Archives for posts with tag: Universal presence of divinity
Plato

Plato

 

Raymond Moody

Raymond Moody

Several eminent psychiatrists from the middle of the 20th century have stumbled inadvertently into the spirit world in the course of their professional activity of dealing with clients with psychological disorders. The now celebrated Raymond Moody was among the earliest and coined the phrase Near Death Experience (NDE). In his book Life After Life ( 1975) which sold over 13 million copies, he presented  the gist of his findings from 150 case studies he had the opportunity to research. His book then also inspired a movie of the same name winning an award in the New York Film Festival.  The cases invariably revealed peaceful and painless transitions after death, the phenomenon of floating up to observe the body and those surrounding it, movement through a tunnel with radiant light at the other end, beings with glowing inner light, including deceased relatives and friends receiving the incoming soul, later encountering a powerful spiritual being which they identified differently, depending on their religious background, a life review exercise, and mostly a reluctance to return to complete the unfinished mission on the physical plane on account of the peace, tranquility, love and joy experienced on the spiritual plane. Moody as a professional psychiatrist remained sceptical as his later book The Last Laugh seemed to indicate, confusing his readers, till just a few years ago when he finally conceded that he no longer had any doubt of a life beyond death. He emerges on the internet’s You Tube interviews as a dynamic, genial and exuberant personality overwhelmed by the knowledge gained from his clients NDEs. There is also a Raymond Moody Institute on the internet to share his ideas on several related subjects.

Karl Schlotterbeck

Karl Schlotterbeck

Karl Schlotterbeck, another psychiatrist was on the other hand forced to concede reincarnation when his regression therapies, taking clients to their earliest childhood, produced unexpected past-life regressions. He averred that his goal in past-life therapies was always to provide ‘relief not belief. His book ‘ Living Your Past Lives (1987) also became a bestseller.

Brian Weiss

Brian Weiss

We then come across the now famous  Brian Weiss who like the preceding two was a staunch professional psychiatrist with distinguished association with Columbia and Yale universities. However his professional amazing encounter with one Catherine in 1980, suffering from panic attacks and phobias proved conclusive in overcoming his scientific scepticism. Placed under hypnosis she informed him of the presence of his deceased father and infant son in the room as spirits, with the full background of their demise and also the several past lives she had lived. He avers that there was no way she could have had access to the information. Weiss went on to write his bestseller Many Lives Many Masters ( 1988 )  and became a celebrity interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. In addition to affirming reincarnation he also spoke of Master Spirits and their messages coming through the patient, regarding the purpose of life, planes of spiritual existence, divinity within us, the movement of spirits after death to their appropriate levels of comfort and experience, constant support by spirits for incarnated souls, growth of spirits in the spiritual realms, reincarnation in physical bodies being a critical process for spiritual growth, the body being a vehical for spiritual development.

Eben Alexander

Eben Alexander

We then come across the curious case of Eben Alexander an eminent American neurosurgeon who taught at Duke university, Havard medical School, University of Massachusetts and Virginia with impressive record of activity in the field. Alexander developed meningitis-induced coma in 2008 and survived against all odds to report his NDE during coma – the splendour beyond the grave with angel like beings. departed relatives, splendid scenic beauty, souls cavorting in the sky and souls dancing below with butterflies and waterfalls. Alexander before the coma was a thoroughly sceptical individual with no spiritual beliefs. He miraculously recovered when all had given up. What induced him to return was the intense love of his 10 -year-old son. After his recovery he was a totally transformed man. He now intends to spend the rest of his life investigating the nature of consciousness and communicating the results of his research to scientists and people at large. His book, just released, ‘Proof of Heaven’ has been on the New York Times’ bestseller list now for 35 weeks and he has a unique website on the internet devoted to his experience with video talks. Alexander has among others been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King ( easily available on the internet for those interested).

All the persons mentioned above have met not only with criticism from the scientific establishment but ridicule for their ‘alarmingly unscientific’ approach to the subject as professional scientists.

