The Stages of the Path – Meher Baba

All persons have to pass through the state of bondage, but this period of bondage is not to be looked upon as a meaningless episode in the evolution of life. One has to experience being caged if one is to appreciate freedom. If in the entire span of its life a fish has not come out of the water even once, it has no chance of appreciating the value of water. From its birth till its death it has lived only in water, and it is not in a position to understand what water really means to its being. But if it is taken out of water even for a moment, it longs for water and becomes qualified by that experience to appreciate the importance of water. In the same way, if life were constantly free and manifested no bondage, man would miss the real significance of freedom. To experience spiritual bondage and know intense desire to be free from it are both a preparation for the full enjoyment of the freedom that is to come.

As the fish that is taken out of the water longs to go back in the water, the aspirant who has perceived the goal longs to be united with God. In fact, the longing to go back to the source is present in each being from the very time that it is separated from the source by the veil of ignorance; but the being is unconscious of the longing till it, as an aspirant, enters the spiritual path. One can in a sense become accustomed to ignorance, just as a person in a train may get accustomed to the darkness of a tunnel when the train has been passing through it for some time. Even then there is a definite discomfort and a vague and undefinable sense of restlessness owing to the feeling that something is missing. This something is apprehended from the very beginning as being of tremendous significance. In the stages of dense ignorance, this something is often inadvertently identified with the variegated things of this mundane world.

When one’s experience of this world is sufficiently mature, however, the repeated disillusionments in life set one on the right track to discover what is missing. From that moment the individual seeks a reality that is deeper than changing forms. This moment might aptly be described as the first initiation of the aspirant. From the moment of initiation into the path, the longing to unite with the source from which he has been separated becomes articulate and intense. Just as the person in the tunnel longs for light all the more intensely after he sees a streak of light coming from the other end, the person who has had a glimpse of the goal longs to hasten toward it with all the speed he can command.

On the spiritual path there are six stations, the seventh station being the terminus, or the goal. Each intermediate station is, in its own way, a kind of imaginative anticipation of the goal. The veil that separates man from God consists of false imagination, and this veil has many folds. Before entering the path the person is shrouded in this veil of manifold imagination, with the result that he cannot even entertain the thought of being other than a separate, enclosed, finite individual. The ego-consciousness has crystallized out of the working of the manifold false imagination; and the conscious longing for union with God is the first shaking of the entire structure of the ego, which has been built during the period of the false working of imagination.

Traversing the spiritual path consists in undoing the results of the false working of imagination, or dropping several folds of the veil, which has created a sense of unassailable separateness and irredeemable isolation. Thus far, the person had clung firmly to the idea of his separate existence and secured it behind the formidable walls of thick ignorance, but from now on he enters into some kind of communication with the larger Reality. The more he communes with Reality, the thinner becomes the veil of ignorance. With the gradual wearing out of separateness and egoism, he gains an increasing sense of merging in the larger Reality.

The building up of a sense of separateness is a result of flights of imagination. Therefore the breaking through of the self-created sense of separateness and being united with Reality is secured through reversing the false working of imagination. The act of getting rid of imagination altogether may be compared with the act of awakening from deep sleep. The different stages in the process of ridding oneself of false imagination might be compared with the dreams that often serve as a bridge between deep sleep and full wakefulness. The process of getting rid of the manifold working of false imagination is gradual and has seven stages.

The shedding of one fold of the veil of imagination is decidedly an advance toward Light and Truth, but it does not amount to becoming one with Reality. It merely means renouncing the more false imagination in favor of the less false imagination. There are different degrees of falseness of imagination corresponding to the degrees of the sense of separateness constituted by ego-consciousness. Each stage in the process of ridding oneself of false imagination is a definite wearing out of the ego. But all intermediate stages on the path, until final realization of the Goal, consist in leaving one flight of imagination for another. They do not amount to cessation of imagination.

These flights of imagination do not bring about any real change in the true being of the Self as it is. What changes is not the Self but its idea of what it is. Suppose in a daydream or fantasy you imagine yourself to be in China while your body is actually in India. When the fantasy comes to an end, you realize that your body is actually not in China but in India. From the subjective point of view, this is like returning from China to India. In the same way, gradual non-identification with the body and progressive identification with the Oversoul is comparable to the actual traversing of the path, though in fact the different intermediate stages on the path are all equally creations of the play of imagination.

The six ascending stages are thus all within the domain of imagination. However at each stage, breaking down the sense of separateness and discovering a merging in the larger Reality are both so strong and clear that the person often has a pseudo sense of Realization. Just as when a person climbing a mountain comes upon a deep valley and is so fascinated by the sight of it that he forgets the real goal and believes for a time that he has arrived at his goal, the aspirant also mistakes the intermediate stages for the goal itself. But a person who is really in earnest about climbing the mountain realizes after a while that the valley has to be crossed, and the aspirant also realizes sooner or later that the intermediate stage has to be transcended. The pseudo sense of Realization that comes at the intermediate stages is like an individual dreaming that he has awakened from sleep although he is actually still asleep. After becoming awake he realizes that his first feeling of awakening was really a dream.

Each definite stage of advancement represents a state of consciousness, and advancement from one state of consciousness to another proceeds side by side with crossing the inner planes. Thus six intermediate planes and their states of consciousness have to be experienced before reaching the seventh plane, which is the end of the journey and where there is final realization of the God state. A plane is comparable to a railway station where a train halts for some time, and the state of consciousness is comparable to the movements of the passenger after getting down at the station.

After entering a new plane of consciousness, a person usually takes some time before he can freely function on that plane. As there is a radical change in the total conditions of mental life, the person experiences a sort of paralysis of mental activity known as samadhi. When the pilgrim enters a new plane, he merges into the plane before he can experience the state characteristic of that plane. Just as a pilgrim who is tired by the strain of a journey sometimes goes to sleep, consciousness-which has made the effort of ascending to a new plane-goes through a period of lowered mental activity comparable to sleep. However, samadhi is fundamentally different from sleep. A person is totally unconscious in sleep; whereas in samadhi he is conscious of bliss or light or power, although he is unconscious of his body and surroundings. After a period of comparative stillness, the mind begins to function on the new plane and experiences a state of consciousness that is utterly different from the state it has left behind.

When the aspirant enters a new plane, he is merged into it; and along with the slowing down of mental activity, he experiences a substantial diminution in the ego-life. This curtailment of the ego-life is different from the final annihilation of the ego, which takes place at the seventh plane. But like the final annihilation at the seventh plane, the different stages of the curtailment of the ego at the intermediate six planes deserve special mention owing to their relative importance. In the Sufi spiritual tradition, the final annihilation of the ego is described as Fana-Fillah. And the earlier samadhi of the six planes of duality have also been recognized as kinds of fana, since they also involve a partial annihilation of the ego.

Through all these fanas of ascending order there is a continuity of progression toward the final Fana-Fillah, and each has some special characteristic. When the pilgrim arrives at the first plane, he experiences his first fana, or minor annihilation of the ego. The pilgrim is temporarily lost to his limited individuality and experiences bliss. Many pilgrims thus merged think they have realized God and hence get stuck in the first plane. If the pilgrim keeps himself free from self-delusion or comes to realize that his attainment is really a transitional phase in his journey, he advances further on the spiritual path and arrives at the second plane.

The merging into the second plane is called fana-e-batili, or the annihilation of the false. The pilgrim is now absorbed in bliss and infinite light. Some think that they have attained the goal and get stranded in the second plane, but others who keep themselves free from self-delusion march onward and enter the third plane. The merging into the third plane is called fana-e-zahiri, or the annihilation of the apparent. Here the pilgrim loses all consciousness of his body and his world for days and experiences infinite power. Since he has no consciousness of the world, he has no occasion for the expression of this power. This is videh samadhi, or the state of divine coma. Consciousness is now completely withdrawn from the entire world.

If the pilgrim advances still further, he arrives at the fourth plane. The merging into the fourth plane is called fana-e-malakuti, or the annihilation leading toward freedom. The pilgrim experiences a peculiar state of consciousness at the fourth plane, since he now not only feels infinite power but also has plenty of occasion for the expression of that power. Further, he not only has occasion for the use of his powers but has a definite inclination to express them. If he falls prey to this temptation, he goes on expressing these powers and gets caught up in the alluring possibilities of the fourth plane. For this reason the fourth plane is one of the most difficult and dangerous to cross. The pilgrim is never spiritually safe, and his reversion is always possible until he has successfully crossed the fourth plane and arrived at the fifth.

The merging into the fifth plane is called fana-e-jabruti, or the annihilation of all desires. Here the incessant activity of the lower intellect comes to a standstill. The pilgrim does not think in the ordinary way, and yet he is indirectly a source of many inspiring thoughts. He sees, but not with the physical eyes. Mind speaks with mind, and there is neither worry nor doubt. He is now spiritually safe and beyond the possibility of a downfall; and yet many a pilgrim on this exalted plane finds it difficult to resist the delusion that he has attained Godhood. In his self-delusion he thinks and says, “I am God,” and believes himself to have arrived at the end of the spiritual path.

But if he moves on, he perceives his mistake and advances to the sixth plane. The merging into the sixth plane is called fana-e-mahabubi, or the annihilation of the self (lover) in the Beloved. Now the pilgrim sees God as directly and as clearly as an ordinary person sees the different things of this world. This continual perception and enjoyment of God does not suffer a break even for an instant. Yet the wayfarer does not become one with God, the Infinite.

If the pilgrim ascends to the seventh plane, he experiences the last merging, which is called Fana-Fillah, or the final annihilation of the self in God. Through this merging the pilgrim loses his separate existence and becomes permanently united with God. He is now one with God and experiences himself as being none other than God. This seventh plane Fana-Fillah is the terminus of the spiritual path, the goal of all search and endeavor. It is the Nirvikalpa state, which is characteristic of conscious Godhood. It is the only real awakening. The pilgrim has now reached the opposite shore of the vast ocean of imagination, and he realizes that this last Truth is the only Truth and that all the other stages on the path are entirely illusory. He has arrived at the final destination.

-Meher Baba

Taken from Discourses

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Make the Two One – Osho

Jesus saw children who were being suckled. He said to his disciples: these children who are being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom. They said to him: shall we then, being children, enter the kingdom? Jesus said to them: when you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner, and the above as the below, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male will not be male and the female not be female, then shall you enter the kingdom.

This is one of the deepest sayings of Jesus, and one of the most basic to be understood by a seeker. It is also one of the most difficult to achieve, because if this is achieved nothing more is left to achieve. First try to understand a few things and then we will enter into the saying.

Man, if he lives with the mind, can never be innocent – and only in innocence does the divine descend, or do you ascend to the divine. Innocence is the door. Mind is cunning, calculating, it is clever, and because of this cleverness you miss – you miss the kingdom of God. You may attain to the kingdom of this world through the mind, because here cunningness is needed. You have to be cunning: the more cunning, the more successful; the more calculating, the more efficient in the ways of the world.

