Archives for the month of: April, 2013
Credit: ISKCON

Credit: ISKCON

” If the soul could have known God without the world, the world would never have been created” – Meister Eckhart, sermons.

This is an amazing quote from the great 13th century controversial Christian mystic and theologian which is so relevant to the subject of my post. Was the world then created so that souls could understand the problems of an earthly existence and thus graduate to a level bringing them closer to God?  The concept of the soul and its purpose in embodiment on the physical plane has been discussed at length in Hindu scriptures also. The soul is said to be a fragment of divinity embedded in the body and obliged to remain entrapped for successive rebirths until the personality-ego-body complex shrouding it evolves to perfection, It is only then that it gets released from captivity to merge back into its divine origins.

Meister Eckhart echoes this Hindu assertion of the presence of God in the individual soul and its divinity, when he says: ” man should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of  it man may wonderfully attain to God”, He goes on to say :” there is something in the soul that is so akin to God that it is one with Him…. it has nothing in common with anything created.”

New Age thinkers have also examined the concept of the soul and sought to give their own interpretations. Their inspiration comes from the emerging mysteries of Quantum Physics which has transplanted the Newtonian world of mechanical certainties on which science heretofore relied. They have also been influenced by the investigation of paranormal phenomena outside the framework of orthodox religion by the scientific establishment and reputed institutions of learning in the West. Their views formulated on the soul are pretty close to that of Hinduism though with some unique and far-reaching modifications in the concepts. The Hindu view and the New Age view agree that the experience of material existence is important for the soul and for achieving its purpose and it is for this reason that it gets embodied.

An ethereal eternal entity of light and energy, the soul is too boundless to have limitations. Experiencing the limitations, confinement and mortality even through the proxy of the personality-ego-body complex becomes essential to understand the ethical secrets that the physical plane holds. Restricted mobility, imperfections, disabilities, disease, consumption, renewal, reproduction and competition can only be fully understood from within. This then is Earth School where souls get educated on need and want, competition, confrontation, or conflict invoved in survival, all manner of inter-relationships and the complex ethical issues thrown up. The soul also acts as a compass on the ship of life providing guidance and direction to the personality-ego-body it is attached to, helping it to evolve. In some unexplained manner this experience in the Earth School  also serves to help in the evolution of the soul. This is not clearly mentioned anywhere but it appears as Meister Eckhart explains, that the experience is a ticket so to speak for being ushered into the divine fold or presence, which the soul yearns for. This needs further research for confirmation whether the soul is there to help only or to get help as well?

The concept of the soul however gets modified by New Age thinkers and answers  the second part of the question. It is no longer as distinct from the personality as conceived in Hindu scriptures. While the Hindu view is that the soul is a fragment of divinity, perfect, eternal and unblemished, the New Age view is that while the soul is eternal and ethereal it is capable of developing negativity and blemish. It is like a radiant sun that can develop sun spots and in order to heal it chooses to incarnate into a personality of its choosing to undergo a physical experience which would heal it. This descent to the physical plane through a massive reduction of its unlimited power and force into the incarnated personality is for the purpose of healing itself.

The term Earth School where the healing through experience takes place has been coined and used extensively by Gary Zukav in his book ‘Seat of the Soul’, which I consider the New Age bible on the soul. Thus we see that New Age thinkers have made a fundamental modification in the concept of the soul and its purpose in incarnation. The other major modification which follows is that of choice in reincarnation as opposed to the premise that the Law of Karma leaves no choice and the soul willy-nilly has to inhabit the next incarnation determined by the Law of Karma based on the actions of the personality in the just completed life. This modification with far-reaching implications I shall seek to examine in the next post.

The foregoing may appear esoteric and academic but is important for researching the theme of my blog. Furthermore, concepts as they evolve, in my view, begin to have a fundamental effect on human behaviour and thinking.

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Credit: accuracyandaesthetics.com

Credit: accuracyandaesthetics.com

Almost everything we do, our common and uncommon pursuits, our mannerisms, courtesies, behaviour, transactions, the very language of life is governed by the arithmetics of exchange.

