30 November 2007
set down by the greatest ape of all,
our lawgiver. Cornelius, come here.
Reach into my pocket.
Read to him the 29th scroll, 6th verse.
Cornelius: "Beware the beast man,
for he is the devil's pawn.
Alone among God's primates,
he kills for sport or lust or greed.
Yea, he will murder his brother
to possess his brother's land.
Let him not breed in great numbers,
for he will make a desert
of his home and yours.
Drive him back into his jungle lair.
For he is the harbinger of death."
Dr. Zaius: I found nothing in the cave
to alter that conception of man, and I still live by its injunction.
When Yahweh Elohim (or YE) created Adam, YE expected Adam to live directly from the Heart.
The physical heart YE placed in the left side of Adam's chest.
The spiritual heart YE placed in the center of Adam's chest.
The Heart Itself was hidden in the right side of the chest.
Adam, though, could not locate the Heart.
YE gave various animals to Adam, to help him locate the Heart.
But the animals, though living from the Heart, did not possess the awareness of living from the Heart.
So YE split Adam down the middle, separating Adam into a "right" side and a "left" side.
The left-side Adam became the masculine Adam who, though possessing all three hearts, became adept in using the physical heart and all things physical and intellectual.
The right-side Adam became the feminine Eve, who, though possessing all three hearts, became adept at living directly from the Heart.
Eve, in being a "help-meet", was actually a "Heart-meet".
The Heart can only be known in silence, stillness, quiet, and darkness.
The "eve"-ning is when the Heart becomes most active, during sleep and during brahmamurta, the dark hours of 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.
(The Buddha awakened to the Heart, to "Eve", during brahmamurta, as the Morning Star, the "Christ", rose over the eastern horizon.)
Eve is the personification, embodiment, manifestation, of the Heart in human form.
Adam did not recognize Eve as the Heart, and sought for the Heart in inwardness.
Adam rejected the temptations of dualism, symbolized by the dual-pronged tongue of the wise and deceptive serpent.
Adam sought the Heart in asceticism, renunciation, and abandonment of the world.
Adam lived as the Yogi Shiva.
Eve, Adam's Parvati, had other plans.
Adam had not known falsehood.
If Adam were to live in the Heart, then Adam required tempering via the serpent's wisdom and deception.
Eve introduced Adam to falsehood, so that Adam could directly experience the false as false.
The First Adam took the false to be true, ushering death into the world.
The Second Adam took the false to be false, and beat the Drum of the Deathless.
The Second Adam realized the Heart, and lived from, in, and as the Heart.
In the Second Adam, the masculine Adam and the feminine Eve are re-united in scientific-tantric union.
In the Second Adam, the Beloved is re-united with the Heart.
26 November 2007
1. (The Prime Directive): "Abandon the destructive; cultivate the beneficial; and purify the Heart." (Cf. Dhammapada 183)
2. (The Secondary Directive): "If someone's belief in eternal hell drives his moral and ethical ascetic struggle, then do not disabuse him of that belief." (Cf. Bhagavad Gita III:9-26)
3. (The Tertiary Directive): "Aid the Christian to be a better Christian; the Jew, a better Jew; the Muslim, a better Muslim; the Jain, a better Jain; the Sikh, a better Sikh; the Buddhist, a better Buddhist; the Hindu, a better Hindu; the philosophical naturalist, a better philosophical naturalist." (Cf. Mother Theresa)
25 November 2007
In the diagram, each member of the Trinity is equally God and yet also a distinct Person.
Jivanticly, "God" corresponds to the Heart; "the Father" to the Beloved; "the Son" to the Buddha; and "the Holy Spirit" to "Jivanta".
(The "God" of the diagram also corresponds to Meister Eckhart's "God beyond God".)
Jivanta-dharma as a form of Chraista-dharma is not constrained by any of the councils of orthodox Christianity. In fact, orthodox Christianity would likewise be a form of Chraista-dharma, as would the LDS (or "Mormon") Church and the Unity School of Christianity. Chraista-dharma is any dharma in which Christ plays a central role, and such a role need not mean the exclusion of dharmas centered on other embodied realizers.
