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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Infinite Minus Infinite is Infinite...


Inspired by the Questions of Śaunaka, Suta Continues

Suta looked deeply within himself. He reflected for a moment, cleared his throat, and began:
“Mahārāja Parīkṣit began his life as the son of Uttarā burned in the womb by the fire weapon of the envious Aśvatthama. That weapon would have burned him to death if Kṛṣṇa Himself had not intervened. Now, after hearing atma-tattva from the esteemed Śukadeva that king meditated fully upon Lord Kṛṣṇa.
At the time of death, most men do their best to enjoy every last moment with their adoring wife and family. But Mahārāja Parīkṣit was moved by transcendental knowledge and divine love. So inspired, he left behind his love for all things of this world, including even his own body. His affection for his wife, his children, and his family evaporated. Inspired by divine love, he had no interest in his royal opulence, his wealth, his palace and army, or even his favorite horses and elephants. He no longer had any interest in friends and relatives, or even his throne of empire.

Suta said, “Esteemed friends: the king on the cusp of death was deep in the rapture of divine love. He left behind all mundane forms of dharma, artha, kāma, and even “salvation.” In this way he became firmly fixed in divine love for Kṛṣṇa. So absorbed, he put his questions to Śukadeva, much in the same way as Śaunaka here has put his questions to me.”

Suta continued, “And that great king actually attained perfection through listening. He had great respect for Śukadeva. Sitting before that sixteen-year-old boy, Mahārāja Parīkṣit spoke as follows.”
“King Parīkṣita said, ‘My dear brāhmaṇa, as a pure soul you know past, present, and future. Your words are true. Your speech enlightens the dark night of my soul, for you speak of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, reality the beautiful. I feel enlightened just by listening to you. Your speech is food for my hungry soul. Please continue. Tell me of the creation, of the origin of these worlds. Even the gods cannot conceive of the unlimited cosmos. How does the Godhead, by His personal energies, create all these universes?
“I am curious,” the King said. “How does the Absolute, who is By Himself and For Himself, unfold and unwind these worlds through his energies? How does he dissolve the phenomenal worlds and again manifest them? It seems to me that He plays with the universe as a child plays with toys. How does He engage different personal expansions and mystical powers in the creation and expansion of the physical cosmos?”
“I know this is all beyond my ability to understand, but I wonder at these supernatural acts of God. It think it must be inconceivable because even the best minds fail to understand them. And yet, you seem supremely qualified and divinely inspired.
Infinite from Infinite leaves Infinite
“I understand that The Infinite is always Infinite, whether He exists beyond this creation or interacts with the modes of material nature.
“If the infinite is subtracted from the infinite, it remains infinite. This is difficult for me to understand.
“And if the infinite is divided and simultaneously expands in myriads of forms and avatars, He still remains transcendentally situated in His Original Form as the Personality of Godhead. This is inconceivable.
“’Then again, even if the Infinite Absolute expands again and again to conduct the the physical manifestation through the modes of nature, He is still Infinite. I’m not sure I know how to explain all this properly. ‘
“Mahārāja Parīkṣita said, “’The ways of God are inconceivable even to highly learned scholars. I am only a king, a mere politician, condemned to spend time with warriors, with women and with weapons. Your weapons are knowledge, and you are well-armed. Please explain these things to me clearly. Not only are you the son of Vyāsa himself, not only are you trained in the inner meaning of the Vedas by their very author, not only are you self-realized in transcendence: but you are also a great devotee of the Lord. For me, you are as good as the Personality of Godhead Himself, for you are blessed with all divine mercy to explain such conclusions, and I am eager to hear from you.’”
Sūta Gosvāmī said: “When the King asked Śukadeva to explain the divine creative power of God, he fell silent for a while. He knew that the power of speech was given to him only by God. If his words were to have any meaning he would need to become His instrument. He prayed deeply to God, as “Controller of the Senses,” and concentrated on Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He prayed for the mercy to speak correctly and spoke as follows.

“Śukadeva said,
श्रीशुक उवाच
नमः परस्मै पुरुषाय भूयसे सदुद्भवस्थाननिरोधलीलया
गृहीतशक्तित्रितयाय देहिनाम् अन्तर्भवायानुपलक्ष्यवर्त्मने
śrī-śuka uvāca
namaḥ parasmai puruṣāya bhūyase
gṛhīta-śakti-tritayāya dehinām

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Balm for the Soul

Discussions: Mundane and Divine

In the forest of Naimisharanya, Suta had been speaking at great length about the curse of the dying king Pariksita and the boy sage Shukadeva, who spoke soul-soothing words of comfort. And as he told the story, he did not tire. All heard carefully. That great sage, disciple of Vyāsa who had already narrated the entire Mahābhārata continued:

“Śrī Shukadev said: ‘O King. Maharaj Parīkṣit, as you have inquired from me as to the duty of the intelligent man who is on the threshold of death, so I have answered you. There are different classes of men at different stages of development in terms of their consciousness.

