Saturday, September 16, 2017

All Merciful and Eternally Benevolent (Part 1.)

You are all merciful and eternally benevolent!” – From the Parvardigar Prayer by Meher Baba
Call them words, teachings, messages, etc. Meher Baba gave us so much that I sometimes find myself taking these precious gifts far too lightly—not really hearing them—not really taking them in—and so, from time to time, I choose something, some word or words or a short phrase and make efforts to remember it, to ponder it, to feel it, to appreciate it…

Addressing God in the state of Parvardigar—the preserver and protector of all—Meher Baba says, “You are all merciful and eternally benevolent!”

All merciful and eternally benevolent—what does that mean when considered against what appears to be the cruelty, injustice, and destruction in the world from its ancient past to its passing present?
The two words and the heart of this assertion are mercy and benevolence. Mercy responds to need, not to merit, and benevolence is a state of impartiality that is denied to no one. Neither sinner nor saint has a corner on the market of mercy and benevolence. Benevolence does not take sides because it knows that duality in any of its manifestations is the unnecessary necessity of the evolution and involution of consciousness. Listening to the joys and sorrows of those who approached him, King Solomon used to turn a ring around and around on His finger. Inside the ring was engraved the words, “this too shall pass!

In the book, The Unveiling of Secrets, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst, under the heading, “The Merciful One is Sitting on the Throne” the great Sufi master Ruzbihan Baqli (d.1209) revealed;

Then I saw the Most High in the form of greatness and eternity and divine presence, repeatedly, then I saw him in the majesty of intimacy in the form of holiness where no station remains. I dived into the oceans of eternity and pre-eternity and post-eternity. Then I was annihilated of all my attributes and I descended to the world of the angelic realm. I saw all existing things, compared to his power, smaller than a mustard seed. 

Then I went to the fields of pre-eternity intoxicated and raving, and he clothed me in the clothes of his loveliness and his beauty. Here I was the beloved of God most high, and he (glory be to him) loved me and was kind to me with kindness that none of the creatures of God most high could bear to hear of if I mentioned it to them, except as God wills” – The Unveiling of Secrets, Ruzbihan Baqli, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst

What to make of this quote?  It speaks of experience far beyond our ordinary human experience. Ruzbihan sees God clothed in His attributes of greatness and eternity and divine presence. Pondering this statement in light of Meher Baba’s words I am aware that God has infinite attributes and God is free of all attributes. “You are without color, without expression, without form and without attributes.” – Parvardigar Prayer by Meher Baba, sentence 3, and then later in sentence 13, “You are the Soul of souls, the One with infinite attributes.”  

The greatness of God is beyond all and any boundaries and limitations, let alone understanding! There is nothing greater than the greatness of God—this greatness does not have any opposite counterpart—it is beyond all duality—all conception!

What did Ruzbihan see when he saw the Most High in the form of greatness?  What did Ruzbihan see when he saw the Most High in the form of eternity? What did Ruzbihan see when he saw the Most High in the form of divine presence? And, what does it mean to see? Again, in the Parvardigar Prayer, are the words, “…and none can see you but with eyes divine!” Eyes divine is more about consciousness than vision as we understand it. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gave Arjuna the eyes to see His Infinite form. What did Arjuna see?

Oh Almighty God! I see in You the powers of Nature, the various Creatures of the world, the Progenitor on his lotus throne, the Sages, and the shining angels. 

I see You, infinite in form, with, as it were, faces, eyes, and limbs everywhere; no beginning, no middle, no end; O Lord of the Universe, whose Form is universal!

I see You with the crown, the scepter, and the discus, a blaze of splendor. Scarce can I gaze on You, so radiant You are, glowing like the blazing fire, brilliant as the sun, immeasurable.
Imperishable are You, the Sole One worthy to be known, the priceless Treasure-house of the universe, the immortal Guardian of the Life Eternal, the Spirit Everlasting.

Without beginning, without middle, and without end, infinite in power. Your arms all—embracing, the sun and moon Your eyes, Your face beaming with the fire of sacrifice, flooding the whole universe with light.

