Thursday, December 25, 2014

Symbolism of the Magi

"Consciousness, in Her freedom, brings about the attainment of the universe."
.............Pratyabhijnahrdayam (translation by Swami Shantananda)

"Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. ........... they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was." ...................Matthew 2:2,9

"Nothing perceived is independent of perception, and perception differs not from the perceiver; therefore the perceived universe is nothing but the perceiver." .........Isvarapratyabhijnavivrtivimarsini, 1/710.

It is very appropriate to write something regarding the deeper meaning of Christmas on this day (25th December). There are a number of debates on the exact date of Jesus birth in the academic circle citing Josephus and Tacitus, the two contemporary historians of the first century A.D. There is also the first century Babylonian almanacs surviving to date which points out that there was no comet or any significant astronomical event on 1 A.D  However there was a triple Conjunction Jupiter-Saturn in 7 B.C in the constellation of Pisces. This triple Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occur once in 800 years.

The deeper meaning of Christ birth is the radical differentiation of consciousness in a child born in that specific space time. Especially we humans and all manifestations are deeply associated with the cosmic realm. The foundational energy of the entire cosmos, both manifest and unmanifest, is the same. The first quote, which is the first verse of the Pratyabhijnahrdayam, a Saiva siddanta text,  explains the very nature of the universe as an unqualified freedom of Divine consciousness. Certain cosmic alignments in this four dimensional context lies beyond the perception that is possible from its own inherent limitations, These alignments originate at the three levels of cosmic, galactic and planetary hyper dimensions and are responsible for this Divine consciousness to align and incarnate within a specific body which in reality is a four dimensional framework.
This is the unique expression of the Cosmic consciousness as a higher order manifested consciousness in the spiritual person of Jesus. This consciousness is known as Christ or the anointed one or messiah.

Then we have a further affirmation in the Bible story of the visit of the three wise men from the east.
In the Old Testament, the east is the abode of Divine wisdom. Prophet Isaiah says:
"Who has roused a victor from the east, summoned him to his service? He delivers up nations to him, and tramples kings under foot; he makes them like dust ............" ...........Isaiah 41:2
Again in prophet Ezekiel says:
"............They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them." ....................Ezekiel 10:19
Hence the wise from the east are men of Divine wisdom or higher spiritual consciousness seeking the
incarnation of a higher order of spiritual consciousness. The star of Bethlehem or the rare event of celestial planetary conjunction leads them towards this source. But when their consciousness is brought under the influence of Herod, which is the abode of a very low order of consciousness the linkage to the guiding celestial tie snaps and they become ignorant of the destiny which is the higher order of Spiritual consciousness. The link gets re-established once they move out of the ambit of the corrupting consciousness. It is not a journey or path that has to be understood from a physical perspective but a seeker's journey in a consciousness realm that is narrated in the Bible.

The reason why three wise men are essential to seek the incarnation of a higher order of consciousness is to do with the Law of Three in spiritual attainment. The three wise men represent the self mastery of body, emotion and mind to reach an enlightened stage.

G. I. Gurdjieff, a spiritual teacher of the twentieth century, describes "The Law of Three" as "the second fundamental cosmic law". This law states that every whole phenomenon is composed of three separate sources, which are Active, Passive and Reconciling or Neutral. This law applies to everything in the universe and humanity, as well as all the structures and processes. The Three Centres in a human, which Gurdjieff said were the Intellectual Centre (mind), the Emotional Centre (heart) and the Moving Centre (physical), are an expression of the law of three. Gurdjieff taught his students to think of the law of three forces as essential to transforming the energy of the human being. The process of transformation requires the three actions of affirmation, denial and reconciliation.

In the story of the Magi, the affirmation is through a higher level of knowledge, the denial through withdrawal from the corrupting influence of Herod and reconciliation through new knowledge derived from the interpretation of the chief priests and scribes of the people.

This law of three process is repeated in their return journey. The affirmation is through acquiring new knowledge bestowed by the angel, the denial is through avoidance of the established return path and the reconciliation is to the new path through which they return to their home land.

In the journey of the three wise men these three elements play out in seeking the higher dimension of incarnated Christ.

The third quote at the beginning of the article outlines the basic principle that it is our own individual spiritual journey and its perceptive derivatives that are elements of enlightenment.

