The “M” stands for the well-dormant state, the knower,
which is the third, because of ascent or from descent.
He verily ascends or descends into everything,
who understands this.
eleventh mantra depicts a mysterious structural element, indicated by ascent
and descent, implying a vertical parameter. While only touched on here,
elsewhere the idea has been expounded to reveal more of its implications; a
couple of Nitya’s very helpful efforts in this regard are appended in Part II.
took this verticality in the best possible way. He told us how for his whole
adult life he had been thinking of the vertical pole as having a fixed top and
bottom, but this made him realize that they are directions diverging from a
center point, with no limit. The M isn’t the bottom, it is a continuum. This is
the kind of mind expansion that a close reading of the Upanishad can bring
about, especially when there is a long history of dedicated contemplation.
we think of the turiya, the fourth, as fully transcendent and non-dimensional,
while the sushupti begins with
conception and so has a fixed starting point. Yet the seed at the inception of
our present life is the culmination of a previous existence, and that of a
previous one, and so on back to the very beginning of life. Because of this
inversion, there is another kind of infinite expansion involved. We find
ourselves at an eternal and dynamic midpoint between an infinite future and an
far as our contemplation goes, it is not helpful to picture these quadrants as
static or limited. They are composed of endless possibilities, and no matter
how much we explore we will never do much more than scratch their surface.
the hubris of dimly-aware humans, we may imagine ourselves as consciously
responsible for painstakingly and randomly making our way along the continuum
staked out by the vertical pole. With a little reflection, it is evident that
the area under our control is severely limited and the pole itself is
imaginary. We are blessed by what are sometimes called autonomous features that
operate more smoothly the less we tamper with them. It may be that regarding
this inner system as divine accords the optimal state of worshipful
appreciation to invite its free operation in our psyche, and even in our
external life. Nitya had few qualms about expressing his gratitude in those
When living beings mature, the
uniqueness of each species is gathered into the seed or sperm or ovum, to wait
as an incipient principle until nature gives it the green light to proliferate.
The consciousness that functions at such a critical juncture is not a passive
onlooker or a conditioned reflex. It is a secret lobby of life where the
Omnipresent Omniscience exercises the divine power of a god to act with a
well-designed and far-sighted ingenuity as the one executor without a second,
to whom is entrusted the entire responsibility of programming life.
of Nitya’s most important philosophical contributions, in my mind anyway, is
that the programmer that constructs the fetus continues its support throughout
the whole of life, only more or less interfered with by misguided intentions
once we obtain an individual personality and a functioning body. Harmonizing
our intentions with the inner guiding principle is a prime challenge of a
spiritual life. I have gathered several of the threads that Nitya scattered
here and there about this in my audio talk, Coming Back to Ourselves: Finding
Authentic Direction in the Chaos of Being (http://wetwaremedia.com/downloads/coming-back-to-ourselves/
). It’s really quite fascinating.
is a line of thinking that plants are in some ways the forebears of creatures
like us that can move around and help broadcast their progeny far and wide. Our
spiritual essence does resemble a growing plant, with its roots out of sight in
the nurturing earth and its stalk reaching up to the sunlight beaming down from
the sky, eventually enabling it to burst into flower and even lay the
groundwork for another generation in the form of a seed. The image of sushupti
is of a seedbed from which the trunk of our existence, with its myriad tendrils
of expressed and yet-to-be expressed potentials, pulsates upwards toward the
very source of life.
in the Mandukya, in mantras 5 and 6, the knowing genius of this seedbed was
Attaining to a unitive status,
filled even with a
knowing-content, made of bliss,
nourishing itself on bliss, of a
is the knower, the third limb.
This the lord of all, the
this the inner negation factor;
This is the source of everything,
and the beginning and end of
radical element here, and the one that most scientists are unwilling to fathom,
is that this vast region hidden from sight is all-knowing, or, more reasonably,
much-knowing. Yet if you start by admitting that it knows how to make a human
or other creature, and continue operating it efficiently like a vast factory,
where the conscious mind is like a guard at the gate who has never been inside
and moreover has not even left the grounds except on rare occasions, you begin
to see how much intelligence is present everywhere. Such an insight should make
us infinitely grateful and inexhaustibly humble, if not scientifically
recalled Nitya often likening sushupti to a black box to which we have no
access. All we can do is sit quietly nearby in supplication. Yet we disappear
into it at night, into that vibrant mystery that nourishes and replenishes us.