There is gradation everywhere. Some want material success, others want salvation, still others think of liberation in terms of becoming one with the absolute. There are many different so-called religious practices one may perform for different results. You will find different recommendations in different scriptures. They all attain their different results according to their religious practice. And yet, a person who has reached a higher level of consciousness may achieve whatever he wants through bhakti-yoga, by dedicating himself to the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

अकामः सर्वकामो वा मोक्षकाम उदारधीः
तीव्रेण भक्तियोगेन यजेत पुरुषं परम्

akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param SB 2.3.10)

“’The best religious practice therefore, is that of divine love.

एतावान् एव यजताम् इह निःश्रेयसोदयः
भगवत्य् अचलो भावो यद् भागवतसङ्गतः

etāvān eva yajatām iha niḥśreyasodayaḥ
bhagavaty acalo bhāvo yad bhāgavata-saṅgataḥ

“’Leaving aside questions about which religious practice is best, think of the value of being in the company of great souls. In fact, the association of a saintly devotee, a true bhāgavata, awards all benediction on all kinds of worshipers. In fact, all different religious worshipers can attain the highest benediction of divine love simply by keeping company with a pure devotee of the Lord. (2.3.11)

ज्ञानं यद् आप्रतिनिवृत्तगुणोर्मिचक्रम्
आत्मप्रसाद उत यत्र गुणेष्व् असङ्गः
कैवल्यसम्मतपथस् त्व् अथ भक्तियोगः
को निर्वृतो हरिकथासु रतिं न कुर्यात्

jñānaṁ yad āpratinivṛtta-guṇormi-cakram ātma-prasāda uta yatra guṇeṣv asaṅgaḥ kaivalya-sammata-pathas tv atha bhakti-yogaḥ ko nirvṛto hari-kathāsu ratiṁ na kuryāt
(SB 2.3.12)

“’All these questions are interesting, but we want real knowledge, which benefits all religious faiths.

“’Who could fail to be attracted by real knowledge?’ said Shukadeva. ‘Transcendental knowledge means ending the waves and whirlpools of the world of misconception. Transcendental knowledge means pure consciousness in relation with the Supreme Lord Hari. Saints and sages consider this knowledge as true self-realization, free from material attachment. ‘“

Suta Goswāmi paused. The story of Śukadeva and Parīkṣita held all the sages who heard it in rapt attention. Astonished, they sat quietly and listened as Suta recalled that great conversation. Here was indeed satisfying balm for the soul.

After a time, the sun moved lower in the heavens. The saints gathered there reflected on the words of Śukadeva. Their leader, who had been chosen for his sagacity, cleared his throat.

Śaunaka said, “O vastly learned Suta. Vyasa’s son was a highly learned sage and poet. What further questions did that king have after hearing all that he had said? We know you are only beginning. Please continue. We are all eager to hear more. This assembly is pleased by your discourse. Transcendentalists everywhere appreciate hearing about Lord Hari. We have heard of Parīkṣit, the grandson of the Pandavas. That great king was a krishna-bhakta from childhood.”

As Śaunaka spoke, he became more animated. He said, “Even as a boy the young prince would imitate the worship of Krishna, at play with dolls. While Śukadeva the son of Vyāsadeva, was not only full in wisdom but also a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva.

“You can’t stop with these simple ideas about worship, as profound as they may be. We want to hear more. In their conversation there must have a deeper discussion of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is glorified by great philosophers and in the company of great devotees.

“Your discourse is highly auspicious. We want to hear more.

“O Suta, this is true conversation, for it enlivens the soul.

“There are so many mundane subjects for conversation, but here we can hear the truth. Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except for one such as your good self, who spends his time by teaching the stories of Bhagavan Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

“Some might call ordinary life living; but even trees live, don’t they?

“As for breath, the blacksmith’s bellows breathe. The birds and beasts eat, sleep, mate, and defend themselves. What distinguishes human life, if not the ability to contemplate the divine?

Śaunaka became more excited. His eyes twinkled and gleamed with delight. “I would go so far as to say that those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the deliverer from evils are like dogs, hogs, camels and asses! One who has not listened to the amazing deeds of Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Personality of Godhead, one who never sings the glories of the Lord has earholes like the holes of snakes!”

