Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chanting as a Means of Liberation

"Chanting is a simple tool which burns the sins of several human births... Never fear. Our ancients have proclaimed that this Iron Age, Kali Yuga, is an age full of contrary conditions and adverse factors
that makes it almost impossible to lead a good life, a spiritual life, a life of goodness, righteousness,
and spiritual practice."
But at the same time they have said, 'In this great ocean of adverse factors and conditions, there is one wonderful redeeming feature, and that is the chanting of the Divine Name of God.' Done with devotion it brings about a severance of all ties binding the individual soul to samsara (cycle of birth and death)
and confers upon it liberation."  .............................Sant Tukaram

"Let people quote the Scriptures and sacrifice to the gods, let them perform rituals and worship the deities, but there is no Liberation without the realisation of one’s identity with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put together." .............Sri Adi Shankaracharya in "Vivekachudamani"

Sant Tukaram was a sixteenth century spiritual poet who promoted the bakthi movement as a source of liberation through more than 5000 poems written in his native language, Marathi. Chanting is a Vedic practice which has been in vogue from ancient times in the Gurukulams where the sacred Vedas were taught to individual devotees in their daily practice of sadhana (spiritual practice). The mantras have the requisite meter and vibration when recited in the proper manner as taught by a Guru or spiritual adept. The same is true in many spiritual traditions such as Buddhism where intonations are an integral part of preparation for deep meditation. The Christian Gregorian chanting is also intended to produce the same effect when chanted within the Gothic structure of the cathedrals. Most traditions have explicitly stressed on the external dimensions of the  practice rather than the internal state of the devotee.

This article is to really explain what Sant Tukaram meant by " chanting of the Divine Name of God... Done with devotion". The devotional aspect is very important compared to the 'Name of God'.
To define this deeper definition,  I have specifically quoted both Sant Tukaram and Adi Shankaracharya. Chanting of the Devine name in itself creates a duality in as much as the devotee is being isolated from the Deity. Though this may introduce a sense of humility in the devotee but the greater potential within the Self is excluded. This is the reason that Adi Shankaracharya stresses the need for the realization of one's identity with the Atman. In this identity the relation between the Atman and Paramatman is deepened.

While chanting the holy name of the Divine is essential in meditative or contemplative exercise, we must remember that it is only one limb of the process. In this process regular thoughts flow into our mind. Do not fight them and this step is known as "Restrain - no thought" then comes a stage where you "React to no thought" and then we learn to "Retain no thought" if we cannot maintain this flow then we "Return to the Holy word". These are the four "Rs" stipulated by Thomas Keating, a contemporary Trapist monk, in his "Contemplative Centring Prayer" as to why God's name is to be invoked.

If we chant in a continuous flow then we tend to get rooted in the mantra itself and cannot transcend to the level of reaching within.

Any sadhana should be operative at the emotional level and not at the mental level. This is the reason that I have recently quoted: "Silent inner prayer is the real prayer. Any articulation, repetition, chanting, singing, if it does not evoke a craving in the spirit for deeper communication, all oral prayers are a waste of time and breathe." .....................Deepananda

This article is not to decry the practice of chanting mantras or singing carols or Gregorian chants but this very act should evoke a heightened state consciousness through which the higher aspects of oneself can be realized through a liberation from our ego and sensory rootedness.

Love to you all

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sacred Union through Swayamvara

"Swayamvara was an ancient kind of marriage, where the woman gets the authority to choose her husband from the prospective proposals. A perfect example would be Sati who undoubtedly chose Shiva. The marriage ceremony of Sati and Shiva was conducted. Daksha was forced to accept Shiva as his son-in-law, as by tradition and custom, he could not influence the groom selection process.
Daksha was one of the Prajapati, Son of Brahma and one among his foremost creations. The name Daksha means ‘Skilled one’. Daksha had two wives Prasoothi and Panchajani (Virini). Sati (also known as ‘‘Uma’’) was his youngest daughter born from Prasoothi (the daughter of the Prajapati Manu), she was the pet child of Daksha and he always carried her along with him. Sati, the name means the feminine of Sat (‘The truth’). She is called Dakshayani as she followed Daksha’s path, this is derived from Sanskrit words Daksha and Ayana (Walk or Path)" .......................Kottiyoor Vysakha Mahotsavam

The word "Swayamvara" means through "one's own wish". When we look at the puranic stories and the practice of swayamvara practiced in the court of kings in choosing the suitable life partner for the princess, our immediate reaction is that of wonderment and appreciation of the prevailing freedom for women which in today's world we find missing, especially in the patriarchal society.
There is a deeper spiritual meaning to these puranic episodes through the understanding of which the rightful role of women, not the physical but the psychic dimension known as "Anima" which is present in every psyche in creation,  could be deeply appreciated.
The story referred above is the selection of Shiva as her mate by Sati. Sati is no less women but the daughter of  Daksha is one of the sons of Lord Brahma, who, after creating the ten Manas Putras, created Daksha, Dharama, Kamadeva and Agni.