Alone you fill all the quarters of the sky, earth, and heaven, and the regions between. O Almighty Lord! Seeing Your marvelous and awe-inspiring Form, the spheres tremble with fear.
The troops of celestial Beings enter into You, some invoking You in fear, with folded palms; the Great Seers and Adepts sing hymns to Your Glory, saying "All Hail."

The Vital Forces, the Major Stars, Fire, Earth, Air, Sky, Sun, Heaven, Moon, and Planets; the Angels, the Guardians of the Universe, the divine Healers, the Winds, the Fathers, the Heavenly Singers; and hosts of Mammon-worshippers, demons as well as saints, are amazed.

Seeing Your stupendous Form, O Most Mighty! With its myriad faces, its innumerable eyes and limbs and terrible jaws, I myself and all the worlds are overwhelmed with awe.
When I see You, touching the Heavens, glowing with color, with open mouth and wide-open fiery eyes, I am terrified. O my Lord! My courage and my peace of mind desert me.

When I see Your mouths with their fearful jaws like glowing fires at the dissolution of creation, I lose all sense of place; I find no rest. Be merciful, O Lord in whom this universe abides!
All these sons of Dhritarashtra, with the hosts of princes, Bhisma, Drona, and Karna, as well as the other warrior chiefs belonging to our side;

I see them all rushing headlong into Your mouths, with terrible tusks, horrible to behold. Some are mangled between Your jaws, with their heads crushed to atoms.

As rivers in flood surge furiously to the ocean, so these heroes, the greatest among men, fling themselves into Your flaming mouths.

As moths fly impetuously to the flame, only to be killed, so these men rush into Your mouths to court their own destruction.

You seem to swallow up the worlds, to lap them in flame. Your glory fills the universe. Your fierce rays beat down upon it irresistibly.

Tell me then who You are that wear this dreadful Form. I bow before You, O Mighty One! Have mercy, I pray, and let me see You as You were at first. I do not know what You intend.

Lord Shri Krishna replied:
I have shown Myself to you as the Destroyer who lays waste the world, and whose purpose now is destruction. In spite of your efforts, all these warriors gathered for battle shall not escape death.
Then gird up your loins, and conquer. Subdue your foes and enjoy the kingdom in prosperity. I have already doomed them. Be My instrument, Arjuna!

Drona and Bhishma, Jayadratha, and Karna, and other brave warriors — I have condemned them all. Destroy them; fight and fear not. Your foes shall be crushed.

Sanjaya continued:
Having heard these words from the Lord Shri Krishna, the Prince Arjuna, with folded hands trembling, prostrated himself and with choking voice, bowing down again and again, and overwhelmed with awe, once more addressed the Lord.

Arjuna said.
My Lord! It is natural that the world revels and rejoices when it sings the praises of Your glory; the demons fly in fear and the saints offer You their salutations.

How should they do otherwise? O Supremest Self, greater than the Powers of creation, the First Cause, Infinite, the Lord of Lords, the Home of the universe, Imperishable, Being and Not-Being, yet transcending both.

You are the Primal God, the Ancient, the Supreme Abode of this universe, the Knower, the Knowledge, and the Final Home. You fill everything. Your form is infinite.

You are the Wind, You are Death, You are the Fire, the Water, the Moon, the Father and the Grandfather. Honor and glory to You a thousand and a thousand times! Again and again, salutation be to You, O my Lord!

Salutations to You in front and on every side, You who encompass me round about. Your power is infinite; Your majesty immeasurable; You uphold all things; yea, You Yourself are all.

Whatever I have said unto You in rashness, taking You only for a friend and addressing you as "O Krishna! O Yadava! O Friend!" in thoughtless familiarity, not understanding Your greatness;

Whatever insult I have offered to You in jest, in sport, or in repose, in conversation or at the banquet, alone or in a multitude, I ask Your forgiveness for them all, O You who are without an equal!

For You are the Father of all things movable and immovable, the Worshipful, the Master of Masters! In all the worlds there is none equal to You; how then superior; O You who stand alone, Supreme.

Therefore I prostrate myself before you, O Lord! Most Adorable! I salute You, I ask Your blessing. Only You can be trusted to bear with me, as father to son, as friend to friend, as lover to his beloved.