”How much do i have to pay”,”I owe him my life”,”We have to repay their kindness”,”That was wonderful, thank you”,”do not be ungrateful”, ”He is deep in debt”, ”They are in love”, ”It is now our turn to invite them”, ”We should return the call”, ”what is the fare?”, ”The contract has been concluded”, ”Nothing comes from nothing”, ”What you sow so  shall you reap”, ”Do  unto others as you would have them do unto you”, ”Fair exchange is no robbery” – and so on the equations of exchange proceed indefinitely.

Thus in the fundamentals of life there is giving and receiving. And this is not only unique to civilized man alone. The simple give and take is evident in fish, as you may observe in an aquarium. We have all seen how monkeys take turns to groom each other, how birds will alternatively and meticulously pick out pests from the heads of their fellows, with the promise that they will receive the same consideration.

Credit: thechowaniecs.com

Credit: thechowaniecs.com

Then of course there is the symbiotic relationships of the clown fish and the anemone, the blackbird and the buffalo, beneficient bacteria and man, bee and flower – the mutual if unlikely assurance of return for valuable services rendered. Then there is the reciprocity of love allowing for the mutual satisfaction of desires.

Thus too may grow a loyalty towards family, club, school or institution. towards whom one may feel a life long obligation for their contribution to making you who you are. similar would be the sense of patriotism towards a flag or an emblem representing country and civilization to which one belongs and which gives one identity and self-esteem.

The foregoing exchanges we may call The Great Equation which governs every facet of our personal, social, political and economic life, our courtesies, mannerisms and relationships, our culture and our ideals. The Great Equation is also inherent in nature.

The Great Equation, however can be violated in two ways. When you receive something and feel no obligation to make a return like an act of  theft or give secretly without an obligation to receive even gratitude. In the one case the violation of the equation is materialistic and in the other altruistic.

Of all human traits it is altruism that does not fit into the causality of action and reaction of the Equation. The quality of kindness and compassion rejects and defies the equation, rising on the firmament of our psyche as an independent star, radiant like the sun, giving limitlessly without return. The most cruel talon, the ruthless beak, the sharpest claw, the brutish brow all dissolve before their tender offspring with a compassion without compare, moved even to sacrifice their very existence in defiance of the law of survival. We give it another name and dismiss it as maternal instinct. But it has more to do with a helpless little thing arousing protective compassion. Any chick foal or baby can bring it forth and for nothing in return. Likewise consideration for someone under the weather, sympathy in bereavement, kindness for the afflicted, charity for the needy and poor, forgiveness for the repentant, succour for the suffering. There is no reward or return here but in the experience itself and in the fulfillment of an altruistic act.

In man compassion grows beyond progeny and camaraderie to spiritual heights. all noble sentiments arise from this primal seed of spirit transcending survival, want, need, reflex, and exchange onto the evolutionary path of grace. It is therefore not surprising that in the Gita, the cycles of birth and rebirth, action and reaction, the very Law of Karma stand abrogated through a life of unattached and altruistic action, the performance of duty without hankering for fruit or reward.

Compassion then is the supreme sentiment, the seat of the spirit, the source of all good, the key to liberation, the recognition of the soul embedded in matter.  Those great spiritual adventurers who spend acts with a unique freedom, derive pleasure in acts of unusual kindness and altruism, who shake free of the orderly equation and graduate to a new level with wonder on their brow, discovery gleaming in their eyes and a fathomless satisfaction, are the ones who have  begun to evolve, taking the first experimental toddlers shaky bandy steps beyond the comfortable and familiar confines of The Great Equation, into a superior unknown.

Avalokiteshwara The Bodhisattva of compassion

Avalokiteshwara – Ajanta Caves
The Bodhisattva of compassion

Credit: artoprecision.com

Credit: artoprecision.com

The state of total satiation where every need has been met in full measure, every urge satisfied infinitely, every growth potential achieved, every desire fulfilled, all goals reached, looks attractive but would  be a vegetal state like that of the non-living or dead.

Life on the contrary is like the action of a spring, a dynamic coil with inbuilt tension. The tortured coil produces movement, as our needs propel us forward. Total fulfilment equals uncoiling the spring. We would have no volition without need, no emotion if we were entirely self-sufficient, no mobility without deprivation, no joy without the experience of sorrow, no ability without challenge, no substance without shadow.

