Every object in the world, including man, is a combination of the three gunas and the immortal, immutable, blissful Spirit. The rock, the plant, the invertebrate, the vertebrate, the mammal, are all combinations of matter and Spirit. Where does life come in in this scheme? Is not life the spirit? No. Life is material, and depends on the vital principle called the prana, and is a product of the rajas element. It is not conscious; it is constantly changing, it is ever in a state of flux. In nature, spirit is revealed as Existence, and also, in a veiled obscure way, as Consciousness. The organic part of nature makes a response to the outer stimuli. The organ of experience is the mind. The nature of experience is the quest of something once enjoyed or lying latent in the composition of the being of nature and yet revealing its existence in some subtle mysterious form.
Billions of universes of the past and billions of universes of the future have come from the fertile womb of Prakriti or Maya, under the direction of Ishwara, the Lord of Maya. The world and its contents, both organic and inorganic, are not the outcome of a blind force acting on matter. It is the will of the Lord that guides the evolution of matter into life and mind. What about the chaos in nature? It is our inadequacy of perception which sees the illusion of chaos. To the uneducated eye icicles have no order, but when scrutinised under a microscope each icicle reveals order, beauty and organisation of a very definite type.
In some places Paramahansa Rama Tirthaji calls God not the blind law of physics, but the intelligent working of the cosmic Mind, in nature. Both scepticism and agnosticism assume the existence of a force behind phenomena. But they call it unknown and unknowable, and the cautious, perhaps over-cautious, approach of Kant leads to the same conclusion, though not so emphatically. Spinoza was wise. He did not take shelter under the smoke-screen of agnosticism and scepticism. He postulated his spiritual substance of which both matter and mind are aspects.
In the Advaita ontology there is no such entity as the psyche of the modern psychologist. The psyche is material, without a real individual history, and has no future. It is not free and is subject to fate. When its functions are frustrated or impeded, it becomes abnormal. In no way does it resemble the Jiva, which is the architect of its own fate, which survives death, is partly material, but really spiritual, which is subject to the law of Karma, and can realise its great potentialities of Godhead.
The evolution of the Jiva takes place in an atmosphere of tranquillity, and freedom of its chief vehicle, the mind, from the disturbances of likes and dislikes, love and hate, pleasure and pain.
Love is the law of the most vital importance both in psychology and in Yoga. Detachment is the quality which helps the preservation of mental balance. According to the Yoga, the Jiva can obtain freedom from relativity for ever, by disciplining the heart and applying the mental force, subjectively, within. The process is called Dhyana or Meditation. Our physical body being composed of the same chemical elements, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, etc. as the body of a fish, a tortoise, a monkey or a bushman, we, on the physical plane, are united with all the physical bodies. If we forget this fact we fall into serious errors.
The wise begin their meditation by dwelling mentally on this great fact:- “All bodies are my bodies. ” This was the meditation of Swami Rama Tirthaji. Dada renounced his Brahmin-hood to feel unity with all living beings. Race superiority is a great delusion. Then we rise higher in our meditation by dwelling on the mental unity of all beings. As some coal emits more heat than others, but both are carbon, so the mind of a Kant or Newton and the mind of a less evolved man, is, fundamentally, one and the same. Through exercise of the power of the imagination you can feel this unity, and, along with it, a sweetness and peace which no words can describe.
Hiranyagarbha is the name of the cosmic Mind. It is the mind of Ishwara. It controls the forces of the atom and the solar system. Our individual mind is, so to say, a cell in the cosmic mind, like a physiological cell in our cellular system. Note the words of the Gita Shastra:- “Pervading the whole universe, by a fragment of My being, I transcend it infinitely.”
Do you want to enjoy the great Peace, and flashes of spiritual illumination, which the sense life can never dream of? Do you want to feel independent of fate, and swim in the ocean of living Light, of Love, and Peace? Then meditate on this aspect of the Lord, as Hari, Krishna, Rama or Dada.
Man is a rational being, but reason is not the human personality, or even his mind. The purpose of man is to have an experience of the Whole, as F.H. Bradley puts it:- “To be one with completely harmonised experience is the end of man’s thought.” Logic will not lead man to this great experience of the Whole, the Self. It is by reflection (Vichara) and meditation (Dhyana) that this riddle of life is solved. Meditation is an attempt to see identification of the mind with the Whole.
Plato says that when you reflect on an object with full concentration you know the object, and something more than the object. Similarly as you meditate on your local self, your mind is centred on the cosmic Self, and you know the nature of your self, and also of the Reality underlying the Universe. This knowledge of Reality gives the soul wings to fly out of the conditioned and determined realm of time-space and to dwell like a butterfly on a sunny afternoon in the realm of pure beauty and Truth. The Upanishad says:- “He becomes Asat, non-existent, who believes Brahman to be Asat.” Brahman is the Reality out of which the universe arises, in which it dwells, and in which it finally dissolves at the end of the world-period.
The highest activity of the mind is knowledge of Self, because it gives eternal freedom and joy. Reflection, not knowledge of logic, is the aid to this knowledge. Shri Shankara says:- “Reflect O Brother, what am I? what art thou? what this universe? The whither and the whence of these.”