May this seeking and our deeper perception beyond the mere literary understanding give us the power to elevate our consciousness.

Love to you all.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Second Coming of Elijah

"And the disciples put this question to him, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?'
He replied, 'Elijah is indeed coming, and he will set everything right again; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of man will suffer similarly at their hands.'  Then the disciples understood that he was speaking of John the Baptist." ............Matthew 17: 10-13

Elias (Hebrew 'Eliahu , "Yahweh is God "; also called Elijah), was loftiest and most wonderful prophet of the Old Testament. The ministry of Elijah, in the 9th century B.C, was to defend the worship of Yahweh over that of the Canaanite god Baal (which he considered as idol worship); he raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and was taken up "by a whirlwind." In the Book of Malachi, Elijah's return is prophesied "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord," making him a harbinger of the Messiah and the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. Derivative references to Elijah appear in the Talmud, Mishnah, the New Testament and the Qur'an. [1]

It is also stated in the book of Kings in the Old Testament that His skin garment and leather girdle (2 Kings, 1, 8), his swift foot (1 Kings 18:46), his habit of dwelling in the clefts of the torrents (xvii,3) or in the caves of the mountains (xix, 9), of sleeping under a scanty shelter (xix, 5), betray him as the true son of the desert. This is the same life style of John the Baptist

John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and baptism. He predicted the day of judgment using imagery similar to that of Malachi. He also preached that the Messiah was coming. All of this was done in a style that immediately recalled the image of Elijah to his audience. He wore a coat of camel's hair secured with a leather girdle (Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6). He also frequently preached in wilderness areas near the Jordan river.
In the Gospel of John, when John the Baptist was asked by a delegation of priests (present tense) "Art thou Elias", he replied "I am not" (John 1:21). Matthew 11:14 and Matthew 17:10–13 however, make it clear that John was the spiritual successor to Elijah. In the Nativity of St. John the Baptist in Luke, Gabriel appears to Zechariah, John's father, and told him that John "will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God," and that he will go forth "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:16–17). [2]

Just as Elijah turned the people of Israel towards Yahweh so also John the Baptist preached repentance and John declares in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" Both Elijah and John taught repentance.

We must refer to the words in the book of Sirach where he declares "Blessed, those who will see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love; for we too shall certainly have life." .............Sirach 48: 11
This specific passage refers to the people who are physical witness to the presence of Elijah as well as those who have departed this world for all will witness the new Elijah in the person of John the Baptist as confirmed by Christ himself.

The intimate relation, at the consciousness level, between Jesus and John the Baptist in the pre natal stage as well as on the banks of Jordan river and subsequently the revelation to his closest apostles the intimacy of Christ and Elijah at a transcendental level during the transfiguration at Mount Tabor, all clearly reveals the reincarnation of the soul in different bodies befitting a Divine plan in the soteriological (redemptive) process. Both Elijah and John the Baptist can be seen as prophets preparing the way for a great teacher to arrive. It would rather be too radical and incredible if an existing system is shaken to the core by a new interpretation by a seemingly unqualified Master. In order to ease the acceptance of the Master, a precursor is sent to prepare the mind of the recipient. The close tracking of the individual personalities of Elijah and John the Baptist and their role in society points to the same soul reincarnating in different periods of time to play the same role. 

The redemptive process is the elevation of individual consciousness to the Divine level and all teachers and precursors play the catalytic role in this cosmic process.

Love to you all

[2] Ibid

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sin in Judaic-Christian Tradition

"The Bible says this about warriors from Benjamin, “Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.” .............. Judges 20:16
This phrase in Hebrew לֹא יַחֲטִא (pronounced: lo yachti) means “missing the target”.
Related to "חֵטְא"  (pronounced: chet) is another longer form of this word "חַטָּאת" (pronounced: chatat) this was the name of “sin offering” in Jerusalem Temple (Levictus 4:3).
It is breathtaking to see how Hebrew language can work. This same word that meant “sin/making an error/missing the mark”, connected to the sin offering in the Temple itself, becomes a word that can signify the concept of purification!" .............................. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

The word for sin in Greek used in the Bible is "hamarita"
"The term "hamartia" derives from the Greek μαρτία, from μαρτάνειν hamartánein, which means “to miss the mark” or “to err”. It is most often associated with Greek tragedy, although it is also used in Christian theology. Hamartia as it pertains to dramatic literature was first used by Aristotle in his Poetics." ..............Wikipedia

