Archives for category: Universal Essence
credit: learn-to-be-love-.com

credit: learn-to-be-love-.com

The mystery of the Divine Essence, divinity, the Spirit and God have been the constant subject of human enquiry and conjecture, religious speculation and metaphysical research. Divinity is sought to be understood at its different levels from the virtually incomprehensible formless eternal to the more tangible Godhead conceivable with shape and form to its incarnated prophets and Avatars on the physical realm.

Yogananda sought to provide some invaluable insights and answers to what he called ‘ the seemingly unanswerable questions’, answers that he ”received from the very depths of my soul and from God”.

The basic paradox revolves  around the concept of God’s unbreachable ‘Unity’ and the untold diversity of his manifestations in the physical world. Yogananda explains that as the Unmanifest Absolute, divinity or the Spirit was solitary and absorbed in Its own peace, consciousness, wisdom and bliss. In that supreme intelligence then arose a profound creative urge – ‘why have I remained thus alone…absorbed in My own bliss…but now I am going to dream a cosmos’. This urge then translated into a magnificent cosmic dream. The dream began to manifest, causing his consciousness to divide between his absolute unmanifested nature, the still and imperturbable Spirit and a turbulant manifest nature in the form of cosmic energy consisting of ‘different vibrating perceptions or processes of His thought’. This apparent duality was an illusion, being no more than a dream state, giving rise to the law of illusion of duality or ‘Maya’. Thus a portion of that solitary consciousness separated itself from Spirit and proceeded forth as ‘an active intelligent force, restless to express its power’, much like a seed sprouts into a mighty tree his thought ‘sprouted into a vast creation’. This however did not affect  his fundamental Unity, as the apparent separation was only within the confines of a dream state.

The first manifestation was ‘pure thought’. From this primal thought emanated light, which is the same as consciousness, only with ‘greater density’. The thought of light arose first, then transformed into a more tangible ‘dream of light’ – like the difference between thinking of a horse before seeing it actually in a dream. The dream of cosmic light was further empowered to create form. At first the finer light created subtle form and then proceeded to create ‘the grosser atomic light of protons and electrons’. God then empowered electrons and protons to arrange into atoms and molecules and a further thought force impelled them to ‘condense into gases, heat, liquids and solids’ and finally forms of life with man at the apex. This matter was further ‘imbued with a dreaming intelligence’ whose evolution would awaken it to the realization that ‘matter and mind are one’. Mind being the ‘idea vibration of God’. Death became the process by which ‘dream matter changes back into the consciousness of God’. The human being is the most conscious material entity, enabled to ‘transcend His dream’. Through birth and death this highest material entity goes back and forth between the ‘gross dream world’ and the ‘finer astral dream world. Reincarnation was a ‘series of dreams within a dream, man’s individual dream within the greater dream of God’.

Thus in the stormy state of creativity, the Infinite manifests as ‘intelligence, mind, vibrations, forces and matter’ but in the unmanifest state, ‘the Infinite exists solely as Spirit in which all forces lie dissolved’.

The Avatar or prophet is that material phenomenon whose ‘consciousness is one with the Intelligence of God omnipresent in creation and is the sole perfect reflection in creation of the Uncreated Infinite’.

 

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Credit: creative.sulekha.com
Credit: creative.sulekha.com

The Svetashvatara Upanishad dwells on the nature of Brahman, the universal and individual soul, illusion and  immanence with  soul stirring poetic analogies and has  enthralled, inspired and enlightened me for decades.

The Fourth Chapter ( Adhyaya ) of the Svetashvatara is the most beautiful and enlightening:

 

(excerpts)

 

The One, himself without colour, by the manifold application of his power

Distributes many colours in his hidden purpose,

And into whom, its end and its beginning, the whole world

Dissolves – He is God !

May he endow us with clear intellect!