The numerous NDE and Past life Regression cases researched by these psychiatrists take us, way beyond scriptural pronouncements, philosophical assumptions and scientific theorizing and hypothesis by some scientists ( branded as pseudo-scientists), in showing that a purposeful universe is attended by a realm of the spirit which is finally seeking, with caution, to reveal itself through the medium of Near Death Experiences and Past Life Regression.

One is also reminded by the furious media interest and millions of copies of the publications being sold, of the ever growing exponential interest among the masses all over the world on the subject, and of the prediction by James Redfield ( The Celestine Prophecy), Peter Russel (The Awakening Earth) and Lynne Mc Taggart (The Field) that a Consciousness Age and a Zero Point Age was now surely emerging in the 20th and 21st centuries moving us from an Information Age to a Consciousness Age of the spirit.

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credit: metaphysics-for-life.com

credit: metaphysics-for-life.com

Our tour has covered such luminaries both intellectuals and scientists as Peter Russel, Fritjof  Kapra, Gary Zukav, James Redfield, Renee Weber, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake and  Jose De Silva. I now propose to review the writings of the eminent journalist Lynne Mc Taggart and her painstaking investigations in her tour de force of the subject. In what I consider her path breaking book ‘The Field’ (1999 Harper Collins, New York, copyright Lynne Mc Taggart ), Mc Taggart launched on what she described as her quest to ascertain the ‘Secret Force of the Universe’.

    Her research into different disciplines focussed on detecting an underlying Field that connects us all and everything. We have already seen ( Science and Metaphysics: Bohm) that the eminent physicist David Bohm conceptualized the existence of an ‘Implicate Order’ from which the material world unfolds and into which it enfolds again as ripples in a wave. We also saw the insightful biologist Rupert Sheldrake (   Biology and Metaphysics : Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic fileds) postulate ‘Morphogenetic Fields’ to explain diversity and evolution in a purposeful Nature.

Lynne Mc Taggart

Lynne Mc Taggart

Mc Taggart’s concern was to investigate the range of observations and research by scientists to highlight the crystalization of ideas about a unifying and underlying reality which has been gaining greater acceptance despite resistance from the conservative scientific mainstream.

She presented and traced for the lay man, much like Capra and Zukav had, the movement in scientific thought from the mechanistic Newtonian world view and Darwinian theory of random evolution to the interconnected world of Quantum Physics and the dissatisfaction of some scientists with the lack of scientific interest in applying these findings to our macro level of existence. She dwelt on their efforts to investigate our connection with this apparently intentional force in the universe. Through her investigative journalism she sought to find the scientific basis for this evolving ‘revolution’ in thinking. Her concerns were however not confined to academic conjecture but appeared to be driven by a need to tap into the ‘Field’ to search for a kind of alternative medicine of psychic and spiritual healing and miraculous cures.

 At the heart of the premise was a Zero Point Field, the vibrations between particles which themselves are knots of energy. A ceaseless exchange of energy takes place sourced from this Zero Point Field and in turn replenishing this inexhaustible reservoir of energy.

We need not here go into the mysteries and complexities of Quantum phenomena, which she explains, such as ‘non-locality’ and the startling effects that the act of observation have on particles, beyond noting briefly that in the former case an electron is seen to influence another particle instantaneously over any distance without exchange of energy, implying that a connection once established is retained even after they are separated over a great distance. In the latter case the act of observation effects the particles behaviour. These curious phenomena suggest the idea of an interconnected world in which  we as observers  are active participants which produce the reality we observe  through the act of observing. This is not unlike the mystical view of the ancients that the universe exists when we look at it but disappears when we look away.

Fritz Albert Popp

Fritz Albert Popp

Mc Taggart dwells at length on the findings of Fritz-Albert Popp a German theoretical biophysicist who studied ‘ biophoton emissions’ of living organisms and even developed a machine for the purpose. Here again it is indicative of a force from which these emissions emerge, showing that at the macro level too there is a relevance of the quantum activity which we find at the micro level.

