Monday, September 19, 2011

A Great Story

Like so many great stories, like the famous Arabian Nights, this story is a story within a story, within a story.

Like so many great stories, it is set in ancient times — in fact it is set at the end of Treta Yuga, the second yuga in the recurring cycle of four yugas. In his book, The Ramayana, Ramesh Menon states that Krita Yuga lasts 4,800 divine years, treta lasts 3,600, dwapara lasts 2,400, and Kali, our yuga, 1,200 divine years. So, this story goes back at least 3,600 divine years — and one divine year is equal to 365 human years!

Like in so many great stories, the characters are not just ordinary human beings — there are great yogis highly advanced along the planes of consciousness, Perfect Masters and the Avatar. Also too there are mystical monkeys, gods and devas, and kings and queens of antiquity and our modern world.

And perhaps most importantly, like all great stories, this story challenges the very assumptions about fantasy and reality, fiction and fact, illusion and reality, that we hold so dear, that we consider so settled that to even dare seriously question them would only prove one’s insanity or delusions.

I discovered this story in the Collected Talks of Upasani Maharaj, have always been fascinated by it, and have for years wanted to tell it in my blog. Upasani begins the story with Shankara who lived many thousands of years ago in Krita Yuga. Shankara was in the state of Shiva (God- Consciousness).

Upasani begins the story this way…

“During His Avataric incarnation as Rama in Treta Yuga, His spouse, Sita, had given a boon to all the monkeys that in Kali Yuga they would have an empire of their own on this earth… and that is why I say that these English are not ordinary people.

"These monkeys (called Ramadutas) had made their atmas (embodied souls) ramarupa (full — saturated — with the Avataric Presence of Ram) by service, and had accumulated plenty of punya therefrom. (Punya is the worldly gifts or blessings that are accumulated as a by-product of spiritual practices and carried over from one lifetime to be exhausted in the next. Punya bestows wealth, poise, beauty, and ease of attainment.)

"And so it is Rama’s Presence, having become one with the Ramadutas, who have themselves incarnated in modern times into the human form that now rules in the form of the English.”

Upasani’s tale is rooted in the story of the Ramayana. Please read it, for my summary is not even a summary as much as it is a necessary context for the Great Story, and the Great Story would not even exist were it not for the Ramayana.

Ram was the Avatar — He was God incarnated as man — and his wife was Sita, a most perfect woman in every way. Now the protagonist in the story is a great king named Ravana. Depending on the version of the story you are following, Ravana was an advanced soul high on the planes of consciousness or, possibly, an ordinary man with occult knowledge as well as all the earthly powers inherent in royalty and the crown. Whatever be the case, whatever be the source of his power, Ravana was powerful indeed and he had desires and cravings consummate with his powers.

And so the story goes that Ravana lusted after Sita and kidnapped her from Ram — and is this not something to ponder in itself — that the Avatar could be so unknowing that His own wife could be stolen away from under His own nose?

I recall some comments by Meher Baba, that the Avatar is All-Knowing and simultaneously “clueless” — (my paraphrase). He said that it is not an act, that although a Perfect Master acts, the Avatar becomes. For example, a Perfect Master appears to be sick, but the Avatar actually is sick. Also, I remember that Upasani Maharaj said that the Avatar has no powers, and if He needs to use powers, He has to go to those advanced souls on the plane to get them to help Him. And so I guess it is possible that Ravana could actually steal Sita away from under Ram’s nose and that He could be powerless to get her back.

Returning to the story of the Ramayana, Upasani Maharaj continues:

“Ravana kept Sita in confinement in Ashoka forest. Trajita, his sister, was placed in charge of her confinement and protection. Trajita was devoted to Rama and naturally looked after Sita almost like a servant. Eventually Sita accepted Trajita as a friend. Through this friendship Trajita’s love for Rama grew and with it the desire to be loved in return by Rama.”