But the door for the kingdom of God is exactly the opposite. There, no calculation is needed, no cleverness is needed. Mind is not needed at all, because mind is just a mechanism to calculate, a mechanism to be clever. If you don’t need any cleverness, any calculation, mind is useless. Then the heart becomes the source of your being, and heart is innocence.

Why do we go on being clever? Why does the mind go on thinking about how to deceive? –Because that is the only way in this world to succeed. So those who want to succeed in this world will be failures in the kingdom of God. If you are ready to accept your failure in this world, then you are ready to enter the other world. The moment one is ready to recognize that, “The success of this world is not for me, I am not for it,” immediately a conversion happens, a turning. Then the consciousness doesn’t move outward, it starts moving inward.

Jesus emphasizes innocence very much. Hence, he goes on talking about the beauty of children, or the innocence of the flowers, of lilies, or the innocence of the birds. But that type of innocence won’t help, you have already lost that. So don’t imitate him verbally, don’t try to understand literally, it is just symbolic.

You cannot be a child again – how is it possible? Once you have tasted knowledge you cannot fall back. You can transcend it but you cannot go back, there is no way to go back. You can go ahead, you can go beyond it, but you cannot go behind it now – there is no way. You cannot be an ordinary child again. How? How can you lose that which you have known? But you can go beyond, you can transcend.

Remember this, otherwise you may start imitating a child and that imitation will be a cunningness, it will again be a calculation… because Jesus says, “Be like a child,” so you start practicing how to be like a child. But a child never practices. A child is simply a child, he doesn’t even know that he is a child, he is not aware of his innocence. His innocence is there, but he is not self-conscious about it. But if you practice then self-consciousness will be there. Then this childhood will be a false thing.

You can act it but you cannot be a child again – in the literal sense.

A saint, a sage, becomes like a child in a totally different sense. He has transcended, he has gone beyond mind, because he has understood the futility of it. He has understood the whole nonsense of being a successful man in this world – he has renounced that desire to succeed, the desire to impress others; the desire to be the greatest, the most important; the desire to fulfill the ego. He has come to understand the absolute futility of it. The very understanding transcends. The very understanding – and immediately you are transformed into a different dimension.

Then there is again a childhood; that is called the second childhood. Hindus have called that stage ‘the twice-born’, dwij. Again you are born, but this is a different birth, not out of a father and a mother.

This is out of your own self, not out of two bodies meeting, not out of duality. It is through yourself that you are born. This is the meaning of Jesus’ birth – That he was born out of a virgin. But people take everything literally and then they miss. Out of the virgin means out of the one: there is no other, so who can corrupt it? Who can enter into it? The virginity remains absolutely pure because there is no other.

When the other is there you have lost your virginity. If in the mind the other is there, you have lost innocence. So the consciousness of the other, the desire for the other, is losing virginity. This second birth can be virgin; the first birth is bound to be out of sex – there is no other way, there cannot be.

Jesus is born out of sex like anybody else, and it is right that it should be so. Jesus is just like you in the seed, but in the flowering he is absolutely different, because a second birth has happened; a new man is born. Jesus who was born out of Mary is no longer there, he has given birth to himself.

In the old Essene sect it is said that when a man is transformed he becomes his own father. This is the meaning: when we say Jesus has no father, it means Jesus has become his own father now. This looks absurd but this is how it is.

The second birth is a virgin birth – and then you are innocent again. And this innocence is higher than a child’s, because the child will have to lose his innocence. It is a gift of nature, it is not earned by the child, so it has to be taken away. When the child grows he will lose his innocence – and he has to grow! But a sage remains innocent. Now this innocence cannot be taken away because it is the climax, the crescendo of growth; there is no further growth. If there is growth then things will change; if you have reached the goal beyond which nothing exists, only then will things not change.

A child has to grow every day: he will lose innocence, he will become experienced; he will have to attain knowledge, he will have to become clever, calculating. But if you get too obsessed with your calculating mechanism, then you remain born out of sex, out of duality. And then there is always a continuous conflict inside – because you are two.

When you are born out of two you are going to remain two, because both are there: a man is not only man, he is woman also; a woman is not only woman, she is man also – because both are born out of two. Your father goes on existing in you, your mother goes on existing in you, because they both participated, they both meet in your body and their streams go on flowing – you are two. And if you are two, how can you be at ease? If you are two, there is going to be a constant conflict. If you are two opposite polarities together, a tension is always going to remain. This tension cannot be lost, yet you go on trying to find out how to be silent, how to be peaceful, how to attain bliss. It is impossible, because you are two!

To be silent, oneness is needed, so you have to be born again – that’s what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Nicodemus asked him, “What should I do?”

Jesus said, “First you have to be born again. Only then can anything happen. Right now, as you are, nothing can be done.”

And the same I say to you: Right now, as you are, nothing can be done. Unless you are reborn, unless you become your own father, unless your duality disappears and you become one, nothing can be done. When the woman within you and the man within you meet, they become a circle. They are not fighting, they disappear, they negate each other, and then oneness is left. This oneness is virginity.

That is what Jesus means when he says, “Be like children.” Don’t take it literally; but why “like children”? – Because when a child is conceived, for the first few weeks he is neither male nor female. Ask the biologists, they will tell you that he is neither. For a few weeks the child is neither male nor female – he is both or neither: the division is still not distinct. That’s why medical science is now able to change the sex of the child. A few injections can change it, because both are there – the male and the female. The balance will soon be lost, either the male will predominate or the female will predominate. And whichever predominates will become the sex of the child. But in the beginning there is a balance, both are there. It will depend on hormones now.

If we inject male hormones the child will be male; if we inject female hormones the child will be female. The sex can be changed because sex is an outer thing; it does not belong to the being, it belongs only to the circumference, to the body; it is a hormonal thing, physical. The being remains totally different from it. But soon the distinction arises: the child starts becoming either a male or a female. In the beginning the unity. Then the child is born: bodily now he is either a male or a female. But deep in the consciousness the distinction has still not penetrated; in consciousness he is still neither – the child does not know whether he is male or female. A few more months and then the distinction will enter into the mind. Then the child will have a different outlook – immediately he will become self-conscious.

In the beginning the body was one, then the body separated. But even when the body separates the child is one. Then the child also separates: the human being disappears; you are identified with being male or female, and that continues your whole life. That means you never reach the source again, the circle remains incomplete. A sage reaches the source again, the circle becomes complete. And first the distinction disappears in the mind – just the reverse!

In the child, first the distinction comes into the body, then into the mind. In the sage, first the distinction disappears from the consciousness, then from the body, and before he dies he is again one. This is the second childhood: again he becomes innocent – but this innocence is very rich.

The innocence of a child is poor because there is no experience; the innocence of childhood is just like an absence of something. But the innocence of a sage is a presence of something, not an absence. He has known all the ways of the world, he has moved, he has experienced all that was to be experienced. He moved to the very opposite end: he became a sinner, he delved deep, he indulged, he experienced all that this world can give, and now he has come out of it. His innocence is very, very rich because experience is there. You cannot destroy it now, because he has known all that can be known – how can you destroy it now? You cannot motivate him anymore, all motivation has gone.

If you reach this stage – in the beginning you were a child, in the end you can become a child – your life has been a circle, complete; this is what perfection is. If you don’t reach the source again, you r life has been incomplete. Incompletion is suffering. That is what Buddha calls dukkha, misery. If you are incomplete there is misery, if you are complete you are fulfilled.

A sage dies fulfilled – then there is no more birth, because then there is no need to come back to the world of experience. You die incomplete, and because of that incompleteness you have to be born again. Your being will persist, again and again, to be complete; and unless you are complete you will have to move again and again into birth, into death. That is what Hindus call the wheel of life and death. A sage jumps out of the wheel, because he himself has become a circle and now no wheel is needed.

But what happens to the ordinary mind? The distinction remains to the very end, sex remains to the very end. Even if the body becomes weak, the mind goes on – and sex is the basic duality. So unless sex disappears, the oneness, the nondual, the Brahma is not going to happen. Remember, the nondual – the advaita, the Brahma, the one – is not a hypothesis, it is not a theory, it is not a doctrine. It is not a philosophical thing you can argue about, it is not a belief – it is a transcendence of sex. It is a very deep biological phenomenon, it is alchemical, because your whole body needs a transformation.

Three old men were sitting in a garden on a bench discussing their miseries – because old men have nothing else to say. One old man, who was seventy-three, said, “My hearing is going. People have to shout into my ears, and even then I cannot hear rightly!”

Another, who was seventy-eight, said, “My eyes are becoming weak, I cannot see rightly, and moreover, I cannot even make a distinction between a blond and a redhead!”

Then they asked the third man, they said, “Mulla Nasruddin, and what is your trouble?”

Nasruddin, who was ninety-three, said, “My trouble is deeper than both of yours. Last night it happened: we had dinner, then some wine, then I rested on the sofa and I fell asleep. About half an hour later I became aware that the wife had gone to bed. So I went into the bedroom and I told the wife, ‘Give me a little space, let me come into bed and we will have a little fun!’

The wife said, ‘What? We had a little fun just twenty minutes ago!’”

And then Nasruddin tapped his head very sadly and said, “Gentlemen, my problem is that my memory is slipping!”

Sex goes on following you to the very end, to the last. And you may not have observed, you may not have thought about it, but if a man has not transcended mind, the last thing in the mind when he dies will be sex – because that was the first thing when he was born. It is bound to be the last thing, it is natural – try it!

When you go to sleep at night just watch the last thought – the last, the very last; after that fall into sleep. Remember it, and in the morning you will be surprised: that will be the first thought in the morning – if you observe. Or do it the other way: in the morning, observe the first thought and remember it. In the night that will be the last thought, because life is cyclic. Sex is the first thing in life and it is going to be the last. If you don’t transcend it you are just victims, you are not your own masters.

Do you know what happens whenever a person is hanged? If a male is hanged, the semen is released immediately. This happens in every prison, wherever people are hanged. The last thing, when he is dying, semen is released. What is the meaning of it? Why should it be so? Life is a cycle, it completes itself: that was the first thing, through which he entered life; that is going to be the last thing, through which he will again enter into another life.

A sage transcends sex – but a sage has not repressed sex, remember, because repression is not transcendence. If you repress you are still in it; if you repress you are still divided. A sage has not repressed anything. Rather, on the contrary, the male and the female energy within him have become a unity; now he is neither male nor female. That is what Jesus has called ‘eunuchs of God’.

That is what Hindus mean when they depict Shiva as Ardhanarishwar – half-man, half-woman: he has become one. And Hindus say Shiva is the most perfect god, the greatest – Mahadeva. Why do they call him Mahadeva, the greatest? – Because he is half-man and half-woman, and when you are half-man and half-woman consciously, both become one circle and both disappear. The duality has disappeared, he has become one.

Jesus is talking about this oneness – Ardhanarishwar, half-male, half-female. Then you are neither, then a new childhood has started, the second childhood; you are dwij, twice-born. A new world of innocence is discovered.