What was the purpose of choosing these words with the meaning "to miss the mark" by the spiritually enlightened scripture writers.
Missing the intended mark or target of human life is to realize our true nature. Here again we have subtle as well as targeted information provided both in the canonical Gospels as well as in the apocryphal writing as to what is the target in our life.
In the Gospels we have the parable of the prodigal son told by Jesus as to the son going away from the father and squandering away all that he inherited. He repents and come back to the father who is overjoyed. The inner meaning of this story is that we are born in the richness of the father and we are the heir to his wealth which the divinity invested in us. But if we waste away our spiritual nature and wallow in the filth of material pleasures, we miss the primary purpose of our life. This is the sin we commit. I f we realize this we can at any point go back to our original home, which is the nature of being divine.

In the Acts of Thomas, there is an episode called the "Hymn of the Pearl"
The hymn, which has been preserved and especially treasured in Manichaeism, is commonly seen as a Gnostic view of the human condition, that we are spirits lost in a world of matter and forgetful of our true origin.
In this poem the son who comes from the heavenly palace of the father to acquire the pearl of Gnosis or spiritual wisdom in Egypt from the serpent guardian forgets the purpose of his visit. This is the missing of the target. He enjoys the rich food and drinks and goes into deep slumber. He takes off the princely robe and wears a tunic of the common Egyptian. This signifies the disrobing of our spiritual nature and putting on our worldly and sensory nature. This is the slumber of the human condition trapped in worldly affairs. Ultimately he is reminded of the true purpose by a messenger sent from the father signifying the message of Christ. The Song of the Pearl is a Gnostic tale of salvation, of sleeping in error and awakening to light, of quest not only for the pearl but for the benefit of possessing the pearl and a return to the light.

This correction of approach is mandatory for the redemption that we must seek or the purification that is needed to return to the original light with which we are born.

In his book "Original Blessing" Matthew Fox writes:

"Thomas Aquinas writes that every person is "capex universi" that ia capable of the universe. He is inviting every human person to a cosmic awakening, a cosmic relationship............"

So if every person is capable of a cosmic perception, we tend to operate in a limited way throughout our earthly life and this results in a vacuum.

In reality this limited existence is the sin of missing our true target and this needs constant correction.

French philosopher Gabriel Marcel says:

"The important thing - and I think it is hardly possible to insist on it too much - is that in this cosmic  outlook the  true aim of knowledge and life is to be integrated in the universal order, and not at all to transform the world by bringing it into subjugation to the human will, to man's needs and desire"

Let this renewed understanding of sin empower us towards a cosmic existence.

Love to you all.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Prerequisite for Transference

"A student approaches a teacher and declares, “I desire to learn from you.” The teacher responds, “Very well, follow me.” The teacher leads the student to the ocean and motions for him to follow into the water. When they are about chest deep in the water, the teacher grabs the student and forces his head underwater.
At first, the student is calm, thinking, “This is just part of some test. He will let me up in moment and I will impress him.” After a minute passes, the student begins to worry and struggle. Soon, he is desperately trying to surface and becomes frantic. The teacher holds the student under the water to the point where the struggling ceases and the student almost passes out.
Upon releasing him, the student angrily gasping for air shouts, “Are you crazy? You almost drowned me!” The teacher looks calmly into his eyes and says, “When you desire to learn from me as much as you desired to get a breath, then return, and I will teach you.”
When the desire for liberation is as intense as the desire of the drowning person gasping for breath, then the student is ripe to go to a teacher for initiation into the mysteries of the Self!" ....................Vivekachudamani

This is beautiful episode from the Vivekachudamani composed by His Holiness Adi Shankara.
Why did the Guru subject the disciple to the point of physical death? It is because as much as breath is vital to one's physical survival, jñāna or knowledge is vital for spiritual survival. This spiritual knowledge does not come by intellectual pursuit alone but by having an inherent faith in the Guru who teaches you and whom you have selected volitionally. This selection if it is based only on hearsay references on the capacity or the power of the Guru then there is something inherently lacking in the Guru-Shishya relationship. There must be an absolute surrender to the dissemination power of the Guru. This communication goes beyond the sensory reception and inputs received by the disciple but transcends into the direct perceptual mode which goes beyond the mind and is called transference.

