Tuesday, September 24, 2019

How Far Can A Dog Run Into The Woods?

When Meher Baba was asked by one of His followers how he should live in the world, Baba replied; “Don’t eat too much and don’t eat too little… don’t dress like a dandy and don’t dress like a slob...”

The follower, exhibiting some wisdom, asked nothing more. Baba hadn’t laid down a dress code or a specific code for conduct; instead, He left it up to the follower to determine for himself what was appropriate based on Baba’s indications.

How far can a dog run into the woods? Halfway, and then he is running out of the woods. But all dogs are different and not all dogs run in the same woods, and, in any case, who determines what is halfway? Every individual has his own unique karma—what is appropriate for the beggar is not appropriate for the king…

One’s own dharma lived imperfectly is better than living another’s dharma perfectly.” Mahabharata

To a group of followers, the Perfect Master Upasani Maharaj said:

All objects, when utilized for enjoyment, i.e. more than what is absolutely necessary, act like poison and eventually destroy the body; hence they should be used very sparingly; that way they actually help us. One should feed and protect the body somehow or other with something or other; such a practice will easily make you live without any food in your ensuing birth.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume III, page 87

Upasani Maharaj was a God-Realized Perfect Master and His words could be understood and interpreted on many levels—on all levels. Was He being literal when He said “…live without food..?” And when he said, “…actually help us,” can we not ask the question; “help us what?”

Many years ago I had the opportunity of meeting a very advanced Nada Brahma yogi. Ostensibly the meeting was arranged for me to ask him questions about sound and the sacred Vedic mantras and chants, but the first thing he said to me when I entered the room was, “Money is like food—let it in and let it out. If it gets stuck, you get sick.”

At the time I was a relatively poor hippy making money by performing with my guitar and teaching a handful of students. I was making no more than five or six thousand dollars a year, so I wondered why he was saying this to me. But when an advanced soul says something to me, I don’t forget it. And so, over the following months and years I observed myself, and indeed, I began to notice a problem. Being frugal with the little money I had was not the problem, but the fear of being without it was. I was afraid and I was holding it in out of fear. I was not letting it in and letting it out—it was like I was holding my breath.

Over time I came to see that the problem was much bigger than money—money was just a symptom, and money was just a metaphor for life itself. I was afraid of life, I was afraid to let it in and let it out. But life cannot be stopped, and you either go with it or it tears you apart and carries the parts away.

Going deeper into the question, I rationalized that life was not to be trusted—that life was not my friend. Both the teachings of the Masters and everything in my own experience showed me that this was true, and so I wondered that if I can’t trust it, then how could I not fear it?

But that was only part of the story—life was not my friend, but neither was life my enemy, though it was very contrary. The more one asks from life, the less it gives; the less one asks from life, the more life gives, but this is not the whole story either, because life has nothing to give; life is like the postman who delivers the check—life is not the One who sends the check.

If we remain and behave in a pure and right way, then even God begins to serve us; but if we behave in the opposite way, nobody even cares to look at us.” – Ibid, page 81

Whatever I have said boils down to one thing, and that is that one has to get beyond—one has to deny oneself the enjoyment emanating from all the objects in and of the world.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume III, pages 86-87

Of course the immediate response of the finite mind to this assertion is quite predictable, but if one thinks a little more deeply about it, well, then maybe there is another response…

Gurdjieff used to remind his students that with regard to consciousness, the average person lives, as it were, in the dark dirty basement of a beautiful house with many stories and many rooms with experiences of bliss far beyond anything even imaginable in the basement. Why waste so much time and trouble attempting to eke-out those inferior experiences of pleasure in the basement? I guess that one has to decide for oneself…

Once you know the secret of opposite aspects presented by any object (of enjoyment), you automatically remain alert about their influence.”—Ibid

In other words, one has to always remember that the price of pain might not be worth the pleasure obtained. Gurdjieff used to remind his students; “Every stick has two ends.”  If you grab the pleasure end, well, the pain end comes with it.

To grab or not to grab is the question, but is it really? I mean, do we really have a choice? I know that this sounds like the old question of free-will or predestination. Meher Baba was once asked about it. He asked the questioner to pick up his right leg. The questioner easily lifted his leg off the ground. Meher Baba then asked him to lift the other leg off the ground as well. Of course the questioner was unable to lift both legs into the air.

I have often mentioned how practical the Masters are. Look again at Upasani’s statement;

Once you know the secret of opposite aspects presented by any object (of enjoyment), you automatically remain alert about their influence.”

Notice that He is not saying that once one knows the secret they will automatically be able to refrain from taking the experience of objects of enjoyment. Perhaps for a few, this would be the case, but for the rest, well, maybe, the words of the Masters act as a kind of speed bump to the automatic mechanical process of putting desires into action.

