Saturday, April 29, 2017

Called Out of Bondage

“One must remember the central truth... about Easter and Passover. We are all called out of the house of bondage, even  as the Jews were called out of their bondage in Egypt. We are called out of bondage in the way in which the moon throws off its shadow to emerge anew, in the way that life throws off the shadow of death.” …………..Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, page 104.
When we are called out of bondage, the transition is not spontaneous but there is a stage of purification or purgation, In this process all the attachments and trappings that we had in the worldly manifestation needs to be burned away.
I would like again to refer to the events narrated in Genesis and the instruction given to Moses by God regarding the ritual of Passover. The sacrificial lamb is slaughtered and the blood which carries the life force is to be used for marking the door post as a sign of purified habitation. The meat is to be consumed so as to provide the energy needed for the new body in liberation to reach the safe shores from the pursuing Egyptian army which is the symbol of the enslaving elements in our previous existence. But any remnant of the meat which signifies the unwanted nourishments that sustained our physical existence must be burned. This is the significance of eradicating all physical attachments. The Passover ritual has a beautiful spiritual symbolism.
Here I would also like to visit the episode of Nachiketa, the teen age son of  Auddilaki Aruni, who is given away to Yama, the Lord of death by his father as a concluding element of the Viswajet Yajña.
Nachiketa descends to the kingdom of death and has to wait for three days to meet Yama. The three days of descent into hell is a common metaphor and can be seen in the descent of Christ into hell after his physical death. A wonderful understanding of the significance of this descent from a spiritual perspective is brought out by Carl Jung, in his book “Psychology and Religion”:
“The present is a time of God's death and disappearance. The myth says 'he was not to be found where his body was laid'. 'Body' means the outward visible form, the erstwhile but ephemeral setting for the 'highest value'. The myth further says that the 'value' rose again, in a miraculous manner, transformed. It looks like a miracle, for when a value disappears, it always seems to be lost irretrievably. So it is quite unexpected that it should come back. The 'three days' descent into hell during death describes the sinking of the 'vanished value' into the unconscious, where by conquering the power of darkness, it establishes a new order, and then rises up to heaven again, attaining supreme clarity of consciousness. The fact that only a few see the 'Risen One' means no small difficulties stand in the way of finding let alone recognizing the transformed value."
Yama grants Nachiketa the three boons he has asked. These boons signify a state of restoration from a previous existence into a higher realm of consciousness
The first boon is a fulfilment of acknowledging with gratitude the relational bond in the previous existence. The first boon is that; ““As the first gift, O Lord, offer this to me: when I return, released by you to the world of my father, may he receive me with a calm mind, free from anger, recognising me as I have been before; not thinking that I am dead and returning.”  ……Kathopanishad Chapter I Verse 10
This is a conscious choice of a liberated soul. This is the continuation of the final conscious words of Christ on the cross “Father forgive them for they not what they do” …………….Luke 23:34
The second boon is the liberation of all souls. This magnanimous gesture can only come from a self-realization of the non-dual nature of all existence. This is a subconscious choice through transcending the ego and physical barriers of separation. This can only be achieved from a state of total annihilation of all attachments and this is why Yama grants this boon and names it Nachiketa Yajña.  
The Holy Mass in the Catholic tradition is a ritual meant to signify this subconscious transformation where the Divine takes residence in the human.
The third boon is the state of the soul after death. Reluctantly, Yama teaches him Atma Vidya or the true knowledge of the soul. This wisdom is the wisdom embedded in the universal unconsciousness. Using this wisdom the transcending self realizes ultimate liberation.
Let me conclude this article with a quote from Kathopanishad:
“Atman, smaller than the small, greater than the great, is hidden in the hearts of all living creatures. A man who is free from desires beholds the majesty of the Self through tranquillity of the senses and the mind and becomes free from grief.” ………………….Kathopanishad Chapter II Verse 20
This lived in wisdom is the true liberation from bondage.
Love to you all

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Frog as a Symbol of Metamorphosis

