knowledge I do not exist;
me there is no knowledge; light alone is;
both knowledge and knower, when contemplated,
of one substance; there can be no doubt.
I do not exist without my having
any knowledge of it. Without me, my knowledge cannot exist on its own. The
light that shines is the same, both in the knower and in the knowledge. When
contemplated it will undoubtedly be known that both are the same.
Apart from awareness I have no being:
As distinct from me awareness cannot remain
As mere light; both knowledge and knower, contemplation
Reveals beyond doubt as of one substance alone.
are in the thick of a stretch of verses that invite us to redefine our psyche,
to give up the tentative hypotheses we have promulgated since infancy and
substitute one grounded in intelligence. I think we are all ready for that.
Most of us have done this a few times already, but the old paradigms keep
creeping back. We have to renew our dedication on a regular basis, lest our
mentality slip back into ordinariness.
here means the whole context that is the basis for how we perceive the world.
Usually we think of knowledge as the agglomeration of specific, more or less factual
items we have accumulated during our tenure here, but those are very much
subsidiary to what could be called our general outlook, which is what is meant
in this verse. Paul linked it with our DNA, in the sense that everything
becomes itself because there is information for it to become itself. We are
humans with certain innate limitations. The information we consciously know has
almost no impact on that type of knowledge.
brought up a paradox: that this verse proclaims the unity of knower and known,
but then Nitya spends a long time demonstrating that our simplistic conception
of unity leaves out almost all of what we are really made of. He wants us to
take into account all the threads of our psyche that we take for granted, and
so force into the background. Such kind of blocking out is pretty much the
opposite of the dynamic neutrality the gurus are struggling to present us with.
So Nitya begins by deconstructing the unity we perceive to demonstrate its
falsity. This is a necessary preliminary to reconstructing our unitive
awareness on a firmer basis.
now we should be familiar with the Indian conception that seer and scene arise
together out of a unitive source point, becoming naturally bifurcated, with
awareness flashing back and forth between the two poles like the fluttering
wings of a bee, or in a more modern analogy, like the 60 cycles per second of
electric alternating current.
is nothing wrong with this duality! It’s how things have to be if you are going
to have a universe.
problems come when the seer forgets their unity with the scene and view it as a
series of isolated phenomena outside themselves, phenomena that provoke
judgments, defenses, and corrections. Then we “come to blows” with our
environment. The counterpart is an equally false vision of the seer, either as
an impossibly virtuous entity disconnected from the moil or, as most children
believe, the source of all the trouble and deserving of equal or greater
judgments, defenses and corrections.
the seer and scene are out of touch with each other, an endless chaos is
engendered, because the true cause of our problems is never addressed. We
forget we are operating on the merest whiff of knowledge and projecting
everything based on an impoverished template, because what we see looks so
real, so permanent. It’s the crucial part of the illusion. Historically
speaking, we’d be pretty miserable if we doubted everything we saw, and would
probably get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger or something comparably terrifying.
So we have to believe our senses, even though they are demonstrably defective.
What a contemplative does is take time to sit still and question the validity
of the flicker of incoming lights. Jake put it very simply: unless we slow down
in some type of meditative discipline, our enchantment will continue. When done
right, slowing down and detaching from the scene is an ultimately radical and
gurus are showing us how to have a meaningful effect on our dilemma, which
requires groping down to our essential core, our Karu, where unity persists.
When we bathe in unity, it corrects the perversions we have developed enduring
the battering winds of a life of isolation. Nataraja Guru called this
“normalization.” We become normal again. Normal is a very exalted state,
bearing little or no resemblance to what passes for normal in polite society.