In His talk, Upasani offers a second suggestion:

There is another thing that leads to Infinite Bliss and that is the principle of ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma,’ meaning, not to kill—not to trouble—not to disturb another—is the highest religion.” —Ibid, page 87

He then goes on to explain that;

Whatever is separate or different from one’s body is another. No ‘another’ should even be troubled in any way. —Ibid

Anticipating a question, He then goes on to say;

Somebody may ask; ‘Should we not eat then?’  Of course you should—but only as much as is necessary to maintain the body; that is all, and not more. The things consumed in this way live along with the body… but whatever is eaten beyond the bare necessity to maintain the body does not protect the body, on the contrary, it leads to its deterioration and destruction.”—Ibid

Upasani then adds; “It is wrong to buy a costly Kashmiri shawl where some coarse cloth can give protection from the cold.” —Ibid

Remember Meher Baba’s response to the questioner;

Don’t eat too much and don’t eat too little,” with regard to dress He said; “Don’t dress like a dandy and don’t dress like a slob.”

The words of a Perfect One must be treated with great care—they are probably misquoted more often than they are quoted! Notice that Upasani Maharaj did not say that it was wrong buy a costly Kashmiri shawl; what He said was, “It is wrong to buy a costly Kashmiri shawl where some coarse cloth can give protection from the cold.”

But what if one needed a shawl for a wedding or some special occasion? In that case, some coarse cloth would not do. Perhaps it could be said; it is wrong to buy some coarse cloth when a costly Kashmiri shawl would be more appropriate.

Perfect Masters and the Avatar are always very practical…

It is generally understood that the terms Jiva and Shiva mean, respectively, the state of identification with creation—imagination—Nothing, and the state of realizing the Self—God—Reality—Everything. On another occasion, Upasani Maharaj defined the term Jiv-Atma as “that pure celestial soul (atma) identified with the projections of the mind (Jiv).”

In the present talk He then explains the relationship that exists among Jiva, Shiva, and the objects of enjoyment:

There is nothing like the Jiva uniting with the Shiva; they are not two; they are one and the same; but when the atma, the Shiva, gets entangled in the objects of enjoyment, it loses its Shiva state and attains the Jiva state.”

In fact, He states the objects of enjoyment belong to the Shiva state and that to enjoy these objects Shiva takes to the Jiva state. But there is a difference between enjoying these objects and becoming entangled in these objects. It makes me recall the words of Meher Baba when He said; “The Master throws you into the ocean and tells you not to get wet!

But how is this possible? How is it that we can be in the ocean without getting wet? This is what Upasani Maharaj is telling us.

It is the entanglement through desires towards the objects that made Shiva become Jiva. Yet, the Shiva is always there—it is Eternal. It is in the nature of things that the Shiva should become Jiva to enjoy all these objects, but as the Jiva begins to get entangled in them, it begins to lose its Shiva state. But if we manage not to get entangled in these objects—if we manage to enjoy them without destroying them, then we attain eternity—the Shiva state. In other words, we have done away with—killed—our Jiva state.”

But did you catch it—the secret He revealed?—“to enjoy them without destroying them!”

Years ago I was staying in the Far Cabin at the Meher Spiritual Center. At the time there was a small desk in front of one of the cabin’s many windows. It was a hot summer’s night, all the windows were open in the cabin, and I was sitting at the desk reading Rumi’s Masnavi when my attention was attracted by a commotion occurring on the window screen in front of me.

A large spider was attacking an even larger moth that had gotten caught in its web. The scene was unfolding right before my eyes. The spider would sting the moth and with each sting the moth would shudder and recoil in distress. After what seemed like an eternity, the moth stopped struggling and the spider stopped stinging. Apparently exhausted from the struggle, the spider surrounded the moth in an eight-legged embrace and became very still.

The next night I returned to the desk at the window. The spider and the moth were still there—the moth did not look very good. After a few days, the spider was nowhere to be seen and the discarded corpse of the moth lay on the window’s sill below. An old Persian saying says, “When it’s time has come, the prey finds the hunter.”

What had I witnessed? Was it an act of love—an act of love that ended in the destruction of the beloved—or the lover? But most important for me was the question; was this the kind of love I wanted to experience—was this the way I wanted to love?

“…to enjoy them without destroying them!” This would indeed be a different kind of love—a much higher form of love—maybe something that could be called real human love?

The messages of the Avatar and the Perfect Masters are always remarkably similar. Forms change in response to the time and place, but as Gurdjieff reminds us, “There is a difference between the wine and the wine glass—do not mistake the one for the other!”

Meher Baba is considered to be the spiritual authority of our time;

“‘Seek and you shall find’ has become such a commonplace slogan that spiritual aspirants have begun to wonder what it means. To them I say: ‘Do not seek and you will find.’
“Do not seek material pleasure and you will find the spiritual treasure. This means, seek only God by not seeking material pleasure and you will find God.

