as it works now in its earthly mother’s bosom.”

In ancient times, the Eastern Initiates were called Dwijas in Sanskrit; the twice- born, those who were born first physically, and then came to life again in the spiritual world.   More recently, the New Testament Jesus repeats the same pagan and ancient teaching.
"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." ........ Matthew 18:3
When Nicodemus, the learned Pharisee, approached Christ and how a person can be twice born; He replies,
 "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."  Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.'" ....John 3:3-7

This concept of 'Twice Born' has been ludicrously reduced a mere ritual in some Christian traditions. The meaning of what Christ calls being born of water and the spirit is the physical birth which happens through the breaking of the amniotic water and this is symbolized in baptism by the immersion of the initiates fully into water and then emerging out as in child birth and the birth from above where in there is a a full realization of the spiritual nature of human creation.

In the Gospel we read:
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." " ......Matthew 3:16-17
 As we read in the reply of the Yogi, the spirit is the unchanging element of all creation and in the human the self awareness which is spiritual without ego in the first few years of our life gets modified through a conditioning of consciousness in our later childhood, youth and adult stages. In true spiritual awareness we identify ourselves with all creation but through the development of the ego we start a process of isolation.

This is again evident in the Gospels.
While as a child in the womb of Elizabeth, John the Baptist recognizes the child in the womb of Mary. This is possible only through the level of Divine consciousness.
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." ............Luke 1:41

But later in his adult life John the Baptist fails to recognize Christ and he declares;
"I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." ..........John 1:31-34

It is the mission of each human being to achieve this dual birth, namely; physical and spiritual through the gift of our parents which serves as the vehicle of our consciousness and gift of our true nature to ascend to our highest level of consciousness,

Love to you all

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Salvation through Devotional Service

"A mortal human being who has no respect for Me as the Supersoul always situated in every living being, but nevertheless worships the deity, is just imitating. Someone who in worship of the deity disregards Me as the Supreme Ruler and Supersoul present in all beings, is in his ignorance only offering oblations into the ashes. He who offers Me his respects but is envious with others being present, lives in his campaigning against others in enmity and will never find peace of mind. Oh sinless one, I am certainly not pleased when they who manage to worship Me in My deity form with all paraphernalia, are not of respect for other living beings." ............Srimad Bhagavatam, 3:29:21-24

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'  "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' ..............Matthew 25: 34-40

In today's world, the concept of spirituality comes with a very deep divide. There is spiritual practice at the ritual and worship level and then there is the daily life in action which is totally isolated from the spirit empowering dimension of worship. The two verses quoted in this article come from a deep philosophical and a very practical perspective. In Srimad Bhagavatam, Kapila explains the inseparability of recognizing the Supersoul or Paramatma in every creation as the primary requisite for worship of the deity or performance of any ritual.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ tells of the qualities of the individual soul for the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven as being directly linked to how in worldly life we have treated our fellow beings.

The concept of all creations being pervaded by the very element that constitutes the Divine Godhead is absent in our mind due to the duality induced by our conditioned consciousness. In the evolutionary timeline when man's consciousness was close to nature as hunter-gatherers, this separation from all creation was absent. Jean Gebser called it "Archaic Consciousness" and this was the consciousness of Homo Sapiens 200,000 years before It was a time where our hominid ancestors were entirely at home with the natural world.
Jungian psycho-historian Eric Neumann referred to this period in terms of the mythological serpent Oroboros, a symbol of enfolded consciousness. But as the rational mind started to develop through sensory inputs, perception moved from the subjective identity in all perceptions to an objective identity dominated by the Ego. This was further distorted through literal and devious interpretation of the scriptures. Clear examples are the Israelites being the chosen people of God and in Vedic interpretation of Manusmriti, the class system as being applicable to a person by his physical birth rather than being a classification of spiritual status as illuminated in the Upanishads and in Bhagavad-Gita.

As humanity now realizes the damage we have done to the ecosystem and to ourselves through this alienated approach, our "Integral Consciousness"  should be nurtured to recognize Divinity in all creations so that there is a responsibility and respect to all creations, starting from the least to that of our fellow beings.

This is the illumining light that this Diwali (festival of Light). we celebrate today. must bring to us.

Love to you all.