Archives for posts with tag: Indweller

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Credit: universal-harmony.com

Credit: universal-harmony.com

We often wonder why souls need to incarnate on the physical plane when in their state of eternal bliss this can only be painful and difficult. Yet leave alone souls the Divine Essence itself does so as Avatar or as great beings. In the Gita it is suggested that matter and spirit are attracted to one another, the one in viewing something immensely superior and wonderful, the other to experience the trials and tribulations of earthly life, both to learn something in the process. Matter learns from the spirit, the spirit too is studying something, what we do not know precisely not being spirits ourselves. It is an intriguing thought for which we can only surmise what that may be. There is no compulsion for the spirit to undergo such an experience, yet it does from one lifetime to another (Hindu view). Is it to refine matter? Or is it to learn some physical lessons from the realms of opposites. What can it learn that it does not know already? Intense pain and pleasure and consequences of actions arising from them? Yet they come voluntarily to experience. We too do something similar when we go on a Roller Coaster ride or hand gliding or any adventure. Risking much if not all. What does it do for us? I’m sure it is not just about the thrill, it is a learning process, kind of makes us more whole. Thinking such obtuse thoughts i composed a poem which I wish to share with you:

 

                   A S T R O N AUTS   O F   ETHER

 

In this gymnasium

Dumb-bells and weights of your choosing

Lying in wait, presumption of gravity,

For, if you were conceived

In the vacuum of space

It would be without biseps,

Floating free like a shapeless cloud

Beyond earthly contours,

Beyond the need of a work-out,

Much would surely change

In the way you exert yourself

and suffer pain,

As the astronauts will tell you.

 

But that is only a little way out into space

 

And shapes in ether in another dimension

Do not even have the weight of ego,

That other proud muscle’s force

To grip and stride, a sure compass

Of physical circumstance.

 

Astronauts of ether are yet another tribe,

At home in their timeless state

Of floating free, timelessly,

No implants of organs

To start hunger, thirst,

No procreative affair,

Nothing to stir addiction,

No breath of air,

No gift of gravity to build calves

And keep feet on the floor,

No sure-shot ego to tell

what you want from what you don’t.

 

Is there a hankering for fear

In this fearless state

Is there a wish for kidneys and liver,

Stomach, member,

Which immortality with one felt stroke

Severed,

The bygone biseps and athletic gait?

 

They come from inner space

to the gymnasium of endless weights

Infinite work-outs, experience in pain

And pleasures

To build the spirit’s muscles

with material gains

In another medium, another plane,

Wearing space suits of bodies, organic equipment

And the latest models of evolution

In which to train,

Astronauts of ether

Again and again.

Credit: networkedblogs.com

Credit: networkedblogs.com

We saw in the previous post that New Age thinkers had introduced a paradigm shift in the concept of the soul. Eastern metaphysical thought now mingled in their minds with the experiences of renowned psychics, mediums, healers, channelers, creative visualizers  and mystics who believed in Ascended  Masters, Angels, Guides, and Teachers mainly in the western world. Frequent reports of rebirths recalled, near death experiences, glimpses of after-life in a coma or through a medium, recollection of past life through regressive hypnotism, Auric phenomena and photography, poltergeist phenomena, telepathy, tele-kinetic feats, out-of-body vision, distance vision, morphic resonance, ESP, and other supernatural and para normal phenomena also worked to develop a new mind-set.

What helped evolve their thinking further were the amazing findings of Quantum Physics and the examination of the para normal by the scientific establishment, though tentatively, as also eminent academic institutions. There was also a growing tribe of courageous and eminent scientists who revealed their thinking about the metaphysical and mystical implications of the new discoveries and findings of science.

They were also influenced by the thought of certain mystical groups in the West which did not find favour with orthodox religion and the church and  had become  esoteric and secretive. Thus the ideology of the Kabbala. the Rosicrucians, Free Masons, the Hermetic order, Theosophists, Church of Scientology etc all came to have influence on New Age thinkers in formulating their concepts on the soul. The Christian and Jewish concepts of the soul equally played an important role in determining the emerging New Age concept of the soul.

In the Judaic and Christian traditions the concept of the soul is quite different from that of the Eastern traditions, though changing in inflection from faith to faith and order to order. While the Hindu tradition imparts divinity to it and goes so far as to assert that it is a fragment of the Divine Essence, even God in miniature within, the Judaic traditions distinguish it from ‘Spirit’. Though occasionally it is called immortal, the sense of immortality is different from the Hindu tradition. In Hinduism the immortality is an attribute of divinity, whereas in the Jewish and Christian traditions it is immortal in the sense that it outlives the demise of the body,  and after the Day of Judgement dwells in Heaven or Hell for all times. Dante’s Divine Comedy shows souls in Heaven, Purgatory and Hell.