Now the deeper significance of a family drama transcends to the spiritual level when we appreciate the symbolism. The ten Manas Putras are the sons begotten as the ten dimensions of the Cosmic mind or Cosmic consciousness. This is the primary creation in Vedic Cosmology.
Daksha, which means 'Skilled one' is creative architect and this can be traced in other spiritual traditions, especially in Gnostic theology as the 'Demiurge" or the creator who is endowed with all debilitating attributes such as anger, jealousy, revenge etc. This is the God of the Garden of Eden in Genesis both in the Hebraic and Christian traditions.
Sati, as told in the Purana, is by her very name is the embodiment absolute Truth which manifests itself as the primal wisdom. This can also be traced in Gnostic tradition as "Sophia".

Swayamvara is a natural process in creation as we understand through current cosmology that as from a primal unity the entire creation came into being through an inherent in-formation driven process. The sequence of creation is that information organizes energy, organized energy exhibits as matter. Shiva, the natural Cosmic dancer Nataraja, who is the transformer through continuous annihilation and creation, is the inevitable choice of the primal wisdom, Sati, incarnated from the Prajapati.

While Sati, as Dakshayani, follows the ordained natural path of supreme wisdom choosing the right path in the cosmic union with the primal orchestrator, Shiva, Daksha, who begets this wisdom, is unable to understand the purity and the purpose of the union and turns away from the natural process. This is the fate of all creation with lower level of consciousness. This is illustrated in the Purana as the invitation to Shiva and Sati being denied to the invocation of Agni in the Daksha  yajña. The insult to Sati who went to the  yajña uninvited represents the attempt by Divine wisdom to correct the alienation of created consciousness towards its true purpose in this universe and her immolation in the  yajña fire is her union with Agni the primal energy of creation. The revenge of Shiva and decapitation of Daksha's head symbolizes the elimination of the corrupted ego and his reincarnation with a Ram's head symbolizes the altered consciousness through which a greater realization takes place and the yajña completed.

Love to you all.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Emanation of Trilogy in the Cosmos

"Thou Brahman art One, Two (manifested and unmanifested), and Three (the three gunas)." ............. Atharvashira Upanishad

Ervin Lazlo and Jude Currivan writing in their book "Cosmos" states:

"The Chinese sages perceived the innate presence of a third cosmic principle through which the co-creative expression of Yin and Yang is resolved and expressed. It is the three in one of this universal trinity through which form and phenomenon are co-created"

Plato also understood that "two things cannot be rightly put together without a third; there must be some bond of union between them. And the fairest bond is that which makes the most complete fusion of itself and the things which it combines."

In 1970, Vitaly Efimov was manipulating the equations of quantum mechanics in an attempt to calculate the behaviour of sets of three particles, such as the protons and neutrons (protons and Neutrons consist of three quarks) that populate atomic nuclei, when he discovered a law that pertained not only to nuclear ingredients but also, under the right conditions, to any trio of particles in nature. He discovered that any other set of three particles, as long as their properties were tuned to the right values. And in a surprising flourish, this hypothetical state of matter exhibited an unheard-of feature: the ability to range in size from practically infinitesimal to infinite. ......Quanta Magazine

Ultimately, the only reliable definition of the constituents of matter are in the domain of mathematical equations. So form underlies substance, as Plato taught, rather than the reverse.
Today through science we come to understand that In-formation lies at the very substrate of the cosmos. If this is so, perhaps as beings endowed with ever expanding intelligence, we who are capable of resonating with (and therefore discovering) the mathematical forms that govern external reality, do not have these capacities merely as an accidental by-product of being the fittest organisms in the evolutionary struggle, but have a more fundamental role in the evolving universe. Just as our bodies transform substances in metabolic cycles of varying complexity, and take part in the larger ecological metabolic cycles of organic life on earth, our minds take in and manipulate, transform, break down and build up, in short metabolize, forms—as impressions, perceptions, concepts, memories, and plans - in general as In-formation.
"One could say that everything in the universe has three aspects: a physical or material aspect, an energetic aspect, and a form. We share with other creatures the ability to participate in the metabolism of matter and energy, but seem uniquely endowed by our consciousness to participate in the metabolism of form." ..........."Cosmic Metabolism of Form", Parabola Magazine

