Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Your Own Path to Bliss

"Finally, Gawain, Arthur's nephew, stood up and said, "I propose a vow to this company, that we all go in quest of that Grail to behold it unveiled."
Now we come to the text that interested me. The text reads, "They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the Forest Adventurous at that point which he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path."
You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there's a way or a path, it is someone else's path; each human being is a unique phenomenon.
The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss." .........Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss, pp.xxv-xxvi
I walk as though in an inebriated trance detached from conscious reality,
A domain of pure magic, a hypnotic state opposed to customary feel,
Though my eyes wide open, a translucent veil wraps my visual faculty,
Eerie sounds, a chaotic mix, the subtly modulated tone of wind's squeal,
As it manoeuvres the serrated web of timber over eons intricate grown,
Hovering bees and beetles providing a rhythm through their steady drone.

Birds rejoice the creeping shafts of morning light with their chirpy tenor,
Partaking the condensed dew drops pure, quenching the thirst nocturnal,
Fluttering multihued wings among the foliage, a glistening tapestry render,
Undulating canopy superb, woven in synchronous flight, a form external,
A kaleidoscopic view, a magical transportation to a dimension yet unseen,
My heart longs for return to a terrain, a grounded reality and familiar scene.

Like Arthur's  valiant knight vowed to take a lone path into the forest dark,
To seek and unveil the Holy Grail, me thought is this that ethereal dominion,
To perception so unreal, an alluring shroud on a  deceptive task embark,
Sensation of touch can never be fooled hence my fingers seek true opinion.
 Awareness of a silken veneer the clinging moss, on the trees, a verdant coat,
Sure feel of an objective reality, my fears fade as familiar environs I note.
Rays of early morning Sun, the hanging mist in steady gait slowly evaporate,
The whining wind abated calms down to a cool breeze fresh upon every leaf,
Healing act to all within the forest a caring embrace in a process elaborate,
Nurturing all species in every step from delicate birth to an impending relief,
An ecosystem self sustaining fed by the warmth of the ever benevolent Sun,
Drenched by the life giving moisture, your ageless web of sustenance spun.

As I stand in mute witness, numbed by the enthralling variety and flavour,
To the surface of my  waking consciousness, sudden awareness dawns,
Extricated by a celestial force, perhaps a worthy choice, for intended favour
Deep mystery to reveal within my soul, among these ferns and fawns
A holy presence I felt, is this the unveiling I set out on a quest ardent,
One's inner state of purity is the Grail unveiled, as eternal bliss resplendent.

Love to you all

Monday, April 20, 2015

Inherent Power of Love

"To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions.
Now these creatures were so powerful and lofty in their notions that they even conspired against the gods. Thereat Zeus and the other gods were perplexed; for they felt they could not slay them, nor could they endure such sinful rioting. So Finally Zeus in all of his wisdom said “Methinks I can contrive that men shall give over their iniquity through a lessening of their strength.” and so saying, he sliced each human being in two.
Now when our first form had been cut in two, each half longed for its fellow to come to it again; to fling their arms about each other and in mutual embrace yearn to be grafted together as once they were. Thus anciently is mutual love ingrained in mankind." ...........From Plato's "Symposium"

I always read with great awe the writings of Plato, who I would say had a cosmic comprehension of reality and expressed his deeper perceptions through the language of myth.
I was recently talking to the class IX students in our school and trying to inculcate the search for deeper principles in science. The example I gave was that the most important concept in philosophy and science was 'Zero'. All our mathematics start with the 'null set'. When we say zero we immediately think of nothingness but that is not true. Zero or emptiness or the Buddhist concept of 'Sunyata' comes from perfect balance. This is the reason why physicist today talk of 'Supersymmetry' in understanding particle physics and the forces of nature.

Plato's creation mythology talks of this perfect balance in the creation of the humans by Zeus. God in his nature creates perfect balance and this balanced entity could have existed in perfect unity with the Divine but chose to separate itself through its ego self identity.
The Gnostic view of the creation of man is summarized by Stephan Hoeller, a Gnostic scholar, in the following words:
"Adam and Eve were not actual historical figures, but representatives of two intrapsychic principles within every human being. Adam was the dramatic embodiment of psyche, or soul, while Eve stood for the pneuma, or spirit. Soul, to the Gnostics, meant the embodiment of the emotional and thinking functions of the personality, while spirit represented the human capacity for spiritual consciousness. The former was the lesser self (the ego of depth psychology), the latter the transcendental function, or the "higher self," as it is sometimes known."

The Genesis also mentions the singular creation of man in the following verse:
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." .........Genesis 1: 27.
But practically the major portion of Genesis second chapter is devoted to God separating man and woman and the story of the fallen nature of man emerges.

These myths represent the current nature of human existence. But in our dualistic nature there is an inherent potential which seeks unification. This is the reason why we are never satisfied with what the body and mind can aggregate and always seek a more profound mystical connection. This mystical connection emanates from the emotion of love originating in the heart. The power of love unites and heals the damaged body and the psyche.