Once we have normalized (there are degrees of this, of course), when we
reemerge into duality after our meditation we are more harmonized, more cured
of our manias and madnesses. By regularly re-attuning ourselves through contact
with our core, real change begins to permeate our being.
was talking a lot about madness in this section, because we had been saturated
in the study for over two months, with daily immersion. These talks in the book
were only part of the morning event, after chanting the verses and having each
word explained to us. Then we thought about the ideas all day and came back in
the evening to contemplate and discuss their significance to us.
you dive deeply like that, the “monsters of the id” become uncaged and come to
the surface, side by side with some very beautiful states of mind. It’s a
challenging but highly therapeutic part of the Self Instruction. With a
normalized anchor like Nitya to hold everyone together, we had the option of
not going crazy. He expressed it this way:
spite of all this dirt that is coming up and madness that is aroused, we still
have to find our way, gradually and steadily, to our own inner core, where we
can finally discover and discern for ourselves the fountain-source of all peace
and happiness. Nothing should stop us.
is helpful and perhaps crucial to have a calm head anchoring you like this to a
solid foundation, because it is easy to become seriously disoriented in the
midst of this kind of intensity.
of the intractability of the madness is that humans tend to pay lip service to
ideas, to pretend we are acting with determination, but really we’re faking it.
If we actually connect with our full self we are flummoxed for a while. Usually
we substitute a better pretense that deflects everybody more successfully, and
then carry on, but we do have the option of relinquishing the pretense
entirely. Nitya reminds us here that “Very soon we will be told that the mere
saying of it won’t bring it.” In other words, we aren’t simply trying to
substitute a better description that will fool everyone, but to actually dig
down into our ground of peace and happiness. It is hard work. But isn’t fakery
pointless? We should not let it stop us, divert us from real progress.
most basic thing we have to realize—and it remains very well veiled—is that the
world we encounter is colored by our mind set. Not that it is created by our mind
set, but how we
interpret the world has a tremendous and important impact. Nitya puts it this
finally comes to the conclusion yatha
drsti tatha srsti, how your eyes are, so your world is. If you are pure,
you see purity everywhere. If you are voluptuous, you see voluptuousness
everywhere. If you are an egotist, you see the egotism of other people around
you. If you are mad, you see madness in all. If you are peaceful, you see the
occasion to have peace everywhere. If you are harmonized, the world is
harmonized with you.
The advantage of this study is
simply this: self-correction. When you correct yourself, the world is also
corrected for you. That correction is possible only through seeing this
oneness, this union.
thought we can change the actual world by harmonizing our self, but it isn’t
quite that simple. Harmonizing ourself makes us capable of acting well, but we
might still remain isolated in an ivory tower if we don’t put our harmony into
practice. His example was Fukushima, the destroyed nuclear reactors in Japan
that threaten to annihilate sentient life in the Northern Hemisphere if they
are not successfully dismantled. He thought accepting blame for the disaster
would somehow cure the problem by itself. But dismantling broken reactors
requires a delicate sequence of very complex actions to be undertaken, and
you’ve probably heard about all the prevarications and diversionary lies, how
the Japanese government has banned public discourse and drawn a veil of secrecy
over the site, with harsh punishments for trying to bring light to bear. That
is how humans traditionally deal with our problems—how almost all of us deal
with our problems, though usually on a lesser scale, thankfully. We sweep them
under the rug. The change we can make
in our hearts is to begin to model a different kind of behavior, one that may
evolve us into a more responsible species before we eradicate the higher life
forms. This is a daunting challenge that merely begins with us harmonizing
ourselves and becoming aware of the unlimited liability we have to the cosmos
we live in. Changing our attitude promotes the necessary actions to take place,
actions we are fully capable of if we don't actively deny their necessity.
used a favorite phrase of Nitya’s, unlimited liability. When you realize that
we as seers have arisen as a paired compound with the scene around us, you no
longer feel like escaping. The more disjunct we become with our environment,
the more emptiness and desolation seep into our bones. By accepting the bad
along with the good, we are performing the dialectic (yogic) practice that
restores us to unity. As Bill said, how we understand our reactions is the
thing that will liberate us. Many in the class have told stories about how this
has played out in their lives. None of us has recycled a crippled nuclear
reactor, but we all have made positive differences in our immediate circle of
contacts. Those little victories have a ripple effect, just as our failures do.