As the spring  is coiled, so too are we constituted of needs, psychological in the brain, respiratory in the lungs, nutritional in the stomach, reproductive in the loins. Needs which, even as they are  satisfied,  renew afresh with unmitigating vigour till the very waning of needs in old age is regarded as being symptomatic of the decline of the form we inherit, rather than an indication of the salvation of that form. It is from the repetitive and ordinary rotary motions of need and fulfilment, the motor activity of  consumption, that arise the hum of great and glorious achievements, noble thoughts, superior emotions, refined sentiments, ethereal qualities, outstanding creations, remarkable feats and extraordinary cooperation. Without need-based efforts and striving, would there be a churning out of this butter, a maturing of this wine?

 We fail to value an asset whenever there is over-supply. For instance an insensitivity may develop in the very rich and self-indulgent who have never known hunger even voluntarily from fasting, the philanderer who has never experienced the pangs of a lover’s longings, the spoilt child smothered by affection who successively becomes more and more self-centred, the quality of a person who has never suffered any deprivation, want or pain. What may such a person be like –  smug, self-centred, self-indulgent, impatient, self-opiniated, snobbish and selfish, possibly, if you believe in reincarnation, a first birth after reincarnating from an inferior, say animal existence, to make the experience of earthly life more tolerable without challenge.

It is ‘want’ then that teaches us understanding, need that inculcates appreciation of  like needs in others, pain that induces humanity, loss that develops care, hunger that refines taste, thirst that allows savouring of water’s true calibre, failure that spurs effort, absence that indeed makes the heart grow fonder, sorrow that arouses sensibilities, a restless quest that engenders great movements in art, challenge that produces evolution, toil that brings discovery and invention.

Insufficiency is motivating, anguish is humanizing, the coil of the spring powerful,  the tensing of a hungry cat’s muscles is a latent force, the heavy compact budding before bursting forth in a flower is blossoming. Then is not the ‘negative’ only another necessary side of the coin, sorrow and pain as necessary as joy?

But we cannot conclude that a painless state only arises from indulgent fulfillment. According to the Gita pain in the mortal world terminates with the termination of desire or greed! That is possible if the need is curbed and desire sublimated. Then follows equilibrium and peace, not the temporary kind resulting  from gratification but the more permanent one arising from restraint, simplicity in life style. discretion in consumption, unattached action, altruism, compassion, forgiveness, charity and consideration etc. In other words in giving rather than in receiving.

Need then is the great motive force, the civilizing energy, the secret impelling mechanism, the hidden spring, the cause of volition, the suction of vacuum, the lower threshold into which heat and electricity flow, the low pressure area attracting storms into its vortex, the problems that demand solution, the helpless infant that induces motherhood, the want that induces charity, the suffering that creates compassion, the striving that produces ability, the colours,aroma and nectar of flowers that attract bees purposefully, the twisted coils which spring into action, the pull of the catapult that activates the missile, the empty universe into which creation fills. The Universal Essence implanted need everywhere to animate, civilize and evolve  his creation.

ardhnareshwar2

Credit: netglimse.com

The world we inhabit has a male principle and a female principle. The male and female are ubiquitous in nature. There is also the category of  hermaphrodite which carries the attributes of both; this category includes most species of plants, snails and some very few fish species but  rarely humans. The word hermaphrodite derives from Greek myth where the goddess Aphrodite (Venus) and god Hermes (Mercury) produced a son called hermaphrodites who later while swimming merged with a nymph enamoured by his beauty and came to have the attributes of both male and female.

Nature was never satisfied with simple monotonous cellular division of amoebas as a means of reproduction. Procreation by cloning was only the first step. Nature’s profound inner-most urge is to create variation. This is not merely on account of an aesthetic compulsion but arises from the very instinct of survival. Survival may be ensured through the artifice of variation not merely of a species but equally within  the species. No two faces must be alike no  two finger prints. A bi-polar sexuality ensures that genes will be so shuffled each time that variety will compound ad-infinitum and the result is a glorious breath taking diversity.

