~ THEOSOPHY TRUST ~
MEMORIAL LIBRARY
 
To SEARCH for a word or phrase on this page, press CTRL+F and enter  the text

Resonance and Responsibility

RESONANCE AND RESPONSIBILITY


Sickness does not depart by speaking of medicine unless the medicine be drunk; liberation comes not through speaking of the Eternal without immediate experience of the Eternal.

Shankaracharya    

 There is a vital relationship between modes of resonance and the potencies of emanations. One can readily see that if resonance and purity of tone have some connection with Rta and Dharma – cosmic order and moral solidarity – much depends upon the level of conscious awareness with which any sound is uttered. Every human being who emits any sound at any level of awareness releases a chain of consequences for which one is responsible, affecting monads, atoms and gods, all sentient points in nature. The Voice of the Silence teaches: "Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance." This sacred injunction presupposes a sublime philosophy of Nature. Perfected human beings have trained themselves over myriad lives in the masterful use of everything that Nature provides, including their own vestures. They work for the good of the whole and on the invisible plane, producing reverberations in the visible world. Surely this conception must be based upon a very different view of Nature from that which is found in materialistic science or in conventional religion.

 The term "nature" is derived from the root nasci, "to be born". All things are born in space and in time. They must grow, decay and die in time and in space. Just as the searing and decaying of a leaf into autumnal yellow suggests a mellowness in Nature, so Nature is meaningful at every level and in all its processes. The vital part of its ceaseless activity is hidden. Even though the invisible side of Nature cannot be seen by the naked eye, nevertheless by watching how Nature works, one can work with Nature and trust in the Law – this is the ancestral wisdom of humanity. If Nature is everything that is born and everything that exists, then even etymologically Nature is a vaster whole than is conveyed merely by visible phenomena. Science has evolved because human minds penetrated the veil of the visible and formulated theories, equations and models that pertain to the invisible mathematics of Nature. In the twentieth century science came to recognize the limitations of traditional mathematics as well as its own limitations in the use of mathematics. In quantum mechanics a shift from mathematical certainty to statistical generalization permits probabilistic explanations that encompass a great deal of what goes on invisibly in Nature and which can be tested under controlled conditions. Experimental science is very young, going back to the seventeenth century and the founding of the Royal Society. Science is growing, evolving, and it has the discipline of its methodology as well as an increasing awareness of its own methodological limitations. It was initially handicapped because it inherited a conception of matter which came from traditional religion, specifically from the narrow theological view of biblical cosmogony which declared that matter is inert. This static conception of matter is associated with the dogma that the world was created out of nothing.

 Unlike the ancient Greeks who had a subtle metaphysical concept of Chaos, modern science inherited a view where "nothing" simply meant the absence of any visible world. This unphilosophical view arose because people took literally a mythic statement in the New Testament and thus missed the mystical power and evocative meaning of the text: "In the beginning was the Word." Whenever a mystical statement is translated into a literal proposition or a dogmatic belief, its inner meaning is lost. Scientific methodology distorted by philosophical crudity reinforced the view of matter as inert, which in theology needs to be acted upon by an external animate being of which there was only one. The problem became ontological in that this animate being – of which there is only one – was held to be everywhere and simultaneously in an anthropomorphic form. This raises the insoluble problem of assigning the authorship of the entire visible world to a superhuman entity with an inscrutable will. This materializes the concept of Godhead and destroys the ethical foundations of nature and man. Even today many people continue to be influenced by facile concepts picked up in casual conversation and especially in the vast array of sensory images. In general, owing to mental laziness and for lack of contemplation, people cannot cut through the chaos, let alone consciously initiate a series of emanations out of deep meditation upon the Soundless Sound.

 Given any cogent doctrine of ethical responsibility, we are truly thrown back upon ourselves. Human beings can always make a difference by the power of choice in the use that they make of what they know at any level and by translating what they know into practice. What is it, then, that blocks an individual who knows all of this from putting it into practice? The question could be framed in specific terms: Why is it that when somebody sincerely wants to meditate upon the OM, he is repeatedly obstructed? This is due to the accumulated karma of misuse, non-use and incompletion. When a person wants to meditate deeply, the level of consciousness becomes critical. Pure consciousness arises in manas and is rooted in the Buddhic light of eternal motion, the universal consciousness of the Atman. Filtering down, no doubt slowly, it can be focussed intensively by concentration, and when practised with continuity, it can arouse intuition, the insight and illumination of Buddhi. Every human being has all of these available within his own nature, and, therefore, can self-consciously release the spiritual will. A person must initially allocate time not only for meditation but also for deliberate planning and calm contemplation, and also show a continuing care of thought-patterns that emerge and which can be modified by deliberation and discrimination. This can be done with an authentic sense of the sacred in a deepening silence that increasingly controls the use of words.