“You can only seek God through self-denial. The spiritual treasure cannot be obtained by merely stretching out your hand for it. Only in the completeness of self-denial can the spiritual treasure become self-evident.

“There are three ways of obtaining the spiritual treasure:

“First, to earn it yourself by self-denial; second, to receive it as a spontaneous gift from God given to His lover whose self has become effaced in the intensity of his longing for his Beloved; and third, to inherit it directly from the Perfect Master who bequeaths it to those who remain completely resigned to his will.

“Therefore if you wish to find the treasure, stop seeking material pleasure. Seek the kingdom of Heaven by not seeking the kingdom of Earth, and you will find it.” Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 17, p. 5786.

And so it becomes clear that the Avatar and the Perfect Masters are always reminding us that creation consciousness is a way and not an end it itself.

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

The first door is from God; the last door is to God; consciousness is what is gained along the way—the journey.

We began with the question; “How far can a dog run into the woods?” Really, the answer is, depends on the dog.

There was a very wealthy worldly follower of Meher Baba. He was in the oil business and had a home on the French Riviera. He was invited to spend some time with Meher Baba in India. One day he was deep in thought about something and Baba asked him what he was thinking about. He told Baba how much he admired the simple lives of many of Meher Baba’s followers—that he felt he should make his own life simple like theirs.

Meher Baba looked disappointed. He told the follower; “If you only knew how much I have worked to give you the life you have. This is the life I want you to lead…”

The king disdains the beggar and the beggar envies the king. In their next lives, the beggar is born a king and the king a beggar. The pendulum swings back and forth for lifetimes on end until the king eventually realizes that he has been both a king and beggar and takes no more pride in former or disdain for the latter. The beggar, for his part, realizes that he has been both a beggar and a king and takes no regret for the former or envy of for the latter.

The Avatar and the Perfect Masters are always reminding us that both the beggar and the king live in the basement of gross consciousness. Why place so much importance on finding a better place in the basement?  Why not try to manage somehow and use the effort saved to cultivate a longing for that which lies beyond the basement? And when the opportunity arises, when the Beloved appears—the Beloved who is beyond the basement and even all the rooms above the basement—seize the moment, seize the hem of His garment, and try, at least, to not resist His efforts to free you!

"Come, come, come,
Whoever you are -
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving...
It does not matter, ours is not a caravan of despair.
Though you may have broken your vow 1000 times; come, come yet again, come!"
- Shams/Rumi

                                                                                                                      © copyright Michael Kovitz 09/24/2019


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Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Bhagavad Gita Revisited

The following excerpts are taken from the Bhagavad-Gita, the teachings of Krishna, which comprise the sixth book of the great Indian epic called the Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata is set in that transitional time between the end of the Dwarpara Yuga and our own Kali Yuga— according to most traditional calculations, somewhere around 5,000 years ago.

Dwapara was a great age; a time when Divine Knowledge pervaded the fabric of everyday life and the attributes of lucidity and purity found expression in all human endeavors. Lucidity and purity are expressions of Sattva Guna. In the Vedic teaching there are three gunas, Tama, Raja, and Sattva, that color the expression of all gross, subtle, and mental energies—and the highest of these three gunas among the trinity is Sattva Guna. Sattva Guna leads to the state of Gunateeta, described by Upasani Maharaj, as “the state devoid and beyond the Gunas,” i.e. God- Realization.

In the beginning of Dwarpara Yuga, life was guided by the manifestation of Divine Knowledge, and the ascendancy of Sattva Guna over Tama Guna and Raja Guna. But by the end of Dwarpara Yuga, life fell under the shadow of Tama Guna —the expression of ignorance and dark cruelty—and the shadow of Raja Guna—the expression of the unbridled pursuit of worldly pleasures and possessions. Consequently as the next age of Kali Yuga dawned, the ability to think, speak, and act truthfully was in decline and life became growingly selfish and deceitful.

Mahabharata means great family—the great family of humanity, but as the shadow grew longer, and Dwarpara Yuga inevitably turned to Kali Yuga, the great family had become divided by greed and distrust. It is a long story, but eventually the two sides of the family, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, were arrayed on the battlefield poised for war. Krishna, the Avatar, had done all that He could to avoid the confrontation, but even He could not stem the tide of destiny.

In the great battle, Krishna stood with the Pandavas, who represented the embodiment of Sattva Guna, against the Kauravas who embodied Raja and Tama Gunas. In fact, it was Krishna himself who drove the chariot of Arjuna, the Pandava prince and greatest of all warriors, into war.