The male, female union when it transcends the physical platform into the higher plane a spiritual union of unconditional love, a true spiritual experience happens. This is why when we have found a perfect life partner we call her or him as 'soul mate'  

Ardhanārīśvara, is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Shakti. Ardhanārīśvara is depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle. This iconography is very similar to the mythological representation which is elaborated in the Greek creation story told by Plato.

In the Tibetan Buddhist iconography of Yab-yum, it is generally understood to represent the primordial (or mystical) union of wisdom and compassion. In Buddhism the masculine form is active, representing the compassion and skilful means (upaya) that have to be developed in order to reach enlightenment. The feminine form is passive and represents wisdom (prajna), which is also necessary to enlightenment. The union of these two  figures symbolize the union necessary to overcome the veils of Maya, the false duality of object and subject.

Hence the power of love can overcome the illusionary perception of duality and we can return to the Garden of Eden which is our true original Divine nature.

Love to you all 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Out of the Intellectual Labyrinth

"The universe is the supreme manifestation of the sacred. This notion is fundamental to establishing a cosmos, an intelligible manner of understanding the universe or even any part of the universe.. We must remember that it is not only the human world that is held securely in this sacred enfoldment but the entire planet. We need this security, this presence throughout our lives. The sacred is that which evokes the depths of wonder. We may know some things, but really we know only the shadows of things." ............Thomas Berry

Recently there is great excitement in the theoretical physics community as to what to expect from the upgraded CERN particle collider. Ever since the Higgs event was observed in 2014 the power of the particle accelerator has been augmented to nearly twice the previous capacity. {The upgrade was intended to beef up its maximum collision capacity from 8 (TeV) to 14 TeV (TeV = Teraelectronvolts)}
minuscule percentage of even the science community understands the mathematical and inferential process of how a particle is found (The Higgs Boson has a lifetime of one ten billionth of a second). Yet this is carried to the level of human conscious awareness of the entire world as something which has an absolute attribute. Though falsification is an inherent part of scientific enquiry, the money that is spent on this project defies any rational justification given that billions of people in this world live in utter poverty.

The twenty first century science has reached the very limit of conscious sensory observation and now requires virtual language and tools to postulate and experimentally verify a new hypothesis. This too at a very exorbitant cost. Many scientist believe that we are in a dangerous territory as we are trying to simulate the near Big Bang energy levels. Stephen Hawking thinks so. and warns of the theory of a "Higgs Boson doomsday", where a quantum fluctuation creates a vacuum "bubble" that expands through space and wipes out the universe, This may not happen at present energy levels but we are trying to play God in this territory. Science community is averse to using the term God but today every scientist worth his name, ever since David Bohm, agrees that there is an implicate order from which all explicit manifestations occur. Without naming the author of this underlying principle, we need to be aware of the futility of how much an evolved intelligence can fathom the very fundamental source from which it has evolved.

This takes us to the ancient warnings inherent in trying to play God. The mythological Sumerian, Biblical tale of the "Tower of Babel" or the Vedic Puranic story of "Shiva and Bhasmasura" were specifically told to indicate the destruction of the self when trying to achieve the statehood of the Divine from within the physical, mental plane. The physical system, comprising of the mind and the body, is the support vehicle of the Divine spirit and when one tries to elevate the mind-body matrix to that of the all encompassing and omnipotent Divine level, the support system disintegrates. It is for this reason that in Kundalini Yoga and other similar spiritual exercises, the guidance of an accomplished Guru becomes mandatory.

For those who may not know about the two mythological references, I will briefly touch upon these stories. In the Bible narrative, after the great flood, men from the east settle down and try to build a grand city and a tower of immense height reaching the heavens. The city signifies the abode of the spirit and the tower signifies the intelligence with which one fathoms great mysteries. The great city and the tower signify, at the individual level, the physical and mental  capacities which have been invested in us through creation. When we overreach and extend our capacities beyond the intended level then the scattering or disintegration happens. This Bible story is taken from a Sumerian myth and also is mentioned in the Quran in Sura 2:102 mentions the name of Babil. In the History of the Prophets and Kings by the 9th-century Muslim theologian al-Tabari, a fuller version is given: Nimrod has the tower built in Babil, God destroys it,

The Babylonian mythology and Abrahamic religions try to convey the same deeper message.

In the Puranic story of Shiva and Bhasmasura, Bhasmasura is the Asura or the demon king who does a very devote penance to Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva appears to his devotee and asks him what boon he needs. The Asura asks for immortality which the Lord says he cannot give as this is an attribute of only the Divine. Bhasmasura then asks that whom so ever he touches on the top of the head should be turned into ash. The Lord grants him his wish but then Bhasmasura wants to try out his boon on the Shiva himself. The story ends with the clever ploy of Lord Vishnu who seduces him in the form of a beautiful maiden, Mohini, who asks the infatuated Bhasmasura that he take  an oath of allegiance to  Mohini, by placing his hand on his head, that she will be his only wife and Bhasmasura places his hand on his own head and is turned to ash.

