Archives for posts with tag: Bhagavad Gita
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: 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: accuracyandaesthetics.com

Credit: accuracyandaesthetics.com

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

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

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

Credit: thechowaniecs.com

Credit: thechowaniecs.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avalokiteshwara The Bodhisattva of compassion

Avalokiteshwara – Ajanta Caves
The Bodhisattva of compassion

Credit ISKCON

Credit ISKCON

The popular saying goes, to see is to believe. We all want and need to have a vision, be it at the cinema, the TV, a photograph, or best, in real just looking around at the beautiful world and its beautiful inhabitants. Like, if the subatomic world is a reality, I must look at it through the microscope to satisfy myself that it is. It is through the telescope that we get a vision of what the galaxy and the solar system and beyond may be like.

When all the discourses were done, knowledge imparted of the here and beyond, Gita’s  hero Arjun turned to his dear friend Krishna and expressed a simple but fundamental wish. The abundant information, wisdom and insights remained somewhat academic to him. All the metaphysical, philosophical and poetic explanations failed to satisfy the urge to experience the truth by being afforded a grand vision of that reality –  we cannot blame him for his childlike desire to see it. In such a circumstance we would too.

Arjun here is being real cute and careful in his pleadings. first with a hint of flattery, he expresses his profound gratitude for the discourses. He acknowledges this lovingly, by calling Krishna ‘lotus eyed’ , then summoning courage he blurts out: ‘yet I desire to see your sovereign form’. then he is afraid he may have asked too much and qualifies it by adding: ‘ if you O lord think it possible for me to see it, then do… show me your eternal form.’

”But you cannot see me with these eyes of yours” replies Krishna.

Here I am reminded of ‘The Black Cloud’, a Science Fiction novel by astrophysicist Fred Hoyle about a mysterious cloud that arrives above the Earth. Scientists struggle to decipher its message and finally receive from it the technology to communicate with it. They set up the apparatus as instructed. It wishes to communicate knowledge about itself and the mysterious universe to any representative. A volunteer is seated before the instrument panel and he is connected to it. As the information comes in, the volunteer’s brain cannot handle the complexity and overload, resulting in his brain short circuiting into insanity.

Likewise, limited by our mental capabilities, one can only absorb so much of reality and make sense of it. Scientists are familiar with the mysteries of Quantum Physics but can they truly comprehend it to make sense of it for us in our daily lives? Astronomers can conceptualize Black Holes and Supernovas but can they comprehend them in their totality? When a concept goes beyond our understanding we seek to symbolize it mathematically as a convenient way of simplifying the ultra-complex. A simple equation, E=MC square, makes us feel we have understood the inconceivable.We need giant telescopes to look at distant cosmic phenomena, electronic microscopes to look at the subatomic world, computers to engage in complicated math to understand Quantum facts.

No wonder Krishna realizes the severe limitations not only of human vision but of the human mind as well. He alone ‘knows Himself by Himself’ as Arjun puts it. But Arjun is a dear disciple and friend and his request has to be honoured. Therefore through his generosity and magical Yogic powers (Yoga Kshemum), Krishna confers divine sight on him – celestial eyes (Divyam Chakshuhu).

 Then, before him, now looking through the divine protective facility of celestial eyes, Arjun sees his friend and companion the charming Avatar Krishna begin to metamorphose into a cosmic colossus with hundreds of thousands of shapes glowing with a myriad colours. He sees the whole universe and everything else there is to see integrated within the form. One of the most beautiful passages of the Gita follows:

” If the splendour of a thousand suns were to blaze forth all at once in the sky, that would be like the splendour of that mighty being. There in the body of the God of Gods he then saw the whole universe with its many divisions drawn together into one” (Ch. XI- 12/13)

 Even the one sun in our world is so brilliant that were we to stare at it we would be blinded, though we like to bask in its light and warmth. The radiance of a thousand suns shining at once is beyond conception – it would be death to look upon such brilliance. Therefore Arjun was fortunate to have the filter of divine sight to sustain the experience and enjoy such mind-blowing brilliance of the Super Conscious Essence.