The least we can offer the planet we live on is to send out positive and
of victories, we are reminded that expecting to be victorious can make us
aggressive and intolerant. Visitor Ann was injured physically by competing for
victory in sports, and has converted to more salubrious physical activity. A
yogi aims for a non-victorious victory. Nitya relates a classic element of his
training in this verse:
I first came to my Guru, I had plenty of trouble with people, with my fellow
disciples. Guru called me and said, “I shall give you a secret: allow the other
to be victorious. If somebody fights you, let you be the vanquished and not the
victor.” I found there is nothing more helpful than this, to be vanquished and
not to become victorious. Just say, “You have the upper hand. Let all the glory
be yours. I shall lie in the dust.” It is very difficult, but it works. You
don’t make any claim. You don’t indulge in any feelings of martyrdom. You just
is not a call to self-abnegation, abject surrender, but only to normalization,
to counter our tendency to want to win all the time. It turns out we want to
win because our ego is insecure. Nataraja Guru’s brilliant advice is to stop
fighting over who is better and accept our common lot as flawed but hopefully
progressing human beings. Our pose of perfection is a lie we swear by. Nitya
underlines this with a potent quote: “Henri Bergson, in his Two Sources of Morality
says ‘When you point your finger at another and denounce him, you know in your
heart of hearts that you are no better.’”
commentary closes with a very practical paragraph that empowers us right where
basic truth rests on this: there is only One and not a second. If there is
someone to be punished, it is only you. If there is someone to be corrected, it
is also just you. ‘You’ means ‘me’. In my personal life I correct the other by
correcting myself. I punish the other by punishing myself. I silence the other
by going into silence myself. I bring peace to the other by making myself
peaceful. I bring happiness to the other by making myself happy. It is a very
intimate experience, to work with one’s self. And it is the one place where you
can conveniently work, where your volition, your knowledge and your feeling are
all at hand, at the very source from which the idea ‘I’ comes.
After our brief quiet time, the class streamed out into a
rare Oregon evening of warmth and bright moonlight, carrying renewed
resolutions to love our universe and our selves more than ever.
Neither This Nor That But . . . Aum:
Everybody says “I know” or “I do not know.”
In the context
of knowledge there is an “I” and the field in which “I” operates. Although
vague, there is an inevitable demarcation drawn between the knower and the
known. That which is known has already been mentioned as the measured, counted
and categorized. The knower is like the eye of the known knowing itself. Hence,
Shankara equates the knower to the eye, drk.
eye, as the “seer,” combines in it the quality of the light that illuminates
and the quality of the eye that sees. The light of the Self reveals not only
form but also name, context, meaning, relationship, the past, the present, and
the possible relationship that can be established with the future. If the light
is withdrawn, there will be a sudden and total effacement of the conscious
knower “I” and anything that is associated with the knowledge of the knower.
eye does not see itself and the light does not reveal the light to itself. But
the I-consciousness is conscious of the “I” that knows and the “I” that does
not know. From this fact, it is deducible that the subject of the individual
awareness is also an object of awareness. What is common to the subject matter
of awareness and the object matter of awareness is an undifferentiated light.
pure Self is an undifferentiated consciousness, why should we bother to know
the difference between transcendence and immanence, pure knowledge and
empirical knowledge, analytical judgement and synthetic judgement, cause and
effect, and concepts and percepts? The answer lies in a more fundamental
question. Are you convinced that there is only a non-differentiated consciousness?
Can you dismiss your experience as non-existent? If your honest answer to this
is in the negative, you are remaining in a world of variegated forms and
changing patterns, and you stumble on all the anomalies of the phenomena which
can make you howl with exasperation, revel in the pleasure of the phantom, and
become tongue-tied with the enigmas that haunted the conscience of a bewildered
Hamlet. When you are caught in this context you have only two choices. One is
to accept the dual validity of the knower and the known and accept the
irreconcilable paradox of treating each as the byproduct of the other and hit
your head against the irrational wall of life's meaninglessness, variously
described by the existentialists as nauseating or nothingness. The other
alternative is to turn away from the duet of the knower and the known,
dismissing their passing show as phantasmagoria, and to give up your identity
in the all-effacing Beingness, the truth of which you will never be conscious
of to verify.