-Osho

From The Mustard Seed, Discourse #8

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Arriving at Self-Knowledge – Meher Baba

When the time is ripe, the advancement of a person toward Self-knowledge comes about as naturally as the physical body of a child grows into full-fledged form. The growth of the physical body is worked out by the operation of natural laws, and the progress of the aspirant toward Self-knowledge is worked out by the operation of spiritual laws pertaining to the transformation and emancipation of consciousness. The physical body of a child grows very gradually and almost imperceptibly, and the same is true of the spiritual progress of a person once he has entered the path. The child does not know how its physical body grows; in the same way, the aspirant also is often oblivious of the law by which he makes headway toward the destination of his spiritual progress.

The aspirant is generally conscious of the manner in which he has been responding to the diverse situations in life but rarely conscious of the manner in which he makes progress toward Self-knowledge. Without consciously knowing it, the aspirant is gradually arriving at Self-knowledge by traversing the inner path-through his joys and sorrows, his happiness and  suffering, his successes and failures, his efforts and rest, and through his moments of clear perception and harmonized will as well as the moments of confusion and conflict. These are the manifestations of the diverse sanskaras that he has brought from the past; and the aspirant forges his way toward Self-knowledge through the tangles of these sanskaras like the traveler threading his way through a wild and thick forest.

Human consciousness might be compared to a flashlight that reveals the existence and the nature of things. The province illuminated by this flashlight is defined by the medium through which it works, just as a person confined to a boat can wander anywhere on the surface of the water but can have no access to remote places on land or in the air. The actual working of the flashlight of consciousness is determined by the accumulated sanskaras, just as the course of the rivulets flowing down a mountain is determined by the channels created by the natural contours of the mountain.

In the case of an average person, the sphere of life and the stage of action are restricted to the gross world because in him the flashlight of consciousness falls on the physical body and works through it. Being restricted to the medium of the gross body, he can be conscious of anything within the gross world but is unable to establish contact with subtle or mental realities. The gross sphere thus constitutes the arena of the average individual, and all his activities and thoughts have a tendency to be directed toward the gross objects that are accessible to him. During this time he remains unconscious of the subtle and the mental spheres of existence, since the flashlight of his consciousness cannot be focused through the medium of the subtle or the mental body.

At this stage the soul is conscious of the gross world but is completely ignorant of its own true nature. It identifies itself with the gross body on which the flashlight of consciousness falls, and this naturally becomes the base for all the activities within its range. The soul does not directly know itself through itself but by means of the physical body. And since all the knowledge it can gather through the physical body points to the physical body itself as the center of activities, it knows itself as being the physical body-which in fact is only its instrument. The soul therefore imagines itself to be man or woman, young or old, and takes upon itself the changes and limitations of the body.

After several rounds of lives in the setting given by the gross world, the impressions connected with the gross world become weak through the long duration of the experience of opposites, like great happiness and intense suffering. The weakening of the impressions is the beginning of spiritual awakening, which consists in the gradual withdrawal of the flashlight of consciousness from the allurements of the gross world. When this happens the gross impressions become subtle, facilitating and inducing the soul’s transference of the base of conscious functioning from the gross body to the subtle body.

Now the flashlight of consciousness falls on the subtle body and works through it as its medium, no longer working through the gross body. Therefore the whole gross world drops from the consciousness of the soul, and it becomes conscious only of the subtle world. The subtle sphere of existence now constitutes the context of its life; and the soul now considers itself to be the subtle body, which becomes and is seen to be the center of all its activities. Even when the soul has thus become subtle-conscious, it remains ignorant of its own true nature, since it cannot know itself directly through itself but only by means of the subtle body.

However, the change of the stage of action from the gross to the subtle sphere of existence is of considerable significance. In the subtle sphere the conventional standards of the gross world are replaced by new standards that are nearer the Truth, and a new mode of life is rendered possible by the dawning of new powers and a release of spiritual energy. Life in the subtle world is only a passing phase in the spiritual journey and is far from being the goal; but out of millions of gross-conscious souls, only a rare one is capable of becoming subtle-conscious.

Impressions connected with the subtle world get worn out in turn through, for instance, some forms of penance or yoga. This facilitates and brings about a further withdrawal of consciousness inwardly, whereby the flashlight of consciousness comes to be focused on the mental body and begins to function through it. The severance of conscious connection with the subtle and gross bodies means that the gross and subtle spheres of existence become completely excluded from the scope of consciousness. The soul is now conscious of the mental world, which affords deeper possibilities for spiritual understanding and a clearer perception of the ultimate Truth.

In this new setting of the mental sphere, the soul enjoys continuous inspiration, deep insight, and unfailing intuition; and it is in direct contact with spiritual Reality. Although it is in direct contact with God, the soul does not see itself as God, since it cannot know itself directly through itself but only through the medium of the individual mind. It knows itself by means of the individual mind and considers itself to be the individual mind, for it sees the individual mind as being the base and the center of all its activities.

Although the soul is now much closer to God than in the gross or subtle spheres, it is still enclosed in the world of shadow; and it continues to feel separate from God owing to the veil created by the impressions connected with the mental sphere. The flashlight of consciousness is functioning through the limitation of the individual mind and does not therefore yield the knowledge of the soul as it is, in itself. Though the soul has not yet realized itself as being God, its life in the mental sphere of existence constitutes a tremendous advance beyond the stage of the subtle sphere. Out of millions of subtle-conscious souls, only a rare one can establish conscious contact with the mental sphere of existence.

It is possible for an aspirant to rise to the mental sphere of existence through his own unaided efforts, but dropping the mental body amounts to the surrenderance of individual existence. This last and all-important step cannot be taken except through the help of a Perfect Master, who is himself God-realized. Out of millions of souls who are conscious of the mental sphere, only a rare one can withdraw the flashlight of consciousness from the individual mind. Such withdrawal implies the complete vanishing of the last traces of the impressions connected with the mental life of the soul. When the flashlight of consciousness is no longer centered upon any of the three bodies, it serves the purpose of reflecting the true nature of the soul.

The soul now has direct knowledge of itself without being dependent upon any medium, seeing itself not as some finite body but as infinite God and knowing itself to be the only Reality. In this major crisis in the life of the soul, there is a complete severance of connections with all three bodies. Since consciousness of the different spheres of existence is directly dependent upon the corresponding bodies, the soul is now entirely oblivious of the whole universe. The flashlight of consciousness is no longer focused upon anything foreign or external but is turned upon the soul itself. The soul is now truly Self-conscious and has arrived at Self-knowledge.

The process of arriving at Self-knowledge throughout the three spheres of existence is attended by the acquisition of false self-knowledge consisting in identification with the gross or the subtle or the mental body, according to the stage of the process. This is due to the initial purpose of creation, which is to make the soul Self-conscious. The soul cannot have true Self-knowledge except at the end of the spiritual journey, and all the intermediate forms of false self-knowledge are, as it were, temporary substitutes for true Self-knowledge. They are mistakes necessary in the attempt to arrive at true Self-knowledge.

Since the flashlight of consciousness is turned throughout the journey toward the objects of the environment and not upon the soul itself, the soul has a tendency to become so engrossed in these objects that it is almost completely oblivious of its own existence and nature. This danger of utter and unrelieved self-forgetfulness is counterbalanced by the self-affirmation of the soul by means of the three bodies, which happen to be used as the focal points of the flashlight of consciousness. Thus the soul knows itself as its own bodies and knows other souls as their bodies, thereby sustaining a world of duality where there is sex, competition, aggression, jealousy, mutual fear, and self-centered exclusive ambition. Hence self-knowledge of the soul by means of any external sign is a source of untold confusion, complication, and entanglement.

This form of ignorance may be illustrated by means of the famous pumpkin story referred to by the Persian poet Jami in one of his couplets. Once upon a time there was an absentminded man who had no equal in forgetting things, even his own identity. He had an intelligent and trusted friend who wanted to help him to remember himself. This friend attached a pumpkin to his neck and said, “Now listen, old man, one day you might completely lose yourself and not know who you are. Therefore, as a sign, I tie this pumpkin around your neck so that every morning when you wake up you will see the pumpkin and know it is you who are there.”

Every day the absentminded man saw the pumpkin upon waking in the morning and said to himself, “I am not lost!” After some time, when he had become used to self-identification through the pumpkin, the friend asked a stranger to remain with the absentminded man, take the pumpkin from his neck during his sleep, and tie it around his own neck. The stranger did this; and when the absentminded man woke up in the morning, he did not see the pumpkin around his neck. So he said to himself, “I am lost!” Then he saw the pumpkin on the other man’s neck and said to him, “You are me! But then who am I?”

This pumpkin story offers an analogy to the different forms of false self-knowledge growing from identification with one of the bodies. To know oneself as the body is like knowing oneself by means of the pumpkin. The disturbance caused by ceasing to identify with the gross, subtle, or mental body is comparable to the confusion of the absentminded man when he could no longer see the pumpkin around his own neck. The beginnings of a dissolution of the sense of duality are equivalent to the man’s identification of himself as the stranger who wore his pumpkin. Further, if the absentminded man in the story were to learn to know himself through himself independently of any external sign, his self-knowledge would be comparable to the true Self-knowledge of the soul-which, after ceasing to identify with the three bodies, knows itself to be none other than infinite God. Arriving at such Self-knowledge is the very goal of creation.

-Meher Baba

Taken from Discourses

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The New Humanity – Meher Baba

The New Humanity

As in all great critical periods of human history, humanity is now going through the agonizing travail of spiritual rebirth. Great forces of destruction are afoot and seem to be dominant at the moment, but constructive and creative forces that will redeem humanity are also being released through several channels. Although the working of these forces of light is chiefly silent, they are eventually bound to bring about those transformations that will make the further spiritual advance of humanity safe and steady. It is all a part of the divine plan, which is to give to the hungry and weary world a fresh dispensation of the eternal and only Truth.

At present the urgent problem facing humanity is to devise ways and means of eliminating competition, conflict, and rivalry in all the subtle and gross forms that they assume in the various spheres of life. Military wars are, of course, the most obvious sources of chaos and destruction. However, wars in themselves do not constitute the central problem for humanity but are rather the external symptoms of something graver at their root. Wars and the suffering they bring cannot be completely avoided by mere propaganda against war; if they are to disappear from human history, it will be necessary to tackle their root cause. Even when military wars are not being waged, individuals or groups of individuals are constantly engaged in economic or some other subtle form of warfare. Military wars, with all the cruelty they involve, arise only when these underlying causes are aggravated.

The cause of the chaos that precipitates itself in wars is that most persons are in the grip of egoism and selfish considerations, and they express their egoism and self-interest individually as well as collectively. This is the life of illusory values in which man is caught. To face the truth is to realize that life is one, in and through its manifold manifestations. To have this understanding is to forget the limiting self in the realization of the unity of life.

With the dawn of true understanding, the problem of wars would immediately disappear. Wars have to be so clearly seen as both unnecessary and unreasonable that the immediate problem would not be how to stop wars but to wage them spiritually against the attitude of mind responsible for such a cruel and painful state of things. In the light of the truth of the unity of all life, cooperative and harmonious action becomes natural and inevitable. Hence, the chief task before those who are deeply concerned with the rebuilding of humanity is to do their utmost to dispel the spiritual ignorance that envelops humanity.

