Thursday, July 31, 2014

Possessor of Independence

"The limited state of consciousness is insentient and cannot simultaneously expand itself to become the various forms of the universe. The possessor of independence is absolutely different from that insentient state of consciousness. You cannot, therefore, recognize Him in only one way. The moment you recognize Him in one way you will also recognize Him in the other way.
This Lord Siva, who is completely independent (svatantra), has the diversity of creation and destruction existing in His own nature. And, at the same time, this diversity is found existing in its own way as the field of ignorance." ............ Abhinavagupta

Abhinavagupta was one of India's greatest philosophers, mystics and aestheticians. He lived in the tenth century and was a great exponent of Kashmir Śaivism. His understanding of consciousness both manifest and unmanifest can be sampled in these two verses. He was greatly influenced by Buddhist thought.

The above verses 8 and 9 are taken from Bodhapañcadaśikā, a work by Abhinavagupta. This has a similar ring to the concept of pratītyasamutpāda for which the most common translations are dependent origination or dependent arising. But the term is also translated as interdependent co-arising, conditioned arising, conditioned genesis, etc. The term could be translated somewhat more literally as arising in dependence upon conditions. This is the philosophy of the second century Buddhist philosopher, Nagarjuna.

The moment we have dependency we descend into the created realm (limited state of consciousness) there can be only one attribute which ultimate annihilation. There cannot be self sustenance in all fullness through creation within the created realm. Only that which is capable of self sustenance, despite the process of creation and annihilation, can be termed as the omnipotent Divine as it does not have origination outside of itself.
This is why the invocation to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states:
" That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. the infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), it remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone."

This reflects the contemporary tenets of philosophy of quantum physics. Contemporary Tibetan Buddhist teacher Mingyur Rinpoche states:

"In my conversations with modern scientists, I’ve been struck by a number of similarities between the principles of quantum mechanics and the Buddhist understanding of the relationship between emptiness and appearance. Because the words we used were different, it took me quite a while to recognize that we were talking about the same thing—phenomena unfolding moment by moment, caused and conditioned by an almost infinite number and variety of events."

And contemporary Western philosopher Christian Thomas Kohl states:

"There is a surprising parallelism between the philosophical concept of reality articulated by Nagarjuna and the physical concept of reality implied by quantum physics. For neither is there a fundamental core to reality, rather reality consists of systems of interacting objects. Such concepts of reality cannot be reconciled with the substantial, subjective, holistic or instrumentalist concepts of reality which underlie modern modes of thought."

The independent nature of fundamental causation has to be appreciated both through the scriptures as well as through modern science.

Love to you all

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spiritually Rooted Existence

“When the mind runs after the wandering senses,
then it carries away one’s understanding,
as the wind carries away a ship on the waters.
Therefore the wisdom of him whose senses are withdrawn
from the objects of the senses stands firm” ......................Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 : 67, 68

"One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence." ......................Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 : 61

"This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." .......... Jeremiah 17: 5-8

The two spiritual traditions, Vedic and Hebraic, point to the same truth in two different languages.
The mind and its perceptions through the senses are equated to a rudderless ship adrift in the sea. The ship has lost control and cannot reach its destination. Its passage is at the mercy of the winds. When the mind is rooted in object oriented thoughts, a holistic and true understanding of our life and existence is denied. The primary substratum or ground of being from which objects and sensory perception are manifest is an unlimited field of universal consciousness which we cannot comprehend with our mind. This is the reason that Vyasa says that one's understanding is taken away when the mind operates in the sensory mode. Therefore wisdom can be obtained only when we withdraw from the senses.

Every moment of time our eyes are bombarded by billions of photons (light particles) and yet we filter out the majority of these photons and select only those which we want to map to our pre-selected concepts. The way to achieve this state of withdrawal requires another target and that is the supreme LORD Himself. This is laid out in LORD Krishna's saying in the verse 61 of the second chapter which is quoted above.