THE relation between the ‘subject-matter’ and what we might
call the ‘object-matter’ of consciousness is subtle and
dialectical. There is an
ambivalent bipolarity or dichotomy between the self that is the knower and the self that
Both of these are linked by pure knowledge, conceived as a
neutral abstraction, which has been variously recognized, both in Eastern and
Western philosophies, under different names and in the context of differing
philosophical points of view.
Fichte’s division between the self and the non-self may be
said to divide correctly these two aspects. Kant’s division between ‘pure
reason’ and ‘practical reason’ also recognizes this same ambivalence.
Mind and matter have been treated unitively or dualistically by Descartes and
others. Whether mind and matter are linked together by the
principle of ‘occasionalism’,
as Descartes would put it, or through the intermediary entity called the ‘substance
that thinks’, as with Spinoza, or through the notion of the monad as with
Leibniz, rationalistic philosophy recognizes the neutral common ground between
these evidently dual aspects.
Extreme dualism grades into forms of solipsism with
different writers or
thinkers, serially reviewed. Whatever the degree of unity or duality may be as between different
schools of thought in the East or West, we can discover a common methodology
implicit in all of them. In fact the relationship is dialectical and
dialectical methodology would permit of the two factors being treated in
various degrees of unitiveness or duality.
Human consciousness alternates between the poles of the self
and the non-self. When we look upon this alternation from the core of
consciousness itself, the alternating process becomes effaced into the unitive
light of absolute consciousness, abolishing all duality. In the workaday,
realistic or pragmatic sense no one can deny that mental and bodily phases
constantly succeed each other as we observe our own daily life and actions.
In the present verse the Guru recognizes the ambivalent
interdependence between the
self and its dialectical counterpart, the non-self. In verse 68 below, the same
idea is taken up again and treated more dualistically, so as to reveal the
mechanism of the self in its operational sense. Here the solipsistic regulative
principle is just enunciated, to start with, to form the basis of the further
elaboration of the same theme in later verses of the second half of the work
which will have more to do with the positive or known than with the knower-
aspect of the self. Sankara himself divides consciousness into ‘drik’ (seer)
and ‘drisya’ (the seen) for an analysis of self-consciousness to reveal to
inner structure of absolute consciousness.
Such an analysis of consciousness is highly necessary for the
student to avoid the philosophical puzzlements and
confusions with which books
abound. The Bhagavad Gita speaks of ‘jnana’ (knowledge) in contradistinction
with ‘jneya’ (the known) which belongs to the ‘vijnana’ (specific wisdom)
aspect of wisdom rather than to the mere ‘jnana’ aspect, which can be negative
in its implications. Avoiding grades or classes of error is the ‘jnana’ aspect,
and building up positive notions and doctrines about reality is the second
stage of the same (‘vijnana’) process of knowing. Wisdom gets finalized in its
own neutral glory in the end of the search when the self and the non-self unite.
The solipsistic form which might be considered an
objection to this way of
looking at the problem of reality is not really an objection because, at least
methodologically, solipsism in some form or other has to enter into the
contemplative way of reasoning
which is the domain proper of higher wisdom. Just as pantheism has to enter into
theology when God is described as omnipresent, the very unitive basis of
absolutist philosophy can hardly avoid this position, and by itself it is no
drawback of the teaching. Just as axiomatic verities exist side-by-side with
verities that grade from tautology to the extreme position of contradiction in
various steps of logic merging into the highest form of logistics or of
dialectical reasoning, so solipsism as a basic epistemological law is fully
legitimate and admissible. The philosopher must only take care that he does not
get stuck mechanistically in the solipsistic position, and make a fetish of the
doctrine. The Guru here, as we shall see, after stating the law of the
reciprocal interdependence of the knower and the known, passes on to its
theorems and corollaries in a graded and methodical fashion.
promised to include the poem Deb and I heard at a recent reading, which I read
for the closing meditation. The connection is that many of the ways we frame
the world and our place in it are severely binding. The poet calls us to free
ourselves from our self-imposed and self-justified state of bondage:
A MESSAGE FROM THE WANDERER
Today outside your prison I stand
and rattle my walking stick: Prisoners, listen;
you have relatives outside. And there are
thousands of ways to escape.
