Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seven Stages to Know The One

Then Vidaghdha, son of Shakala, asked him, "How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" Yajnavalkya, ascertaining the number through a group of mantras known as the Nivid, replied, "As many as are mentioned in the Nivid of the gods: three hundred and three, and three thousand and three."
"Very good," said the son of Shakala, "and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Thirty-three."
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Six."
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Three."
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Two."
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "One and a half."
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "One."
                                                                                                ......... Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1

When I read this portion of the passage in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, I was reminded of the same concept in esoteric thought in early mystical movements in Christianity. The Cathars used a secret book known as the Book of John, which was taught to the special initiates in Christianity. In this scripture the seven Archons who rule the world are classified and how they emanated from the first Archon.
"This Ruler, by being androgynous, made himself a vast realm, an extent without limit. And he contemplated creating offspring for himself, and created for himself seven offspring, androgynous just like their parent."  ............ Anonymous, The Reality of the Rulers, (written before 350 A.D.)

St. Titus of Crete in his book "The Book of Truth" says:

"These seven different levels of consciousness can be felt as self moves through the very day. Thee can feel them change under thy feet, through thy solar plexus, and in thy everyday mind. All thee need do is become more attuned with that inner well of stillness, and with the stillness and the peace of the Earth. When thee comes into harmony with this portion of nature and all other living consciousness and then the consciousness of self, then it is easy to exit into and come out of different levels of consciousness while still remaining upon the Earth. It is not an easy task to perform, but it is certainly not impossible."

Doctor Roberto Assagioli, in his book "Psychosynthesis", classifies seven levels of consciousness.
Some of the earlier traditions also had this number of levels such as the Incas. But what matters to us is that the seven days of creation to the culmination of creation that is in the image of God or the wisdom of the Vedas and ancient spiritual traditions, all point to the ultimate Advaitic concept of the unity of the Godhead which can be realized through the self ascending into the higher realms of consciousness

The Kabbalstic mysticism also takes one through the total of seven levels between the unqualified Godhead, from which all creations proceed, to the Malchut (the created domain). In between there are five levels; the five levels of the soul are called nefesh, ruach, neshama, chaya, and yechida. These five levels of soul may be compared to various states of Consciousness.

These seven levels are brought out in a simple conversation between Vidaghdha and Yajnavalkya.
When we look for deeper meaning in this passage we realize that in ancient Sanskrit the word "Nivid" means to tell. The first level of telling proceeds from thought which rooted in the mind. The mind is controlled by the diverse aspects of sensory observation and hence the plurality of perception of the Divine. But as the Guru guides Yajnavalkya through subsequent stages of deeper consciousness his perception of reality diminishes. This is true in the field of science too. The deeper we introspect in the nature matter and forces acting upon them we discover that from the multiplicity of divergent particles and forces we discover the fundamental underlying sub-quantum field. This field is consciousness which currently defies understanding through the mind whose sensitivity of measurement is far more grainier than the entity that is being measured or grasped.

Through spiritual practice such as meditation and deep introspection, we can strive to reach higher levels in this vast journey of the soul.

Love to you all.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Suspended Between Pair of Opposites

“To take up one’s own cross would mean to accept and consciously realize one’s own particular pattern of wholeness.” This invariably involves being suspended between successive pairs of opposites (like a veritable crucifixion), with its attendant suffering, and repeated death/rebirth experiences of the ego as it learns to bow to the demands of the Self. However, consciously “carrying one’s life” in this way also provides the possibility of discovering the meaning of one’s unique, individual life and participating in life’s larger purposes. It means the possibility of discovering one’s vocation and one’s own myth, that story which helps to make meaning out of the mystery." .............. Edward Edinger (Edinger, Ego and Archetype, p.135)

To those of us who have been invested with the gift of greater discernment and deeper enquiry, every mystery in religious tradition must evoke the desire to undertake the tortuous journey which most faithful will not dare venture into. When Christ narrates the parable of the Talents in Matthew chapter 25 and in Luke chapter 19, we should take heed of the warning that to those more is given more is asked off and there is darkness that awaits those who do not dare invest their talents into deeper enquiry. This unfortunately is not understood and totally ignored by organized religion. Going into the historical dimension of the Gospel writers, Matthew wrote for the Hebrews and Luke wrote for the Greek communities. Both these cultures were deeply rooted in mythical tradition and their spirituality heavily depended on deeper interpretation of mythical symbolism.

