Sunday, March 11, 2018

Shudra (Part 7.)

It is now clear why and how the Shudra becomes a Brahmana. Once the Shudra becomes a Brahmana—attains the Brahma state—though he ceases to be recognized as a Shudra, yet he shows all those real qualities of the state of Shudra, i.e., actionless, egoless, conductless, thoughtless, etc., i.e., the state of ‘Be as it may’. A person who reaches this high state of ‘Be as it may’ is the Brahmana.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 37

Be as it may.” Upasani Maharaj refers to this state again and again throughout His talks. To the topsy-turvy mind of the worldly minded, “Be as it may” might suggest a state or practice of dullness, lack of ambition, drive, goalessness, or indifference—a waste of a perfectly good life.
But in the natural world—the world that understands its purpose, place, and meaning in the greater theme of creation—the state in which one actions are motivated by the needs of others, rather than the desires of oneself—Be as it may is a prescription for playing the game of life (dharma) at the highest level—the highest common denominator.

Real happiness lies in making others happy.” – Meher Baba
How can one make others happy if one is always thinking and acting on one’s own behalf? There seems to be two correct options; either act out of the real interest of others, or not act at all, beyond responding to the exigencies of the situations one finds oneself in. Recently a friend passed this advice on from a friend of his, “There are only two businesses; my business and none of my business.” My friend then went on to say, “But, in fact, there is only Baba’s business (God’s business),”—the Shudra’s ‘business.’

One who is in the real state of Shudra acts correctly, but acts without consciousness. It is a divine irony that the Shudra has to lose his Shudra state in order to regain it again consciously.
The pure Shudra and the pure Brahmana were the only two states to begin with. First appeared the pure Shudra; then he became the Brahmana with the help of Brahma-kriyas—(practices). The other two common states (castes) of Vaishya and Kshastriya, to which the majority of the human beings belong in the world, are meant for the proper working—for the stability—of the human society. For attaining the Bliss, the pure states of Brahman and Shudra are alone qualified.The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 38

When Perfect Masters speak about the beginning, they are speaking about a time when the sanskaras that impress consciousness were natural—about a time when consciousness did not, as it were, dote along the way of reincarnation. It appears that we are not now  in that period of time.

Right to begin with, thus, there were only these two states of Shudra and Brahmana, but later, as the objects and affairs of the world began to affect them, many of these pure Shudras and pure Brahmanas could not keep up their levels and began to degrade themselves; they lost their Brahma-kriyas and thus they and their descendants became impure and degraded. To establish proper order amongst the human beings under those circumstances the four-fold class system of Brahmana, Kshastriya, Vaishya, and Shudra was instituted. If human beings behave according to what is laid down for their class, they soon attain the pure Shudra or the pure Brahmana state. This happens by exchange of births from one class to another on the strict observance of the different rules meant for each class.” – Ibid. page 39

Farmers and merchants are in the Vaishya class. They work hard, labor hard, and do spiritual practices appropriate to the state of their sanskaras. The Kshastriya class is a warrior class; they protect society. They too have appropriate spiritual practices they have to maintain. The question arises: In today’s modern western society, are these castes—these categories—even with all of their sub-categories, able to account for all of the various individualities of the modern world?

Meher Baba said many things about the caste system as it is found today; the gist of these comments is that the caste system is not necessary and that it actually has become a hindrance along the path to God-consciousness. Instead, Avatar Meher Baba—the Ancient One—brought us The New Life—a life that is as modern as it is ancient and as eternal as it is timeless. Reprinted here, without permission:

“This New Life is endless, and even after my physical death it will be kept alive by those who live the life of complete renunciation of falsehood, lies, hatred, anger, greed and lust;  and who, to accomplish all this, do no lustful actions, do no harm to anyone, do no backbiting, do not seek material possessions or power, who accept no homage, neither covet honor nor shun disgrace, and fear no one and nothing; by those who rely wholly and solely on God, and who love God purely for the sake of loving; who believe in the lovers of God and in the reality of Manifestation, and yet do not expect any spiritual or material reward; who do not let go the hand of Truth, and who, without being upset by calamities, bravely and wholeheartedly face all hardships with one hundred percent cheerfulness, and give no importance to caste, creed and religious ceremonies.
 “This New Life will live by itself eternally, even if there is no one to live it.” – Meher Baba

(To be continued.)

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Shudra (Part 6.)

To those gathered that day to hear Upasani Maharaj’s talk, he said, “Even though the word Shudra actually means the Almighty—the Infinite Bliss—you people look down upon a Shudra as the lowest.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 35

How can one know the truth and speak the truth if one is not one with the truth? And so to His followers He explained that in their topsy-turvy understanding of truth they should consider that whatever it is that they take to be the lowest, is, in fact, where the Bliss resides.

