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To Be And Not To Be

TO BE AND NOT TO BE


Guarding the nest beneath through the life-breath, the Spirit of man rises immortal above the nest.

Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad

 In earlier eras death and regeneration were often no more than remote subjects of philosophical curiosity or idle speculation. In contemporary history, however, this is increasingly the burning issue in the daily lives of innumerable individuals. Many people are afraid to formulate the central concern, but somehow they sadly acknowledge to themselves that Hamlet's question – "To be or not to be" – no longer has for them the literary flavour of a formal soliloquy. It is an anguished question so acutely pertinent at any moment that many people approaching the moment of death, as well as half-alive hosts of young men and women, are anxiously asking what is the meaning of modern life, and the possibilities of sustaining a clear, firm hope for the future. At a time of critical transition from obsolete formulae and shallow answers to a stark future without familiar guarantees, the very idea of survival takes on a strange and awesome meaning. In the early nineteenth century, when Prince Talleyrand was asked what he did during the French Revolution, he simply replied, "I survived." This is poignantly true of millions of people today. The mere fact of existing through one day from morning to evening, one week, one month, seems like a singular achievement. Is this because, as some rashly assert, a malign historical fate in the form of some tyrannical and frightening monster or ever-resourceful and vindictive scapegoat is responsible? Or does the explanation lie hidden in a new intensity of psychological pain of vast numbers of people nurtured by an inexplicable convergence of individual insights? People sense something about each other because of what they partly know about themselves. They recognize that many of the illusions that made modern life a spectacular caravan of glittering progress have become insupportable. These illusions are seen to be either deliberately manufactured lies or pathetically ineffectual forms of perception.

 A person who really does believe that "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world", may either have had an inexplicable stroke of good fortune or some apparent reason for smug satisfaction in personal or professional life measured in terms of status or achievement. Even if such a person senses the grandeur of the world, he can no longer expect other men and women to concur with him. If they are tolerant and good-humoured in the way so many young people were for a golden moment in 1967, they might concede, "If it makes you feel good, go ahead." But such indulgence is now a luxury that few people apparently can afford. A person dare not admit to himself that he is enjoying himself. To do so seems somehow to hurl a blasphemous curse upon the social scene. Is this really because the sufferings of men are visible tokens of physical torment, or rather because there is a profound and pervasive soul-frustration? Behind the restlessness of vast ill-directed energy are haunting questions. Human beings do not find time for thought or contemplation. They do not sit down and calmly question where they are going, who they are, why they are doing what they are doing, why they share with many other human beings a seeming paralysis of will. Those who have been fortunate, owing to their early upbringing in easier times, to build up an infrastructure of habits which enable them to get up early and to greet the dawn, or to smile after breakfast and to have a sense that they had planned the day, at least have a sense of being able to cope at some level with life. But their sense of coping with it is wholly parasitic upon the acceptance of an excessive valuation placed upon something which is sacred only so long as no one questions it. The same people, late in the evening or around the time of twilight, or over the dulling effect of mixed drinks, suddenly only too readily admit the emptiness of their day. They willingly plunge in the opposite direction into a malaise which they dare not acknowledge during the day.

 The rare opportunity at this moment lies in an increasing recognition by many that the time is past for diagnosis, patter and endless stating of the obvious. It is time to find out what one can do to make a difference in one's own life. The difference is, at heart, between the living and the dead. One might deliberately assume a critical distance from the contemporary scene and ask why the original impulse behind the technological culture with its staggering vitality – unprecedented in recorded history – seems to have run down. One might ask even more fundamental questions in terms of essential categories of apprehension that transcend history as a chronicle of events. That history is a tedious catalogue of sins, crimes and misfortunes is no new discovery. Gibbon came to this conclusion when examining the Roman Empire. Hegel held that the only lesson learnt from history is that nothing is learnt. Far more is needed than a feeble explanation of the contemporary hiatus with its anomie in terms of any rationalist philosophy of history. The relationship between propositions about collectivities and their fate and the individual's inability to give credible meaning to his own life is difficult to establish. Psychologically, the problem manifests as the apparent need for constant reinforcement. This has taken such an acute psycho-physiological form that most human beings today manage to cope with the enormous flux of sensory stimuli only by attenuating or toning down the impact of external stimuli. If they attempted the opposite, magnifying auditory and visual responses, intensifying sense-perceptions in general, they would be utterly lost. They would be smoked out amidst the blazing chaos of the surrounding world. So they take the opposite path – though seldom choosing it consciously – and it consolidates into a habitual pattern. They tone down, turn off, maintain a seemingly safe standpoint of passivity in relation to the world. They purchase magazines they do not read, see pictures they cannot grasp, greet people they do not truly notice. They deal with seemingly diverse objects of interest with minimal involvement. In a short time, this inevitably becomes self-defeating.

