Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Is Ignorance Bliss? (Part 3.)

So to summarize the previous two posts, there are three eternal states of God; God asleep—without consciousness (knowing) or unconsciousness(not knowing), God dreaming—consciousness (knowing)  of creation and the body, and God awake—consciousness (Knowing)  of the Self—the I am God state. As the dream state is necessary for the average human being to pass from the deep-sleep state to the awake state, so is consciousness of the state of creation and the body necessary for God to achieve the fully awake I am God state. Upasani Maharaj puts it this way:

After all, the whole world is the transformation of the state of knowing. The illusory Prakriti (the phenomenal universe and the primary substance that makes it up) is useful in attaining that Infinite Bliss; it means the illusory Prakriti is useful ‘to know’ the Infinite Bliss. The state of knowing in its true state is the original state, the state of Infinite Bliss; that is what one comes to on accurate thinking; however, the state of knowing as is experienced in and of the world becomes harmful and useless, since it leads to suffering and pain.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 234-235.

In other words, the purpose of creation and the body is only to acquire the consciousness necessary to know the Self—God. Once this consciousness is achieved—and Meher Baba tell us that this is achieved once the human form is achieved—the creation and the body and all the experiences of it—becomes harmful and useless.

But this association and identification of God with the state of creation consciousness is not so easy to break because it has been going on for 8,400,000 pre-human forms and a similar number of incarnations in the human form!  

Meher Baba has told us that with every gain in consciousness comes impressions—sanskaras. If consciousness is like a mirror, then sanskaras are like the dust of the journey that covers the mirror. That is why, though consciousness is full and complete in the human form, it still is unable to reveal the I am God State to the embodied soul. So, what needs to be done is to remove the dust from the face of the mirror without breaking the mirror.

The first step in the process is to loosen the dust so that it can be removed. This loosening is accomplished through the process of reincarnation. Technically it is about spending the sanskaras. Meher Baba uses the term to suggest a process of exchange of sanskaras—exchanging more gross sanskaras for less gross sanskaras—making the dust lighter and less sticky. The overall number of sanskaras during the process of reincarnation stays roughly the same, though there is some thinning out. The actual removal of the sanskaras takes place during the process of involution. During involution, sanskaras are gradually transformed from gross sanskaras, to subtle sanskaras, to mental sanskaras, and the overall number of sanskaras also gradually diminished until, in the end, they are all eliminated—all of the dust is removed from the mirror’s face.

Knowledge of the world, as Upasani Maharaj suggests, is tantamount to consciousness of the world, and consciousness of the world, because it is acquired by experiencing the world, creates dust. That is why He said, “the state of knowing as is experienced in and of the world becomes harmful and useless, since it leads to suffering and pain.”

All of the various yogas, spiritual teachings, and techniques are for the purpose of minimizing the accrual of new sanskaras while the embodied soul is conscious of the world and also facilitating the spending up of those sanskaras so that the time spent in the process of reincarnation is kept to a minimum.

“You know how to eat and drink, you know mischief, you know how to procreate, you know what is bad and good for others, you know the ways and affairs of the world, you know how to do business, you know many an object in the world, and if you don’t know some, you open the schools to know about them. Virtually you already have that state of ‘knowing’—that knowledge about all that is around you. You are experiencing it, but this knowledge and experience is seen to lead only to suffering and pain, and that is what you are having—enjoying—experiencing—knowing. So what more know remains for you to know? If you are tired of this knowing, which you are having in plenty, then try and begin to appreciate the state of ‘Not-knowing’, and demand it of your Sadguru.” –Ibid. page 236.  

The discussion, I think, sheds new light on a story I heard many years ago from Sufi Idries Shah:

Nuri Bey was a reflective and respected Albanian who had married a wife much younger than himself. One evening when he had returned home earlier than usual, a faithful servant came to him and said, ‘Your wife is acting suspiciously. She is in her apartments with a huge chest, large enough to hide a man. It should contain only a few old embroideries, but I believe there may be much more in it now—she will not allow me, your oldest retainer, to look inside.’

Nuri went to his wife’s room and found her sitting disconsolately beside the massive wooden box. 

‘Will you show me what is in the chest?’ he asked.

