Archives for category: metaphysics

buddha1

Buddhist teachings and sermons were presented by Gautam Sakyamuni more as a therapy to heal the human condition than as a creed to explain and disseminate eternal metaphysical truths. Buddha the enlightened one, held that suffering was the ailment afflicting the human condition and the prime purpose of his teachings was to find a method and a way to alleviate and heal that condition. Anything that did not directly address this goal was not relevant to his concerns. The Buddha was not therefore interested in Metaphysical issues and refrained from commenting on them. Concepts such as God, Universal Spirit, Supersoul, an eternal universe, divinity and the nature of the Soul were therefore not commented upon. The Buddha implied to his disciples that discussion of such metaphysical questions ( aplenty at the time) did not in any way help in meeting his primary concern that of relieving mankind of its suffering and was therefore beyond the scope of his teachings. His only practical intent was to help people overcome their suffering rather than to propagate a grand creed or proselytize fundamental metaphysical truths. His teachings were also not intended for the disinterested masses but meant to help the few who genuinely desired to benefit from his methods to alleviate suffering. His sermons were therefore like a therapy only for the interested and he acted more like a physician than an apostle, concerned only with removing pain.

Thus emerge the Four Noble Truths: (1) All life is sorrowful and full of suffering. (2) The cause of suffering are ignorance (avidya) and desire (trishna) that follow from the fact that human existence is transitory and ephemeral. (3) the assertion that suffering can be removed. (4) The method of removing suffering and cessation of pain was the path to liberation – the Eight Fold Path : right view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, endeavour, mindfulness, and contemplation or meditation. The method was pragmatic and psychological with no philosophical explanation being provided about man and the universe. This method was also called the middle path, avoiding extremes of sensual indulgence and asceticism, also the path which avoided both skepticism and dogmatic metaphysical assertions. The Eight Fold Path led to liberation from suffering and pain, helping in attaining Nirvana. Nirvana is understood as a transcendental state where suffering, desire and the ego have been overcome and there is release from the effects of Karma and the cycles of death and rebirth. In essence this path entails adoption of the right attitude where egoistic feelings are eradicated, the resultant renunciation arouse in man love for all creatures. This altruism and compassion make for a righteous life. Non violence in action speech and thought are also enjoined with emotional equilibrium, friendliness, compassion, cheerfulness and impartiality.

The Buddha denied the authority of the Vedas and rejected the ubiquitous caste system. His teachings found favour with the highest in the land and a succession of great emperors, Ashoka and Kanishka converted to Buddhism and sought to propagate his teachings at home and in distant lands. Ashoka arranged great Buddhist councils for discussion of Buddhist tenets. In succeeding centuries great emissaries would come from China and carry back the message and teachings of the master, spawning indigenous sects in China, Central Asia, Mongolia, Tibet, Japan, Indo- China and the Far East. Nalanda near Patna became a great centre of Buddhist learning under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th century A.D. and continued to attract scholars and pilgrims right to the 12th century.

Buddhism was influenced by the Upanishadic concepts of Karma and rebirth and assimilated into its theology. Yet the concept of the Soul was at variance with the Atman of Brahmanism. The entity which suffered rebirth time and again was no divine essence as in the case of the Atman concept, nor was it a pure crystalline life-monad called Jiva polluted by the effects of Karma as with the Jains, nor again did it approximate to the concept of pure consciousness, Purush as in Sankhya philosophy. The Buddha himself had asserted that ” all things are without a self (an-atta)”, denying any permanent reality as of a Soul force to the entity that gets reborn. What then in Buddhist thought is that which gets reborn from life time to life time experiencing suffering? It is explained as a kind of continuum of transient events that arise and dissolve following one another in a continuous chain of cause and effect of recurring ephemeral moments. No permanent entity exists. What appears as a unit is an aggregate of brief realities. There is no substance as individual or Soul, only a continuum of  ephemeral entities following one another, that give the impression of a unit. The process is phenomenal rather than substantial. Nirvana results in the recognition of this truth about oneself, the termination of the delusion that one is an ego entity.Unlike Brahmanism therefore there was no preoccupation with the concept of a Soul as a spark of divinity arising from the Universal Essence embedded in matter and being, for neither was there any discussion of such a divine essence nor of its corollary, the soul as a spiritual presence in the heart of man. This implied atheism arose from a pragmatic approach of being concerned only with man’s plight, here and now, and the method of finding a way to heal his condition of suffering.

buddha-nirvana-mediatationNirvana, enlightenment, is the realization that all phenomenality which appear as real are in fact a chain of fleeting momentary episodes. With such realization end desire, hopes and anxieties which are based on the erroneous thought of their substantial reality. Those gaining enlightenment are freed of the delusion of name and form. According to the Hinyana school’s version these brief episodes are real and substantial though ephemeral and instantly perishing, extending over several births but terminating with the dawning of the realization and ending with Nirvana. Nirvana itself was not substantial or a state of being. It consisted merely in the negation of the illusion. Enlightenment was not a state of being.