Mc Taggart’s investigations then move through the magical portals of ESP, linking its incredible feats and as yet unrealized potential also to the Zero Point Field.

She goes on to investigate research carried out at Stanford University to show the power of the mind to influence random outcomes in a machine deviced to study such phenomena. The effects of sacred sites and global interest in events portrayed on the TV on the machines in the programmes  appeared to change random outcomes to higher degrees of order, all indicative of the phenomenon of quantum mechanics being applicable at a macro level. The experiments appear to show that an act of will can affect the outcome and that by thinking we can create greater order out of random patterns. The question then arises whether the will can be applied to heal organisms. Research had shown that the will could be applied to affect bacteria, plants and cells. The conjecture was that all this was only possible because the Field, repository of all memory was being tapped into through these processes.

Some scientists had proposed that the brain itself was communicating through quantum processes within and consciousness was a global phenomenon occuring throughout the body, not merely the brain. Biology itself was a quantum process and as in Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields memory resided in the ZeroPoint Field with the brain merely retrieving the information from the Field. Creativity, insight and intuition were all representative of this phenomenon.

Intention could therefore affect the probability of events, pre-empt disease before it developed, change the course of our lives. The universe was instantly present, embracing all time and space at a point – a kind of continumm of presence. Precognition, distance viewing and the ability in some to look into the future were indicative of this (these conceptions appear to be in synch with the physicist David Bohm’s Implicate Order and and the biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields).

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Mc Taggart also examined experiments carried out by the Indian mystic Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi through his Transcendental Meditation (TM), mass meditation exercises to show how these affected  the graph of crime in specified areas which were the focus of participating meditators. Other phenomena observed were the affects of mass will on the environment and weather. More experiments showed the healing effects of prayer on controlled groups of patients. All these phenomena were shown as examples of tapping into the Field of benign energy, a store house of universal memory. Mc Taggart concludes that with growing interest in the phenomenon a Zero Point Age was emerging  ( much like Peter Russel’s Consciousness Age in his book  The Awakening Earth).

Mc Taggart, encouraged by the universal response to her book launched into her next book ‘The Intention Experiment’ which sought to engage enthusiastic readers in active participation on the net to affect an experiment in biology.

Her writings became an inspiration for the production of a popular documentary on quantum physics and its relationship to paranormal phenomena – ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ with interviews with scientists which illustrated some of  the complex phenomena investigated by her. 

Again I sat back to absorb the immensity of ideas proposed and to realign my thinking of the nature of the reality that surrounds us, shaping us as we too shape it.

sim diff

Credit: Artisi – Anneke Stewart
– realmagick.com/europesn.mandala/

 

The post is a kind of meditation on ‘similarity and difference’ which takes thoughts to and fro and back again making one a little dizzy in the process with possibly some meaning dawning finally at the end.

In the Big Bang of creation the unity of the Universal Essence transformed itself into an unimaginable diversity with intimate linkages to retain its essential unity. What therefore emerged was similarities and differences. Therefore even our thinking processes are marked by this characteristic process, to contrast and relate through comparisons. Our memory and ability to recognize can only work through this dual faculty of relating and differentiating. Our behaviour and emotions also arise through the application of this dual approach in observation. Racial prejudice from discerning differences in colour and feature, humanism from identifying similarities. We wish to retain our particular identity and culture (similarity) and repel alien influences  (difference) or  again imbibe appealing  foreign influences while maintaining our essential identity.

Thus our behavioural reflex begins to be determined by relationships of  brother, cousin, clansmen, racial type, foreigner, alien. Each category of similarity and difference produces a typical and strong reaction: sympathy  towards a similarity, as with ones siblings, ethnic group, race, nationality and the human species; interest in and curiosity for the difference  in  foreigners and aliens; or then, repulsion towards similarities and attraction towards differences as in sex ( the majority that is) or again antagonism towards differences as with alien forms and types that are dangerous, repulsive and sinister. In certain cases similarity appeals in others it repels, likewise in certain situations difference attracts in others creates opposition. Both help us relate to and understand the other who is linked in some way with us.

