Based on the lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty|
We are talking about being spiritually knowledgeable and yet spiritually ineffective. After all what good is acquiring knowledge? What benefit does it give us without its application to life? Without its application within our family, social, vocational or community life what purpose does it serve? Why acquire knowledge at all?
In this context it is worth remembering what Sri Aurobindo has said. He said, knowledge does not end with knowing nor is it pursued and found for the sake of knowing alone. It has its full value only when it leads to some greater gain than itself, some gain of being. Simply to know the truth and to remain in the pain, struggle and inferiority of our present way of being would be a poor and lame advantage.
Therefore knowledge and here we are talking of Adhyatmic knowledge - must necessarily be translated to our everyday life for our greater good.
Why does it not happen? It does not happen because we simply fail to see the underlying similarity between the spiritual environment on one side conceived by our mind and the mundane world, which is our work-field.
To an ordinary person, the spiritual environment and the worldly environment in which he or she lives, are alien to each other and often contradictory. People always say that the so called spiritual world is mystic and unreal, and the world we live in is real and rational. We mean thereby that perhaps the two are inseparably different. One world is too full of ethical do’s and don’ts and the other unfortunately full of compromises. One is rational and the other is irrational.
Reconciling both requires very deep understanding and knowledge of both the worlds and the causes of this apparent contradiction. Because only then perhaps we shall understand how rational the spiritual world is and how much relevance spiritualism may have in this so-called rational world of ours.
The key words are knowledge and understanding. That is the first step. Once the mind gets clearer and clearer the intellect automatically tries to find solutions to the problems. If solutions are not immediately found then at least some rationalization is achieved.
Rationalization should not be however confused with compromisation. Compromisation is acceptance of defeat. Rationalization is a temporary acceptance of a position without side stepping the imperativeness of finding the right solution.
To be able to bring about a symbiosis between these two apparently different worlds, we must look at the commonality between the two first. And that would lead us to essentially understand that the governing principle of both the apparently contradicting environments are no different from each other really.
One of the accepted methods of trying to understand a complex problem is to imagine a model and look for commonalities of character. Theoretical approach or theories as such, do not satisfy a doubting mind. Practical similes do. We shall therefore relate our problem to a practical model.
Most of us spend all our working hours in a structured environment. Most of us work for a living. We work in an organizational environment. It may be a business organization, a department or an institution. Everywhere exists a structured organization managed with set rules and procedures. Even such people like housewives etc although not part of any organizational environment, yet in their own sphere, work to a defined set of rules and procedures. In effect they also function in a rudimentary organization for the sake of smooth and chaos-free functioning.
Therefore for the sake of our understanding let us chose the model of an organization any organization to explain how what we find in our own working environment is indeed no different from the greatest of all organizations which is this universe. It is all a matter of same management practices in different scales. There is a reason and a rationality behind everything that is taking place in this gigantic organisation. What will happen under what circumstances, what actions the natural laws will permit and what they will not permit, all these can be logically expressed.
When we realise this and more and more similarities we shall discover as we go along it would be clearly seen how with only a simple re-orientation of perspective we can translate the higher spiritual concepts directly to our own day to day life.
What is needed is a clearer understanding of all aspects of the spiritual world. We shall now proceed to explore some of its more pronounced characteristics.
The Vedantic philosophy, popularly known as Hindu philosophy or more precisely the Sanatan philosophy, believes in a homogeneity a oneness of the entire creation (what we call the Viswa) with the Paramatma ( the Supreme Self) - or whatever name one may give It as the supreme Lord at the helm of affairs. He is considered an all-in-all entity with His involvement in the creation inseparable and total. Whatever is manifested or not manifested, conceived or imagined, gross or subtle in character dimensional or beyond dimension, sentient or insentient, indeed forms a single wholeness (purnam) which is indistinguishable from the Lord himself.
IsAvAsyamidam sarvam yat kinchA jagatyAm jagat.
Everything that we call this creation is entirely pervaded by the Lord. And as Arjuna reverently said to the Lord ‘since Tvam sarvam samapnosi, tatosi sarvah. You pervade all hence you are verily all.’
Those who follow the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, would no doubt have noticed a confirmation of this homogeneity of the creation and its oneness with the creator. Sri Aurobindo said, that the knowledge on which the doer has to find all his action and development has for the keystone of its structure a more and more concrete perception of unity, the living sense of an all-pervading oneness; he moves in the increasing consciousness of all existence as an indivisible whole: all work too is part of this indivisible whole.
The Sanatan philosophy speaks of the very creation being also based on this concept of wholeness. One of the finest pronouncements made by our seers runs like this:
PurnAt purnam udacyate
Purnasya purnamAdAya purnameva avasisyate.