There is another beautiful example in the Bible. In the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 14 there is an incident of Jesus walking on water and Peter, the primary disciple, is asked to go to him. But after walking a short distance he started to sink and the Bible says:
"...........But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"..........Matthew Ch 14: 30-31

 The similarity of the sense of drowning in both the Vedic and Christian thought and the teaching of implicit faith that needs to be attached to the Guru, which should go beyond logical reasoning, is a strong indication of the absolute prerequisite for learning spiritual wisdom from a Master.

Implicit faith in the Master is essential when the teaching reaches perceptual levels beyond the mind. As it is unnatural to walk on water so is the understanding of spiritual wisdom as it is beyond the rational mind and unless there is utter surrender to the power of the Master it is impossible to transfer that capacity within oneself.

One of the biggest key in the path of highest form of self-awareness is the knowledge that our perception of the Guru has nothing to do with him but everything to do with us. We literally structure our own perception of the Guru based on our own relationship with ourselves and our own personality traits. The ego, fearing attention being brought to it, tends to always look outside of itself for someone or something to latch on to so that its power is not diminished. Every spiritual exercise is based on the elimination of Ego and hence we need to recognize the ploy the Ego adopts in diverting our attention.

When Adi Shankara says: "....... When the desire for liberation is as intense as the desire of the drowning person gasping for breath, then the student is ripe to go to a teacher for initiation into the mysteries of the Self!", what he means is that it is the primary liberation from the Ego that is mandatory and this desire should be as vital as one's life breath.

The most important thing to remember is that transference and counter-transference are opportunities for personal growth both for the disciple and Guru. Be curious about what is going on in the relationship. If and when you suspect some kind of transference, give voice to your curiosity and seek advice. If you remain in a non-anxious presence in the face of transference or counter-transference, you will be able to harness this opportunity for growth and development.

This is why when the Guru starts a session the mantra that is recited is:

"Om, May God Protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student),
May God Nourish us Both,
May we Work Together with Energy and Vigour,
May our Study be Enlightening and not give rise to Hostility,
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace."

This is a mutual egoless transference which is the only channel through which higher wisdom can be communicated.

Love to you all

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Aion - A Symbol of Eternity

"Aion": a lion-headed, snake-encircled Mithraic God-image of time (also called Kronos or Deus Leontocephalus) who for Jung represented death/rebirth and a psychological union of opposites like light and darkness, male and female, creation and destruction.
"Eon": a long length of time, also meant for Jung the two-thousand-year Christian eon, which coincided with its astrological sign, Pisces, in which one fish represents Christ and the other its future opposite, the Antichrist." ............................. "A Glossary of Jungian Terms" by Craig Chalquist, PhD

The nature of creation is an eternal cycle, of which we have a very infinitesimal perception. For this reason in mythology Aion was endowed with an eternal, Divine, pre-origin attribute.

"In his highly speculative reconstruction of Mithraic cosmogony, Franz Cumont positioned Aion as Unlimited Time (sometimes represented as the Saeculum, Cronus, or Saturn) as the god who emerged from primordial Chaos, and who in turn generated Heaven and Earth. This deity is represented as the Leontocephaline, the winged lion-headed male figure whose nude torso is entwined by a serpent. He typically holds a sceptre, keys, or a thunderbolt." .............Wikipedia -Aion_(deity)

There is an inscription on a statue of Aion found at Eleusis and dedicated in the time of Roman emperor Augustus which reads:
"To the might of Rome and the perpetuation by his holy nature remains ever the same, who has no beginning or end, undergoes no change and who is the begetter of the divine nature".

The mythological representation of Aion is full of symbolic meaning. The two pairs of opposing wings represent the duality of existence as well as the four seasons which is cyclic in nature. The snake entwining the body represents the ascending wisdom and the caduceus at the foot of the image indicates the ascending kundalini energy in the two nerve channels and balance obtained through an equilibrium in the circulatory and cyclic system. The serpent is also the symbol of wisdom and evil. It is the horizontal and vertical dimension of death and healing (Book of Numbers 21:4-9) The two keys one made of gold and another silver unlocks the gates of Capricorn and Cancer, through which the precession of the equinoxes move. This represents in the human spiritual realm, the opening of the lower chakras  and the upper chakras to establish a Cosmic union. The gaurdian of the boundaries.

