Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Liberation at the Point of Death

“Let us prepare, and let us study Truth in all its aspects, trying not to ignore any of them, if we do not wish, when the hour will have struck, to fall into the abyss of the unknown. It is useless to rely on chance, and to await the approaching intellectual and psychic crisis with indifference if not with total incredulity, saying to oneself that if worse comes to worst, the tide will carry us quite naturally to the shore; for there is a strong likelihood of the tide stranding but a corpse! The battle will be fierce, in any case, between brutal materialism and blind fanaticism on the one hand, and on the other, philosophy and mysticism - that more or less thick veil of the Eternal Truth. It is not materialism that will have the upper hand.” ……………H. P. Blavatsky, “La Revue Theosophique,” March 1889

“Faustus is gone; regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise,
Only to wonder at unlawful things
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practice more than heavenly power permits.” …………………Christopher Marlowe in “Faustus”

Today, 2nd November is the All Souls Day in the Christian tradition. This day remind us of the end of the journey in this life. Life has to be a continuation preparation. This is so important that Tibetan Buddhism gives top priority to the contemplation of death.
“The Tibetan Book of the Dead” – or the “Bardo Thodol” is the English translation of the famous Tibetan death text, Bardo Thodol means “liberation by hearing on the after death plane”, it was originally written in the Tibetan and is meant to be a guide for those who have died as they transition from their former life to a new destination.  Life has to be a an excellent preparation for death.

When I first read the quote of Madame Blavatsky in an article by Sri Raghavan Iyer, this immediately took me to the final farewell sung by the choir in the play “Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe. This play is very familiar to me as I played the part of Faustus in the play during my younger days.
This is the journey of almost the entire humanity.

Faustus' contract with Mephistopheles, the devil or evil incarnated in an attractive form, is that he will sell his soul to the devil for exchange of all knowledge and the possession of all power and beauty of the world. Faustus is totally immersed and intoxicated with this new found power of his ego that he forgets that his time of the contract is about to end and his soul will be lost forever. The last act is the soliloquy of Faustus appealing to the universe, Christ and Helen, his consort, to save him. But the lament is futile and  Mephistopheles comes and claims his soul.

This is an excellent portrayal of every human being as they are engaged in the pursuit of worldly pleasures and power but fail to realize that the purpose of human life is elevation of one’s consciousness towards the higher echelons of Divine plenum.
The raison d’etre of this deluded nature of existence is that we assume that we are in a raft called life and it carries us from birth to death and we need not exercise any control over the direction of this journey. This river on which we float has innumerable branches but most of them discharge into a unfathomable chasm of destruction. There is only one true tributary of this river which leads us to Eternal Truth or Bliss.

The philosophy and Mysticism which Blavatsky speaks of, as the thick veil covering the soul, is the reference to intuitive language and abstraction that can be used to unlock the Eternal Truth which is the very composition of the Soul. Every task we are appointed to do in this life whether it be hard toil, tending the soil, teaching, nursing etc., must be performed keeping in mind the very ethical basis on which they have to be carried out without any self-deception, leave alone exploiting the world around us for our self-benefit. There is a wonderful word in the Bhagavad Gita “Nishkamakarma” which is action without any desire. As in the case of Dr. Faustus his entire life was devoted to self-aggregation of knowledge, power, wealth and pleasure until the point of crisis.

Many spiritual masters like Krishna, Buddha, Christ and Mohamed came into this world and warned humanity of the need to direct our path towards soul nourishment. The teaching of the wise masters provided the necessary fodder for strengthening us to face the challenges of the course.
Jesus said: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” …..Mark 8:36

It is unfortunate that the very philosophies that were expounded by these masters to the common man in stories and to their close followers in a more esoteric manner have been taken at the literal level without any significance attached to their deeper and mystical dimension.

Clear examples are how the parables, puranas, mythologies and rituals which were told to touch the deeper layers of the self through a mystical dimension, have been fossilized through a historical attribute of a physical and material worldly character.

In a beautiful parable, Jesus told of the importance of being awake and vigilant when we will be called for the Divine Banquet which the day of our death.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”…………..Matthew 25: 1-13

Let us always be aware of the ultimate destination lest we be caught unprepared for the transition into the next stage of our soul. The teachings, philosophies and mysticism of the spiritual masters is oil that keeps our soul lamp burning awaiting the bridegroom in whose chamber there is the ultimate union of the human and the Divine.

Love to you all.

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