Archives for category: search for soul
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

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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.

gaia

 

In the whole wide universe

You alone blue earth,

Where cells divide

Into fashion models on the cat-walk

And songs of love enthrall

Across the static

Of the Milky Way above.

 

Little wonder

Where waters fall,

Such as flowers unfold,

The plaintive cuckoo’s call

And lovers in embrace

Alone in infinite space.

 

Where instinct transcends

The play of physical laws,

Greater than a sun is born,

The bliss

Of an embryonic form.

 

Hen her chickens urging on

Make history in the galaxy,

Calf and cow, suckling sow,

My tugging heart

As I think of my distant son;

Nothing in orbits in comparison.

 

From out of the stellar vastnesses there,

I wish just one cover

Of earth’s blue mantle best

And snug in the oceans and the air,

Be confined inside

One drop of wonder

Where I belong,

Against the splendour of the rest.

Credit: marymademe.com

Credit: marymademe.com

Change is a fundamental fact of life. The Buddha observed that everything changes all the time and this is a cause of sorrow. If we remain equanimous while experiencing change sorrow will not afflict us. We ourselves change from moment to moment. We are not the same person which we see in a photographs of the past – childhood, youth, maturity, yesterday, five minutes ago. They are all different persons seemingly connected. It is as if we reincarnate from moment to moment not merely at the end of a life. We are able to observe this phenomenon more acutely in our children – they keep changing quite remarkably and if we were not conscious of it the child who you knew scarcely resembles what he is now  – with varied experiences of life transforming him every moment. This thought is not a sophisticated intellectual excercise but a vivid realization which all parents have known even if they did not put it down in words. My poem seeks to capture such a feeling, difficult to explain, like a rare visual caught suddenly on your camera:

 

            THE   CHILD   I   KNEW

 

Where is the child I knew,

Merged now in my grown son’s face ?

As if he just left the stage

And moved behind the wings

Allowing another to take his place.

Where his high voice has gone

Never to return, his little face ?

Another person I love well

Now inhabits that space,

Till I meet him again and another

Man has replaced the one I knew,

Now standing face to face

Like someone holding a baton in a race

As the others fade into the distance

And then even he moves on

As someone sprints ahead keeping pace

With my latest son. bearing my face.

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.

Credit: wikipedia painting by Edvard Munch, National Gallery, Norway

Credit wikipedia
painting by Edvard Munch, National Gallery, Norway

Childhood traumas never really heal. Scars are only a superficial covering for something lying stirring beneath. They assume shapes and forms which become an integral part of our psyche and return to haunt us. We become our scars, are shaped and transformed by them. But life is full of healing herbs that then transform the transformation. There is always another dawn after a dark night. The roller coaster of life has as many highs as it has lows. After diving deep we soar. And in both, the soul of our being learns its best lessons.

My poem on such a scar:

S C A R

I still have that scar,
Folded by time
Healed and sealed.

But the thought
Remains tender
On the edge of a razor

And unabated blood
Flows from my childhood finger,
Haemophilic,

As perfumed mystics and astrologers,
Ghostly trains and bitter mixtures,
Loveless governesses, tonsils and tincture
Begin to haemorrhage again.

Credit : mi2g.com

Credit : mi2g.com

 

Whether scientist, artist, philosophers, mystics, theologians or worshippers, all speak of the grand Unity of which we are a part – the splendid diversity of the glorious Unity. So I felt moved to compose a poem which I present for your enjoyment:

 

                       U  N  I  T  Y

To distinguish

The fish of the lakes and the sea,

To seek the similarity

In the features of our kin,

Of feather and fin;

To want to compare

The horse and the mare,

To contrast

The rabbit and the hare,

The difference

In egg and seed,

Hybrid, thoroughbred,

Infinite variety

Connected

Diversity,

Common threads

Conjoining

United

Unity.

 

Credit: wallpapre.brothersoft.com

Credit: wallpapre.brothersoft.com

 

In probing the ‘After-Life’, World of Spirits, we moved from Near Death Experiences to episodes of Past Life repressions by eminent psychiatrists and hypnotherapists providing glimpses of that alternative reality which many described as our real Home World. We now look at it more closely through the eyes of a renowned American psychic and medium. Sylvia Browne for the past 50 years and more has established herself as possibly the most remarkable psychic, medium, channel and clairvoyant of the New Age, whose personal experiences and hypnotic regression appear to reveal all the secrets of that mystical world where souls are at home before and after life on the physical plane.