Enter the Ramadutas led by the famous warrior monkey, Hanuman, who track down Sita and liberate her from her captors. Just a side note here; Hanuman is a fantastic character in his own right. He is worshipped and revered throughout India to this day. For an excellent scholarly read on the history of Hanuman please read Hanuman’s Tale by Philip Lutgendorf, Oxford University Press.

“After Sita’s liberation Trajita withdrew to a cave and began hard penance.
Years rolled by. Then one day, all the monkeys came to pay Sita a visit. She was naturally overjoyed to see her liberators and wished to reward them. She requested all of them to ask for a boon from her. The monkeys considered the question and arriving at their decision said, ‘we are all foresters and as such have only subsisted on fruit, leaves, and roots. We have no idea of human food. We desire to have this food once, cooked by you.’

"Just as this request was being made, Rama arrived and was apprised of the whole situation. He quietly asked Sita not to grant this boon because it would actually deprive the monkeys of their celibacy (purity) and cause them great suffering. Both He and Sita explained the situation and told the monkeys to ask for something else but they remained insistent.

"Rama considered the situation and then told the monkeys that the boon could be granted if a condition was met. He told them that while Sita cooked for them they were to go to a certain nearby lake and take a bath. After the meal they were to immediately and without fail, return to the lake and take another bath. Sita then added, ‘you fellows could not ask for a proper boon and I do not feel satisfied with it. Hence on my own now, I give you another boon. You know that Rama rules over the entire earth and that you all belong to Him. In order to have a taste of His rule and the happiness thereof you will all appear on earth as human beings in Kali Yuga and have an empire of your own for some time.’

"The monkeys agreed to the conditions of the first boon and a day was settled for the feast. On that day the monkeys took their bath and arrived for their food. As they were about to leave, Rama reminded them of their agreement to return to the lake and bathe again warning them that if anyone should fail to bathe he would be punished. The monkeys left for the lake to fulfill their promise but one mischievous monkey did not bathe. He somehow escaped notice. After all, their total number was 18 million, million! But ultimately the disobedience was found out and orders were given to produce the defaulter.

"The mischievous monkey ran away and the chase began. Finding a cave, the monkey ran inside and found Trajita sitting deep in penance. She asked him who he was and when he answered “a Ramaduta”, she questioned him as to why he had run into the cave. On this he told her all that had happened, and said that he was frightened and so entered the cave for escape and shelter.

"The monkey requested Trajita’s help and she at once took pity on him and said, ‘I am ready to give you protection; but you have to convince me that you are a real Ramaduta.’ When he agreed, she said further, ‘I am undergoing all this penance with the one and only motive of having Rama as my husband. Now if you are a real Ramaduta, you can arrange a meeting between Rama and myself. Sita loves me intensely, and she will agree to whatever I say, and through her I can try to get your punishment cancelled. But you have to arrange the conference.

“‘If you cannot do it, it would only mean that you are not a real Ramaduta, and then I will give you no protection; I will turn you out from here.’

"The monkey agreed and began to perform a certain practice. Though he was mischievous, he was a staunch devotee of Rama and his heart had become Rama-rupa. As the practice reached its full measure, the form of Rama appeared within his heart and grew to such a size that the monkey himself, transformed into the appearance of Rama. Through this Rama, Trajita’s desire was satisfied and it is the progeny of Trajita conceived out of this Rama that is now recognized as Europeans on this earth.”

So what’s to be made of this story so far? There are so many interesting things about it, for example, the race of monkeys themselves — the Ramadutas — they do not seem like ordinary modern monkeys at all. Of course one can always say, “Well it’s only a story, it’s not really literally true,” but I wonder if perhaps there may be more truth here than might be first assumed. Remember that this story takes place in Trita Yuga, the second yuga in the recurring cycle of four yugas and it was still a time when the Light and Truth of Krita Yuga — the Golden Age — still blazed on creation.

We have spoken so often about sanskaras. In His book, Discourses, and many other writings and talks, Meher Baba distinguishes different categories of sanskaras. For example, He speaks about natural sanskaras and non-natural sanskaras. Natural sanskaras are collected during the process of evolution when the soul associates with and dissociates from the various forms of creation from stones to animals in order to acquire more and more consciousness.