Years ago I bent my skill to keep my
cell locked, had chains smuggled to me in pies,
and shouted my plans to jailers;
but always new plans occurred to me,
or the new heavy locks bent hinges off,
or some stupid jailer would forget
and leave the keys.
Inside, I dreamed of constellations—
those feeding creatures outlined by stars,
their skeletons a darkness between jewels,
heroes that exist only where they are not.
Thus freedom always came nibbling my thought,
just as—often, in light, on the open hills—
you can pass an antelope and not know
and look back, and then—even before you see—
there is something wrong about the grass.
And then you see.
That’s the way everything in the world is waiting.
Now—these few more words, and then I’m
gone: Tell everyone just to remember
their names, and remind others, later, when we
find each other. Tell the little ones
to cry and then go to sleep, curled up
where they can. And if any of us get lost,
if any of us cannot come all the way—
remember: there will come a time when
all we have said and all we have hoped
will be all right.
There will be that form in the grass.
of the important ideas that didn’t make it into the first set of notes on this
verse was Nitya’s distinguishing of two types of withdrawal: paranoiac and
enlightened. The unexamined version of withdrawal is the more common, where
cutting yourself off from threatening input is the sole objective. You just
shut out what you don’t want to see or hear. Nitya wants to remind us that this
doesn’t accomplish anything in terms of spiritual growth, but is numbing and isolating.
It may begin as a plausible reaction to hostile forces, but because of its
static basis its effect is negative. We see this kind of withdrawal everywhere.
The mature way to deal with conflict is to remain grounded in our center, our
Karu, from which vantage point we can take whatever steps are necessary to
ameliorate the situation. To accomplish this, Nitya takes us one step further
than pure witnessing, to the synthesis of both aspects of withdrawal. In other
words, we overcome our negative reactions to threats by initiating a positive
interest, and discover the place of neutrality at the heart of the two
impulses. Because of its overarching importance I want to reprise Nitya’s
comments on this subject:
should retrospectively see the implication of all that has been built up in
this section of the work. There is inevitable misery there. Detachment from
that misery is only possible through the unification of our knowledge. This is
done contemplatively, by practicing withdrawal.
course, there can be a pathological withdrawal as well as a therapeutic
withdrawal. A pathological withdrawal happens when you are afraid. You see a
threat, you exaggerate the threat, you exaggerate the fear that is initiated in
you, and so you want to run away from the situation and get back into the womb,
so to speak. You become paranoiac. This is a pathological reaction taking the
form of a withdrawal. When it expands to all its seriousness, it benumbs your
faculties. Doors that are once closed you are unable to open again. Thus you
become self-imprisoned, trapped in your own emotional state and locked in your
own confused reasoning. The volitional element in you is so crippled that it
has no initiative with which to break out.
other withdrawal is that of the saint. It assumes the position of the witness
rather than the actor. Here the agent of consciousness does not run away from
any situation, but instead decides to go into an active form of silence. It is
a silence not born of fear but of fearlessness. You are not escaping from
someone, but at the same time you are not holding yourself obligated to anyone,
you should go one step further. On one side is the silence to which you go as a
pathological trait; on the other side is the therapeutic silence. Through a
dialectical synthesis of these two aspects you can come to your own natural
Self, pure consciousness. Then you are the value or meaning of your own self.
In this way the world show is all wound up and you remain steadfast in your own
this verse, the Guru reinforces again the necessity of our assuming that
position of balance founded on our knowing that which is the unchanging
Absolute. Being in that position
offers us the opportunity to experience the world without becoming so lost in
it we mistake it for that which is
and in so doing exercise ourselves in a continuous cycle misery/elation/misery
as that which we assume is lasting always fails us. In outward appearance, writes Nitya in his commentary, those
acting out their lives but who also know its temporary arising and receding and
those acting out their lives ignorant of that which is true may appear to be
the same, but it is in the case of the latter that the anguish and terror that
person experiences have no remedy.
For them, life is a veil of tears.
Without that unifying factor, we are caught in the possibilities the
mind creates and have no way out of its endless and necessary job of servicing
the ego and its centralized experience.