It fell to the exalted status of Arjuna to throw down the gauntlet that would begin the war. Lord Krishna drove the chariot onto the battlefield between the two opposing sides, but Arjuna balked. Seeing the faces of both sides— faces of his brothers and kin, his teachers, and respected elders, and realizing that war would only bring suffering and death to all, he froze with indecision. Seeing his hesitancy, Krishna asked, “What are you doing? Why do you hesitate? Throw down the gauntlet to begin the war.”

“I cannot!” Arjuna replied, “How can I start this war and bring death upon all of these people?” And so it came to pass, that right there and then, between the two armies poised for war, Krishna taught Arjuna the Great Teachings known as the Bhagavad-Gita.

“He who shall say, ‘Lo! I have slain a man!’

He who shall think, ‘Lo! I am slain!’ those both know naught!

“Life cannot slay. Life is not slain!

“I say to thee, weapons reach not that Life,

“Flames burn it not, waters cannot overwhelm it, not dry winds wither it.

“Unentered, all-arriving, stable, sure, invisible, ineffable,
By word and thought uncompassed, ever all itself — thus is the Soul declared!”
– Krishna

Krishna is speaking from His direct experience of illusion and reality. These bodies of ours, these bodies we cherish so deeply, exist only in the illusion and delusion of a great dream. It is the dream of us and others. Our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, births and deaths all seem so real— until we wake up.

But if it is really a dream, yet our experience tells us that it is real, then how should we act in the world—moment by moment, day by day? This was Arjuna’s question—our question.

In the conversation that follows, Krishna speaks to Arjuna about the life of action and the contemplative life of meditation. He extols the virtues and shortcomings of both, saying; “Live in action! Labor! Make thine acts thy piety…” while also counselling; “Yet the right act is less, far less, than the right-thinking mind. Seek refuge in thy soul, have there thy heaven.”

And so Arjuna remains confused. He asks Krishna which of these two paths is the better way to attain the Supreme Reality.

Seeing Arjuna’s mind impaled on the horns of this dilemma, Krishna slips between the horns saying that the two paths are, in fact, really one:

“Yet these (two paths) are one! By shunning action; nay, and none shall come by mere renouncements unto perfection.”

We have probably all heard the saying, “…to be in the world, but not of the world.” This is quite consistent with Christ’s words to His disciples;

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and save for God what is God’s.”

But Arjuna’s questions persist—our questions persist—and in order to explain the why and how of His proclamation, Krishna begins to talk about the three qualities that inform action—namely our friends Sattva, Raja, and Tama Gunas.

In the fourteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says, “Sattva, Raja, and Tama—so are named the qualities of Nature—Lucidity, Passion, and Ignorance. The three bind down the changeless Spirit in the changeful flesh, though sweet Sattva by purity living unsullied and enlightened, binds the sinless Soul to happiness and truth; while Raja, being kin to appetite and breeding impulse and propensity binds by tie of works the embodied Soul, Oh Kunti’s son! But Tama, begot of Darkness, blinding mortal men, binds down their souls to stupor, sloth, and drowsiness.”

There is a saying, “Good is not God,” another by Meher Baba, “The saint is bound by a golden chain, the sinner by a spiked one—but the goal is to be free of all chains.” From this we can conclude that even too much Satva Guna is a hindrance to attaining the Supreme Reality. This is why Krishna counsels Arjuna that one should rise above all the Gunas.

“When, watching life, the living man perceives that the only actors are the Qualities (the Gunas), and knows what rules beyond the Qualities, then he comes to Me! The soul passing forth from the Three Qualities— whereby arises all bodies—overcomes Birth, Death, Sorrow, and Age; and drinketh deep the undying wine of Amrit,” (the Eternal Bliss of Union with God).

Of course Arjuna is more than interested at this point, and asks Krishna;

“Oh my Lord! Which be the signs to know him that hath gone past the Three Modes (Gunas)? How does he live? What is the way that leads him safe beyond the Threefold Modes?”

Krishna responds; “He who with equanimity surveys luster of goodness, strife of passion, sloth of ignorance; without anger, nor wish to change them: who sits a sojourner and stranger in their midst unruffled, standing off, saying serene when troubles break, ‘These be the signs!’

“He unto whom—while centered in the Self—grief and joy sound as one word; to whose deep-seeing eyes the clod, the marble, and the gold are one; whose equal heart holds the same gentleness for lovely and unlovely things, firm-set, well-pleased when praised or blamed; satisfied with honor or dishonor; unto friends and unto foes alike in tolerance, detached from undertakings—he is named Surmounter of the Qualities.”

The teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita were not new—even in the time of Krishna.

“This deathless Yoga (these teachings), this deep union, I taught to Vivaswata, the Lord of Light.”

There is great significance in this statement by Krishna because Vivaswata is a name associated with the Sun. So, Krishna is saying that indeed He has been around for a long ling time!

