Beyond conception and imagination, beyond all categories and concepts, feelings and emotions, is THAT – attributeless and without limitations. Unbounded by either frontier or horizon, It cannot be modified by anything anterior or external to It. The great teaching of the Upanishads and of Shri Shankaracharya is that every human being is inherently capable of cancelling all conditions of place and time. Each individual can rise to a transcendental awareness unconfined by perspectives and objects of perception. For a human being, a Manasa, to become self-consciously aware of the whole is to recover a primordial freedom which can neither be bought nor bartered, because it never enters into the external relations of the world, into particular forms and differentiations. A person can regain an indefinable, inalienable originality which springs from the source of all manifestation. Every human being is an original who can never be fully revealed in any finite series of concrete expressions. He can never be understood from the outside, and he is more than what he senses, feels or thinks. He is far more than all the confused and blurred vibrations arising from his brain-mind, ensnared by myriad cords of delusive desire. Every person is essentially and eternally THAT, and to affirm it in consciousness, to give it the silent strength of a potent force for regeneration, is the greatest service anyone could render for the sake of all.
With this sublime teaching, which invokes the primeval and never-ceasing power of self-regeneration in the universe and in oneself, how is one to connect it to life in the world? What is its meaning in terms of existence as a personality, a name and a form, with relationships and obligations, with debts and liabilities? If one ponders such questions, then one must intently reflect upon how entire universes could emerge from THAT. It is not adequate merely to accept the fact that these universes cannot exhaust or have any external relationship to THAT – one must ask how there could arise the staggering array of galactic clusters, galaxies, stars, solar systems, manifold forms of life-energy, light rays, and all the binding chains of causality in recorded and unrecorded history. What significance do these have, if any, in relation to THAT? Is there a cosmic basis for the decision to rearrange one's circumstances, to recreate not only one's life but one's manifesting self, allowing what is dying in oneself to die and what is gestating to be born? Out of dying embers can one kindle the fire of a new self which may find – in the realm of manifestation – meaning in life and relationships, and discover unending modes of expressing the divine within?
To begin this process of questioning, it is helpful to reflect upon an archetypal cosmic triad. Between the vast manifold of a universe of differentiations and THAT, there is the mediation of a triadic force operating ceaselessly in manifestation. One aspect of it is creative, another aspect is preservative, while a third aspect is destructive and simultaneously regenerative. This is the Trimurti of ancient Hindu tradition – Brahmâ, Vishnu, Shiva. The term "Brahmâ" derives from the root brih, "to expand". There is an expansive force that is ever at work in nature and in history. It manifests in certain individuals more than others because they have a proper relationship to that universal power of expansion. Anything which merely contrasts, limits, and consolidates the claustrophobic condition of self-limitation, is not protected, sustained or supported by the ever-expansive force of the creative Logos in the cosmos, the god in man. Anything in man which is not universifiable or sharable – which cannot be spread or cannot give rise to growth in others – is not of the nature of life-energy, but rather of the nature of tamas, inert and stagnant. The prison-house, the clay tenement of personal life, is the shadowy projection of a crippling sense of self, repeatedly involved in ossification and death. Physiologically, every human being is caught in a futile effort to beat the entropic demise of the body. It is dying faster than it can be rejuvenated. This is an extremely significant truth in the region of gross matter, dispelling the pseudo-coherence and false entitative nature of what one thinks is real and with which one identifies.
The Trimurti is continuously at work in nature and in man. In the ancient tradition of India its divine ground is called Brahman – without qualities, inconceivable and beyond all possible characterization. Out of Brahman (THAT), there emerges Brahms, the logoic force which is both spirit and matter and the fountain of creativity. It is the Invisible Sun, the transcendental source of illumination and energy, as well as the power of vivification and growth. It is the generator of electricity and magnetism and their complex transformations, working continually in a universe of constant transmutation. The creative Logos can only be cognized by those faculties which are superior to the physical sensorium, and which are capable of being activated by the powers of mental concentration and deep meditation, of controlled imagination and cool visualization. Through these faculties human beings can gain access within themselves, in the deepest recesses of thought and feeling, to their own abundant share of inexhaustible creativity. A man is as creative as he chooses or wills to be. He is as vital as is his capacity for constructive thought, which depends upon his firmness in setting aside the negative, self-cancelling and mutually contradictory mental currents which pass for thinking but are no more than chaotic cerebration. A man is as original as is his determination to replace what Shelley called "Fancy's thin creation" by seminal mental acts of the imagination carrying within themselves the sovereign power of self-sustenance. Such acts can evoke and emanate a multitude of creative energies flowing as a living, continuous stream of light from one central source of ideation, which is effectively tapped through daily meditations.