I rejoice that I have seen what never man saw before; yet, O Lord! I am overwhelmed with fear. Please take again the Form I know. Be merciful. O Lord! You who are the Home of the whole universe. 

I long to see You as You were before, with the crown, the scepter, and the discus in Your hands; in Your other Form, with your four hands, O You whose arms are countless and whose forms are infinite.

Lord Shri Krishna replied:
My beloved friend! It is only through My grace and power that you have been able to see this vision of splendor, the Universal, the Infinite, the Original. Never has it been seen by any but you.

Not by study of the scriptures, not by sacrifice or gift, not by ritual or rigorous austerity, is it possible for man on earth to see what you have see, O foremost hero of the Kuru clan!

Be not afraid or bewildered by the terrible vision. Put away your fear and, with joyful mind, see Me once again in my usual Form.” Bhagavad Gita, Chap. 11

And this was only the beginning of Ruzbihan’s experience! Then he saw God “in the majesty of intimacy in the form of holiness where no station remains.” Usually, majesty implies something beyond—something to be gazed upon from afar—distance is implied when we say, the majesty of God; and yet intimacy implies just the opposite—closeness, connection, personal relationship… 

Both majesty and intimacy can be found in ordinary human experience, but the majesty of intimacy is of the miraculous. Ruzbihan experienced both, simultaneously, truly by the grace of his beloved God.

And he saw his beloved God in the form of holiness where no station remains. Station is much like a train station. People go to a station to get to somewhere else, but once they get to where they want to get, they have no more need of stations. The form of holiness in which Ruzbihan saw God was beyond all stations—was the final stateless state of perfectly conscious God—the state to which all souls aspire and ultimately all souls attain!

(To be continued.)


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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Meher Baba's Divine Theme

 The Divine Theme of Meher Baba is less than ten pages long and includes two charts by the same name. It appears in the supplement of God SpeaksThe Theme of Creation and Its Purpose after the essay titled Meditation in which Meher Baba states;

1. In the first stage the aspirant will read through the Divine Theme daily, studying the charts also, and thinking about it thoroughly as he does so.

2. In the second stage when the aspirant has the entire subject at his fingertips, actual reading becomes unnecessary, but the subject matter of the exposition will be mentally reviewed with the help of the charts when necessary.

3. In the third stage, which will develop naturally out of the second, it will be quite unnecessary  for the mind to review the words or the thoughts in the exposition separately and consecutively or even to refer to the facts, and all discursive thinking about the subject matter will come to an end. At this stage of meditation the mind will no longer be occupied with any trains of thought, but will have a clear understanding of the sublime truths expressed in the exposition.” God Speaks, second edition, pages 233

 Several years ago, a friend of mine who was only minimally acquainted with the teachings of Meher Baba asked me some very deep questions to which I responded in a series of emails. My aim was to introduce him to, by way of a summary, Meher Baba’s Divine Theme. Additionally, I strongly encouraged him to also go to the source of the material itself and begin to read God Speaks, Discourses, and Beams from Meher.

Sometime later, wishing to make the material accessible to more people, I transformed those emails into an essay which I then published in this blog, Embedded with the Kali Yuga. From time to time I have tweaked that essay—I think this may be the second revision.  Of course, all the material of this essay comes from Meher Baba and  represents his gnosis—direct experience—of the subject and so I renew my suggestion and so strongly encourage all who are interested to go to the source itself and read all of Baba’s books on the subject.

“God cannot be explained, He cannot be argued about, He cannot be theorized, nor can He be discussed and understood.  God can only be lived.

“Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God to appease the intellectual convulsions of the mind of man, still lacks many more words and further explanations because the Truth is that the Reality must be realized and the divinity of God must be attained and lived.

“To understand the infinite, eternal Reality is not the Goal of individualized beings in the Illusion of Creation, because the Reality can never be understood; it is to be realized by conscious experience.

“Therefore, the Goal is to realize the Reality and attain the ‘I am God’ state in human form.” God Speaks, by Meher Baba, Second Edition, the Conclusion, page 202

To appease the intellectual convulsions of the mind,” how wonderful would that be, to have a convulsion-free mind!