The last animal forms are the primates, after which the soul begins to associate with the human form and continues its journey through the processes of reincarnation and involution. (For those unfamiliar with this idea, please see my previous post called The Divine Theme, posted 3/9/11).

Now it is during the process of reincarnation that the soul begins to collect non-natural sanskaras. The term ‘non-natural’ does not in itself imply good or bad, but instead is used to honor the distinction between the purely mechanical nature of evolution and the introduction of choice which is an aspect of the human condition.

During the more enlightened yugas, like Krita and Trita, the choices of human experience are nearly always made that favor the advancement of consciousness toward the goal of Realization. But in the less enlightened yugas, like Dwapara and especially Kali, choices are sometimes made which retard and inhibit the advancement of consciousness toward the goal of Realization.

In the literature connected to Meher Baba the term ‘un-natural’ sanskaras has emerged to characterize those retarding and inhibiting sanskaras and it is in the age of Kali that those un-natural sanskaras have even backed-up into the kingdoms of evolutions. So, the animal kingdoms have been, as it were, polluted by these un-natural impressions. Certainly our tainted primates of Kali Yuga are nothing like the tribe of monkeys living in Trita Yuga — the tribe called the Ramadutas.

This whole business connected with sanskaras may also help us to understand what the big problem was that resulted from the boon offered by Sita, Ram’s wife, to her liberators the Ramadutas. Sita asked the monkeys what they wanted and they replied a meal cooked by her hands. They told her, “We are all foresters and as such have only subsisted on fruit, leaves, and roots. We have no idea of human food.”

But food is sanskaras and sanskaras are food and the natural food for the monkeys was fruit, leaves, and roots. To serve them human food would be like putting jet fuel in an old Model T, and if that was not enough to cause a problem, we must remember that Sita was no ordinary human being. Sita was the wife of Ram and Ram was the Avatar. Sita was the most perfect woman in creation, and so the food cooked by her was more than like jet fuel, it was like rocket fuel. Of course when Ram was informed of the situation, He knew exactly the nature of the problem and He and Sita approached the monkeys with the intention of getting them to change their request. But they remained adamant.

So to minimize the effect of the food, Ram requested the monkeys to bathe in a certain lake, presumably holy waters, before and after their meal, again presumably to wash away the sanskaras collected from the food.

Then, on her own, Sita gave the monkeys a second boon saying, “You fellows could not ask for a proper boon and I do not feel satisfied with it. Hence on my own now, I give you another boon. You know that Rama rules over the entire earth and that you all belong to Him. In order to have a taste of His rule and the happiness thereof you will all appear on earth as human beings in Kali Yuga and have an empire of your own for some time.”

How interesting is that? Already troubled by the monkeys’ request and adamancy, Sita still gave the monkeys a proper boon. Is this not giving us a glimpse of how she and Ram were orchestrating the future history of the world through these events? It reminds me of a time that Meher Baba gave some very specific instructions to one of His followers regarding the destruction and burial of a rabid dog. When the instructions were not followed properly and the dog was not buried where He had specified, Meher Baba said that because of that the border between India and Pakistan would be in dispute for a certain long period of time. But I do digress, and will save that story for another time.

And what about the part in the story where Trajita, the wife of Ravana, has intercourse with the mischievous monkey who had taken on the form of Rama? We have already discussed the idea that these monkeys, the Ramadutas, were no ordinary, modern, monkeys. But to have the power to change their appearance, that is again something else.

In God Speaks, Meher Baba says that, “… one on the third plane can change his physical form at will, and one who does that is known as (an) abdal.” So, if we can accept the idea that the mischievous monkey was, as a result of his devotion to Rama, advanced to the third plane of consciousness, then it would be possible for him to change his form into that of Rama’s and have intercourse with Trajita. But, and there always does seem to be a ‘but’, would the monkey, on his own, do that? For the story goes that he was mischievous, but that does not mean that the monkey was a fool and to masquerade as the Avatar for his own personal reasons would be quite foolish.