Without the presence of a surviving ego, the question arises how could the suffering be experienced. This is explained as arising not from an external source but a series of thoughts about suffering arising on their own  out of ignorance of the fleeting nature of reality. There was no thinker, only thought, no feeler only feelings, no actor only actions, no individual only minute consecutive units which created the illusion of an ongoing reality. There was no suffering ego, only the thought of suffering. Another school of Hinyana Buddhism attributed the suffering to actually arising from the external world despite the absence of an enduring individual. While the Hinyana schools held that the experience was ephemeral but real, the Mahayana school of Buddhism held that the phenomenality was not real but like a mirage or the waves of the sea. Like the sea there was a reality beyond the waves. The universe was both phenomenal and enduring. What was enduring alone contained the essence of existence, while the phenomenal was merely relative. Mahayana theology thus began veering towards the non-duality of Vedantic thought.

buddha-mindHere we become acquainted with the Buddhist concept of Void (Sunyata). The only truth, the essence of existence was the Void, a state of ‘suchness’ (tathata). Sunyata was the innermost essence of all things as contrasted with the ephemeral ever-changing illusion of being. The concept of the Void as innermost essence , though couched in negative terms was not nihilistic and appears to have a remarkable resemblance to what the Upanishads had termed as Brahman. We therefore see that despite the Buddha’s reluctance to engage in metaphysical discourse, later Buddhists eventually got involved in intense debate on metaphysics. The greatest proponent of the concept of Sunyata was the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. philosopher and metaphysician Nagarjuna to whom is attributed the laying of the foundations of Mahayana Buddhism. The concept of the void was the ineffable truth.   Nagarjuna describes this highest goal of enlightenment in negative terms thus:

nagar jun

Chinese painting of Nagarjuna

”It cannot be called void or not void, or both or neither, but in order to indicate it, it is termed void” 

Sunyata has no cause, is beyond thought and conception, unborn and immeasurable. This absolute is neither existent nor non-existent, nor both existent and non-existent, nor different from both non-existence and existence. It is neither being nor non-being. Sunyata is identified with pure consciousness, pure thought and true wisdom.

Whatever appears to exist arises from imagination. All thoughts arise from an eternal source which is a kind of repository of all images and ideas. This is called the Abode of Consciousness (Alaya-Vijnana), the ‘suchness’ (tathata), the Void. This Alay Vijnana repository is beyond conception and imagination holding the potentiality of all thought. We can liken it to the nuclear physicist Bohm’s Implicate Order, the bio-chemist Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic field and Quantum Physics’ Zero Point field. All apparent phenomena arise like waves from this ocean and disperse again immediately into its infinite vortex. Upon contact with it through enlightenment the individual ceases to exist, the mental state of the self-aware ego dissolves in it. The concept of Alay Vijnana, Sunyata and Nirvana are interchangable. It is evidently the Buddhist equivalent of  Brahman.

nagarjuna-qpAn important metaphysical question arises when pondering the concept of Alay Vijnana. If it is the pure repository consciousness, pure thought abiding in itself, peaceful and tranquil and quiescent how or why does its essence get stirred to produce a phenomenal world full of the imperfections of Karma, producing every kind of pain and suffering. Do the attributes of ignorance and desire pre-exist in that repository like seeds and therefore produce the phenomenal world as it is? In such a case rather than non-dual, the Void would have the quality of duality, with an active principle (avidya) and a passive principle (Alay). this troubling enigma was sought to be explained in the 5th century by the masters Asanga and Vasubandhu when they asserted that the repository contained both good and bad. This was strikingly similar to the Hindu view that the Universal Essence through the Godhead Vishnu and Shiva produced both demons and gods, malevolent and benign beings having their origins in the Essence. The pairs of opposites proceeded from the same source while indeed surpassing them. Thus the Alay, the repository, germinates both good and evil while transcending them. The seeker after enlightenment  clears away the gross and views the perfection of the jewel. The gross was in any case a result of ignorance and when that was dispelled the jewel shone. This however appears as an irreconcilable paradox. Karma then becomes the seed in the Alay and the source of creation of the phenomenal world. But this is relative to the level of ignorance of the unreal individual. Both the individual and his Karma having their source in Alay, including the hells he experiences, are unreal; Karma is an imaginary seed embedded in Alay producing an imaginary world – the one attaining enlightenment realizes this and the paradox is resolved.

