Maya Darsana verse 9
Just as a tree wonderfully is
latent in the seed, all are in this;
therefore, or by its importance,
it is called pradhanam.
Nataraja Guru’s commentary:
of being that aspect (of
maya) which is a
containing in all this (universe) like tree in a seed,
by virtue of its importance (above others)
here is known as the prime potent power (pradhana).
you look carefully at the verse, pradhana appears to be almost identical with
maya: it means the whole context of existence. Nataraja Guru’s translation
emphasizes this quite nicely. The class noticed how maya has been expanded to
its full dimension over the course of the Darsana, and so is no longer an
enemy, no longer simply a term for the negative half of existence. Life is not
a mistake to be corrected, but a creative exuberance to be expressed in myriad
ways, one mega-drama to each customer.
had a wonderful understanding of the Bible, and he loved to share it,
particularly with people basted in popular interpretations that he was
convinced did not do it justice. Here he equates pradhana, the prime potent
power, with the Word of God in St. John’s gospel:
The element of wisdom underlying both
of Genesis and St. John’s Gospel is the same. In both there is reference to the
Word, or logos, that can bring into
manifestation the world of gross and concrete actuality, and in both there is
reference to the dual principle of light and darkness in which darkness has the
opacity to reject the positive power of light. The Biblical language is of a
mystical order and does not pretend to a scientific clarity. Even so, the
suggestions given in the above quotations can be of immense help to anyone
blessed with the faculty of intuition. They will help them to understand the
major riddle of spirit versus matter which confronts us in the fields of
religion and science.
The Word is not the same as the flow of verbiage in words.
It is a translation of logos, Greek for logic, and so a perhaps unfortunate
quirk of the English language. The Word is a moving creative force, an ongoing
hurricane of creation. We all exist within that perfect storm. As Paul said,
words are delimiting: they put a border around any object we give value to. The
Word is more like an acorn, one whose actualization is our entire universe.
While unmanifested, it is all-inclusive. As Deb put it, you can’t see the tree
in the seed. It has to become expressed before we can learn what the potential
may be why it is so difficult for us to accept the intrinsic harmony of
nature—its true spirit. In the West we are inheritors of some 400 years of
careful scientific separation of spirit and matter, and at least two thousand
years of a similar religious division. It is high time for us to begin to see
them as twin aspects of a single unitive principle. Paul put this very nicely,
quoting a friend that reality was the nature of Spirit, which is the same as
Spirit’s nature. On close examination, there is only one thing going on, a
continuous emanation from a point source (located in everyone and everything)
to the vast panoply of actualizations we perceive. Prior to manifestation
reality remains as pure potential, and after manifestation infinite potential
resides also within a more or less limited expression. We highlight different
aspects for the sake of analysis, but we should never forget that there is no
line of demarcation anywhere. It isn’t even that the one flows into the other.
There is no other. There is only reality as such, comprehended according to
each person’s lights.
shared how she loves to sit and drink her coffee in the morning and visualize
how she is made up of so many other things. She can sip the jungle where the
coffee is grown, the monkeys in the trees there, the worms in the earth, all of
it entering into the coffee plant and into the berries, eventually finding its
way to her lips. She loves to watch all those different lives entering into her
during her morning coffee meditation. It makes her feel like she is made up of
many other forms. She knows that in its turn her body will some day feed other
living things too.
likened pradhana to atomic energy, which radiates as electromagnetic waves that
also have the qualities of particles, depending on how they are observed. We
can easily comprehend how all of us come from that universal source. If it’s
personified it becomes problematic, but we don’t need to complicate it that
gives three perspectives of how the universe emerges from a point source: a
more-or-less traditional concept of God as creator; the elaboration of a
mathematical point of no dimensions into a line, plane, and eventually a
three-dimensional solid; and the atomic or monadic theories of an irreducible
building block. He also implies a fourth perspective, in the conception and
development of a human infant. All of these emerge from a single point, which
is really nothing, as he makes clear, though the baby is more of a symbol of a
point of origin, since it begins as a unicellular construct. A real point is
nothing at all.