Beyond the genetic is the psychological factor which also appears to be a motivating force in creation. At that elevated level, the purpose is to split the unity into a duality with opposite poles, allowing a force of biological magnetism which impels its own dynamics. All life forms spend their life-span in a state of perpetual attraction, one gender with the other. While this attraction serves the essential biological purpose of procreation, equally it imparts humanity. The spin-off  is numerous varieties of love, from the conjugal to the maternal, constituting the greatest civilizing force in nature. Imagine a world where non-sexual reproduction like that of the amoeba was universally possible without the need for attraction between mates. Procreation without love or sex would be devastating as it would produce supremely self-centred beings who would treat each other with utmost indifference, if not animosity.  There would be no sharing and hedonism would grow monstrous, leading to life forms even within the same species seeking to eliminate each other in an unimaginably cold and calculating manner, much more than  at present, ensuring the extinction of species.

Beyond the psychological level, there is also a metaphysical justification for bipolar sexuality. The experience of the bliss of physical union may provide a glimpse of the greater bliss of spiritual union. Physical union replicates the soul’s quest for spiritual union with the super-soul as the Yab-Yum symbolism of ‘Mahasukh’ or Great delight of Tibetan mysticism tries to illustrate.

Sexual union in nature  indeed also reflects the perpetual union of the universal male and female principles at cosmic and metaphysical levels. When the Unmanifest  Absolute gained self-consciousness ( as against its true nature of SAT, truth, CHIT , consciousness, ANAND, bliss) with the question ‘who am I’, opposites emerged and its unity spiralled into a dream like and imaginative diversity. The diversity sought perpetually to join again into a unity, like when we wish to wake up from a dream. The dynamics of  apparent separation, which was illusory and not real, produced an even stronger dynamics of reunification, to wake up into reality. The sexuality in nature is a symptom of that dynamic.

The perfect union which preceded the dreamlike diversity of creation is symbolized as the Cosmic Hermaphrodite in Hindu mythology – the Ardhanareshwar, the Universal Essence represented as half Shiv and half  Parvati his consort in a single form combining perpetually the male and female principles in one body, in a state of continuing satisfaction and bliss. Ardhnareshwar  represents that perfect union, which we temporarily seek. It symbolizes the primal unity, before the inevitable falling into the wondrous slumber of duality, precipitating creation,with its separated male and female principles.

Tallest Statue of Ardhnareshwar, South Africa Credit: parkothkshethrampayyantemplearoli.blogspot.com

Tallest Statue of Ardhnareshwar, South Africa
Credit: parkothkshethrampayyantemplearoli.blogspot.com

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Credit: goegraphysmileyface.blogspot.com

Credit: goegraphysmileyface.blogspot.com

The spirit of mountains have enthralled us for millenia. A small local hill in a unkown town becomes its landmark casting its shadow from east and west to determine the life style of that town. People respect it, fear it and often attribute a spirit to it. Whether Fujiyama, Kilimanjaro, Vesuvius, Alps or the Himalayas they all inspire a sense of awe and  arouse mystical wonder. The Himalayas are reckoned as the seat of the gods and mystics and Yogis meditate there in its caves, while the holy river Ganges flows from its bosom to water the vast expanses of North India. A land with mountains is dominated by their presence which shapes the lives of the inhabitants, their philosophy, culture, and way of life. Once on a visit to the Himalayas I was so overwhelmed by their magnificence, stately beauty and awesome presence that I conceived a poem as a tribute to their majesty and ethereal splendour which I would like to share with you:

 

                        O F     M O U N T A I N S

 

Mountains sit and watch forever

In ranges, after all they are sentient beings;

Some lurch forward, others are contained

And drop one great rock after an eternity

In the only movement they know.

Mountains in motion are so slow

Like petals of flowers unfolding,

Plant and mineral in invisible motion

To our own fast forward mode,

More  imperceptible  even than their shadows

Shifting with the sun, forms and shapes

Watching our movements

Below their pensive profiles,

Holding us in stony thoughts millenia old;

But they grow like tallest Everest, hold

Crystals in their breasts and reefs of gold

And let precious waters in rivulets flow,

Or then their innards blow sky-high

As volcanos

In their only flowering,

Growing with the lava flow another shoulder,

Thigh or infant boulder,

Spreading against the sky expressions of ash

with rumbling roars,

Shaking the earth with their millennial spring

Before resuming their timeless chores

Of rocky meditations swathed in snow.