Jeremiah through the mouth of the LORD gives the same message. The strength of the flesh he talks about is the desires enjoyed or fulfilled through the senses which in turn fortifies the Ego. When one is operating in this mode he or she tends to be completely ignorant of the higher level of consciousness which is termed as turning away from the LORD. Instead of comparing such individual to a ship, the prophet refers to this individual to the bushes in the wasteland. A place of imminent death and desolation. But a man or woman who is focused on a higher level of consciousness is like a tree planted by the water which nourishes the tree and keeps it green and living both at the time of abundance as well as at the time of drought as the roots of this tree will run deep and draw water from the subterranean source. The water that is available at the observable or surface level is the same that is hidden beneath the ground. This is the apt symbolism of universal consciousness which is the root cause of all manifest objects as well the ground of being of all Cosmos not perceptible to the human mind.

The method of fixing our mind on the higher state of being or the meaning of fixing or trusting in the LORD can be understood as fixing our sight on the beauty of creation without desiring to possess it. Hearing the wisdom of the sages and spiritual adepts and deeply imbibing the esoteric content of scriptures. Smelling the scents of nature, those of flowers, the fragrance of the moist soil after the rain and tasting and ingesting satvic and natural food and touch every object of creation only with the objective of appreciating the wonder of creation without causing any harm.

All this can be summed up as living in perfect harmony with the natural order.

Let these three wonderful verses be our source of strength in our contemplative lives.

Love to you all.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Revelation of Absolute Truth

"The face of the Truth (Brahman in the solar orb) is concealed with a golden vessel. Do thou, O Sun, open it so as to be seen by me, who am by nature truthful (or, who am the performer of rightful duties).
O Thou, who art the nourisher, the solitary traveller, the controller, the acquirer, the son of Prajapati, do remove Thy rays, do gather up thy dazzle. I shall behold that form of Thine, which is the most benign. I am that very person that is yonder (in the sun).." ...........Isa Upanishad Verse 15, 16

In continuation of the study of the Isa Upanishad, we will try to draw up on the deeper meaning of this invocation. The last four invocative verses are primarily aimed at preparing oneself to undertake a journey beyond the mere mortal existence.

The golden vessel is that which attracts us immediately in our conditioned consciousness. Our desire and attraction tend to terminate in this external container rather than pursuing our seeking as to what this vessel contains. Just as our mortal eyes cannot behold the intensity of the Sun and needs a filter to see as a dimmed glory the brilliance of our sustaining star, so also the metaphysical entity of Brahman cannot be beheld when the mask of attenuation is removed. But it is possible for even our individual consciousness to behold the brilliance Brahman, the Solar Orb, through the realization of our own true nature.
There is another reason why the Golden vessel or the container is the object of our attention. This is due to the nature of the container that itself is suffused with the substance it holds but is a diffused form which does not reveal the true nature of its constituent. It is due to this limitation that the devotee asks the controller to gather up the inner dazzle, through which process one is able to dissolve the container that hold the brilliance of that which is concealed. This is process while being sincerely initiated by the devotee through various sadhana, its activation is in the Divine realm through Grace bestowed on the devotee.

When Lord Krishna is requested by his devotee Arjuna to reveal his Cosmic form, the Lord says:

"But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes. Behold My mystic opulence!" ...........Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11:8.

Commenting on this verse, Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya, says:

"Actually, because he is a principal associate of the Lord, and therefore previously had appeared as Nara along with the Narayana avatar, Arjuna does not have material eyes like ordinary material persons. What is the logic in giving spiritual eyes to Arjuna because he cannot see a mere fragment of the Lord, when that same Arjuna with his very eyes directly realizes the sweetness of his Lord?"  

Every human being is the principal avatar or every Nara is the intended Narayana avatar but we degrade this consciousness through the very association with our ego identification with the created realm. Arjuna, in his karmic journey, has already transcended to the higher level of consciousness through which his mortal eyes can easily be transfigured into Divine eyes. It should be our constant endeavour to reach this stage so that the dazzle of Divine radiance becomes a tool of transcendence rather than an instrument of annihilation.

Love to you all