It is where our intuitive knowledge comes from, but we can’t control it or make
it into an object. It cannot be delineated. Ideally we are at its service, as
it is at ours. We should be on the friendliest of terms with it.
for us, however, this all-knowing inner factor is not dependent on our
conscious involvement; in fact, it thrives when we listen to it and foster it
rather than trying to manipulate it. Our traumas and confusions tend to impede
it, and this is where we can do some valuable work on ourselves. Instead of
habituating to our pains—stoically making the best of them—we can unburden
ourself of them and by doing so offer our proclivities freer rein. This can
even happen on the physical plane, since traumas are retained in our bodies.
told us how he had suffered a repetitive motion injury to his shoulder, where
it lost most of its range of motion and was very painful. He was fortunate to
find a physical therapist who had a very different approach from the usual
medical model. She believed that the fascia, the network of connective tissue
that encases the muscles, is where trauma is retained, and they went to work on
his. Her idea was that if you could allow the fascia to find their resting position
and hold that position for a while, eventually it would dissipate the retained
tension. He remembers a crucial moment when the tension was explosively
released with an intense rhythmic pulsation, after which his shoulder rapidly
recovered. Not only that, but the healing acted as a kind of shock wave to
repair other areas of retained trauma, including from a previous abdominal
surgery. Andy’s experience amplifies Nitya’s statement in the commentary: “In
all alternating and cyclic functions there comes an inevitable pause. This
pause is absolutely necessary for the rejuvenation and continuation of all
pulsating energy systems.”
relation with mantra 11 is that Andy felt very much that he was in the presence
of an inner healing intelligence. Though he had to diligently perform certain
exercises, they basically allowed his inner healer to do its work. In fact this
is what we’re aiming for on all levels: proper alignment regularly supported to
permit optimal freedom of motion. The ambit includes not just our bodies, but
our mind, employment, friendships… who knows what else? Andy later told me he
felt that all of nature works this way. As Nitya puts it:
The same corporeality which is
miraculously effected in each individual organism is further extrapolated into
what may be called a universal mind of intrapersonal and interpersonal
coordination of the highest order. Such an inconscient consciousness which is
constantly engaged in the structuring of this universe should be called the
often proposed that our inner intelligence was busily arranging the environment
to make it suitable for expressing our abilities, well in advance of any
conscious intimation of where we are headed. The theory invites you listen to
your inner whisperings, and wonder what they mean, instead of barging ahead
with a preplanned program based on socialized impulses. I suppose this is why a
spiritual life is not for everyone—it’s not nearly as practical as picking a
well-paying occupation and putting all your energy into conforming to its
demands. It’s transformative rather than regurgative. As author Ken Kesey put
it, do you want to be a lightning rod or a seismograph? Regardless, it’s nice
to know there is an intelligent actor inside us making major contributions to
our unfoldment, no matter how severely we are constrained in the playing out of
can get a clear picture of this intelligence if you watch a time-lapse video of
a wound healing. The body doesn’t just fling random skin cells at the opening,
they carefully grow in just the right way to knit the hole back together, a
very complex process.
related something similar he learned from an osteopath he was attending on
during his EMT medical training. The doctor had just reset a broken leg without
an X ray, and Paul was surprised. The doctor told him that you just have to get
the bones in close proximity, and then they’ll find each other. You might say
they want to be together.
all admired Nitya’s dialectical phrase at the end of this sentence:
The living organism is like a
colony of billions of autonomous living units which are held together,
controlled, ruled and functionally coordinated by this unifying principle of a
paradoxically inconscient consciousness.
on an inconscient consciousness can carry you well into those mysterious depths
that ever lie beyond our reach. Perhaps we only have access to the fringes of
the total reality, but it feels like we invite its participation by tiptoeing a
little ways into its terrain. Dialectic reasoning is a lot like meditating on
koans, in that the superficial mind is suspended so that something more
profound can ease into the picture.
contrasted the active involvement recommended by the Upanishadic model with the
much more common salvation model, where some divine being from elsewhere
appears and does your work for you. This is undoubtedly wishful thinking writ
large, and unless it’s very intelligently managed, it’s a recipe for impotence.