Thomas Berry was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and ecotheologian (although cosmologist and geologian – or “Earth scholar” – were his preferred descriptors). Among advocates of deep ecology and "ecospirituality" he is famous for proposing that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is a necessary inspiration and guide for our own effective functioning as individuals and as a species.
The holistic vision of the universe and the place of human beings is very lucidly told by him in the quote I have referred above but the concluding part of the quote is of prime importance.
" ...........We may know some things, but really we know only the shadows of things."
This saying contains a great truth. All our knowing comes through perceptions and all perceptions are mental images through our sensory inputs. All our knowledge are these acquired perceptions and inter-relationships. All sensory inputs are generated through energy vibrations (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). Hence perceptions of signature of energy vibration which Berry calls shadows cannot in themselves be devoid of subjective aberrations. To know things in totality or in its wholeness we have to move beyond the perceptive shadows into the very realm of fundamental structure of the cosmos.

I am not decrying the endeavour of the scientific inquiry and the seeking spirit of the human being but we need to tread with caution and not outstretch our limitations to the destructive point. Science today is caught in the freewheeling cycle of conjunctures and refutations and need to branch out into research in the area of planetary sustainability. I feel that further scientific research should increasingly be oriented towards grass root problems of survival of humanity and the planet.

Love to you all.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dethroning the Ego from the Centre

"The exercise of compassion is what matters in our world—dethroning yourself from the centre of your world and putting another there. Now this requires intelligent thought. You really have to think and practice the golden rule about what the other person really wants instead of what you think he ought to want. When we speak to people we should behave as Buddha or as Socrates did. Address them where they really are and not where we think they should be. We have to put ourselves in the place of another, and we have to be able to do this globally." ................Karen Armstrong

There is a theme that runs through the passion story of Christ which closely correlates with what Karen Armstrong brings out in her conversation. Though Karen has background as a Catholic nun, she has not mentioned Christ as an example in the same line as Buddha and Socrates. She must have had her own reason and probably one of which could be not to denigrate the Divine status of Christ normally held within the traditional Christian community. But my own belief is that the humanity of Christ has a lot to teach us when the mystification of His Divine nature is set aside. This was the central theme of St. Paul in most his writings.
"........... We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection." ........... Ephesians 4:13

The story of Christ's last days in His physical form, which means in his human nature, is loaded with concern for others. A total displacement of the self and concern and compassion for others. This He did not do silently but through His own examples.
This started with the washing of the feet of the apostles, which was an act of humility. His ego self was dethroned and He, though the master and teacher, becomes a slave.
Also in the Last super, the symbol of breaking of bread as a precursor to the breaking of His own body on the cross, Christ demonstrated that utter detachment is the only way to the Divine. His words as told by Luke demonstrates a continuity for all who seek the Divine.
"Then Jesus took some bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to the apostles, saying, "This is my body, which I am giving for you. Do this to remember me." ...........Luke 22: 18
This act of remembering is not at the mental level but at the level of our everyday action.
Even on the very last moment before his death, His thoughts were for those who crucified Him.
"Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing." ...........Luke 23: 34
He also entrusted the care of His mother to John.

In our lives, ever since late childhood, the central throne is incessantly occupied by our ego. All our worldly experiences and hence our perceptions leads us to staunchly enthrone our ego as the monarch of our lives.

The detachment or letting go which Buddha talked off and most spiritual masters touched upon was for this very purpose of vacating this central throne so the Divine energy which is ever present in our being can occupy this central position and lead our life. All ego strengthening nourishment comes from our mind but the nourishment of the soul can only from the heart. We have often heard people complaining about a cruel or ill tempered person as being 'hardhearted'. Compassion is the life giving spring that pours forth from the heart and compassion can only spring from a total detachment from our ego.

 St. Paul in a moment great understanding writes to his followers:
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!" ........... Philippians 2:5-8

Meister Eckhart rates ‘Detachment’ as a virtue above ‘love’. The reason he says is the best thing about love is that it compels me to love God, yet detachment compels God to love me. Now it is far greater for me to compel God to come to me than to compel myself to come to God; and that is because God is able to conform himself, far better and with more suppleness and to unite himself with me than I could unite myself with God. It is he who is detached who can truly hear the Word of God. In the eternal word, what which hears is the same as that which is heard or there is a merging or homogeneous fabric where multiplicity and distortions or distinctions disappear. The emanation dissolves into the source.

Though Meister Eckhart is difficult to understand (imagine that the audience for his sermons were ordinary parishioners in Germany) , what he means is that through the act of emptying oneself from all ego conforming attachments, there is an inherent natural flow of Divine energy which he qualifies as a
"homogeneous fabric where multiplicity and distortions or distinctions disappear..."
This is beginning of a compassionate mindset.

I will conclude this reflection with a beautiful saying by a great philosopher scientist:

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ........ Albert Einstein

Love to you all.