Extracts from the Upanishads (from Easwaran)

It is only when the concept of a transcendent and immanent Creator is conjoined with the means of realisation of the Self, through meditation, and the related emphasis on states of consciousness, that one begins to understand why a Western philosopher like Schopenhauer was drawn to the Upanishads.

In these, he saw, not Hinduism or India but “… a habit of looking beneath the surface of life to its underlying causes …”. He also drew attention “… to the courage to discover in ourselves a desperately needed higher image of the human being”. … …

The power and poetry of the Upanishads can be seen from these extracts (from Easwaran):

As the same fire assumes different shapes

When it consumes objects differing in shape,

So does the one Self take the shape

Of every creature in whom he is present.

(Katha 2 .2 .9)

 

When all desires that surge in the heart

Are renounced, the mortal become immortal.

When all the knots that strangle the heart

Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.

This sums up the teachings of the Scriptures.

(Katha 2 .3.14-15)

 

As a caterpillar, having come to the end of one blade

of grass, draws itself together and reaches out for the

next, so the Self, having come to the end of one life and

shed all ignorance, gathers its faculties and reaches

out from the old body to a new.

(Brihad 4 .4.3)

 

The world is the wheel of God, turning round

And round with all living creatures upon its rim.

The world is the river of God,

Flowing from him and flowing back to him.

 

On this ever-revolving wheel of being

The individual self goes round and round

Through life after life, believing itself

To be a separate creature, until

It sees its destiny with the Lord of Love

And attains immortality in the indivisible whole.

(Shveta 1 .4-6)

 

Meher Baba summarised it all beautifully and succinctly: “The finding of God is the coming to one’s own self”. An important corollary is provided by Kahlil Gibran when he said: “For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?” Of relevance too is the view of Erasmus, the great philosopher of the European Renaissance: “The sum of religion is peace, which can only be when definitions are as few as possible, and opinion is left free on many subjects”.

 

The above are extracts from ‘On the Cosmos’ from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’

A useful guide to the Cosmos

I recommend the Hindus’ Upanishads as a useful guide to the Cosmos … … The Upanishads proclaim (according to Easwaran) that “There is a Reality underlying life”.  “… this Reality is the essence of every created thing, and the same Reality is our real Self, so that each of us is one with the power that created and sustains the universe”. That is, the Creator is both transcendent and immanent.

Easwaran goes on to say that this Reality or oneness  “ … can be realised directly, without the mediation of priests or rituals or any of the structures of organised religion, not after death but in this life, and that this is the purpose for which each of us has been born and the goal towards which evolution moves”. Complex, yet simple. Is it not inspiring and therefore attractive to those who love freedom? I believe it is.

And the yoga schools in Australia are indeed introducing this perspective to seekers of a better path to spiritual fulfilment. The goal of evolution may thus be said to be the realisation of One-ness. This is also the purpose of repeated human re-birth, where life between lives is a mere staging house.

The path to spiritual fulfilment is lit thus: since “… there is in each of us an inalienable Self that is divine”, mankind is “… in a compassionate universe, where nothing is other than ourselves …”.  Mankind is thus urged  “ … to treat the universe with reverence”.

Thus, man’s innermost essence, the Self (or Atman), is not different from God, the ultimate Reality. This Reality (or Brahman) is “ … the irreducible ground of existence, the essence of everything — of the earth and sun and all creatures, of gods and human beings, of every power of life”. This equivalence of the ground of one’s being (the Self) and the essence of every thing (Reality) is encapsulated in the phrase “Thou art That”.

Thus, metaphysics and morals merge in that simple summary. … … A close friend of mine, of European origin, and a staunch churchgoing Catholic, found the teaching of the Upanishads most agreeable!

The above are extracts from ‘On the Cosmos’ from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity.’

Welcoming Death

I am looking forward, with great anticipation, to meeting Death; hopefully, soon. I have achieved mental and spiritual peace after a long and turbulent life – during which I have learned a great deal (so I believe) about the human condition and human society; and have achieved a smidgen of understanding about the place of mankind in the Universe.

I am satisfied that the material realm within which we live, frolic and suffer (but obviously not simultaneously) is only the crust of that environment which is relevant for human existence – much like the mantle covering Earth below which lies its engine room.

My substantial exposure to the spiritual (and thereby ephemeral) domain has resulted in my awareness of 3 realities – the physical, the mental, and the ethereal. I now know that the mental can exist beyond the material after death, having been initially derived substantially from the brain (with a probable input from soul memory). I also know that the spirit realm co-exists with our material realm, but is probably located in another (non-cosmic) domain.

I find it interesting that the speculative cosmologists of science (I instance David Bohm) and the ancient metaphysical Hindus who conceived their complex cosmology seem to be on the same page in their efforts to explain reality at multiple levels. Naturally, one needs to go beyond that most reliable scientific method to deal with the ephemeral.

I do wonder whether the material is only a projection of the ephemeral; or that the ephemeral is an abstraction from the material. I prefer the former perspective, with seeming support from Plato and Hindu cosmology.

Anyway, I do need to move to what I refer as the After-life, in order to continue my learning (as promised by a clairvoyant with verifiable communication with the spirit realm). All my life, I have had this urge to know – and to understand. With understanding there may be opportunities to acquire some wisdom.

Repeated sojourns in the After-life should ultimately result in a clear understanding of what all inter-linked cosmic existence is about.

Extracts from ‘Grounded,’ a short, short story from ‘Pithy Perspectives,’ my book of bicultural fiction

“It is not fair” said Abdul, “not fair at all.”

“What is?” responded Falconio.

“I repeat, it is simply not fair” replied Abdul.

“What?”

 

“That I cannot take off into yonder space.”

“Excuse me, I have heard of the stratosphere.  But where the hell is yonder space?”

“Let me explain, Bird-brain, that yonder space is up there.”

“In that case,” said Falconio waxing eloquent, “why don’t you say ‘up there’?  In fact, up anywhere will do, as long as it is off the ground, right?”

 

“How is it that you are so pedantic?”

“Ah, is that like being pedestrian or pederastic or … … um, my alter-ego seems to be running out of puff.”

“Listen, I don’t want any religious mumbo-jumbo like altars and altar boys intruding into my thoughts.”

 

“What! Are you a priest now?  I was referring only to my subconscious self, my inner spirit who guides and drives me….”

“Wait a minute! You make as much sense as an egg burnt onto a hot plate. You are not offering me any food for thought.”

 

“Well, Falconia says….”

“Who on Earth is Falconia?”

“My inner self.”

……………………

Then said Falconio, with bitterness in his voice, “You seek to deny your nature by breaking out of your Earthbound cocoon. Yet, you deny my nature by denying me freedom and the right to view my surroundings in all its beauty. Take the hood off my head and unchain me. Am I in Guantanamo?”

………………………..

“What ho, Cocko!” said the Djinn to Abdul. Turning to Falconio the falcon, the Djinn added “Beg pardon, my feathered friends, for treating you as subsidiaries. But it is Ab here who has a problem.”

 

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults” (Part 5)

The path to peace

Taking House aside, Whicky explained that he was a member (even as a cat) of a Western family that had adopted Buddhism, the fastest growing faith in Australia. Together with Virginia, whose intuitive understanding of all things material and spiritual and whose grasp of the language of mice and cats implicitly indicated that she is the reincarnation of an old soul, he knew that Buddhist beliefs, like those of yoga, did not conflict with the teachings and rituals of the other major religions.

Whereas doctrinal differences have separated one religion from another – and such differences represent merely the egoistic pretensions of the guardians of the institutionalized faiths – Buddhism, by emphasizing the moral obligation of sentient beings, one to the other, encompassed the ethical teachings of Christ and all the other known religious and spiritual teachers. When one bypasses the gongs, drums, bells, chants, and the other rituals which had grown as encrustations to the Buddha’s original guidance – like the rituals purveyed by the priests of all the faiths – there is only one simple exhortation for one and all. And that is to offer love, protection, care, and compassion to others whose existence is also due to the universal Creator.

House was flabbergasted. Here was his old mate displaying so much wisdom, which also explained his tolerance of the tribe of mice sharing his home. Like Virginia, he too might be an old soul. Together, they would surely light the way for those not privileged to be so enlightened.

Whicky went on to explain his plan, which had been agreed to by Virginia. Both would lead House and his tribe in meditation – daily. Out in the open with the sun (another product of the Creator) bestowing its blessing upon them all, Virginia and Whicky would lead the Buddhist chant, “Om Mani Padme Hum.” This was only a variation of the “Om Nama Shivaya” chanted by the adepts of yoga or the simpler “Om.” Uttered through the back of the throat and drawn out over a few seconds, Om would reflect the primeval hum which preceded the Big Bang of the modern physicists’ cosmology.