This fundamental teaching could be fruitfully applied to the extent that it is understood not only in relation to oneself but also in relation to everything that exists, especially beyond the curtain of sense-perception. One can make come alive in consciousness the invisible processes of growth in Nature and enter into an intimate relationship with what is alive, burgeoning and ceaselessly circulating. In contemporary society, people impoverish themselves through compulsive misuse of the power of speech, ignorant misdirection of the power of thought, and sad dissipation of the power of imagination in futile and sterile fancy. They thus cut off contact with their godlike resources and become like batteries that are largely drained of energy. Too many people sit and complain, hoping for some sudden miracle. One may feel compassion especially for those who know that to be self-destructive is, by definition, to be insensitive to help from outside. The tragedy of weakness of will is evident on all sides.
It is by no means unthinkable that there should be, both in principle and in practice, human beings who have perfected their faculties in relation to their vestures. For them there are no barriers in the realm of thought. They can make things happen which would baffle the boldest minds of the age. They could affect the climate at will, project themselves in many different places, materialize objects, supersede gravitational fields, and perform so-called miracles. Yet they always work under laws of Nature, with full knowledge of causes and consequences. All their doings are diverse forms of tribute to the inexhaustible power of the creative Logos. The grander their gifts, the greater their obeisance to the sacred source of creativity. They know that every human being is a god potentially, capable of viewing the universe as a vast field responsive to the powers of concentrated thought, conserved energy, chastened imagination and purified will. One could affect the whole for good or for ill. One could work with Nature to elevate all beings in accordance with the forward impulse of evolution, which excludes none and includes all in the progressive ascent of self-consciousness, culminating in enlightenment. Or one could work against Nature, and then one's creativity is a nine days" wonder, a pathetic instance of monumental waste, a pyramid of misspent energy, a tragic degradation of the prerogatives of thought and imagination.
While vast creative powers are recognized by many as potentially present, most do not understand why they are not generally accessible. Suppose one pictures a single, superhuman Creator who Jehovistically – lawlessly and arbitrarily – manufactures a universe. Then one will see the whole of Nature simply as a capricious catalogue of created things which have no innate power of creativity, but are merely inert objects spewed forth from this gigantic being, this sultan in the sky who is conceived as an anthropomorphic God. One would then view every man or woman as a helpless creature for whom the beginning of wisdom is abject fear of that almighty potentate. This is a dismal picture of the world, but it is one that cannot be discarded easily. People may say they do not believe it any more, but it has infiltrated their consciousness. As a result, it is difficult to dislodge, especially when one takes into account previous lives of involvement with gross and degrading conceptions of this kind. Instead of rejoicing in the richness of material nature, one tends to regard it as insentient. Instead of celebrating the creative energy of the Logos, one grovels before a grotesque image and sorry substitute for the Godhead. Instead of seeing oneself as a creative being responsible for the entire stream of emanations flowing from oneself, one attempts to abdicate responsibility, seeking scapegoats because of feeling that one has lost before having started. As an original sinner, a weak worm who somehow needs to be saved, one is afraid of being damned, and pursues a frantic lifestyle unconsciously based upon a paranoid theology where Big Brother is watching and His name is interchangeably "Devil" or "Gods – one is never quite sure which. Such human beings become so furtive that they have scarcely any relation to the dignity and stature of the mighty benefactors of mankind.
A radical revision of facile theocentric thought is necessary. If we can conceive of a realm of unmanifest, primordial matter that is ontologically prior to all energic fields, then we could view heat, light, electricity, magnetism, sound, colour and number as interrelated expressions of a single source. In its deepest and subtlest aspect, this primordial substratum of matter is suffused with a vast potential which partly manifests as what we call the universe. Thus there is much more energy in the cosmos than the whole of humanity can use. Electricity existed long before men invented ways to harness it, and is in fact coeval with manifestation. Long before men constructed thermodynamic theories, heat energy existed, subject to definite laws. It was also always true that everything that came into existence could not be easily converted into another form of energy with perfect efficiency. Every time something is given out, it cannot be taken back in its original form. Generally, before men were able to formulate theoretically their own approximations of the laws of Nature, the processes of Nature worked in accordance with archetypal principles which had a fundamental logic that was fully understood by Adepts. Their wisdom suggests that each and every person can benefit by calmly reflecting upon his own inherent potential power of creativity and also upon the fact that he has unlimited access to the undifferentiated field of primordial matter. One can activate in that homogeneous noetic substratum whatever great idea one chooses as the subject of disciplined meditation and release it as an emanation, by the force of an impersonal and unselfish desire, into a universe of manifestation.
In regard to all such acts of creative will, unselfish motive is crucial. Without an understanding of metaphysics, the precondition of altruism would appear to be an arbitrary moralistic injunction. This, however, is to be mistaken in one's comprehension of the cosmos. A person who is handling explosive material, regardless of how he acts in other contexts, must be cool and deliberate. If he is nervously thinking of himself while handling it, he is liable to be blown up. Even a selfish manipulator makes allowances for other people when driving on the road. One may say he does it out of necessity. Sometimes he may do it with panache; sometimes he may do it simply to show that he is human. There is no reason why, whatever the smallness in a person, if he has some familiarity with immense forces, he cannot summon a modicum of coolness, calm and self-forgetfulness. A man concentrated on doing a complex repair job has temporarily to forget himself. A person intent on handling potent forces has to have both knowledge and calmness at some level. It is no different in regard to the far more awesome powers of invisible Nature which operate under laws that are extraordinarily difficult to grasp, but which are known and mastered by wise beings who belong to the secret Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas.