 The greater calm arising through a stronger sense of the sacred helps one to move beyond sound – toward the Soundless Sound – from an initial level of consciousness to higher levels of universal self-consciousness by degrees and by a slow ascent. This persistent process also makes a decisive difference to one's relationship to invisible Nature, to one's appreciation of physical nature, and one's capacity "to help Nature and work on with her". One is everywhere and nowhere in one's deepest Self, and yet one is helpless if one has created a false identity out of ever-moving tendencies. Rather than experiencing the living stasis of universal consciousness, people cling to a false static conception of self because they cannot control the mind and still their thoughts and withdraw into the inmost silence, the sanctuary of which Krishna speaks in the ninth chapter of the Gita. How, then, can continuity and steadfastness be discriminated from inflexibility? Such queries point to a more fundamental question: How can one determine what is an adequate idea? If one has an inadequate idea of the Self or an inadequate idea of mind, can one have an adequate idea of anything? Obviously not, for the ordinary mind is not only ontologically limited by finitude but also psychologically limited by lethargy. It is limited by seizing upon tokens of something larger. Here we have the basic distinction between kama manas – desire-mind – and pure manas, the true principle of creative thought. The ideas that people have are inadequate because the power of thinking is not freed from fixed preconceptions, fleeting sensations and partial perceptions. The great hope of spiritual growth lies in that just as the inexhaustible wealth of manifestation is itself only like a drop in the ocean compared to what is beyond – TAT – so, also, for a human being the whole of a lifetime, the succession of lifetimes, is like a drop in the ocean of the potential power of the Atman that is focussed through Buddhi in manas. Meditation is the perennial source of hope for the whole of humanity.

 But what hope is there for a particular individual? There is hope according to the degree to which that individual puts to work such powers as he or she has already developed. Take an idea that is adequate at one level, say, a relatively restricted idea of space, time or self. One may initially think of space in one's room. Then one can go beyond as far as one can, so what seems adequate at first can be replaced by something more adequate. One can keep extending one's concept of space, keep extending one's concept of time, keep extending one's concept of selfhood. There is the danger that one might still remain narcissistic and selfish. One might be deluding oneself, which is one of the hazards of transferring higher knowledge to the lower plane. The whole point of expanding one's view of space and of time is to go beyond the personal self. Inadequacy of ideas is due to the inadequacy of selfhood when rooted in personality, which is synonymous with limitation. Any persona is limited, and in fact illusory and ever-changing. How can the personal mind have an adequate idea of Absolute Space or Eternal Duration or Unconditioned Consciousness? Therefore one has to concentrate calmly when one studies, gradually gaining the powers of attention, contemplation and meditation. Though this may require a lifetime to accomplish, one must repeatedly begin at some point where one can forget narrow perspectives and the illusion of false knowledge and be willing to confront the abyss, the Divine Ground, the Mysterium Tremendum.

 The Law ceaselessly moves towards greater good, deeper harmony and towards ever-widening expansion of the possibilities of consciousness. The wheel of the Good Law moves swiftly on, and as it moves it sifts. Nature is on the side of every human being. Nature mercifully sifts through sleep every night and through death. Since this is taking place already with the help of Nature, one needs only to assist the process. Even though people make a mess of living, the fact they are still alive means that Nature wins. That is the Law, which works on behalf of every monad and of every human being, of every atom and of the entire solar system. It is not supportive of the shadowy "I" which does not really exist. It is not on the side of the false identity that is bound up in a changing flux with seeming fixities. Nature cannot do anything for one if one has already decided to be one's own enemy. Some people, alas, made such a decision through soul-perversity in former lives. Perhaps their conception was inflexible to start with; maybe they had an inflexible view of who they are; and maybe they foolishly fixed their minds upon some false image of the goal. They may have tried to do some figuring out on their own, but only on behalf of the shadowy self. They may have thought they were an exception to the laws of nature. That is where the tragedy begins. Once one imagines one is an exception to the laws of nature, one can do oneself a lot of harm and become one's own enemy. All learning will be painful because of the perverse unwillingness to learn. And one reason why one will not learn is because one refuses to be flexible. One mistakes the shadow of truth for the substance, the distorted semblance for the reality, and that makes one inflexible. Trapped by static conceptions, the mind becomes ritualistic, and one is trapped by forms, colours and limitations.