And so I must conclude that Rama knew full-well what was going on and it was He who was orchestrating the whole thing. For Rama must have known of Trajita’s love for Him and known it was an attachment and known He had to free her of this attachment for her to advance spiritually. But what was He to do? It would not be correct for Him to actually have intercourse with Trajita, but to satisfy Trajita’s desire for Him through the Rama-rupa body of the monkey would solve the dilemma.

And what about all this talk of changing bodies in the first place — is there anything to be learned about that? In the Selected Talks of Upasani Maharaj, Upasani tell the story of how one day he found Himself in the body of Sai Baba, the Perfect Master of Shirdi and how He experienced the followers of Sai Baba bowing down to Him in Sai’s body while His followers were bowing down to Sai Baba in His (Upasani’s) body.

A bit of back-story here; Upasani Maharaj was Hindu by birth, while Sai Baba was a Muslim. Of course both were God-Realized and therefore both were beyond all religions, yet their followers were neither God-Realized nor beyond all religions and it was to help them lose their pride in their religions that Upasani Maharaj and Sai Baba of Shirdi exchanged Atmas (inhabited each other’s bodies.)

Upasani then went on to explain that the reason why all this talk seems strange to the average person was because we are so convinced of the ‘reality’ of our gross consciousness experience, but that the truth was really something quite different — that these gross forms — these physical bodies we so completely identify with, are merely vehicles for the advancement of consciousness and that, in fact, this exchange of Atmas, this inhabiting of other’s bodies, occurs more often than we might imagine.

An example of this can be found in an explanation Meher Baba once gave in regard to the subject of ghosts and spirits. Ghosts, He said, are disembodied souls who have died untimely deaths due to suicide or extreme violence before the sanskaras that were slated to be worked out in that particular lifetime could be experienced. As a result, the soul cannot move on (take another birth) and is caught in limbo between the gross world of its past life and the higher planes of consciousness where the doorway to the next birth lies.

And so the soul, seeking a way out of its predicament, is attracted to individuals of the gross world who have similar gross sanskaras to its own and possesses those individuals in order to experience its own sanskaras vicariously. Of course, there is a very high price to pay for this possession and the individual who possesses ends up taking on a huge burden of the possessed person’s sanskaras. I am led to believe that these possessions, both short-term and longer, occur uncomfortably more often than we are aware of or care to admit.

So, to return to our story as told by Upasani Maharaj:

“Once upon a time, Rama and Lakshmana (Rama’s brother) were walking along the sea-shore beside a great forest on the day that commemoration of their forefathers had to be celebrated. Rama became very anxious because there were no Brahmanas around to perform the relevant rituals." (Brahmans — the highest caste in the Hindu caste system — the Brahmanas are the priest-class and are responsible for maintaining the purity of the Vedic rites and rituals necessary for the maintenance of purity in all the classes and castes of Hindu society.)

“Just then, the corpses of two Europeans were washed ashore by the waves. Rama, knowing that the Europeans were the progeny of Trajita and Himself, told Lakshmana that he would have to turn the two corpses into Brahmanas and get the rituals performed through them. Rama charged the two corpses with life and empowered them with Brahma-shakti. Rising as if from sleep, they immediately began reciting the Vedic scriptures and performed the necessary rituals.

“Rama donated some land to them along the seashore. The Chit-pavana Brahmanas are the progeny of those two Brahmanas. (The word Chit means Chit-Shakti or Dnyana Shakti, which means the power of all knowledge.) The present Kokanastha Brahmanas are all Chit-pavan. Being originated from the Europeans, the Chit-pavanas are connected with politics. Peshavas (Peshavas is a word used to describe a Prime Minister or highly placed political person) were Chit-pavanas, and it is from their progeny that the present English took over the reins of the Empire.