padmapani

Bodhisattva Padampani Ajanta caves

The Bodhisattva is an important concept in Buddhism. A compassionate being like Jesus and Krishna. The Bodhisattva is one who on the verge of gaining enlightenment renounces Nirvana until such time that all beings are able to gain it before him. This is an expression of supreme compassion for all beings and the ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of the world. The quality of compassion (Karuna) is epitomized in the Boddhisattva and reflects his understanding of the Void. Compassion is indeed a fundamental reflex of Sunyata. In fact it is on account of a Bodhisattva’s compassion that a Buddha comes into this world. Compassion is indeed present in all creatures as an indication of their potential to be Bodhisattvas. It is through compassion that things become manifest. The universe is compassion and this is also known as Sunyata, the Void. the primary attributes of the Bodhisattva are compassion, generosity, total absence of ego, absolute wisdom and omnipotence. the bodhisattva is a reflection of the Void.                                                                   

 yab yum 2The compassion of the void is best represented in Mahayana Buddhism in the Tibetan icon of Yab-Yum. The male and female form in intimate embrace highlight metaphysical non-duality and the sexual act brings the individual to experience that non-duality of the Void. Contemplation of  the Icon helps the seeker to a realization of the essence of the Void. This is the Mahayana doctrine of Mahasukh or Great Delight.

Buddhism is not a faith in the sense that following the Buddha’s precepts one becomes a ‘Buddhist’. For the Buddha there was no such category. In his Majjhima Nikaya the Medium Length dialogues he asserts that the doctrine becomes meaningless and is to be cast away much like a ferry-boat that has helped you reach the ‘other shore’ is allowed to drift downstream without a backward glance. It is only relevant for the passengers who are still journeying to the other shore. Having reached the ‘other shore’ there is neither a ferry-boat nor a river, nor the far shore of worldly existence that has been left behind. Indeed there is not even a ferryman, the Buddha either. The dualistic perception of two shores must end with enlightenment. The streams of rebirth along the way, the worldly life of Samsara and even the attainment of enlightenment, Nirvana are no longer there. The dream vanishes with the awakening, the rainbow of effort, striving, journey and realization all disappears. All submerge in the void. The long journey of causation, Karma has no longer any reality. Nirvana itself on attainment becomes meaningless. the concept is only relevant so long as the journey is not complete as an aid to understanding. Thereafter there is only the silence of the Void. The Buddha refused to discuss nirvana except as the goal to be attained. Nirvana means extinction and was an aid to ending delusion and could not be said to be a state of being. The boat of Buddhism did not exist after reaching the ‘other shore’, neither did a boatman, the Buddha. The question of worshiping such a boatman simply did not arise. The doctrine was not to become a foundation on which a great and elaborate creed could be erected. The paradox of Buddhism is that on reaching the other shore there was nothing, neither shores nor river nor passengers not ferryboat nor boatman. There was no longer anyone seeking enlightenment or attaining enlightenment – indeed there was no longer Nirvana – there was only the Void.

Early Buddhist sculpture do not depict the Buddha and only show an empty space under the Bo-tree emphasizing his state of ’emptiness’. In Mahayana metaphysics it is sometimes asserted that no Buddha ever came to enlighten a world which in any case only existed in the imagination.

buddha amravati

The Mahayana text Prajnaparamita carries a dialogue between the Buddha and his disciple which revealingly epitomizes the paradox;

The disciple Subhuti said: ”Profound O venerable One is the perfect Transcendental Wisdom.”

Said the Venerable One; ”Abysmally profound, like the space of the universe, O Subhuti, is the Transcendental Wisdom.”

The disciple Subhuti said again:” Difficult to be obtained through awakening is the perfect Transcendental Wisdom, O Venerable One”.

Said the Venerable One; ” that is the reason ,O Subhuti, why no one ever attains it through awakening”.