“Vivaswata gave it to Manu (his son) who passed it down the line to all My Royal Rishis. Then with years the truth grew dim and perished, noble prince!
Now once again I will declare to you this ancient lore, this mystery supreme—seeing I find you my devotee and friend.”

But Arjuna is puzzled. How can this same being have been around since the beginning of time? He asks;

“How shall I comprehend this thing You say, ‘From the beginning it was I who taught…?’”

To this Krishna responds revealing the nature of Divine Incarnation—the Avatar—the Christ—the Messiah—the Ancient One who comes again and again, in different guises and different forms ;

“Manifold the renewals of My birth have been, Arjuna! And of your births, too! But Mine I know, and yours you know not, oh Slayer of the Foes! Albeit I be unborn, undying, indestructible, the Lord of all things living; not the less by Maya, by My magic which I stamp on floating Nature-forms, the primal vast—I come, and go, and come.

“When righteousness declines O Bharata! When Wickedness is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take visible shape, and move a man among men, succoring the good, thrusting the evil back, and setting Virtue on her seat again.”

It is the story of the Avatar, The Ancient One, The Highest of the High, The Christ, The Buddha—His Names are many, His shapes are many—He dons them all like we put on clothes appropriate to the situation and the time.

And Arjuna believes in the divinity of Krishna and by His teachings his darkness is dispelled, but Arjuna still sees Him as a man and so asks Krishna to reveal Himself—reveal His Godhood.

“If this can be, if I may bear the sight, make Yourself visible…show me your  very Self, the Eternal God!”

And Krishna obliges His beloved devotee.

“Gaze then Arjuna! I manifest for you those hundred thousand shapes that clothe My Mystery: I show you all my semblances—infinite, rich, divine—My changeful hues, My countless forms, see in this face of Mine…Behold! This is the universe! Look! What is live and dead I gather all in One—in Me! Gaze, as thy lips have said, on God Eternal, Very God! See Me! See what thou prayest!”

Krishna then tells Arjuna that what he wishes to see cannot be seen with earthly eyes, “therefore I give to you other eyes, new light! Now look! This is my glory, unveiled to mortal sight.”

And right there, on the battlefield, between the two armies poised for war, Krishna reveals to Arjuna His Universal Form.

I find it interesting that in the story, when Krishna reveals His Universal Form to Arjuna, it is Sanjaya, who narrates the story. Sanjaya is Dhritarashtra’s advisor. Dhritarashtra is the blind king who has fathered the Kauravas warriors.

Sanjaya tells Dhritarashtra that Krishna is now displaying to Arjuna all of the splendor, wonder, and dread of His Almighty-head.

“Out of countless eyes beholding, out of countless mouths commanding countless mystic forms enfolding; in one Form supremely standing, countless radiant glories wearing, countless heavenly weapons bearing, crowned with garlands of star-clusters, robed in garb of woven lusters, breathing from His perfect Presence breaths of every subtle essence of all heavenly odors; shedding blinding brilliance; overspreading—boundless, beautiful—all spaces with His all-regarding faces—so He showed! And sore amazed, thrilled, overfilled, dazzled, and dazed, Arjuna knelt, and bowed his head, and clasped his palms and cried, and said…”

Try to imagine, if you can, what Arjuna sees. He sees the earth, its moon and sun, the solar system; all solar systems that make up our galaxy; all galaxies; the entire creation coming into existence and then being absorbed through Krishna’s Divine Form.

Try to imagine that all of creation is less than even a speck when compared to the Subtle World with all its powers and experiences, heaven and hell, angels and gods, and all divine beings; and that the Subtle World is less than even a speck when compared to the  Mental World, the abode of Archangels and real Saints—the world of Mind itself.

Try to imagine all these three worlds being born and existing and then being absorbed—crushed—between the teeth of Krishna’s Divine Form.

This is what Arjuna saw while standing on the battlefield between the two armies of the Pandavas and the Kauravas poised and ready for war.

Arjuna exclaims; “You fashion men and then devour them all, one with another, great and small alike! The creatures who you fashion you then take within your flaming jaws—lapping them up!

“Lord God! Your terrors strike from end to end of earth, filling life full, from birth to death, with deadly, burning, lurid dead! Ah Vishnu! Make me know why is it is that You appear so? Tell me, who You are who feasts upon the dead!?”

Seeing within Krishna Universal Form the aspect of Shiva—The Destroyer—reignites Arjuna’s ambivalence regarding the war and his role in it. Krishna responds thusly;

“Arise Arjuna! Destroy your foes! (It is) by me they fall—not you! The stroke of death is dealt them now, even as they show thus gallantly. Arjuna, you are My instrument and it is I who bid them perish! You will only be the slayer  of the slain!”