Wars do not arise merely to secure material adjustment. They are often the product of uncritical identification with narrow interests, which through association come to be included in that part of the world regarded as “mine.” Material adjustment is only part of the wider problem of establishing spiritual adjustment. Spiritual adjustment requires the elimination of self, not only from the material aspects of life, but also from those spheres that affect the intellectual, emotional, and cultural life of man.

To understand the problem of humanity as merely a problem of bread is to reduce humanity to the level of animality. But even when man sets himself the limited task of securing purely material adjustment, he can only succeed in this attempt if he has spiritual understanding. Economic adjustment is impossible unless people realize that there can be no planned and cooperative action in economic matters until self-interest gives way to self-giving love. Otherwise, with the best of equipment and efficiency in the material spheres, humanity cannot avoid conflict and insufficiency.

The New Humanity that emerges from the travail of the present struggle and suffering will not ignore science or its practical attainments. It is a mistake to look upon science as anti-spiritual. Science is a help or hindrance to spirituality according to the use to which it is put. Just as true art expresses spirituality, science, when properly handled, can be the expression and fulfillment of the spirit. Scientific truths concerning the physical body and its life in the gross world can become mediums for the soul to know itself; but to serve this purpose they must be properly fitted into larger spiritual understanding. This includes a steady perception of true and lasting values. In the absence of such spiritual understanding, scientific truths and attainments are liable to be used for mutual destruction and for a life that will tend to strengthen the chains that bind the spirit. All-sided progress of humanity can be assured only if science and religion proceed hand in hand.

The coming civilization of the New Humanity shall be ensouled not by dry intellectual doctrines but by living spiritual experience. Spiritual experience has a hold on the deeper truths that are inaccessible to mere intellect; it cannot be born of unaided intellect. Spiritual truth can often be stated and expressed through the intellect, and the intellect surely is of some help for the communication of spiritual experience. But by itself, the intellect is insufficient to enable man to have spiritual experience or to communicate it to others. If two persons have had headaches, they can cooperatively examine their experience of headaches and make it explicit to themselves through the work of the intellect. If a person has never experienced a headache, no amount of intellectual explanation will suffice for making him understand what a headache is. Intellectual explanation can never be a substitute for spiritual experience; it can at best prepare the ground for it.

Spiritual experience involves more than can be grasped by mere intellect. This is often emphasized by calling it a mystical experience. Mysticism is often regarded as something anti-intellectual, obscure and confused, or impractical and unconnected with experience. In fact, true mysticism is none of these. There is nothing irrational in true mysticism when it is, as it should be, a vision of Reality. It is a form of perception that is absolutely unclouded, and it is so practical that it can be lived every moment of life and expressed in everyday duties. Its connection with experience is so deep that, in one sense, it is the final understanding of all experience.

When spiritual experience is described as mystical, one should not assume that it is something supernatural or entirely beyond the grasp of human consciousness. All that is meant is that it is not accessible to the limited human intellect until the intellect transcends its limits and is illumined by direct realization of the Infinite. Jesus Christ pointed out the way to spiritual experience when He said, “Leave all and follow me.” This means that man must leave limitations and establish himself in the infinite life of God. A real spiritual experience involves not only realization of the nature of the soul while traversing the higher planes of consciousness but also a right attitude toward worldly duties. If it loses its connection with the different phases of life, what we have is a neurotic reaction that is far from being a spiritual experience.

The spiritual experience that is to enliven and energize the New Humanity cannot be a reaction to the stern and uncompromising demands made by the realities of life. Those without the capacity for adjustment to the flow of life have a tendency to recoil from the realities of life and to seek shelter and protection in a self-created fortress of illusions. Such a reaction is an attempt to perpetuate one’s separate existence by protecting it from the demands made by life. It can only give a pseudo solution to the problems of life by providing a false sense of security and self-completeness. It is not even an advance toward the real and lasting solution; on the contrary, it is a sidetrack from the true spiritual path. Man will be dislodged again and again from his illusory shelters by fresh and irresistible waves of life, and will invite upon himself fresh forms of suffering by seeking to protect his separative existence through escape.

Just as a person may seek to hold on to his separative experience through escape, he may also seek to hold on to it through uncritical identification with forms, ceremonies and rituals, or with traditions and conventions. Forms, ceremonies and rituals, traditions and conventions, are in most cases fetters to the release of infinite life. If they were pliant mediums for the expression of unlimited life, they would be an asset rather than a handicap for securing the fulfillment of divine life on earth. But they mostly have a tendency to gather prestige and claims in their own right, independently of the life they might express. When this happens, any attachment to them must eventually lead to a drastic curtailment and restriction of life. The New Humanity will be freed from a life of limitations, allowing unhampered scope for the creative life of the spirit; and it will break the attachment to external forms and learn to subordinate them to the claims of the spirit. The limited life of illusions and false values will then be replaced by unlimited life in the Truth; and the limitations, through which the separative self lives, will wither away at the touch of true understanding.

Just as a person may seek to hold on to his separative existence through escape or identification with external forms, he may seek to hold on to it through identification with some narrow class, creed, sect, or religion, or with the divisions based upon sex. Here the individual may seem to have lost his separative existence through identification with a larger whole. But, in fact, he is often expressing his separative existence through such an identification, which enables him to delight in his feeling of being separate from others who belong to another class, nationality, creed, sect, religion, or sex.

Separative existence derives its being and strength from identifying itself with one of the opposites and contrasting itself with the others. An individual may seek to protect his separate existence through identification with one ideology rather than another or with his conception of good as contrasted with his idea of evil. What results from identification with narrow groups or limited ideals is not a real merging of the separative self but only a semblance of it. A real merging of the limited self in the ocean of universal life involves complete surrender of separative existence in all its forms.

The large mass of humanity is caught up in the clutches of separative and assertive tendencies. For one who is overpowered by the spectacle of these fetters of humanity, there is bound to be nothing but unrelieved despair about its future. One must look deeper into the realities of the day if one is to get a correct perspective on the present distress of humanity. The real possibilities of the New Humanity are hidden to those who look only at the surface of the world situation, but they exist and only need the spark of spiritual understanding to come into full play and effect. The forces of lust, hate, and greed produce incalculable suffering and chaos. However, the one redeeming feature about human nature is that even in the midst of disruptive forces there invariably exists some form of love.

Even wars require cooperative functioning, but the scope of this cooperative functioning is artificially restricted by identification with a limited group or ideal. Wars often are carried on by a form of love, though it is a love that has not been understood properly. In order that love should come into its own, it must be untrammeled and unlimited. Love does exist in all phases of human life; but it is latent or is limited and poisoned by personal ambition, racial pride, narrow loyalties and rivalries, and attachment to sex, nationality, sect, caste, or religion. If there is to be a resurrection of humanity, the heart of man will have to be unlocked so that a new love is born into it-a love that knows no corruption and is entirely free from individual or collective greed.

The New Humanity will come into existence through a release of love in measureless abundance, and this release of love can come through the spiritual awakening brought about by the Perfect Masters[1]. Love cannot be born of mere determination; through the exercise of will one can at best be dutiful. Through struggle and effort, one may succeed in assuring that one’s external action is in conformity with one’s concept of what is right; but such action is spiritually barren because it lacks the inward beauty of spontaneous love.

Love has to spring spontaneously from within; it is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force. Love and coercion can never go together; but while love cannot be forced upon anyone, it can be awakened through love itself. Love is essentially self-communicative; those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. Those who receive love from others cannot be its recipients without giving a response that, in itself, is the nature of love. True love is unconquerable and irresistible. It goes on gathering power and spreading itself until eventually it transforms everyone it touches. Humanity will attain a new mode of being and life through the free and unhampered interplay of pure love from heart to heart.

When it is recognized that there are no claims greater than the claims of the universal Divine Life-which, without exception, includes everyone and everything-love will not only establish peace, harmony, and happiness in social, national, and international spheres but it will shine in its own purity and beauty. Divine love is unassailable to the onslaughts of duality and is an expression of divinity itself. It is through divine love that the New Humanity will tune in to the divine plan. Divine love will not only introduce imperishable sweetness and infinite bliss into personal life but it will also make possible an era of New Humanity. Through divine love the New Humanity will learn the art of cooperative and harmonious life. It will free itself from the tyranny of dead forms and release the creative life of spiritual wisdom; it will shed all illusions and get established in the Truth; it will enjoy peace and abiding happiness; it will be initiated in the life of Eternity.

-Meher Baba

Taken from Discourses


[1] Sadguru

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Drip Meditation – Ajja

Bhagavan Arabbi-Nithyanandam (Ajja)
Bhagavan Arabbi-Nithyanandam (Ajja)

The devotees fondly address the body, which is used as a medium of expression by an unknown power, as Ajja. His benevolent visage of silvery white hair, toothless smile could be the reason why many plead with Him to be taught meditation. Ajja would often reply: ‘You prepare yourself.’ At last, he agreed and told that a meditation class would commence. Many devotees happily assembled.

The gist of His instruction in the class is given below:

Concentrate the mind on the empty space between the lungs. Being aware of the breathing pattern helps the mind to go within. But that alone is not enough. Where does breath originate? Focus the mind there. The spot we point at to indicate ourselves (in the right portion of the chest) is the one. Let the eyes be half open, the gaze be on the ground and let the mind free. Practice this for a month, then let us see.

After a month, the people assembled and said, “We cannot meditate. The mind refuses to go within. Even if we try for an hour there is no result.”

Why? What happens?

The mind runs riot. When it is known that the mind has slipped off, it slips again after bringing it back. It refuses to be still.

Is it the case with all of you?

Yes.

Is there no one whose mind has gone within? There should be someone at.

There is dead silence as an eloquent reply!

You at least repeat the Holy Name. If there are people initiated in this, they can repeat that Mantra or else Omkara will suffice. First repeat it loudly so that the mind gets concentrated on it and then reduce the pitch. Finally, there should be no lip movement even. It should go on in the mind, in silence. Let the mind become silent thus. Let it free.

He stood watching; having got the process started. Then the following words emerged:

Nowadays, there is a new trend in everything. In the earlier days, the tress were watered using a pot, then with a hose pipe. Now, what do you call it? Drip irrigation? Watering is done drop by drop, ensuring moistness the whole day. The base of the plants remains damp throughout. Likewise, let us find new procedures. It is difficult for you to meditate for an hour at a stretch, isn’t it? Then spread that one hour over the entire day. That means…come on calculate and say. It amounts to two and a half minutes every hour. This is possible, isn’t it?

Yes it is. (In one voice)

So it is possible for all; doctors, engineers and all those who say they have no time. Leave the mind free. As the river flows freely towards the sea, let the mind be. Is it so very difficult for you? Our job is to sweep away the dirt and dust. We are here to clear away your mental cobwebs. Unless the mind is cleansed, no meditation is possible. Allow Us to enter within. We need some place to stand. We are your servants.

The peepul (bodhi) tree Ajja planted at Anand Kuteer.