“Why, his tongue is the tongue of a frog who croaks to call the snakes of death closer. His finely turbaned head is a hat-rack only, if not bowed down before the Lord. And his hands, may have fine bracelets but they are like the hands of a corpse if used in the service of the Personality of Godhead Hari.”

The sages nodded their heads in agreement. They were hungry to hear more. Śaunaka said, “Why, my dear Suta, eyes that never see His holy form are like the eyes on peacock feathers and legs that never visit holy places are mere tree trunks.” The sages smiled.

Śaunaka said, “One who has never taken dust of a devotee’s feet on his head, or has never savored the aroma of a tulasī leaf is dead while breathing.”

Śaunaka stood up and looked around him, casting his glance on the assembly as if to see who there might dare disagree with his empassioned words. “Stone-hearted are they whose hearts are not moved in ecstasy when chanting the holy name of the God: Hare Krishna!” The devotees there smiled.

“O Sūta Gosvāmī, your words are pleasing to our minds. Recite the holy Bhāgavata to us just as it was spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī, to Mahārāja Parīkṣit. This is my humble request, speaking on behalf of all the great saints gathered here.”

Suta Goswāmī bowed his head before the assembly. He was humbled by the praise of the learned Śaunaka. He concentrated deeply and did his best to remember the divine conversation between Śukadeva and the King.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Simple Living and Divine Meditation

Simple Living, and Divine Meditation

Since Pantheism is ultimately a shallow view of the divine, Śukadeva Goswāmī begins to take the conversation deeper. He observes that the creator of the universe, the four-headed Lord Brahmā, after awakening from a long sleep, rekindled his dormant remembrance of God by meditating on the Universal form. Once having achieved enlightenment again, he set about recreating the cosmos as it was before. 

 In this way, his forgetfulness was transcended. As we are all prone to forgetfulness, we may learn from the example of the creator. This world of names bewilders our intelligence. Even the Vedas which were given by Śukadeva’s father to lead us from the wilderness offers confusing promises about the afterlife. Led on by false promises of heaven, common men strive after karmic deeds of great proposition. But endless karma in the circle of birth and death leads nowhere but to the grave.

“O King,” said Śukadeva, “Make your life simple. The enlightened soul should strive for no more than needed in this world of names. Be fixed in divine intelligence. Let God be your guide. Why work hard for nothing in this world of misunderstanding when we must leave everything behind?”

“O King,” said the boy, his lotus eyes unblinking, “What need is there for a royal bed and pillows of silk, when one has the soft earth for a bed and arms for pillows? Why do we need gold an silver spoons when we can use our fingers for eating? 

What need is there for fine embroidered cloth, when the skins of trees will do for covering our bodies? And if we must have rags to wear, are there no rags lying in the street? Have the trees stopped bearing fruits? Do the rivers no longer flow and give their waters to the thirsty? Have the mountain caves closed up their mouths? Do they no longer offer shelter to the wise men who seek refuge there? 

Does God no longer shelter the surrender souls? Why then do we need strive for wealth? Live simply. Have faith. Why work so hard for nothing in this world of woe when we must leave it all behind?
“I know that sometimes saints and sages fall prey to insecurity. They sometimes worship wealthy donors and flatter men who are intoxicated by gold and silver. You have seen such men. But the renounced order of life is not for parasites and sycophants. Have firm conviction on the path and do not waver. Live a simple life. If you are hungry you can find a generous tree with ample fruits. When you are thirsty you may find a river. There is no need to live like a hypocrite. Try to see the Lord in the heart.

“He is there. He is within you. By living such a simple life, dedicated to this meditation, gradually you will understand: the Lord is in the heart. Serve Him. Understand your soul and see God in the Universe. Meditate and you will find Him in your heart. Serve Him and you will see: the eternal unlimited Bhagavan will make Himself known to you. He is the ultimate goal of life. Do bhajan to Him and become free from this saṃsāra.”

“Only a fool will reject this advice and go on living in this temporary dream-world of names, this world of misconception. Look around and you will see so many souls lost in the river of misunderstanding, drowning in their own karma. But those who are wise in the ways of transcendence rise above this world of misery. 

Leaving aside all superficial meditations, they see the fourhanded Lord Himself in 8-inch area of the heart; He holds the lotus, the chakra, conch. and club. His eyes are like lotus petals and His lotus mouth is joy; adorned with golden cloth and flowers He shines, bedecked with jewels. Remember this transcendental form. I shall describe more in due time.”