Meher Baba talks about ten states of God. Since nothing exists beyond, or before, or outside of God, the ten states of God include everything. To create a basic overview of these original ten states we can condense them into three states.

In the first state, God is asleep. He is so deeply asleep that He is not even aware of His own existence. It is comparable to our own deep sleep state. It is dreamless and consciousless.

In the second state, God is beginning to wake up. This is the intermediate dream state between His deep sleep state and His fully awake state. In this state, God dreams Himself to be the entire creation and everything and everyone within it. It is comparable to our own dream state.

In the third state, God has awakened and experiences His true eternal, infinite, all knowing, and all-powerful nature. God’s experience of this reality is all knowing, all powerful, unending bliss. In this state, creation and all of its beings and paraphernalia are seen to have been an illusion—merely vacant dreams within the dream of creation.

Meher Baba suggests an analogy that likens God to an ocean—a shoreless, fathomless ocean. The ocean awakens drop by drop. When a drop begins the process of awakening it begins to dream the dream of creation. Baba refers to this drop as an individualized soul. The latent whim of the ocean, manifested through each drop, is expressed in the question, “Who am I?” and to answer this question God must awaken from His deep sleep and dreams. The journey of this awakening occurs in God’s dream of creation   through the three sequential processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution.                                                              
 In the Original First state of God, (Meher Baba calls this state the Beyond Beyond State), there is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, though both are latent. Without consciousness, God cannot know himself as God. Consciousness is like a mirror that God uses to see Himself. It is acquired through the process of evolution, but the evolution Meher Baba speaks about is the evolution of consciousness, not the evolution of gross forms within creation that Charles Darwin described.

Consciousness and impressions—sanskaras—are bound together in a tight embrace from the very beginning. Consciousness evolves when it experiences impressions and more impressions are the result of those experiences. It is my opinion that the awareness and understanding of sanskaras is the missing link between Meher Baba’s teachings and science’s attempt to understand the universe.

Press your finger into soft clay and it makes an impression. Similarly, new impression are created upon the mind when, through action, consciousness experiences impressions already existent in the mind. Sanskaras accumulate on the mind like dust on the surface of a mirror and hinders the mirror of consciousness from reflecting the soul’s reality as God.

Both sanskaras and consciousness are the result of gross, subtle, and mental actions instigated by the promptings of the mind. But how did it all begin? Did the first impression precede the first consciousness, or did the first consciousness precede the first impression, or were they simultaneous? And what about that first impression—If new impressions are formed when existent impressions are experienced, where did the first impression come from?

Meher Baba explained that the first impression did not arise as the result of another impression but as the result of a totally free and causeless happening that he called the Lahar, or the Whim, that was latent in the infinite ocean of God—Paramatma—the Oversoul. Why a whim? There is no cause and effect explanation for whim. A whim just happens and nothing more can be said of its why or when or wherefore.

To the question of whether precedence or simultaneity of the first consciousness and the first impression, Meher Baba explained that although for all intents and purposes the first consciousness and the first impression were simultaneous, still, the first impression was the antecedent and the first consciousness was the resultant consequent.
The New Testament speaks of this relationship between consciousness and sanskaras in the metaphor of the tarries that grow up with the wheat. It is only during the later process of involution that the wheat can be separated from the tarries.    

Between evolution and involution is reincarnation. It begins automatically once full consciousness is acquired during the process of evolution and the human form is achieved.

Reincarnation is the mechanism through which the hold of the impressions on consciousness is sufficiently loosened so that during the next phase called involution the impressions can be totally removed without harming the consciousness. Gurdjieff often alluded to this when he said that the development of the latent higher qualities in man was not a process of adding anything, but of taking away that which had become unnecessary.

Meher Baba said that reincarnation occurs on other planets that support human life, but that involution only occurs on our planet, the planet Earth, and that the stages of reincarnation and involution always occurs when the soul is associating with the human form through its gross, subtle, and mental bodies. If and when Earth becomes incapable of supporting the processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution, another planet will be chosen to take its place.