 

That surely is fire (Agni), That is the sun (Aditya)

That is the wind (Vayu), and that is the moon,

That surely is the pure, That is Brahma,

That is the waters, That is the Lord of Creation (Prajapati).

 

Thou art woman, Thou art man,

Thou art the youth and the maiden too,

Thou as the old man totterest with a staff,

Being born, thou becomest being in every direction.

 

Thou art the dark blue bird and the green with red eyes,

Thou has the lightening as thy child.

Thou art the seasons and the seas.

Having no beginning, thou dost abide with immanence,

Wherefrom all beings are born.

 

With the one unborn female, red, white and black

(i.e. nature, Prakriti with three qualities – pureness, passion and darkness)

Who produces many creatures like herself,

There lies the one unborn male ( cosmic person, father of all being)

Taking his delight,

Another unborn male (the individual soul) leaves her

With whom he has had his delight.

 

Two birds, fast-bound companions,

Clasp close the self-same tree,

Of these two, the one ( the individual) eats sweet fruit;

The other ( Brahman) looks on without eating.

 

On the self-same tree a person, sunken

Grieves from his impotence, deluded;

When he sees the other, the Lord contended,

And his greatness, he becomes freed from sorrow.

 

Now one should know that Nature is illusion

And the mighty lord is the illusion maker

The whole world is pervaded

With beings that are parts of Him.

 

More minute than the minute, in the midst of confusion

The creator of all, of manifold forms,

The One embracer of the universe –

By knowing Him as kindly (Shiva) one attains peace forever.

 

That God, the All worker, the Great Soul

Ever seated in the heart of creatures,

Is framed by the heart, by the thought, by the mind –

They who know That become immortal.

 

When there is no darkness ( of illusion and ignorance),

Then there is no day or night,

Nor being, nor non-being, only the kindly One alone (Shiva),

That is the imperishable, That is the splendour of the sun (Savitr)

And from that was primeval intelligence created.

 

His form is not to be beheld,

No one soever sees Him with the eye,

They who thus know Him with heart and mind

As abiding in the heart, become immortal.

ardhnareshwar2

Shiva – Ardhnareshwar – both male and female

Credit: sringeri.net

Adi Shankaracharya
Credit: sringeri.net

Upanishadic thought culminated in the non-dualism of Advait philosophy of Vedant ( appendix to Vedic hymns). Its greatest proponent was the brilliant sage-philosopher of the 8th century AD who sought to consolidate trends of thought on the subject present in different treatises (see my post/page on Adi Shankaracharya).

The concepts of Karma and Rebirth had already formed in the Upanishads but had now become sophisticated concepts well entrenched in Hindu thought. Karma and Rebirth were features of the illusory world whose only reality was the self (Atman). This self however was hidden deep in the mirage of the world and could only be discovered by getting rid of Ignorance which made the physical world and the ego appear real. This could be achieved in stages through righteous actions without desire for reward, yoga, and meditation. Devotional worship was also only a preliminary stage on ones journey to realization of non-duality.( Advait techniques were prescribed by shankeracharya, followed to this day in his Muths or monastries throughout india, as study, Reflection, Postures, contolled Breathing, Withdrawal of sense functions, concentration, Meditation, absorption, dual and non-dual – a complcated series of regimes to the final goal)

Another aspect of ignorance was to conceive of a personal divine being worshipped as the creator, maintainer and terminator of the cosmos with form and characteristics . Such a being was to be regarded as the emergence of a magnificent super-ego much like the individual ego and was equally illusory. This omniscient, omnipotent, magnificent Being could never truly correspond with Brahman the essence without attributes. At best it was a mask which we had placed on the face of Brahman to understand him better, one which had to be cast away when the adept in Advait Vedant had ascended beyond the need for one – the personality of the highest and magnificent godhead would then disappear. Both the illusion of the godhead and his created world would then vanish leaving him with the reality of self, truth (Sat), consciousness (Chit) and bliss (Anand) which was an aspect of Brahman within him. (This position of Vedant challenging the reality of godhead was of course furiously opposed by Hindu devotional cults and saints of popular Hinduism who were more concerned with the object of their devotion as the godhead or his Avatar (incarnated godhead) rather than so called esoteric truths. In fact the devotional movement began to have a moderating influence on absolute Monist beliefs.)