For them there are no miracles: there is only law. Through self-conscious thought, will and imagination, they fuse wisdom and compassion in focussing universal, selfless desires. Their love streams forth abundantly in every direction to every being alive. They are effortlessly capable of handling the vastitude of creative possibilities of the cosmos. They always work with Nature and never against it because they have gained complete mastery over the creative will as well as the massive burden of cosmic responsibility. As long as there is an inexhaustible creative potential and, simultaneously, entropy supervenes in a law-governed realm of matter, there is need both for the capacity to harness unexplored creativity and the constant recognition that all products of creativity have limits and parameters. However grand, they must end; however great, they cannot last forever. Not only that: they entail consequences for which someone must assume responsibility, because Nature returns to human beings what they have done to and with it. If one stresses that Nature is giving back solely the consequences of other men's actions, this only means that one does not really want to take much responsibility. Masters of Wisdom and Compassion voluntarily assume responsibility without appropriating the free will of any person or atoning for anyone's sins. Taking responsibility for the whole world, they can shoulder it, and in assuming that uncircumscribed responsibility, they define themselves. The more one is responsible for the consequences of acts, the more one can recognize the practical importance of the philosophical distinction between creation and emanation.
To create is to tap the inexhaustible source of creativity, but when that creativity flows in a continuous stream in time and space, it manifests as a series of emanations. Creativity is like the tremendous energy locked within the sun, only a portion of which emanates. It streams forth in rays, and thereby gives life and light to all beings. Those who are gratefully self-conscious about what they receive, benefit more, because they come into closer relationship with thought-fields prior to the physical forms of transmission of light-energy. The physical sun is only an expression of an analogous source that generates light, life, energy and warmth through the immense power of ideation of a host of divine beings who stream forth emanations in unison. What unites them is their constant reverence and silent worship of THAT, which is beyond all, beyond the logoic source of manifestation itself, and beyond all possible worlds of manifestation. They constantly send forth streams of thought-energies which collectively constitute the highest creative potencies in the cosmos.
Any man who spends a lot of time in the heat of the sun will get sunburnt; he will find he gets a headache; he will learn that he can neither look at the brilliant light directly nor use even a little of it at any time. He will get rapidly fatigued because he does not have an adequate receptivity to solar light and energy. So too, a person may think that he seeks the company of the great Bodhisattvas, but would actually be unable to handle it if he were in their presence. It would be too "hot" for him. The only way in which he could manage it would be if one of them chose, out of compassion, deliberately to shield most of his light-energy, and out of the tiny portion that he manifests, helped to raise consciousness wherever needed. This voluntary self-restriction of energy is suggested in a Hindu fable about the sun. It is said that no woman could marry the sun-god because she would get burnt up if she came too close. Out of compassion, the Sun withheld most of his energy for the sake of entering into a relationship with the mythic bride who represents Nature. The Logos cannot enter into a direct relationship with Nature except through a portion or reflection of itself. This is analogous to the partial emanation of the light of the sun in a single day.
The doctrine of emanation preserves the continuity of the expressed with the unexpressed, and also the necessary finitude of what is expressed in relation to the infinity of unlimited potentiality. This philosophical idea is profoundly important for those who apply it to themselves. If one is divine in essence, then intrinsically one's energy and potentiality are inexhaustible. But at the same time, one also exists as an ever-changing physical body, where there is constant movement in complex molecular, cellular and organic structures of life-energy, and a continuous interaction with everything else. In that realm one must necessarily lose. One dies faster than one lives. Not to know this is not to grow up. But one can still make good use of one's knowledge of the inexhaustible creative energy within. Having grown up and accepted that existence as a physical body and personality is but a shadowy portion of what one really is, one can appreciate why this minute portion is mortal. Cooperating with the process of dying, one is happy to be dying every moment. Where this is understood, people can join together and aid each other. They may conspire – breathe together – to activate their latent creative wills, somewhat emulating the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas, who sustain a mighty field of creative force that is benevolent and beneficent, giving appropriate channels of expression to the vast spiritual energies of the cosmos. The work of the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas is to remind men of what they inwardly know but which they do not realize they have forgotten. To know it truly is to be so aware of it at all times that nothing else counts as knowledge. This is the oldest teaching in regard to creative emanation. After his compassionate enactment of the universal vision, of the incredible beauty in the universe of manifestation, springing from a single source of creativity, Krishna declares: "But what, O Arjuna, hast thou to do with so much knowledge as this? I established this whole universe with a single portion of myself, and remain separate."
Hermes, March 1978