During the process of reincarnation sanskaras are spent. The term is used by Meher Baba to describe an exchange of sanskaras. The purpose of reincarnation is not to decrease the sum total of an individual’s sanskaras as much as it is to loosen their hold on consciousness so that they can be removed later, during the process of involution. It can be likened to the process of loosening the dust on the mirror in order to make it easier to remove. The greatest hold on consciousness is the hold of gross sanskaras. In reincarnation this hold is loosened by gradually exchanging what could be called the grossest of sanskaras for less gross or lighter sanskaras, hence there is effected what Meher Baba describes as a thinning out of gross impressions

    Meher Baba tells us that all of creation is comprised of three spheres of existence named the gross, the subtle, and the mental spheres. What science calls the universe, or the cosmos, with all its planets and stars, matter and anti-matter, black holes, etc. is an incomplete and inaccurate description of the gross sphere only. The subtle and the mental spheres, let alone Reality, are currently way beyond science’s capacity for inquiry since their existence can only be experienced by subtle, mental, or Divine consciousness.

To experience the subtle sphere, a subtle form and subtle consciousness are necessary; to experience the mental sphere, a mental form and mental consciousness are necessary; and to experience Reality, Divine consciousness and a Divine body are necessary. This need of a proper form and consciousness to obtain a certain experience is spoken of in the New Testament parable of the man who was thrown out of the wedding—symbolizing the occasion of a soul’s union with God—because he did not have the appropriate garment to wear.    

The sojourn of the soul from its state of deep dreamless sleep to its fully awake, I am God state, descends without consciousness from the God state through the mental and then the subtle world to the gross world. It is there, in the gross world, that the soul’s conscious journey begins, ultimately to ascend with greater and greater and more perfected consciousness back through the subtle and mental worlds to the conscious God state. An interesting fact that Meher Baba revealed is that a few souls do become conscious while descending through the mental and subtle worlds. Those who become conscious in the mental world become archangels and those who become conscious in the subtle world become angels. Meher Baba further explained that archangels and angels are not, however, God realized and that ultimately to fulfill their destiny each must take birth as a human being in the gross world.

Meher Baba names the first stage of the journey evolution. During evolution, the soul systematically associates with and dissociates from 8,400,000 gross forms— from stone to metal, vegetable, insect, fish, reptile, bird, and animal forms. Through these associations, the soul acquires consciousness. He also makes the point that association tends the soul to identify with that which it is associating. I have often wondered about this subtle distinction and its possibilities. The final evolutionary form is the human form and, being the last, contains within itself all of the previous lower forms.

While continuing to describe and explain the details of this incredible journey, Meher Baba continually reminds us however, that this journey is a journeyless journey. In reality, the soul never goes anywhere or does anything. The whole journey is, in fact, an illusion within Illusion for it takes place in the dream state of God. Yet, it is a necessary illusion. Meher Baba suggests the nature of the relationship that exists between Illusion and Reality in the dedication to his book God Speaks.

                                                          “To the Universe,
                                            the Illusion that sustains Reality”
 With the achievement of the human form, consciousness is full and complete—but it is not perfected.  The sanskaric dust still obscures the surface of the mirror and so the soul now experiences reincarnation, the second stage of its journey.

 It generally takes millions of incarnations in the human form, experiencing the endless pendulums of duality such as woman and men, rich and poor, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jew, etc. etc. to sufficiently relax duality’s grip through identification on the consciousness of the soul.  During this time, consciousness and identity continue to be centered in gross sanskaras and the soul continues to identify itself with the gross human body living in the gross world. In reincarnation, there is awareness of thoughts and feelings that emanate from the subtle and mental bodies, but there is no direct consciousness of these bodies or identification with them.

Only during the process of involution, does the individualized soul lose consciousness of the gross body and the gross world and become conscious of the subtle body and the subtle world. At this stage, the consciousness of the individual soul, while still associating with a gross human form, identifies with and begins to experience itself and the subtle world as pure energy. This experience is not a thought or a belief or a conviction, it is a direct experience and is without doubt.