Returning to Advait –  ‘Ignorance’ and its product ‘Illusion’ were not nothing – indeed it was ‘something’ which appears as a passing reality which has the form of becoming (Bhavarupa) – if it were real beyond change  (Sat) it could never be dispelled.  Ignorance the source of Maya or illusion was  not merely a negative principle, like lack of insight or understanding but a positive force (shakti – energy) which creates the illusion of the world and the five sheaths covering the eternal soul. It has two aspects – the negative which covers and hides the soul and in its positive aspect creates the multiplicity of phenomena – desires, fear, loathing, fulfilment, suffering and infecting our consciousness with notions of euphoria and delight.     (in my personal view the concept of illusion is connected in relative terms to the transient and changing form of the physical world where under the inexorable march of time everything changes from instant to instant – we are not what we were a moment before – so what is our reality – there is nothing unchanging, not even the sun – nothing has absolute stability – therefore it is a bit of an illusion from which we need to extract ourselves and anchor our minds on something which has permanence – a kind of fleeting reality which in the Hindu philosophical thinking has earned itself the extreme nomenclature of unreal or illusion, without qualification.)

In that so called illusory world on the physical plane, however  Karma and Rebirth held sway. Both concepts had fully evolved from their preliminary references in the Upanishads into mature doctrines in the Gita which had far reaching influence on the daily life styles, beliefs and ethics of the common man. According to Vedanta the self, remained hidden deep within the illusory world covered by five sheaths. The first was the gross body  (the waking state of the Mandukya Upanishad – see previous post ). The second the vital forces, the third, mind, the fourth, intellect – these three formed the subtle body ( the dream state of the Mandukya). While the fifth (deep dreamless sleep of Mandukya – the equivalent of the godhead) was the causal body. All these sheaths according to Advait Vedanta are illusory, including the state of realizing godhead and arose from Ignorance (avidya). Beyond it is the Silence which is the only Reality – that of Brahman( beyond the sound of Om the total silence).

The soul entrapped in these sheaths of Ignorance keeps hopping from one life to another ( after death of the gross body) carrying with it the subtle body full of Karmic traces and effects of past lives, till the subtle body is finally cleansed and refined and pure without Karmic effects whereupon the Ignorance is shed, the sheaths fall away and the soul is free to ‘merge’ back into the universal essence of Brahman. This in a sense is all a divine illusory play (Lila) which ends when the mirage of Ignorance has dispersed or been dispelled. Ultimately it can be called Brahman’s dream or again his play for which there is no audience. For after all the individual soul and Brahman the universal Soul were never separated, were always One.

The Syllable Om Credit: hinduterminal.org

The Syllable Om
Credit: hinduterminal.org

The somewhat incompatible outcome of the efforts of Upanishadic thinkers to reconcile the contradictions in the concept of Brahman through the dialectics of Realism had left disciples confused regarding the manner in which they were to conceive and meditate on the essence of Brahman. This was brilliantly resolved with the extraordinary intuitive discovery that the truth was not out there but right here within in the self.

Disciples were told that there was only one way the search for unity of Brahman could be successfully experienced – not by looking for it outside in the illusory world of diversity or through strenuous intellectual acrobatics by trying to fathom  and comprehend the qualities and nature of Brahman which was without qualities and incomprehensible. The only way was to look within, for the self was itself the unity they had long been searching for elsewhere.

