and all such always come again as a matter of course;
which remains free of becoming is one;
are that knowledge itself; all others
remain as its forms.
this world of becoming, the food that nourishes the body and everything else
come as a matter of course. Everything undergoes transformation. Only one thing
remains unchanged, and that is Knowledge. We are also that self-same Knowledge.
Others too are none other than that.
Earthy factors shall come to be evermore;
One alone remains not subject to becoming;
What we know, what it is, what we are, are that same;
And all others too remain conforming to its form.
been several years since we had a nice enough evening to have class outside,
but this was one. A song sparrow joined us in the chanting, perfectly
exemplifying the unitive state: it didn’t sing for any secondary reason, to get
anything, but simply for the joy of singing. Its glorious music was like the
gates of heaven opening. A perfect temperature, no biting bugs, and a sublime
sunset added to a peaceful sense of communal unity. The dogs Kai and Lucy had a
rare chance to sit with us, and they demonstrated how deep a canine meditation
can be. The roar of distant machines was a constant reminder of the neurotic
world of ceaseless unfulfillment not too far outside our magic circle.
had a kind of flash at the beginning inspired by the reading. She visualized
two transparent cubes sitting side by side, symbolizing being and becoming, and
all similar dichotomies. From a lateral perspective it looks like the farther
one is inside the other, and if you look from the other side it seems like
their roles are reversed. In reality both cubes are the same. Deb’s idea is to
treat them equally from a neutral perspective. Partisans of one side or the
other distort their value, their relative importance, so they prefer one over
Jake and Stan, with responses in Part III, described the same distorting
attitude as the ubiquitous either/or perspective, in which you can’t accept
both together. The vantage point of yoga is the both/and attitude, where the
wave is water. It sounds so simple.
That being the case, why have so few made that uncomplicated truth a living
presence in their life? Nitya describes the challenge we face:
our living moments are crowded with the intentionality of our consciousness. If
we are always attached to intentionality, the peace, serenity and joy we look
for are constantly being pushed away. In a sense, then, meaning is being
transferred from the present to the future. We often speak of living here and
now, but we don’t realize the almost impossible pressure on us to not live in
the present. We are always being made to wait, to look for, to expect, to
anticipate. Half the time of our life is wasted in looking for and waiting for
something to happen. If we can only establish a firm stand on the constant
ground the Guru speaks of—the arivu or knowledge—our attachment and
intentionality regarding the phenomenal world becomes a secondary interest. Our
primary interest then becomes witnessing the game of life in the present
agreed being fully present is easier said than done. Jan wondered if there was
some mantra she could use to bring herself back to a steady state whenever she
gets caught up in problems. Of course, once you realize you are caught in the
wave, anything you do about it is the antidote. A mantra might be one of those
options. I suggested the plenum mantra we close with every night. Or else,
checking in with your breathing. When you’re anxious the breath is likely to be
disturbed, and pacifying it will calm your psyche quite rapidly. The yogic key
is to intelligently convert your perspective from anxious to oceanic, in the
manner being instructed in these verses.
wondered if Nitya ever got upset, and by his maturity (he was 45 when we first
met him) he never did, despite ample provocation. He was a rare exemplar of
steadiness under fire. But he had worked hard to get to that point, as his
autobiography attests. Nataraja Guru threw everything at him but the kitchen
sink, and a transcendent steadiness gradually grew out of his tribulations. As
Moni put it, Nataraja Guru woke him up.
wonderful to have such an excellent example as Nitya before us, but we
shouldn’t get discouraged if we aren’t quite so steady. Neither Nitya nor
Narayana Guru ever insisted we shouldn’t react to provocations. Reacting is
totally natural. What we should restrain is our penchant for overreacting. Egos
like to make a big deal out of their sufferings. Often they will add to the
turbulence by lading on self-recriminations for failure to not react, or react
improperly. Most of us have been well trained to beat up on ourself for all sorts
of minor transgressions, and bringing the Absolute ground back into our
understanding allows us to stop doing it. I think this is what Nitya was
referring to at the end of his comments, when he hinted how to get over our
no time does your real Self change, now or hereafter, whatever kind of life you
live. You can be a sinner or you can be a saint; wearing holy robes will not
alter who you are.