                                   “Until you experience it, it is not true!” – Kabir
There are seven planes of consciousness beyond gross consciousness. The first three planes comprise the subtle world. The fourth plane stands half in the subtle world and half in the mental world. The fifth and sixth planes are both in the mental world.  Meher Baba tells us that the seventh plane is the goal and the destiny of all souls and that ultimately, all souls reach that goal. There are many formulations used to describe this achievement; God Realization, The Self, Self-Realization, Union with God, Becoming God, The Kingdom of Heaven, The Real Awakening, Reality, etc.—many ways of describing the same one thing. With regard to the experiences of the first six planes we will go into much more detail later…

     Meher Baba once drew a picture of Himself as a chicken. He called it the Mischievous Chicken and explained that it was the first chicken to emerge from under the wing of the Mother Hen (the Original First Deep Sleep State of God) and journey through evolution, reincarnation, and involution to realize the Goal. After reaching the Goal the Mischievous One looked back and saw all the other chickens that had followed him out. It was there and then that he took on the burden of helping all the other chickens to realize the Goal also. The name given to this first soul to reach the Goal and take upon Himself this burden of responsibility is the Ancient One, Avatar, Christ, Rasool, or Messiah.

The Ancient One comes again and again and though the form of His message is seen to change to conform to the needs of the times, the essence of His message is always the same, “God alone is Real and the destiny of all souls is to recognize that Reality as oneself.” Likewise, though the form of the work of the Avatar changes with the exigencies of time and situation, His work also, always remains the same—to give to all of creation a universal spiritual push towards the Goal and to take upon Himself the burden of the suffering acquired by each soul in its journeyless journey to Self.    

Meher Baba has identified Krishna, Ram, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Mohammed, and Himself as a few of the more recent Avataric incarnations. He tells us that these historical personages are, in essence, unique garments that informed the Avataric Presence at particular times in particular places. For example, Jesus was the name of the man who informed the Christ, i.e. the garment that clothed the Avataric presence. That garment was used and then discarded. All of the garments of the Avatar are discarded and not used again. Therefore, the Avatar as Jesus will not come again, but the Avatar, the Ancient One, continues to come again and again—Meher Baba tells us, every seven hundred to fourteen hundred years.    
    It seems that the human mind takes great interest in the beginnings, middles, and ends of things—perhaps it is because in the Creation that the ordinary human mind dreams and finds itself immersed in—conscious of—all and everything is finite and that which is finite has and end and therefore must have had a beginning and a middle as well. But the Infinite has no beginning and therefore has no end and therefore has no middle. The Infinite exists in the Eternal moment free of past, present, and future; free of beginnings, middles, and ends.

Still, to “appease the intellectual convulsions of the mind,” Meher Baba addresses the question of the beginning of Creation and the process of awakening and reveals that there somehow occurred in the Original Deep Sleep State of God a something that no word or words can adequately describe, but that Meher Baba calls the Lahar. Lahar, as best it can, conveys the sense of whim and whim suggests something beyond cause or effect.  Meher Baba states that the Lahar is the first action and this first action is also the first cause. The first cause results in a first effect and thereby establishes the law of cause and effect in all of Creation’s gross, subtle, and mental spheres.

Experience, guided by cause and effect, impacts consciousness, but consciousness obtained through action is necessarily always tinged by the unique qualities of that action. This tinge, retained as an impression on consciousness, is called a sanskara. Once this impression is formed, and consciousness becomes aware of it, then a need is created to experience that impression, and to experience this new impression an appropriate new action and medium is essential. Therefore, a new medium—a new form—must be created and associated with to experience this new sanskara. Meher Baba tells us that this new form is, in fact, nothing other than the consolidated mold of the impressions gathered in the previous life or form. Ironically, therefore, it can be said that we are always living—experiencing—one lifetime behind the one we are currently living.

The cycle can be summarized thus:

1.      Action creates consciousness and sanskaras are the by-product of the process.
2.      Consciousness of the sanskaras creates the need to experience the sanskaras.
3.      To experience the sanskara, a new action and a new form are necessary.
4.      This action then leads to a change in consciousness and more sanskaras that need to be experienced.

This cycle characterizes the process of evolution. As stated previously, evolution is complete and its purpose fulfilled upon achievement of the human form. During the process of reincarnation that follows, the cycle continues, but with one important difference; since consciousness is already fully developed, no more consciousness remains to be achieved and consequently the sum total of sanskaras is not further increased.