 

 

 

Advertisements

 

images (6)

When Matter tries to multiply, seeking to ape the Spirit, to become eternal, it appears most attractive and appealing. Generation after generation it revives afresh but  suffers degradation, for Time will not leave it alone. It dies and is born again, while the Spirit looks on amused as it vainly tries to drink from the mortal cup, the elixir of immortality. This cute effort gives rise to mortal love, bringing two material poles together to regenerate, revive and reproduce, defying its stern master Time, putting on a new fresh face, even as the older ones atrophy.  That is why mortal love has an ethereal quality as it replicates the beauty of the Spirit’s immortality and that is also why the Spirit appears as if it is perpetually in love.

The intense attraction, the passionate kiss, the deep embrace are the material urges to become eternal and therefore when consummated,  the poles fall apart and become ordinary matter again, losing their gloss but having in that moment assured eternal continuity, while the Spirit looks on amused at this extraordinary effort to follow in its footsteps. Thus Matter’s efforts to copy the Spirit becomes the very reason for living, and the very meaning of life – Love.

hurricane-web

 

He truly sees, who sees that all actions are done by Nature alone and the Soul is actionless.

 

Having no beginning and possessing no Gunas ( natural qualities), the Supreme Self, imperishable, though dwelling in the body,…., neither acts nor is tainted ( by actions).

 

…. he who in imperfect understanding looks upon the Soul as the agent – he does not see at all.

 

The Lord does not create agency or actions for the world; He does not create fruitful consequences of action; Nature does all this.

 

Having renounced all actions, the self disciplined indweller ( the Soul ) rests happily in the city of nine gates, neither acting nor causing action.

pbaah010_ketu

Credit: artoflegendindia.com

 

 

ketu - alberthalljaipur.gov.inKetu is the lower severed half of the demon who sought immortality ( see previous post on Rahu). In astrological terms he is the southern Lunar Node, or the descending Node. While he is sometimes portrayed with a serpent’s head generally in keeping with myth and legend he is shown as headless with a serpent or fish-dragon body. The portrayal in ancient European texts also depicts the northern Node as having a serpent’s head. If uninfluenced by other planets he displays the qualities of Mars for the horoscope.

Like Rahu it too is inherently a malefic, yet it is paradoxically a significator of liberation, which can have multiple implications. It can signify liberation, through death, the liberation of ‘Moksha’, the enlightened stage reaches by the soul force, after which it does not need to reincarnate. Thus it is the antithesis of Rahu, which impelled the soul force to incarnate and materialize. It signifies the return of the soul force into the spiritual world. Thus it is an indicator of spiritual development and the desire for spiritual evolution. Likewise it is also the significator of the occult, magic and witchcraft, the non material realms of reality. Ketu is also the repository of ones Karma – a force for transformation which gets magnified during eclipses – then Ketu impels the transformation of the ego, creating awareness of the conscious Self within. While in India most traditionalists dread the eclipse as a harbinger of evil, the more erudite look upon it as an opportunity and astrologers and Pundits devise special occult ritual prayers for the spiritual evolution of their clients to be performed during an eclipse. Certain Brahmanical orders trace their lineage to Ketu.

ketu-2012

Credit: rudraksha-ratna.com

If Rahu is the factor for separation ( see previous post), Ketu represents obstruction and impediments. At the psychological level he may induce manic depression, pessimism, addictions and violence. Sudden death from accidents are also attributed to Ketu effects. Other effects include sexual perversion. Yet when beneficial for a chart it enhances the spiritual and mystical potential of the subject to the extent of conferring extra-sensory perception ( ESP) and even supernatural abilities. It confers special powers of spiritual healing through Tantrik practices.However the manner in which it is likely to create spiritual awareness and detachment is through material adversity, sorrow, pain and loss. Ketu governs magicians, astrologers and the medical profession. 

ketu1Ketu is also associated with being bitten by snakes, reptiles and dogs, in life threatening circumstances. In my first post on Stellar India I referred to the popular practice to have ear lobes of infants of both sexed pierced ( and adorned with ear rings) to ward off such Ketu effects. The piercing replicates the snake bite and therefore fulfills the astrological prophecy in advance, like a prophylactic. Prayers and incantations to Ketu are believed to cure those who have become poisoned by snake bites or otherwise. A favourable Ketu indicates luxury, wisdom and intuition. there are several temples in India dedicated to Ketu.

Ketu is exalted in Sagittarius and Scorpio and debilitated in Gemini and Taurus. It is friendly to Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Rahu, neutral to Jupiter and inimical to the Sun, Moon and Mars. Its gemstone is the Cat’s Eye and metal, Mica. His steed is the vulture.