 The more one reduces the impact of external stimuli upon one's sensorium, the more one needs more intense inputs of the same kind to sustain any residual capacity for assimilation. Therefore, it is not just metaphorically true that the U.S.A. is now a nation in which vast numbers of people suffer from spiritual hypoglycemia, an inability to distil the essence of experience into a form that could meaningfully channel energy, nurture creativity and sustain commitments. It is deeply threatening to many on the Pacific Coast that the sun shines, suspended like a blazing jewel over the ocean. Nature's abundant intimations may remind some of Athens, Alexandria and Knossos, of places far apart in historical time but where seminal impulses from a tempestuous intellectual and psychic ferment led in time to a tidal wave of creative energy, a renaissance of the human spirit. Though many may have a dim awareness that something like this seems to be imminent, they cannot in any meaningful manner connect themselves with what they see around them. The sense of the emptiness of all, the voidness of one's life, the meaninglessness of everything into which one is tempted to throw oneself with a false intensity, is intensifying so rapidly that all words seem irrelevant mutterings. Promises of golden citadels in the future resemble the unsecured promissory notes of a defunct company. Vision has no point of contact with anything in daily experience which all can use, to feel that they are truly affecting the world. It provides no basis for growth, no stimulus to the acceptance of pain, denial and death. The physical body, owing to its homeostatic metabolism and the involuntary processes of nature, functions as a system which can continually restore equilibrium. This is hard to achieve on the psychological plane in relation to the arbitrary fabrication of namarupa, name and form.

 Brahma Vach speaks directly to any human being willing to get to the root of his own self-questioning. One has to ask fundamental questions. Is one willing to grant that this vast universe is a macrocosm, a single system, beyond comprehension and cataloguing, dateless yet with a future history which is unknown? If Nature exhibits processes that seem to move in opposing directions – expansion and contraction, withdrawal and involvement, separation and integration, aggregation and disintegration – can these be seen as the warp and woof of a single texture, interdependent aspects of an intelligent life-force? If this is true, why is it that human life has become so detached from the ordering principle in the cosmos? Why is the hazy conception of organic growth in nature, man-made conceptions, human lives and plans and notions of success and failure, satisfaction and misery, so inadequate to resolve fundamental questions about wholeness and disease? Is the individual prepared to concede that the physical body is fighting a constant and futile battle against inevitable disintegration, without which the organism could not even maintain itself? It surely seems like a losing battle. One is dying every moment. But is a person psychologically prepared to welcome this inescapable truth? Is one prepared to create for oneself, at least as an abstraction, a viable sense of identity that has no relationship to heredity and environment, to past events and future hopes, anticipations and regrets, fears, muddles and neuroses? Is one willing to see oneself not as a static sum of psycho-social conditions but as a dynamic series of states of mind over which one has little control, especially over their unavoidable shadows?

 Could a person place his or her sense of selfhood beyond the proscenium of the theatre in which there are disordered scenes, a chaotic flux of deranged events with no inner connection? Is it perhaps meaningful for a person to say that to be a human being lies in the very act of seeking connections? If so, in discovering connections between events, past, present and future, between different elements in oneself, between elements in oneself and in others, why is it that one is such a cocksure coward? Why is one so willing to edit perceptions and memories to a degree that shuts out intermediary facts? Why is it that one will refuse to face what is readily confirmable by statistics concerning the untoward consequences of certain lines of activity? Human beings have become clever at avoiding the cancelling of their illusions to a point where they could not live. They have become adroit in avoiding those extreme conclusions that in concentration camps, in arenas of acute suffering, individuals in our own time have been forced to consider. The stark language of existentialism can be purchased so easily that anyone may quote Sartre or discourse in romantic terms about the Promethean agony and the burden of living. It is too easy to entertain the deceptive feeling of sharing in the poignant experience of Camus" The Stranger or of some piteous character in Sartre's No Exit.