Psychologically, Christ's life represents the various phases and unfolding  of the Self as it undergoes incarnation in an individual ego, that is, the various stages of the process of individuation and in the final culmination of being merged into the Divine.
When we withdraw our projections from an outward historical or metaphysical Christ then we wake up Christ within. If Christ remains outside us, either as an example of an ideal or as an external object of worship only, the deeper levels of the soul are never engaged.

To bear one’s own cross would mean to accept and consciously comprehend one’s own particular pattern of wholeness. This invariably involves being suspended between successive pairs of opposites (like a veritable crucifixion), with its attendant suffering, and repeated death/rebirth experiences of the ego as it learns to bow to the demands of the Self. This journey began in the Garden of Eden, when the choice was made to taste the polar opposites of good and evil. Everyone of us is engaged in this turbulent journey in this valley of tears (suffering). We are nailed to the material dimension and yet in this inescapable physical existence caught between good and evil. we have the capacity to life up our eyes and say: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." ............Luke 23:46

Without a symbolic appreciation of Christ, his life, his crucifixion and his resurrection  or any other aspect of Biblical narrative, religious concerns are made insignificant by literalism. This in turn is the spawning ground for fundamentalism which, in spiritual matters, is tantamount to the death of the soul. In addressing Christ as a symbol of the Self, Jung challenged the Church to recover its symbolic life. Failing to do that, the Church will remain a minor voice in speaking to the deep spiritual longings of modern men and women. Furthermore, it may unwittingly undermine the reconciliation and peace-making processes it desires to promote in the world.

This is the message for this Holy week.

Love to you all

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cutting the Rope to the Mind

"Every day, priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon." ............Ikkyu

Every knowledge that we have, irrespective of the domain or discipline, comes from preconceived human perceptions and the resulting concepts. When we know that reality as grasped by humans is extremely limited, how can one find the value of true knowledge in all the writings and information passed down from our human ancestry. Our knowledge derived from the rational mind is three to four million years old, coming from our later Australopithecus and subsequent Homo genre.

Even the latest findings in science are always subject to refutation and further revision. One has to look at the history of science to appreciate the fickle nature and impermanency of scientific knowledge and hence the nature of relaity.

Hegel understood the fragmented nature of reality and postulated that only the whole is true. Every stage or phase or moment is partial, and therefore partially untrue. Hegel's grand idea is "totality" which preserves within it each of the ideas or stages that it has overcome or subsumed. Overcoming or subsuming is a developmental process made up of "moments" (stages or phases). The totality is the product of that process which preserves all of its "moments" as elements in a structure, rather than as stages or phases. Think of these structural elements as the interrelated ones of a whole architecture or even better, a fractal architecture. This is the reason why Isaac Newton said "We all stand on shoulders of giants"
 Quantum theory, postmodern cosmology, chaos theory and ecology all essentially subscribe to this view of "totality" in question, without being "hegelian" as all possibilities exist at the same time.

All the non-sense that we carry inside our mind is purely objective and restrictively created. These are still 'moments' which are far away from absolute realty or liberating knowledge. We identify with them rather than they with us, we are keeping it together somehow or the other. We are going mad trying to keep it all together under our control. The moment we lose interest in all the non-sense filled in our head, the moment we understand the futility of it, it will start to disappear. Like the cow, whose tethered rope is cut from the herder's hand, it will escape and disappear.
Read Adi Sankara's story in the reference. Adi Sankara Story

There is no need to stop the mind from thinking trivial things. All one needs to do, is to become disinterested in its constant chatter. Then the rope will be cut.
That is the real meaning of SANYAS, to become disinterested in the mind. That is the real meaning of VAIRAGYA. It has nothing to do with renouncing the world but everything to do with the cutting of the rope to the mind.