Cosmic Meditation

Cosmic Meditation

Śukadeva Goswāmī  is recommending a kind of “pantheism” here in the second canto of the Bhagavat. Pantheism is a basic form of meditation, useful for beginners. He is at the beginning of a long conversation and will give full attention to all aspects of the Godhead. But he starts his conversation with a very general idea; after all, he is doing his best to give comfort to a dying man. Remember that Mahārāja Parīkṣita is on the verge of death and has asked the young Śukadeva to explain how he can better control the mind.
Śukadeva Goswāmī will give full attention to his question in depth, but he begins here with a general suggestion: “Try to see God everywhere. See God in his creation.”

Pantheism identifies God with the universe. This meditation sees the comos as a manifestation of God, reality as a function of divinity. Through this kind of meditation, one may see God in his blueprint for the universe.

Bhaktivedānta Swāmī titles this chapter, “The first step in God realization,” since pantheistic meditation, while useful in a general sense, is ultimately superficial.

Bhaktivedānta Swāmī comments, “Materialistic philosophers and scientists are too much engrossed with atomic energy and the gigantic situation of the universal form, and they offer respect more seriously to the external phenomenal feature of material manifestations than to the noumenal principle of spiritual existence.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

The transcendental form of the Lord is beyond the jurisdiction of such materialistic activities, and it is very difficult to conceive that the Lord can be simultaneously localized and all-pervasive, because the materialistic philosophers and scientists think of everything in terms of their own experience.”

Since it is difficult to realize the Personal aspect of the Godhead, one may think of divinity by contemplating the virāṭ-rūpa. or “God as Universe” model. This form of pantheism has been explained here by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. 

Ordinary materialistic philosophy can barely penetrate beyond this conception. Śukadeva encourages us to begin by considering the universe as the outward manifestation of divinity, and to use our intelligence to meditate on God in the diverse manifestations of the material world: as a great forest, or mountain; as the oceans, as well as in the birds, the beasts, man and god. Every aspect of cosmic manifestation may be seen as a part of the divine “body” of God. This will be a useful meditation for understanding our place in the universe.

Of course, there is nothing eternal or transcendent about mountains of earth or vast bodies of water. They are all temporary. A deeper meditation must come to the eternal plane, the world of divine reality beyond this temporal plane. That is why this explanation is only the beginning. Śukadeva Goswāmī will take the conversation much further towards the realm of infinite spiritual ecstasy, sat, cit, ānanda. But the process of concentrating the mind on the greatness of God, on His plan and design for the universe, will gradually diminish the demands of the mind. This is a basic meditation, that in the end may lead to a higher development in consciousness and ultimately bhakti. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Meditation: Cosmos

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour." William Blake

The Universal Form

Since anger was at the root of Parīkṣit Mahārāja’s predicament, he is especially curious as to how to control the mind. Whether Parīkṣit Mahārāja is asking this question for our own benefit, having already conquered his own anger, or whether he himself is in crisis, the question is especially valuable. How can we control our anger? Anger is an especially destructive emotion, capable of ruining our spiritual progress.

The King asked, “Can you please explain more about the mind, O saintly one. How can I apply my mind so that I can always see God? And what can I do to avoid negative thinking?”

At this point, Śukadeva Goswāmī recommends a form of pantheism, whereby it is possible to see God everywhere. How to intuit God’s presence? According to the Upanishads God’s presence is continuous throughout the creation within and without. The ancient Śrī Iśopaṇiṣad (mantra 5) says:

तद् एजति तन् नैजति तद् दूरे तद् व् अन्तिके 
तद् अन्तर् अस्य सर्वस्य तद् उ सर्वस्यास्य बाह्यतः
tad ejati tan naijati tad dūre tad v antike 
tad antar asya sarvasya tad u sarvasyāsya bāhyataḥ

God is everywhere, within and without. But how to see how He is manifest in every situation? No molecule or atomic is so small that God’s presence is excluded from it, and no galaxy so vast that God’s presence does not circumscribe it. 

The definition of God as 'an infinite sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere' has often been attributed to Ramkrishna, but its roots are found in the Liber XXIV philosophorum, ascribed to the fourth-century grammarian and philosopher Marius Victorinus. 

But it isn’t necessary to reach so far back into time or refer to the writings of antiquity to have a real experience of the divine.

In fact, a practical experience of divinity is at the core of the Bhagavat’s teachings. The Bhagavat is exclusively theistic: Where Mahābhārata is interested in the history of kings and their struggles to establish an Indian society based on religious principles, the Bhagavat is constantly focusing on the problem of understanding God. Ordinary “religious” principles which regulate society aren’t in focus here. What is in focus is communion with the divine, especially bhakti or divine love. Śukadeva’s teachings on communion are as vital today as when they were first spoken thousands of years ago.