It is in his commentary on this verse that Nitya explains this process
in psychological terms, in terms that go a long way in illuminating a common
in our unstable mental constructs, that which is not, and persuaded to be
convinced that the Absolute is an irrelevant hallucination at best or a
superstition at worst, a large percentage of Americans (as suggested in what is
acceptable as serious public discussion) have little choice in terms of public
policy alternatives beyond “more of the same.” The mind is well designed and efficient in performing the
duties of its office, and, as Nitya adds, it operates first of all according to
the information it receives. It
then applies its reasoning capacity to that sensory input and acts on that
combination. These “three
fundamental aspects” of the mind work together in forming how we act in the
world of necessity, which, like the mind and its ego, will dissolve sooner or
later like all things manifest. In
this fundamental mental process, our I
is divided into that which first experiences sensation, the emotional
foundation that precedes reason (the reasoning I) and finally the volitional I
(that may decide to act or not).
In this tripartite arrangement is
the sequence of feeling-thinking-willing in which our three domains of
existence here present themselves.
The first is the emotional element founded on body sensations. In this
interior universe are our sense
of aesthetics and taste. Also part
of this domain is the source of all energy arising from our various moods such
as anger, humour, grief, heroics, peace, hatred (the nine moods mentioned in an
earlier commentary). As Nitya
writes, “all the moods are games of energy from the side of feeling” (p. 401).
Emotional, pre-rational energy animates
us, but before reaching that third volitional stage the mind moves the
sensations through the reasoning function. The point where sensation ends and reason begins cannot be
firmly identified and often leads to distortions between the two, but the fact
remains that feeling and reasoning emerge as distinct functions. “The third
aspect, volition,” denotes
that my I allows itself to be
compelled to act or not act (p. 399).
The I element exists both in
that which compels and that which is compelled, a condition also applicable to
the other two functions: “these three aspects, feeling, thinking, willing, all
have one centre: the I. ‘I
feel,’ ‘I think,’ ‘I
will’” (p. 400).
This process takes place in a mind
determined to preserve its egoic existence to continuously seek happiness,
often restricted to the body and commonly understood as pleasure. And the possibilities
miscommunication among the three aspects are legion. Sensory input can and often does present pain and misery and
when they are combined with undeveloped or distorted reasoning function can
lead to the mind manufacturing a perceived threat that puts the volitional
faculty in a position of the enemy of the first two. In short, the possibilities of our I warring with our I is
multiplied exponentially as the energy for it all wells up in the form of
emotional impulse driving the system at its core, a system bent on our
surviving in a world of necessity.
In the American experience, it is
this out of awareness system that constitutes the bedrock on which our
economic, social, political, and therapeutic industries all rest. An endless
ministering to the terrors
built into this structure make commercial capitalism (and its mirroring Marxist
equivalent), psychotherapy, and chemical dependence so attractive. They all address
the very real fear and
misery the mind creates as it mindlessly goes about its business in the only
world in which it can allow the I to
participate. The irony is that
this last prohibition is itself but one more example of the I at war with itself. As was the case when the US invaded
Viet Nam or when the South seceded in the 19th century, wherever we
go, we take our minds with us.
In this verse and commentary, the
Guru and Nitya point to a solution that becomes more and more undeniable as
history continues to document our circular journey in a world of our own
design. The original principles
used to organize the US, located in its Constitution, were designed to address
the practical circumstances we encounter in this world. That document also assumes
circumstances will continue, so its provisions for divided government,
continuous elections, and so on, tend to retard the privileging of any one
faction at the expense of the many others. As Franklin noted, if society were populated with angels no
Constitution would be required in the first place.
Error, miscommunication, and fear
rule the day in the samsaric world that cannot get out of its own way as it
bounces from “I enjoy” to “I know” to “I will.” By standing on the firm foundation of the Absolute, says
Nitya, ”the knower and the known are to be pieced together on the grounds that
without the knower there is no knowledge, and without knowledge there is no
knower.” The nature of that
oneness is a “pure light,” and “the advantage of knowing it is a pure light . .
. is the very meaning of life (p .401).