 

 

product-pic-big3

Cats Eye

Credit: yogananda.com.au

Credit: yogananda.com.au

yoga nanda

Yogananda was a remarkable Indian sage who took upon himself  the arduous task of introducing Hindu mystical thought and esoteric practices in Yoga to the West. He traveled to America in 1920 to attend a Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston but stayed on for over 30 years spreading his message from coast to coast. He founded the International Centre for Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Los Angeles to disseminate his teachings and practices. A large following of disciples developed over the years with numerous celebrities. Yogananda thus became the first pioneering Indian mystic to set up base in the USA and spread the teachings in the USA rather than in India. The second notable personage to do so was Prabupadh who founded the Hare Krishna movement with branches all over the states and thereafter in most parts of the world including India.

Yoganand’s ‘’The Autobiography of a YOGI’’ ( First Edition Copyright Paramhansa Yogananda) is an extraordinary story of his mystical life full of incredible miracles that gives one a fresh perspective of reality and shakes to the roots our settled beliefs about the ‘Natural Material Order’’. The book relates incredible accounts of Great Master Yogis materializing and vanishing, healing miraculously incurable ailments, bringing back people from death, walking on water, bringing trains to a halt through sheer will power, levitating and even resurrecting themselves.

What particularly struck me in the book was his explanation of our material reality as a grand illusion whose veil has to be penetrated to arrive at the true nature of reality. The Indian Master Yogis and sages appear to have succeeded in piercing that ‘veil’ and learned to become one with the quantum reality thereby performing what appear to be incredible feats. He quotes from Sir James Jeans’s book ‘The Mysterious Universe’ – ‘’the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.’’ An analogy he made impressed me deeply. Holding that the material world and we with it are aspects of light, he likens our ‘real world’ to the projection of images by a projector on a cinema screen . He relates his mystical experience in which his body lost its grossness and acquired an astral quality. While the walls and furniture remained gross, the ceiling of the room  became a blinding mass of light. From within the light a voice appeared to speak out saying ‘’ This is the cosmic motion picture mechanism …. It is producing the picture of your body…. Your form is nothing but light’’.

yogananda youthIn the book Yoganand as a youth refuses to conform to an ordinary life despite his father’s every effort and barely graduates before he continues his avid search for masters and Gurus. In the process he finds strange and amazing beings in remote corners of India engaged in their incredible and ‘magical’ feats which appear to give the lie to our settled beliefs about the nature of the reality in which we live, and the natural physical laws which appear to govern us.

credit: scienceblogs.com

credit: scienceblogs.com

Before we continue from my last post to witness the evolution of Upanishidic thought let us savour the speculative poetry on Creation of an earlier scripture the Rig – Veda, the earliest Indian treatise known which would give one an idea about the nature of speculative enquiry in that dawn of history of man. The Rig – Veda is estimated by Western scholars to have been composed between 1700 to 1100 B.C. and would therefore be man’s earliest efforts at coming to grips with the mysteries of the world in which he finds himself:

                                           C R E A T I O N

“Then was not non-existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.

What covered it, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there,unfathomed depths of water?

Death was not then, nor was there ought immortal, no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider.

That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was undiscriminated chaos.

All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of warmth was born that unit.

Thereafter rose desire in the beginning, desire, the primal seed and germ of spirit.

Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent.

Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?

There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder.

Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?

The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?

He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,

Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.”

I have yet to come across a more moving poem ( when I read this, over three thousand-year old poem, believe me my hair stands on end) as earnest uncomplicated and uninhibited and with no presumptions whatsoever yearning for an answer ( He verily knows it, or perhaps He knows not! – can any latter day believer dare ask such a question??)  – that for me was the spirit of ancient India’s quest and enquiry, fearless in its scepticism,  which eventually produced first the intense speculations of the Upanishads and later the crystalized and focussed efforts of the Gita to reply that pristine query, which for me it did.

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope

Credit: hinduism.iskcon.org

Credit: hinduism.iskcon.org

The Upanishads are among the world’s oldest metaphysical treatises representing the philosophical inspirations and conclusions of Indian sages deep in their forest hermitages regarding the nature of reality. Scholars universally hold that they could not have been composed later than the 7th century B.C. and predate the glorious 6th century when a sudden spate of thinkers and prophets like Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Homer and Pythagoras propounded new philosophies and launched great religions.

Thus at the dawn of history these pioneering and extraordinary thinkers pondered answers to fundamental questions about the nature of existence, the cosmos, man and nature and their inter-relations. From their early insights they advanced to profound philosophical and spiritual revelations  which eventually crystalized into the Monism of Hindu beliefs, the concept of the unity of the created universe, integral with the metaphysical world of the spirit, the concepts of the Soul at the heart of physical reality and the immanence of the spiritual essence in all we behold – and finally the nature of the supreme Universal Essence, the supersoul and Godhead.