 The form adopted to show Arjun the universal vision was necessarily anthropomorphic, with eyes, mouths, heads, hands and legs, the multiple colossi stretching all ways. Doubtless to safeguard against jolting him into insanity like the one suffered by our Science fiction volunteer with the mysterious cloud. But in fact a form was not relevant to the content which conveyed the substance of the message of divine reality. Arjun remarks that he sees an infinity of forms on all sides without a beginning a middle or an end. We cannot then think in terms of one form only. He sees the ‘sun and the moon in the eyes’, in other words the planetary systems and the physical universe. He sees beings flowing into him in the fires of dissolution and beings flowing out in the catharsis of creation.

 Arjun is overwhelmed and fearful and his hair stands on end (Romanchit). Trembling, he confesses that looking upon this awesome reality he is bewildered and fearful. Yet he is courageous enough to ask:

”Who are you, I know not your purpose and desire to know you”. The vision has not sated his curiosity, rather he now dares to ask that cosmic colossi ‘without beginning or middle or end’ and planetary systems orbiting in what must be His eyes, who He is! Like a courageous soldier he demands to know Him. For that mighty eternal colossus the impertinence of the puny but brave soul must have been endearing.

From that radiating cosmic vision comes a deep sonorous reply:

”I am the mighty world destroying time”

 He doesn’t say much more. In the Gita, rather than the universal form speaking of His infinite greatness, it is Arjun who overawed, begins to describe Him. Wide eyed he calls out: ” You are the primal cause, abode of the universe, the imperishable, the being and the non-being, the primal god, the ancient one, the one who pervades the universe, the adorable, the greatest Guru and implores his forgiveness for his inadvertent transgressions and presumptuous behavior as a friend, asking the Lord to be compassionate ”as a father to a son, a friend to a friend and as a lover to his beloved”( not overawed enough to give up friendship and love).

 He admits that while he ”rejoices” at having seen what has never been seen before he is confounded with fear at what he is witnessing and can no longer bear to look upon such immense glory and fearful splendour and pleads that he would once again like to see his mortal friend. How very touching the melodramatic scene must have been.

 Thereupon the Great Lord, as it were, collapses in a moment the ‘Virat’ form with the brightness of a thousand suns resuming his mortal form of the Avatar, the gentle Krishna, touchingly consoling and comforting the terrified Arjun. The wonderful Arjun, quite like a Greek hero, courageous and righteous, rejoices on seeing his own familiar gentle friend Krishna once again.

The cosmic vision may appear weird to those not brought up in Hindu culture, but we must remember that it was explained in an indian scripture for an Indian audience over 2000 years ago. The vision would have been different, say like Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, painted at the Sistine Abbey, if a disciple of Christ had asked him the same question. In the Gita Krishna clarifies this in a simple verse:

‘In whatever way men seek me, in the same way do I carry out their desires, men pursue my path O Arjun, in many ways.

‘Whatever divine form any devotee with faith wishes to worship, the same faith in him I make unwavering.’

‘Endowed with that faith, he engages in the worship of that form and from it obtains his desires, which are actually ordained by Me.’

krishna arjun xxx

Krishna & Arjun
Credit: International Society For Krishna consciousness – ISKCON

 

In a few beautiful verses in the Gita, the Avatar Krishna tells Arjun his disciple and friend, who among poeple are dearest to Him. I read out the translation from the Sanskrit once to a friend from Australia, a ‘Lady’ of national standing whose husband was also a scholar, philosopher and mystic. She then asked me if she could quote the verses in her New Year’s greetings to her friends. I received her card with the following verses to my delight.

 

He who hates no being,

Who is friendly and compassionate to all,

Who is free from the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’,

Even minded in pain and pleasure

And forgiving, ever content, steady in meditation,

With mind and intellect fixed on Me,

He My devotee, is dear to Me.

He by whom the world is not afflicted

And whom the world cannot afflict,

He who is not overwhelmed by joy,

Free of anger, fear and anxiety,

He is dear to Me.

He who has no wants, who is pure

Skillful, impartial, untroubled

And who is selfless in all his undertakings,

He who is thus devoted to Me, is dear to Me.