Nature also evolves by  introducing further variation (difference).  The Order Parrot has subdivided into numerous species and subspecies. Their similarity is that they share the features of the same order but thereafter they have numerous differences. In a larger spiral we link the parrot with  the class called birds and birds onwards to animals all with similarities and differences.  ( I am not a biologist so I may be imprecise in my broad definitions). Nature while producing variation is careful in maintaining distinction. Thus at the one end are the limits to hybridization and at the other the inefficacy and prohibitions of  inbreeding ( I call it the Brink or the Abyss). Nature refuses to allow untenable hybrids thus the mule ( horse + donkey) is a genetic punctuation mark beyond which no further confusion of  the species is tolerated, as the mule is always neuter. The Ligers ( tiger + lion) are neither attractive nor genetically strong and frequently sterile. The maintenance of distinction (different identities) is the necessary basis for sustaining creation. More variation is necessary for evolution but only up to a limit – man cannot be allowed to grow wings or birds develop hands – no unfettered permissiveness allowing haphazard mergers of attributes leading to an anarchy of unimaginable monstrosities leading to obliteration of identifiable and regulated entities  and types that are viable. However it appears that some mutations are experimented with, like the growth of the brain of the ape into the mind of man – risky but worth the risk! but no x- men for now.

At the other end is a danger of a different sort. We saw that through untenable mergers the death knell of creation could be sounded because it would lead to a tragicomic chaos and obliteration of definition through a kind of genetic babel. Equally the death knell can sound if too much order of uniformity was allowed, leading to a world of clones. Inbreeding taken to extremes could mean the production of  identical entities cloning out all differences, which of course would be like putting all your eggs in one basket. Linked to  the ‘sin’ of inbreeding is the phenomenon of asexual reproduction in some lizards where the offspring are all clones that perish together when afflicted by  a particular disease. As too much mixing ( difference) can erase identities, so also excessive uniformity (similarity) can merge them. Nature strikes a balance by allowing wide variation within reasonable limits, a great deal of variety without licence – a great many connecting links and similarities without a monotonous and repetitive homogeneity – nature allows a diverse essence. Furthermore even within the same species no two men are alike, neither their natures nor their fingerprints, not even for twins. Yet the linkages underlie the similarities connecting them stage by stage, level by level to the whole animal world and that world to the whole universe.

We are permitted a great many differences in a sea of similarity which links us to a common origin. Withdraw the difference and creation collapses into a great unity, supremely concentrated, supremely introspective, contemplating the next big bang of creation. Then from this unity again arises a chain reaction of variation, blossoming forth into creation, cycle after cycle after cycle.

nature

Nature’s Spirit
Credit: Painting by Josphine Wall – josephinewall.com

The Gita says that the Universal Essence is everywhere, ubiquitous. I have often wondered how can we sense this phenomenal presence in our daily lives? An intuitive thought suddenly struck me one day. Before I share that thought let me quote from the Gita about the manner in which divinity manages to be universally present:

” With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes and hands and mouths everywhere, with ears everywhere, He exists enveloping all.

Shining through the functions of the senses, yet without the senses; Unattached yet sustaining all; devoid of earthly qualities, yet He experiences them.

Without and within all beings; the unmoving and also the moving; because of His subtlety He is incomprehensible; He is far and near.