Again, Ajja spoke: There is a peepul (Bodhi) tree there. When it was a small sapling, how much care was required! Barriers were erected from all four sides, daily watering…so much care. Now? Nothing is required, it grows by itself. Think it over, is this some lecture for us to rattle on? Only two and a half minutes meditation every hour. How? The phone rings endlessly till the call is answered. Likewise, even if He does not respond, keep trying till He comes. He must come sometime or the other. Nowadays you have a new thing. What is it? Mobile phone. It is received directly by the concerned party. You have to dial the correct number. But this number is not available to one and all.

Words of great import!

The river flows. They construct an anicut, then the water gets collected. Then it is utilized for irrigation through channels. In the same way the mind. It is frittering away in various diversions. It must be stopped in its tracks at the original location. Don’t waste it in so many pursuits. Concentrate this mental energy in the Heart center. How about this microphone? It is amplifying and transmitting our speech, isn’t it? In the same way, the mind is expressing words. If we turn the mike away (turns the mike away from Him) can you hear Us? If oriented properly it can work. If ones thoughts are turned upside down, nothing remains. If the mind is drawn externally, all words and thoughts emerge. If it is internalized, then no speech – only silence. All these words are for your sake only. The mike is there so that you can all hear. We do not need the mike. We need nothing.

-Bhagavan Arabbi-Nithyanandam (Ajja)

Taken from Anandopanishat (Inspirations From the Unmanifest to the Manifest), Chapter 40

This was seen on Ajja’s website.

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Awakened Consciousness Speaks – Ajja

Ajja in his animated fashion

Three Subjects of Enquiry

One state is Sakshatkara[1].

A second state is Aikya[2] the living essence in individual (Jivatma) merging itself in Paramatma[3].

A third one is birth death[4].

These are the only three subjects of enquiry.

There is death for the one who has birth – is it not so? He takes birth; dies and then takes his birth again. We are not talking about the death of the body – it is composed of earth;[5] should return to earth. There is one inside, isn’t it? When death occurs to the one[6] who comes and goes…there the issue is to be examined.

In Aikyatha, there is (individual) existence; There is possibility of returning if one is willing to do so.

The earth, planets, stars and galaxies exist in place only due to mutual attraction – isn’t it? In the same way, mutual attraction exists inside individuals also. There is the bond of attraction between the Jivatma and his astral body. Otherwise how can the Jivatma stay in the body? Does he have a cage? It stays because of the bond of attraction of his astral body. If he detaches himself from the karmic bond, he becomes one with the original power (creator). He attains Aikya. When the river joins the ocean, it becomes one with the ocean. The river attained Aikya with the ocean. The river ceases to exist. The ocean and this river become one. But the ocean exists, is it not so? The water exists, isn’t it? That may evaporate, then condense to form clouds thereafter and into rain. And the same water may form a river. Is it not so?

But in Sakshatkara, when transformed mind is concentrated on the transformed power, one who is the enquirer becomes the object of enquiry. This enquirer then loses itself in the enquiry ‘Who am I’, there threefold annihilation (Triputinasa) takes place.

There remains no enquirer, no enquiry and no object of enquiry.

-Bhagavan Arabbi-Nithyanandam (Ajja)

Taken from Anandopanishat (Inspirations From the Unmanifest to the Manifest), Chapter 3

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[1]To become the ever existing One

[2] Unification, union

[3] Creator, sustainer and annihilator of the creation-the universe-the manifested.

[4] The process of individual spiral cycle of evolution.

[5] Five elements

[6] Living essence, the soul that is bound by residue of actions done with motives (Sankalpa)

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Man, the Greatest Problem, the Only Solution – Osho

Osho, what is the greatest problem in the world?

The greatest problem or the smallest problem, it is the same: man. And when I say man, I do not mean something abstract. I mean I, you, he, she. There exists no man as such, separate from human beings.

There exists no humanity; it is only a name. The reality is the individual. And the problem arises because the reality has not been accepted. The real has been denied expression; and the unreal, the abstract, has been imposed upon it.

You have been told continuously, “Live for humanity.” Where is humanity? Have you ever come across humanity? Do you think you are ever going to have an encounter with humanity? It is just like all those big, bombastic, bogus words: God, motherland, fatherland, Holy Ghost. They don’t exist, they are only projected. “Live for humanity” means don’t live for yourself.

Nobody has the guts to say to you directly, “Don’t live for yourself.” So they have found a cunning, clever, indirect way of saying the same thing: Live for God, live for humanity, live for man, live for the universe. Live for anything – XYZ – but please don’t live for yourself. And here is the root of the whole problem.

Your life is your life, and it can be lived only one way; there is no other alternative. And the only way that it can be lived has to be found by you. It is not all ready like a super-highway, ready-made, with millions of people moving on it, going towards their goal, and you have just to join the crowd.

No, there is no super-highway to existence.

There are only small footpaths which are walked in total aloneness. […]

Man is consciousness.

Consciousness cannot have any destiny.

Consciousness has freedom.

Destiny is just the opposite of freedom; that is its implication. Destiny means you are a born slave. Even before you were born your stamp of slavery was completely sealed; you were finished before you were born. That’s the meaning of destiny as far as implication is concerned. In fact you were never born, because before birth death had happened; that is your destiny. You are programmed.

Because of this idea of destiny, astrologers, palmists, and all kinds of future predictors go on exploiting man. They would not have been able to exploit you if you were not carrying the idea that you have a destiny. If you have a destiny, then there may be some ways to find out what it is: perhaps in the lines of your hands, perhaps in the lines of your head, perhaps in the lines of your feet, or perhaps in your birth chart, in the combination and position of stars, planets. Some way must be there to read the program.

And the strangest thing is that you feel happy with astrologers telling you about your future. You are really too curious to know about the future, without ever thinking that to have a future means you are dead. If the future is already settled, then how is freedom possible? If tomorrow something is going to happen, then it is going to happen; I am just a victim in the hands of some unknown force – I am not my own master.

To have a destiny means you are not your own master.

You cannot do anything about your life.

These are the implications of that simple word, destiny. It leaves you dead. It leaves you a slave. It leaves you without any excitement because all is determined. It leaves you without any hope, because what can you hope? Whatever is going to happen is going to happen whether you hope or not. You are no longer significant in any way in your own life. Even to call it your own life is not right: Destiny has taken all juice out of you.

This is what has made man into a problem. […]

If man has a destiny then there is no possibility of turning off anywhere. And we have been told for millions of years, “You have a built-in program.” Now from where are you going to know what this built-in program is? Somebody has to tell it to you. Those are the manipulators, all around you; like an octopus, they go on sucking your blood from every possible side. And they go on filling you with ideas that you have to become this, you have to become that, you have to become somebody who has nothing to do with your nature. This is what has made man a problem.

In fact, man can be the solution, not only of himself, but of the whole existence, because he is the highest peak of consciousness.

Man lives a problematic life, and dies a problematic death. From the very beginning to the end he is just a long, long problem. That creates anxiety, anguish, tension, suffering, and a constant feeling that something is being missed. And that feeling is true. Not only something, everything is being missed.

But if you just stand a step back and look at the whole situation, and see how the problem is being created, then to solve it is just a child’s game.

I am reminded of a story. Gautam the Buddha one day comes into his morning discourse; ten thousand sannyasins are waiting for him, just like every day. But today there is something surprising.

Everybody is puzzled and looking at each other, because Buddha is coming with a handkerchief It is very costly – perhaps some king has presented it to him.

But he does not accept that kind of thing, so everybody is looking, thinking, what is the matter?

And why should he bring it just in his hand ahead of himself almost saying to everybody, “Look, look well”? And then he comes and sits; and keeping the handkerchief in his hand, says to his sannyasins, ”Look very carefully.”

They all look. There is nothing to look at, just a beautiful silken handkerchief. And then Buddha starts putting knots in the handkerchief; he puts five knots in it. There is immense silence… everybody is simply watching what he is doing. Then Buddha asks them, “Is this the same handkerchief the same that I had brought with me, or is it a different handkerchief?”

Sariputta, one of his chief disciples, stands up and says, “Why are you joking with us? You have never done such a thing. This is the same handkerchief” Buddha says, “Sariputta, think once again – because the handkerchief that I brought had no knots, and this has five knots. How can this be the same?”

Sariputta could see the point. He said, “I am sorry. I do understand. Although it is the same handkerchief now it is in a very knotted condition – such as a man in anguish. He is the same man; a man in suffering is the same man but in knots.”

Buddha said, “Exactly right. That’s what I want to show to you: that the man who is in suffering is not different from Gautam the Buddha. I am just a handkerchief without knots. You are a handkerchief with five knots.” Of course Buddha has his philosophy of five basic problems that trouble man: violence, greed, untruthfulness, unawareness, and the ego. You can find many more knots; these are just the main ones according to him.

Secondly he said, “I would like to ask you one thing more. I am trying to open these knots. Look at me – will this help to open the knots?” He pulled both the ends of the handkerchief; the knots became smaller and tighter. Somebody shouted, “What are you doing? This way those knots will never open. Such fine silk and you are pulling so hard! The knots are becoming so small that it will become almost impossible to open them again.”

Buddha said, “You can understand about this handkerchief so clearly – can’t you understand yourself? Can’t you see yourself in the same, understanding way? Have you been pulling your knots or not? Otherwise why do they go on becoming smaller and smaller, and tighter and tighter?

“A child is loose, relaxed. Look at the old man, just knots and knots. Certainly, whatever you are doing is wrong. You are pulling the handkerchief. You are trying hard; your intention is good, you want to open the knots. You are taking much trouble – but your doing is your very undoing. You are making things more and more complicated, worse and worse. And the more complicated they become, the harder you pull, because you think, What else to do?”

Buddha asked, “Then I would like to ask you, what do you suppose I should do?”

One monk stood up and he said, “I would like to come close, and first I would like to see how the knots have been put together.”

Buddha said, “That’s a scientific way. Before you can undo something, you have to know how it has been done, because if you know how it has been done, you have already known all that is needed to undo it; you have just to reverse the process.”

The monk looked at the handkerchief and he said “The knots have been done in such a way that if we relax the handkerchief and allow the knots to become looser rather than tighter, and help them to become loose, it is not going to be very difficult. They are simple knots.”

Buddha gave the handkerchief to him and the man opened the knots one by one. Buddha said,

“Today’s sermon is finished. I am not going to speak anymore today. Just go and meditate about your knots, and how you have managed to make them so tight. And just do the reverse.”

Any small problem, just look at it, at how you have been trying to solve it, and it goes on becoming worse and worse. Certainly in your doing there is something which is becoming nourishment to it rather than a killer. You are not poisoning it, you are nourishing it, feeding it. And don’t try to work on so many knots together. Just choose one small knot, the smallest you can find in yourself; by smallest, I mean the most insignificant.

People have the tendency to choose the most significant; even when they are choosing to solve their problems, they choose the greatest problem first. Now, that is simply foolish. Just become a little aware, alert. Start from the small things, very small things.