The day you go one step further to
realize your becoming a great saint or a great sinner is not going to change
your Self in any way, a great calmness will grow inside you. At least you will
have gotten over the agony of your guilt.
certainly sounds mysterious at first. I know we all think, “I don’t believe I’m
guilty; that’s for Jews and Christians.” Unfortunately, guilt is a perfect
example of a condition so pervasive we no longer notice it. It utterly
permeates our culture; its calumnies are painted in bright letters everywhere!
Rooting it out is a liberating meditation if ever there was one. Yogis
counteract it with affirmations. Not simply by repeating affirmations as if you
aren’t troubled by guilt. The affirmations have to be juxtaposed with actual
awareness of how we unconsciously assume we are guilty and act on it. There is
nothing simple in this. As Narayana Guru said in Verse 62, “This will not come
by mouthing a phrase.” Even less will it come by pretending it doesn’t matter.
Ignoring it or attributing it to someone else does not make it go away.
already sent in a lengthy response to this verse. One of the highlights brought
writes: “This is a very subtle thing. If
you understand it, it makes a real difference in your life. You do and you do
not do. You perform everything you are doing now and yet, at the same time, you
do not do anything. The Gita expresses it as seeing action in inaction and
inaction in action, but this can become a cliché.” Right
on target—I only wish the
action/inaction complementarity were
the “cliché” in the west it apparently “can be” in India. I’ve only run
across it myself a handful of times, exclusively in eastern literature, and
originally was totally perplexed by it, back in the days when the either/or
shadow ruled and ran my own cognitive show.
can all hope that some day this wisdom will be so pervasive as to be a cliché,
like the student’s complaint about Hamlet: “It’s just one cliché after
another!” Nitya added the transforming instruction right after Stan’s excerpt:
whole meditation of this verse centers around not making it a cliché, but
living it. Then you see the form aspect, the wave, and fully appreciate it
while at the same time remaining as water.
goes to the heart of the matter. Our brains are habituated to turning living
reality into stale clichés, so we hardly notice when we dismiss potent
instruction with nary a second thought. We nod and smile and claim we agree,
even imagining we have made a spiritual effort, but what we’re actually doing
is keeping the whole business at bay. Because we’re in agreement with the
propositions of Vedanta, we wonder why nothing is changed, why our life
continues to be gray and uninteresting. We have to realize that the All is an
ecstatic, mind-blowing reality, not reducible to a pat idea. Our ideas of it
are by no means it.
included a pertinent quote:
Atmananda K. Menon has well noted, “Vedanta
is verily a spiritual ‘atom bomb’; and it is no wonder that the intellectuals
cautiously avoid it, for fear of blundering into the Right.”
in this sense not being a
political position but a cogito-spiritual orientation. And we are all
intellectuals, to some degree. We all profess that we want to change, but
change is exactly what the ego most dreads, as it clings to the conceptual
straws it imagines are keeping it afloat in the flood of daily life. Thus
change is neutralized by converting it to a theory instead of permitting it to
remain a dynamic living reality. It is much safer as an alluring cliché.
Guru’s tack in this verse is urge us to contemplate the continuous flow of
nourishing input we are blessed with and adopt a more or less worshipful
attitude toward it. If we replace the anxiety of worrying about how to get what
we think we need with the grateful assurance that our needs are always being
met, we open doors for all sorts of beneficial upgrades to our state of being.
And haven’t our needs been met with amazing regularity through our whole life?
So why are we worried?
in spiritual writing symbolizes not just what we eat but everything we take in.