It does sound paradoxical and quite like a riddle in a crossword puzzle. So what thought comes to your mind? How could this universal presence without senses, hands, feet, eyes, ears and mouths manifest itself so we are sure of its existence? Returning to my eureka moment, my sudden realization was that it was so evident, why did I not see it before? Nature of course, that intangible spirit moving everywhere; teaching birds how to nest, trees when to shed leaves and when to flower; creating attraction between male and female to mate and procreate; changing the seasons; keeping the rare balances of temperature, magnetic fields, gravity, pressure and ozone covers and on and on, for survival of life and orderly behaviour of matter, solar systems and galaxies – Nature with a big N. Again the clue was already there when Krishna tells Arjun that when he releases the forces of creation he calls upon His Nature to order it:

”I animate my nature and creation occurs under her laws”

Yes, Nature is the manifestation and evidence of the universal presence of divinity, in the cell, the atom, the seasons, through instinct, reproductive drives, laws of physics, chemistry etc.

My poem seeks to bring this out:

 

                                             THE  SPIRIT

Always on the prowl,

Disembodied mind,

Urging a twig to sprout

Flower in spring, moving to bring

Two halves together in a mating.

 

More skilful than a pair of forceps

In delivering, urging a new calf

To hit the right spot for suckling,

This thing we call instinct;

 

A spirit, that cannot see or hear

With eyes or ears, nor feel

With any fingers, move on feet,

Yet it has being, materializing form

From ether with swift precision.

 

Shaping, erasing,

Severing with bacterial surgeries,

Composing diversities,

Stepping quickly back from the brink.

 

Masterly miniaturised

Double Helix

In every feature

Of moving living things;

With the alphabets of genetics

It thinks.

 

In a dimension

Of light and sound,

It has grown senses everywhere

To listen and peep from

At a living world

Of its own creation.

Plaque of a Yakshī (female nature spirit), India, Bengal, 3rd-2nd century BCE, terracotta, Credit: Honolulu Academy of Arts

Plaque of a Yakshī (female nature spirit), India, Bengal, 3rd-2nd century BCE, terracotta,
Credit: Honolulu Academy of Arts

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

                                                             

Credit: ISKCON International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Credit: ISKCON
International Society for Krishna Consciousness

The Hindu concept of the ubiquitous presence of the Universal Essence, as souls in every individual, generated the idea of ‘Same – sightedness’ (Sama Darshinah in Sanskrit) – seeing the same essence in the highest and the lowest in creation – a democracy of the spirit. The Gita underlines this concept thus:

” Men of self-knowledge see the Eternal equally in a wise and courteous Brahmin (man of learning), a cow, an elephant, a dog and an outcast.”

One then sees that the Divine essence is in all, and all are in it. This supreme egalitarianism becomes possible because the essence of the creator is present in every minute atom of his material creation.

This sense of the universal presence of divinity is further explained in the Gita in the following verses:

”He who sees me everywhere and sees all in me, he never becomes lost to me, nor do I become lost to him.”

”He who established in oneness, worships me abiding in all beings, that yogi lives in me….”

Such a mind-set creates the right attitude for engaging in the welfare of all, a humanitarianism which is concerned for the well-being not only of mankind but of the animal world as well and beyond to inanimate objects comprising nature (equally imbued with divinity) –  an attitude that would encourage the environmental consciousness of today.

The placing of a vermillion dot or mark on the forehead at religious ceremonies among Hindus and by women as a cosmetic adornment, become a daily reminder of the existence of the soul within. The vermillion mark indicates the location of the seat of the soul.

namaste

The presence of the soul as a divine fragment in every individual is further highlighted through the customary Indian salutation and greeting of one another with folded hands. People often wonder why Indian culture has adopted this mode of greeting which elsewhere is reserved for prayer in places of worship. The salutation with folded hands is not to the ego-personality you happen to meet but to his soul, the divinity within him. That explains why it looks more like a gesture of prayer than a greeting.

Likewise in Hindu temples the priest after worshipping the deity on the altar with waving wicker lamps turns to the gathering of worshippers and waves the light at them in a second gesture of worship. Here he is acknowledging the divinity within the gathered congregation. God is both on his high altar as the worshipped and in the congregation as the worshippers.

Indian culture employs these varied devices, cosmetic, religious and through the mode of greeting, to underline the presence of divinity within every individual.

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