Meditation as Communion

Communion involves a real experience of divinity. The Bhagavat describes different levels of religious experience. Śukadeva gives the king a simple answer here. “God is everywhere,” he says. “Learn to see God everywhere and it will be easy to control the mind.”

Learn to see God everywhere...

True perfection in mystic yoga will be possible only for those who develop bhakti, divine love, dedication. But sometimes progress is gradual. Before going on to describe the pastimes of the Personal Godhead in the 10th Canto of the Bhagavat, Śukadeva is giving help to those on the beginning levels of higher consciousness.
“Learn to see God everyhwere and in all things,” he says. By feeling the presence of divinity everywhere the mind will become accustomed to the devotional conception and eventually make perfection in divine love possible. 

 One may wonder why a great devotee such as Śukadeva Goswāmī would bother advocating such an apparently trivial point of view. Śukadeva is offering comfort here to a dying man, desperate for answers. Since controlling the mind is a challenge for us all, we would do well to pay attention to the lesson. Here, Śukadeva teaches us not only how to control the mind by remembering God, but how to have a real experience of divinity in the moment through meditation on His omnipresence.

Śukadev explained that while engaged in yoga practice, one may meditate in such a way that one may see God everywhere and in all things.

Śukadeva said, “One may sit in the proper yoga posture, controlling one’s breath through prāṇāyāma. While controlling the mind and senses through yoga one may meditate on the virat-rupa.”
“Think of this universe as the outward form of God. Think of the phenomenal world with the universal elements as His body with the lower planets as his feet and the higher stars and constellations as his head. Think of the higher subtle worlds as his mind and intelligence and the hellish planets as his feet.

Śukadeva continued: “ Thunder, lightning, and all material phenomenon proceed from his arms who are the gods, beginning with Indra.  The ten directions are  His ears and physical sound is His hearing. Aroma is His sense of sense. Where you see fire, think of Him. Fire is his all-consuming mouth. The galaxies that expand into Infinite space form His eye-sockets.

Think of the sun as the eye of God. His divine and watchful eye is always overhead. The creator is His angry eye-brow and His eyelids are day and night. His palate is the god of water, the juice of life is His tongue. He is the taste in water. Whenever you taste water think on Him.

“His thought is the Veda; His jaws are death, and maya His smile. The entire manifestation of cosmic energy is His glance. Religion is His breast and irreligion His back. Think of the ocean as His undulating waste and the mountains as the stacks of His bones.

“In your meditation you may think of the rivers as his veins and arteries, forests as the hairs on his body and the everpresent wind as his breath. The ages of time are the movements of the Hand of God, and the reactions of the three influences of nature are the acts of God Himself.”

Śukadeva said, “O King, best of the Kurus: in this way you can meditate on God everywhere and everything in Him. As you look to the sky, think of the water-bearing clouds as the silver hair on His head, and the sunrise and sunset as His golden robes.”

“Think of the plan for creation as His design, emblematic of his intelligence. Meditate on the ever-chaning moon with its silver rays as His mind. The songs of colorful birds represent his artistry. Within human civilization the brahmanas represent His head, the Kṣatriyas His arms, His legs the vaiśyas and the śudras His feet.

Śukadeva said, “Through this kind of analysis and meditation one may see God everywhere and remember that His watchful eye is overhead, within and without. By meditating on this universal conception of divinity one may control the mind and, ultimately, attain liberation. By seeing in this way, one eventually comes to a higher level of consciousness concerning divinity.”

In this prelimary teaching of Śukadeva, we see that God may be directly perceived through natural phenomena: the sun is the eye of God; the rain that falls from heaven reminds of his mercy; thirst reflects rasa.

The virata-rupa however is not to be taken literally. There is no ten-thousand foot God with mountains for bones and rain for eyes to threaten us as we stand in awe. This is not the meaning of the parable that Śukadeva is teaching.

Śukadeva doesn’t say that trees are the “hair on God’s head,” or that rain is made of “God’s tears.” He is suggesting that we may see God in His design. This suggestion is especially meant for neophytes and materialists who can hardly believe in God without a suitable metaphor. So, here, Śukadeva Goswāmī is speaking metaphorically.
Of course, Indra is not “the arm of God,” in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense. That is to say, that when we speak of a hurricane as an “Act of God,” the person responsible, i.e. the raingod would be the instrument or “arm” that provoked that act.

Otherwise we would find a contradiction here in that Śukadeva first identifies trees as the “hairs on God’s head,” and in the same breath identifies “clouds as the hairs on God’s head.” But Śukadeva is speaking poetically, and we should give him some license to develop his argument: over the course of the 18,000 verses of the Bhagavata his argument shall be made clear.