In Chraista-dharma, Christ does not represent a set of beliefs to which one must adhere. Christ represents an attitudinal orientation, a willingness to experiment, a sense of scientfic-spiritual adventure, all arising from a larger cultivation of embodied wisdom and compassion. And Christ, in this sense, represents a particularly Western dharma, in celebration of the distinctly Western civilizational emphases, emphases that, nevertheless, are simply one wing of the trans-civilizational aeroplane of human consciousness.
Jivanta-dharma is a form of "Reconstructionist Christianity", in which Christianity functions, at the most practical level, as a civilization that is progressively evolving. (Cf. Reconstructionist Judaism.) Reconstructionist Christianity allows for freedom of thought, of ideology, of theology, while maintaining shared civilizational values, like democracy, political equality, and scientific curiosity.
24 November 2007
Each atma is infinitely centered.
Each atma can potentially realize its infinite expansiveness as well as its infinite centeredness.
Infinite expansiveness is realized after the realization of infinite centeredness.
The realization of infinite centeredness is the realization of the atma as the Heart.
"Hridaya Tvam Asi": Heart Thou Art.
Once the Heart is realized infinitely deep, the Beloved shines, infinitely above.
The realization of both infinite centeredness and infinite expansiveness is the marriage of consciousness and energy, of the Heart felt infinitely deep in the chest and the Beloved shining infinitely above the head.
Realization of the Heart is provoked by direct awareness and direct energy.
True knowledge -- full feeling, full desire, full thought, and full action -- characterizes direct awareness and direct energy.
True knowledge is always already available from, in, and as the Heart.
True knowledge is always already available in silence, stillness, and simplicity.
Open the Book of the Heart. Everything is there.
The Yoga of Jivanta, or Jivanta Yoga, includes five methods:
1. Hridaya Yoga: feeling-contemplation of the heart-area of the chest
2. Vallabha Yoga: feeling-contemplation of the top of the head
3. Buddha Yoga: feeling-contemplation of the forehead
4. Jivanta Yoga: feeling-contemplation of the lower torso
5. Purna Yoga: feeling-contemplation of the whole body
Feeling-Contemplation refers to feeling-and-contemplating of, in, and as Love, Light, Logic, Life; verbally conceptualized as "I am".
S is the Heart. I is the Beloved. V is the Buddha. A is the Jivanta.
Thus, Sivoham: I am Siva.
If I am Siva, then I must love, enlighten, think, and live as Siva.
The Work of Jivanta, or Jivanta Karma, has four aspects:
To research is to light the flame.
To write is to walk the earth.
To teach is to fly the skies.
To learn is to swim the seas.
To research is to practice raja yoga.
To write is to practice karma yoga.
To teach is to practice jnana yoga.
To learn is to practice bhakti yoga.
To research is to embody the Beloved.
To write is to embody Jivanta.
To teach is to embody the Buddha.
To learn is to embody the Heart.
Instead of be-lieving, be-loving
Instead of doubting, do.
Don't search. See.
Don't imit-ate. Cre-ate.
"Emptiness" in Buddhism is analogous to "maya" in Advaita Vedanta. Both point to the (relative) unreality of phenomenal existence, when compared to the (utter) reality of the un-conditioned. Thus, neither "emptiness" nor "maya" is sheer non-existence, as a "maya-vada" interpretation of the Buddhist Heart Sutra demonstrates:
Thus have I once heard:
The Blessed One [i.e., the Buddha] was staying in Rajagrha at Vulture Peak along with a great community of monks and great community of bodhisattvas, and at that time, the Blessed One fully entered the meditative concentration on the varieties of phenomena called the Appearance of the Profound. At that very time as well, holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, beheld the practice itself of the profound perfection of wisdom, and he even saw the five aggregates as an illusion of inherent nature. Thereupon, through the Buddha's inspiration, the venerable Sariputra spoke to holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, and said, "Any noble son who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom should train in what way?"