The divine principle is within us. This is not an abstraction. We aren’t just
to stand back and let the universe work. It needs us as one of its manifested
aspects. We are co-creators, co-participants with the inner impulse. Striking a
balance between leading and following, between doing and not doing, is an
eternal engagement demanding our best efforts. Rising to the call makes life
even more interesting than it already is.
don’t have to make a breakthrough to be fully alive—we are already fully alive.
We could just recognize that being alive is the greatest miracle and is fully
satisfying, wherever it may lead us. We can be content to be stuck, as many of
us are, or we can hearken to the liberating implication of Nitya’s closing
No individuated being can ever
aspire to escape the magnetic domination of this perpetual dharma. The only
exception is when transcendence happens in the white heat of the individual’s
mystical merger with the inner freedom and spontaneity of the cosmic principle,
which can be dharma and Brahman at the same time.
is the greatest mystery of all: how to achieve the unachievable; how to act in
a realm that transcends action. If we listen in wonder, our inner guru is
beckoning us to melt into the whole which we have temporarily abandoned. Our
aspiration upward invites a commensurate descent of grace, and the two impulses
commingle in the middle, right in the heart. The bliss of it rejuvenates our
whole being, instilling the energy to actualize our value vision. More on the
how and why of this is included in Part II.
Everything which happens in wakeful life has a corresponding
urge, interest or value vision lying buried in the deep unconscious. This is
the causal factor which produces the effect of what is experienced, called susupti, or suptam.
is the state of the unconscious, but it is not by any means empty. Like a
seed pod, it has many seeds embedded in it. These are called vasana. Some of them are cyclic in their
manifestations. For instance, there are certain kinds of lilies which flower
only in a particular season. You can bury the bulb in your garden anytime, but
it will lie there dormant until its proper season comes. Then it will flower
forth. There are other kinds which are not seasonal, they just go on blooming.
Whether seasonal or unseasonal, the seeds of all our experiences lie buried in
the garden of our unconscious.
the process of the realization of the Self we are always trying to attain the
state of the transcendental. The transcendental, or the witness, is here
separated from the tree. The Guru symbolizes it by a contemplative who sits
under the tree of manifestation. About him many things are happening. He sees
that all these things are going on, but he just sits there, seemingly
unconcerned. He is not really a careless hobo, because the creepers are always
growing in all directions and covering everything. If you are not alert as you
sit there, if you don’t sit in the proper way, you will also be caught and
covered. And yet, you do not run away from it. You sit right under it, doing tapas.
is tapas? In the Bhagavad Gita
certain examples of tapas are given.
For instance, I have these hands with which I can wreak a lot of destruction. I
can also use them to create beneficial things or to help others. When my
actions are withdrawn from anything negative, and my potentials are allowed to
operate for the well-being of the world and to contribute to the perennial
virtues of life, it is a tapas or
ascetic discipline of the body.
the mind is withdrawn from all the horizontalities of life and is geared to a
perception of higher truth and the manifestation of its beauty, we are doing tapas with our mind. The contemplative
who is sitting quietly under the tree is not just wasting his time. Although he
looks somewhat unconcerned, he is actively engaged, concerned with everyone and
everything. He is full of love and full of consideration. If he wants to be
able to save anyone, he has to keep from being entangled in the creeper, to
keep himself detached.
three people are drowning and a fourth takes pity on them and swims into the
middle of the three, they will catch hold of him from three sides and all four
will drown. So he needs to do it intelligently, first taking one to safety and
then going back for the next. Only chance determines whether he can save all
three. At least he won’t be killed along with them.
compassion should be such that you are not caught in a snare in the name of
compassion. You have to detach yourself. Martin Luther King spoke of having a
cause for which you are willing to die. We want to change that to a cause for
which you are willing to live. Dying is not a great virtue. Living is the great
virtue, and not only living now, but living forever.
The Psychology of Darsanamala:
a piece of cloth the threads can be pulled out, one after another, until no
cloth remains. Now the thread itself can be untwisted and unwound until only a
heap of cotton fiber is left. Every fiber can then be destructured until
the heap of fiber is no more. In the
laboratory the constituents of the fiber can be separated and revealed. When
this is done the name “cotton” is no longer applicable. And when the limits of
our instruments have been reached, still we can continue to analyze the subject
in the subjective realm of ideation and speculation. In this case we have gone
from the gross manifestation of cotton cloth to the subtle manifestations of
mental entities. This process can be repeated in actuality or by analogy with
anything manifested in the world of physical objectivity: it can all be reduced
to its subtle beginnings in mentation.
serious penetration of the meaning and workings of the external world must
inevitably take us step by step into the sources of our own subjective causes.