“Whatever is considered lowest by you the Bliss is there.” – Ibid.

Explaining further He said, “Without smallness—humility—ignorance—one cannot attain that Bliss. ‘Ignorant’ means a person who understands nothing of the world, and unless one attains the state of not understanding anything pertaining to the world, one cannot attain the Bliss.”  Ibid.

As a child, I lived in my dreams; the world of my waking state made little sense to me and the explanations of my family, teachers, religion, etc. did not have the ring of truth that I found in fairy tales and old sayings; Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily merrily, life is but a dream.”

“But there must be real truth and there must be people who know it,” I thought, and became a seeker and eventually, by the grace of God, I heard the messages and teachings of advanced souls and the Avatars and Perfect Masters.

In the conclusion to His book, God Speaks, Meher Baba states;

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

Some have used this statement to support the claim that knowledge and understanding are somehow unimportant, but, Meher Baba did write the book, the fact of which makes me assume that a mind appeased of intellectual convulsions is a happy mind, and a happy mind is a great thing to have along the path to God. Meher Baba always reminded us, “Don’t worry; be happy!”

The Avatar and the Perfect Masters want us to be happy in life; they don’t like glum and sour faces that betray a state of the mind that believes in the ‘reality’ of illusion. Sure, there is and will be suffering along the way, but a mind appeased of intellectual convulsions—a happy mind—is a mind that is best prepared to take on this illusion of reality. A mind appeased of intellectual convulsions stands almost next to God realization itself in rarity and value.

When a problem comes to a troubled mind, it is as if carved into stone; but when a problem comes to a happy mind, it is as if written in the sand.” – Old Sanskrit saying.

The Indian caste system of old was a kind of mechanism that helped all souls who had achieved the human form and its consequent state of reincarnation to progress with most expediency and happiness to the state of involution of consciousness and its ultimate goal of God realization. But, its efficacy was dependent upon a high degree of natural impressions impressing the consciousness of creation in the stages of evolution and most importantly, reincarnation.

We are not now is such a period of time. The Kali Yuga is a time in which non-natural impressions plague human consciousness in the state of reincarnation and that is why it is so difficult to have any real understanding of truth.

Upasani Maharaj was not arguing for the continuation of the caste system, He was just reminding us of times when life was more natural—more in tune with its purpose.

Once the Brahma is attained and the actions to attain it are ceased, the only thing that remains is the state of being engrossed in that Infinite Bliss. What is that Bliss, how much it is, what is its extent, what is its nature, is only understood when one reaches it—when one attains it—it is like the old proverb, ‘Jave tyachya vansha tevan kale,’—meaning, if you want to understand a particular state, you have to go into that state.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 36

(To be continued.)

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Shudra (Part 5.)

To come down to the human state and go back—ascend to the original state completes the circle; to ascend is the duty of a human being. To become second from the one and become one once again is to complete the work for which the second came into existence. Only coming down to the human state is not completing the task.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 35

How is it possible to understand anything rightly if the whole picture is not seen first? Is this why sleeping man seems unable to understand himself and the creation and God? If life is viewed as an end in itself, rather than as a means to an end, then how is it possible to understand rightly the meaning and purpose of birth and death, happiness and misery, failure and success—all of the dualities and all of the apparent contradictions?  And so it is the work Avatar and the Perfect Masters to continue remind us of the meaning and purpose of the state we find ourselves in. Consider the title of Meher Baba’s book, God Speaks—The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose.

The Avatar and the Perfect Masters are very practical. They know our precarious position better than anyone. They know that until the Goal is reached we will continue to miss the mark—the word in the New Testament is hamartia—the word that has been translated into English as sin. As Meher Baba said, “Illusion appears to me most real and God appears to be most unreal!” And so the Avatar and the Perfect Masters keep reminding us even though, or perhaps because, as Kabir put it, “Until you experience it, it is not true.”

No doubt the Indian caste system of today is degenerated and has become obsolete. In His life and work, Meher Baba demonstrated again and again that all souls are equal in the eyes of God—giving no importance to caste, creed, or religious affiliation. So the purpose of this series of posts titled Shudra is not to promote or justify the caste system, but to recognize what it was designed to do in a different time and for a specific period of time. For although times and cycles of time continue to change, seemingly endlessly, the meaning and purpose of creation remains the same, and it is for this purpose alone that Upasani Maharaj’s talk is of the utmost value and importance. Can we call it a prodding to awaken?