Credit: bibleprophecyupdate.com

Credit: bibleprophecyupdate.com

Meditations on Time Frames and Speed produced some insights which I wish to share with you. The insights are somewhat cerebral and obtuse but well worth entertaining in trying to get a sense of the nature of our Universal Essence.

Speed of light is our parameter. Someone, so to speak, has fixed the framework with light as the yardstick. Beyond the speed of light Einstein conceived of a negative, the inexplicable, the mysterious. Light, the fastest material phenomenon brightens and illumines as it falls. Other material and not so material phenomena move at their own inherent speeds. Sound, for instance, is tortoise to light’s hare. The earth’s orbital and axial movements have their own speed or rate of movement – so too jets and aircraft, automobiles and ships, birds and fish, cheetahs and horses, snails and turtles, growth in plants and flowering, chemical reactions, winds and storms. All movement at a speed. Then we have the speed of thought, the quick repartee, the healthy reflex, pulse rate, pace of economic development, the historical passage of ages – a universe of differing speeds between the inert and the supersonic. Between  inertia nad the speed of light there is the entire spectrum of the known world.

Our own minds have the swiftness of  light as mental activity relies on electrical pulses, which are also at the speed of light or close to it. Metabolic speed and life spans determine the play of life. Thus, the short life span of a moth or butterfly we can say is at a greater speed, where period of growth, reproduction and death are encompassed within days whereas the human has four score years for the same, at a more ‘retarded’ pace. If the butterfly’s life appears swift and ephemeral, what of some micro-organisms who may have only moments?  There lives could be compared to  a film in fast-forward mode.

Within us too our micro-organisms and cells work at a relatively greater ‘speed’ with short time frames to make our own longevity possible. They work ‘faster’ to maintain our relatively sluggish pace even as concentric pulleys of a clock oscillate feverishly for the imperceptible movements of its hands, or the gears of a car at idling or again the electrons of an atom within an apparently stationary piece of solid metal.

Can we conceive of a slower pace than ours wherein it may take centuries for a phase of growth, which in us may be achieved in barely two decades, in an insect in a day and in a virus in just a moment? Further, that such a phenomenon of growth may contain within itself the combined speed or pace of our racial or human effort. Picture the spirit of a people and their civilization evolving slowly while its innumerable individual constituents move at far greater speeds to maintain the slow forward momentum of their civilization. If we were to take one more anterior step it may be possible to view the even more retarded velocities of  human evolution, so utterly slow as to encompass millenia, the forward movement being hardly perceptible, such as the descent of man from the arboreal world, the evolution of the human organism, the development of the cerebral cortex.

If we use this electronic microscope of conjecture further in reverse, God alone knows what speed we might arrive at in the still and leviathan macro-expanses of the universe, the fast speeds being encompassed in the structures of slower ones and these in turn becoming parts of still slower structures  ad-infinitum, slower and slower, until we may arrive at a final immobility, the final immobility, which contains within itself all mobilities, an immeasurable eternity, the final unity containing all diversities, the silence that does not move like the eye of the cyclonic storm, the heart of creation which is in a state of the equilibrium of truth (Satyam), consciousness (Shivam), beauty (Sundaram) and bliss ( Anandam). 

Senior

S E N I O R

The unity in diversity of creation works on the twin principle of Similarity and difference. In the previous post I sought to  examine this in some depth. Even in the same species we would observe that this is quite marked. No two humans can ever be the same. Nor for that matter two of any kind.