implication of these images is not only that our world is an elaboration of a
seed—that is self-evident and not necessarily a transformative idea. The
spiritual implication is that we can deconstruct our conceptual accretions, and
by doing so get closer to the universal dynamic source at the heart of our
individuality. Instead of stifling its purview to act on our behalf, we let go
of our fear and cherished certainties to provide a less-congested slate for it
to write on. Again, this is not some outside force we are dangerously inviting
to take control. It is our very nature. It is already operating in us, but at
low-res. Turning up the brightness can flood away a number of anxieties, which
are measures of how tightly the ego is clinging to the tiny shreds it is
herculean efforts to subtract coherence from the universe on the part of many
thinkers, there remains an undeniably coherent organization as the skeletal
structure of what we know. Nitya says of this: “If we agree with the description of the logos
given by Heraclitus and Plato, we
shall think of it as a totality of intelligence operating in and through the
entire gamut of the universal and world manifestation and the process of
creation.” The problem scientists have with this obvious truism is that humans
have had a tendency to split intelligence off from its intrinsic location
within manifestation, put it on a remote pedestal, and call it God. Then
all sorts of cockamamie ideas become plausible. It shouldn’t be considered so wrongheaded to
observe coherence existing within everything and call the whole business
Divine. In the words of Stan Grof: “Divinity everywhere, with no deity
anywhere.” Or how about calling it simply Functional? It is a miracle that
things work, and work well. Scientists attribute intelligence to principles
like survival of the fittest or the wisdom of the marketplace, which are just
another kind of deification of ideas.
others tie themselves in knots over semantics. We are aiming to open ourselves
to the creative impulse of pradhana—the expression of maya if you will—to
enrich our lives. When a new entity bursts into existence like a spark from a
campfire or homam fire, sooner of later it fizzles out. In the brief moment of
our glory we want to be a bright light that cheers everyone in the vicinity, to
really live our unique opportunity well. The gurus are offering to fan the
flames, if we are willing. Nitya reiterates our potential, in case we are
immodestly selling ourselves short:
The dual factors mentioned by St.
John at the beginning of his gospel – life and light, and light and darkness –
are enough for us to understand both the transcendental and the imminent. Every
cell in our body pulsates with light, yet we are in the dark as to the nature
and purpose of that pulsation. At the same time, there is a great light in us
that can soar high on the wings of the Muses and pay veneration to the highest
values of the Self. It can also dive very deep into the depths of the mystery
of the soul. Both these aspects must be put together to enable us to understand
the nature of the Word, which St. John presents as not only of the world, but
also of God.
has often strayed very far from this type of interpretation. Nitya alludes to
the discrepancy, saying “Unfortunately for the enlightenment of their
followers, Christian theologians have made a complete mess of this sublime
teaching.” He is referring to how the inner impulse has been personified as a
remote God who dictates our behavior, and if we don’t do what he demands we are
consigned to a hell-world of sin and degradation. Such an attitude is
practically a guarantee that we will fail, we will become perverted echoes of
the promise we brought with us into the world. It shifts the onus of living
with expertise to the relatively helpless and hapless ego, and creates a schism
between our self-identity and the inner wisdom of our very being.
is a world—no, a universe—of difference between viewing our self and all other
humans as sinners, or victims of a hostile maya, and viewing them as
expressions of an intrinsic creative brilliance who have barely begun to
realize their power.
gave a great example. He was in an opera master class when he was quite young, but
still remembers it clearly. The teacher told each of the students in turn to
get ready to sing but then not to sing. She signalled the pianist to play.
After a while she told the singer whose turn it was to go ahead, to pick it up
in the middle. It was as if they were joining an event that was already in
progress. They weren’t the source of the music. The music was always there, and
had been for a long time. They were only joining in. Eugene felt the
difference, and it translated into improved sound. It seems like a very clever
way to subtract the ego from holding center stage, in an art form which is
famous for big egos.
remembered Nitya requesting something like that from a singer, asked them to
listen to what was already in the air before beginning. After the performance
he asked, “Did you hear it?” The musician answered, “Yes.” Nitya smiled and
replied, “I heard it also.”
noted how in many cultures art is not considered the province of any individual
person. It is collectively held, and artists are only channeling what is
already held in trust. Again, this can minimize the egotistical tug of being an
admired artist. On the other hand, it can breed stasis, artists who are only
allowed to copy what has already been done. But the point is well taken: the
Word is always pouring forth its wonders and all we have to do is tap into
them, which is perfectly in accord with Narayana Guru’s depiction of maya here.
remembered reading about the poet Ruth Stone, who grew up on a farm in
Virginia. While working in the fields she could sense a poem wafting by on the
air, and she would sprint to the house to get her paper and pencil. She knew
she only needed to be present to catch it.