Apparently, Arjuna gets it—gets who Krishna really is—and after praising Him in every way utters, what I think is a very interesting observation—how easy it is when graced with the familiarity of a Divine Presence, to forget that He is not like we; or as Meher Baba reminded us on more than one occasion, “I come down and laugh and play with you—but never forget, I am God!”

Arjuna says, “For you are All! And if in anger now, You should remember I did think You my friend, speaking with easy speech, as men use each to each, and did call You ‘Prince,’ yet never comprehending Your hidden majesty, Your might, and Your majesty; and in my heedlessness, or in my love, on journey, or in jest, or when we lay at rest, sitting at council, straying in the grove, alone, or in the throng, did do You the most Holy, wrong, then forgive me for that witless sin!”

Arjuna then asks Krishna to show him once again His personal form—His human form:

“Now I know that you are Father of all below, of all above, and of all worlds within, as so with all reverence I ask Your grace, as father to a son, as friend to friend, as one who loves to his lover, turn your face in gentleness and mercy upon me on and show me once more Your visage that I know and let me once again behold the form I loved most of all, my Charioteer, in Krishna’s kind disguise.”

To his request Krishna replies;  

“Let trouble shake your heart no more because your eyes have seen My terror and My glory. As before I have been so will I be again for thee; with lightened heart behold!”

“Then back again the semblance dear of the well-loved charioteer; peace and joy it did restore, when Prince Arjuna beheld once more, Mighty God’s form and face clothed in Krishna’s gentle grace.”—Sanjaya

With Arjuna’s earthly sight and familiar state returned, his heart beats calm, his mind can think, and Krishna tells him of the rarity of his experience.

“Yes, it was wonderful and terrible to view Me as you did, dear Prince—to see me as the gods see me! Yet not by study of the sacred texts, nor from sacrifice, nor penance, nor gift-giving, nor with prayer shall any so behold Me as you have seen Me!

“Only by fullest service, perfect faith, and uttermost surrender am I known and seen and entered into, Indian Prince! Who does their all for Me: who finds Me in all, adores Me always—and  loves all that I have made, and loves Me as an end in itself, that person  Arjuna, comes to Me!”  

There are numerous paths that lead to God-Realization; but here, in this passage, Krishna reveals the highest path—the path of Love. It is so simple, one needs no special talents or intellect; no diet, or dress, or mode of life, or sacrifice, or practice is necessary—only love for God—only love for the God-Man—the Christ—the Avatar.

Krishna then goes on to make a distinction between worship of the personal and the impersonal states of God;

“Whoever serve Me as I show Myself, constantly true, in full devotion fixed, those hold I very holy. But those who serve and worship Me as The One, Invisible, Unrevealed, Unnamed, Unthinkable, Uttermost, All-Pervading, Highest; who adore Me thus, mastering their senses, cultivating an impartial mind that looks upon all without distinction, joyful in response to all acts of goodness, these blessed souls come unto Me.
Yet this path (of service and devotion to the Impersonal State of God) is most difficult to tread. It is an invisible path that can scarce be trod by man.

“But as for those who live their lives renouncing self for Me, full of Me, fixed to serve only the Highest, night and day musing on Me, who clasps Me with heart and mind, whose soul clings fast to Me!—him will I swiftly lift up from life’s ocean of distress and death, to dwell with Me on High!”

But Krishna is also a pragmatist—the Avatar and all the Perfect Masters are always, as I have learned, pragmatists. These Perfect Ones never stand on ceremony, are always adaptable to every situation, and are always here for us only. The Avatar never gives up on us, never gives up on anyone or anything.  

“But if your thought droops from such height; if you find that you are unable to remember me constantly in your body and soul, do not despair!

“Instead give me service! Seek to reach Me by worshiping Me with steadfast will.

“But if you cannot do that, them do your work for Me, toil in works pleasing to me! For he who labors right for Love of Me shall in the end attain!

“And if even in this your heart fails, then bring Me your failure! Find refuge in Me! Let go of failure or success — the fruits of labor— renouncing even hope itself for Me, then come with humble heart,  for, though knowledge is greater than diligence, yet worship is better than knowing, and renouncing better still, for near to renouncing — very near — dwells  Eternal Peace.”

I find it interesting that in this statement Krishna has made what appears to be the lowest path the highest — the fruit of failure becoming the requisite for renunciation. Is this not an expression of God’s mercy and compassion?

“Who does not hate any living thing, being himself kindly and harmless, compassionate, exempt from arrogance and self-love, unmoved by good or ill, patient, contented, firm in faith, mastering himself, true to his word, always seeking Me heart and soul, vowed unto Me, that man I love!

“Who troubles not his kind, and is not troubled by them; free of wrath, living beyond gladness, grief, or fear, that man I love!