Man does not live by bread alone. What we imbibe is paired in yoga with what we
give, meaning everything we emanate, we share. The ingoing and outgoing
tendencies are to be brought into balance.
food places the most direct demands on us, but we also languish in the absence
of intellectual and emotional foodstuffs. Instead of becoming undone in their
imagined absence, if we adopt an attitude of confidence in their steady supply
we will in fact be inviting that supply to come in to our lives, whereas worry
blocks it out.
example, many people agree that there is a kind of teaching curriculum that
life offers us, but usually it’s left as a vague sort of supposition. They
don’t bother to examine the threads of it. If they did, they could see it more
clearly as nourishing their highest aspirations, and sincere appreciation would
almost certainly blossom in their hearts. But many are too lazy to bother. “Let
it come—that’s okay. But I won’t trouble to reach out to it.” It’s true that
similar attitudes have been denigrated into trite beliefs by the religious
faithful, but that’s the cliché part. We shouldn’t let other people’s clichés
drive us away from our own authenticity. The truth is the flow is always
bubbling up inside us, and all we have to do is allow it a chance to be
normal transactional mentality doesn’t serve to establish us in unity. After a
survey of western philosophy in the twentieth century, with its inability to
resolve essential issues, Nitya reaffirms Narayana Guru’s unique stature:
is an unbridgeable duality in all this. Thus these philosophers came up against
a problem they did not know how to solve.
Here Narayana Guru overcomes that
difficulty. The paradox or dichotomy involved only comes up when we conceive of
transcendence as separate from phenomenal existence, but he doesn’t see it that
way. In the third verse he showed us that we have to conceive of the whole
thing as a treasury of oceanic depth from which waves of phenomenality arise.
The waves are not different from the ocean. In this verse he says the world of
necessity that makes you pass through all these phenomenal bumps—the imperative
need, the search and the fulfillment—is an eternal game that goes on and on. It
has always been like that, and it will always be like that. But there is also a
changeless reality which does not come and go, and it is the same as the
knowledge in which the whole game takes place. They are not in any way separate
things. It is within your knowledge you feel a need, within it you make your
calculations as you go in search. The knowledge itself makes you gamble, take
risks and have faith that what you seek will be provided and that somehow you
will find it. The whole process, including its fulfillment, is all happening within
talked at length about some aspects of Nitya’s own sadhana, unique among
uniques, and tried to apply the principles to our own dilemmas. Most of it will
have to vanish in the mist. It made for a lovely conversation at the time. As
the crescent moon set and the rosy glow faded over the distant mountains, we
slowly stood up and went our separate ways.
This Nor That But . . . Aum:
an ant is hungry, it goes in search of a thrown-away bread crumb or a dead
cricket. When fledglings cry from hunger in the early dawn the parent birds
leave the nest to look for worms. When a fisherman nets a big catch he can sell
part of it to buy other provisions and make a saving to meet the contingency of
unpredictable days. Those who live a sophisticated life with regular incomes
and make their purchases from the nearby shopping centre, do not know the
anguish of the little ant, the birds and the fisherman, who do not know how
long they will have to toil and hang around or move around in pursuit of the
prey which exists in an unpredictable range of probabilities. Even those who
have the neat arrangement of a fat checkbook or bankcard and an opulent
department store may at times not find the fruit or vegetable they want or a
particular brand of a manufactured product. It is not hard to envisage the
coming together of several uncertain and unpredictable events, which occur like
favourable chances ordained by a benign God to keep the scarcity/ supply ratio
at an almost foreseeable pace. It is a well-known fact that most living beings
get their daily food. Wild animals, like wolves for instance, which are not
always lucky in getting their daily meat, are favoured by nature and are
adjusted to a feast-and-fast pattern.
daily and cyclic needs to which living beings are subjected have a harsh
imperativeness. When the need is categorical, such as the intake of air, water
and food, nothing is more natural than seeking its immediate fulfillment.
Although the need is precipitated by a world of mechanistic determination, the
fulfillment happens like the manifestation of a miracle in a rat-maze of possibilities.