The Chandogya Upanishad declared:

”As far verily as this world-space extends, so far extends the space within the heart… everything here is contained within it.” This going within to grasp the nature of unity occurs either in dreamless sleep or deepest meditation:

”When one is sound asleep, composed, serene and knows no dream – that is the self.” the unity with Brahman is a blissful state of consciousness in which individuality and all distinctions are overcome.

The short Mandukya Upanishad was the culmination of all Upanishadic thought – it explains in 12 verses the four aspects of the Self (Atman):

The first is the waking state – the individual moving and living in the phenomenal world. It enjoys and consumes gross matter.

The second is the ”Shining One inwardly cognitive” when in dream filled sleep. It enjoys subtle dream objects which arise from dream memories.

The third is the deep sleep state ”just a cognitive mass, consisting of bliss and feeds on bliss”. Here the self becomes undivided in dreamless sleep and is pure blissful consciousness. This indeed is the Lord of All ( Sarveshvar), the Omniscient ( Sarvagyana ), the indweller ( Antaryami), the source of all (Yoni – the great womb), this is the origin and the end of all beings ( an apt description of what we generally term as God ?).

The fourth which is beyond the realms even of deep sleep and beyond the beginning and the end of all beings is the real self to be realized ( through meditation) and is termed Turiya. The qualities of this final level of self is described thus:

”neither inward nor outward turned consciousness, nor both; not a dormant omniscience; neither knowing nor unknowing, invisible, ineffable, intangible, devoid of characteristics, inconceivable, undefinable ( all this because being the only subject there is no object and therefore no comparison to give it any shape,colour, form or attributes) – its sole essence being the assurance of its own Self, the cessation of all development ( differentiated existence), tranquil, peaceful-blissful, without a second (Advaitam) – this isAtman, the self which is to be realized.”

However, all four aspects together constitute the whole of Brahman/Atman.

Furthermore, according to the great Madukya Upanishad ( and specially intended for those who wish to meditate on the self) these aspects together can also be discerned in the sphere of sound ( Hindu creation myths begin with the resonance of sound rather than the unleashing of light) as the syllable Om ( A U M ), each of the states corresponding to one of the letters and the fourth to Silence – A is the waking state, U the dream state, M the deep sleep state and the fourth is silence within which the resonating sound of OM arises, vibrates and subsides. This is a manifestation of Brahman-Atman as a syllable. This resonating sound is the whole of this visible universe, past, present and future and the fourth, silence is what is beyond time. All stages of the sound are as important as the silence which precedes and follows its utterance as it is their totality that constitutes the universal essence of Brahman-Atman.

Practitioners of Yoga  are told that with this resounding sound they can begin to sense the unity of Brahman.

We see that thus was the final unity of Reality reached by the Upanishads, moving from Realism to Idealism.

The syllable Om symbolizing Brahman-Atman has today come to represent Hinduism as the Cross has Christianity, the Crescent Islam,  Yin Yang the Tao and the Menorah and Star of David, Judaism.

I recently happened to come across an excellent series of  five videos on U Tube on meditation which clearly were inspired by Upanishadic concepts though there is a liberal overlay of some New Age concepts also. However to get a vivid idea of the Self within and how accessing it can lead to enlightened states, through the medium of excellent and imaginatively created video footage, it may be worthwhile for those interested to go have a look:

As I said it is on U Tube and is titled – ” HOW TO ACCESS YOUR SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS’ ‘  – really worth a visit.

Credit: speakingtree.in

Credit: speakingtree.in

At the dawn of history, Indian sages sought to explain their profound esoteric insights not through academic discourses but through parables and simple analogies, succeeding splendidly thereby in imparting knowledge of their insights more convincingly than would have been the case with the pedantic verbiage of philosophical concepts. Svetaketu was thus instructed by his father Uddalika in the knowledge of the Self or Soul in the Chandogya Upanishad, making him understand a central truth through the aphorism ”That thou art” – Tat Tvam Asi, which appearing in this parable became famous: ( excerpts )

THE    EDUCATION    OF    SVETAKETU

There lived once Svetaketu Aruneya…to him his father Uddalika said: ” Svetaketu go to school; for there is none belonging to our race, darling, who not being studied in the Veda (knowledge of the scriptures), is, as it were, a Brahmin ( learned priestly class) by birth only.”