Photo_daisy

D A I S Y

Here I am reminded of our four cats. when I arrived in Morocco to take up my diplomatic assignment I found that in addition to the beautiful residence we also inherited three cats left behind by our predecessors. There was Senior the neutered Tom who looked like a mini tiger and Daisy and Sandy, both ladies again neutered. Senior was large, well-mannered and serious given to meditating, I suspect about the next meal. Daisy was attentive and possessive about the house but friendly and  followed us everywhere  as if to keep an eye on us. Sandy was always absent and aloof. Their former mistress would make it a point to visit Morocco from time to time apparently just to see them again. She would arrive at the residence unannounced and tell the guard not to bother us as she had come only to see her cats! We therefore only by chance got to meet her once when the only communication was about how we should look after them. She also always came loaded with gifts of special  meals for her cats. We knew how she felt about her cats and did not impose ourselves on her.

K I T T Y

MATURE KITTY

Then one day a grey cute kitten appeared from nowhere in our yard and we said wo not a fourth cat!! The kitten made herself at home and showed no sign of leaving though we tried to find out if she had strayed from the neighbours. so while we were forced to adopt the three cats left by the predecessors, the fact was that Kitty simply decided to adopt us, no questions asked. ( notice her smile). Alas Sandy could never be found for a pic to be taken lol)

All four were doubtless cats in every shape and form. All given to scratching tress and furniture and if they found a rodent each would display cat-nature by capturing it, playing with it and disabling it sadistically before making a meal of it. One can say that they did all the things which cats do and in this they were identical. But there the similarity ended. It felt as if four beings were housed in cat bodies and the four beings were as different as chalk and cheese. Apart from the fact that they were cats there was absolutely nothing similar about them. Those who have kept pets or observed animal behaviour carefully would understand this well.

For instance my Budgerigars or for that matter my Chinese Paradise Fish, no two were alike and I don’t mean their colours. A father Budgey is meant to share feeding his offspring as much as the mother or they wont survive. But one of my father Budgeys was a pathological killer of his own offspring. Entering the nest he would begin by pretending to feed them and the mother but then would proceed to  wound the chicks rather than feed them, to the horror of the screeching mother Budgey. I could hear it happening in the night not knowing what to do for if I separated him the chicks would die of starvation along with the mother who never left her nest. fortunately the mother kept his pathology in check with her calls and the chicks survived with their wounds. The other males were dutiful fathers.

The external form only defines the animals general traits, habits and diet but beyond that the being within is entirely different from one entity to another. One is tempted to believe that for animals too a law of Karma must apply. Limited intelligence cannot absolve pathological behaviour in an animal. His actions too would be deemed criminal in nature. The animal world must have its own ethics, and actions there would doubtless produce their own consequences. In the Hindu way of thinking, good fathers would graduate to being a more intelligent species if not man!

Coming back to our four cats, they were really more than just cats as individuals with differences that had nothing to do with ‘cat-nature’ or ‘cat-form’. This inspired me to write a poem on our four cats which I would like to share with you:

                                          F O U R    C A T S

Here comes Senior –

We inherited him with the house,

Trusting neutered muscularity,

Full fat cat, deep in thought

About fish meals, sidles

Up against your calf

And as you fondle his head

Salivates involuntarily onto the floor

With love,

Then politely shakes off your touch

As he would the rain drops;

That’s how cats are about us.

 

And then there is Daisy

Looking imploringly up into your eyes

Running ahead with tail up

Boldly into your house,

Grazing door jambs, washing machines, footstools,

Your legs, these are all hers,

Persuasive beggar,

As she opens her pink mouth

And articulates a cat call.

 

Sandy on the other hand

Is a vegetarian

And hardly ever around

From secret missions, once

When I opened a window I found

Her sleeping secretly in the crook

Of the sill, private paradise,

Safe from rain and draughts

And marauding dogs –

She doesn’t enter the house, or salivate

But like the others if you pet her

On the head, after a meal, will

Shrug it off.

 

But Kitty, who adopted us

By just moving in, is different,

She calculates,

You can see her doing it

As she moves her head quickly

To size things up,

One of them was that we’d make

Good pets,

Remarkable thought for just a kitten,

Nor did we have the heart

To neuter her, so she turned full female

And unloaded a belly full of kitten

Who in turn have joined

Their mother

With sad trusting faces

To possess us.

LITTLE   KITTY SHE  ADOPTED  US

LITTLE KITTY
SHE ADOPTED US

sim diff

Credit: Artisi – Anneke Stewart
– realmagick.com/europesn.mandala/

 

The post is a kind of meditation on ‘similarity and difference’ which takes thoughts to and fro and back again making one a little dizzy in the process with possibly some meaning dawning finally at the end.