We lower a pail in the well, but this is not completing the task; only when we raise it up full of water and bring it to the surface is the task of obtaining water is completed. To lower the bucket is effortless—it just slips down. Descent is natural and effortless, but to raise it up requires effort and time. Upon raising it up we get the water for which we used the pail.

“Descent and ascent are required to complete any task, and in that too, the two actions are always opposed to each other; this is the Siddhanta. Exactly like the descent of Bliss to the primary human state—the Shudra—is only half the task—the effortless part of it; the second part of the task is to make efforts and realize one’s Self—attain the Bliss—the original state of one’s Self—this is the effortful part of the task.” – Ibid. page 35

So lowering the pail takes no effort, but raising the pail does—makes sense—seems clear—but how does it apply? Perhaps each and every soul has its own way—its own path. There are as many paths to God as there are souls in creation.

A Buddhist teacher once said, “Truth is like the hub of the wheel. Spoke from the hub fan out to the rim. At the rim the spokes are very far apart, but as they move to the center—the hub—they come closer and closer till at the center they become one.”

The mind thinks effortlessly and who would deny that for the average person the vast majority of these thoughts are concerned with life and life’s problems. To think about God—to remember God—takes effort and the efforts that are most efficacious are according to unique impressions—sanskaras—gathered by each soul’s mind during the course of the evolution of its consciousness.

Meher Baba often explained, that once the consciousness of the soul reaches the human form, that consciousness is full and complete and is capable of realizing God but doesn’t, because of the burden of sanskaras gathered during the evolutionary process that cling to the mind like dust on a mirror.
Since the matrix of impressions are different due to the uniqueness of each souls journey, the efforts necessary to remove those sanskaras will necessarily be different, and even different for the same soul at different stages of it journey. This is why there are many religions and many teachings and many isms and non-isms.

Alas, don’t tell me the Christians are lost,
Don’t tell me the Jews are lost,
Don’t tell met the Infidels are lost.
Alas my brother, you are lost,
That is why everyone else seems lost!” – Rumi

(To be continued.)

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Shudra (Part 4.)

In the third post of this series dedicated to the Shudra, the lowest rung of the Indian caste system, I quoted Upasani Maharaj;

Now look at the qualities presented the Shudra. He does not generally play any part in the good or bad affairs of the world. He just works for the bare necessities of life. He has not much impression of pleasure and pain. Except for self-protection he has hardly any desires. He hardly evinces any egoistic attitude. He has a tendency to behave in accordance with the formula, ‘Be as it may.’ Desires and anger hardly affect him. He has no particular form of conduct or any thought.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 33

He then went on to explain;

In the good old days these were the qualities presented by Shudras and Shudras should be like that. It is in this form of Shudra that Bliss evolved as the first stage of the human form. We know that Shudra means Satchitananda. It is this Shudratva that is useful for the Brahma Sanskara to become a Brahmana.” – Ibid.

The good old days…” When Upasani Maharaj speaks about the good old days, he is speaking about a time many hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. And this is important because the qualities he attributes to the state of consciousness called Shudra (Shudratva) has none of the negative qualities implied in the remnants of the caste system as it is found in the much more recent 20th and 21st centuries, i.e. mental illness and deficiency, etc. 

Satchidananda means Infinite knowledge, Infinite power, and Infinite bliss. These are the qualities of God as Creator—Brahma, and Brahma Sanskaras refers to the impressions of, in this case, Infinite bliss, which can be experienced—can be manifested— in the human form, i.e. in state of God (Self) realization. He underscores this point in the following statement;

It brings forth one important point, that the human life—the form of the human being—is not born for worldly pleasures, or to deal with the affairs of the world.” – Ibid.

Once again, the consistent message of all the Perfect Ones, that creation exists wholly and solely for the evolution and involution of consciousness to realize God (Self).

A thousand times I have looked and a thousand times I have ascertained that the universe and all its concerns are truly nothing into nothing.” – Hafez

Over and over again, the Masters are always reminding us of the meaning of our state in the process of God-realization. God-realization implies consciousness and consciousness is acquired through the processes that unfold in creation—the dream state of God.

To come to the human state is to descend from the original; it is also called Sansara (the word literally means slipping down) and is commonly taken to mean worldly life. To become a human thus is coming down; but it does not mean that we should get engrossed in the affairs of the world and thus cause oneself to suffer for births on end. Having descended, to try for and attain the Bliss once again (consciously) is to ascend.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 34

And so, how should one try to live in the world—in the human form—in the state of the dream? So any answers have been given;

Be in the world, but not of it.”

Trust in God but tie your camel first!

Don’t worry, be happy!

Gurdjieff once said; “He who is really serious takes nothing seriously; he who takes everything seriously cannot be very serious!”

(To be continued.)

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