Having begun his apprenticeship with a teacher when he was twelve years of age, Svetaketu returned to his father when he was twenty-four, having then studied all the Vedas- conceited, considering himself well read and stern.

His father said to him: ” Svetaketu, as you are so conceited, considering yourself so well read, and so stern, my dear, have you ever asked for that instruction by which we hear what cannot be heard, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived, by which we know what cannot be known?”

” What is that instruction, Sir?” he asked.

…. ” If someone were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its stem, it would bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its top, it would bleed, but live. Pervaded by the living self the tree stands firm, drinking in the nourishment and rejoicing; but if the life (the living Self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers;…if it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers. In exactly the same manner, my son, know this. The body, indeed withers and dies when the living Self has left it, the living Self dies not. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it.

“Please , sir inform me more” said the son.” ” Be it so, my child,”  the father replied.

” Fetch me thence a fruit of (yonder) tree.” ” Here is one, Sir.” ” Break it.” ” It is broken, sir.” ” what do you see there?” ” these seeds, almost infinitesimal.”              ” Break one of them.” ” It is broken, sir.’ what do you see there?’ ” not anything, Sir.” The father said: ” My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there, of that very essence this great tree exists. Believe it, my son. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it.’

“Please , Sir, inform me still more,” said the son. ” Be it so, my child,” the father replied.

” Place this salt in water and then wait on me in the morning.”

The son did as he was commanded.

The father said to him:” Bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night.” 

The son having looked for it, found it not, for, of course, it was melted.

The father said: ” Taste it from the surface of the water. How is it?” the son replied: ” It is salt.” ” taste it from the middle. how is it?” the son replied: ” It is salt.” “Taste it from the bottom. how is it?’ The son replied: ” It is salt.” the father said; ” Throw it away and then wait on me.” He did so; but salt exists for ever. Then the father said: ” Here also, in this body, forsooth, you do not perceive the True, my son, but there indeed it is. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it.”……..ENDS  – ( after many more analogies Svetaketu’s education regarding the nature of the soul was completed).

Thus through a parable and analogy was the learned yet ignorant  Svetaketu imparted the knowledge of the Soul. The Upanishads throughout employ such dialogues to convey their message.

manasa

credit: saibharati.com

Parallel to the development of the concept of Brahman as Universal Essence was that of the Soul or Atman also as being the Universal essence. The Atman was in like manner  shown as being both ubiquitous and immanent. This thought derived its inspiration from the Rig-Vedic concept of the Cosmic Person from whose eye emerged the Sun, the Moon from his mind, fire from his mouth, the wind from his breath, the sky from his head, the earth from his feet etc. Thus the Cosmic Person was seen as projecting into the forces of nature and the world.

A further extension of this thought in the Upanishads was to create a correspondence not only to the world in general but to the individual as well. Thus fire now entered the mouth of a person and became speech, wind entered the nose and became breath, the Sun became sight in the eyes, the moon became his mind and so on. While on the one hand creation was shown as emerging from the Universal Essence, on the other the created forces were shown  as producing the faculties of man. Thus the microcosm and the macrocosm were connected.

From the Cosmic Person analogy also arose the thought that the Universal Essence was a Great Soul of which the individual soul was an aspect (Ansha). Thus in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it is stated:

”Atman is the person in the earth and the person in the body… in fire and in speech; in wind and in breath; in the Sun and in the eye… in truth and truthfulness; in humanity and in the human; in the Self and in the self.”