 In a deep sense human beings are afraid that neither the past nor the present contains clues to the future, collectively, historically or individually. The recognition that the restless intensity of men and women in pursuit of so-called progress was achieved only by making a Faustian deal with the devil, with some illicit external authority, is sufficient to show that the deal can no longer be made. Human beings cannot go back in the same direction; least of all can they do this if they inherit more opportunities for choice and greater psychological and social mobility than has ever been available to so many. All the games are over. Suddenly people are discovering the full implications of what it is to live in a society without moorings, charts or maps. Many are not even concerned to destroy the pathetic delusions of others because they feel that merely by ignoring them, these illusions are shown to be the more brittle. If a person consults the wisdom of the ancients, he will come to recognize that there is something true of nature as a whole which is also fundamentally significant to the human psyche.

 Two contraries are simultaneously true of every person. First of all, at all times and in all contexts, any person can only live by making some unchallenged assumptions – that he is the centre of the world, that the world exists for his benefit, that his parents lived to bring him into the world, his teachers laboured to help him to get on in the world, his friends exist to support him in the world, that the vast panorama of visible nature exists for his enjoyment. Evil exists for his own moral education; he can recognize his assured detachment from evil by readily condemning it. The whole world for every man is seemingly a spectacle of which he is the central actor, the hero in a drama which, though private, can extend in every direction and become coterminous with as much of the social scene, of contemporary history and of the cosmos as he chooses to make it. At the same time, however, the contrary proposition is also true: the universe is indifferent to him. He is a very small affair in relation not only to the whole universe, to humanity or his nation, but even in relation to his immediate neighbourhood. For a man to feel fully conscious of both propositions at the same time is extraordinarily difficult – like telling a man who pleads, "To be or not to be, that is the question", that the unavoidable answer is "To be and not to be". This has little meaning unless one begins to ask what it means to say that one is or one is not. What is the very basis, the cash value, the logical foundation, the raison d"etre, the psychological significance of existing in a world unless one can understand what it is to exist in a world, to be anything at all? Why do men and women assume that because their categories, utterances and theories limit human consciousness, any difference is made to the vast energy-fields in the universe?

 Consciousness is prior to form. Consciousness defies categorization. Consciousness is indefinable. All states of mind are only arbitrarily connected with an apparent succession of moments in time. Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration. It does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced. There could not be a world of objects perceived by human beings unless it were a kaleidoscope of forms which had the illusion of stasis. Yet this is a universe of perpetual motion in which the appearance of stasis in form is a psychological trap resulting from an optical illusion. This persistent illusion becomes inescapable because one has a magnified sense of one's own existence. One's ego-sickness thus becomes a form of health. The excess of exaggerated valuation becomes normal because it can neither be contradicted nor falsified. When a boy first meets a girl and says he loves her, thinking that his love for her is infinite and inexhaustible, that she is infinitely worth loving and his love is the greatest thing on earth, this is really a truth about himself. If he believes in it, he is the only one who can verify or falsify that belief. No one else can deny it to him, and no one can confirm it. If a person gets into the habit of excessive valuation of seemingly separate objects which are apparently static in a universe of motion, he must do this as a conscious participant or as an unconscious agent in the illusion. He could do so as a conscious negator who has to use the language of stasis in the discourse of daily life and in the ritual responses of everyday human encounter. He has to be many selves. But at any given time, only that self is alive and relevant to him which he can actualize and maintain in a collective context. This means that the self which engenders his deepest thoughts and feelings, woven from the fabric of his private meditation and secret heart, that self which has no assignable name or date, which has no reference to events, is a self that simply cannot be rendered in language. Only by a systematic and deliberate process of inverting the naming game can a person become self-conscious of that which is fundamental to life itself – the ceaseless motion at the very core of life which cannot be subsumed under any pair of opposites, even life and death.