Further introspection produced the fundamental philosophical premises of reincarnation through transmigration of the soul, the doctrine of Karma, the concept of Illusion and their ethical and moralistic implications. The development and crystallization of the thought has determined indelibly for millennia the belief systems, spirituality and ethics of the Hindu mind right down to the present day.

All Indian philosophical and religious traditions, whether theistic, pantheistic, materialistic or atheistic derive their ultimate inspiration from this seminal body of introspection of the thinkers and sages of yore, ruminating without any inhibitions or constraints on questions about the origin, nature and destiny of man and the universe, seeking to find answers to grasp the essence of a universal truth.

The verses are presented in Socratic fashion through dialogues between seekers after knowledge and their mentors, eminent sages, who attempt to answer  questions with questions of their own, prying, so to speak, answers from the questioners themselves. The dialogues are between the sages and their wives, kin, or disciples who present theories and propositions of their own which are either inadequate or only partially true. Thus the arguments move back and forth as the intuitive knowledge enhances and evolves. Then finally the seers who have arrived at their conclusions through insight and intuition present their vision of the truth, which has continued to inspire Hindu thoughts and beliefs to this day.

What is remarkable and wonderful in all this is that there is no  predetermined assumption nor a preordained dogma but a rare and exhilarating freedom of thought which succeeded in  grasping the truth which later crystallized as established theory or dogma. It is like a clear slate suddenly filling up with extraordinary and seminal unheard of propositions dispelling confusion and untenable and naive assumptions of pre-history.

Thus in a sense the Upanishads expose the genesis and creation of Hindu beliefs and dogma. One becomes as it were, a witness to the very process whereby a body of beliefs developed and matured. Such a vision of evolving thought is rarely available generally. It is as if in studying the evolution of man one encountered the fossils of dinosaurs, apes and our immediate ancestors the Neanderthals and Homo-erectus.

This evolution of Hindu thought witnessed in the Upanishads ( ending ignorance through knowledge in Sanskrit) is replete with numerous aphorisms and superb Sanskrit poetry and mystical insights.

The Upanishads themselves form part of the Vedas, considered by Hindus in general as the repository and fountainhead of all knowledge and religious and spiritual inspiration. Emerging from the inspirational womb of the Upanishads was the primary Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita.

Thus an examination of the evolution of Upanishadic thought would prove invaluable for the scholar of metaphysics in general and Hinduism in particular in witnessing the progression of man’s quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe of which he is a part.

I shall limit this post merely to introducing the Upanishads in the interests of brevity, taking up the review of the evolution of its thought in the next post. However in closing I wish to underline that what informs the dialogues are infectous and refreshing arguments and counter arguments between curious scholar – sages and students seeking to fathom the mysteries of temporal and spiritual existence transcending limiting frontiers of understanding through an unrelenting quest for truth, which is finally presented in their verses.  The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad hails that extraordinary journey from ignorance to enlightenment:

” From the unreal lead me to the real

From darkness lead me to light

From death lead me to immortality” 

( Asato ma sat gamaya

Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya

Mrityor ma amritam gamaya )

credit: ancientindianwisdom.com

credit: ancientindianwisdom.com

Credit: beforeitwnews.com

Credit: beforeitwnews.com

Ingo Swann, who died this year, was one of the most remarkable psychics of our times. Considered a pioneering figure in ESP related ‘remote viewing’, his remarkable feats so impressed the establishment that the prestigious Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Princeton, Mind Science Foundation, San Antonio and several others involved him in their ESP research programmes. The results were of such outstanding quality that the CIA ( concerned about the Russian Intelligence Organizations’ own research in the field) engaged him in what came to be known as the ‘Stargate Project’ for 25 years before abandoning it in 1995, with a change in command, on account of the results being vague and ambiguous for the purpose of intelligence gathering.

The range of ESP connected abilities attributed to him included first and foremost, ‘Remote Viewing’, then psychokinesis, mentally influencing growth of plants, influencing temperature in a controlled environment, ‘out of body Travel’ ( thereby detecting a ring of tiny asteroids around Jupiter, subsequently confirmed by scientists) and influencing stable magnetic fields of a super cooled  junction in a quark detector (considered an amazing feat by scientists).

ingo swann

Ingo Swann

In his book ”Natural ESP – A Layman’s Guide To Unlocking The Extra Sensory Power Of your Mind” ( Bantam Books 1987 ) he holds that potentially an ESP ability is present universally and is not unique to a psychic. In the book he seeks to show how anyone can develop this ability by employing his methodology for ‘remote viewing’ through drawing, sketching and doodling.