Furthermore the soul is not considered eternal in the sense of existing before ‘birth’, as it comes into existence only by God’s will at the time of conception or birth, though remaining in existence thereafter. The soul rules the action of the personality and becomes identified with it and a man’s actions. However as the person does not survive death it is his soul then that becomes him in after-life and is held responsible for the deeds of the person and subject to rewards and punishment. We see therefore that the soul and the person it inhabits are indeed identical. There is here no principle of the eternal purity and divinity of the soul as in Hinduism. Western mystical traditions differed in degrees ( Meister Eckhart) from the orthodox formulation but eventually appear to have gone along with it.

The foregoing Jewish and Christian views of the soul therefore also had their impact, in addition to the other influences discussed, in shaping New Age thinking about the soul.

New Age thinking therefore combined all these elements, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, mystical, scientific, esoteric, psychic, and paranormal in constructing  a new and unique concept of the soul which differed both from that postulated by the Eastern faiths and Christian and Jewish traditions of yore.

As I began my blog with a consideration of the Hindu concept of the soul, I propose to compare and contrast the New Age concept with that and in the process we would also see how the concept differs substantially from the Jewish and Christian concepts.

We saw in the previous post that New Age thought adopted several features of the Hindu concept: (1) The soul is eternal, immortal and ethereal ( as distinct from being created at birth by the will of God) (2) The soul is subject to incarnation on the earthly plane (3) The soul is subject to reincarnation through numerous life-times.

Aside from these features, where there is concurrence with Hinduism, new elements are introduced which are a departure. Though the New Age soul is ethereal, immortal, and eternal, it is not a fragment of God residing within the body. This position substantially changes the concept of the soul from Hinduism because the entire history of Hindu worship, spirituality, mysticism, music, dance, literature i.e. culture hinges on the divinity within. If the soul is not divine then the poetic yearnings of Indian mystics, their songs and prayers are all irrelevant and in vain.

The New Age thought is close to the Christian and Jewish traditions when it holds that the soul rules the personality unlike the Hindu position that it neither dictates to the ego-personality-body nor participates in its activities, thus in Hinduism the soul does not assume responsibility for the personality’s actions and remains untainted, as God himself remains untainted by the activities of man.

New age thought then postulates that the soul incarnates to heal negatavities that develop within it. The soul is likened to an enormous body of light and energy in ethereal realms corresponding to  Sol in the solar system. On this ethereal sun, sun-spots develop for some reason requiring healing. It then engages in a massive reduction of its enormous energy to create a personality through which it incarnates. The entire soul does not incarnate as it is too powerful and grand. Only the portion of the soul that has corrupted becomes the personality and arrives on the physical plane in birth. This appears to have echoes of ‘original sin’. The personality is therefore that part of the soul which needs to heal. The rest of the glorious radiant soul remains in the ethereal realms. The personality which is the souls negative part now becomes the vehicle for the souls healing and eventual evolution to higher levels of ‘vibration’.

At the end of a life-time the incarnated part returns to the mother ship either improved, healed or become worse and if necessary is then returned through another personality for further improvements to Earth School. This of course is at variance with the Hindu concept where the personality alone acts and accumulates Karmic effects till they are eliminated after many life-times. The only similarity is that in both cases the personality is at full liberty to act and can neither be dictated to nor forced to do the right thing.

The other major difference is that of   ‘choice’. In the Hindu concept there is no question of choice of incarnation as the Law of Karma determines the pros and cons of a lifetime and arranges a new body which would help in resolving negatavities. The soul in that case assumes the new body arranged by the Law of Karma without protest. In the New Age version while there is a law of Karma it has no role in determining the next incarnation which the soul is to inhabit. The massive mother ship soul force uses its own volition to create a personality of its choosing from the parts of itself it wishes to heal, as Gary Zukav calls it –  ‘a unique and perfectly suited instrument’ for the particular incarnation.

However in both the Hindu and New Age versions the soul as Indweller (Hindu) and the Mother Ship (New Age) remain the source of good inspiration and wisdom for the personality which in both cases is free to ignore it.

In addition to the Mother soul the New age thinking also introduces Guides, Teachers, Angels and Masters who assist in aligning the personality with the soul to heal it. These entities are also souls but ones without blemishes and at a higher level of vibration. The splintered Mother soul seeks their help not only to align the personality but also in conceiving a new personality for further healing. The entire purpose of life on the physical plane is to enable souls to heal and evolve.

Whatever the argument or cosmology, both versions emphasize the need for human evolution but each takes a different cultural approach for the identical goal. While the New Age version is attractive as it firmly places the initiative in the hands of the soul as the agent of action rather than leaving it to a Karmic fatalism, it in the final analysis goes against the grain of both Eastern and Christian/Jewish belief systems. For instance how would the long history of belief and emotion tied to the concept of divinity within be able to reconcile to the new paradigm? It cannot afford to lose the anchor of its cultural moorings. On the other hand for Christianity the problem would be the concept of rebirth and a soul not answerable before God on the day of judgement but its own master to deal with its need to heal. The new concepts would only be palatable to those who are not tied to their traditional moorings, but have taken their ship to the high seas for dropping anchor at another shore.