‘Because of the suspicions of a servant, or because you do not trust me?’ she replied.

‘Would it not be easier to open it, without thinking about the undertones?’ asked Nuri

‘I do not think that is possible.’ She said.

‘Is it locked?’


‘Where is the key?’

She held it up and said, ‘Dismiss the servant and I will give it to you.’

The servant was dismissed. The woman handed over the key and left the room, obviously troubled in mind. Nuri Bey thought for a long time. Then he called four gardeners from his estate. Together they carried the unopened chest by night to a distant part of the grounds and buried it.

The matter was never referred to again.

 (To be continued.)

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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Is Ignorance Bliss? (Part 2.)

In His talk, Upasani Maharaj gives a number of examples that lead to the conclusion that the state of not-knowing is better than the state of knowing—in other words, the commonly expressed viewpoint that ignorance is bliss. Of course, He also gives voice to the opposite, the worldly point of view, that knowledge is essential for living in the world. Further on in the talk He says that the state of not-knowing leads to the state of real Knowing. But, how do these different states fit with each other, or do they fit with each other at all?

In the book of Meher Baba’s teachings called, In God’s Hand, Meher Baba draws a diagram that looks something like this:

Natural Light
natural darkness
unnatural darkness
unnatural light i.e.
The whole Universe
i.e. The whole

He then goes on to say that Natural Light equals God—Self—aloof from the three worlds;
Natural Darkness equals Spirit—the Existence of Light—Nothingness;
unnatural darkness equals the mind;
and unnatural light equals the body and the universe.

He explains that “Natural Darkness sees Natural Light every second, and unnatural darkness sees unnatural light every second. (I.e. the Spirit sees the Self and the mind sees the body and the universe).

In other words, the seeing of the mind is the knowing of the mind and this knowing is of the body and the universe which is the unnatural light.

Applying this perspective to Upasani Maharaj’s question, “What is better—to know or not to know?” helps us understand that both the states of knowing and the not-knowing, with regard to the body and the universe, is not the real Knowing of the Spirit—the  seeing of the Natural Light which is God—Self—by the Natural Darkness.

The state of knowing thus, if appreciated and hankered after, leads to suffering and pain; the same state of course can turn into the state of Sat (Real knowledge) and lead to Infinite Bliss.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 234

But how is this possible? How to wean the mind away from its habituation to the body and the universe and turn it towards the Spirit which can know the Self when the consciousness of the mind is rooted in the gross physical world? Would it not be like being in the ocean and trying not to get wet? And in fact that is exactly what the Masters tell us; “When you are thrown in the ocean, do not get wet!” If we are honest about are situation, most would agree that when confronted with being in the ocean our concern is not with not getting wet, but with not drowning! Upasani Maharaj offers these suggestions…

(To be continued.)

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Is Ignorance Bliss? (Part 1.)

Meher Baba often returned to the subject of the theme of creation and its purpose. His teachings have helped many of us to appease the convulsions of the mind. But He also continued to remind us that the Goal was something much more than teachings and explanations. In the conclusion of His book, God Speaks, Meher Baba states;

Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God to appease the 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.”

Yet Meher Baba did offer many explanations and teachings because a mind free of convulsions is a happy mind and a happy mind is a great thing.

Meher Baba offered a number of different metaphors, similes, and analogies to help us understand the truth of our situation. In a series of explanations derived from what was called the Intelligence Notebooks, He revealed that God is synonymous with Infinite Intelligence. Intelligence is the capacity to know. Infinite Intelligence is the capacity to know infinitely. Knowing is achieved through thinking and mind is necessary for thinking. Thinking and consciousness are one and the same. To Infinitely Know there must be Infinite Thought and for Infinite Thought there must be Infinite Mind.

Upasani Maharaj was one of the five Perfect Masters who precipitated the Advent of the Avatar of Vishnu in the most recent form of Meher Baba. Each of those five Perfect Masters performed a different role in the process and Meher Baba told us that Upasani Maharaj was the Perfect Master who unveiled in Him the attribute of Infinite Knowledge.