Recently I read an article by Leigh Melander, Phd., a Joseph Campbell scholar on the symbolism of the frog in various cultures and mythologies signifying fertility, fortune, resurrection, and magic. She opens the article with what she experienced in the Catskill Mountain in New York state of how the Spring Peppers, a little green frog native to these regions, sing the very first warm night of Spring.
I experience this every monsoon in Chennai, India of how the tiny frogs come out with the onset of the very first heavy monsoon shower and continue their chorus throughout the night.
The few examples she had brought out were the following:
“Egyptian mythology, the Frog Goddess Heqet is a creator of life as the force that brings life into the womb, mirroring the regenerative life of the Nile as it blew past its banks each spring, bringing with it not only water and rich soil, but thousands of spring frogs. She was the patron of midwives, who called themselves ‘Servants of Heqet’ and protector of women giving birth, who often wore amulets of her as they went into labour.  But not simply a fertility and birth goddess, Heqet became a symbol of resurrection as she breathed life into Horus at the moment of his birth and his father Osiris’ death at the hand of his brother in the central myth cycle of Egyptian culture.” [1]
We can all recall the fairy tales which we read as children of the Frog price and the princess. In this story we read how the kiss of the princess transform the frog into a handsome prince. This story is a mythological episode to convey how the Divine Sophia or wisdom develops an intimate relationship with a lower nature of created manifestation resulting in a metamorphosis  into higher consciousness level.
An important point that we need to note is the capacity to hibernate till the right ambiance is available. It is the withdrawal from worldly sustenance and attachments into a deeply tranquil state, a near death state of the physical, which ensures the survival of these species. This world in which we live is the crucible where the spiritual sustenance that we need is poured. If we do not wait for the right nourishment of the soul but fully engage in activities to cling on to physical sustenance and life, we miss the moment of the arrival of true sustenance.
The new element which I wanted to bring to the reader’s attention is the deeper significance of the frog in Vedic writings.
“THEY who lay quiet for a year, the Brahmans who fulfil their vows, The Frogs have lifted up their voice, the voice Parjanya hath inspired.” [2]
“SING forth and laud Parjanya, son of Heaven, who sends the gift of rain. May he provide our pasturage. Parjanya is the God who forms in kine, in mares, in plants of earth, And womankind, the germ of life. Offer and pour into his mouth oblation rich in savoury juice: May he for ever give us food.”[3]
Life giving water is the symbol of universal consciousness in many spiritual traditions. The letter ‘Mem’ in Hebrew spiritual tradition is water, the waters of wisdom, knowledge, the Torah. Representing both waters and manifestation, it is the ability to dive deep into the wisdom. It is said that in every person is the thirst for the words of the Creator, which are the waters of life. As the frog awaits the arrival of heavenly water so also every manifested creation longs for the touch of the waters of wisdom.
This water of wisdom is the Divine consciousness which is creative force in the elevation of our consciousness to the higher domain.
One of the greatest spiritual significance of the frog can be seen in the naming of the sixth most important of the 108 Upanishads as ‘Mandukya Upanishad’. Mandukya in Sanskrit means ‘Frog’ or ‘arousal’. This Upanishad is the shortest and comprises of only twelve verses. This Upanishad forms the basis of Advaita philosophy of Adi Sankara.
“We are told [in Mandukya Upanishad] how, "the syllable Om is verily all that exists. Under it is included all the past, the present and the future, as well as that which transcends time. Verily all this is Brahman. The Atman is Brahman. This Atman is four-footed. The first foot is the Vaisvanara, who enjoys gross things, in the state of wakefulness. The second foot is the Taijasa, who enjoys exquisite things in the state of dream. The third is the Prajna who enjoys bliss in the state of deep sleep. The fourth is Atman, who is alone without a second, calm, holy and tranquil". This passage has been verily the basis upon which all the later systems of Vedantic philosophy have come to be built.” [4]                
So when we hear the frogs croak in unison, let us feel our heart resonate longing for the Divine Wisdom to drench our being.
Love to you all

[1] MythBlast: Life, Resurrection, and the Mythic Teachings of Frogs ………… Leigh Melander, Ph.D.
[2] Rigveda 7.103 verse 1
[3] Rig Veda Hymn to Parjanya
[4] RD Ranade, “A Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy”, Chapter 1, pages 35-36