When this had been said, holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, spoke to venerable Sariputra and said, "Sariputra, any noble sons or daughters who wish to practice the perfection of wisdom should see this way: they should see insightfully, correctly, and repeatedly that even the five aggregates are an illusion of inherent nature. Form is illusion, illusion is form, Illusion is not other than form, form is also not other than illusion. Likewise, sensation, discrimination, conditioning, and awareness are illusion. In this way, Sariputra, all things are illusion; they are without defining characteristics; they are not born, they do not cease, they are not defiled, they are not undefiled. They have no increase, they have no decrease.
"Therefore, Sariputra, in illusion there is no form, no sensation, no discrimination, no conditioning, and no awareness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. There is no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no texture, no phenomenon. There is no eye-element and so on up to no mind-element and also up to no element of mental awareness. There is no ignorance and no elimination of ignorance and so on up to no aging and death and no elimination of aging and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, origin, cessation, or path; there is no wisdom, no attainment, and even no non-attainment.
"Therefore, Sariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no obtainments, they abide relying on the perfection of wisdom. Having no defilements in their minds, they have no fear, and passing completely beyond error, they reach nirvana. Likewise, all the Buddhas abiding in the three times clearly and completely awaken to unexcelled, authentic, and complete awakening in dependence upon the perfection of wisdom.
"Therefore, one should know that the mantra of the perfection of wisdom - the mantra of great knowledge, the precious mantra, the unexcelled mantra, the mantra equal to the unequalled, the mantra that quells all suffering - is true because it is not deceptive. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:
tadyatha - gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!
Sariputra, a bodhisattva, a great being, should train in the profound perfection of wisdom in that way."
Thereupon, the Blessed One arose for that meditative concentration, and he commended holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being. "Excellent!" he said. "Excellent! Excellent! Noble child, it is just so. Noble child, it is just so. One should practice the profound perfection of wisdom in the manner that you have revealed - the Tathagatas rejoice!" This is what the Blessed One said.
Thereupon, the venerable Sariputra, the holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, and that entire assembly along with the world of gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas, all rejoiced and highly praised what the Blessed One had said.
A few notes:
1. "An illusion of inherent nature" replaces the original "empty of inherent nature". In Buddhism, to be empty of inherent nature is to be (1) impermanent; (2) unsatisfactory; and (3) without an unchanging "core". In Advaita Vedanta, these three characteristics can also be used to describe "the power of maya", or "illusion"; and the phrase "an illusion of inherent nature" could be understood advaiticly as describing how "inherent nature", or the un-conditioned reality, actually serves as the basis for the appearance of illusion. "An illusion of inherent nature" refers to the illusion of (or "produced by" and "not different from, nor the same as") inherent nature.
2. "Form is illusion, illusion is form" replaces the original "Form is empty, emptiness is form". By "form" is meant specifically matter-and-energy of the kind known to modern Western science; but "form" is also short-hand for all of phenomenal reality.
3. "Illusion is not other than form, form is also not other than illusion" replaces "Emptiness is not other than form, form is also not other than emptiness". In Buddhism, the human body, the form-body, is the site of enlightenment. No human body, no form-body, means no illusion, no emptiness, and thus no enlightenment.
4. Enlightenment, liberation, salvation require illusion, require emptiness. If things were not impermanent, no change would be possible. If things gave perfect and total satisfactions, humans would not seek the un-conditioned. If things possessed an unchanging "core", humans would be fulfilled by grasping such things. However, because those three characteristics of the phenomenal worlds are true, the realization of nirvana or Brahman is possible. In Buddhism, the existence of emptiness means the creation, existence, and further-existence of the worlds. Emptiness makes possible freedom from suffering. Likewise, in Advaita, illusion means that things can change, develop, evolve. Without illusion, there is no possibility for growth, for learning. Because illusion is, the world can be enjoyed. The very possibility of enlightenment, liberation, or salvation is only due to the existence of illusion.
