Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Divine Dancer

"The mask, the costume, and the living of the role through to the end: by this device man detached himself from his personal pains and joys—just as a dancer does in a dance. Human life was literally sublimated, and man's body became, as it were, the vehicle of a god; that is to say, a symbol of the play of eternity in time." ………The Ecstasy of Being, Joseph Campbell
Only a person who could feel the emotions induced by mythology  deeply within himself could write these beautiful words.
This also resonates with what William Shakespeare spoke through the mouth of Jaques in “As You Like It”:
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”
It is Joseph Campbell who identified that In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. a framework for all the life journeys of heroes in mythological stories.
Our life purpose is this adventure. We come to be victorious and to be transformed to return to our home.
Each one of us in this world are in a monomyth in our spiritual journey. The physical body is only a vehicle. This theme is common in many spiritual traditions.
In the Bhagavad Gita, the chariot as the body, the horses as the senses and the Divine charioteer clearly symbolizes the Divine instructions and guidance we receive in our physical and spiritual life through the path of Bhakti, Karma and Jnana to return to the Godhead.
The Merkabah mysticism of the Jewish mystic tradition signifies the vision of Ezekiel where he witnesses the glory of God carried in a chariot by four angels, four beings, four faces and driven on four wheels all signifying the four dimensional existence of the vehicle which is the manifest image of God. The image of the ‘Seraphim’, the angels that are in the images of flashing fire ascending and descending signifies the life force in the body of creation. The chariot itself is driven by the ‘likeness of man’ sitting of jeweled throne, signifying God as the prime mover.
Like the vision of Ezekiel, the duration of the human life is but brief. We do not see with the wisdom of Ezekiel the true revelation of life but get rooted in the outward sensory perceptions which reside in surface realities. As Campbell says; we devote our attention to the mask, the costume and the role that we take on that dominates our life. We do not pay attention to the inner self which is playing the role.
I have had the personal experience of how impressionist we can become. Once I was travelling on a flight from Chennai to Tiruchirappalli, which is a very short journey of forty minutes. One of the greatest film actor of the time, Sivaji Ganesan, was sitting in the front row. The plane, being a turboprop, had only about twenty rows of seat. Being a very illustrious actor many people struck up a conversation with him. I was amazed how his normal conversation was almost fully theatrical. I think this is what acting various roles for over 300 films can do to you. Imagine the roles we play every moment of our lives.
We forget who we are in reality and what is our origin and what is our destination. To illustrate this let me close this article with the quote from the sixth chapter of one of earliest Assyrian myths; “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. This chapter is aptly named “The Return”
“Utnapishtim said, ‘As for you, Gilgamesh, who will assemble the gods for your sake, so that you may find that life for which you are searching? But if you wish, come and put into the test: only prevail against sleep for six days and seven nights.' But while Gilgamesh sat there resting on his haunches, a mist of sleep like soft wool teased from the fleece drifted over him, and Utnapishtim said to his wife, ‘Look at him now, the strong man who would have everlasting life, even now the mists of sleep are drifting over him.' His wife replied, ‘Touch the man to wake him, so that he may return to his own land in peace, going back through the gate by which he came.' Utnapishtim said to his wife, ‘All men are deceivers, even you he will attempt to deceive; therefore bake loaves of bread, each day one loaf, and put it beside his head; and make a mark on the wall to number the days he has slept.'”
Utnapishtim is the man of wisdom and his wife symbolizes the prompter, our inner voice and she says: “…………., Touch the man to wake him, so that he may return to his own land in peace, going back through the gate by which he came.”
The gate through which we come is the entrance to our physical realm and our true waking up is the return to the land from where we came.

Love to you all

Monday, January 15, 2018

Metaphor of the Promised Land

Today the whole of America celebrates the “Martin Luther King” day.
 “And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out, or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man.” ………..Martin Luther King, a few days before he was martyred
Promised land is a metaphor for ecstatic spiritual experience.
Ecstasy comes from the Greek word ‘Ekstasis’ which means to "to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere". Let me digress a little here into Existential Philosophy where the sum total of one’s consciousness is the result of the exterior world through one’s senses and hence we always stand outside of ourselves. This then provides us with a situation where in to stand outside of oneself means outside of one’s objectively modulated consciousness. This is in contrast to the term ‘enstasis’ which means from "standing-within-oneself" which relates to contemplation from the perspective of a speculator. This therefore means that in ecstasy  one has to undertake a subjective experiential journey away from our usual psychic space. There is a double negation from a logical perspective. Hence we may conclude that in ecstasy, the removal to elsewhere, one has to move away from dualities.
This ‘elsewhere’ is the promised land. In our lives we are given glimpses of the promised land from time to time from mountain tops of spiritual experience. We ignore these wonderful moments thinking that the promised land lies in the future, in some heavenly reward.
When we read the Bible, we always attach the metaphorical reference to God’s promise of the promised land to Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses and the children of Israel to a geographical location. But this level of thinking comes from a low level of spiritual consciousness. If we examine the situation at various context we can see that Abraham, who was son of an idol maker, is taken to new land which is symbolic of new level of spiritual consciousness. When Abraham sets out from the land where he lived, the land was struck with severe famine, this is spiritual starvation, and he moves to the land of Egypt, which is a symbol of spiritual wisdom and abundance.
Why I make this claim is that the great depth psychologist, Carl Jung, assigns Egypt as the place of spiritual wisdom. In his book “The Seven Sermons to the Dead”, which is he writes in the name of Basilidas of Alexandria, he says,; Alexandria is the city where the East meets the west”. His very first lines of the first sermon says:
“The dead came back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought. They prayed me (Basilidas) let them in and besought my word, and thus I began my teaching.”
Jerusalem was notorious for a place desired by the worldly powers and has a materialistic significance.
The vision of the promised land is always from the mountain top, signifying a very level of spiritual consciousness. Moses was shown the promised land from Mount Nebo before he died.
It is apt for Jesus to manifest his Divine consciousness, through transfiguration, on mount Tabor.
Martin Luther King says: “………... I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
In everyone’s life we are shown the promised land. The experiences we have when we touch someone’s inner wellbeing, when we experience love and compassion, when we bestow an act of kindness without any expectations or when we behold the creation of the Divine on a clear dark night with millions of stars and the Milky Way arching on the vault of the sky, these are the glimpses of the Promised Land.
Fr. Richard Rohr, a great contemporary Franciscan theologian says:
“Even Pope John Paul II said at a Vatican conference on June 28, 1999 that heaven and hell were primarily eternal states of consciousness more than geographical places of later reward and punishment. We seem to be our own worst enemies, and we forget or deny things that are just too good to be true.”
Let enjoy heaven on earth like Gandhi, Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela and many other souls who had the vision of the promised land during their lives.
Love to you all.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Esoteric significance of “Rāsa Līla”