The parts of the book which interested me were not the exercises to teach ESP techniques to the common public but his deeply insightful metaphysical observations about the source and context of the phenomenon. Being an adept in the field and a gifted practitioner of the ‘art’ no one would be better qualified in providing a scientific and philosophical context for ESP

He opens by asserting that the study and practice of ESP has been stagnating for over a century since interest was first aroused in scientific circles, mainly on account of remaining in a traditional groove of enquiry fettered by labels which were not really relevant and the use of verbalization ( rather than the use of sketches and doodling) which restricted and inhibited the process rather than revealed the true nature and source of ESP.

In the course of the extensive experiments and demonstrations at the prestigious institutions he was associated with, he came to the realization that what was equally important was the mental processes as much as the results for providing a clue to the nature of the phenomenon. He therefore began to focus attention on his own mental activity to determine what was happening.

A particular experiment finally became the ‘clincher’ which opened the window to reveal the truth – Swann says ”as a result of it, my life was never to be the same”. In this experiment in ‘remote viewing’ two objects were placed in a container directly above his head which he was expected to view ‘remotely’ while he was strapped to a chair with electrodes. He then ‘remote sensed’ and sketched the following symbols which arose in his conscious mind;  (1) U T    (2)  dn-L  He wondered whether these were distorted letters from Arabic. The actual objects were  (1) a card with the figure 5 and (2) the words 7 U P . Those conducting the experiment however immediately realized what had happened. Swann’s remote sense had viewed the objects upside down – join u and T and the figure 5 appears – reverse dn – L and you get 7 UP.

In that instant Swann realized that there was a faculty within him which had observed the objects without the verbalization filters or internal editing in his conscious mind being activated. He arrived at the grand realization that the inner faculty had its own logic and rules of observation, working on a different mechanism of its own rather than a reliance on the physical senses. He named this faculty within us as the ‘ESP Core’, the psychic mind. He also realized that studies of ESP so far had concentrated on the notion that the mind ‘goes out’ and senses the target, whereas the truth was that the information is actually streaming into the mind from outside. The sensing mechanism plugs into a Universal Field of information which is beyond time and space in a ‘second reality’ beyond the physical plane. the information comes into the mind without the use of the physical senses.

He enumerates three broad categories of ESP:

(1) Sensing of physical objects ( as in the experiments of ‘remote viewing’

(2) Receiving a new idea as in inventions and creative acts

(3) Mystical insights, intuition, hunches etc.

He then postulates the concept of the Mind Mound which is ‘overgrown’ ( like in archaeological excavations) by presumptions, preconceptions inculcated by culture, education, beliefs, memory, imagination, ideas,and uncontrolled thoughts, impeding the passage of ESP signals into the conscious mind and acting as barriers. Within the mound lies hidden the ESP Core. The barriers are erected by the mind to maintain rationality and protect its own vital functions from getting overwhelmed by information streaming in from the Second Reality. This resistance can be identified as the ego which enables the physical entity to survive in its own material reality. Without the barriers the conscious mind would be inundated by more information than it could handle. Yet occasionally, vital ESP signals like strong intuition, creative ideas, foreboding, awareness of loved ones being in trouble or danger,etc are allowed through with barriers inactivated when vitally necessary.

Over the years, given his own abilities and experiences he concluded that our awareness of the physical world and our thinking experience of it is not the only form of consciousness we possess. There is a second consciousness, the ESP Core which integrates with both the physical world and with the Second Reality beyond it. By now I could guess what would be coming next.

The ESP Core he then calls the Deeper Self. The Second Reality, inevitably, he links ( as I expected him to) to concepts propounded by scientists and Quantum physicists and thinkers as the Quantum reality, the Implicate Order ( David Bohm), the Zero Point field ( Lynne Mc Taggart), the Cosmic Web ( Fritjof Capra). The Deeper Self or the psychic mind he states may not exist only in the brain but indeed extends beyond the physical body.

He then equates his idea of the Deeper Self with Rupert Sheldrake’s ‘Conscious Self’. Sheldrake, the renowned biochemist and plant physiologist, states that this is not merely derived from matter. As he puts it, while the Conscious Self interacts with the motor field of the body and the changes taking place in the brain through the body’s interaction with the environment and circumstances of life, yet it remains ‘over and above them’. The properties of the Conscious Self cannot be reduced to matter, energy and motor fields but derives from another reality beyond time and space. It has properties unlike a purely physical system and it is this that accounts for parapsychological phenomena we encounter on the physical plane.