Her findings have been steeped in controversy with allegations of fraud by none other than a former estranged husband. Many of her forecasts and predictions have been proved erroneous and eminent sceptics and atheists have challenged her claims in the public domain. Yet, police and even the FBI are believed to have quietly relied on her sixth sense to apprehend criminals with satisfaction. She claims that these challenges were indeed of her own choosing in the Theme of Life Chart of her present incarnation wherein her soul itself inserted such negativities to hone her skills and for its own evolution in overcoming them.  Frankly I don’t see why a psychic is made to indulge in the business of making forecasts. A psychic is not an astrologer or palmiest after all. There is little doubt that she has paranormal abilities which does not need to be tested in such a public manner. It is like asking a great athlete to prove himself not merely on the parallel bars but to swallow fire and pierce his cheeks with flaming rods. She is a psychic not a circus performer.

If we wander into any Barnes and Noble bookshop in NYC to the section on philosophy, mysticism, the paranormal and New Age, we would find a whole shelf dedicated to the display of her books, several of which have been on the # 1 New York Times’ bestseller list. One can also find her numerous interviews with Larry King and the Montel Williams Show and several others on the internet. She has also set up a church inspired by the Gnostics called Novus Spiritus and the Nirvana Foundation of Psychic Research. She has also studied theology and world religions and interacted with priests, yogis, Tantriks, nuns, rabbis and Zen masters.

Her psychic abilities became evident from early childhood. She claims that her family history is full of psychics for almost 300 years, including her grandmother, son and granddaughter. She began having visions and premonitions of impending events from the age of five. As she grew to adulthood and began having frequent visitations from her Spirit Guides Francine and Raheim she began to doubt her sanity believing that she now fitted perfectly the description of a schizophrenic until Francine sought to disabuse her of her fears. Francine then by pre-arrangement materialized before her sceptical parents and sister. After that she never questioned her sanity and seriously began her quest. She began to give talks and lectures, many of which were ‘delivered’ by her Spirit Guide Francine by channeling through her. She also began regressive hypnotherapy to help cure psychic conditions.

Her knowledge of the ‘Other Side’ comes from her perpetually chattering companion and Spirit Guides Francine and Raheim, her own Near Death Experience (NDE), her claims to Astral Travel together with those of her son Christopher and granddaughter  in dreams and trances ( Out of Body Experiences OBE) and her questioning of patients and clients through regressive hypnotherapy.

Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne

The picture she paints generally matches those of persons who have undergone NDE and the reports of Regression therapies of psychiatrists and hypnotherapists we have covered earlier:  the soul moving out of the body and viewing it, the tunnel into which it is drawn, the growing light on the other side, the reception by guide Spirits, relatives and friends, recuperation, reconditioning and healing, the review of the last life, realization, acknowledgement and judgement of ones own failures in the charted mission goals that one had set, discussions with the Council of Advanced souls, the Elders, further research and threadbare examination of the course of that life, choice of reincarnation by the soul itself rather than God or Karma or anyone else, the existence of more elevated souls that do not need to incarnate, like elders, angels, teachers and Masters, the peaceful and tranquil, non judgemental environment of the Spirit world full of love and familiarity, preparation for reincarnation into the physical world at an appropriate time of the soul’s choosing, freedom to choose location, environment, parents, family and chart of a new life, including negativities and challenges and time and manner of exit, the dire need for reincarnation for soul’s evolution through experience of negativities on the physical plane and the challenge to overcome them, the presence of dedicated Spirit Guides throughout ones life time, the acceptance of all religious denominations and cultures as equally necessary and ennobling.

While all these attributes of life on the Other Side are familiar to us from previous posts, in her path breaking book ‘Life on the Other Side – A Psychics Tour of the After Life’ ( copyright @ Sylvia Browne, SIGNET 2001, New American Library, a division of Penguins Group USA) she dwells in great detail on remarkable facts about the spiritual world on the Other Side which provide fresh insight on a topic hardly explored elsewhere.