That Om(referring to the Supreme Self) is full and wholeness itself
All this around us is also full and whole (meaning ‘that’ and ‘this’ are really the same)
From the wholeness comes out this wholeness.
And after this whole is taken out from that whole what remains is also full and wholeness itself.
This beautiful play of words really conceals a great philosophical truth. Everything that we see, experience and think is really one existing entity – manifested or expressed differently under different circumstances. Since the existing entity is all pervading, then if one could take away something from this entity, where would you put it? Because everywhere, the original entity, is still existing. If you take away space from space you can only do so, if you have something other than space to accommodate what we have taken away. But if space is everywhere, what we take away really remains inside the original – so to say. It remains whole all the time.
Therefore logically nothing is separately existing and everything is part of that single existence. Each one is then an inseparable constituent of That whole. Purnam remains Purnam all the time without any mutation.
The above two aspects, i.e. the concept of wholeness and the concept of full ness or purnatA have great significance in shaping of our attitude towards life.
You and I are not separate. There may be gross boundaries and definitions on the face of it, but there are enough subtle bindings that our senses can not differentiate, that bind you and me. For example the thoughts that emanate between you and me or the indirect effects of my actions and my words upon you, all these intangibles are still great forces that link one with the other. These are not only limited to humans but also between humans and animals, humans and plants, all are bound together.
When we say each one is wholeness itself, we discover one of the greatest concepts of the spiritual philosophy. Every constituent of that whole potentially possesses the same power and characteristics of the original whole. A drop of honey taken from a jar of honey contains all the qualities of honey. If all of us are part of that same homogenous entity then each of us potentially possess all the characteristics of that omnipotent, omniscient entity. Each one of us is indeed the Brahman itself from where we have originated. (Remember the reference in Bhagavad Gita of the Mahatyoni the great source from where everything flows.) That is the meaning of PurnAt purnam udacyate. From wholeness what comes out is wholeness itself. What a tremendously powerful and uplifting mantra this is.
In this entire universe which is like a gigantic organization, each of us, each of the other living beings, each element or object, is a constituent of this whole, forming a well-conceived matrix. Each dependent on the other, each functioning in association with the other, each drawing from and giving to the other and nothing existing in isolation. This great cosmic endeavor is indeed one chain reaction or inter-dependent process.
The beauty of this concept is again to discard the role of individualistic ego and make everyone realise the importance of co-existence. Not only co-existence, but also co-development. Even if each created being is the representation of the all-powerful Paramatma in full measure, and possesses within itself the universal power, yet alone he stands nowhere.
Each needs everyone else for its survival, sustenance and growth. The idea is effectively explained with a simile often used. The tiny fruit of the mighty banyan tree possesses within itself all the grandeur and might of the full grown king of trees. What power and strength it hides in itself? Yet that tiny fruit can never develop into its fullness – nor can even see the light of the day unless it gets the assistance from soil water or air. It is so helpless without them. So it is, with every one and everything else. The creation thrives on inter-dependency. The creation moves on inter-dependency.
Let us look at another characteristic. It is not static but a dynamic organization where things are happening continuously within itself. Something adding, something getting subtracted some new product or form evolving and something else constantly dissolving. The activities never cease. If we just close our eyes for a moment and contemplate everything that is occurring around our immediate vicinity or a little beyond on the surface of the earth or in the vast expanse of space around, it would not be difficult to visualise this concept. The dynamic and never ceasing entity is also the basis of the Vedantic concept of non-stop engagement with action: Na hi kascit kshanam api jAtu tisthatyakarmakrt. None can remain actionless even for a moment. Nothing can remain static.
There is also a deeper angle to this dynamic activity – a profounder philosophy. This springs from the very definition of The Paramatma or the Supreme Self and the nature of the Jivatma or the individual self.
Why it is dynamic and why it is not static? The ultimate concept behind the creation is that, it is a constant process of evolution or more precisely, development- a continuous progress from imperfection to perfection for each and every entity. A static object has no development. (Unless ofcourse it has reached its final development). Therefore to conceive anything including ourselves as static is to consider ourselves dead from the standpoint of development. That is absurd indeed.
To expand this concept of ever- dynamic state further, it is also to be understood that, this continuous process follows a magnificently conceived strict code of conduct, which has no scope for deviation. Whenever circumstances change, or an object or group of objects deviates from the natural laws, a new set of reactions takes over, modifying and changing until a new dynamic balance is restored. Like any other vibrant and dynamic organization or process, the changes are continuous yet everything is in accordance with an underlying principle of cause and effect and a dynamic balance. Not a blade of grass moves or a spark of light shows without a purpose, without a cause and without producing a corresponding effect.