It becomes obvious that Sheldrake’s Conscious Self and Swann’s Deeper Self, in traditional, theological terms is none other than the Soul, the Oversoul, the Superself, the divine Self and Cosmic consciousness. This begins to match the Hindu concept of the soul which I have laboured to explore and present throughout this blog. This soul according to the Gita is not the AGENT of action but the quiet unobtrusive motivator and witness. Swann’s conscious levels of the mind in the upper reaches of the Mind Mound constitutes our ego, which is the independent AGENT of action influenced but not controlled by the Deeper Self. His ESP Core is indeed the soul, situated both within us and extending beyond into the Universal Consciousness. The Second Reality beyond space and time that he speaks of , from which the ESP inputs arrive, are none other than the Universal Consciousness  (Brahman, Cosmic Web etc).

Swann’s researching the ESP phenomenon thus reveals valuable insights which parallel Eastern Metaphysics and provide an understanding from the psychological and scientific angle and the philosophical and metaphysical angle of the paranormal and ESP phenomena occurring in our daily lives.

The ESP Core ( the Pineal gland, the Third Eye, the Ajna Chakra ? ) is the seat of our soul aligned to our physical body and its ego component in the brain, seeking to reveal the paranormal and extra sensory truths derived from the cosmic Web, as intuition, creativity and the paranormal abilities of ESP, when we, the ego are willing and able to listen.

Credit; samanthanoto.com

Credit; samanthanoto.com

Credit : amomentatatime.org

 

Not more than even a century can withstand

Your quite ordinary precious thoughts –

Even the paper browns

In less than a decade in your hand,

What more we, you, I, outlast,

Than Christ’s Christmas grows

With imperfect repetition,

Meteoring out at last in ten thousand years ?

And that baby’s dear pink cheek

Is feebler still;

For in time’s hydraulic press

Like a fossil out of context

It remains

Chewed out to the bone;

So go fairy ego

Butterfly away

Into the impermanent sun.

ram sita best

A routine visit to a place of worship could be meaningless in uplifting us spiritually and yet we make those visits imagining that by so doing we may receive grace. Some look for signs during such visits that their prayers have been answered – kind of demand and receive – I offer my prayers, now your turn, fulfill my wishes. I am sure divinity if present there remains unmoved while we continue with the rituals hoping for results. Only some go to such places for communion without expectations, which should be the only reason for such a visit.

My poem bringing this out:

 

                  T  E  M  P  L  E

 

Temple bells toll,

Marigolds,

Butter heavy burning wicks,

And sweet insense,

Make hesitant hands fold

Against the fact of stoic idols

Of marble and gold.

 

A rose falls to the joy of a wish granted,

Someone stands in the corner and weeps;

The lamp glows in understanding,

The haze of insense as it wafts afreah

Shows the marble smile grow subtle,

Meaningful, promising.

 

People finger the engraven figures

Of marble,

Finger their doubts and hope

Against hope;

Wide eyed they wander,

Circumambulating.

 

While the misunderstood idol

Of marble and gold

Turns to stone.

 

Then from across,

A little girl’s song

To herself

Shakes the temple walls

With a presence

And no rose falls.

T H E O S O P H Y

Study & discussion of the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky & William Q. Judge

Metaphyzgirl

Holistic Therapies & Personal Development

The Cosmic Companion

Exploring the wonders of the Cosmos, one mystery at a time

Merging Traffic

Poems, Musings, Quotes and Prayers by Dennis Ference

The Seeker's Dungeon

Troubling the Surf with the Ocean

theGoodVader

Growth, together

John's Consciousness

Exploring our "Inner Evolution"

50 Shades of me

DARK BLUE

Gotta Find a Home

Conversations with Street People

ChinHooi Ng's Poetic Notes

My Interpretation & Decoration of Poetical Ideas, Messages, Information and Resources.

lijiun

Smile Always

Immature Fruit

Poetry, Travels, Sketches, Writings and a Sip of Inspiration with Passion.

Jade the Mystic

Be the light unto yourself

Teacher as Transformer

Education, Leadership, Life, and Transformation

symbolreader

Sharing My Love of Symbols

S. Seegobin

Experiences and thoughts on life and our world.

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

%d bloggers like this: