Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
KINDLE LIFE. We continue exploring points raised by HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda-ji in the publication of this name. Remember, you can purchase, (very economically!), the book from Chinmaya Mission Publications or if you prefer, the Amazon Link. Thus you can read Gurudev's words directly and bring your own voice to the discussion.
(We have been breaking up Chapter 26 of KL, firstly for length, but also for 'digestion'...mananam! It is hoped that you think deeply upon what you read, making notes and finding levels of inspiration. This is saadhana. To review the chapter so far, click the Choose-day label on right panel.)
By naming all the aspects of nature, resulting in what appears to be a plurality of 'Gods', it is to be understood that there is but one and same God Principle. In fact, individually, each of the named Gods is helpless; they are fully independent. Without creation, there would be no requirement of maintenance or destruction. Without maintenance, creation has built in destruction which does itself have purpose beyond the task done - there can be no re-creation. Only by true 'teamwork' between the three can things exist as they do. What keeps this balance? The One God Principle. Plurality, the idea that each living system of the world and its process can operate independently, is an illusion. There is one governing power.
That nature ( सत्त्व-माया/sattva-maayaa, pure illusion) exists for us at this moment as we wrangle with this philosophy, let us accept. In these times we do have an improved sense of the interconnectedness of everything and it is this which is being called the God Principle. If the reflection of that is found in nature; then next thing to accept is that the reflection of the God Principle also reflects in the realm of activity (rajas) and inactivity (tamas). The ego-self, the individualised sense of separateness, is therefore but a poor reflection of The True Self.
The example which is used often for this is that, just as we can see the sun reflected upon water in a puddles and buckets, none of those 'suns' is the One True Sun. Equally, each of those reflections can only be as clear and as representative of The Sun as the purity of the water doing the reflecting. The purest clearest and calmest water (sattva) provides the best image. Water which is ruffled and agitated (rajas) by any means causes the reflection to be broken up whilst this is so, but also has the capacity to calm down and become steady again. Water which has become contaminated with mud or dung (tamas) gives a dull reflection and purifying that water will take some effort. The tamas quality acts in us in two distinct ways. It produces the mental agitations of विक्षेप/vikshepa (agitation) and आवरण/aavarana (veiling).
The veiling power of tamas plays out in three distinct negativities; a) don't know, b) can't understand,
c) not experienced. These three negative concepts in us are removed by the three main items of Vedantic practice; a) श्रवणम्/shravanam - listening, b) मननम्/mananam - reflection upon what was heard, c) निदिध्यासन /nididhyaasana - meditation, in attempts to gain the experience.
The first of these three main 'tragedies', is that when left to ourselves, few of us have the capacity to independently observe, analyze and conclude that there is a God Principle behind the ever-changing flux in the phenomenal world. "I don't know" is the grossest state of aavarana. It is removed by shravanam; either directly from the great masters, or their disciples; or indirectly through reading of the appropriate texts. In taking up shravanam we are removing the first negativity and a subtler one now appears; "I can't understand". This is surmounted by intellectual analysis and reasoning, when the seeker comes to feel that in and through the endless names and forms is running the One Golden Chord of Unity, a sense of oneness, the आत्मन् /aatman (Universal Spirit).
A problem at this stage is that very often, students of philosophy begin to devalue their own intellectual awareness of this changeless Truth, since it is "not experienced" by them. This aavarana manifestation is removed by the process of the prescribed practice of meditation.
Meditation is a process of inner self-discipline by which, through constant practice, the seeker learns the art of keeping their mind at one and the same chosen line of thinking to the strict and severe exclusion of all other dissimilar currents of thought. Ultimately the saadhaka succeeds in bringing the mind to complete stillness in which, unlike sleep, he has his entire awareness brightly lit up and kindling in his bosom. At the moment of experiencing the transcendental Bliss and Knowledge, (सविकल्प समाधि /savikalpa samaadhi), the saadhaka comes to chop off the last traces of the aavarana.
From vikshepa arises the unmanifest, subconscious, and from that springs forth the grosser assertion of the manifest - the world of the five elements. The interplay of the elements produces the names and forms, including the senses of knowledge ( ज्ञानेन्द्रियाः/jnaanendriyaH) and the senses of action (कर्मेन्द्रियाः /karmendriyaH), which together constitute the helpless 'traveller of this sea of life', the संसारिन् /samsaarin. By mistaking/misinterpreting our experience gained through action we build a world around us, separate from The Truth.
With this, we have the 'fall of man'. From being the Eternal, Immortal, All-full Pure Consciousness (नित्य-शुद्ध-मुक्त परमात्मन् /nitya-suddha-mukta paramaatman), due to the play of Maya and like Somadatta's father, we too have come to feel our limitation and live in our unbuilt huts with our unmarried wives and unborn sons.
Vedanta is not a pessimistic philosophy to leave its conclusion with a mere theory of fall. This very theory has been devised to explain the non-existent dream-fall so that the faithful may be shown a way to wake up and realise their own true and eternal nature once more; returning to the OM!
...the conclusion of chapter 26 next week...