He who neither rejoices nor hates nor grieves

Nor desires, who renounces alike fair or foul,

Full of devotion, he is dear to Me.

He who is the same to friend and foe

And also in honour and dishonour,

who is the same in cold and heat,

In pleasure and pain,

Who is free from attachment

Who is neither moved by censure nor praise,

Who is silent, content with whatever comes his way,

Detached from home, steady minded

Full of devotion, that man is dearest to Me.

Krishna enlightens ArjunCredit: International Society For Krishna consciousness - ISKCON

Krishna enlightens Arjun
Credit: International Society For Krishna consciousness – ISKCON

The Krishna of the Hindu epic the Mahabharat is no longer the adolescent, mischievous  romantic who stole the hearts of the village maidens and companions. The Avatar has now assumed kingship and matured into an astute diplomat. He is here engaged in playing the role of mediator between estranged cousins, each representing on the one hand the forces of clarity and on the other ignorance and darkness. When his mediation fails he joins the ranks of clarity and good against those of injustice, arrogance, hauteur, deceit, subterfuge, atrocity, brutality, rape, intemperance, intolerance, wrath and perverted wisdom.

On the battlefield he is the charioteer of the hero Arjun, the embodiment of righteousness and virtue. The image of Arjun, the upright and humble warrior on his chariot with his divine charioteer holding the reins, is etched indelibly in the popular Hindu psyche, with allegorical connotations: Arjun is the individual Soul(Atma). the chariot is his body, the horses are his senses, the charioteer is his conscience, the Universal Essence, the Super-soul (Paramatma), incarnated as the Avatar Krishna. The forces of good and evil are arraigned against each other on the battlefield of earthly existence.

It is in such a setting that Arjun is suddenly overcome by remorse, doubt and confusion ( as we all do from time to time) over the ethics of confronting his cousins in warfare and refuses to fight when the bugles (conches) have already sounded. He begins the dialogue by questioning the Avatar. Through the dialogue emerge Krishna’s seminal discourses on numerous themes, including the myth of creation, the nature of the soul, the attributes of the Universal Essence, reincarnation, the theory of karma, the role of Nature,  righteous action, the purpose of life and the path to liberation and enlightenment.

Below are only presented those verses which explain the nature of the Universal Essence (Brahma), the so called Godhead (Ishwara) and its counterpart the individual Soul (Atma). When Arjun asks his ‘friend’ and mentor the Avatar, time and again in the course of the dialogue, who He may indeed be, Krishna tells him all. The Gita (Song) is composed in exquisite verse in Sanskrit.

                                THE  BHAGAVAD  GITA

                              (THE  SONG  CELESTIAL)

                                          – excerpts –

Arjun, the world is made up of the perishable and the imperishable,

Perishable are living creatures, the imperishable is the Self,

I am beyond both, the Supreme Self 

Pervading the worlds as God.

 

The whole universe of the moving and the unmoving

Are joined together in Me,

The whole universe undivided, yet appearing divided

In its manifold diversity,

Are drawn together as one in Me.

I am therefore the same in all beings,

The imperishable  in the perishable,

He who sees me everywhere and sees all in Me,

He is never lost.

 

I am the same towards all beings, 

For me there are none hateful none dear,

But those who worship Me, I am with them,

And they are with Me.

 

 The one who applies the same measure for all,

For pleasure and for pain, as he applies to himself,

That one is the best of men.

 

I am the origin of all, from me all things evolve.

After an age, all beings return to my nature

And issue forth again with another age.

I animate my Nature and creation occurs under her laws,

Nature produces the moving and the unmoving

Thus the worlds revolve.

 

I am Time, mighty and world consuming.

the supreme Universal Essence,

Neither Being nor Non-Being.

If the light of a thousand suns,

Should suddenly shine in the heavens

It would be like the light of my Being.

 

I am the father of the world, the mother,

The grand-sire, and the friend,

I am the goal, the supporter, the witness, the sanctuary, 

The origin, the dissolution, the foundation

And the seed imperishable.