“Who does not chase after his desires, looking here and there with longing, free of sin, serene, well-balanced, unperplexed, working with Me, yet from all works detached, that man I love!

“Who fixed in faith on Me, dotes upon none, scorns none, rejoices not and grieves not, unperturbed when good or evil manifests or departs, that man I love!

“Who keeps an equal heart for friend and foe alike, equally bearing shame and glory; who remains at peace in heat and cold, pleasure and pain; abides without desire and endures praise or calumny with passionless restraint, linked by no ties to earth, steadfast in Me, that man I love!

“But most of all I love those happy ones who without effort or awareness live life in single-minded fervid faith and love unseeing, drinking the blessed nectar of my Being!”

And in the end, Krishna turns to Arjuna and once again counsels him to fight. This war was inevitable and even the Avatar could not stop it. The forces of destiny had been fixed; there was no way out.

Could not God Himself stop a war? There is an old story about a candidate for the priesthood who was being examined by a bishop, and a question regarding God’s omnipotence was asked of the candidate who responded by saying that even God cannot do everything. “And what is it that God cannot do?” asked the Bishop. The candidate answered calmly, “Even God cannot beat the ace of spades with a deuce of clubs.”

Stopping the war would destroy the game—His game. And what is His game? It is the game of awakening God to God’s own Reality—His own true Self—our own true Self—our own Divine Reality.

And so it was time for Arjuna to commence and fight the war; but the real question was how he should fight; how he should act; how he should hold himself.

“Do all you do for Me! Renounce for Me! Sacrifice heart and will and mind for Me! In faith of Me all dangers you will vanquish by My grace. But, if instead you trust to yourself, forgetting Me, then you will perish!

And then Krishna reveals to Arjuna that, in fact, Arjuna has no power to stop the war either—that Arjuna has no power to not fight. Thinking that he does, is just another delusion.

“If this day, relying on yourself, you say, ‘I will not fight!’ vain will your resolution prove, for the qualities of your nature spurred by fair illusions will rise within you and prompt you to the very actions you have disavowed and you will be lost.

“Arjuna, I am the Master that lives in your heart; it is I who pulls the strings and you who dance to My tune. Trust Me, your Master, and come to Me for your nourishment and your relief. Oh prince of men, only then, by My grace, will you gain the uttermost repose, the Eternal Place.”

Then Krishna offers His last words to Arjuna, revealing the unique relationship of God and man and the love that God, in the form of the Avatar, has for each and every one of us—for all of His creation—for each and every state of Himself.

“Arjuna, you are precious to Me! Hear My last words; I tell this to you for your comfort. Give Me your heart! Adore Me! Serve Me! Cling to Me in faith and love and reverence; and I promise that you shall come to Me! For you are sweet to Me.

“So let go of those archaic rites and writs of duty! Fly to Me alone! Make Me your refuge, and I will free your soul of all of its sins. Be of good cheer!”

As Meher Baba said; “Don’t worry, be happy!”

In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna is saying that there are numerous ‘ways’ to reach the Supreme Reality. There is meditation and contemplation; works done with an attitude of renunciation and detachment; living life in the knowledge that “all things shall pass.” But it is also pretty clear that Krishna is saying that of all the ‘ways’, the best and the highest, is to hold on to Him—the Avatar—the Ancient One—the Godman.

Meher Baba wrote/dictated a book called God Speaks. In it He answers many questions about how the process of God Realization works through the dream of creation and the mechanics of evolution, reincarnation, and involution of consciousness.

 I have read God Speaks many times over the past thirty-five or so years and have come to the conclusion that God Speaks is God’s story; it is Meher Baba’s story—the story of the Avatar—the Ancient One—the Godman. In other words He is telling us who He is.

But just imagine the difficulty of the task. Let’s say that you were suddenly to awaken on another world inhabited by beings that have never heard of or seen a human being, or have even heard of the planet Earth. What would you tell them when they begin to ask you who you are? “Well, I’m named Michael; I’m a musician, and I live on this planet called Earth…

But that approach wouldn’t work because in all these answers there is an underlying assumption that the beings you are talking to understand what it is to be human. You would have to first explain what it is to be human. That would be a little difficult, no doubt. Now, by extension, how can the Avatar begin to explain to us who He is—that He is God in human form and what God in human form means?

God Speaks is His explanation—His story—and it takes Meher Baba 159 pages of the 201 pages of principle text (2nd Edition), before He even mentions the word Avatar. He is like an artist painting the under-painting, background, and all of the other characters from stone to man to angels and saints, before painting himself into the canvas.