In one sermon Buddha was speaking, and a man sitting in front of him was moving his toe continuously. Buddha was not like me; otherwise he would have stopped him immediately. He tolerated it, tolerated it, tolerated it – but it was too much, because the man was just in front of him and he went on, went on, went on.

At the end Buddha said, “What is wrong with your toe?” The moment he said, “What is wrong with your toe?” the man stopped. Buddha said, “This is what is wrong with your toe: you are not aware of it. You were not doing it, it was happening almost unconsciously. It is just a habit; you must be doing it everywhere you are sitting. Now it goes on doing it by itself knowing that the master needs it. The master is not even aware that it is happening, because the moment I asked you about it, it stopped immediately. That means the moment your awareness went to the toe there was a complete break.”

Now, start with such small things which have not much investment in them. People start with their ego – they want to become egoless. Now, you are taking on such a big problem. You are so small, and the problem is so big, that you are going to fail.

In fact that’s why you have chosen the big problem, because you want to fail, you don’t want to succeed. Perhaps this too is the way of the ego, to choose the biggest problem. You are no ordinary man trying to change small things here and there; when you want to change, you want to change the real problem. Perhaps this is the ego coming in from the back and deceiving you.

Now choose something very insignificant, which makes not much difference. But the beauty is, the smallest problem has the same properties as the biggest problem, the same ingredients as the biggest problem and the same solution as the biggest problem.

All problems are one problem.

If you can solve a small problem – dissolve it, get rid of it, be finished with it – you know the master key.

Now you can go on opening all the locks in your house. And there is not going to be any trouble.

The basic key is awareness.

And while solving a small problem, you are starting to learn the ABC of awareness.

Choose something meaningless with no investment; it will be easier to work with. And once you have worked with it, you will be surprised: you have the secret, the whole secret of your puzzled, knotted life.

Solve it, then man is born in you.

Before that, you are only a problem.

-Osho

From From Misery to Enlightenment, Discourse #19

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

Purushottama Yoga

The fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is entitled Purushottama Yoga or Yoga of the Supreme Spirit. Following are three translations of the text.

Purushottama Yoga

  1. Krishna said:
    They speak of the eternal Ashvattha tree
    Having its origin above and its branches below
    Whose leaves are the (Vedic) hymns.
    One who understands this
    Is a knower of the Vedas.
  2. The branches spread below and above.
    The tree is nourished by the Gunas;
    Sense pleasures are its sprouts;
    And its roots stretch below
    In the human world causing Karmic bondage.
  3. Neither its form nor its beginning,
    Neither its end nor its existence
    Is perceptible here on the earth.
    Having cut these firm roots of the Ashvattha tree
    By the mighty axe of Vairaagya or detachment;
  4. The goal should be sought reaching
    Which one does not come back; thus thinking:
    In that very primal spirit I take refuge
    From which this primal manifestation comes forth.
  5. Those who are free from pride and delusion,
    Who have conquered the evil of attachment,
    Who are constantly dwelling in the Supreme Self
    With all Kaama completely stilled, who are free
    From the dualities known as pleasure and pain;
    Such undeluded persons reach the eternal goal.
  6. The sun does not illumine there,
    Nor the moon, nor the fire.
    That is My supreme abode.
    Having reached there they do not come back.
  7. Atma in the body is My eternal
    Indivisible fragment indeed.
    Atma gets bound due to superimposition
    Or association with the six sensory faculties,
    Including the mind, of perception.
  8. As the air takes away the aroma from the source,
    Similarly Atma takes the six sensory faculties
    From the physical body it casts off
    To the body it acquires.
  9. The Jeevaatma enjoys sense pleasures
    With the help of six sensory faculties:
    Hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell, and mind.
  10. The ignorant do not perceive Jeeva
    Departing from the body, or remaining in the body
    And enjoying sense pleasures by associating with the Gunas.
    Those with the eye of knowledge can see.
  11. The yogis striving behold Atma
    Abiding in their heart; but the ignorant,
    Whose intellect is not pure,
    Do not perceive Him even though striving.
  12. The light that coming from the sun
    Illumines the whole world;
    And which is in the moon, and in the fire;
    Know that light to be Mine.
  13. Entering the earth
    I support all beings with My energy;
    Becoming the sap-giving moon
    I nourish all the plants.
  14. Becoming the digestive fire,
    I remain in the body of all living beings;
    Uniting with vital breaths, the Prana and Apana,
    I digest all four varieties of food; and
  15. I am seated in the hearts of all beings.
    The memory, knowledge, and the removal of doubts
    And wrong notions by reasoning or in Samadhi come from Me.
    I am verily that which is to be known by all the Vedas.
    I am, indeed, the author of the Vedanta
    And the knower of the Vedas.
  16. There are two entities in this world:
    The perishable and the imperishable.
    All beings are perishable,
    And the Atma is imperishable.
  17. There is another supreme spirit
    Called Ishvara or Paramaatma,
    The indestructible Lord who pervades
    The three worlds and sustains them.
  18. I am beyond the perishable body,
    And higher than the imperishable Atma;
    Therefore, I am known in this world and in the Vedas
    As Purushottama, or the Supreme Spirit.
  19. The wise one, who truly knows Me as the Purushottama,
    Knows everything and worships Me wholeheartedly, O Arjuna.
  20. Thus this most secret science
    Has been explained by Me, O sinless Arjuna.
    Having understood this, one becomes enlightened
    And one’s all duties are accomplished.

This is the end of Chapter XV of the Bhagavad Gita
Entitled “Purushottama-Yoga,”

http://www.santosha.com/philosophy/gita-chapter15.html

Purushottama Yoga: (The Yoga of the Supreme Person)

1. The Blessed Lord said: “Creation, with its Eternal as well as ephemeral aspects, can be likened to the Ashwattha tree which has its roots above70and branches below; the Vedas are its leaves. He who fully comprehends the nature of this tree truly understands.

2. “Above and below spread its branches; the sense objects are its buds and nourished it is by the Gunas; and its roots which bind the soul according to Karma, stretch forth into the world.

3. “Its true form is not comprehended here 71 , nor its end, nor its origin, nor even its existence. With determination one must cut down this strongly rooted tree with the sharp axe of non-attachment.

4. “Thereafter, one must seek that Supreme State from which there is no return and there surrender to that Primeval Being from Whom this Creation has emanated.

5. “To that imperishable haven go the enlightened ones who are free from both pride and delusion, who have transcended the desire for objects of the senses, who are ever dwelling in the Self, and are also beyond the clutches of the pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain.

6. “Neither the Sun, nor the Moon, nor fire can illumine that Supreme Self-effulgent State upon reaching which there is no return. That is My Supreme Abode.

7. “The Eternal Jivatma in the human body is but a small part of My own Being; and It is that alone which draws round Itself the mind and the senses, both of which are rooted in Prakriti.

8. “Even as the wind carries the scents from flower beds, so too the Jivatma who is the Master of the body, carries with Him the senses and the mind whenever He discards one body and acquires another.

9. “It is while dwelling in the senses of sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell, and in the mind that the Jivatma experiences objects.

10. “The deluded perceive Him neither when He experiences sense objects in association with the Gunas, nor when He departs from a body; but they see, who are endowed with the eyes of Knowledge.

11. “Yogis who strive, see Him seated in themselves but not so the ignorant, whose heart is impure, even though they may try hard.

12. “The light of the Sun that illumines the whole world, as also that of the Moon and even fire – know thou that all this light is Mine.

13. “Pervading this world, I animate all beings with My energy; and becoming the sap, I nourish all plants.

14. “It is I again as Vaiswanara 72 fire, who entering the body of living beings digests, in association with breath, the four kinds of food 73 .

15. “I reside in the hearts of all; from Me proceed the faculties of memory, wisdom and discrimination; it is I who am to be known in all the Vedas; it is I who am the Author of Vedanta and the Knower of the Vedas as well.

16. “There are two Purushas in the world, associated respectively with the perishable 74 and the Imperishable 75 . All the perishable aspects belong to the former, and the eternal aspects to the latter.

17. “But distinct from these two and above them both is the Supreme Purusha 76 called the Universal Self 77 , who as the Indestructible Lord 78 pervades the three worlds and sustains them.

18. “Because I transcend the perishable and even the Imperishable as well, I am known in the world and also in the Vedas as Purushottama, the Supreme Person.

19. “O Bharata, he who, undeluded, knows Me as Purushottama, knows all, and he worships Me with all his heart.

20. “Thus, O sinless one, have I revealed to thee this most profound Knowledge. He who grasps it becomes enlightened and his mission in life is accomplished.”

Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman, the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fifteenth chapter, entitled: Purushottama Yoga

70In God.
71In the state of being involved in the worldly life. This phenomenon (the tree of Samsara) vanishes to one upon attainment of Brahma Jnana. But it continues to exist for all others, in ignorance.
72The fire in the stomach.
73i.e., that which is masticated, sucked, licked and drunk.
74Kshara.
75Akshara.
76Purushottama.
77Paramatma.
78Parameshwara.

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/H%20-%20World%20Religions%20and%20Poetry/World%20Religions/From%20the%20Indian%20Tradition/Classic%20Texts/The%20Bhagavad%20Gita/Purushottama%20Yoga_%20The%20Yoga%20of%20the%20Supreme%20Person.htm

 

FIFTEEN: THE LORD-GOD

 

Lord Shri Krishna continued: This phenomenal creation, which is both ephemeral and eternal, is like a tree, but having its seed above in the Highest and its ramifications on this earth below. The scriptures are its leaves, and he who understands this, knows.

Its branches shoot upwards and downwards, deriving their nourishment from the Qualities; its buds are the objects of sense; and its roots, which follow the Law causing man’s regeneration and degeneration, pierce downwards into the soil.

In this world its true form is not known, neither its origin nor its end, and its strength is not understood., until the tree with its roots striking deep into the earth is hewn down by the sharp axe of non-attachment.

Beyond lies the Path, from which, when found, there is no return. This is the Primal God from whence this ancient creation has sprung.

The wise attain Eternity when, freed from pride and delusion, they have conquered their love for the things of sense; when, renouncing desire and fixing their gaze on the Self, they have ceased to be tossed to and fro by the opposing sensations, like pleasure and pain.

Neither sun, moon, nor fire shines there. Those who go thither never come back. For, O Arjuna, that is my Celestial Home!

It is only a very small part of My Eternal Self, which is the life of the universe, drawing round itself the six senses, the mind the last, which have their source in Nature.

When the Supreme Lord enters a body or leaves it, He gathers these senses together and travels on with them, as the wind gathers perfume while passing through the flowers.

He is the perception of the ear, the eye, the touch, the taste and the smell, yea and of the mind also; and the enjoyment the things which they perceive is also His.

The ignorant do not see that it is He Who is present in life and Who departs at death or even that it is He Who enjoys pleasure through the Qualities. Only the eye of wisdom sees.

The saints with great effort find Him within themselves; but not the unintelligent, who in spite of every effort cannot control their minds.

Remember that the Light which, proceeding from the sun, illumines the whole world, and the Light which is in the moon, and That which is in the fire also, all are born of Me.