With the support of the Committee of Wise Mice, House put Whicky’s plan to the tribe. Intrigued, a little confused, anxious, but desperate, the tribe agreed. The next day, out in the open, within sight of Max, the meditation program started. Max was intrigued. Closer and closer he came to the mice each day – merely to see what was happening. The closer he came, the more he was influenced by the aural aura of the chant. The more the chant engulfed him, the more he realized the peace which enveloped the mice. The more effective this peace on the mice, the more Max became absorbed spiritually. A warm, caressing, mist-like atmosphere bonded them all in a cocoon of mutual acceptance and tolerance.

Can mice and cats become imbued with spiritual peace or was Whicky’s plan an aberration? On the contrary, both mice and Max eventually became submerged into that ocean of consciousness from which the physical Cosmos arose. Thus was Max conditioned to change his ways; that is, not to eat mice. Thus did peace reign over the mice, the cats, and little Virginia. So says Virginia, the old soul.

…………………………………………..

Here ends the parable of mice and morality. Virginia’s sojourn into another improbable world awaits another day.

 

Why blame God?

About a decade ago, a close friend who had cancer, said to the rector of her church “I thought God would have cured me by now.” A few years later she died. On the day preceding her expected demise, I had promised her that she would be going to a much better place, since she did not want to die.

Digressing – I have talked to a number of senior citizens who made it clear that they feared death. How could any old person live with such a terrible feeling?

I have also talked to many people who blame God for their tribulations and other disasters. Why? Because the Creator of all must be responsible for all that goes wrong (such as man-made wars); or which is morally wrong (such as evil intent in humans); or some personal misadventure. I am uncertain whether God is also blamed for natural disasters or cosmic catastrophes; I suspect many do.

Why set up a straw man and then throw stones at him? University courses may do that; but, in the real world, one’s expectations should surely be drawn from the observed, the known. Thus, is God really an interventionist Creator? Or, have some of us imagined God in the image of an all-powerful father? A father who can be blamed for not delivering that ice-cream we thought we had earned by behaving well?

Why not accept the strong probability of autonomous processes in our transit through life on Earth, from our distant historical origin to where we are now. There are millions of such processes in life, in Nature, including the miracle of the birth of fully-formed babies; the empathetic behaviour by humans such as contributing to civil society; the symbiosis between insects and plants, and plants and humans; the exceedingly complex inter-connection between almost everything in the Universe; and the evolutionary process which enables improvement through successful change.

Why not look for the simplest, but adequate, explanations? If a Creator exists (and we have no proof of that), all that is required is an arm’s-length Creator who set up a simple machinery, gave it the breath of life, of growth, of variation – and let autonomous processes to proceed thereafter. No one can then be blamed for anything not to our liking. Why expect the Creator to do more? So that we have someone to blame?

We do need to grow up, and face the dark; that is, accept what is unavoidable – and adapt and evolve!

 

Is the Cosmic Creator also an interventionist God?

I was asked this week whether God is sleeping. Presumably, this query arose because of the terrible tragedies occurring in the Middle East and elsewhere. My response is – why ask the Creator (called God) to intervene in human affairs, particularly in disasters initiated by evil people. Evil arises, and exists, only in the minds of humans.

Where the souls within humans who commit evil actions are not mature enough to recognise that fellow-humans are co-created by God, and that we all thereby bonded to one another, should God be required to intervene in every (significant) evil action?

Or, should Cosmic Justice apply only in the next Earthly life of the perpetrators of evil? Would that not be a more effective lesson by being registered and recorded in the reincarnated soul? Perhaps those who have suffered grievously in their current Earthly life could be asked if they have now become adequately aware of the Law of Cause and Effect (also knowable as Cosmic Justice)?

This is to ask whether any major tragedy or significant suffering may represent a balanced set of cosmic lessons, imparted over a period of time. My experience in this life, together with some faint intimations in my psyche about my immediate past life, and a vision of me in that past life which appeared in the mind of a clairvoyant recently, support such a view.

In my book ‘The Dance of Destiny,’ my turbulent (and often painful) life is described in Part 1 as ‘The wheels fell off’; and in Part 2 as ‘Falling into holes which were not there.’ Despite being a regular temple-goer, and offering prayers each evening before dinner – until I left home – God did not intervene in my disasters. I became clever at climbing out of those holes, and also at working my way (without complaint) up and out of that deep dungeon into which I had been cast.

One needs to accept unavoidable experiences implicit in one’s passage on one’s personal river of destiny. Such acceptance would be facilitated by realising that, consistent with the Law of Cause and Effect, one’s destiny was shaped to a considerable extent by one’s own actions in preceding Earthly lives.

God may, of course, intervene in human affairs here and there. Realistically, as demonstrated by billions of us over time, we do need to cope with life’s travails with equanimity, while believing that Earthly life offers opportunities to reach out to our Creator.