Those of us who are familiar with the eleventh chapter of Bhagavad Gita where the grand cosmic form of the Lord is described as Visvaroopa, can imagine this facet and wholeness of this gigantic organization which is this universe. It literally runs like an organization of inconceivable dimension and multiplexity and yet with precision and harmony exactly as all of us would like our own organizations to run.
Thus as we have found so far, there are six basic and important characteristics of the creation around us and of which we are a part. These are also the six characteristics of The Lord’s creation to constantly reflect and meditate upon. These are:-
1. The entire creation is one homogenous entity.
2. The creation itself is indistinguishable from Paramatma, its creator. Every object in the creation has the creator indistinguishable from itself.
3. The creation is all encompassing and a matrix structure with every thing linked with the other.
4. Every constituent in the creation is interdependent on each and all, for its very existence.
5. The creation is ever dynamic and yet dynamically balanced without chaos.
6. Irrespective of its vastness, the creation moves according to a strict code of procedures based on cause and effect.
Each of these six aspects though simple enough- are so profound in their purport, that serious contemplation or meditation on each of these would expand the mind and open the eyes to a clearer understanding of where we stand in relation to God’s creation. The true significance of these thoughts does not seep in unless one does prolonged meditation with concentration. But if one does, there is great calming effect on the minds and one shall feel a sense of contentment and spiritual revelation.
This is how it goes:
Contemplating on the issue of oneness and homogeneity of the universe brings a feeling of being a part of a gigantic activity. Stand once in the stillness of the night under the canopy of stars. Look beyond the stars and the planets, the galaxies. Think of the great movement of the expanding universe that takes into its fold all heavenly bodies including the earth itself on which you are standing. Listen to the subtle sounds of earth around you. Listen to sounds of movement around, above and below you.
Whatever is happening I am there. I am a part of it and not left out and alone. Such a feeling would soon engulf you. And what a feeling that is. Unless you are a person so cynical that the mind has become completely closed, an awareness of a great power all around you, thoughts of some gigantic force, directing all these activities is bound to enter the mind at this stage. That is the presence of the Lord. He is the substratum of all existence and all activities. He holds everything including you and me, within Himself. His presence is undeniable. While focussing one’s thoughts on the omnipresence of the Lord would bring a sense of security a feeling that you are cared for and having someone to look up to in your darkest moments and most importantly, some one to guide you in life as he is guiding every action around you.
The concept of interconnecting matrix explains how each of us is connected together and by this togetherness we derive strength. Fear of weakness is a debilitating fear. Holding each other’s hands as it were takes away this fear with a sense of inter- supporting. This concept is even loftier than the often-quoted concept of the whole world is all family – vasudheiva kutumbakam. It is not here the world family of human beings that we are talking about. We are talking about an interconnecting link that extends beyond horizon, even beyond the phenomenal physical creation. The realm of thought, the realm of consciousness – all is interconnected with each other. Our seers did not restrict themselves to world family or kutumba of vasudha, but a family of entire BrahmAnda the creation, the universal family extending all the worlds, physical, mental and causal without any limiting horizons, going beyond all the worlds, beyond the boundaries of bhuh, bhubah and swar, of gayatri. Something perhaps like Rabindranath Tagore’ words VishwabharA prAn or the life force that fills the entire creation of the Lord.
The question of interdependency is a beautiful thought worth meditating for hours. Long before the modern world realised the relevance of ecological chain, our seers had declared that each ‘being’ sprouts from that single source and hence each is dependent on the other like the limbs of the same body. Each derives sustenance from the other hence none should destroy wantonly another. I receive, hence I must also give. If I stopped giving, I shall be deprived of receiving. If I stop receiving help, I shall stop developing.
The structure is also dynamic. This is important. Without dynamism we may as well be dead blocks. Being part of a dynamic structure, being active and alive becomes our nature. None can stay without action. The creation is sustained on activity. As long as I am part of the activity, I am developing. I am not static. As long as I am developing, I have the hope of evolving into a higher consciousness. I have the hope of uniting with the source of ultimate consciousness – the Satchidananda.
And finally, full realization of the undercurrent of the cosmic principle and code of conduct drives home the need for submissiveness and compliance to right conduct. It has a great stabilizing effect and fosters healthy respect for the very principles of life. The orderliness removes anxiety and brings comfort.
With orderliness everyone gets a chance to develop. Chaos has no focus. Orderliness gives equal opportunity to the strong as well as weak. Lack of orderliness can only bring friction. Friction without purpose is a waste of energy. Orderliness is the prerequisite for peace. We pray for peace all the time. All our prayers to the Lord end with - Peace, Peace, Peace. Om Shantih, shantih Shantih.
Author Bio :
From Ahwanm the spiritual approach to life by Sri Bimal Mohanty. http://www.ahwan.org/index.php
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