Trilogy pervades the universe and this is the reason that ancient sages of most religious traditions conceived of a Divinity which has three aspects; The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit or Brahman, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva , the transformer.
In modern theology we have matter, energy and information. While matter is in the physical domain it can be equated to the prevailing reality which can be perceived through the senses. This manifest dimension is equated to the Son. The energy can be equated to the Holy spirit, it is that which infuses consciousness into the physical reality through which the evolutionary process is set in motion and finally we have information or as referred in the holy books as the "Word" in the Bible or "Vac" in the Vedas, which is the Comic mind or the Akashic field which can be equated to the Father, the Ground of all being.

May this wisdom empower us towards a higher consciousness existence.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bow as Weapon of Meditation

"Taking hold of the bow, the great weapon familiar in the Upanishads, one should fix on it an arrow
sharpened with meditation.
Drawing the string, O beloved one,
hit that very target that is the Imperishable,
with the mind absorbed in Its thought." ............Munduka Upanishad 2.2.3

Taking hold of the bow (Om is the bow). Right away we are being given a most valuable instruction in meditation. We “take hold” of Om by intoning It within.
Our practice must not be passive, but calmly active–we are always to be in charge by taking hold of Om and applying it in meditation through the generation of subtle sound.
The active character of Om is indicated by Its being called a bow, for a bow impels the arrow to its target. It is a matter of strength, of power.
” Om is the force that impels us toward Divinity. That is the Great Weapon familiar in the Upanishads.  Om is not just a weapon among many, It is the Great Weapon for conquering ignorance.
....................Swami Nirmalananda Giri

This is a beautiful verse in the Upanishad and its meaning can be deeply understood through a little knowledge in science. The intoning of OM is a vibration which is usually referred to as frequency in science. This frequency has a vast spectrum starting from the very low; like the brain waves in deep meditative stage at 3 or 4 vibrations per second to Gamma Rays, which are generated in the explosion of Supernovae in collapsing stars, at a frequency of 300,000,000,000,000,000,000 (Exahertz) vibrations per second. The higher the frequency the more destructive the force of that vibration. Our brain waves are in the very low frequency region typically between 4 to 38 cycles or variations per second. A very healthy heart beats at one cycle per second.

During deep meditation, we tend to operate in the "Theta wave" region or 4 to 7 cycles per second. These low frequencies assist us in deeper intuitive mental process while the 13 to 38 cycles per second or "Beta wave" brain waves are seen during thinking and problem solving. The "OM" Frequency - Based on a mathematical calculation of the rotation of the Earth around the Sun is 136.1 cycles per second when orally recited but its lower harmonics (perfectly divisible by a whole number) can be matched with the Theta wave. The perfect synchronization takes place when the base frequency of 136.1 is divided by the heart frequency. This will fall in the "Delta wave" region of the brain wave, which is below 4 cycles per second. This is the reason Swami Nirmalananda Giri explains in his commentary that it should be intoned within and produce a subtle sound.

The bow consists of two parts, namely; the elastic limb and the bow string. The tension of the bow string is imparted to the arrow which is launched towards the target and this results in the vibration of bow string which in turn transfers a lower harmonic vibration on the elastic limb. All forces are then balanced without any structural damage to the system. This mechanism is what the Upanishad instructs us to follow.

The OM vibration both at the fundamental level in the body and the harmonics at the consciousness level ensures that the intention is perfectly launched towards the target of Divine realization.

In Christianity, the word "sin" comes from the Greek word "Hamartia" (Ancient Greek: μαρτία) which means a tragic error of judgement or missing the mark. This is exactly what you would call a deviation from the target of our lives, which is a realization of our true spiritual nature and the intended travel towards the Omega point as proposed by the famous Jesuit priest and anthropologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

May this powerful verse from Munduka Upanishad empower us towards hitting the bulls-eye in our spiritual quest.

Love to you all