I enter this world and animate all My creatures with My vitality; and by My cool moonbeams I nourish the plants.

Becoming the fire of life, I pass into their bodies and, uniting with the vital streams of Prana and Apana, I digest the various kinds of food.

I am enthroned in the hearts of all; memory, wisdom and discrimination owe their origins to Me. I am He Who is to be realised in the scriptures; I inspire their wisdom and I know their truth.

There are two aspects in Nature: the perishable and the imperishable. All life in this world belongs to the former, the unchanging element belongs to the latter.

But higher than all am I, the Supreme God, the Absolute Self, the Eternal Lord, Who pervades the worlds and upholds them all.

Beyond comparison of the Eternal with the non-eternal am I, Who am called by scriptures and sages the Supreme Personality, the Highest God.

He who with unclouded vision sees Me as the Lord-God, knows all there is to be known, and always shall worship Me with his whole heart.

Thus, O Sinless One, I have revealed to thee this most mystic knowledge. He who understands gains wisdom and attains the consummation of life.”

Thus, in the Holy Book the Bhagavad Gita, one of the Upanishads, in the Science of the Supreme Spirit, in the Art of Self-Knowledge, in the colloquy between the Divine Lord Shri Krishna and the Prince Arjuna, stands the fifteenth chapter, entitled: The Lord-God.

“I Am That I Am”

“I Am That I Am”

Translation from an ancient Egyptian text carved into the doorway of a sacred place.

“I have, at last, reached MY goal,

And solved the secret of My soul.

I am THAT, to whom I prayed,

THAT, to who Iooked for aid.

I am THAT, whom I did seek.

I am MY own mountain peak.

I, upon creation look,

As a page from MY own book.

For I am the ONE, the many make,

Of substance, which form ME I take.

For ALL is ME, there are not two,

Creation is MYSELF, all through.

What I grant, unto MYSELF,

I just take, from MYSELF.

And give it to ME, the only ONE,

For I am the Father, and the Son.

What I want, I do but see,

MY wishes flowing forth from ME.

For I am the knower, and the known,

Subject, ruler and the throne.

The three in ONE, is what I am,

And hell itself is but a dam,

That I did put in MY own stream,

When in a nightmare, I did dream.

That I did dream;

That I was not the only ONE,

And thus by ME, was doubt begun,

Which ran its course, ‘til I awoke,

And found that I, with ME, did joke.

So now, that I do stand awake,

MY throne, I do surely take,

And rule MY kingdom, which is ME,

The master, through eternity.”

As seen in Inner Directions Journal, Fall/Winter 2004 and can be found online at: www.innerdirections.org

Consciousness is Not an Object

An interview with Roy Whenary given by Ben Hassine

Can you give us a short biographical sketch with emphasis on the spiritual aspect of your life? For example which teachers and teachings inspired you and can you recount some of your encounters with them?

I don’t know if it’s possible to do this without over-emphasizing the ‘personal’, so briefly I will mention my main influences as J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Jean Klein. I came across Krishnamurti when I was 20, and reading his books and attending his talks had a profound effect on me. After reading a lot of varied spiritual literature before that, Krishnamurti was like a breath of fresh air … uncomplicated, obvious and clear from the start. At Brockwood Park and Saanen, I met many new friends, with whom there would be endless discussions about things, albeit adopting Krishnamurti-like terminology. Then, in the mid-70s I was made aware of an Indian publication, which was not easily available in London at the time. It was called ‘I Am That’ and was by Nisargadatta Maharaj. I had previously read Advaita books by Ramana Maharshi, but somehow ‘I Am That’ had more of an effect on me. What that was, I don’t know. Maybe it was because it was more contemporary to the time, whereas Ramana’s works were from another era. Although I had met a few people who had sat with Ramana, I was often meeting people who had been to see Nisargadatta. However, I was never tempted to go to India in person, understanding from the start that there was nothing that was available there which was not already available here. In the early 70s, I also met Vimala Thakar, who was very popular in Holland. I first met her in 1972, then 1974 and in 1976 spent a week on retreat with her in England. Many of the people I met on that retreat I am still in contact with. I found Vimala to be very attentive to my sensitivity, and awake to my need for personal contact with her, and we had several helpful chats about what now would seem to be very basic questions I had at the time, but her response to me was very warm and open. In 1980, the lady who organized Vimala’s visits to the UK informed me that there was another teacher who was very much worth going to see, called Jean Klein. It turned out that she was organizing his visits too. I went along to a talk he gave at Friends Meeting House, Hampstead, in London, and was immediately impressed by his calm presence and clarity of mind. There was a lot of silence in his talks, and at the time his English was not so brilliant, although it improved over the next few years, as he came to England more frequently. At one time I offered to drive him around when he was here, which was accepted – so I would take him to and pick him up from the airport and drive him to restaurants for meals, etc – a job that I did for a couple of years, quite willingly – although we never talked about spiritual philosophy at all during these times. I found that in his presence there were no questions, and all was self-evident. I really feel that he had no agenda at all. He wasn’t out to convince anyone of anything … it was a case of here it is … take it or leave it. I couldn’t help contrast this approach, and his calm presence, with that of Krishnamurti, who was much more passionate and lively in every sense, and maybe a little angry at times. This was the complete opposite to Jean Klein, and yet Jean, who had spent some time travelling with Krishnamurti many years earlier in India, always heaped the highest praise on Krishnamurti, and Vimala Thakar for that matter. I remember him describing Vimala Thakar as “a beautiful Being”.

You spent a longer period of time with Jean Klein. Can you go a little bit deeper into the affect this teacher had on your outlook on life and spirituality at that time? [Please note I am referring to the affect Jean had at the time you met him, so we are going into history and are not yet covering your current outlook]

Well, I spent just as long listening to Krishnamurti, and they both had a profound effect, maybe in different ways. I don’t know even if it is the words that had the greatest affect on me … because the presence of these two teachers had at least an equal affect. With Krishnamurti one could not ignore how seriously he took the spiritual life and how passionate he was about everything he said. His presence was over-powering in that sense. With Jean, it was his quiet, calm, simple and direct clarity of expression that impressed. He showed, by his own example, how utterly available and effortless ‘realization’ is. He was not a man of ideas, he was a man of wisdom, and there is a great difference between the two. When you have met a true man of wisdom, you are never again fooled by men of ideas.

Yes I think I can understand what you are saying. I would like to go into it later on. Still you didn’t answer my question. What exactly was this affect you are speaking about? How did Krishnamurti and Klein change the way you saw life and spirituality?

Sorry to sound so evasive, but I was 19 or 20 when I first came across Krishnamurti, and there wasn’t much to change, I suppose. I had not formed any fixed view or attitude by then, so I sort of grew up with Krishnamurti in that sense. It is not like someone suddenly coming across this approach when they are 40 or 50 years old, having lived a life and made mistakes, etc. At 16 or 17, I started reading Kahil Gibran and some Buddhist and Hindu literature, just out of interest. I came across them in my local bookstore, and began exploring different ideas. I also started reading Plato and the Socratian dialogues … and when I first came across Krishnamurti I noticed a distinct similarity between his philosophy and that of Socrates. But the effect that it had on me? I suppose it gave me a clear direction, when many of my contemporaries were getting into heavy rock music, relationships, carving out a career, etc. I always preferred a quiet life, and especially walking in nature, to experimentation or planning too much for the future. Krishnamurti clearly helped me in that direction and Jean Klein deepened that tendency. I suppose that what these teachers were giving was a route into the deeper layers of mind and feeling, which gives rise to conscious awareness.

Yes. The deep layers of mind and feeling. I feel that at a certain point one will face not only the deeper layers of mind and feeling but also the deep layers of the body. Jean Klein’s approach also included ‘body-work’. Did this part of his teaching appeal to you? Can you expand a little on this aspect?

Yes, it did appeal very much, and I did a number of residential Seminars with him, in the UK and France, in which Yoga/Bodywork was a major part. There are others who are better qualified to comment on this aspect of his teaching than myself, so I will offer my own personal take on it. In my book ‘The Texture of Being’ I often refer to “going into the feeling” of something. There is a tendency, in a mind-dominated culture, to always think things through. This is fine when dealing with practical, mechanical things. But when dealing with personal issues and philosophical subjects, it is helpful if you can not only ‘think’ things through, but also ‘feel’ them through. This takes one into the realm of what is usually referred to as ‘intuition’ or ‘gut feeling’. But, in order to access this kind of intelligence, which is what it is, it is necessary to be able to go into the body-feeling, which is deeper than just ‘thinking’ about something. In Jean’s Yoga and other bodywork practices, conscious awareness of the ‘feeling’ was cultivated through gentle exercises. Being in the ‘feeling’ at each moment, in the body, was encouraged. This was done in a very casual, non-competitive way. Each participant in the bodywork was encouraged to work within whatever limitations their body dictated. Emphasis was always on being consciously aware of the movement and the space around the body, but also in the expansion of what we felt our physical limits were. He encouraged a stretching of the body and expansion of the limits of the body, in the creative imagination. This had  the affect that one did not have the feeling of being confined within the body – there was a feeling of lightness and openness. Others could express this particular aspect more clearly, I am sure. But, it made me very aware that bodywork of some kind – be it tai chi, yoga, free-movement, or whatever, is a good counter-balance to what can become an intellectually dominant philosophy such as Advaita. If one is living in the world of ideas, and not grounding those ideas, not embodying them, then it can be like living in a kind of dream-world, where you may think that you have all the answers, even though you haven’t yet explored all the questions.

I have the feeling that the grounding or embodiment you speak about is all about facing and understanding ‘what is,’ is that right? I feel this is the stage where the shift from the verbal, conceptual level of understanding to the energetic level of non-verbal recognition, understanding and realization of reality takes place. As I see it, the body is also part of ‘what is’ and it is not just an illusion or a bag of bones. How do you see the role of the body in the non-duality you write about?

Without the body, where are you? Any answer that is given to this question is the product of a mind which is connected to a particular body … which we may call a ‘body-mind mechanism’ or some such similar term. This body-mind mechanism also contains ‘personality’ and ‘ego’. There is a constant feedback and updating going on between body and mind, from second to second. In facing ‘what is’, if there is fear at that moment, it will be mirrored in the body. If ‘what is’ is a poisonous snake, then the body will be prepared, via perception, memory and various chemical changes to respond instantly. In normal everyday life, we are not always facing poisonous snakes, but the memory is so full of conditioned influences that conditioned responses are continuously taking place without our conscious awareness. When I meet someone I have decided I don’t like, there is an inner response which relays itself into my body. I may smile and be polite to that person, but my body knows the truth, and in some way, health wise, I will almost certainly pay for such dislikes. Over the course of many years and millions of such reactions, my body will bear the scars of such unseen reactions. Maybe my joints will seize up, or I will develop an illness related to some other part of my body. There are some very good books which go into this subject more deeply than I could attempt here.