In some areas
the world even items of abundance, such as fresh air and drinking water, are
becoming scarce. There is no promise that every need will be fulfilled. If our
board and lodging on earth is hosted by a steward, nobody seems to have seen
him, so all our contracts and pledges are made as ex-party decisions. On the
surface of the earth, including its burrows and crevices, in the water and in
the air live a multitude of beings that are in need of their daily or periodic
nourishment. In spite of continuous poverty in certain countries, when we look
at the proliferation, growth and longevity of the several species of beings
that are earth-bound, we cannot but wonder how at least a maximum number of
them are provided for daily by the unpredictable matching of probabilities,
such as a smart cat succeeding in catching a partridge, while a lame cat will
find sympathy in a lonely woman, or a herd of caribou escaping the pursuit of
the most determined pack of wolves and the tired wolves coming upon a stray
becoming is a process in which necessity enters into a dialogue with
probability that again and again equalizes the balance between the need and
supply with a certain amount of scarcity left behind to spur the onward
movement of intentionality, which in turn becomes the substance of phenomenal
and through all these variables, there remains a constant. That is pure
knowledge. In an earlier verse, Narayana Guru defined the Self as the knowledge
that knows even when concealed in darkness. He is speaking here of the same
knowledge, which is not different from the Self.
phenomenal becoming and the changeless pure knowledge when taken separately may
look dichotomous, as in the works of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, and
afterwards made unbridgeable by Jean Paul Sartre in his Being and Nothingness.
This danger in speculative philosophy was foreseen by the Guru from the
beginning, and he carefully avoided the chasm by presenting the objective world
of facts and the subjective world of ideas both as aspects of the one primal
substance. In verse 3 he compares the phenomenal manifestation to the formation
of waves on the surface of the watery depth of the oceanic treasury. The key
word in this verse is vativu, form.
What we call the world is a formation and its never-ceasing proliferation.
Although the wave is an appearance, it is an appearance substantiated by real water
which has irrefutable existence, and that form can cause a heavy toll by
killing a million people when it assumes the demonic dimensions of a tidal
wave. As Husserl rightly pleads, there is no separation between existence and
absence. The Guru is not pleading here for the integration of appearance and
reality, but for the recognition of the non-differentiation of the two.
key word in the previous verse was aruma,
the desert of all values. We can re-apply here the analogy of the one sun with
its countless beams of radiation which Guru gives in verse 2. In terms of
energy, the sun and the sunlight are the same. Sunlight, however, can assume
the shape and colour of what it illuminates. This illuminating aspect is termed
in this verse as vativàrnnu ninnitunnu.
The essential reality of all forms is the same dear value, the aruma of the previous
THERE is an aspect of nature that is phenomenal and subject
to everlasting flux and becoming. This is the domain of the multiplicity of
existing things - like the earth which we can touch and know as something
outside ourselves, as an object to be known. The knower is the self and the
known belongs to the side of the non-self. If we should put these two dual
aspects together unitively there is a central neutral reality which knows no
change. That remains ever as the ‘high value’ of the previous verse.
Unchanging reality is the Absolute which is ever constant and
the same. It has a certain finalized form as pure awareness which is ineffable
and subtler than the subtle, like a mathematical truth of the most abstract and
generalized order. It is on
such a subtle and all-inclusive basis that phenomenal existence can trace its changing
The one and the changeless on the one hand, and the
many that hang together in
the chain of causes and effects, are related to the core in the neutrality of the
contradiction or conflict - but in the manifested world they are contraries or
contradictories, according to the various grades of actualities or reasoned
entities, factors or beings.
There are three ways of knowing from the relativist side when
we envisage the highest of absolute generalized abstractions which is all inclusive. These three ways
touched upon by
the Guru here in the third line as:
Firstly, what we know, or rather what we can know by the
advancement of philosophical knowledge, which is called ‘jneya’ (that which is
to be known), or even sometimes ‘vijnanam’ (specified knowledge). This refers to
the object-matter of knowledge in pure epistemology.
Then, secondly, there is an ‘objective’ knowledge pure and
simple, or just things that we can touch and entities that are analogous to it
as seen through the inner organs such as the mind (‘manas’), intelligence (‘buddhi’),
relational mind (‘chitta’) and the ego (‘ahamkara’). Such actual or analogously
actual items are many, and the Guru refers to them as a category implied in ‘what
it is’ or ‘that’, which refers to tangible aspects of the non-self.