“Hence, at the end of every cycle, when God manifests on earth in the form of man and reveals His divinity to mankind, He is recognized as the Avatar—the Messiah—the Prophet. The direct descent of God on earth as the Avatar is that independent status of God when God directly becomes man without undergoing or passing through the processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution of consciousness. Consequently, God directly becomes God-Man, and lives the life of man amongst mankind, realizing His divine status of the Highest of the High, or Ancient One, through these (five) Qutubs or Sadgurus, or Perfect Masters of the time.”
God Speaks, page 159

Meher Baba goes on to make the distinction between the Avatar and other God-Realized individuals. Then returning to the unique status of the Avatar He says on page 162:

“In this manner, infinite God, age after age, throughout all cycles, wills through His infinite mercy to effect His presence amidst mankind by stooping down to human levels in human form, but His physical presence amidst mankind not being apprehended, He is looked upon as an ordinary man of the world. When, however, He asserts His divinity on earth by proclaiming Himself the Avatar of the Age, He is worshiped by some who accept Him as God; and glorified by a few who know Him as God. But it invariably falls to the lot of the rest of humanity to condemn Him while He is physically in their midst…

“The Avatar is always One and the same because God is always One and the same, the eternal, indivisible, infinite One who manifests Himself in the form of man as the Avatar, as the Messiah, as the Prophet, as the Buddha, as the Ancient One,—the Highest of the High. This eternally One and the same Avatar is made to repeat His manifestation from time to time, in different cycles, adopting different names and different human forms, in different places, to reveal Truth in different garbs and different languages, in order to raise humanity from the pit of ignorance and help free it from the bondage of delusions.”

Please remember that the story of the Mahabharata is set in a period of time roughly five-thousand years ago and was communicated for thousands of years through the long tradition of oral transmission. This great epic was only later written down in Sanskrit—approximately 1700 years ago— and English translations began to emerge a mere hundred years ago or less.

The question arises; are the words uttered by God immune to the ravages of time? Or in the words of the legendary Sufi Saint Mullah Nasredin, is what we have here, “the soup of the soup of the soup of the chicken your friend brought?”

 Allow me to digress:

A friend knocks on the Mullah’s door one day. “What do you want?” asked the Mullah. “I’ve brought a chicken for your wife to make into a soup.” So the Mullah invites him in, they sit around while the soup is cooked, and then they eat it.
The next day there is another knock on the door. “Who’s there?” asks the Mullah. “I am the friend of your friend who brought the chicken,” the man replies; “can I have some soup?” The Mullah invites him in and goes back to the kitchen. There is only a little soup left, so he adds some water and serves the soup.
Over the next several days, friends of the friends of the friends come to his door asking for soup and the Mullah continues to add more and more water to the soup.
 This isn’t soup!” states the seventh guest, “this is water!” to which the Mullah replies, “No, it is the soup of the soup of the soup of the soup, etc. etc. of the chicken that your friend of the friend of the friend etc. brought!”

What was it that Krishna told Arjuna?

“You see Me as Time who kills, Time who brings all doom; the Slayer Time come hither to consume.”

So apparently, even the acts of eternal God are not exempt from the effects of time once He has released them into the world. The point was brought home to me one day while I was sitting in Mandali Hall at Meherazad, India with a number of other pilgrims listening to the stories of Eruch Jessawala, one of Meher Baba’s closest followers. Somehow the subject of the Bhagavad Gita came up—perhaps it was something I said—and Eruch offered the following:

“There are so many paintings of Krishna and Arjuna standing next to each other on a golden jeweled chariot. It is really very beautiful, but brother, those chariots of war were not at all like that.

“You see, in those days, the war chariots were built in such a way that the driver (Krishna) sat below the warrior (Arjuna) just above the wheels and had to endure the choking dust, the stench of rotting corpses, unable to even see where He was going. It was the warrior sitting above the driver who directed the driver by kicking him on the shoulders and face.

“You see, it was the Avatar, Beloved God Himself, who accepted the position of the lowest of the low out of love for His lover. What a sacrifice it is that He makes for us.”

And He does it again and again, sacrifices again and again for all time and All Times by taking a human birth and living among us to help each of us in our journeyless journey to God.

Why does He do this? Is that not another way?

There was once a king who asked his spiritual advisor why God comes again and again. The advisor parried the king’s question by saying that it was such a beautiful day, why not first have a special holiday on the kings royal barge.

And so the king gathered a huge retinue of soldiers and family and they departed on the barge. Far from shore, the waters became very turbulent and the mighty barge began to rock and sway. In the middle of this tumult the advisor picked up the king’s youngest son and through him overboard.

The king immediately jumped into the water to save his son.

As soon as they were safely onboard the waters became calm again and the king turned angrily to his advisor. What was the meaning of his cruel act? The advisor calmly replied, “You asked me why God has to come again and again. You could have ordered your soldiers to save your son, but you jumped into the waters first—because of love.”

                                                                                                                                               ©copyright, Michael Kovitz,7.27.2010  

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