What emerges is a kind of parallel living world in an alternate dimension ( barely a few feet away) which in many ways resembles our physical world as a kind of prototype. Incredibly, the spirit world is remarkably similar to the physical one with all the continents (add Atlantis) oceans, mountains and peoples inhabiting it as spirits. A glorious perpetual dawn ( no day and night), and clement weather (no storms) however distinguish it from the volatility of the physical one. It is also ‘timeless’ and its inhabitants are all aged about 30 years in perpetuity. Thought creates instant mobility ( no need for cars or vehicles). Thought also provides instant construction of homes, ones we have always dreamed of ( no need for masons or architects). Individual personalities and preferences are the permanent  identity and stamp of each souls’ identity, some have humour, others are serious and sedate etc all with diverse abilities and ambitions. Spirits are not intangible or wispy but have bodies and even, unbelievably, organs ( heart, lungs, kidneys – the works), though there is no production of ‘waste’, no ageing, no disease. A soul can enjoy eating what it likes in the early stages of rehabilitation, though it is not necessary for survival – you may cook your favourite meal for a while till you don’t want to anymore. There is no termination of ‘life’ which is eternal. Communication is possible through language or telepathy. Every manner of entertainment is universally available.

Flora and fauna are at their resplendent best, never withering, with unmatched scenic beauty and gardens. animals and birds abound adding to the beauty of the spiritual ‘nature, though there are no insects!. Spirits specialize in all manner of activity and research. Most inventions on the physical plane are first conceived by spirits in their research centres ( they are presently working on eradicating AIDS and Cancer)! Spirits pursue careers as scientists, artists, philosophers, students, performers, teachers, thinkers, healers – you name it. Schools, libraries, research centres, areas for socializing and recreation abound. In a word, spirits are busy with their lives and have fun also. Spirits can also adopt any appearance they wish without loosing their identity or recognition.

Spirits however do not suffer from anger, hatred, envy, greed, or any other negative quality. spirits also do not engage in sex ( sorry). However when they feel deeply intimate toward one another, they ‘merge’ exquisitely, sharing in harmony all their knowledge of one another, which is more profound, intimate and satisfying than sex could ever be !  Spirits also have gender and retain the same gender throughout eternity, despite reincarnating as either male or female for evolution. The institution of marriage does not exist on the spirit side ( redundant), nor are there any families, though there are friendly groups and clusters of like-minded souls at the same level of development who are closer than any family could be.

On arrival back at the spirit world the soul observes certain important buildings. The Hall of Wisdom where scanning machines help one to review in holograms, ones past life experiences, for evaluation. Then there are the Towers, where troubled and disoriented returnees are cacooned for healing. There are also the Hall of Records and the Hall of Justice where distinguished Elders help in a detailed examination of lives on the physical plane.The Hall of Tones is for meditation and chanting while the Hall of Voices for hearing the celestial songs of angels.

In due course spirits decide to reincarnate (reluctantly) after deciding upon a chart for a new incarnation. Before departure they have the privilege of an audience with a messiah of their preference ( Christ, Buddha etc)  which is fulfilling. energizing and empowering beyond measure. The final stage is a twilight sleep and transfer to a waiting womb of ones choice.

The story of an After Life Paradise through a psychic and medium’s perspective and experience, does appear at times like an incredible fairy tale or a scene from a fantastic science fiction movie, particularly the aspects which show that the spirit world is quite as tangible and physical as our own. But this should be neither surprising nor novel. All religions after all speak of such a Paradise, a ‘land of milk and honey’. peace and plenty, eternal fulfillment and bliss, constant satisfaction. We have the Christian Paradise full of angels, the Muslim Zannah with Houris, the Hindu Swarg Lok with dancing Apsaras – if you research these concepts in the respective scriptures you will find some echoes of Sylvia’s Paradise.

Sylvia also speaks of a dark side, though it is not ‘Satanic’ in the sense of being ruled by a Satan with horns and a pitchfork. Those beings who commit irremediable crimes with no trace of remorse or repentance are souls that deny and refuse to embrace the light and are neither received by the light, at death nor find a place in ‘Paradise’ but quickly return through a dark abyss into another womb until some action eons later provides a glimmer of hope. Even they are not eternally lost though, being doomed to return age after age as dark entities without spirit guides to help them along the way, particularly because they reject help. The effort to redeem them however continues and one day they may see and accept the light. They till then dwell in a dark and lonely isolation and they may well intrude into your charted course of life uninvited as someone in your closest circle who exhibits evil traits with little hope of redemption.

Sylvia’s ‘Paradise’ appears to reflect the beliefs of several cultures and religions. Her description of buildings and monuments in the Spirit World with gothic arches and Greco-Roman architecture clearly are Western in their inspiration. On the other hand her repeated assertion that God has a male and female aspect, intellectual and emotional, combined as one, are Eastern. The ‘Mother goddess’ she speaks of with flowing hair and a staff in one hand, though robed in a classical western gown, has a lion standing beside her, clearly inspired by the popular Hindu depiction of the ‘Mother’ (Ma), epitomizing the energy of god and the universe (the concept of Shakti in Hinduism) astride a tiger or a lion. In the Hall of Tones, the chanting actually begins with the Sanskrit word Om, common to most religions of Indian origin when commencing a prayer and referring to the sound of creation. Paradise then does not neglect either Eastern or Western inspirations in becoming their prototype!