But nature or the whole ecology, in all its glory and diversity, has existed for a much longer time and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge which we are able to appreciate only in the last century. Take for example two species, the Crocodile and the ants of the Amazon rain forest, they have been around for more than fifty million years. The Red wood trees and the Baobab trees have a life span of thousands of years. The very elements of the Earth air, water have been there for billions of years and the moon almost coevolved with the Earth.
Ikkyu, hence, exhorts us to let go of the knowledge of human mental origin but read the information and knowledge available in these empowering elements of nature and the cosmos.

I would add to the list of Ikkyu, the beauty of the universe which has now unfolded its beauty and splendour to the human heart intellect in last few centuries, through the concepts of hyper space and infinite Multiverse concepts through our observations and more through intuitive understanding.

 It is now known that the intelligence of the heart is vital for a balanced emotional life and hence for our ultimate wellbeing. The heart intelligence is an intelligence which is accessible only through an intuitive receptivity. Intuitive receptivity is the receptive potential of bonding from the nature of 'Having' to one of 'Being'. Only through a state of 'Being' one can identify with the infinite knowledge that awaits the seeker.

Love to you all.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Life as Ministry

"Christ sets His followers no tasks. He appoints no hours. He allots no sphere. He Himself simply went about and did good. He did not stop life to do some special thing which should be called religious. His life was His religion. Each day as it came brought round in the ordinary course its natural ministry. Each village along the highway had someone waiting to be helped. His pulpit was the hillside, His congregation a woman at a well. The poor, wherever He met them, were His clients; the sick, as often as He found them, His opportunity. His work was everywhere; His workshop was the world." [1]

In today's world humans live in a crippling dichotomy. There is a great divide between our daily lives and actions and our spiritual life. Spiritual life is mostly assigned to the task of going to the temple, mosque or church and performing certain rituals on specific time or period. This is very much evident in some individual, who I come across on a regular basis, who abstain from alcohol and other physical pleasures during the forty days of Lent or before their pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple or Velankanni Cathedral, but indulge in debauchery, binge drinking and a despicable life during the rest of the year.

The topic we have chosen today reflects the integral aspect of one's life where in there is no segregation between the process of life and spirituality. The reason why the divide between our daily lives and our practice of spirituality is due to our understanding of spirituality as a reality which outside material reality.

As Aldo Tassi writes: "Traditionally, philosophy has engaged this problem in one of two ways. There is first of all the dualist who, starting with Plato, argues for the presence of a different sort of reality: namely, a reality which is autonomous with respect to material reality and has an existence all its own. The elusive nature of spiritual reality can be explained as arising from the fact that we mistakenly take the experience of material reality to be the norm for our dealings with reality.
In opposition to the dualist, we have those who argue for the reverse position: namely, reality is reality and there are no two ways about it. According to this view, the reason why we take the experience of material reality to be the norm is because that is in fact the way reality is. It is understandable that spiritual reality should prove to be so elusive since it is nothing more than a fantasy." [2]

Through the Aristotelian view, St. Thomas Aquinas rejected the Platonic nature that segregates the human soul as having an existence other than the existence it has as the form of the body and, for which reason, it is able to pursue an existence in separation from the body. He opts, instead, to use Aristotle's notion that the soul's being consists in being the substantial form of the body and hence the duality of material reality of the body, its life and the world and the ineffable reality of the soul which infuses life into the material form cannot be separated.
The doctrinal authorization for this view was derived from the mythological Genesis, through a literal interpretation,  as God makes the lifeless body of Adam and blows into it the soul. Hence in a living human being body and soul cannot be separated.

We have to even transcend this limited understanding of the integral nature of bodily and spiritual life and understand that the integral nature of all existence is preordained in beginning of cosmic creation through the life empowering substratum of Divine consciousness which pervades all realms.

Christ understood the true nature of human spirituality as inseparable from the world and hence his nature of ministry in empowering the individuals was rooted in the material realm through his words and deeds. This is the reason that we say "............ his life was his religion". But we have taken our religion out of our lives and this needs radical correction through this renewed understanding.

Love to you all.

[1] Henry Drummond, "The Ministry of Christ", in The Jewel in the Lotus, Raghavan Iyer, ed., Concord Grove Press, Santa Barbara, 1983), p. 201. 
[2] "Spirituality as a State of Being" By Tassi, Aldo | Philosophy Today, Summer 2000