II. Lunar emotional mind smiles content with happiness.
III. Mercurial intellectual mind knows how to discriminate between the good and the bad.
IV. Venusian energy body demonstrates love and compassion.
V. Terrestrial physical body endures pleasure and pain.
VI. Martial physical action moves with vigor and justice.
VII. Jovial enjoyment comes through generosity.
VIII. Discipline penetrates saturnian dissatisfaction.
IX. Rahuvian wish, desire, and will, transform into
X. Ketuvian release of greed, lust, and fear, into the marriage of consciousness and light.
The Heart simply is.
The Beloved is the purest and highest will and purpose.
Jivanta is the world of impermanence, change, and evolution.
The Buddha is the tantric union and embodiment of the the purest and highest will amidst impermanence, change, and evolution.
Find one's purest and highest will and purpose.
Embody that will and purpose in the world of impermanence, change, and evolution.Fulfill that embodiment as a Buddha.
Celebrate that tantric union as the Heart.
22 November 2007
I am not come to establish any cult, society or organization; nor even to establish a new religion. The religion that I shall give teaches the Knowledge of the One behind the many. The book that I shall make people read is the book of the heart that holds the key to the mystery of life. I shall bring about a happy blending of the head and the heart. I shall revitalize all religions and cults, and bring them together like beads on one string.
-- Meher Baba
20 November 2007
In India, the dharmas include Vaishnava-dharma (composed of worshippers of Vishnu), Shaiva-dharma (consisting of devotees of Shiva), Shakta-dharma (which includes venerators of the Divine Mother), Bauddhya-dharma (the tradition of Buddhist practices), and Jaina-dharma (the teachings of the Jinas).
Dharmas also exist in the West. There are Yaihaduta-dharma (Judaism), Chraista-dharma (Christianity), and Aislama-dharma (Islam). In the modern Western world, Lokayata-dharma (naturalism, or philosophical materialism) has proven quite popular.
Jivanta-dharma is a subset of Chraista-dharma.
On May 10th, the group took a bus to Manmad and then left on the Delhi-Allahabad express train for Hardwar. Near the village of Khandwa an accident occurred; a man was struck by the train and severely injured. Watching the man on the ground, a large crowd gathered and meanwhile Baba dispatched Chhagan to buy some rice and dal from a vendor. Chhagan thought to himself, "A man has just been seriously hurt and all are rushing to see him, yet this God feels hungry and wants something to eat! How can Baba be so merciless? Who could eat at a time like this?" With these thoughts in his mind, Chhagan made his way through the crowd to bring the food, but he could not return as quickly because of the excited crowd on the platform. After some time Baba lost his patience and sent Gustadji to look for him, and when Chhagan returned, Baba admonished him for taking so long.
Watching Baba eat, Chhagan thought, "Outside a man is dying and inside Divinity himself is quietly enjoying his lunch in peace. How can Baba be so cold?"
Baba gestured to Chhagan, "What are you thinking?"
Chhagan replied that it was nothing. Baba shrugged and then spelled out, "You only think of the man who is hurt, but you have no thought for me. How will you help him by thinking about him? Your sympathy is empty; it carries no weight.
"You see me eating food, but what do you know of what I am really doing for that man? If you believe that everything is in my hands and not a leaf moves without my will, then why don't you accept that whatever has happened to him, and whatever will happen to him, is according to my will? Your only duty is to follow my wish. Why give importance to your wish?
"I am eating this food, but it reaches the belly of that man! You can't see that. Remember I am the Benefactor of all. Your sympathy cannot do a damned thing! To fulfill my wish, you have to burn up your desires. Only then will you be fit to serve me."Baba then sent Chhagan to see the injured man. Chhagan was dumbfounded at the scene which met his eyes. The man had not only regained consciousness, but he was enjoying a cup of hot tea! He was about to be removed to a hospital in an ambulance and the doctor remarked that there was no serious injury. He would be all right and be able to walk once his fracture was set. Hearing this, Chhagan repented for his thoughts. The fact was that Baba was not really hungry, but he pretended to be so in order to revive that man and to teach Chhagan a lesson.