 At this point, mythic images and archetypal analogies are more helpful than the tortured language of discursive reason. The greatest living image of antiquity is the cosmic dance of Shiva. Brahmâ – from brih, "to expand" – is the creative expansive force that nurtures the universe of differentiated life. Vishnu is the preserving and sustaining continuity in the field of consciousness which enables a world to maintain itself. Death and regeneration may summon that supremely enigmatic god Shiva, engaged in a spectacular cosmic dance which effortlessly negates all ephemeral expectations. Shiva's magically fluidic movement in the sublime cosmic dance (Tandava Nritya) re-enacts the continual victory of immortality over death, of consciousness over form, of the ever-existent over the necessarily limited and evanescent. And yet Shiva has the appearance of being immobile. It is an overwhelming image. Anyone who has seen a statue of Shiva Nataraja could recognize that it is full of a burgeoning potential energy, immeasurable yet motionless. It is a glorious presentment in a divinely human form of the universe as a whole – a rhythmic, harmonious, ceaseless motion. While there are sporadic staccato movements, while there are dense shadows and great empty spaces in contrast to the dramatic intensity of movement, at the same time it is like a blank screen. From one standpoint one sees form and nothingness, lights and shadows; from another point of view one senses something deeper which relativates light and shadow and makes both equally unreal in relation to primordial, ever-existent darkness pregnant with infinite possibility. There is inconceivably more light than could ever be shown by visual contrast with darkness. Metaphysically, a profound and purifying theme for deep meditation is the Void or Darkness, the Mysterium Tremendum, beyond all light and darkness.

 As an aid to understanding, one might think of the mystical analogy of the midnight sun. Most human beings under the sun cannot transcend the awareness of what the sun does for all, beyond complimenting the sun by saying that it is gorgeous or great. To be able to visualize the reality of the sun without form or visible representation is an act of philosophical re-creation, metaphysically and magically enshrined in the great myth of Shiva. There is the glorious prospect of self-conscious godhood in man which accepts, enjoys and celebrates; of continuity of consciousness which looks forward to recurrent psychological death as a necessary step in a subtle process of invisible growth; of cancellation and negation, voluntarily chosen or compelled by nature, which makes possible endless re-creation. There is only one ultimate choice for the human being. He must either void his puny plans, his absurdly narrow impositions upon the world and the great fluid process of life, or it will be done for him in a universe of constant interaction and total interdependence. There is a tremendous difference between taking the standpoint of a being who is unconditioned, who sees beyond form, who stands behind the veil of appearance and yet participates in the flux and thereby cooperates with the negations of his own externalizations, and the personal stance of someone who lives as if he dare not know what other people think of him. He sadly dwells in a protected cocoon of self-spun illusion from which he will never emerge, hiding from everything which threatens the false stasis and equilibrium derived from a premature cohesion that he imposes, preserves and reinforces in his plausible identifications. In the words of Plotinus:

 The Soul is bound to the body by a conversion to the corporeal passions; and is again liberated by becoming impassive to the body. That which Nature binds, Nature also dissolves; and that which the Soul binds, the Soul likewise dissolves. Nature, indeed, bound the body to the Soul; but the Soul binds herself to the body. Nature, therefore, liberates the body from the Soul; but the Soul must liberate herself from the body. Hence there is a two-fold death"; the one, indeed, universally known, in which the body is liberated from the Soul; but the other, peculiar to philosophers, in which the Soul liberates herself from the body. Nor does the one entirely follow the other.