The idea of the  immanence of Brahman had a cosmic magnificence while that of the extension of the Universal Soul at the core of beings as individual souls, was even more extraordinary with profound spiritual implications. It was philosophically and ethically elevating and deeply significant for the future course of Indian thought and spirituality. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad clearly defines the emerging insight:

”That same thing, namely, this self, is the trace of this All; for by it one knows this All. Just as  ( if it were)a footprint” 

Again in the Svetashvatara Upanishad the same theme is reiterated:

” with the nature of this self, as with a lamp, a practitioner of Yoga beholds here the nature of Brahman”

The cosmic Brahman as an idea and the subtle Atman concept then began to be connected as we see in the Chandokya Upanishad : ”Who is our Atman? What is Brahman? Finally the two concepts merged and Brahman and Atman became synonymous. Thus the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad cleary states:

‘Verily, that great unborn soul, undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless is Brahman.’

And again in the Svetasvatara Upanishad it is affirmed:

‘The Soul which pervades all things…this is Brahman.’

This grand union of two complimentary concepts implied that the unitary cosmic realism of the first was now one with the innermost spiritual essence of the self and the not-self, the great spirit of a supersoul. Furthermore the linkage between the individual self and the Great Self was the ultimate step to an authentic Monism as in the resounding declaration of the Chandokya Upanishad”

‘Tat tvam asi’ – ‘That thou art’

credit:lightworkers.org

credit:lightworkers.org

 

Credit: Yagya.com

Credit: Yagya.com

The earliest Upanishads (knowledge of the self) arose in the explanations (Brahmanas) of ritualistic sacrifices and the hymns or Mantras attending them addressed to the Vedic gods of thunder, fire, sun and moon etc.The question arose as to where the chants emanated from and where they went in serving to fulfill man’s desires.

In this manner, the earliest somewhat naive speculations sought to explain the origins of the world and its substance, quite incidentally so to speak in the course of performing rituals of worship. The famous Creation Hymn of the Rig-Veda ( see previous post ) had already blazed a path by encouraging speculation in that direction. The earliest speculation was ( as also with the Greeks and Semetics) that the original substance was indeed Water. Thus the Chandokya Upanishad states:

” Atmosphere, sky, gods and man, animals and birds, grass and trees, beasts and worms, insects – all are just water solidified”

The concept of the soul (Atman) had also appeared equivocally, earlier conceived as emerging from water but later as having created the water itself and from its substance created the Cosmic Man and from its limbs created the different parts of the world.

Another postulate which gained currency was that the world arose from Space. Yet another supposition was that it arose from a Cosmic egg. In the beggining it was Non-Being and later turned into an egg. On splitting one part became the earth, the other the sky, its veins became rivers, its fluid the ocean.

Beyond the cosmogenic space and egg theories arose a more abstract and philosophical interpretation. Space arose from the Imperishable – From Non-Being arose Being.

Yagnyavalka the great sage replies his curious and persistant spouse thus:

”Verily O Gargi at the command of the Imperishable the sun and the moon arose…at (his) command the earth and the sky…the moments, the hours, the days, the nights, the fortnites, the months, the seasons and the years…at the command…some rivers flow…to the east, others to the west.”  – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Thus speculative theories moving from Water to Space and Golden Egg (Hiranyagarbh) finally arrived at the Imperishable and the speculations began to establish a single origin and connectivity which were the first stirrings of ‘Intelligent Monism’.

Towards the close of the Vedic period (Vedant) these diverse conjectuers were superceded by the emergence of the concept of Brahma or Brahman, a hint of which concept not yet named is already available in the Rig-Veda hymn of Creation:

”There was then neither being nor non-being…without breath breathed by its own power ‘That One’.

Thus we find that the evolving speculation arising from ritualism moved to philosophical and mystical interpretations which appeared to be heading towards  Monistic conclusion. While the ritualism and its theology was concerned with the extrovert physical world, propitiating the gods through sacrifice for earthly empowerment and mastery over the forces of nature, the transcendental philosophers had turned inwards, seeking and discovering the real source of that power rather than its superficial external evidence. Rather than channelizing this force externally for human use through magical rituals and incantations, they preferred to seek to discover its secret nature and in the process began a process of devaluing the ritualism and the gods which focussed on the external physical world, its goals and ambitions in favour of their quest for the innermost and fundamental truths.