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Resurrected Christ as an Image

“Let us beware of creating a darkness at noonday for ourselves by gazing, so to say, direct at the sun …………………… as though we could hope to attain adequate vision and perception of Wisdom with mortal eyes. It will be the safer course to turn our gaze on an image of the object of our quest.”  ……….Plato in ‘The Athenian Stranger’
The image of the resurrected Christ which we see in all Christian churches immediately draws us to a great spiritual mystery. Why did the canonical Gospel writers surround this great mystery with physical events? What was the purpose of this episode? Unfortunately, the doctrine of the church has assigned a miraculous and unique evet of Jesus conquering physical death through a physical resurrection. This is counter intuitive to the very great and deep spiritual mystery and dilutes a universal truth to a very individual event in an individual’s life. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans is very clear in a language a common man can understand:
“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.” ………Romans 6: 4-6
The universal nature of death and resurrection is very clearly explained by St. Paul. This happened in his own life as if Saul had not died Paul would not have resurrected. To circumvent this ontological conundrum, we have conveniently instituted a universal time delay for humanity to a physical resurrection at the end of time. With today’s truth revealed in modern cosmology, the Earth has a potential life span of billions of years and as scientific advancement takes place, humanity will spread far beyond the solar system. This raises a big question on the ‘end of days’.
The words of St. Paul has to be seen from a deeper level. When Paul talks of sin, it means the corrupted nature of the physical embodiment and when he talks of the ‘Father’, it is a reference to the Divine consciousness from which all manifestations happen.
Raghavan Iyer, a great theosophist writes in an article “The Gospel According to St. John”
“There is another meaning of the 'Father' which is relevant to the opportunity open to every human being to take a decision to devote his or her entire life to the service of the entire human family. The ancient Jews held that from the illimitable Ain-Soph there came a reflection, which could never be more than a partial participation in that illimitable light which transcends manifestation. This reflection exists in the world as archetypal humanity – Adam Kadmon. Every human being belongs to one single humanity, and that collectively stands in relation to the Ain-Soph as any one human being to his or her own father.”
A number of things have to be revealed through deeper introspection. In my previous blog article, I had dealt with the mystery of Christ and the significance of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. It is a process of redeeming the Divine consciousness which is housed in the poverty of the human body. Jesus, by subjecting himself to physical suffering and death, demonstrated how a human life has to be lived. This is the course that every human life should follow before ultimate liberation of the Divine consciousness through dispensation of the lower habitations to ultimately unite with the Father.
Jesus demonstrates the fact that it is the Divine consciousness that inhabits every manifestation through a transfiguration on Mount Tabor as well as appearing to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection and appearing thrice to the disciples.
As Plato says, human eyes cannot behold the grandeur of the Divine light which has a powerful potential of annihilation all material manifestations. Our eyes can be blinded by a direct look at the Sun.
In Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 11, Lord Krishna bestows a special sight to Arjuna to behold his universal form.
“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence. …………………… If hundreds of thousands of suns rose up at once into the sky, they might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form.” ……….BG Ch 11:8,10  
The bridge between human consciousness and the Divine consciousness is fraught with hurdles and difficulties to traverse. When seeking a passage through our mental capabilities only a limited perception is possible.
In the very first chapter of the Gospel of St. John, the apostle writes:
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it..” ……….John 1:4-5
Human beings have increasingly evolved in the darkness of illusion, of self-forgetfulness, and forgetfulness of their divine lineage. The whole of humanity may be tarnished by forgetfulness of their true eternal and universal mission. Every man or woman is born for a purpose. Every person has a Divine destiny. Every individual has a unique contribution to make, to enrich the lives of others, but no one can say what this is for anyone else. Each one has to find it, first by arousing and kindling and then by sustaining and nourishing the little lamp within the heart.        
The human Jesus and the Divine Christ in a single embodiment is the greatest gift we could receive,  As Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas:
"I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart." …………..Gospel of Thomas, Saying 17
It is very unfortunate in the past 2000 years we are trying to see with our physical eyes and hear with our physical ears and touch with our physical hands. Only a handful of mystics have gone to the heart level to perceive the Divine light. Let us transcend the physical and historical dimension and grasp the inner revelation that is given to us in Easter mystery.