Sylvia’s Paradise though supported by scriptural analogies, is not always easy to accept no matter how comforting. It is one thing to accept that the soul is eternal and survives after death and that it reincarnates for its own evolution through experiencing the challenges and negativities of the physical plane and that it is welcomed after death into the spirit world, embraced by divine light and love – quite another to allow magnificent and thoroughly tangible scenic beauty, bodies with organs, buildings with halls and marble benches, scanning machines with holograms, records of lives being maintained in scrolls in libraries, dressing for events with just a flicker of a thought, wandering through superb gardens and a host of other physical activities  we never imagined  spirit worlds would, could or even needed to engage in.

From a metaphysical standpoint, those of us who are so inclined, would only allow a divine spirit to confine its physical activity to the human body when incarnating on the physical earthly plane rather than carrying forward a physical ‘hang-over’ to the spiritual one. All we would allow is an urge for the soul to be finally free of the physical and as pure spirit to seek to reunite blissfully with its divine source to become one again with the creative force, rather than enjoying separation. The idea of divinity within as a drop, merging back into the divinity of the grand ocean which creates the mirage (Maya) of the physical world, rather than itself becoming yet another physical albeit elevated mirage. Even if we were to allow this physical ‘Paradise’ to have any reality, it would only be another intermediate manifestation of the divine mirage or illusion (Maya). Only another physical level to be transcended.

To be fair, Sylvia does hint or address this issue when she speaks of levels of advancement for the soul. The Seventh level ( seventh heaven?) is as she says where the ‘rare’ souls lose their very identity and merge into the ‘ uncreated mass’  or the ‘ infinite, unfathomable force field from which the love and power of God emanates’. That is surely the ulterior dimension from which it never returns either as a spiritual entity or as an incarnation. Compare this with the Hindu concept of the last incarnation of an embodied soul where after it totally merges with the Absolute it  never incarnates again. She uses the same analogy as in Eastern cultures – the drop falls back into the ocean or as she puts it ‘ a cup of water spills into the Pacific Ocean’.

She however confesses that the ‘Seventh Level’ is not for her, as she would rather remain in a ‘spiritual world’  which still resembles the physical one.

In the Hindu scripture the Gita, there is a revealing passage which says:

”Worshppers of the gods go to the gods, worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors, worshippers of the ghosts go to the ghosts; but those who worship Me come to Me.”

Thus those who cannot overcome the need for physicality return to those realms (Paradise?), while those that have advanced merge with the pure spirit of Godhead.

Caption: wallpapersus.com

Caption: wallpapersus.com

credit: what-buddha-said.net

credit: what-buddha-said.net

In all cultures, different faiths enjoin on us to do the same thing – excercise restraint, avoid extremes, abstain, fast, overcome passions, be frugal and thrifty, avoid greed, gluttony and licentiousness, share, give away and be generous rather than become acquisitive, egotistical and centred in serving the body’s demands  for pleasure and unlimited plenty. In a word a balanced life. They hold out the example of those who have gone further. Monks and nuns, Swamis, Gurus and sages, apostles and saints are demonstrated as examples of people who have indeed denied themselves all manner of pleasures and passions even overcoming basic needs through celibacy, abstemiousness and detachment both physical and emotional.

Is this then an exercise to prepare the soul for the time when it will leave the body at death, returning to its pristine state in an environment where physical need of food, sex and ego and egotistical attachments will become redundant, where fame and fortune, need and its satiation become meaningless? The Gita ( Hindu scripture) speaks of  renouncing ‘Kama, Krodh, Madh, Moh, Lobh’ – lust, anger, addictions and emotional attachment to ones family leading to excesses of greed – all attributes of a physical condition and irrelevant for an ethereal entity like the soul.

As we advance in age and the body loses its vitality, in any case many of these attributes get subsumed. Sex is no longer the driving force it used to be, the palate cannot be indulged in as before (burp), relationships get sublimated, progeny no longer arouse the same protective passion as they become self-reliant. The aging body which the soul inhabits has become less demanding and it becomes easier for the soul to realize its true ethereal essence without the ceaseless clamour for demands of the physical self.