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

                                                             

painted by:Raja Ravi Varma / Wikimedia Commons

Meera Bai and her Lord Krishna
painted by:Raja Ravi Varma / Wikimedia Commons

One of the most extraordinary personalities of the age of devotional worship in 16th century India was princess Meera Bai. Born in the royal house of Merta in 1498 and married into the exalted principality of Udaipur to the heir apparent, she was destined to be a queen. But she was the spirit of the age of devotion and had only one love, her god – the Supreme Essence incarnated as the blue Avatar, Krishna, the voice of the Gita. This obsession earned the displeasure of her in-laws. After her husband’s premature death, her growing association with seers and saints in public places, particularly the mystic cobbler Raidas, who became her mentor, aroused their unmitigated wrath. After several unsuccessful attempts to dissuade her and later to kill her with poisons and cobras, she eventually left the confines of the palace to become a wandering mendicant, singing songs of love for her beloved Lord from hamlet to hamlet across the land. Finally she disappeared without trace at a temple, according to legend merging with the god she adored.

Her poems are all love songs; looking over the ramparts of the castle for the caravan of her beloved; telling her mother that she dreamt that she had married her Lord; speaking of the cup of poison which she cheerfully drank, turning into nectar; hearing the footfalls of her Lord in the rain.

Worship through love was now the new language of the mystical experience raging across the land. The ultimate path for communion between the physical self and the spirit within.

While superficially giving the impression of being sensuous, Meera’smeera-bai 1 songs are allegorical. Pining for the lover was spiritual yearning to turn inwards to find the divinity within. Spiritual communion took place when the final gate of the ego stood ajar and the third eye of conscience opened, to show God standing resplendent before you as your innermost essence. Thus when she says, ‘come to my house’ she means, reveal yourself from within.

COME TO MY HOUSE DEAR BELOVED

( Mhare Ghar Aao Preetam Pyara )

Come to my house

Dear beloved,

Mind, body and wealth

All I shall offer you

And hymns of praise will I sing of you.

You are perfection incarnate

While I am worthless

Full of faults

But I know, in your presence

All my failings will dissolve.

Meera asks, when will you meet me

For without you my heart aches,

So come fill my house

Dear beloved

With your glorious presence

And I promise,

My mind, body and wealth

Will all be yours.                                                             

meera statue nagaur

Meera commemorative statue Nagaur

Meera museum merta

Meera Museum Merta

English: Kabir with a disciple Italiano: Kabir...

English: Kabir with a disciple Italiano: Kabir con un discepolo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kabir was one of India’s most renowned mystic-poets who lived in the 16th century and was a humble weaver by profession. He imbibed the great Hindu and Muslim Sufi mystical traditions to create soul stirring verse and song which are to this day popular across the land. In the following song he speaks of the divinity of the soul. In translation from the original it looses much of its magic and authenticity, yet conveys the force of the message.

WHERE O WHERE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ME MY FRIEND?

O seeker,

Where are you vainly looking for me,

For I am neither in your pilgrimage nor in your idols,

Not in your temples, not in your mosques,

Not on the holy river banks at Kasi,

Nor in silent lonely spots in the Himalayas,

Not in penances nor the routine of prayers,

I am not in fasts, nor in rituals,

Nor in renunciation even can I be found.

Do you not see my friend,

Who seeks me so earnestly, far and wide,

That I am here, beside you,

Where are you vainly looking for me

Who am here, close at hand,

Right within you,

To be found in no more than a moment,

If you ever care to believe,

Ever care to look.                                                                          

???????????

(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.

 

cREDIT: ISKCON

cREDIT: ISKCON

Let us now embark on our journey to explore the meaning of the soul. There are many paths one can take. I can only begin by choosing one that appears familiar to me. Going along it I arrive at the august portals of Hindu thought and beliefs concerning the soul. For millenia the soul has been the subject of intensive introspection in India, a land immersed in mysticism and the spiritual quest, which produced great thinkers, sages, philosophers and prophets like the Buddha and Mahavir ( the last Jain prophet or ‘Tirthankar’ a contemporary of the Buddha).

India’s quintessential scripture the Gita or Song Celestial, begins its discourse with a definition of the soul. It calls it the ‘Indweller’ (Antaryami), the one that dwells within. It also calls it the embodied one – one that has acquired a physical body. While the physical shell is destructable, its indweller, it asserts, is indestructable, eternal, not manifest, inconceivable and unchanging. It is neither born nor does it die. It describes it as stable, constant, invulnerable and ancient.

The question arises, where does this soul which gets embodied and becomes the ‘indweller’ come from. What is its source? This takes us back to the very fundamentals of Hindu metaphysics and cosmology. We cannot answer the question of the origin of the soul without first understanding the source or backdrop from which it emerges. That source is obviously the Universal Essence, Universal consciousness, the Supersoul, Cosmic Being or God. (more in next post)

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