Śukadeva is describing the method by which a true mystic arrives at what is called “theophany” or divine revelation, making it clear that this vision is available to anyone who wishes to concentrate on the greatness of God. When the sun is referred to as the “Eye of God,” this is to suggest that we are all within His divine vision. The sun stands for divine consciousness. If minute consciousness exists and if divine consciousness exists they must have means of communion. Which means if you can perceive God, He can also perceive you. While the sun may not be the physical instrument of God’s perception, since communion with the divine is metaphysical, still the sun suggests the existence of a higher power. The light of the sun suggests a higher kind of light. The idea of Śukadeva’s meditation is to realize that God is great.

This approach may be of special use to agnostics and others who question the idea of God. Scientists are so determined to arrive at conclusions through argument and logic that they often miss the self-evident truths of consciousness. And yet they have some appreciation of aspects of the “universal form.”
20th century scientists were often mystics, astounded by the universe. J. Robert Oppenheimer, awed by the power of the atom, had read the Bhagavad-gita. He was familiar with the passage, where Krishna reveals his universal form, and quoted the following at the very moment of the first atomic bomb blast:
“Arjuna saw in that universal form unlimited mouths and unlimited eyes. It was all wondrous. The form was decorated with divine, dazzling ornaments and arrayed in many garbs. He was garlanded gloriously, and there were many scents smeared over His body. All was magnificent, all-expanding, unlimited. This was seen by Arjuna.
If hundreds of thousands of suns rose up at once into the sky, they might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form. The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people.”

The Virata-rupa was once revealed in its terrible totality to Arjuna who trembled in fear. The author of the atomic bomb Oppenheimer was similarly impressed, and remembered Arjuna’s amazement.

Great scientists see God in His blueprint for the universe. 

By wondering at the microcosm and the macrocosm; by exploring subatomic particles at the micro-level of the cosmos and by gazing in awe at the massive power of a black hole at the macro-level of the cosmos thoughtful scientists see the hand of God.
Einstein, saw a divine hand who didn’t “play dice with the universe.”

Einstein would make mystical references to “a superior mind,” or “illimitable superior spirit,” or a “mysterious force that moves the constellations.”
Einstein said, “That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”

This is an example of “seeing God” through the “universal form.” In his beginning remarks to the sages of Naimisharanya, in his introduction to the Bhāgavata, Sūta Goswāmī enumerates the various incarnations of God, the avatars of Krishna. After explaining how divinity manifests in various incarnations, he mentions the Virata-rupa, or Universal Form, in passing:

एतद् रूपं भगवतो ह्य् अरूपस्य चिद्-आत्मनः माया-गुणैर् विरचितं महदादिभिर् आत्मनि
etad rūpaṁ bhagavato hy arūpasya cid-ātmanaḥ māyā-guṇair viracitaṁ mahadādibhir ātmani

“The conception of the virāṭ universal form of the Lord, as appearing in the material world, is imaginary. It is to enable the less intelligent [and neophytes] to adjust to the idea of the Lord's having form. But factually the Lord has no material form.”

The idea is that these descriptions are helpful for novices on the path. Since it is difficult for ordinary people to conceive of a metaphysical reality, they may be encouraged to think of the universe itself as transcendent. The “universal form of God” or God as universe is an imaginary exercise, since the Absolute Truth transcends the material nature of the universe. And yet, by conceiving of a higher power, we achieve transcendence through meditation.

Since it is impossible to see God with our material mind and sense, we are encouraged to consider his external aspect. This is something like understanding the presence of an important man by seeing his airplane. We hear a sonic boom and see Air Force One coursing through the sky. We say, “There goes the President.” Of course the President is not his air plane; We identify the airplane with the President. In the same way, those who wish to see God immediately may perceive His existence by meditating on the cosmos as his outward form.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ser y Conciencia XV Conversaciones Profundas