19 November 2007
See the good reverend's website.
'Creatheist' reconciles evolution, religion
Northwest Florida Daily News
The Rev. Michael Dowd says science can prove other stories correct
NICEVILLE — The Rev. Michael Dowd is on a mission to reconcile science and religion.
“Who would let a first-century dentist fill our children’s teeth?” Dowd asked Tuesday. “But we’re letting first-century theologians fill our children’s head every day.”
A self-proclaimed evolutionary evangelist, Dowd recently released “Thank God for Evolution!”, which states that understanding evolution can actually enhance faith.
15 November 2007
11 November 2007
Much ink has been spilled over the idea of infallibility, whether that infallibility be textual, ecclesiastical, episcopal, or papal. Non-Catholics have in particular criticized papal infallibility; while Catholics and Orthodox have shown the limitations of textual infallibility; and the Orthodox have rejected both textual and papal infallibility. A distinction must be made, though, between relative infallibility and true infallibility. I would propose, though, that true infallibility is, by definition, outside of the range of language. Whatever statement be proposed as infallibly defined, that statement and the words that make up that statement, have in themselves many possible interpretations and connotations, leading to the realization that any statement concerning faith, morals, God, the afterlife, this life, etc., is inherently limited and inherently limiting. Thus, "relatively infallibile" statements might be useful in terms of communicating statements via words, but to be "truly infallible", such a statement could never be stated in human language. The only truly infallible "statement" is the direct revelation/realization of God. Anything else is "almost infallible" or "more infallible" or "relatively infallible".
Whatever statement made by whatever ecclesial institution, know that it is not absolute truth, and that it is folly to look for absolute truth within any humanly constructed linguistic framework. Linguistic frameworks are useful for establishing doctrinal boundaries, and for gaining greater understanding of religious teachings; and in that sense there are frameworks that are relatively more infallible, or less fallible, compared to other frameworks. However, Truth -- itself -- is directly encountered and embodied, and incapable of being definitively and absolutely encaged within conceptualization.
09 November 2007
The primary limitation of "Western" Buddhism, from my perspective, is the excessively intellectual and non-"religious" nature of it. It's not so much that Western Buddhists need to "learn" from Western religions, though, as Strand insightfully notes, that's part of the future project. It's more a matter of Western Buddhists "not forgetting" the cultural, social, and religious formation in which they were often raised, and integrating that into 22nd-century Buddhism.
By Clark Strand
A colleague recently took me to task for consulting Jews and Christians on how to keep American Buddhism alive. He didn't agree with either premise--that Jews and Christians could offer advice to Buddhists, or that Buddhism was in any danger of decline. But he was wrong on both counts. American Buddhism, which swelled its ranks to accommodate the spiritual enthusiasms of baby boomers in the late 20th century, is now aging. One estimate puts the average age of Buddhist converts (about a third of the American Buddhist population) at upwards of 50. This means that the religion is almost certain to see its numbers reduced over the next generation as boomer Buddhists begin to die off without having passed their faith along to their children. And Jewish and Christian models offer the most logical solution for reversing that decline.
The basic problem is that non-Asian converts tend not to regard what they practice as a religion. From the beginning, Buddhism has been seen in its American incarnation not as an alternative religion, but as an alternative to religion. American converts have long held Buddhism apart from what they see as the inherent messiness of Western religious discourse on such issues as faith and belief, and from the violence that has so often accompanied it.
The author Sam Harris, though not himself a Buddhist, is nevertheless fairly representative of this point of view. In his book "The End of Faith," Mr. Harris is strongly critical of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but he gives Buddhism a free pass. "Buddhism has also been a source of ignorance and occasional violence," he concedes, but "it is not a religion of faith, or a religion at all in the Western sense."