 

I am the taste in water, the radiance of the sun and the moon,

Manhood in man, the life force,

I am sweet fragrance in the earth, the brilliance of fire,

Austerity of the ascetics, intelligence of the intelligent,

Splendour of the splendid, might of the mighty.

Of secrets I am silence,  I am wisdom of the wise,

Of sciences the science of the Self,

I am glory, fortune, memory and patience,

Of meters I am the beat of the universe,

Of seasons the season of spring, I am victory I am resolution,

I am the goodness of the good.

Of waters I am the ocean, of mountains the Himalayas,

The seed of all existence am I.

 

Whenever there is decay of virtue

And rise of anarchy, I embody Myself.

For the protection of the good,

 Destruction of the wicked

and the establishment of righteousness,

I am born from age to age.

 

I am the Self seated in the hearts of all beings.

An eternal portion of Myself becomes

The eternal souls in the living world

Drawing to itself  Nature’s five senses and the mind.

The soul is neither born nor does it die,

Unborn, eternal, constant and ancient.

When the Soul leaves the body,

It takes along the acquired qualities of a lifetime.

As a man casting off worn out garments, puts on new ones,

So the embodied one, casting off worn out bodies,

enters others that are new.

The Soul is  stable, immovable, everlasting

It is not manifest, is unthinkable,and immutable, a marvel.

 

When the disciplined mind is fixed on the Soul,

Free from distraction of objects and desires,

Like a lamp which does not flicker in a windless place,

Attaining stillness, it beholds the Self

And is filled with joy.

Thus constantly holding the spirit in harmony,

It eventually senses the infinite Universal Essence

And with contact attains bliss.

He then sees himself, the same in all,

 Sees me everywhere and all in Me.

Arjun and Krishna into battle against evil, confusion resolvedCredit ISKCON

Arjun and Krishna into battle against evil, confusion resolved
Credit ISKCON

                                                             

Reincarnation - RebirthCredit ISKCON

Reincarnation – Rebirth
Credit ISKCON

 (CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST)

We now arrive at the theory of reincarnation. Though Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cosmologies are entirely different from one another, the common denominator in all three faiths is the belief in rebirth. Here of course we shall solely be examining the concept of reincarnation in the Hindu context and more particularly as expounded by the Gita.

Let us begin by asking, whose rebirth? When we say ‘your’ rebirth we do not mean rebirth only of the personality-ego complex which represent you in your subtle body, now modified for the next lifetime at the moment of rebirth. What is also meant is the rebirth of the entrapped soul force within you, the ‘indweller’, the one who during the lifetime was shrouded by your body, ego and personality. The eternal soul now sheds the deceased body/personality and assumes a new one. Here let us see what the Gita has to say:

”It (the soul) is neither born nor does it die. Coming into being and ceasing to be, do not take place in it. Unborn, eternal, constant and ancient, it is not killed when the body is slain.”

”As a man casting off worn out garments puts on new ones, so the embodied one (the soul), casting off worn out bodies, enters others that are new.”

The analogy is aptly one of  shedding an old garment and wearing a new one. But the new garment, to extend the analogy further, is not one which the soul can choose. It cannot demand an exquisite garment from a designer shop. On the contrary it lies before the soul, tailor-made according to Karmic specifications. The traces, effects and ‘odours’ registered in the Subtle Body ( discussed in an earlier post – The subtle body and the law of Karma) determine the kind of new garment the soul is obliged to ‘wear’ – the new body/personality which will embody the soul for the next lifetime. Thus rebirth takes place with a new modified entity as the host of the soul.

Reincarnation - RebirthCredit: ISKCON

Reincarnation – Rebirth
Credit: ISKCON

(CONTINUED IN NEXT POST)

(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST)

credit; krishna.com

credit; krishna.com

We saw that the soul does not act nor is it an agent of action. Actions arise from the free will of the ego and the personality – ego – body which then  faces the consequences. As the soul does not engage in action it is not tainted by it, though it continues to inhabit the body that commits those actions. If the soul is not tainted by the actions of the body, urged by the ego ( neither participating nor taking responsibility for them) and cannot control or direct those actions, we may well ask what is the purpose or role of the soul inhabiting that body! What indeed is the role or utility of this apparently passive, non- acting soul as ‘indweller’.

