Friday, October 30, 2015

Searching for the Messiah

"Once a rabbi met the prophet Elijah. The rabbi asked Elijah, “When will the messiah come?”
Elijah said, “Go and ask him yourself when he’s coming.” The rabbi said, “Where is he?”
Elijah said, “He’s sitting at the city gate, covered in bandages’
So the rabbi went and asked the messiah, “When will you come?” The messiah said, “Today.”
The rabbi came back and relayed this to Elijah: “The messiah is coming today!”
Elijah responded with temperance, saying “the messiah meant today, if you listen to God’s voice.
The world to come is here. The unknown is as close as your breath. What this means is that, as Wendell Berry writes, “What we need is here”; yet we must be careful to not grasp in the presence of that knowing, lest we fall to irretrievably into the world of names." .............Joshua Boettiger, "NAMING THE UNNAMEABLE: Advice on living in two worlds, PARABOLA, Fall 2012, “The Unknown.”

When I read the above passage I was moved by the immensity of its meaning and power. The word "messiah" comes from the Greek word Kristos and according to one theory, it is ultimately derived from the Egyptian word "kheru", meaning "Word" or "Voice" (cognates: logos, chrism; charisma).
For me the holistic meaning of Messiah from both etymological background and from a deeper spiritual evocation is the presence of the never changing consciousness from the very beginning of all manifestations. It is the primal energy or as told in scriptures, the Word or Logos or Vac in Vedic spirituality.

The Egyptians were probably the first to deeply understand the cosmic nature of the human manifestation and all creation. Their iconic representations and their scriptures are ample proof of the eternal nature of the primal causative energy or consciousness that pervades all creation.
Egyptian mythology is steeped in representation of the events in human life, death and resurrection through mapping of astronomical events.
This convinces me that the word Kristos or Messiah had its root in the Egyptian word Kheru.

Having established this background, I want to take us to the story of the Rabbi and Prophet Elijah.
What is the link as to why for knowing the coming of the Messiah, Elijah is consulted by the learned Rabbi. What foreknowledge did he have. This takes us to the episode in the life of Prophet Elijah. When there was a Divinely ordained famine in the land of Israel, Elijah hears the word of God to go to the Land of Sidon where he will be given food. He meets a very poor woman who has just enough ingredients for a last meal for her and her son. But Elijah tells her that God will provide and to bake him  the first bread. The woman implicitly obeys and we are told that there was a perennial supply of bread.
The deeper meaning of this is normally interpreted as having faith but we need to go beyond just blind faith. It is the deep understanding of the Divine presence as a continuous entity pervading all space and time. The limitless and timeless nature of the Divine Logos is the Messiah. If we limit it to one historical or human person then we fail to grasp the deep import of this concept of Messiah. This story tells us that not only Elijah but the poor woman of Sidon was a Messiah.

We are easily fooled by name and form. The external appearance or a status assigned by society cannot qualify a person to be a Messiah. Vividly, the above story tells us that the true knowledge of when the Messiah is to come is available with a beggar covered with sore at the city gate.
When Christ is asked by the disciples, He said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised."] ................Saying 5 "Gospel of Thomas"
This is what is called in Buddhism as the Awakened state. To be awake does not just means to keep your eyes open but to be deeply aware of the true nature of all things.

This is beautifully summed up at the end of the opening quotation.
"What this means is that, as Wendell Berry writes, “What we need is here”; yet we must be careful to not grasp in the presence of that knowing (knowledge through objective perceptions)* , lest we fall to irretrievably into the world of names." [* my addendum in Italics]

This is the cosmic perspective of the messianic message that is to cast away our limited sensory or objective understanding and to realize that the constant presence of Divine consciousness as the Messiah within and without and thus transcend space and time to relate to the WORD that resonates from the beginning of creation. 

Love to you all.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Deity as a Function

"In the poetic mythological systems, the power that one is addressing out there is a magnifying image of the power that's operating in oneself. One's deity is a function of one's own ability to experience and conceive of the divine. It is the reflex of one's own position in the spiritual hierarchy.
As the Chāndogya Upanishad puts it; "Tat tvam asi" (Thou art that").
The mystery of your being is that mystery which you cannot conceive of, which lies beyond the touch of the tongue, and which is metaphorically referred to by the images of your pantheon.
.......................... "Joseph Campbell, "Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine," p. 101

It is most common that the Deity or God is seen as an object of great external universal power and hence there arises in humans a need to worship, venerate and appease this object from a need for self preservation and well being with all its associated worldly assets with a bit of spiritual reward or punishment thrown in as an additional motive.
It is in Advaida philosophy that the concept of non duality is clearly brought out and in clear terms Swami Vivekananda writes:
“There is no God separate from you, no God higher than you, the real 'you'. All the gods are little beings to you, all the ideas of God and Father in heaven are but your own reflection. God Himself is your image. 'God created man after His own image.' That is wrong. Man creates God after his own image. That is right. Throughout the universe we are creating gods after our own image. We create the god and fall down at his feet and worship him; and when this dream comes, we love it!”
.....................Swami Vivekananda, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: v. 3

While the words of Swami Vivekananda is powerful, how does a common devotee relate to this esoteric concept. This is where we have powerful iconic representations with associated mythologies that can form a continuous bridge between the four domains of one's consciousness, namely;
  •          The lower curve represents the Gross, Conscious, Waking state level, called Vaishvanara.
  •          The centre curve represents the Subtle, Unconscious, and Dreaming level, called Taijasa.
  • ·        The upper curve represents the Causal, Subconscious, and Deep Sleep level, called Prajna.
  •          The fourth state, the absolute consciousness, which encompasses, permeates, the other three, and is called Turiya

Joseph Campbell, who researched and wrote extensively on world mythologies including Vedic, Sumerian and other Occidental and Oriental mythologies, defines deity as a function. This function is creation of an image within a mythological narrative and as Swami Vivekananda says: "............. Man creates God after his own image. That is right. Throughout the universe we are creating gods after our own image. We create the god and fall down at his feet and worship him; and when this dream comes, we love it!”

This Anthropomorphic, objective image creation has so dominated the monotheistic religions and traditions of humanity that we have increasingly moved away from the ancient and pagan traditions where iconic images of deities, though created with anthropomorphic forms had superhuman attributes (such as possessing many arms signifying cosmic level comprehension and functioning, disproportionate breasts and hips of Goddesses of fertility signifying continuous creation, wings for messenger Gods, etc.,) to evoke the stirrings in the innermost reaches of human consciousness to connect to the supreme spirit.

This is the function that Joseph Campbell talks of in his book. The pantheon of Gods and Goddesses we create are the functions of our inner longing from the state of Turiya or absolute consciousness and given expression to provide a tangible validity for instant future evocation.
Whenever we read mythological narratives or look at images of Gods and Goddesses, it is obligatory on our part to move to the inner realms of our consciousness and find that all important functional connectivity.

Let me conclude this short article with an apt quote:
“You do not need any preacher or prophet to learn about God. The teaching is spread on the trees and the mountains, on the stars and the river, on the Sun and the moon. The ultimate teaching is written in your heart. You just need to wake up and see.” .........Banani Ray


Love to you all.