Then, thirdly, there is the self itself which is, as it were,
within the body, but not
really inside or outside.
These three aspects, while they are distinguishable from the
relativistic side, merge
into the unity of the Absolute when the philosophy becomes finalized or confirmed. The
phenomenal and the noumenal
worlds can be equated in terms of the Absolute.
Knowledge, knower and known are the tri-basic aspects of
truth as seen from the relativistic side, which are transcended in the unitive
vision of the Absolute. This tri-basic aspect of knowledge is to be
vedantically finalized or reduced in terms of the vision of the Absolute.
Unitive knowledge combines the ‘it’ or ‘that’ aspect with the
self aspect on one side, and the non-self aspect on the other. When the
tri-basic aspects are thus unitively and globally reduced and reconstructed, as
the last line states, we come to see all others too that we saw as individuals
apart from our own individual selves, as also conforming to the prototype of
the global neutral and normal notion of the Absolute. All first, second or
third personal pronouns in the singular or plural and whatever gender, could
come under the aegis of the Absolute Self.
is responding to Verse 63 now, but I’m adding it here because it’s a good
review of a few of Nitya’s key points:
The first lesson about
trusting your senses is: don’t. Just because you believe something to
be true, just because you know it’s true, that doesn’t mean
it is true. This is because your senses will tell you the most
This is such a great learning...to understand how limited we
A contemplative adds
an extra dimension of more or less intelligent choice. Then, despite being at
the mercy of our mental structuring we at least begin to have a say in
how our life pans out.
It is up to you to
make your consciousness bright or dull. If you decide, “Oh, this is the time to
mourn, to sit and become boorish,” you can. Or you can realize it’s nonsense,
just nonsense, to get into depressions
Yessss....with a big chest thump...
Ive made a promise to myself that I will never let myself
get into a bad mood no matter what...
every little thing is begging to make us whine...the weather
the pollution the traffic apart from the bigger problems of having enough money
finding a partner losing a partner addictions...you name it
its never a good enough day...so you have to start NOW
and then you learn to watch & catch yourself & voila
it starts becoming a habit & slowly you understand that you can be in
charge of your reactions & change does come about.
But in this wakeful
state alone, it is possible to become critical, thoroughgoing, penetrative,
meditative, reflective and perceptive of this possibility of seeing the
Absolute in the relative.
This is such a great hope giving statement...so much work
left to do !
talk at Powell’s brought out a new friend, Stan, who found Nitya’s books at the
library and tuned right in. (You all have likewise donated them to your local
libraries, haven’t you?) He’s joined the email version of our class, and has a
stack of our books awaiting his delectation. He is so excited he has written me
a lot, way too much to put in here. I will pick out a few paragraphs, and if
you want the rest, please let me know. The whole is well worth reading if you
have the time. Stan welcomes dialectical interplay to fine tune his thoughts.
He already sounds at home with the Gurukula philosophy, as you can see:
for the tips on the books. I have been enjoying your intros read randomly
here and there, with the beginning pages of your Krishna book having been most
consequential. Will definitely get to them all. I actually have
both books you mentioned [That Alone and Psychology of Darsanamala] already
checked out from multco, [library] and only the Absolute knows when I will be
able to get to them--a most wonderful dilemma!! There used to be a time
when I felt deeply lucky when one out of the twenty or more books that came my
way for examination for possible insight/wisdom would be in such close
alignment with my own present state of understanding/curiosity/and personal
need at that time, that nearly every page was a mind-stretching delight.
And now, to be knee deep in such material, so wholly apropos to my own most
central interest and passion, with no end in sight, well, just amounts to a
kind of bliss, literally, with a sense of volcanic transformation in the
offing. Like a kid in a candy shop, I hardly know which bowl to gorge
myself on next.