Consciencia y Ser XIV: Evidencia, el Bhāgavat
Conversación y el Bhāgavat
Como ya hemos visto, la conversación acerca del alma ha iluminado a la humanidad desde tiempo inmemorial. Y sin embargo la cualidad de una conversación se denomina por el nivel de sus participantes.
La Biblia surgió de las enseñanzas de los profetas que vagaban en el desierto buscando la verdad. La Academia griega de Platón estaba basada en la idea de sostener conversaciones con los jóvenes de la élite de Atenas, mientras que Jesús conversaba con carpinteros y pescadores.
La Enseñanza de Cristo
Mahoma tal vez pudo haber conversado con el ángel Gabriel, pero las enseñanzas del Corán apuntan a las tribus nómadas árabes del siglo IX.
El contraste es sorprendente. Y aunque cada religión aspira a la universalidad, muchas doctrinas se desenvuelven entre las leyes morales y éticas. Estas doctrinas guían a la sociedad secular en establecer los principios en los que la sociedad se gobierna. Pero mientras las leyes religiosas no dan un marco a través del cual juzgar el pecado y la piedad, el bien y el mal, lo bueno y lo malo, estas reglas se quedan cortas para poder contemplar la realidad última.
El dharma social, o “consciencia social” es un componente esencial de una civilización saludable, de acuerdo con Rousseau y otros. El Mahābharata está lleno de reglas y consejos acerca de cómo debemos vivir. Tal como la Biblia tiene el Levítico, el cual está lleno de leyes dietéticas y proscripciones sexuales, el Bhisma Parva del Mahābharata tiene largos pasajes de las reglas para vivir, la etiqueta apropiada, e incluso el comportamiento imperial.
Los sabios de Naimisharanya entendieron esas reglas; conocían su lugar. Conocían el valor de esas leyes como “No matarás; no robarás; honrar a tu padre y a tu madre; no codiciar la mujer del prójimo. No cometer adulterio. No dar falso testimonio”, y demás.
Pero estos hombres no tenían interés en la violencia. No eran ladrones. No necesitaban que les digan que la honestidad era una virtud; eran honestos por naturaleza. Estos grandes yoguis y sabios estaban libres de lujuria: habían pasado muchos años en meditación. No estaban encantados con los objetos de los sentidos: ya estaban auto-satisfechos e iluminados. Estaban interesados en una enseñanza más elevada, algo que trascendía las leyes del gobierno mentiroso, el engaño y el robo.
Interesarse en lo elevado, en la verdad trascendental no significa que esos pensadores estaban en contra de las leyes. Como lo explica Bhaktivinod Ṭhākura. Los grandes reformadores siempre afirman que no han venido a destruir la ley sino a cumplirla. Valmiki, Vyāsa, Platón, Jesús, Mahoma, Confucio y Caitanya Mahāprabhu afirman este hecho ya sea a través de expresarlo o a través de su conducta.
Como lo dice el propio Cristo en Mateo 5.17, “No piensen que he venido a destruir la ley o lo profetas: No he venido a destruirla, sino a cumplirla.” Pero Cristo no procalmó la ley, sino que declaró como lo hizo en Lucas 10.27 “Amar a tu Dios con todo tu corazón y con toda tu alma y con toda tus fuerzas y con toda tu mente; y ‘ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo’”.
Pero ¿Qué es “Amar a Dios?” ¿Cómo puede ser alcanzado?  Mientras Cristo proclama el amor por Dios como la verdad más elevada, no elabora su significado; más bien habla en parábolas.
Después de todo está hablando con gente sencilla. Su mensaje sencillo de Amor está mezclado con una amonestación para seguir la ley. Tiene que considerar a su audiencia. Incluso entonces, por la simple proclamación de amor como la nueva ley fue considerado por los romanos que obligaban a la ley como un transgresor. Mientras que el propio Jesús proclamaba no destruir la ley, los Romanos hallaron lo contrario. De hecho, lo trataron y condenaron a muerte por traición a causa de sus enseñanzas y ministerio.
¿Qué hubiera pasado si Cristo hubiera vivido y enseñado hasta su vejez? ¿Qué si se hubiera rodeado de almas dedicadas a los principios que él enseñó?
¿Qué clase de conversación hubiera sostenido?
Así, nos quedamos con el anhelo.
Pero la profunda conversación espiritual depende de la calidad de aquellos que contribuyen al diálogo.
Los “Diálogos” son interesantes, no únicamente porque Sócrates conduce la discusión, sino también porque los participantes en el diálogo: líderes de la antigua Atenas, estudiantes de Sócrates, el propio Platón, Jenofonte y Alcibíades.
¿Qué pasaría si tuviéramos acceso a un diálogo entre santos realizados e iluminados? ¿Qué si seres iluminados, libres de lujuria, ira, codicia, y una tendencia hacia la explotación conversaran acerca de la naturaleza de Dios, el Ser y las almas?
¿Qué pasaría si miles de grandes yoguis y sabios que nunca han pisado la tierra se reunieran? ¿Qué clase de conversación tendrían? ¿Qué si hubiera una reunión de verdaderas almas “parecidos a Cristo”  se reunieran a considerar asuntos como “¿Cuál es el bien absoluto?” y “¿Cual es la esencia del conocimiento de las Escrituras?” Y ¿qué si no tuvieran una agenda sectaria y estuvieran abiertos a escuchar, incluso a un niño de dieciséis años?
Esta conversación está extensamente registrada en el Bhāgavat Purana, el Bhāgavat anuncia en su primer verso que su único propósito es una discusión profunda de la verdad.
El libro descarta el “dharma social” como útil pero limitado y por ello no es digno de discusión. El Bhāgavat no es un libro de reglas lleno de dietas, y los síes y noes, Es un tratado de la mismísima naturaleza de la verdad espiritual.
¿Qué clase de libro es el Bhāgavat?
निगम-कल्प-तरोर् गलितं फलं
शुक-मुखाद् अमृत-द्रव-संयुतम्
पिबत भागवतं रसम् आलयम्
मुहुर् अहो रसिका भुवि भावुकाः

nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
 śuka-mukhād amṛta-drava-saṁyutam
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayam
 muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ..
“Es el fruto del árbol del pensamiento (Vedas= mezclado con el néctar del discurso de Sukadeva. ¡Es el templo del amor espiritual! ¡Oh! ¡Hombres Piadosos! Beban profunda y repetidamente éste néctar del Bhāgavat  hasta que sean tomados de este cuerpo mortal”.
El Garuda-purana, otro antiguo texto dice:
अर्थो ऽयं ब्रह्म-सूत्राणां
गायत्री-भाष्य-रूपो ऽसौ
पुराणानां साम-रूपः
द्वादश-स्कन्ध-युक्तो ऽयं
ग्रन्थो ऽष्टादश-साहस्रः
artho 'yaṁ brahma-sūtrāṇāṁ
gāyatrī-bhāṣya-rūpo 'sau
purāṇānāṁ sāma-rūpaḥ
dvādaśa-skandha-yukto 'yaṁ
grantho 'ṣṭādaśa-sāhasraḥ
El significado del Vedānta-sūtra está presente en el Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Todo el propósito del Mahābharata también se halla ahí. El comentario del Brahma-gāyatrī está ahí y completamente extendido junto con el conocimiento védico completo. El Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam es el Purana supremo, y fue compilado por la Suprema Personalidad de Dios en Su encarnación de Vyāsadeva. Contiene doce cantos, 335 capítulos y dieciocho mil versos. El Bhāgavat está compuesto de 18 mil ślokas. Contiene las mejores partes de los vedas y el Vedānta. Quienquiera que ha saboreado su dulce néctar, nunca más disfrutará leer ningún otro libro religioso. (Garuda Purana)
Bhaktivinod Ṭhākura dice, “El Bhāgavat es el libro preeminente de India. Una vez que entras en él, y que eres transportado, por así decirlo, hacia el mundo espiritual en donde no existe la materia burda. El verdadero seguidor del Bhāgavat es un hombre espiritual quien ha cortado ya su conexión temporal con la naturaleza fenomenal y quien se ha hecho un habitante de la región en donde Dios existe y ama eternamente. Esta poderosa obra se funda en la inspiración y su superestructura es la reflexión.
Para el lector ordinario no tiene ningún encanto y está lleno de dificultades. Nosotros, por ello, estamos obligados a estudiar su profundidad a través de la ayuda de esos grandes comentadores como Śrīdhara Swāmi y el divino Caitanya y Sus seguidores contemporáneos.”
Nadie puede decir hace cuántos siglos fue escrito el Bhāgavat. A través de los siglos, esos registros históricos se han perdido. Pero mientras nadie sepa la fecha exacta en que se compuso el Bhāgavat, el conocimiento y la sabiduría registrados ahí son eternos.
De acuerdo a la evidencia del Bhāgavat estas grandes series de conversaciones y diálogos entre los yoguis y los sabios se realizaron en un sitio antiguo de peregrinación llamado Naimisharanya.
Por ello en el sagrado bosque estos visionarios avanzados de la verdad se reunieron con el propósito del sacrificio. Como orador, escogieron a Śaunaka, quien era el más anciano y sabio, para que les representase.
Al escuchar la narración completa del Mahābharata, tenían algunas preguntas específicas para Suta.
Mientras que el Mahābharata se ocupa de las reglas y regulaciones de una sociedad humana apropiada, no penetra en lo profundo de la naturaleza de la realidad trascendental.
Estos santos estaban ansiosos de escuchar los verdaderos secretos del alma, especialmente con relación al amor divino, la etapa más elevada de consciencia. Ellos deseaban conocer acerca del Dios Supremo, la Persona conocida como Kṛṣṇa.
¿Cuál era la razón de los avatares? ¿Por qué Dios aparece y cuál es la enseñanza más elevada?