 Since this tendency can assert itself in each and every one at any moment, it must be understood properly. Understanding begins with pondering the instruction of Jesus: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Any attitude which implies judgement upon the human race snares one in inflexibility. The occult law of responsibility suggests that if one harshly judges a human being, one transfers that presumed or actual evil to oneself. Being judgemental makes one inflexible and this makes one's steadfastness rigid, one's conduct ritualistic. One really needs a deeper continuity that is based upon inward contentment, spiritual wakefulness, a readiness for everything, but also a sheer joy in learning. The wise person recognizes that it is educative and edifying to live in a universe under Law. One is fortunate that it does not depend upon votes as to whether there would be sunshine tomorrow. One is fortunate that it does not depend upon the whim of any personal self as to whether there will be night, the night that is needed, the night of non-manifestation that is called sleep. Nature works rhythmically and yet flexibly, for each day and night and every hour of each day or night is not the same as any other. And it can be coloured, given a tone and texture by the way in which one uses it by withdrawing into one's inmost, deepest self. There is flexibility in the very attempt to keep pace with the Law, even though one does not understand it but only senses its direction. If one respects that Law, one can take proper advantage of it and thereby develop a cheerful, creative flexibility. Creative flexibility is meaningful if it is accommodated within a self-chosen discipline. Using what one already has allows magic to take place, but not using it will have its own unnecessary karma, which means one has made oneself unworthy by non-use of what one has. What can be done about this? Nothing in terms of the restless mind. The restless mind is constantly trying to figure out short-cuts and diversionary tactics, which are inefficient because illogical.

 One must necessarily return to where it all starts and ends in the realm of manifestation, the problem of the mind. The mind must be stilled. The mind must be subdued by the power of attention that is called concentration, by the power of meditation that is called continuity in contemplation and which results in inner calmness. It is not as difficult to accomplish as it seems, because in some significant degree one has done it before and others are doing it right now. At some level one has to face oneself. One has to take an honest inventory and at the same time purge oneself of the consolidation of the false shadow by turning to the light with the whole of one's being. When this is done, there is no room for separation of oneself from other selves, from the Bodhisattvas, from Nature and its transcendental Source. One can overcome separateness, arising in the mind through false identification with a form, at the very core of being. One has seen wonders done by people; one can do a number of things oneself. But one cannot change everything suddenly overnight by means of a miracle. Any magic that works under laws must not be mistaken for miracles that cannot really happen. Miracles do not even occur in fairy tales except when they are earned by moral and spiritual worthiness.

 Real magic can only work through the higher principles for those who meditate by the light of the Atman and the love of Buddhi and through the lens of manas. These must be brought in line with the creative Logos in Nature and in man, that which lights up every being and illumines the world. Insight has to be earned by the power of the whole of one's attention over a period of time. If one's concepts of creation and of emanation are philosophically continuous, and if at the same time detachment is psychologically possible without discontinuity, then truly one can work with the ordered harmonies of Nature, the whole of life, and everything generated in and through one's sacred vesture, the temple of the living god within. This is a very beneficent teaching, and as Krishna stated in the second chapter of the Gita: "In this system of Yoga no effort is wasted, nor are there any evil consequences, and even a little of this practice delivereth a man from great risk." Krishna also declared, "The duty of another is full of danger", and "a man enjoyeth not freedom from action from the non-commencement of that which he hath to do". Even a little of this wisdom can deliver a man from great risk when it is put to use. One must begin to think in terms of a micro-approach if one wants to make a break with the pseudo-philosophy of a dying culture. The micro-approach applies every day and was known in the beginning of human history. One can find golden opportunities at the present moment. Continuity generated by concentration, fused with a recognition of responsibility in a universe of Law, opens a glorious vista of possibilities before the intuitive individual in becoming a creative artist who merges his or her own sphere into "the mighty magic of Prakriti". Such "fortune's favoured soldiers" rejoice in the service of the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas who self-consciously radiate the harmony which is the root of Nature, the energy of evolution and the resonance of the Soundless Sound.

Hermes, June 1979
by Raghavan Iyer

Normal View