The purpose of reincarnation is to loosen the hold of the already accumulated sanskaras on consciousness, and this is achieved through the spending (exchanging) of one sanskara for another. A further result is that, over time, the gross sanskaras also get thinned out sufficiently to enable involution, the next step in the process, to proceed.

During the process of involution, the consciousness of the soul enters the subtle and mental spheres and experiences the higher planes of consciousness.

 (In addition to God Speaks and Discourses, numerous points were dictated by Meher Baba to Bhau Kalchuri that provides a most descriptive view of the planes of consciousness. These points were published under the title; The Nothing and The Everything.)
The planes of consciousness are not in the gross, physical universe and the pilgrim, experiencing involution on the planes, is not conscious of the gross, physical universe or his gross physical body. Though not conscious of his body, the body is retained and other gross conscious individuals can see and interact with the pilgrim through it. For his part, the pilgrim on the planes is generally aware of gross conscious individuals, but does not see their gross, physical bodies, instead, he sees and interacts with them as expressions of pure energy or, in the case of the mentally conscious pilgrim, as expressions of pure mind.

Between the gross sphere and the first plane of the subtle world is a connective membrane that links the gross sphere to the subtle sphere. This connective membrane is the sub-subtle sphere, or what is generally called, the astral world. Once the pilgrim is fully established on the first subtle plane this link is dissolved forever.

Meher Baba tells us that every plane has a heaven. These heavens are not the heaven and hell referred to by many Christians and Muslims. Meher Baba offers this explanation: Planes are connected to each other. One journeys from plane to plane as one journeys from place to place via a railroad network. The station from which one journeys is like a railroad station in the center of a city. The station is the plane. The city, with all its unique experiences, is like the heaven. One must come to the station, i.e. leave the heaven, before they can journey to the next plane.

The pilgrim on the first plane sees gross forms as shadows. These shadows are energy because everything, including himself, is experienced as energy. The pilgrim on the first plane is bursting with inspiration inspired by unimaginable sights and visions, colors and sounds, light that dazzles and enchants him, and the celestial music of angels inhabiting the higher planes of the subtle world. The inspiration he feels affects other gross conscious people near him. Nothing in the gross sphere can match the unimaginable beauty and experiences of the first subtle plane.

 It could take thousands of years for the pilgrim to progress to the next plane, but with the help of a perfect master the journey can be sped up. In the second plane, the pilgrim becomes seized by subtle powers and gradually gains control of these powers by becoming their possessor. With these powers, the pilgrim can perform at will, minor miracles like transforming a withered tree into a green one, or vice versa. He can stop moving cars or trains, prevent airplanes from taking off, or fill dry wells with water.

The section of the second plane called the heaven of the second plane has two sections and these sections are the heaven and hell states that are experienced by the gross conscious soul after death.  Both the heaven and hell states are within the heaven of the second plane.

It must constantly be kept in mind, when thinking about these descriptions of the planes, that all the planes of the subtle and the mental spheres are internal states; they have no physical reality and cannot be located in gross space. Individuals in the state of reincarnation, after death, do not experience the second plane but only the subjective states of heaven and hell, in accordance with their unique sanskaric patterns. Heaven and hell are mechanisms that help individuals to balance out their sanskaras in preparation for their next incarnation.

Once the individual achieves the state of involution, the need to experience the heaven and hell states between incarnations becomes unnecessary.  Pilgrims in the stage of involution, who have consciousness of the second plane, can imbibe the blissful state of heaven and avoid the pain of hell by the exercise of their will.

The third plane of the subtle world is a realm of even greater powers. This plane is where major miracles such as giving sight to the blind, speech to the mute, and hearing to the deaf are performed. Dead animals can be brought back to life and the minds of all gross conscious individuals, anywhere in the world, can be read at will.

In the heaven of the third plane, the pilgrim can see and interact with angels, for this heaven is the realm of the gods. It includes all the Hindu gods and deities who are, in fact, the Greek and Roman gods as well. As mentioned previously, archangels and angels are souls who, in their journey from the deep sleep state, become conscious while descending through the planes.