Mr. Harris goes so far as to claim that "the esoteric teachings of Buddhism offer the most complete methodology we have for discovering the intrinsic freedom of consciousness, unencumbered by any dogma." He likens the Dalai Lama's encounters with Christian ecclesiastics to a meeting between Cambridge physicists and Kalahari Bushmen, which is offensive on so many levels--to Christians, to Buddhists, to Bushmen, and maybe even to physicists--that one hardly knows where to begin. And yet most American converts would probably agree with Mr. Harris's portrayal of Buddhism as an empirically based spiritual practice. In its pure, idealized form (which, admittedly, exists mostly in the minds of Western converts), that practice is relatively free of dogma and superstition. Unfortunately, it is also free of folk tales, family and--dare I say it--fun.
For the most part American converts don't see this as a problem. When I suggested to my colleague that he might want to think of ways to integrate his Buddhist experience into the long-term life of his family, and that he might look to existing religious models, like his local synagogue, for ideas on how to do that (rather than to the out-of-state monastery where he goes alone on retreat twice yearly), he answered shortly, "When my kids get old enough, they can decide for themselves whether to meditate or not."
It's an argument I have heard before. Having left the religion of their birth, often with good reason, American converts tend to be wary of anything approaching religious indoctrination, even if that means failing to offer their children the basics of a religious education. This has the advantage of giving Buddhist children great freedom of religious expression, with the disadvantage of not giving them any actual religion to express. The result is a generation of children with a Buddhist parent or two but no Buddhist culture to grow up in.
What does this mean for the non-Buddhist culture at large? Why be concerned that so few Buddhist baptisms, weddings or funerals occur among Buddhist converts each year that most of them have no idea what such ceremonies even look like, or that years after their conversion, their extended families persist in thinking of them as basically Jewish or Catholic at heart? The answer is surprising all around.
In the contemporary discourse on religion, it is striking how often Buddhism is privileged over Judaism, Christianity or Islam as a scientifically based or inherently peaceful version of religion. Note that the Dalai Lama (rather than the pope) was asked to provide the inaugural address at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in 2005, even though, like Catholicism, Tibetan Buddhism includes beliefs (think reincarnation) that are anathema to medical science. Likewise, though Japanese Buddhists melted their temple bells to make bombs during World War II, the idea of Buddhism as a peace-loving religion persists as an enduring fantasy in Western people's minds. And yet, such fantasies are instructive nonetheless.
Though some of my more devout Buddhist associates may balk at the idea, these days I have increasingly come to see Buddhism in America as an elaborate thought experiment being conducted by society at large--from the serious practitioner who meditates twice daily to the person who remarks in passing, "Well, if I had to be something, I guess I'd be a Buddhist." The object of that experiment is not to import some "authentic" version of Buddhism from Asia, as some believe, but to imagine a new model for religion altogether--one that is nondogmatic, practice-based and peaceful.
In that case, all the more reason to keep Buddhism in America alive. But to keep that experiment running (as it must if it is ever to yield practical results for the broader religious culture), it has to get itself grounded in the realities of American family life. That is why I tell every Buddhist I meet these days to make friends with a local priest or rabbi and ask what kinds of programs he (or she) is offering for children and families. For if Buddhism has much to offer the West, it surely has much to receive as well. Whatever new religious model is going to emerge over the next 100 years as the result of the inevitable cross-pollination of religious cultures in America, one can only hope that it will preserve the best of East and West.-- Mr. Clark Strand is a contributing editor to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and the author of "How to Believe in God (Whether You Believe in Religion or Not)," forthcoming from Doubleday Religion.
06 November 2007
AN ORTHODOX IN CONVERSATION WITH A PROTESTANT
ORTHO: Theotokos is greek for " Mother of God".
PROTEST: I have a problem with calling her "Mother of God".
ORTHO: Then, who was she the mother of?
PROTEST: She gave birth to Jesus.
ORTHO: And giving birth makes you a...
OTHRO: Then Mary was the mother of...
ORTHO: And Jesus is...
ORTHO: Then Mary is the Mother of God.