noticed how similar these ideas were to a book she recently read, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert,
detailing ways to release the “hidden jewels” within each of us. In the class
we were simply opening up to the “Word of God” and letting it speak to us;
Gilbert also addresses overcoming the obstacles that many of us are restrained
by, what Nitya once called inhibitions to creative catharsis. Patanjali gives
the obstacles a serious thrashing in his Yoga Sutras too, of course.
spirit from matter leads to the isolation we have foisted upon ourselves as a
species, and the consequent deadening of joyful participation with our
surroundings. We are being invited to heal our wounds by a simple change of
perspective. The all-encompassing pradhanam or Word is infinitely dynamic. Some
of us like to add the sense that participating in its flow is beneficial rather
than merely neutral. It is taking us places we want to get to, and the only way
to get there is to hitch a ride, so to speak. Our ego and our society do not
know the way, though we can amuse ourselves to some degree by flailing about.
Yet why shouldn’t we begin to listen to our wise inner voice, or what the Bible
calls the “still small voice”? Then we can be what author Ken Kesey described
as a lightning rod, rather than a seismograph.
sums up the purport of the verse beautifully with his closing words. I have
gathered some of Nitya’s references to the Sanskrit terms in this paragraph, as
promised in the class, and you can check them out in Part II. But for now I
don’t want to disturb the sublime way these words tinkle in the air, like an
operatic aria or a poem waiting to be caught:
The stumbling block of every serious thinker
has been the convertibility and complementarity of spirit and matter. In
clarifying this enigmatic principle here, it is considered to be the most
brilliant and dynamic aspect of maya. Hence it is called pradhanam – the principle of irrefutable dynamism to
both make and
unmake. The pradhana of the Sankyanas
is equated with the supreme principle, mahatattva.
The parallel concept in Vedanta is mahas,
which is the glorious principle in which the beginning is complementary with
the end. The same is also glorified as the supreme aspect of the Divine to
which we should ultimately turn, as the final destination, to experience our
inherent and adorable intimacy with the Absolute.
In the same way as a large banyan tree is contained in a
small seed, the whole of this universe is contained within maya. Because of the marvelous way it contains the whole
in itself, it is called prime potent power. There is the further justification
for calling it pradhana, the prime
potent power, because it is a more comprehensive factor than science (vidya) and the other factors already
asked for an elaboration of a couple of the Sanskrit terms found in the
commentary. First, culling from the Monier-Williams dictionary:
Pradhana—the most important or essential part of anything.
Primary germ, original source of the visible or material universe (MW)
The prefix pra has
a lot of meanings, but many of them are linked by being forceful or
directional. There is thrust in them.
Dhana—corn, grain (originally the grains of seed from their
being ‘laid’ into and ‘conceived’ by the earth)
That Alone mentions both mahas
introduced in verse 4 as the primeval stuff. The verse text is:
the object of interest,
one's personal knowledge are nothing other than mahas;
into that infinite, Supreme Knowledge,
offered the flower of your mind to that Lord
with sacred ashes, the three gunas,
cooled down the senses, unwound everything, and become
even the glory of aloneness has gone, become
57 parallels the present verse:
the waveless ocean, endless traits of maya
potent and beginningless effects;
taste and so on make a configuration,
with such embodied forms world upon world comes to be.
of the commentary mentions mahas:
ocean of salt water is only one type of ocean. A philosopher who is thinking
about the phenomenality of life and its dualities—pain and pleasure, becoming
and being, truth and falsehood—sees the ocean of samvit, which is at once gross and subtle, conscious and
unconscious. The possibilities of the ocean of samvit are many times more numerous than those of a saline sea.
Again, a person in a mood of adoration, who is filled with a sense of reverence
and who looks around and sees the abundant benevolence of nature, is filled
with another idea: that of an ocean of compassion. One who is in a state of
meditation, who is silently immersing into the unfathomable depths of his own
self, sees in, around, above and below nothing but the ineffable ocean called adhimahas, the primal glory. So there
are many oceans, and all of them have infinite possibilities.
69 mentions mahatattva, and relates
it to St. John’s Word:
antakaranas are the four inner
organs: manas, the interrogative
aspect; chitta, memory; buddhi, reason and intellect; and ahamkara, ego. There is a certain way in
which light comes to manifest, by way of the tan matras, the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether.