What may at first appear to be infinite and immeasurable shrinks into a point
of acute awareness, and it is located as the center of consciousness. Without
knowing the pulsation of this consciousness, which can converge or contract to
a point of awareness that is infinitesimally smaller than a conceivable
mathematical point, and which can also expand with variegated forms, shapes,
colors and names into an infinite universe, one will be unable to wipe off the
misery of life in a wholesale manner. Piecemeal techniques or shortcuts are of
little help, though they may give a momentary respite.
Guru did not begin his spiritual life as an evangelist of wisdom. First he
withdrew himself from everyone and everything. For more than a decade he examined
the lifestyle of his fellow men. Then he withdrew from the world. After that he
withdrew from the physical body. Finally he withdrew from the tumult and
feverishness of the mind. Eventually came the experience of the realization
that his own being was none other than Being itself, which is the One
manifested as the All. Only after the actualization of this experience had
saturated and transformed his emotions, thought, volitions and specific
identity did the Guru begin to reveal his gospel of love and unitive
our conversation about the savior syndrome and how ubiquitous it is, Andy
talked about Vyasa Prasad’s interpretation of an often-misunderstood
affirmation of the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter IV, verses 7 and 8:
Whenever there comes to be laxity
in regard to right life, O Arjuna, and wrong coming to assert itself, then I
bring about the creation of myself.
To protect those who are good and
to destroy evildoers, for establishing righteousness, I assume being, age by
Andy noted how this is often interpreted in the “savior”
mode, yet Vyasa Prasad assured him that the original language does not imply
any external intervention, but more of a rising up from within. It’s a
grassroots movement. This is correct. The Gita is the last place where we would
be asked to defer to some deity and abandon our responsibilities. I thought I’d
clip in a couple of thoughts from my own commentary to expand on Vyasa’s
idea is interesting on many levels. Basically we have the natural bliss of the
Absolute breaking through the accretions of moribund beliefs and mental iron
curtains that humans seem condemned to erect when they lose contact with their
own nature as the Absolute.
are thrilled by the prospect of God coming to Earth to straighten things out
and punish their enemies, which seems to be implied here. We have to be very
careful not to make that mistake. The emphasis is on renewal and regeneration
rather than persecution.
Gita never uses the familiar term avatar, which implies a descent of some sort
of deity from above into creation below. Instead it uses srijami, with the intimation of a seed sprouting at its appropriate
season. A seed may lie dormant for a long time, but its potential is always
present. This accords much better with the universality of divinity that the
Gita espouses than any supernatural descent. The Absolute arises from within
rather than without. It pulses, like a seed growing into a tree, then back into
a seed, to become another tree, endlessly. It breaks through the stagnation of
fixed notions—“laxity in regard to right life”—like a blade of grass pushing up
through a cement sidewalk or a tree root cracking a boulder.
of the Divine becoming incarnate are found in many religions. In the Gita’s
view, everything without exception is an incarnation of the Absolute. It is not
a rare event but the whole ball of wax. Any difference between the divine and
the ordinary, the unmanifest and the manifest, can only lie in our level of
awareness, as Krishna noted back in verse 5.
to the idea of avatars or divine saviors, there may or may not be some strange
sacrifice performed at intervals by the Absolute to save us from our collective
tendency toward evil and stupidity, such as crucifying a beautiful soul in
plain sight of everyone. Who knows? The Gita isn't talking about anything like
that. If we believe it, such an act should make us infinitely grateful and our
hearts should soar with love. We should be so thankful that we spontaneously
forgive our enemies, realizing they are in the same predicament as us. Such an
act should galvanize us into working for liberty and justice for all. If that
doesn’t happen, then we’ve missed the point. If God’s love inspires us to hate
rather than accept, we clearly aren’t getting the message.
aside, when the Absolute reenters your heart and fills you once again with
wisdom and compassion, it is the resurrection of the divine, a second coming if