The soul is the great guide within, the inner voice, the conscience. Its purpose is to perpetually engage in inspiring, counselling and messaging, softly, unobtrusively and without compulsion of any kind, the correct path of righteous action, our duties and responsibility – right from wrong. The most creative and compassionate acts, like the works of art by Michelangelo, inspirational discoveries and inventions and the humanitarian labours of Mother Teresa and other saints, take place when the ‘Host’ fully heeds the soul’s counselling. Thus, the ‘Host’ body hears it all, may take heed, or as is generally the case, ignore or rationalize the advice of the inner voice, to suit its ego generated compulsions and purposes or worse dismiss the inner voice as an irrelevant thought. Having stirred the conscience the souls purpose is completed. The rest is up to ‘You’. The soul is therefore the compass on the corporeal boat and yet many ‘ships’ are lost on the high seas of life.

( CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST )

credit : coaching4yourgreatlife.com

credit : coaching4yourgreatlife.com

The ‘shroud’ or physical body has certain attributes which we call personality. There are numerous shrouds with varying textures (people with a range of personalities) covering the souls which are themselves beyond personality, being divine, pure and eternal. The physical personality ,which the entrapped soul does not share, is also called Ego. Unlike the soul’s purpose, which we shall discuss later, the Ego or physical personality’s purpose is defined by self-preservation – the survival, success and well-being of the physical entity by overcoming any obstacles that come in its path. This compulsion to survive produces the qualities of that personality – selfishness, desire to procreate and thereby perpetuate oneself, jealousy arising from comparisons and competition, aggression to enable acquisition of something valuable that another may possess, dominance to subdue others, sorrow pleasure etc. The shroud is made up of these materialistic qualities.

Adolf Hitler credit : john-friend.net

Adolf Hitler
credit : john-friend.net

Some shrouds are thick, coarse and rough. Others are of fine texture and some are so refined as to be transparent. The soul is not visible through some shrouds that are thick like blankets. But as the shrouds improve and evolve its light begins to show through and finally when the shroudbecomes transparent, the soul shines forth.

Mahatma Gandhi credit : jobspapa.com

Mahatma Gandhi
credit : jobspapa.com

The personalities of people like Gandhi or the Buddha would have been such refined shrouds and the soul would then shine brightly through their eyes, their actions and their deeds.

The material shroud that covers the soul or the human body that embodies it, basically are quite independent of the soul, neither being governed, dominated or directed by it. The body or person is in fact governed, directed and dominated only by the personality-ego – mind complex, which is entirely physical. The ego goes about urging the physical person to do its bidding in enhancing pride and prestige, acquiring wealth,satisfying desire, rising above others, imposing ones will, exercising power, dominating others, preserving, protecting and enhancing its level of existence by obsessively grasping every opportunity. What role the soul plays we shall see later.

(MORE IN THE NEXT POST)

 

universal divinity

(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST)
The soul is therefore an integral part of the Universal Essence or divine source – a spark of divinity with all the attributes of the original source – indestructable, eternal, unchanging, all knowing – God in miniature. Apparently seperated and thrown up from the oceanic heart of the Universal Essence, it now journeys to the physical plane like a meteor entering earth space, bright and incandescent.

Matter is furiously attracted, as we observed earlier, to this magnificent spark of divinity, much like a mob is attracted to a film star, swarming him, or as iron filings are drawn to a magnet. Different combinations of matter – pure and subtle matter(Satvik), dynamic and passionate matter (Rajsik) and inert and fetid matter (Tamsik) – swarm the numerous falling star souls and envelop them in an irresistable embrace which cannot be deflected or denied. The soul is now entrapped in a material body and becomes what the Gita calls the ’embodied one’. Another analogy is that of a physical shroud covering a spiritual heart.

In the Gita, God speaks of the incarnation of the soul thus:

” I am the Self, seated in the hearts of all beings…”

” An eternal portion of Myself becomes the eternal soul in the living world, drawing to itself Nature’s five senses and the mind ”
(MORE IN NEXT POST)

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