This is a topic that has to be approached with mythological tools by untying the conceptual knots in the fabric of space-time imprinted in our minds. Time is the property of extension of space and hence evolved after the Big Bang or the origin of the universe in which we live. This raises the question; What was time before the birth of the universe as we perceive today from the reference frame of four dimensional space-time.
It is only in the human mind that time takes birth. This is the substratum in which the mind assigns a specific qualified space with an attribute of an event. As St. Augustine says:

“Clear now it is and plain, that neither things to come, nor things past, are. Nor do we properly say, there be three times, past, present, and to come; but perchance it might be properly said, there be three times: a present time of past things; a present time of present things; and a present time of future things. For indeed three such as these in our souls there be; and otherwhere do I not see them. The present time of past things is our memory; the present time of present things is our sight; the present time of future things our expectation.”. ..................(Confessions XI.xx.252)

The earth has a rotating axis precession of 25,772 years as measured today but during the time of the Greek astronomers like Hipparchus (200 B.C) and Ptolemy (200 A.D) the measurement was approximate and a measurement of 24,000 years was used. Hence the residence of an age in each zodiac was calculated to be 2000 years or one Eon.
The direct link between precession cycle and the onset of different levels of consciousness can be traced to many ancient traditions and especially attributed to the Mayans and their calendar.

As the Jungian term Eon points to a consciousness era of monotheism and spirituality dominated by a dogmatic interpretation with total lack of freedom for individual spiritual seeking, (wrongly assigned to Christ consciousness but should have been assigned as the Antichrist consciousness) there has to be transition to an age of freedom and integral consciousness towards which humanity will move.
This is the a new level of consciousness (wrongly assigned to Antichrist consciousness but should have been assigned as the Christ consciousness) which will liberate the structural. materialistic and dogmatic domination during the Eon dominated by the astrological sign of the Pisces (1 A.D - 2150 A.D) and transit towards the astrological sign of Aquarius,
The fish is a limited physical manifestation in water but Aquarius, the water bearer is the entire realm of existence.

Christ is the symbol of liberation. As He tried to give a liberated philosophy of life and spiritual path to the Hebrews dominated by pure ritualistic religion based on literal interpretation of the Laws of Moses with hardly any relevance to evolution of human consciousness through the post Egypt millennium.

Hence the real existence of time is only in the awareness within the domain of human consciousness operating within the four dimensional space-time. Beyond this reality time attains an ineffable quality and hence is assigned the status of God in mythology.

Let us whole heartedly participate in this transition of consciousness through deeper understanding of mythology and sacred wisdom passed down the ages.

Love to you all

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Intuitive Comprehension

"Now the key story for me about Buddhism concerns the sermon where the Buddha was seated, and there was a group around him and he just held up a flower. Just a flower. One in the group got what the Buddha was on about. For him, the flower itself was enough to spark enlightenment. The rest of the crowd were still in the dark, so to speak, so the Buddha delivered a sermon—the Flower Wreath Sūtra (Avatamsaka Sutra) —to explain what he meant, which was this: there is nothing to say about life. It has no meaning. You make meaning. If you want a meaning in your life, find a meaning and bring it into your life, but life won't give you a meaning. Meaning is a concept. It is a notion of an end toward which you are going. The point of Buddhism is This Is It." ............Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light, p. 135

Last week I was delivering the concluding remark in an event where the role of parenting was discussed by teachers in our school. Most parents were not very literate in this rural school and the medium of instruction was English, hence there was doubt as to how parents can empower children in learning at home. Suggestions were forthcoming that parents should not watch television or go about any chores but sit with the children.
My concluding remark at the end of the session was about heart to heart communication that can be established when there is pure intention at the source of this communication. The very primal communication, according to many scriptures, was the Divine intention to manifest itself. This is the true nature of Great Compassion wherein all duality is eradicated.
The incident which Joseph Campbell points out is this type of communication.

A simple example is the radio broadcast from different stations all over a region. There is a huge cacophony of radio frequencies at the listener's end. The radio receiver is designed to tune in to a particular frequency on which a specific station is broadcasting so that we can listen to a particular programme. This is done by manually tuning.