So now here’s
the first little bit of Stan’s first eruption:
far I have only read, several times, N’s comments on “Verse 66”, which is very
useful in several ways. One is in his incisive overview of Sartre’s and
Heidegger’s work. For my purposes, he deftly lays a finger on probably
exactly why I’ve found them not attractive or relevant to laying bare the full
truth of human reality, and I could never justify spending the time to wade
thru their indirect beatings-around-the-bush to find proper reference to the
Absolute. To now learn that they insisted on framing the transcendent and
phenomenal in strictly either/or terms explains and justifies my gut-level
refusal to give them any more attention. Precisely just such a deeply endemic
error would be necessary, though, for Heidegger to have so supported Nazi
ideology as he did, for as long as he did. In my view, this is a fine instance
of how the integrity of one’s consciousness depends upon the quality of the
fundamental (dialectical) contrasts that underlie it.
contrasts in my opinion, even the most neutral and comprehensive, cannot
possibly by their very nature properly
serve as more than purely relative, intellectual tools, limited to supplying,
“necessarily,” the cognitive means by which our “intentions” can be successful
in the phenomenal world--much as I think Nitya says. They are
approximations of “what is” that we find useful in securing the “necessities”
of life, but are largely made-up, superficial conveniences to which is often
also further added a hierarchical spin. These simply have no business
serving as our “ontological” foundation, despite having been forced into that
role in western culture.
For example, not
only in the either/or mind-set are “God” and “human” believed to be wholly separate
and radically different, but God is further believed to be vastly superior to humans—a
presumption springboarding from the previous, already shaky and in fact
distorted one—yet for many, of course, this stack-of-cards is a key element of
nothing less than “reality” itself, rather than the socially and transparently
manipulative device it actually is.
Such a ricketly
structure could never stand on its own, so it has been cumulatively
further buttressed, bolstered, and fortified down thru the centuries by
associations with many kindred either/or, hierarchical contrasts, like
good/bad, rational/irrational, gain/loss, right/wrong, life/death,
thought/emotion, and my all time favorite, the secular version of
sacred/profane, the great mind/body
dualism of dualisms—surely one of the sheerest mass hallucinations ever.
Oddly, John Searles, the Berkeley philosopher, informs us that the
mind/body division is a philosophical conundrum that is both “a scandal,” and
in his view still has not been
resolved—at least by western philosophers, the only philosophers he seems to
recognize as being capable of philosophy.
But there is no need to resolve it; it simply fall away for myth it is,
in the face of correct complementary/dialectical contrasting.
class of either/or contrasts—which sorely needs to be commonly identified and
consciously highlighted as such, by itself being contrasted with the complementary
class—is routinely, pervasively, culturally forced beyond its proper
economic/technological limitations. We use either/or thought so much to clearly
distinguish palpable things, conditions, events, time, etc. that must be
pursued, avoided, manipulated in the material world, that few understand the
inherent limitations of this tool, or even that it is only a tool, highly relative and mercurial in nature, thus to be
held and used tentatively at all times.
Strictly exclusive either/or relations cannot possibly be reliable as
the ultimate guideposts we make of them, from which virtually all our
subsequent thought structure and behaviors are infused and misdirected by.
After all, all words themselves are symbolic abstractions of previously lived,
dynamic, either/or contrasts; their very “meanings” can only exist by virtue of
an implicit opposition to their own antonym or something sharply “other” that
they prominently stand against. Literally,
without that implicit
contrast at its very root—and as the very reason and means by which we find any
word useful—a word can have no meaning
and is simply not a word. Oddly enough though, linguists and theorists of
language, such as the formidable Noam Chomsky himself, are appently oblivious
of this simple fact, which of course is highly inconvenient to their careers.
Blind faith in the
actually expedient mode of either/or cognition is, in my opinion, the almost
completely unsuspected source of human imbalance, dysfunction and
suffering. As Nitya puts it or at
least infers, either/or thinking is naturally (to which I would add empirically,
lawfully and absolutely) “secondary” to what I call complementary thinking,
where water and wave can be, and must be, clearly distinguished on the one
hand, (if we are to avoid the “tidal waves” of phenomenal realities we
constantly face and secure what we materially need), yet also understood--with no true contradiction whatsoever--to be one
and the same, ultimately, from another, deeper, perspective. In other
words, to live well human consciousness must—literally must—be based fundamentally on, and grounded in, complementary contrasts of a “both/and” nature, not either/or.