 Although this esoteric doctrine is far-reaching and fundamental, it is meaningless for a person who does not seriously use it in daily life in alert "care of the soul", as Plato taught. This is also true of the whole of Brahma Vidya. The Buddha taught the doctrine of anatta, "non-self", and Buddhist monks insisted on the idea that there is no personal entity or separate existence. One finds similar utterances by Krishna, Shankaracharya and Christ, and by all true Teachers, showing the supreme need for self-transcendence and second birth". Being alive in a world where the common denominator of illusions constantly throws a shadow upon the screen of time compels even those who know better to drink the muddy waters of collective delusion. Everyone has ample experience of this dross. One may generate a sense of what one is going to do this week, of premeditation and deliberation, allowing quiet spaces between moments and events, being alone, determining what one wants to do, deciding how much value to put upon each engagement in the week. Taking mental stock in advance of every week is a talismanic act of courage, and it must be repeatedly tested. How else will one know that one is aligned with any realistic thinking about the future, about the coming season or decade? Having resolved to live one's own life as well as possible for an entire week, one enters into one or another institution replete with the drugged – doped on alcohol, amphetamines, or one or another illusion – wandering around like psychic automata, heavy with fatigue, uttering words without meaning and making gestures without faith. One is going to fall prey to the collective psychic turba and one is going to forget. According to the Buddhist texts on meditation, if a person truly meditates upon Tathata, he soon comes to comprehend the wheel of births and deaths. He will begin to see why people cling to those few oases in their spiritually desolate lives where they enjoy a sense of the timeless, states of mind unconcerned with the succession of events, where they can appreciate a natural flow. These periods have become rare, and so that which takes place unconsciously during sleep or in the trance state cannot be made relevant to the conscious self. A person must put these aside and accept the fact that life is one tedious thing after another. Being able to live from within, meaningfully and creatively, to live without illusion by negating without suspicion and distrust, is extraordinarily difficult to understand. Yet it is this mystical paradox which is the secret of immortality represented by the ceaseless outpouring of life and light from the sun. There is a rhythmic solar breathing in and breathing out, recapitulated for each human being in the heartbeat – the systole and diastole, the contraction and expansion that maintains in continuity a living process that sustains itself. The process is not wholly self-generating because there is no such thing in the realm of differentiated gross matter; nonetheless, even in the realm of matter, the process of life assumes a certain rhythm of self-replenishment.

 Great spiritual teachers know that the only way to overcome time is through the untapped wisdom of the soul, which is immutable and immortal in relation to all its vehicles. By returning to the very root of consciousness, it is possible on the plane of thought or ideation to create around oneself a self-sustaining field, at a certain critical distance from form, out of a living awareness which is always deeper than that needed to maintain and sustain activity in existence. Self-consciousness at its very beginning is like the 1 that commences the arithmetical series. Form at its root is geometrical and assumes the primary geometrical expression – that of a sphere. Thus, every human being must think of the Self as the One that is pre-existent to all the manifestations of one's own personal self, one's own states of mind and emotion, one's ties through time to the past and the future through memory, anticipation and regret, through destructive and wasteful re-enactment of what has gone, reliving in advance what cannot therefore be truly experienced. For a person to do all this is continually to restore the full awareness that, as the Katha Upanishad teaches, "Higher than the impulses, higher than the bodily powers and the emotions is the soul, and higher still is the Self. Higher than this is the unmanifest and higher than the unmanifest is the Spirit." This is the hidden SELF. It is prior to all manifestation. What is unmanifested in that SELF is ontologically prior to and psychologically more potent than all that is manifested. To use a simple analogy, a truly creative architect is absorbed in the intrinsic activity of creation out of the alembic of his imagination, against the plastic and fluidic energy of the materials with which he works. For him to visit a building that he has planned and built is really to see something with which he has very little concern. He does not involve himself in that which shows itself, for it is lost in the limbo of the past. There are human beings in life who can relate in this way to other human beings, situations and events by self-consciously managing minimal involvement sufficiently well to make the involvement meaningful for others. This requires a conscious training of the "I", an increasing ability to invoke that which is beyond all the actors present. Every good actor knows what is meant by the famous utterance, "The play's the thing." So with every walk of life.

 Reflective human beings find that there is something that maintains and sustains systems, industries and institutions, something impersonal, unaffected by who comes and goes, arising out of collective need, articulation and incarnation, maintained in existence and given life by collective wills, minds and imaginations. When a person asks himself what in him is dying and relinquishes what is already passing, he releases a golden opportunity to re-create himself. When a person balances out in one's own daily equations what is dying against what is opening out from within, one becomes a free human being who existentially discovers in time the secret of immortality. One also discerns that the secret of immortality is merely a puzzling phrase in ordinary language. But where a person gains self-awareness through intensive self-knowledge of all the variables and sub-sets that constitute one's emotional and psychic natures, one's mind-being and one's own sense of physical and mental selfhood, one may become a magician. By abstracting oneself away from all that in which one had contained one's sense of self, one can attain an amazing capacity to see an expansive Self that has no relationship to events, persons or places, to yesterday and tomorrow, to bits and pieces of oneself emotionally, psychically or mentally. One begins to live with a new awareness actuated from deep within one's consciousness. One begins to activate the Buddha-body of the Buddhist tradition, the light-body of mystical texts, the resurrection-body in Christian mysticism. This subtlest of all vestures is gestated by the primordial root causes which are ontologically prior to all the constellations of secondary and superficial causes. One's critical decisions arise out of basic desires, ultimately rooted in a fundamental willingness to endorse a limited sense of reality.