Love to you all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Mystery of Christ

‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering,’ Abraham tells Isaac, and although there on the mountain at first we see only two figures – Abraham and Isaac, father and son – after a time it turns out that there is someone else in the picture: the ram caught in a thicket by its horns. The lamb, which God provided for Himself for the burnt offering! Neither Abraham nor we the readers could see how and when the ram got there; he simply was there, and had been from the very beginning. In Jewish sources, this ram is considered a creature of great importance and is included in the list of the things created at twilight at the end of the 6th day of Creation. The entirety of God’s design for the ages, His complete plan for humanity, is within this scene. At first, there are two: the father and the son; however, in the dispensation of the fullness of the times it turns out that there is also the Lamb, who from the creation of the world, was destined for sacrifice. “I heard from behind the Heavenly Veil these words: ‘Not Isaac, but the ram predestined for the burnt offering.” The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world replaces, on the altar, the one whom Father Himself has called His son and firstborn. ………… Julia Blum, Aqedah: Sacrifice of Isaac
I am writing this article as a dedication to the Holy week of the Christian calendar which we commemorate this week. The central theme of this celebration is the sacrifice of Jesus.
As Fr. Richard Rohr, the great Franciscan theologian says; the Christian community has lost the rich tapestry of the relevance of Christ consciousness as it is rooted in the historical Jesus in all its dissemination of the sacred knowledge that has come to us through the Biblical writings. The above passage from the writings of Julia Blum and how the backdrop of Christ consciousness can be seen from the very beginning of creation from a mythological perspective could be useful in our seeking the deeper truth hidden in the Biblical writings. In the New Testament Jesus himself declares:
“Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” ……..John 8:58.
Also in John’s Gospel the very first chapter deals with Logos. The Logos or Vac in Vedic philosophy is the ever-existent Divine consciousness. "Vac is essentially the creative force that brings forth all forms expressions as also the existence. It is an emanation from out of silence which is the Absolute. Vac is also the river and the embodied or god-personified as word," ……..Chandogya Upanishad Ch 3:2:1
This consciousness finds its fullness in the physical Jesus as the Christ manifest. It is contained in limitation. This is a great mystery and difficult to comprehend. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas:
"If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.” …….Gospel of Thomas - Saying 29
The children of Abraham were shown this mystery through a mythological symbolism of the ever present Lamb which is intended for sacrifice. The father and son existence is ever present as the Divine consciousness and in its temporal embodiment, but it is Jesus the Lamb that is sacrificed and the ever-existent Christ who is raised to be seated at the right hand of the Father. This Christ consciousness is imbibed in the second coming when every son and daughter of man is born again of the spirit. This is the Trinitarian third person as Holy Spirit.
Orthodox Christian faith believes that Jesus of Nazareth was personally identical with the eternally existent Son of God or Logos. Here Christians hold the pre-existence of a divine person—something distinct from other notions such as the pre-existence of the Jewish Torah in which we have the mythological symbolism of the Lamb created on the sixth day of creation.
Pre-existence means rather that Jesus (not Christ) personally belongs to an order of being other than the created, temporal one. His personal, divine existence transcends temporal (and spatial) categories; it might be better expressed as trans-existence, meta-existence, or, quite simply, eternal existence. Current theological view is a very limited and distorted one in the light of current cosmology where time is only a product of the human mind and revelations in our study of nature of consciousness.
In one of my talks to a group of theologians, I was asked if what I hold be true then given that there could be billions of planets only in the Milky Way and the billions of galaxies in the universe, can it be assumed that Jesus came to redeem only humanity on earth and what about other planets where we could have human like souls. I think the question itself answers our limitation when we equate mythology to history.
The all-pervading Divine consciousness can only be perceived in limitation with the human mind and mythology plays a role in revealing the deeper layers of higher order truth and capping it with a fossilized dogma is crippling in our spiritual journey.

Love to you all.