God is denoted by the symbol OM. All ontological enquiry is summed up in OM. By reflecting on OM and repeating it rhythmically, you prepare the highest principle in man to apprehend the highest truth in the universe. T. H. Green says that the spirituality in man and the Universe is one and the same. The following words of Hegel in his ‘Philosophy of Religion’
Volume 1, page 121, are based on the yogic conception of Reality. “The finite is a moment in divine life. This separate existence of the finite life must not be retained, it must, on the contrary, be abrogated, …. God is lifting up the finite towards Himself.” Evolution is neither spontaneous nor led by the blind forces. “O Arjuna, under My supervision, nature (Prakriti) gives birth to the movable and the immovable.” The experience of the holy sages is the only authority in the matter. There is no other way of knowing the truth of the matter.
They say that Ishwara meditated and the world came into being. A voice from the invisible plane exhorted Brahma:- “Perform tapas, perform tapas”. That is ‘meditate, meditate, with undivided concentration.’ Creation with all its beauty, law and almost infinite variety, is the materialisation of the mental plan of Brahma through the process sailed Meditation. By directing your mind with applied concentration you prevent it from going in the direction opposite to your planned concentration. He who meditates on love and peace prevents his mind from going towards hate, destruction and violence. Meditate on Dada lovingly and you will mature the yogic virtues.
Transform the psyche into the self-conscious soul, and the soul into God, by discipline and meditation. Beware of scepticism. Rule out all thoughts of passion and external pleasure, and all doubts about the Yoga and the divine destiny of man. Doubts are traitors. Reason within the framework of the epistemology and ontology of Shri Bhagawadpad. You are conscious of the objects of thought; it is not enough. Be conscious of thinking also. Chit is the basis of intellect and it is beyond the region of thought. In the ‘I’, the universal, self-evident principle, see Jagat.
Take up the mirror of thy stilled heart in thy hand and look at the reflection of Infinity in it. This is Wisdom; this is Peace.
When we say Brahman is unknowable by the mind, what is exactly meant is that in its entirety and in its purest, changeless, infinite blissful state, the mind can never know the Divine Essence. In its manifest aspect, however, Brahman as the Lord, the Creator and Ruler, can be read by the human mind. Dressed in the triple garb of silver, copper and iron, (Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas), he is sporting in the form of the universe. The jiva (i.e. the phenomenally individualised Essence conditioned by its own Maya, the antahkarana) can never be known through its own enjoying faculty.
The dictum of Shri Yajnavalkya: “Atman is to be listened to, cogitated and meditated upon”, applies to both the Absolute and the relative aspects of the Essence of the universe. In our practical life we are beset with the notions and forms of Avidya, but each one of us at any time, and at any place, can exercise the right of sovereignty over our mind and refine it to such an extent that the beauty, and the glory of Ishwara are enjoyed by it.
Macrocosmically speaking the Lord is the sovereign of the universe and His self-conditioning, which involves the creating, sustaining and withdrawing of the universe, is done by mere thought by way of Lila (sport).
Microcosmically, the jiva can ever exercise his sovereignty over his maya (the antahkarana). Shri Dada sums up the secret in a few words: “Selfless service of His children in the universal sense and remembrance-devotion to Him.” (Gita XII,). He who is a believer in the existence of the divine mission and in the art of meditation on Him, is nevertheless blessed and on the right path if he serves His children with selfless devotion. Many people are unconscious Yogis. A conscious yogi, however, is on the brink of the ocean of Bliss.
According to the Islamic philosopher, the chief characteristics of manhood are two:
- right resolution;
- incessant pursuit of the resolved ideal, single-mindedly and with enthusiasm.
What is right resolution? The turning of the empirical existence into spiritual light. All duties are included in it.
Now let us look at the question of how to do it. Let it be stated that to try to solve the riddle of the origin and purpose of life and the universe, is sheer waste of time and energy. Our beloved Hafiz says: “By reason nobody has solved this riddle, nor ever will”. Listen rather to the glories of the Lord in the form of His sports as Hari, Jesus and Dada; study the lives of His devotees. Learn of Einstein or Bose the great hidden mysteries of life so as to evoke in us the loving quest for the hidden Reality. A yogi cannot afford to neglect the study of the conclusions of biological science, physics, geology, astronomy and psychology. Listen to the music of Surdas, Tulsidas, Rumi and a Kempis. “In what by-lanes, secret grottos and dense forests I have followed Thee, O great Saint Krishnanandaji!”, Shri Dada often used to say.
Then meditate on His deeds in thy heart. The cross is a symbol of the highest spiritual mystery. The dance of Shiva, the sports of Hari with the cows and calves are to be meditated upon in our daily life. Mahatma Gandhi has said that while carrying on his fight against injustice in South Africa, he remembered the Lord for about twenty-two hours a day. To meditate on the form of the Guru is the privilege of initiated yogis.
Is there any criterion by which to judge the; progress of the soul? Yes, how far have you forgotten your individual self and interests? How far have you cultivated humility, forgiveness and self-surrender? The extent to which the empirical ego has been reduced is a measure of the progress of our soul towards the supreme ideal. “How intensely am I attracted towards men and women, wealth and comfort?” is a question to be asked many times a day. For answer find inspiration in the Shri Dada Sanghita.
By Trevor Leggett’s teacher, Hari Prasad Shastri.
Hari Prasad Shastri’s own teacher was Shri Dada of Alighr.