 Between the unmanifested world and the SELF we find the truly "real". What is real is prior both to what is latent and to what is active, and yet it is posterior to SELF. That SELF has nothing to do with what is usually called the self, collective or individual, wholly parasitic upon the process of manifestation. Everyone knows the differences among human beings arising from how they see themselves. To flee every intimation of one's deeper Self out of fear for the manifesting and ever-dying self is not to live at all. This is the toughest aspect of the immemorial teaching of Theosophia – the ever-present beginning. The Theosophical Movement since 1875 seems to have made a relatively small difference to the scene of recorded history in modern civilization, and it even appears at times as if Krishna, Buddha, Shankara, Pythagoras, Plato and Christ came in vain. There is an essential sense in which they all came in vain in the midst of unregenerate humanity. The first step of initial detachment is the most difficult and threatening for disciples. It is a detachment in which a person is willing to put one's entire sense of self upon the dissecting table and to renounce it while doing this with no promise, no guarantee, nothing to comfort one in relation to the great venture, a dark and unknown journey. It is a deeply private journey, and it is a journey where the first step is the most difficult. In recent years many people have been playing an intolerable game of talking ignorantly about this sacred journey, but suddenly they discover something painful about each other – that there is a new breed of cowards who lack the will of those with older illusions who put their frothy energies to practical use. These are weak-willed men and women wanting to be saved, dramatically and messianically, and they unconsciously engender a nefarious vampirism, stealing energy from those more vulnerable and susceptible. It is a ghoulish game of those who cannot go back to the old illusions and yet do not have the courage to commence the spiritual path in earnest.

Brahma Vidya is exacting because it instructs the individual who is truly serious about apprehending the meaning of death and discovering the secret of immortality – "Give up thy life, if thou would'st live." Give up everything associated with so-called living. See it for what it is. Only after a sufficient period of courageous persistence can one begin to live. This painful recognition might well have the dignity and the power of a vow. It could summon a fresh release of creative energy from the inexhaustible, indescribable Self within, which has been repeatedly denied but which is relentlessly chasing one like the Hound of Heaven. It is oneself, one's only friend, one's best ally and invisible escort, one's own priest and authentic prophet, the guru and the guide, the radiant Christos within. To hold firmly to this sovereign truth is to make a new beginning and a radical change in consciousness. A person cannot move from the first part of the injunction, "Give up thy life", to the second, "if thou would'st live", on individualistic and separative terms, because no personal life means anything to the passionless and ever-revolving universe. New life may be found only by those who can find some meaning in the lives of others, can throw themselves into a vaster vision of life which is universifiable, in which others can share and participate. It is elementary wisdom and commonsense that makes a human being recognize that the larger circle must prevail. Each and every person must go along with the ever-expanding circle or be left behind in the great pilgrimage of humanity. Many men and women cling to their own contracting circles of confining allegiances, limiting ideas, base and petty plans, prating about absurd delusions of self-importance – all because they are terrified of the uncharted Void which is the creative abyss from which tomorrow must spring. And for such people necessarily there is a Gotterdammerung: they are doomed through avoidable selfishness and there is no providential or accidental escape. But when, from the very intensity of one's own concern with the Gotterdammerung, a human being really begins to extend out the radius of selfhood, then one suddenly begins to find that one lives in a radically new sense. In such a totally different way of life, one is apparently wholly involved, but only because one is always laughing, always voiding, always seeing through, without hurting the feelings of others, without denying to oneself the unsought opportunity of participating in the play.