In the spiritual or metaphysical realm we tune in by aligning our heart frequency, which has the capacity to lock on to the specific frequency in which the master is communicating. The mental frequency is a complex and sequential sum of sense oriented perceptions and concepts and hence fails to understand the highly focussed and radically sharp communication frequency coming from a spiritual master.

This is the reason why in the Avatamsaka Sutra, Naga King Virupaksha, imbued with the power of the Buddha, says:
"......... Sentient beings are oppressed in all states of existence, Whirled about by habitual delusion, with no one to rescue them, The Buddha liberates them with Great Compassion: No Heat or Torment realizes this."

This  habitual delusion, which he talks of, results from our perceptual concepts which are derived from our state of slavery derived from our mind.
The great, 10th century Saivite philosopher and mystic, Abhinavgupta says:

"The manifestation of the light of consciousness is not like the ray of light from a lamp, sun or moon. When one frees oneself from accumulated multiplicity, the state of bliss is like that of putting down a burden; the manifestation of the Light is like the acquiring of a lost treasure, the domain of universal non-duality."

This singular experience of non-dual perception is possible only from heart intelligence and this is why the liberation from the oppressed state is equated to the Buddha state of Great Compassion. Compassion is an emotion of the heart.
Joseph Campbell says; ".... there is nothing to say about life. It has no meaning. You make meaning. If you want a meaning in your life, find a meaning and bring it into your life, but life won't give you a meaning. Meaning is a concept. It is a notion of an end toward which you are going. The point of Buddhism is This Is It."
Life here means that which we all cumulatively experience and these experiences are rooted in an aggregation of mental concepts. This is a derived state and hence we cannot expect a second new derivation or meaning. The meaning has to come from somewhere else and this source is the inner self.

There is non-reversible process at play here. The possibility of deeper perception of the integral nature of reality is not possible when on starts from a plenum of objective duality but it is possible to comprehend the illusionary nature of duality only when one proceeds from a non-dual plenum.
This is the process of enlightenment or Buddha nature wherein one proceeds from the inner phase lock of the Divine frequency of singularity to comprehend the Maya or illusion of multiplicity.

Love to you all

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Crowd Sourcing The Path

"Another way of putting it would be (without knowing Chinese) to propose this new translation of the first line of the Tao Te Ching: “A way that is entirely laid out, no, it is not the way.” I told you that I have encountered in my life a true teaching. One of the signs of its truth, for me, is that it never proposes an entirely prescribed path. No, at every step the entire dilemma is revisited. For me, nothing is resolved once and for all. And what I have always loved in you is your refusal of a prearranged path, and that’s important to me because alone one can’t sustain such a position. We must be a number of people to help each other, to awaken one another." ............René Daumal from a letter to Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes

The more accurate version of translation of the beginning of the first verse of Tao Te Ching is:
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name...."

The essence of what René Daumal is saying and what is implied by the more accurate translation is that when the concept of Tao or the Way in spiritual domain is the result of an existing reality, it inherently comes with attenuation or deformation and hence cannot represent the true reality.
This is the core teaching not only in spirituality but also in modern science.
It is only through a shared vision which emanates from the heart of individuals who are desirous of seeking the higher reality that we can awaken to redefining our path to this destination.
This can be compared to a single person who is walking in an unknown terrain which is heavily wooded and covered in thick fog. If he is alone and follows his mere senses then he is sure to go astray. But if there is a group of people with him, all desiring to reach the same destination, then by sharing individual knowledge of the terrain and with proper communication, the errors that creep in during the journey can be eliminated.

Peter Senge, in his book "The Fifth Discipline" describes a shared vision as "... a force in people's hearts, a force of impressive power....At its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question, "What do we want to create?" " A shared vision is a picture that everyone who has a common vision and dedicated purpose carries in their heads and hearts.

Today we realize the power of collaborative intelligence both from human and animal studies.
While man has been highly individualistic and ego centred, animals have been collaborative in their evolutionary path. This is the reason that the leaf cutter ants of the rain forest have been successful in their evolutionary journey over the past 50 million years but man is scrambling for survival in the 50,000 years as Homo Sapiens. If we continue to live out our lives purely from our individual heads, then as a spices we are headed towards extinction.

A well laid out path is more of an impediment like a tortuous route that has been used by many climbers to the summit. But there could exist other paths that expert climbers have found that could use less energy and conserve more stamina when the climber hits the altitude where the oxygen level is low.