But, back to your question: how do I see the role of the body in the non-duality I write about? The body-mind mechanism is a part of the play … one of the actors. The phenomenal world is the world in which the body-mind mechanism has its apparent existence. Without that phenomenal world, there would be no question, or anything else. For the sage, everything appears out of nothing (including himself) and has no real substance, but he is happy to act out his part in the play of life, responding to whatever arises as appropriate. He knows that ‘what is’ is a temporary arising in perception, in the moment. Life flows through him, as if he were not there. Ultimately, all is One, but in the phenomenal world it appears otherwise. Identification and attachment within the phenomenal world will create suffering for the identified and attached, but of course this suffering is only apparent. In reality there is no permanent entity to suffer. Suffering arises and subsides, as do all other phenomena. In the sage, there is liberation from suffering because there is no identification or attachment. Ultimately, because he is not a fixed, permanent entity, this absence of suffering could also be viewed as something which arises and subsides within the body-mind mechanism. Ultimately, nothing ever happens, and there is neither duality nor non-duality, which are merely concepts. But in this life, this phenomenal life, the actor does appear to suffer, and a fine-tuning of the gap between body and mind will reduce the experience of suffering in the actor. In this sense, the traditional approaches, such as yoga, that work to refine the body-mind, are very appropriate. They make the life, the phenomenal life, more joyful … bringing us back to our natural state, before the mind began impeding the free-flow of energy. Emptying the mind of its ‘stuff’, its psychological hang-ups, likes and dislikes, resistances, attractions and aversions, is important work in the life of a body-mind mechanism – it will lead to freedom and joy, in this life, here and now. But, if it is entered into with an acquisitive spirit, as a way in which the ego is going to show how clever or powerful it is, then we are not talking about the same thing. The ego is a key part of the problem in the first place. An essential quality of freedom is humility … a complete letting go, or surrendering, of the egoistic impulse.

Many seekers believe that they have ‘got it’ when they first understand the basic principles of advaita, or non-duality. But understanding and accepting the concepts and living them, are two different things. For the living of them, there needs to be an emptying of the old conditioned thought patterns. Simply believing that ‘I Am That’, for instance, is not enough, if the memory keeps pushing up, in every moment of every day, ‘I Am Not That’. Saying “all is one”, then behaving as if all is not one by concentrating all one’s energies in self-centered activities is merely self-delusion. The memories and patterns are not just in the mind – they also appear in the body, in the muscles, the joints and so on. I would say that ‘Inner Work’, which is essential for a clear understanding, necessarily involves some kind of bodywork that allows for the letting go of dysfunctional thought and behavioural patterns, which get in the way of clear seeing and living in one’s true nature. Liberation is not just a flip in one’s thinking process, from the belief in the ego to the belief in no-ego. If you believe in no-ego yet still act from ego, then there is an immense conflict in your life, which needs to be addressed.

What is thought?

I would say that thought is simply a function of the mind, which allows the body-mind mechanism to survive in the phenomenal world of duality. It allows the body-mind to interact with the outside world in such a way that it builds up a memory bank of experience and knowledge, which should help it to function more successfully in the future. Of course this is not always the case, because if you feed rubbish in, then you will usually get rubbish out. So it is important to encourage the right thoughts and experiences, otherwise the memory bank will contain material that may contribute towards its own downfall. But thought always operates within the field of the known, because it must always refer to the past, to memory. But, it can become modified through its interaction with others, such that specific limiting patterns of thought may be completely undermined to the extent that ‘realization’ may occur.

Now, when we understand the limitations of thought, we can also utilize its incredible ability to explore its own environment, by exploring the subtleties of our ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds. The mind can easily get fixed into certain patterns of thinking and behaving, but it can also create strategies for disentangling itself from these fixed patterns. Whilst the mind may be burdened with negative thoughts, which may weigh heavy on the heart, it is also possible for the mind to express the most beautiful poetic descriptions of the world we know, and beyond. Thought can be our downfall and source of suffering, or it can take on all the lightness and beauty that there is. When we realize the incredible power of the mind, we will maybe treat it with more respect, and feed it well, so that our thoughts become an expression of the inner beauty that we essentially are.

What is the thinker, the observer, the controller? How do you see the thinker, or the ‘me’ comes to an end?

First there is consciousness, then the thinker, the controller, is created in the mind. We are not automatically born with the ability to think. This is taught to us, as we are gradually conditioned into living in the world as a separate body-mind. Always, underlying thought, there is ‘consciousness’, which is our fundamental aspect. But the thinker is the product of the past. The past is a synthesis of many strands of social evolution. What strands we become conditioned with will depend on what kind of family we are born into.

When you ask somebody “who are you?”, they will automatically reply with their name. If you ask them to define it even further, they may say that they are a man or a woman, etc – but all the time they are describing the ‘clothing’ that consciousness has taken on in expressing itself through their particular body-mind. To think that this expression is a permanent entity in time is a mistake that nearly every body-mind makes. In this life, there is a great effort to accumulate more and more, to reinforce the notion that I am a somebody. But then, a great wave comes along, and suddenly there is nobody there.

What you are and what you appear to be are two different things. One is real and the other is an illusion, created within your own imagination. This trick has been taught to almost everyone, because it is tradition not to look at who or what you really are. You are not your name, your occupation, your body, your bank account – these are just tools for consciousness to express itself to itself. It is all a play, a great universal play of consciousness. Fundamentally, you are nothing but consciousness. But consciousness is not an object. You are conscious, you are receptive, but when you begin to think, you then begin also to think you are a separate entity. You then start to get involved and identified with the images that pass through your brain, and you believe that you are a controller, a doer. But who is there to control or do anything? It can be, and will be, wiped out suddenly. All it needs is one great wave, then where is the doer? Then, the doer is itself done. At any moment, we are solely reliant that our next breath comes – and one day it won’t come.

So, finally, to answer your question as to how I see that the thinker comes to an end. When the thinker comes to an end is of no interest. The thinking process is a natural part of life as a human being. When we see that this is how it is, we can be at ease in the understanding that all this play of the mind will come to an end. It doesn’t have to be ended as a deliberate act. Its end is already clear and will certainly happen when it is due to happen. Our true nature lies in consciousness, which is non-specific. When a life is born, it is naturally and automatically imbued with consciousness, because consciousness permeates all. When all this is known, there is naturally no more attraction for the mind to identify itself with what is going on in the play. It knows that it itself is a temporary blip on the all-encompassing background consciousness, so the mind naturally stands back from involvement. There is an awareness of the play, and the actor in the play, and it is never forgotten who or what it is that stands behind the actor.

You seem to suggest consciousness is a kind of screen on which thought moves. As I see it, thought itself is consciousness. Consciousness is dependent on the body and mind. Without memory and thought there is hardly any consistent notion of existence, which is what consciousness is after all. So consciousness is limited, relative and temporary.

When consciousness understands its own nature it is also emptied of the false sense of self or separation constructed and imagined by thought. Consciousness is transformed and empty. This emptiness is not an entity. It is without sense of self. This empty consciousness is like the dew drop in which the moon is reflected; the moon being absolute reality. This reality is beyond being or non-being. It is not an entity and is not a state which can be experienced. It is beyond consciousness and experience. What would you say to this view?

Consciousness is the substratum of all existence. It underlies everything in the physical world. At least, this is one use of the word. I am not attached to any particular concept regarding Consciousness. As far as I am concerned, consciousness is not an object. What we point to in our discussion can never be it, because ‘it’ is not an ‘it’ at all. It has no separate existence. Now, I know that one of Krishnamurti’s favourite phrases was “consciousness is its content”. This is a totally different concept, and use of the word. If you are saying that thought, mind is consciousness, then I can accept that, but we are not talking about the same thing. We are attributing different meanings to different words. Maybe you use different words to describe what I am trying to describe?

From my starting position, consciousness is not dependent on the body and mind – in fact, quite the opposite. But I am also happy to use your concept of consciousness. Both are valid. These are not opposing views. We are merely using different concepts in different ways. In the sense that I am using it, consciousness cannot be transformed, because it is beyond time-space and causation. It is not an object. If we say that consciousness is its content (i.e. memory and thought) then we maybe call what I call consciousness “God”. I am happy to do that. Or we can call one ‘Consciousness with form’ and the other ‘Consciousness without form’ – as you wish. There is black and there is white. Without black there is no white, and vice versa. Without the relative there would be no absolute, without me there would be no you, and so on. But is there something beyond this? Or do we simply need to accept that there is existence and there is non-existence? Today we converse … and tomorrow we are not here. Today we read Rumi, Hui Neng, Buddha, Jesus … where are they now? Are they not merely concepts in our minds? Tomorrow … in ten thousand years, maybe someone will read our dialogue, and it will be relevant then, as it is now, but neither Ben nor Roy will be around anymore. Where have we gone? Who in fact are we? Or is what we take ourselves to be merely a wave arising in the great ocean of consciousness?

In all schools of traditional Buddhism and Vedanta precepts for moral and ethical conduct are the cornerstone on which the more advanced teachings are founded. In popular Advaita these basic teachings are often frowned upon. What is your view on this?

 

The precepts are there for good reason. The mind, the ego, is very adept at deluding itself into thinking it has grasped the ultimate truth, when in fact it has only grasped the basics of the philosophy. I would not suggest that everyone practice traditional spirituality as it has been laid down through the ages. It may be appropriate for some, but is not necessary for everyone. However, I have become aware of a number of people who consider that once it is realized that the ultimate nature of reality is non-dualistic, that there is then no need to question one’s behaviour or attitudes at all – that, basically, any kind of behaviour is acceptable, as there is no one there in ultimate terms. So, such people become unwilling to question their anger, their fear, their sexual behaviour maybe, or their offensive use of language. As all is One and as this ‘person’ here really doesn’t exist in ultimate terms, anything goes, according to this view. Whilst there may be a certain amount of philosophical truth in this view, in terms of helpfulness for daily life, I would say it is a way of burying the head in the sand, whilst at the same time claiming to be able to see beyond the stars. If there truly is ‘realization’, in the traditional sense, there is also transformation on every level. It doesn’t just affect one’s ideas and concepts. If there really is selfless awareness, then where is the room for selfish behaviour? The mind and emotions are automatically transformed by ‘realization’. Otherwise, it is a new meaning that is being attributed to the word ‘realization’, to suit a less demanding group of people. Realization, in the traditional sense, changes the centricity of the ‘person’ entirely. Yes, his behaviour may then be unpredictable, but how can it ever be ego-centric again? This is the difference. There is freedom to do anything (the new approach), and there is also freedom from the need to do anything (the old approach).

What is the nature of reality? Can it be experienced?

It may sound like an evasive answer, but I would say that the nature of reality cannot be accurately described. It can be experienced, but not by ‘you’ and not by ‘me’. When there is mindfulness, but no sense of me or you, there is a meeting with reality. It can be hinted at in poetry or art, but not directly, not by way of trying to pin it down, describe it or somehow grasp the meaning of it. It has no meaning, as we know it, and it is not fixed in such a way that any philosophy can accurately represent it in words. Anything that we say that reality is, is merely a concept, a poor representation. When we truly have been touched by reality, we will completely let go of trying to pin it down.

This interview can be found online at:  http://www.awakenedawareness.be/roy.html