 One gradually becomes a person for whom it is true that in giving up life, one begins to live. One has learned that it is possible to be and not to be – to be in space-time and yet not to be in space-time. This is to live infinitely, eternally, and immortally. It is to live the sovereign life of the king with the inward light of indissoluble consciousness focussed through a continuous golden thread of mystic meditation, upon which could be strung, like so many beads, everything that is meaningful within the great reservoir of experience. This tremendous vista restores to life its fundamentally joyous optimism, its core of creativity. They are wise who say, even at the level of a slogan, that the person of tomorrow is mature in some sense that was not true of the people of the past. It requires a new kind of adult hope, a new kind of maturity, to live coolly in this new dimension in a manner that transcends past societies. To live is to maintain that kind of coolness which is sustained by an ever-expanding, living warmth for all beings on earth. One can only inherit the kingdom by claiming it. Hence the Biblical saying that the kingdom of God must be taken by force – the force of courage. This is the courage to be alone, to be a raja within one's own realm, and to re-establish order among the insurgents that masquerade as unavoidable drives, basic necessities and necessary patterns. To restore order in the kingdom of one's life is to attain the sovereignty of a truly free human being who is at once determining the value to put upon things and voiding them as well. One is living and not living, dying and not dying. One is constantly reclaiming the virgin nature of a boundless consciousness that flows through one in a stream, reclaiming it from the necessary process of disintegration that must characterize all forms and finitude.

 One finds out for oneself that immortality can have no meaning except in reference to a recognition and acceptance of mortality. Though the language is paradoxical, the experience is possible. Alas, many men and women fail to come closer to experiencing it because they are excessively afraid to die. Ascribing mortality to parts, one can consciously do what Nature does with organisms, thereby maintaining one's individuality in the whole. Through letting go of particular things, one keeps the core of one's identity beyond time and space, beyond flux and cessation, beyond form, colour and limitation. A person who attains to this point moves naturally in embodied consciousness into a condition of something like serenity, obeisance and discipleship. Such an individual is sufficiently on the threshold to want the full incarnation of the Triad that is above him, to seek it with the whole of his being. One makes room for it (because Nature abhors a vacuum) by expelling all lesser energies and persisting in silent mental obeisance to the god within. The Triad has begun to mirror itself. It has not yet fully incarnated in the disciple, but the Triad overbroods and its mirroring shows in the calm of one's nature. The peace that passeth all understanding is like the calm of the depths of an infinite ocean. It is beyond description, but once experienced or realized, it can never be confounded with what the self-deluded call pleasure. There can be no ego-satisfaction, for this calm involves self-forgetfulness. It is a calm where there is no awareness of being calm. It is a flow that is not aware of itself as separate in the great process of life. The Triad can incarnate gradually. Every time it enters the soul there will be a kickback in the shadowy self. When it fully descends, it can maintain itself only by a self-conscious union with the Brahmâ-Vishnu-Shiva Triad – pure creativity, patient preservation of the essential and meaningful, and passionless elimination of the redundant and irrelevant. When this is attained, it becomes a rhythmic process coeval with the whole of one's life. Then it becomes as natural as breathing. As the Brihad Aranyaka intimates:

 Then the point of the heart grows luminous, and when it has grown luminous, it lights the soul upon its way: from the head or from the eye or from other parts of the body. And as the soul rises upwards the life-breath rises upwards with it; and as the life-breath rises upwards with it, the powers rise up with the life-breath. The soul becomes conscious and enters into Consciousness.
 Then his wisdom and works take him by the hand, and the knowledge gained of old. Then as a caterpillar when it comes to the end of a leaf, reaching forth to another foothold, draws itself over to it, so the soul, leaving the body, and putting off unwisdom, reaching another foothold there, draws itself over to it.
 As a worker in gold, taking an ornament, moulds it to another form newer and fairer; so in truth the soul, leaving the body here, and putting off unwisdom, makes for itself another form newer and fairer: a form like the forms of departed souls, or of the seraphs, or of the gods, or of the creators, or of the Eternal, or of other beings.
 The soul of man is the Eternal. It is made of consciousness, it is made of feeling, it is made of life, it is made of vision, it is made of hearing; it is made of the earth, it is made of the waters, it is made of the air, it is made of the ether, it is made of the radiance and what is beyond the radiance; it is made of desire and what is beyond desire, it is made of wrath and what is beyond wrath, it is made of the law and what is beyond the law; it is made of the All. The soul is made of this world and of the other world....
 As they said of old: Man verily is formed of desire; as his desire is, so is his will; as his will is, so he works; and whatever work he does, in the likeness of it he grows.


Hermes, December 1978
by Raghavan Iyer

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