Only then will our compulsively alluring, self-constructing thought processes
be held in check, properly and continually
balanced between our Unconditioned and our conditioned aspects. Only then
can thought be truly
writes: “This is a very subtle thing. If
you understand it, it makes a real difference in your life. You do and
you do not do. You perform everything you are doing now and yet, at the same
time, you do not do anything. The Gita expresses it as seeing action in
inaction and inaction in action, but this can become a cliché.”
Right on target--I only wish the
action/inaction complementarity were
the “cliche” in the west it apparently “can be” in India. I’ve only run
across it myself a handful of times, exclusively in eastern literature, and
originally was totally perplexed by it, back in the days when the either/or
shadow ruled and ran my own cognitive show. And yes, given our
overvaluing of cognition in general, the complementarity of functions that
actually found it, and in fact
unconsciously allow every operation of intelligence as well as the entire
biological realm to even exist, is presently for most of us, unfortunately, an
all too “subtle thing.” That
really needn’t be; there is no good reason that our natural complementarity
can’t be consciously understood and held in the very foreground of human
take it as my mission to expose the “absolute necessity” of the complementary
perspective from every angle possible. Just as Neils Bohr (best known for
his insight into the complementarity of particle/waves in physics) attempted to
promote it in his latter years, to wholly perplexed audiences, complementarity
needs to be a part of our earliest classroom experience, consciously
understood, embraced, and acknowledged as our true framework of reality.
Nor is this really difficult to do—at least for those motivated to and
neurologically capable of considering it, those who have managed to preserve
something of their childlike nature, and better yet, children themselves.
On the other hand,
for those not only not receptive
to this view but adamantly resistant to it (those suffering to various
degrees the pandemic neurological disorder perhaps best diagnosed as chronic
inflammation of the conservative faculty, or “conservatosis”), Sri
Atmananda K. Menon has well noted, ”Vedanta
is verily a spiritual ‘atom bomb’; and it is no wonder that the intellectuals
cautiously avoid it, for fear of blundering into the Right”—for indeed, the
complementary bio-logic of life, the pre-conscious foundation of life, is too simple
and obvious to
be categorized, really, as “philosophy” at all. Ironically, our biggest
challenge, at least we who are seeking full adulthood (in reference to your
memorable point at Powell’s), is not that complementarity is too paradoxically
advanced for ordinary mortals to fathom, but exactly the reverse: it is
actually too simple for the relative
complexity of thought to grasp, especially in an organism entangled in
wall-to-wall either/or thought, day and night.
do so literally requires the mind to stretch beyond its own bounds, and
nautrally cancel out its own extraneous activity, which naturally occurs when
brought next to the furnace of Presence, the “atom bomb” of Discernments of the
Simplest nature. As Bohr said (paraphrased here): “You can’t
think about this
(complementarity principle) without becoming a bit ‘dizzy’”—to put it a bit too
merely understanding, fully, just how it is that we simultaneously “do and do not do”—necessarily, all the time and at
every level of ourselves right “down” to the cellular—quickly makes mincemeat
of a voluminous mass of western philosophy, such as Heidegger's, along with the
socially constructed framework of psuedo-reality as a whole. But,
philosophers aside, for just about anybody who is unprepared for considering
the Naturally Embedded Alternative, it can be deeply traumatizing to have nothing
less than what you’ve unquestioningly taken all your life to be reality itself
basically demolished, in a heartbeat.
grew up in an American household in which matters of philosophy or life’s
meaning were channeled into one of two ruts: complete mystery and an
off-loading of any larger reality onto a priestly class or a stubborn clinging
to a superficial New Age kind of “spirituality” illustrated loosely by public
celebrities of the time such as Shirley McClain and the like. These two views
clashed often in our
domestic kitchen, battles that generally concluded with the sneering retort to
a claim that traditional faith (as commonly understood in its Protestant
strain) ought to be observed: “you create your own reality.” Not
having the tools or the information
to parse this final—and at the time novel—claim, it eventually came to act as a
dogma of supreme authority in our family, and, I suspect, continues to do so in
a significant number of them today.