The cosmological theories of Water, Space and Egg when compared with the emerging idea of Brahman as the source had a fundamental difference. Brahman unlike them had consciousness. Yet the concept of Brahman largely remained inconprehensible and unexplained. ( Brahman in Sanskrit loosely translated means Holy Power). While the old cosmologiies of Water, Space, Egg and even an Imperishiable entity were merely a source or origin from which  creation emerged, the new concept of Brahman became much more. The earlier theory of Brahman as the holy power had merely supplanted Water, Space and Egg. Then Brahman too while procreating the world ( procreating because Brahman felt lonely and willed that he had a consort and thus his female aspect appeared with whom he procreated the world) remained quite distict and apart from it.

But now suddenly according to the Taittriya upanishad ” having created it, into it he entered” and again we see in the Chandogya Upanishad ” That divinity thought to itself – ‘come let me enter these divinities( heat, water and food)” – thus from being the ‘One’ he progressed to being the ‘All’ No longer was Brhaman merely the creator but now he entered his own creation and became inseperable from it. We see this immanence of Brahman in the Chandogya Upanishad: ”Verily the whole world is Brahman.” This finally established the pantheism of the Upanishads which earlier had been only a latent concept. Later this was made more explicit in the Mundaka Upanishad:

” Brahma, indeed is this immortal, Brahma before,

Brahma behind, to the right and to the left,

Streched forth below and above,

Brahma, indeed, is this whole world, this widest extent.”

Again in the Manddukya upanishad:

”For truely, everything here is Brahma.”

Now, from the goals of extrovert ritualism to gain physical advatages and empowerment, the Upanishads moved to the Monist and Pantheistic conceptions of merging all objective phenomena into one unity.

The concept of Brahman had yet to take another leap in its transformation into a comprehensive concept, that of a Soul, on the one hand embracing all physical and spiritual realms as one immanent, ubiquitous supersoul and on the other as the individual soul within man. Of that, more in the next post.

Credit: revwaltermwambazi.com

Credit: revwaltermwambazi.com

atom

Credit : mysticalchrist.org

  

        

  TO  THE  POINT

All one pointed

One point is all

As varied shapes look alike,

Alike is varied all.

Dissimilar  similar,

Familiar unfamiliar,

In circles to a point,

Point to circle, circular,

Moving round and around

The singular, again

And again, the diverse

Arise and fall

To the singular point

Of the decimal, circular

Patterns at the heart

Of atom, cell divisable, part

Apart.

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

KALI YANTRA - geometrical portrayal of Goddess Kali Credit: sics.se

KALI YANTRA – geometrical portrayal of Goddess Kali
Credit: sics.se

The primal energy of the creative force in Hindu theology is conceived as a feminine entity. This is quite remarkable for a country which is essentially patriarchical. Worship of the Goddess as mother is fairly universal with major festivals being dedicated to honouring her with chanting, prayer, song and dance. Millions also trek to pilgrimage sites with fervour, devotion and resolve to receive her maternal blessings and empowerment.

The Universal Essence is symbolized as partly masculine, the epitome of truth, consciousness, calm and bliss and partly feminine, creative, volatile, energetic and emotional. The masculine element, Shiva, contemplates creation through his eternal meditation and is regarded as the eternal yogi, while his counterpart Shakti ( energy in Sanskrit) is cosmic energy that enacts that creation. Shiva is the seed, Shakti is the womb.

LAKSHMI

LAKSHMI
Credit: vedicgoddess.weebly.com

Shakti is depicted as having three manifestations or aspects. Lakshmi is its benign form generating prosperity, growth, health, well-being and good fortune. One finds her portrait on an altar in most shops and commercial establishments, in addition to homes to ensure the success of the enterprise and well-being of the family.