PROTEST: I have a problem with calling her that.
04 November 2007
Illusion is impermanent (anicca).
Illusion is inconstant (dukkha).
Illusion is bounded (anatta).
Reality is permanent (nicca).
Reality is constant (sukha).
Reality is unbounded (atta).
Existence includes both illusion and reality.
Illusion in itself is imperfect.
Reality in itself is imperfect.
The marriage of illusion and reality,
when man becomes God, or
when God becomes man,
is the realm of Perfection.
The consummation of the marriage
is hidden in maya.
Sneak up behind maya,
in the other direction,
and you find the key
the ever-blissful, ever-powerful, ever-present
of Beloved and Lover.
03 November 2007
For hard-core maya-heads:
One concern that may arise in discussing monism in Saiva Siddhanta is that to accept an ultimate identity between God and soul (monism) would be tantamount to adopting Adi Sankara's (788-820) Advaita Vedanta philosophy. In fact, the pluralistic arguments above were originally formulated as a refutation of his Vedanta. This concern can easily be allayed. Saiva Siddhanta and the Vedanta expressed in the Vedas are not two irreconcilable views. Tayumanavar sang, "Vedanta is the fruit on the tree of Siddhanta." Satguru Siva Yogaswami taught us that "Siva is the God of Vedanta and of illustrious Siddhanta," and "Vedanta and Siddhanta we do not see as different" (nt. 166, 41, 64, 87). Monistic Saiva Siddhanta embodies both Siddhanta and Vedanta. More precisely, Vedanta is the summit of the vast mountain of Siddhanta; monistic Siddhanta is the whole, and Vedanta is the part, the highest part of that whole. Here we speak of Vedanta not as the denial of all but the Absolute, as in Sankara's view, which regards maya, meaning the entire manifest creation, including the soul and its evolution, as an illusion. Rather, we speak of the original and pristine Vedanta of the Upanishads, a perspective that accepts maya as Siva's grace in form rather than deluding appearance. To the Siddhantin, the world is Sivamaya ("made of Siva"), God's gift to mankind. While Advaita Vedantins hold that the world is nothing but maya (by which is meant illusion) and the greatest obstacle to Brahmavidya, "knowledge of God," Siddhantins see this world as Siva's gracious way of leading us to union with Him.
Let me elaborate for a moment on these two perspectives on maya. One is that maya is illusion, that this world is merely an appearance and not ultimately real at all. The other is that maya is God's loving creation, real and important for our spiritual progress. Devotees ask, "Which is correct? Can it be both?" In every aspect of the path there is the highest and the lowest and the in-between look at things, depending on where you are: on the mountainside, on the top or at the bottom. From Absolute Consciousness, maya is illusion, this is true -- an illusion to be disregarded, a barrier perpetuating the all-pervasiveness of consciousness which, from an even higher realization, is also an illusion. We are speaking of the contest between Parashiva being the Absolute and Satchidananda being the Absolute. So, the dual, dual/nondual and the nondual are the yogi's frustration in these higher states of mind. Once timeless, causeless, spacelessness is realized, all of this falls naturally into place. One sees form, time and causation as an illusion, a relative reality, and within it the mechanism of its own perpetuation of creation, preservation and destruction every microsecond, every second, every hour of every day of every year in the great cycles of time. This is maya. Its complexities are even greater than mathematical equations of all kinds.
So, you have a true/true and you have a true. True/true is seen by the Paramatman, the soul that has realized Parashiva. And the true is seen by the atman who has realized the all-pervasiveness of God. One is on the brink of the Absolute, and the other is the Absolute. Being on the brink of the Absolute is true, but being the Absolute and breaking the seal is the true/true. There you see all of the acts of Siva's play, in all of its many manifestations. Then there is the false/true. The false/true is understanding the true/true and the true, and being able to explain them intellectually but being devoid of experience. The true/true and the true are both of experience.