Three principles bring this about: avyakta,
mahatattva and ahamkara. The
first is the state in which there is no differentiation between prakriti and purusa, the creative dynamics and
the spirit. There is only a primordial unity. This is like the state of which
St. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God.” When you don’t differentiate between the Word and God, that
is the avyakta state.
the Word begins to operate, it is called mahatattva or the great principle. The
supreme principle has a logos, a reason about what and how it is going to
manifest. Whatever is going to be brought into existence is not going to be
done in a haphazard manner. It comes as a cosmic or universal manifestation of
the law. The principle, the meaning, the relationship, the purpose—all these
together can be called the reason of manifestation, identified with the
mahatattva. In this, buddhi, the intellect, has a priority over everything else
because it is nearest to the Supreme, in the sense that it brings the light of
the Supreme to manifest in everything.
was sent by Emily, regarding the recent mayavic election. We’re not sure, but
it may be from the indigenous elders who run this site: http://www.grandmotherscouncil.org/.
From the Great Council of Grandmothers...Wise words, indeed:
After the election in America I asked the Grandmothers, “Now
that it’s over, what can we learn?”
“First,” they replied, “let us explain some things. You have
elected, not a man, but a ‘moy’ to lead you. He is a boy in an old man’s body.
Moys are a combination of man and boy, but mostly boy. They are large and have
loud voices so people mistake them for men, but they are not men. A man thinks
of the common good while a moy has not learned to think of anyone but
himself. He has not fully developed and is still a child.
“The time you are living in is called the age of
destruction,” they said, “the Kali Yuga. It is the lowest point. At this time
evil rises to the surface to be destroyed. This dark-age takes place just
before the arrival of the in-coming Golden Age, so today you are watching
out-of-balance Yang energy creating destruction all over your planet. This IS
the Kali Yuga. You have heard and read about it and now it has come.
“Your country has just elected a moy to be its next
president. Russia as well as Syria are already run by moys, while Africa is
overrun by them, each moy creating havoc in his area of that continent. The
Philippines is run by a moy and so are several other countries. Is it any
wonder that the world is lurching from crisis to crisis?
“This is what is happening on earth now and because it is,
you must learn to cope with this energy. You cannot reason with it because it
is entirely destructive. Instead you must hold steady within yourself and
observe its wild behavior from a position of power. If you do this, it will not
be able to feed on you. Your steadiness will help contain its rapacious energy
and it will not be able to do as much damage as it would otherwise.
“Call on us, call on the Net of Light and hold Sacred Space.
Be mindful of who you are! You are a great being, here on earth to occupy a
steady place in an unsteady world. You can do this! You are not weak and
helpless. Within yourself you carry the great holding power of Yin. Call on it
now. Live with it. Be as you were born to be.
“We ask one more thing of you. At this time reach out to one
another in service. Many are suffering now. Feed the hungry, visit people in
hospitals and prisons, provide shoes to those who need them, help the animals.
If each of you plunge into one activity of service, together you will do great
good, turning many hearts to light. Find a service project for yourself. We ask
this of you because we know who you are. You are our hands and hearts on earth.
You are greatness itself.”
November 12, 2016, The Great Council of the Grandmothers
is reading poet William Stafford’s Crossing
Unmarked Snow; Further Views on the Writer’s Vocation, and called my
attention to a section where he’s being interviewed by The Christian Science
Monitor newspaper about how he writes. Stafford famously wrote before the day
began, the way meditation is often engaged in. He mentions that being sent to a
Conscientious Objectors camp during WWII inspired his poetry writing because,
since “it was like a work camp or prison camp… it made me want to preserve a
part of my life for my own.” I have often wished he could join us in our class,
but as he’s no longer with us, here’s his contribution to Maya 9 from this
I believe it was Clarence Day who
[said that] in the novels of Joseph Conrad you get the feeling of [being] on a
ship where they’re all below celebrating, and there is someone up there at the
bow of the boat who realizes how deep the ocean is down there, and where they
are going, and that around them is this mystery. So getting up early and being
receptive like this, day after day, is a reminder of the depth and mystery
around us. I think another thing is: Your life gets centered all over again
every day. The daily practice is enough to take you out of the current of your
obligations and put you in relation all over again to something that feels like
the big current outside of us, the tide of the eventfulness of being alive.