Most cultures then enjoin on the individual to prepare for departure. In Hindu thought, there are four stages of life. Childhood, youth and family life, maturity and disengagement (Vanprasth). The last involves ending societal and familial obligations and attachments and proceeding (Prastha) to the forest (Van) for contemplation and meditation on the eternal verities.

The theme of renunciation (Sanyas) is a common one in religions emerging from India. Among Hindus the call to renunciation is advocated for the lay person, after all duties have been discharged and life lived to the full through the stages of childhood, family life and maturity. Among the Buddhists a family member so inclined may renounce the world and join a monastic order from childhood itself.

mid-day.com

mid-day.com

Among the Jains ( according to some scholars the oldest indigenous faith in India), the phenomenon of renunciation assumes extraordinary proportions. One is occasionally invited to an investiture ceremony when an individual, be he or she  a bureaucrat, trader or politician, irrespective of age, suddenly feeling the call to renounce, decides to do so. At the well attended public ceremony, which resembles a marriage in its pomp and ostentation, the one who renounces , ascends a dias with a throne dressed like a groom or bride. Then one by one he places aside his glittering turban, or coronet as the case may be, casts off his brocade costume, gives away his jewels, allows his progeny or some charitable organization to take away all his wealth and severs all connections with society, family and friends. His last act is to be relieved of his very identity through a change in name ( assuming a spiritual name ). Having thus shed all aspects of ego he dons the white. simple robes of a monk and joins a monastic order with which he departs, never to return. This is equally true for women who dress as brides, relinquishing all finery on the dias and cutting off all links with family and society.

Jain monks then are required to sleep on mats on the hard floor, eating frugally and sweeping the floor as they tread the ground lest they inadvertently step on an ant or other living thing. They also are required to tie a band of cloth over their nose and mouth (like medical practitioners do in hospitals) lest by breathing out they inadvertently kill some micro organism! This is the most extreme form of the practice of non violence which influenced Gandhi in his non-violent movement. Another order of Jain Monks seek to rid themselves of every vestige of ego by discarding all apparel and moving around stark naked (Digamber). Their lay followers crowd around them when moving in public lest they invite ridicule by non Jain onlookers.

Occasionally a Jain nun or monk will take the extreme step of terminating life by gradually giving up food and water altogether (Santhara). While some argue that this is a form of ‘holy’ suicide and have approached the courts to stop the practice, orthodox Jains have asserted that it is their constitutional right to practice their religion unhampered. The issue has yet to be settled in court.

credit: huffingtonpost.com

credit: huffingtonpost.com

Buddhist monks seek to sever all connections with the material world by refraining from engaging in any economic activity to sustain themselves. They beg humbly from door to door and survive on alms. The begging is also intended to exterminate their ego.  The lay faithful householder generously bring food grain, vegetables and fruit and cooked meals for the monks at their door, considering their presence as a blessing for the household.

credit: Flickr Hive Mind.com

Among the muslims the Fakir or holy wanderer, generally from the Sufi order of mystics, move homeless from place to place singing praise for the Almighty. The great Indian poet Kabir was one such and his poetry and songs extolling man to cast away his ego and merge with God find echoes in every corner of India to this day.

 

priest being ordainedThe ordinary catholic priest is another case in point. He gives up much with a smile to serve the community selflessly. A nun when ordained is also dressed like a bride (of Christ), much like  the Jain renouncer. Of course, in all ecclesiastical orders, East or West there is bound to be corruption. The lavish life styles of medieval and even present day clergy is well-known. No wonder the present Pope has sought to urge and enforce frugality and simplicity among his clergy. Some Indian monastic orders were equally known to have been more concerned with amassing wealth and political power than spiritual salvation.

All said and done, renunciation is big in India and poets and saints who wandered away from home and hearth, palace and pomp are hugely revered – to name a few we have Meera the princess, Sur the blind singer, Tulsi the author of scriptural poetry on Lord Rama, Nanak the founder of Sikhism, Raidas the mystic saint, Shanker the inspiration of Non Dualism, and Ramkrishna the mystic saint of the 20th century.

With such thoughts in my mind I composed a poem on disengagement which I wish to share with our readers:

 

     D I S E N G A M E N T

 

Time for disengagement,

As the essence of ruddy contours

Blurs

And attractions abate.

 

The self same stamp

From driven insect

To warm bodies,

As the floor show circulates

Like a fallen cliche.