God Siva has endowed all creation of form with three of His powers, creation, preservation and destruction, and all life, as it is known, maintains itself. A flower creates, preserves and destroys. Microscopic organisms create, preserve and destroy. Because everything is not creating, preserving and destroying at the same time -- the process creates various densities of form, which we Saiva Siddhantins call relative reality. Those who don't understand the creative processes of Siva and the yoga processes of seeing through the ajna chakra, may consider the external world as illusory and a hindrance, or a temptation, to their desire for moksha. Therefore, they emphasize the concept of giving up desire, which is the desire to enter the illusory world and become part of the illusion, thereby giving up advaita; whereas monistic Saiva Siddhantins identify closely to Siva and, as an extension of His will, knowledgeably create, preserve and destroy, and understand themselves. Other organisms do likewise, but without being totally aware of these three functions.
I see maya both as creation, preservation and destruction -- and as illusion. The mechanism and the fact form the perspective of Parashiva. You have to realize that when the seal at the crown chakra is broken, the whole perspective changes and you see everything from the inside out, and you, to yourself, are the center of the universe. There is no doubt about it. And every manifestation of maya, which itself is manifestation, and the intricacies of anava and the complexities of karma can be and are seen through.
01 November 2007
Various philosophical traditions, both East (Advaita Vedanta, e.g.) and West (certain esoteric systems), have been criticized for positing that what we humans normally think of as reality is actually an "illusion". In a critical essay on the cinematic phenomenon entitled The Matrix, an insightful commentator contrasts the radically non-dualist notion of "illusion" and the Christian belief that reality, or creation, is "good":
Christians don't believe that this whole world is deceptiveCertainly, one can interpret the radically non-dualist idea of the phenomenonal creation as "illusion" in a negative manner: since creation is illusion, it must be deceptive, untrustworthy, false; and thus living a normal life within the family, within the world, within phenomenal creation, must be abandoned, ignored, and rejected. But to interpret "illusion" thusly is to forget the total context that "illusion" operates within radical non-dualism. To interpret "illusion" thusly would be analogous to focusing on the Christian idea of eternal damnation at the expense of the more primary idea of God's infinite mercy and love. It would also be analogous to stressing the Buddhist idea of all phenomenal events as "dukkha", or "unsatisfactory", while forgetting that the very existence of the "un-satisfactory" in Buddhism guarantees the possibility of realizing the "satisfactory", or nibbana/nirvana.
illusion ("maya"). We believe that it is created good, very good, and filled
with the presence of God. "The heavens are telling the glory of God" (Ps
19:1). All creation reveals his presence. It isn't saying, "Look over there!"
to keep us distracted from him.
There are two senses in which "illusion" is used. In the radical non-dualism suggested by Meher Baba, "illusion" is contrasted with permanence-constancy-infinity: "illusion" is thus that which is impermanent, inconstant, and finite. However, permanence-constancy-infinity, being truly infinite, also indeed contains and includes "illusion", ultimately. Thus, the impermanent, the inconstant, the finite is really God, or Reality, or Truly Good.
However, most of us haven't realize this equation. So the second sense of "illusion" means "false attachment". False attachment to lust, anger, and greed perpetuates the belief that the impermanent, the inconstant, and the finite are not really God, not really Reality, not Truly Good. It is illusion-as-false-attachment that is truly deceptive and debilitating, because it blocks and prevents seeing God, Reality, and the Truly Good in, through, and as the impermanent, the inconstant, and the finite. However, even false attachment to lust, anger, and greed serves a higher purpose: they allow us to fully experience what it means to be distanced and separated from God, and thus to infinitely appreciate the Godness of God when God is realized.
Consciousness and awareness of the non-God, of creation, of the impermanent, of the inconstant, and of the finite, is the only way to allow consciousness and awareness of God to flower. To be deceived into thinking that the non-God exists is part of the process of spiritual maturation. The purpose of creation is to see God in, through, and as creation. The purpose of creation is truly good, even if our current perception of creation as non-God is a perception that does not represent the ultimate fulfillment of human happiness.