The fourth plane pilgrim stands between the subtle and the mental world with, so to speak, a foot in both. The subtle world was all about power and the mental world is all about mind. Though very advanced in power, the pilgrim of the fourth plane has not yet mastered his mind. The combination is very dangerous because if a fourth plane pilgrim so much as has a thought, then that thought is instantly actualized. Instigated by the thought itself, entire worlds can be created or destroyed and the minds of men and angels can be influenced. Obviously, the pilgrim needs help at this stage and the Nazar (watchful gaze) of perfect masters and masters of the fifth plane is on the fourth plane pilgrim. Meher Baba tells us that Kuber is the name given to a fourth plane pilgrim.

The fifth and sixth planes are in the mental world. The fifth plane pilgrim gains mastery over the section of mind that controls thought and the sixth plane pilgrim gains mastery over the section of mind that controls feeling. In fact, the fifth plane pilgrim actually becomes thought and the sixth plane pilgrim actually becomes feeling.

What does it mean to become thought or to become feeling? Thinking and feeling and being aware of thinking and feeling are not becoming. This is something quite different—unimaginable –yet trying to image, to ponder, contemplate can lead one into a very blissful place! The fifth plane pilgrim knows everything and hears the divine sound of God while the sixth plane pilgrim sees God everywhere and as everything.

All that remains for the sixth plane pilgrim is to become one with God. His state is indeed exalted, yet his journey is incomplete because he continues to experience himself as someone/something other than God. Retaining the sense of false individuality, he is still in illusion—the second state or dream state of God. Meher Baba explains that the gap, or distance, between all of evolution, reincarnation, and involution is infinitesimally smaller than the chasm that exists between the sixth plane and the seventh plane of Reality—the third and fully awake state of God.

With the help of One who has achieved the perfection of the seventh plane, the pilgrim enters the seventh plane of consciousness. He is now fully awake and experiences the infinite power, knowledge and bliss of God. He becomes God eternally. Usually, after achieving this state the pilgrim drops his physical, subtle, and mental bodies within forty-eight to seventy-two hours. This dropping of the body in no way affects the experience of the individualized soul with regard to the experience of his Godhood, but does affect his consciousness of creation. After dropping the body, all consciousness of creation is lost and no further lifetimes are lived. In other words, God conscious souls never reincarnate.

God Realization is always achieved while in a human body. After God Realization, the body can be dropped almost immediately or retained for some time as determined by the destiny of the realized soul. Whether the body is retained for hours, or days, or years, the divine consciousness of all of realized beings is the same, however, the degree of creation consciousness can be different depending upon each realized soul’s duties and responsibilities with regard to the working and execution of the Avatar’s Divine Plan.

There are always fifty –six God Realized beings the planet earth, five of whom are Perfect Masters. These five maintain the most creation consciousness and the most responsibility to creation—especially human beings existing on the planet Earth. Perhaps the most important duty of Perfect Masters is to bring down—to precipitate—the advent of the Avatar in the Avataric periods. The Avataric responsibility is for all of creation and for each and every soul experiencing the dream of creation—from souls associating and identifying with the stone form, from souls associating and identifying with the worm form, from souls associating and identifying with the animal forms, and then human forms experiencing all the three worlds of consciousness—the gross, the subtle, and the mental. What a responsibility is that… can we even imagine?   

I began this essay with the words of Meher Baba. I feel it is appropriate to end with those same words:

“God cannot be explained, He cannot be argued about, He cannot be theorized, nor can He be discussed and understood.  God can only be lived. Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God to appease the intellectual convulsions of the mind of man, still lacks many more words and further explanations because the Truth is that the Reality must be realized and the divinity of God must be attained and lived.

“To understand the infinite, eternal Reality is not the Goal of individualized beings in the Illusion of Creation, because the Reality can never be understood; it is to be realized by conscious experience.
“Therefore, the Goal is to realize the Reality and attain the ‘I am God’ state in human form.”

The words of the Avatar are something quite different than our words. When the Avatar says something the words themselves have the power to manifest their meaning—just reading them will accomplish more than hundreds of lifetimes spent meditating, doing penances, or any manner of good works. May He be pleased with this, my humble, summary of Meher Baba’s Divine Theme.

                                                                                                © copyright Michael Kovitz 2003, revised 2017


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