The malady of a well laid path is beautifully brought out by the great German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer:
" Whenever a man is born, certain propositions are inculcated in him in earliest youth, and he is assured that he may never have any doubts about them, under penalty of thereby forfeiting eternal salvation: propositions… which affect the foundations of all our other knowledge and accordingly determine forever, and, if they are false, distort forever, the point of view from which our knowledge starts."

This is what led the twentieth century Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurthy to declare:
" I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect."

Listen deeply and do not assign any value to any teaching based on the reputation or authority of the teacher but rather seek the wisdom many wise men and draw your own path based on the dictates of your heart rather than your mind.

Love to you all

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Synergism as against Justification

"Synergism From the Greek sun- (together) + ergos (working). Synergists believe that in spiritual things humans are not wholly dead to being good, even if perhaps almost so; that human beings have a limited but nonetheless natural -- not Spirit-given -- capacity to work with God to make themselves holy. For them, the Spirit helps us to make ourselves like Christ in this life. This makes salvation at least partly into a work of the human will rather than solely a free gift of grace from God. Synergism may convey what a person senses is happening to them, but it does not convey what is actually happening. It is what inner change looks like from where we're sitting. But we're too close to what's going on to be able to see the real picture. To get beyond this, we must get outside of ourselves, and into the full Scriptural vision of what God is working toward. One of the best and most faithfully Christian synergists was the great Catholic scholar Erasmus, who lived in Reformation times and got into a famous dispute with Luther over the powers of the human will." ..........The Speaking Tree

Christian Salvation is a misunderstood concept with a very heavy leaning on the ministry of Christ rather than the involvement of the individual. The fallen state of humans derived from the Genesis story of the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is literally taken with a heavy Augustinian connotation of original sin as the basic state of human being in this creation. This is refuted in the above quotation.

This has been strongly defended through the Doctrine of Justification in the Lutheran theology.
Michael Horton minces no words about the meaning of justification.
"It is the act of God by which a person is, in a purely external and forensic sense, declared just by reason of the atoning merits of Christ, with no cooperative (“synergistic”) action on the part of that person......." [1]

Even in 1999, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" by the Catholic and Lutheran World Federation, took the theological view that salvation was purely through the external agency of Christ. I quote the passage from the Vatican document confirming this position.
" ...............In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works." [2]

This position isolates the Divine realm to an external realm from the human being and thus contradicts the very fundamental nature of human nature as an image of the Divine. This error creeps in when a human creation is allocated to the beginning of time and a withdrawal of Divine agency until the arrival of the redemptive incarnated Son.
Christ birth, death and resurrection is the template after which every human soul has to follow in the process of redemption towards the pure realm of Kingdom of God.

There are many examples in the history of the Christian doctrine where people like St. John Chrysostom, St. Theophylact of Ochrid, Apostolos Makrakis, and many other non-Reformation readers of St. Paul who believed that they found in his Epistles ample support for their theology of synergism or “cooperation with grace". [3]

As we have referred to Erasmus and his understanding, it would be good to see the way he looks at the synergistic action of man's free will and Divine grace. He writes:
"In each individual action two causes come together, the grace of God and the will of man: in such a way, however, that grace is the principal cause and the will secondary, which can do nothing apart from the principal cause, since the principal cause is sufficient in itself. Just as fire burns by its native force, and yet the principal cause is God who acts through the fire, and this cause would of itself be sufficient, without which the fire could do nothing if he withdrew from it"  [4]

I would like to point out that individual will is essentially a perceptual entity moderated through the human mind of how Divine Grace is received at a subjective level. The increased awareness to fathom the greater depths of Divine grace so as to synchronize the individual will generated through the human mind and Divine will is opportunity that is ever presented through various spiritual practices. This increased awareness is the vigilance which Christ talks of through parables.

This is the reason for Jesus telling the parable of the Ten virgins
" At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps." ..........Matthew 25: 1-4
The synergistic participation and marriage of the individual will and Divine grace as the bridegroom is beautifully illustrated in this parable.

Hence salvation is a synergistic process by which the individual will through increased awareness is able to comprehend the Divine will and thus elevate the individual's consciousness to the state of original purity.

Love to you all

[4] "A Review of Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation" - Fook Meng Cheah