In 1924, Upasani Maharaj began speaking to those close followers of His about knowledge. As is often the case with the Perfect Ones, the talk begins in a simple way, but quickly begins to go deeper and deeper into the subject at hand. He began with a question;

What is better—to know or not to know? Of course there will be two replies to this question; some will say that to know is better; some others will say that not to know is better. But to find out what is really better, we must know what is meant by to know and not to know. Whether coarse sugar is good or fine sugar is good can be known only by seeing and tasting both of them. Again it depends on ourselves to say which is the better of the two…

“Without tasting both, one cannot differentiate between them; one must have both before him to differentiate. It is commonly understood that to know means knowledge and not to know means ignorance. Let us think over both of them to find out which is better.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 299.

He goes on to explore the question by suggesting; “When a person is in deep sleep, if a serpent crawls across his body, he does not know it, and naturally he is not frightened of it. On waking up, if he sees the serpent, or if somebody who has seen the serpent crawling across his body tells him about it, he feels frightened…

So long as he was in the state of ‘Not knowing’, in spite of the danger, he was happy. The moment he came to the state of ’Knowing’, he was frightened—even when there was no longer any danger. Tell me now, which is better, to know or not to know?– Ibid, pages 229 -230.

(To be continued.)

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Realization Through Concentration

Rereading Meher Baba’s handwritten words; “So by the process of concentration the Goal is gained.” – Meher Baba, In God’s Hand, page 77, I was struck by his use of the term, the process of concentration, and noticed that he consistently avoided using that term in conjunction with any object of concentration.

Ordinarily, when we use the term concentration it is always linked to some task, or mantra, or idea, and this tends to place more emphasis on the object than on the process—on the concentration.

But without reference to an object, concentration can be considered in a different light—like, for example, the various states of the tomato!—there can be the tomato, tomato juice, tomato soup, tomato sauce, or tomato paste.

The more the mind is concentrated, the more it advances in the planes. And when concentration reaches its highest state, the mind is entirely stopped; i.e. all its limits have been broken, i.e. it has now become unlimited, and the Mind stopped, i.e. unlimited is realizing God every moment.” – Ibid. page 76

     Meher Baba’s statement from The Wayfarers further illumines this point;

            Mind stopped, is God.
Mind working, is man.
Mind slowed down, is mast (God-intoxicated)
Mind working fast, is mad.” The Wayfarers, page 19

The dream state of creation has but one purpose only, to gain the consciousness by which the soul realizes itself. Mind is essential to the process, but once consciousness is gained the mind itself become an obstacle.  As Rumi said; 
The mind is a great and a wondrous thing that can lead you to the door of the King,
But then like shoes on entering a holy place, must be removed and left at the door.”

The tomato is there in the beginning, it represents God in the deep sleep state. Through the process of evolution, during which the soul, through mind, associates with and experiences all the pre-human forms of creation, it achieves the state of tomato juice—the state of fully conscious man.

But in man, consciousness remains linked to the mind and the impressions of the mind. The seeds and the skin of the tomato need to be removed and the juice remains to be concentrated. Through the process of reincarnation, mind associates with and experiences numerous lifetimes and the vast panorama of human possibilities to eventually achieve the state of tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce is more pure and condensed than tomato juice but still runny—the mind is runny—not stable—and remains linked to consciousness. Further ‘processing’ is necessary to become tomato paste. The state of tomato paste is achieved through the process of involution whereby the mind associates with and experiences the higher planes of consciousness in the subtle and mental spheres. At the very end of involution—just prior to realization—the mind is all but stopped—condensed—but still remains linked to consciousness and Reality continues to identify and associates with it Illusion and not its Self.

How to end this association of the fully conscious self with the mind? Gurdjieff said, “It is like trying to jump over one’s own knees!


“You are like a stream that flows through all of time seeking union with the sea.

Nearing journey’s end, the stream flows into a vast desert and is trapped in the sands.

Weakening more and more, it struggles on, but finds its way to the sea blocked by a great mountain.

Hopeless and helpless, its life ebbing away into the sands, the stream cries out, ‘Oh help me Lord!’ and is answered by the voice of the wind.

‘I am the wind; you must give yourself to me. In my arms I will carry you over the mountain as cloud and as rain you will merge with the sea.’