In the Big Bang of creation the unity of the Universal Essence transformed itself into an unimaginable diversity with intimate linkages to retain its essential unity. What therefore emerged was similarities and differences. Therefore even our thinking processes are marked by this characteristic process, to contrast and relate through comparisons. Our memory and ability to recognize can only work through this dual faculty of relating and differentiating. Our behaviour and emotions also arise through the application of this dual approach in observation. Racial prejudice from discerning differences in colour and feature, humanism from identifying similarities. We wish to retain our particular identity and culture (similarity) and repel alien influences  (difference) or  again imbibe appealing  foreign influences while maintaining our essential identity.

Thus our behavioural reflex begins to be determined by relationships of  brother, cousin, clansmen, racial type, foreigner, alien. Each category of similarity and difference produces a typical and strong reaction: sympathy  towards a similarity, as with ones siblings, ethnic group, race, nationality and the human species; interest in and curiosity for the difference  in  foreigners and aliens; or then, repulsion towards similarities and attraction towards differences as in sex ( the majority that is) or again antagonism towards differences as with alien forms and types that are dangerous, repulsive and sinister. In certain cases similarity appeals in others it repels, likewise in certain situations difference attracts in others creates opposition. Both help us relate to and understand the other who is linked in some way with us.

Nature also evolves by  introducing further variation (difference).  The Order Parrot has subdivided into numerous species and subspecies. Their similarity is that they share the features of the same order but thereafter they have numerous differences. In a larger spiral we link the parrot with  the class called birds and birds onwards to animals all with similarities and differences.  ( I am not a biologist so I may be imprecise in my broad definitions). Nature while producing variation is careful in maintaining distinction. Thus at the one end are the limits to hybridization and at the other the inefficacy and prohibitions of  inbreeding ( I call it the Brink or the Abyss). Nature refuses to allow untenable hybrids thus the mule ( horse + donkey) is a genetic punctuation mark beyond which no further confusion of  the species is tolerated, as the mule is always neuter. The Ligers ( tiger + lion) are neither attractive nor genetically strong and frequently sterile. The maintenance of distinction (different identities) is the necessary basis for sustaining creation. More variation is necessary for evolution but only up to a limit – man cannot be allowed to grow wings or birds develop hands – no unfettered permissiveness allowing haphazard mergers of attributes leading to an anarchy of unimaginable monstrosities leading to obliteration of identifiable and regulated entities  and types that are viable. However it appears that some mutations are experimented with, like the growth of the brain of the ape into the mind of man – risky but worth the risk! but no x- men for now.

At the other end is a danger of a different sort. We saw that through untenable mergers the death knell of creation could be sounded because it would lead to a tragicomic chaos and obliteration of definition through a kind of genetic babel. Equally the death knell can sound if too much order of uniformity was allowed, leading to a world of clones. Inbreeding taken to extremes could mean the production of  identical entities cloning out all differences, which of course would be like putting all your eggs in one basket. Linked to  the ‘sin’ of inbreeding is the phenomenon of asexual reproduction in some lizards where the offspring are all clones that perish together when afflicted by  a particular disease. As too much mixing ( difference) can erase identities, so also excessive uniformity (similarity) can merge them. Nature strikes a balance by allowing wide variation within reasonable limits, a great deal of variety without licence – a great many connecting links and similarities without a monotonous and repetitive homogeneity – nature allows a diverse essence. Furthermore even within the same species no two men are alike, neither their natures nor their fingerprints, not even for twins. Yet the linkages underlie the similarities connecting them stage by stage, level by level to the whole animal world and that world to the whole universe.

We are permitted a great many differences in a sea of similarity which links us to a common origin. Withdraw the difference and creation collapses into a great unity, supremely concentrated, supremely introspective, contemplating the next big bang of creation. Then from this unity again arises a chain reaction of variation, blossoming forth into creation, cycle after cycle after cycle.