SARASVATI

SARASVATI ( painting by Raja Ravi Varma)
Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Sarasvati is the intellectual aspect generating scholarship, the fine arts, music dance and  knowledge. Her images with Sitar in hand adorn the stage where dance and music concerts are to be held or at inaugurations of cultural events. Students before joining an educational institution or proceeding to take an exam will seek her blessings.

Kali is Shakti’s darker aspect, symbolizing inexorable time (Kal), mortality and the ephemeral nature of physical existence – energy in a constant state of flux. Together the three aspects of Shakti create, facilitate growth, enhance the quality of life through prosperity and the creativity of the arts and finally terminate it to recycle the process again and again.

DURGA

DURGA
Credit: hindudevotionalblog.com

The three Goddesses when combined as one force are pictured as Durga displaying beauty and strength as a many armed maiden astride a lion ( or tiger) furiously battling the forces of inertia, atrophy, darkness and evil represented as the buffalo-demon which she slays even as it seeks to change form to deceive her.

Kali  ( the dark one and time in Sanskrit) is the most striking and fearsome aspect of Shakti. She is shown as standing with one foot irreverently placed on the chest of her recumbent lord Shiva, the blissful representation of the Universal Essence whose inner force she actually is! According to myth she was conceived to destroy demonic entities who had overpowered the  demigods and subverted nature imperilling creation. Even after their destruction her furious destructive energy could not be contained thus threatening the very creation she had been produced to save ( much like nuclear energy gone awry). Shiva then as a last resort threw himself at her feet to contain her fury but she carrying forward with uncontrolled momentum inadvertently placed her foot on his breast Thus the epitome of truth, consciousness and bliss, lord of the universe, lay under the foot of his own power time, which strode over him as if to declare that she alone ruled the material world of opposites ( good and evil, light and dark, pain and pleasure, love and hate, life and death). As she places her energetic foot on the chest of the universal lord she suddenly realizes what she has done and in embarrassment sticks out her tongue, realizing that the physical world is only a mirage created by the Universal Lord. The allegory is stark. The uncontrolled physical momentum of the physical world can only be restrained and tamed when it over steps its spiritual base and in so doing is shocked back into equilibrium.

The stirring, striking and paradoxical imagery of Kali with Shiva underfoot took the Hindu psyche by storm and is abundantly on display at meditation centres and places of worship where people hope to overcome persistent obstacles in their path. In Kolkata this representation of our combined spiritualism and materialism is worshipped at the famous temples of Kaligahat and Dakshineshwar where goats are sacrificed to appease her fury. Unlike most branches of Hindu worship  vegetarianism is not observed here and in place of honey water and milk cakes being offered to worshippers as sacred blessing the practice in many Kali temples is to offer wine and preparations of meat.

It is Kali who helps brides consummate their marriage, it is she who protects us from physical traumas. I composed a poem as a tribute to the goddess who though fearsome as life itself is yet full of hope and maternal concern.

KALI

KALI
Credit: fanpop.com

 

                      M O  T  H  E  R

 

Red stamens

Stick out

Like her tongue

In hibiscus garlands,

Prescribed adornments

In Kolkata.

 

The great Shiva

Lies prostrate

Underfoot,

Holocaust inevitable

Contained

In Kolkata.

 

Life blood is stark red

Against the darkness

Of death,

But together,fundamental

Cosmic flux,

In Kolkata.

 

Her spirit is everywhere;

In the parting

Of bridal hair,

anointed vermillion,

Lissom bodies bare

In Kolkata.

 

Dear mother,

Protector,

In fearsome aspect

Is abroad;

As we are secure

In Kolkata.

 

Dakishneshwar Temple

Dakishneshwar Temple
Credit: en.wikipedia.org

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