(Lord Krishna’s blissful dance with the 10 Gopīs)
“Go” (cow) in Sanskrit also stands for the 10 senses.
Gopīs refer to the devotional inclinations of the mind (citta-vtti in Yoga) that control, guard, protect, nourish and herd our senses. Lord Krishna is the Supreme Lord of the senses (Hṛṣikeśa).
Rādhā Rāni (personified love and devotion) and her 9 attendants direct all our 10 senses away from the impermanent world towards the Lord of the Senses, the only Eternal Blissful One. When every sense is directed towards the Lord, who is the supreme abode of ultimate bliss, “rasa” (nectar of bliss) starts to flow from our heart into our life. This is the esoteric significance of Rāsa Līla (the Divine Play). This divine play is being played in everybody’s heart (vaikuntha), but only the devotees can partake in the bliss after becoming aware of it.” ………….The Great Upanishads - FB
Citta-vtti occurs in the very beginning  of Patañjali's  Yoga Sutra. This stanza says: “Yoga citta-vtti nirodhah” which means the essence of Ashtanga Yoga is the removal of the modification of consciousness. The method is defined through the eight limbed path in the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali. In the above passage the very attributes that are needed to modify the mind or consciousness is illustrated through a symbolism of the “Rāsa Līla”. Lord Krishna is seen dancing simultaneously with Radha as well as with all the nine Gopīs. This is because Radha and the Gopīs are an integral part but different dimensions of the very nature of the Divine. The symbolism of these attributes is explained below.
Rādhā, is the personification of devotion and worship which signifies a deep personal bond between the creator and the manifested. This is the reason that she is the primary escort of the Lord and dances in the very centre of the manifestation of consciousness in the created world. This also denotes the all-pervasive nature of the Divine consciousness as an integral part of the manifested consciousness.
Gopālī  is the personification of the authentic nourisher of the senses. In this world, we are constantly nourished and fed by maya or illusion through various perceptions which are rooted in purely the external objective attributes of a deeper consciousness. If we remain rooted at this level we are not in a position to appreciate the holistic and interconnected and integral nature of every objective manifestation.
Pālikā is the guardian, protector, nourisher and signifies the constant vigil and protection that is needed to lead us into the deeper nature of the manifest world to seek the Divine union.
Dhanyā is the personification of the blessed one who has been bestowed with Divine Grace or wisdom. To ascend from the Muladhara or the earthly domain to the Sahasrara or the cosmic domain, not only our personal effort of elevating our consciousness through sadhana or spiritual exercises is needed but the assistance of the Divine in drawing up our intention into its own bosom is very much needed.
Viśākhā is the symbolism of a branchless, singular and focused attribute. It is the laser sharp intensity that penetrates the thick koshas or covering in which the supreme consciousness lies buried within us.
Dhaniṣṭhikā is the symbolism of spiritual wealth which is acquired through various spiritual exercises and constant practice of any form of Yoga, namely; Bhakti, Karma, Jnana or Raja Yoga.
Anurādhā  symbolizes the one that follows in worship. This is the qualification which opens up the path which lies hidden to the lower levels of consciousness.
Somā  is the attribute of the reflected radiance, soothing like the moon light. This is the first stage of the living a Divine presence in one self. As the moon, which though in direct contact with the Sun, provides the soothing light to lovers in the world, when one reflects the Divine presence he or she becomes an instrument of bond of all creation to the Divine.
Ābhā is the personification of a spiritual adept who has gained the radiance to illuminate the spiritual path which leads to the portal of eternal bliss and
Tārakā is the one that leads to the other side of the river. She symbolizes the boatman of Siddhartha who tells him:
"The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth...in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future...Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man [are] only separated by shadows, not through reality...Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence." …………Hermann Hesse in “Siddhartha”, Chapter 9.
Let this beautiful symbolism lead us to deeply understand the impermanence of the world and our own eternal nature.

Love to you all