Verse 66 and its commentary, the Guru and Nitya do the parsing for us, arriving
finally at the conclusion they consistently do throughout the entire 100 Verses:
the wave and the water are
not two. In observing our world of
necessity as we go about our business in it (the wave), we need to bear in mind
the context in which all this sound and fury take place, the transcendent
Absolute, that which is constant and that which we visit regularly in deep
sleep and can come to be aware of in meditation—the oceanic depths.
first discussing the world of becoming, Nitya emphasizes its capacity to make
demands on us, some of which are non-negotiable. Our daily need for food, writes Nitya, leaves none of us in
a position of bartering. We eat or
die, like it or no. With this
example, he goes on to make the point that three elements exist here “for us to
take into consideration: . . . absolute necessity. . . . the field of operation
of chance, and . . . the fulfillment that needs to be attained” (p. 456). The
element is the linking portion between necessity and fulfillment that
introduces the element of fear. It
is possible, for instance, that one may not find food, and on occasion such is
the case, however remote. A basic
and universal need, our demand for food is generally achievable. On the other
hand, “wanting to hear a
symphony,” suggests Nitya, is far less fundamental and much more abstract. Because
of that character its
fulfillment becomes more problematic.
Our hierarchy of needs reflects a diminishing possibility of realization
the more removed the desire is from being non-negotiable. Always existing, however,
element of fear of failure, and it is this general dynamic that Nitya calls
“the world”: the sum total of “the dialogue between the certain and the
uncertain” (p. 452). (The stock
market’s Volatility Index is the clearest measure of this I know of.)
this world, then, fear rules as each
of us goes about constructing our universes. And it is this cobbled together thing that can and often does come to occupy our complete attention
when we forget the Absolute context in which it all takes place (which is
precisely the aim of both atheism and religionism.)
In several key paragraphs, Nitya
drills deeper yet into the notion of this thing and how it grew out of Western
European thought and connected especially deep in contemporary American
cultural philosophy (a developmental link that Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut so
eloquently point out in their French
Philosophy of the Sixties.)
Citing Husserl Heidegger, Sartre, and Jaspers, Nitya reviews the process
through which this concept of our world, as commonly understood in the West,
came to be a dichotomy or division between the immanent and the
transcendent. In summing up, Nitya
writes, “Sartre gave us a simple choice: either go with the Idealists or the
Existentialists and don’t confuse their distinctions” (p. 455). Hegel
or Hemingway. Unable to bridge the gap or connect the
Absolute with the everyday world of our awake consciousness, Sartre narrowed
the issue to an either/or fallacy that pretty much represents the American
cultural divide. What remains
constant in either case, however, is the manifest reality of the waves and
their collective character of fear and anxiety, a condition of maya which has
always been true and always will be, writes Nitya: “the imperative need, the
search and the fulfillment—is an eternal game that goes on and on” (p.
454). That game is that which is to
our senses in the awake state,
and, as the Guru and Nitya have made so very clear, our senses tell us that
experience is real. The fact that
it arises and recedes within the context of the Absolute does not disqualify
its reality however transient. In
other words, to say as a final claim “we create our own reality” is true only
insofar as it refers to that which is—and
by definition that which is not in
the world of necessity.
In living our lives, concludes
Nitya, the continuous compulsions we experience daily and the circus
manufactured out of our collective fear are conditions always driving that
which is not, the arising and receding.
This is also the world where we live, and our participation in it is
mandatory if we are to come to know what the Absolute “looks like.” By
the same token, that unstable
fear-driven conglomeration is a pale imitation of the real. Observing and participating
former while knowing the latter
provides a path to living transcendence here and now, a conclusion containing
an added bonus as Krishnamurti notes in his The
First and Last Freedom:
There can be freedom from fear
there is self-knowledge. Self-Knowledge
is the beginning of wisdom, which
is the end of fear. (p. 189)
Part IV ?