 

Not urging any more,

Not stirring,

As the instant realization:

This could not be for pleasure

Nor even to procreate

But a premise immaculate

For forging difficult mergers

Of souls incarnate;

 

Lest consciousness  constricts

When infected sunspots

Scar the spirit’s sun

And through incarnation –

Experience of ego’s annhilation,

We learn that we are one.

 

Then we may allow attractions to abate

As lessons done

And time for disengagement

Has begun.

kundalinispirit.blogspot.com

kundalinispirit.blogspot.com

Emerging New Age concepts of the soul, ‘after-life’ and rebirth, and reports of Out of Body Experience and Near Death Experience begin to affect our conventional mind-sets slowly but surely, transforming the structure of our thoughts and beliefs.

The mind begins tentatively to accept the new concepts and inevitably they get embedded  at conscious and sub-conscious levels, shaping behaviour, attitudes, priorities, outlook and even our world-view.

Reincarnation was always reassuring for those brought up in cultures that had belief in it for millenia. For those who began to share this belief, it also had a transforming effect. The understanding that we are not here just once and that our essence would continue in time, made life more meaningful and less desperate. The aphorism ‘ eat, drink and make merry for tomorrow we die’  no longer applied. There was a sense of relief and the fatality of death was less alarming, there being no finality about it. An ‘after-life’ where we had a chance to make corrections and try again, made the end less traumatic. The thought  that our essence was in fact eternal was comforting. If we additionally accepted divinity in our essence, it became ennobling. On the other hand, if we did not, even then the evolution of a less than divine but empowered ethereal entity in our essence  was no less comforting.

The premise that there was no judgemental hell waiting for us was also less alarming, though we as entities that judged ourselves, did not do away with the need to guard against excesses and hedonistic and self-centred approaches to life. We were after all our  own hardest task-masters, for when you in clarity, sat in judgement on yourself, there was nowhere to escape.

Even in the course of the evolution of Christian theology, the acknowledgement of reincarnation was considered and upheld by many. The Gnostics, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and St. Jerome are cases in point. It was only in AD 325 that the Roman Emperor Constantine with the enthusiasm of a new convert, together with his mother Helena, erased all  references to reincarnation from the New Testament. Later at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD reincarnation was declared a heresy. This was an attempt, according to some analysts to strengthen the church which felt threatened by the possibility that through the concept of reincarnation individuals would rely on self salvation, ignoring the church. Yet several esoteric Judaic orders like the Kabbalah and the Rosicrucians continued to believe in reincarnation. 

New Age concepts of self-regulation by souls in ‘after-life’  through mutual reviews of conduct during past lives and through reviews with Councils of Elders, Masters and Guides and their reincarnation in groups as spouses, parents, progeny, relatives, friends and even as adversaries through considered choices to work out residual negative attributes, provided a novel and fresh perspective of the challenges we face in life through relationship issues. Good, bad and indifferent parents, as also good, bad and indifferent progeny, tests of friendship, sacrifices made and privations endured, sibling rivalries and jealousies and a whole range of relationship issues and challenging situations in life like being born with handicaps, were seen in the backdrop of clusters of soul comrades enacting dramas to work out and challenge their imperfections which had  carried forward from acts of omission and commission in precious lives.

The closest and warmest relationships were confronted by painful turn of events to test their metal and moral fibre. The course of life was never intended to be an uncomplicated, smooth sailing journey.The perspective that the emotionally charged atmosphere of family life and the constant confrontation between individuals was an exercise in evolution ordained by souls prior to incarnation, had a transforming effect on those who cared to believe.

Inspired by such revolutionary thought, I composed a poem on the birth of a grandson, which I wish to share with you. It shows how new ideas can begin to fundamentally transform ones belief systems:

 

    WAITING   TO   BECOME

 

From where have you come

Suddenly new face,

Smiling so fully with your gums,

First chalk on a new black board

Grandson?

 

Crawling about us with trust,

Recognizing us so instantly,

Being recognized at once,

As if you have existed always

Behind a secret door

Which has just opened.

 

Like our children

Who arrived before you in their turn

From the recesses of our minds,

Familiar from the first moment,

 

Or the wife who joined me

From the time we first met,

One by one we have become

Permanent,

 

And even if I rewind

To when there was no one else but me,

Yet they

remain in the shadows

Latent and familiar,

Waiting to become;

 

As if long ago we stood

Joining our hands together,

With the conviction

That we would come

As father, mother,

Daughter, son,

Grandson.

soul-service.tumbir.com

soul-service.tumbir.com

 

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