Credit: 1ms.net

Credit: 1ms.net

The Universal Essence through the Spirit in nature plays and experiments with the elements, seeing and listening through them and moving and acting, wondering what to create next, like a scientist in a lab. I would like to share a poem I wrote on the dynamic elements:

                                    E L E M E N T A L

The Lake

Reflecting the blue sky

                        Must be able to see

Countless trees

And the snow capped peak

Complete

Like images

                         In the eye.

 

Feed the fire

                        That must eat

To stay alive,

Reaching out for paper

Growing high

On juicy camphor,

Licking one more morsel

Of sumptuous wood,

Or quietly

On a wick

Of staple oil

                        Like a butterfly,

Then getting wild

On petrol

Out of control

                        Like shrill cicadas

                         Calling in summer.

 

The wind

Moving invisibly,

                          What is it

Stirring the oceans so,

Bending trees,

                         Becoming a genie

                         In a whirl -a-gig.

 

Rocks and trees

In recording facts

Have the first stirrings

Of memory

                      and

                             A dislodged stone

                             Begins to roll

         Looking like a wheel

          Made up of running feet

And the mountains

Posture and gesture

                         With a great limb

                         Touching the toe,

A pensive chin

Looking into the horizon,

                         Stony head turning

                         To meet your eye .

 

Unfinished models

For the making,

Built by fire and water

                                         And wind.

Credit: adrianhoe.com

Credit: adrianhoe.com

 

In India the concept of ‘Darshan’ is central to worship. Darshan means vision. When greeting a celebrity a person says ‘I am honoured to have your Darshan’. Going to a temple, devotees in a crowd will raise themselves on their toes and crane to somehow manage to get a Darshan of the deity on the altar. Once that is achieved the devotee sighs with relief, his purpose of visiting the temple accomplished. A groom will tell his beloved bride on the nuptial night while lifting her veil ‘at last I have had your Darshan dear’, with a smile. In the Gita one saw in an earlier post how the hero Arjun pleads with the Avatar (divine incarnation) to let him have a Darshan of his true universal form, though once he sees it he is fearful and unsettled and asks Krishna to resume his earthly human one.

We all want to see a new city on a tour, a famous painting or sculpture at a museum and are then satisfied that we have done it and the visit is a success. Likewise we are curious about the mysteries of nature, biology and physics. We want to know with our mind’s eye about it. But often we may not fully comprehend the mystery and as it becomes less familiar we are awe-struck. When like in Arjun’s case it goes even beyond that, awe turns into fear and perplexity as the unknown, unfathomable and incomprehensible reality unfolds before us.

It has often struck me that we are perpetually asking for evidence of God, because we cannot see Him or because He doesn’t show himself despite our fervent prayers – No Darshan! So we keep looking around for evidence with our little minds trying to piece together whatever we can collect to strengthen our faith before we lose it.

Provoked by such thoughts I composed a poem which I am sharing with you. It has a touch of science fiction as well – the one looking for clues is an alien who arrives on earth and tries to figure out what kind of beings live on the planet. At the close of the poem the alien is really us looking for the evidence – but have we the courage to face It when we find It?

 

                                              P U G – M A R K

 

From the pug-marks

In the forest –

Difficult to imagine

A tiger.

 

The caterpillar like prints

Across undulating dunes

Are actually a scorpion’s

Leading to its lair.

 

A settlement

With door knobs

And shoes, caps and rings

Piano keys and buttons

Steps and pillows

What is it that moves here?

 

A tailor bird’s nest

Leaves few clues.

 

What does the  subtle separation

Of chromosomic  factors

Into male and female,

Their perpetual union

To stir gene pools tell?

 

The way things come in twos

Eyes and ears, hands and feet

Lungs and kidneys

In pairs, what do they tell?

 

Flowers and thorns

Models of  leaves

For every season, every clime.

Every shade of green,

Elements and compounds

Intricately structured complexities,

What do they tell?

 

This pug-mark

Who dares pursue,

Where does this trail lead,

This awesome double – helix

Fingerprint, this maze

Of neutrons and electrons,

What tell-tale hand

Has left its traces

Everywhere?

 

But if in the forest

You follow and seek, beware,

It is not just a pug – mark

That you will see,

When you face the tiger there.

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