It is to that very issue of meaning
that our national interest and purpose is not directed. They were never meant
to be. We are a nation of sense bound
reasoners volitionally at war with our emotional and rational selves. Those bent
on “doing good” quarrel with
those “doing what commonly works,” and both stand on the shifting sands of a
fractured self desperately championing a cause of life and death in a mental
construction terrified of both.
The answer lies within, concludes Nitya, the only domain where
self-correction can take place: “when you correct yourself, the world is also
corrected for you” (p. 406). To
demonize another is to project that which you deny because you cannot yet
recognize it in yourself.
sent a musing on sublimity:
of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great
admiration or awe.
"Mozart's sublime piano concertos"
(of a solid substance) change directly into vapor when
heated, typically forming a solid deposit again on cooling.
elevate to a high degree of moral or spiritual purity or
I have gastroparesis. My digestive system shuts down from
time to time. It can be very painful. When I was in California a few weeks ago,
I had a particularly painful moment that made it difficult for me to get out of
bed. My sister asked me how my stomach felt. I told her the experience was strangely
sublime. She was shocked. I guffawed.
I remember watching a documentary about scientific
achievement and war. A few of the pilots, engineers, scientists, and soldiers
used the word "sublime" to describe the enormous power of destruction
born from scientific insight and execution. These people were well aware of the
sublimity of war. This life experience isn't about everything being nice or
good or beautiful all the time. If we truly understood what that shiny ball of
light in the sky really was at its core, its essence, we may never want to go
outside again! Such power! Such energy! Is it not a mystery that we are born of
the same power?
sorry we didn’t talk in class about the three aspects, feeling, thinking and
willing, that are woven into the commentary. Nitya talks about them in a
general way, but doesn’t lead us very far into the mystery yet. There is a lot
to it! He sums up:
When you first say “I”
very simple, but it is not as simple as it seems. The simplicity is there because
“I enjoy,” “I know,” and “I will” all spring from the same source.
He follows this with “In this verse we are asked to tie
the loose ends up in one single knot,” so it sounds like there isn’t a problem
here, that the I is the tie. But it isn’t. It is certainly a knot, though, or a
bundle of them.
a way we have been looking at this malaise all along, but not always making the
connections Nitya wants us to make.
have been musing a lot lately about what happens to people when these three
aspects of the psyche are out of joint in a traumatized ego. (Traumatized ego
is a redundancy—they are all damaged to varying degrees.) We know plenty of
people who can’t enjoy life on any level. Their knowledge base seems irrelevant
or strangely skewed into bizarre tangents. When that happens the will is
immobilized or misdirected, leading to an ever-increasing bondage to the
aberrations the person is suffering from.
is it that when a simple course of action is envisaged, so many of us are
incapable of executing it? This goes to the heart of our dilemma. There are a
number of factors involved, many of which are curable with effort. The sad fact
is that confusion sabotages our effort from the beginning, so unless the
confusion is lessened, the condition will persist.
we are young, our training consists very largely of being forced to restrain
our thoughts and actions. Very central to our development is a colossal “NO!”
that becomes a kind of post-hypnotic suggestion. We don’t hear it any more, but
it’s there nonetheless. A major portion of our self-correcting work is to face
up to such kinds of buried land mines in our psyche, because once we know they
are there we have a shot at neutralizing their influence. If we continue to
ignore them, they will keep on working perfectly, preventing us from breaking
their grip on us.
could write a lot about this (I already have!) but I invite others to weigh in.
This is important stuff! I know many friends who live as if they are at the
bottom of a well, looking up longingly at the sky, but unable to take any steps
to come out. They have become convinced that where they are is exactly where
they deserve to be. As in the Stafford poem in Part III, we tune out all the
means at our disposal to shinny up the walls. Even when Narayana Guru and Nitya
stretch their arms down into the depths of the well, gently urging us to take
hold a pull ourselves up, we can’t manage to do it. It’s maddening!
acting was really as simple as it seems, we could easily accomplish whatever we
decide to do. The fact that we can’t shows us that there is a lot of clogged
machinery beneath the surface. The question is, do we capitulate? Society wants
us to. Just put up and shut up. The gurus suggest there is a much better option
available. What do you think?