‘But I will cease to be a stream. I will die!’

‘You will not die,’ whispered the wind. ‘Only your dream of yourself as stream will end. Besides, where is your choice? For stream you can no longer be. Give yourself up to me, or be lost forever in the sands.’

And so, totally helpless and without hope, exhausted beyond belief, the stream gave itself up into the arms of the wind and was carried as cloud beyond the mountain’s peaks.

The cloud drifted over the sea where seeing itself reflected in the water below, began to weep.

‘I await you. Come,’ welcomed the sea.

And the cloud released itself as tears of joy and fell as rain into the sea.

‘We are not we, but one,’ spoke the golden sea and the stream, being no more, heard the voice and recognized it as its own.” – From, The Voice of the Stream, a poem by Michael Kovitz

So by the process of concentration the Goal is gained.” – Meher Baba, In God’s Hand, page 77

But it should be noted that Meher Baba also stated that this way is very difficult.

But the concentration must reach a stage as to make the mind stop. This is a very difficult process, and it takes a very, very, long time.  Because the mind if it succeeds in concentration a little, to it is manifested the first plane, which so interests it, that it gets concentrated on that only.”—Ibid.

Here, creation is taken to be the entire gross universe with all its suns and planets and solar systems, etc. and life-forms from animal to man, and also the planes of consciousness that make up the subtle and mental worlds of involution.

Consciousness begins to evolves in the gross world by association with, and experience of, all of creation’s known and unknown pre-human forms—from  stone to vegetable, to animal, etc. and reaches its limit—its fullness—in the final gross form—the human form.

Consciousness in the human form continues its journeyless journey through the process of reincarnation to prepare itself for involution whereby, while still in the human form, it associates with and experiences the subtle and the mental planes of consciousness, 1st – 6th planes, to finally complete its journeyless journey in the plane-less, world-less, state Meher Baba calls the seventh plane, the plane of Eternal God Realization—Self Realization.  

Creation can be thought of as being like a colander with many holes of different sizes. The state of God before mind—before creation—before the colander—was likened to a tomato, a tomato without consciousness. Upon entering creation—the colander of many sized holes—the tomato begin to experience itself as tomato juice. Tomato juice is very runny and passes through the smallest holes of the colander and begins to experience creation in the gross world.

Over time, through the process of evolution, the tomato juice thickens and becomes more like tomato soup. Tomato soup, being less runny, can no longer pass through the smallest holes of the colander and so begins to pass through the next larger holes and to experience the state of reincarnation in the human form.

Becoming more and more concentrated, like tomato sauce, consciousness begins to experience the process of involution and experiences the subtle and then the mental worlds and the first six planes of consciousness. At the end of this final stage of its journey-less journey, there are no holes in the colander large enough for tomato, now in the state of tomato paste, to pass through, and so one final step yet remains to be taken in which consciousness passes beyond the colander—beyond the universe—beyond the mind, and this is where, this is when, the help of the Avatar and His Perfect Masters is essential. Why?

In a discourse recorded in the book, Beams From Meher Baba, Meher Baba speaks about the relationship between the already Realized souls and the yet to be Realized souls; “With regard to those souls who attain realization subsequently, two requirements stand, viz. inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe.” Beams From Meher Baba, page 29

This adequate adjustment includes Perfect Masters and the Avatar. Regarding those souls yet to be realized Baba states; “One of the important factors in his spiritual environment is the existence of a human God-Realized soul.” – Ibid. page 29

And what constitutes this adequate adjustment?  Meher Baba states; “In this case, the only adequate adjustment possible is the unreserved acceptance of the bountiful help which comes from the first Master. Refusal to accept this help is maladjustment to a tremendous factor in the universe; and this prevents God-Realization.” – Ibid. page 29

And so, with the help of the Avatar or a Perfect Master the mind and its creation the universe is transcended while retaining consciousness and the tomato realizes itself knowing that its identification with itself as tomato juice, tomato soup, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, was the necessary necessity in its journey-less journey to gain consciousness to realize itself as what it always was, is and will be.

He returns to the door from which he first came out, although in his journey he went from door to door.” – Maulana Shabistari
                                                                                                                © copyright Michael Kovitz 2018




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