“Trajita was a Brahman and loved the Kshastriya Rama. (Kshastriyas are the warrior caste in the Hindu caste system.) The duty of the Kshastriyas is to rule. Being a Brahmana and being intensely devoted to Rama, Trajita should have attained the real state of Rama i.e. God- Realization, but she was devoted to the ruler Rama and hence her progeny, though Brahmana by class, came forth as the rulers of the earth.

“Trajita gained the state of Rama but the punya she accumulated from serving Sita forced her Jiva (embodied soul) to have a body to expend and enjoy that punya, and she took an incarnation as Queen Victoria. Since the state of Sita was ever existent in her heart, the kingdom of Queen Victoria was virtually the kingdom of Sita. After the birth of her progeny, her husband, like the Ramaduta that satisfied the original desire of Trajita, passed on to enjoy the state of Sat. All this explains the origin of Queen Victoria and her love for India.”

I believe there is so much to be learned from this story, not the least the challenge to limited mind and the theories and ideas it creates and defends in its attempt to maintain control of the false-self it creates and maintains.

Limited mind, thinking through the vehicle of the false-self, would want us to believe that success and failure, gain and loss, happiness and misery — indeed all the dualities of illusory consciousness — are the results of understandable and recognizable talents and capacities we have worked to attain and the equally understandable and recognizable results that lawfully follow as a result of our efforts.

Simply put, the reason the guy who lives in the house next-door is handsome and rich and powerful or, on the other hand, ugly and poor and weak, is because of his efforts, conditioned, so to speak, by advantages and disadvantages inherent in the life he has been born into — a life that is itself the result of genetics and the “luck of the draw” with regard to some kind of existential birth lottery.

We’ve talked before about this limited mind, our ally throughout the processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution of consciousness. Indeed it has been an indispensable ally, but make no mistake; it has never been our friend. The mind wants to be in control, and to that end it is constantly telling us stuff, trying to make us believe in its “truth” and its indispensability. Of course its greatest power over us is the power to make us think it is us — that no distinction exists.

But the problem is that the limited mind is illusory and that the “truth” it wants us to accept is also illusory.

So, the mind tells us stories — stories it makes up based on our own experiences — or what it tells us are our experiences. Behind every story of the limited mind there can be found a foundation of assumptions that it needs for us to accept, and it does everything in its power to make sure we never do question this foundation because it knows that were we to question it deeply we would conclude that, in fact, these assumptions are unsustainable and unsupportable — that they are not real.

A friend of mine was very upset because I was not making time for her. Her mind was telling her that I put everything in front of her, that I was acting like I was too busy for her. My mind, on the other hand, told me that she was being unfair and began to bring up explanations and excuses for my own actions. You can probably see where this is going — how many times does this kind of argument come up between people and in its wake leaves a trail of hurt, anger, disappointment, and suffering. But I did not respond to my friend in this way.

Instead I sought the deeper story, and when I looked I saw the deeper story her mind was telling her, “You love Michael more than he loves you; you care about Michael more than he cares about you; you do for Michael in ways he does not do for you.” And my friend believed this story, did not question it, and most importantly, accepted this story as true.

And this is just one tiny example of the many stories our minds tell us in order to keep itself in the position of indispensability. Other stories it tells are, Life sucks!; Life is unfair!; You are a mere mortal; you are going to die; life and death are reality — it’s so unfair; you are a winner; you are a loser; you are superior; you are inferior; even things like you are a man; you are a woman; you are good; you are bad — I could go on and on…

But the Avatar and the Perfect Masters tell us different stories based on different assumptions than those advanced by the limited mind — assumptions that from Master to Master and from Avatar to Avatar remain remarkably consistent. Some of these stories are, “You are not the limited mind; You are on a journey of consciousness that ends in the realization of Infinite Bliss and Eternal Existence; So-called birth and death are just an illusion; ‘You and I are not we — but One!'”

These stories of the Masters and the Avatars come not from limited mind, but Infinite Mind, and Infinite Mind knows Reality. Another important distinction is that Infinite Mind has no hidden agenda; it has nothing to gain, because it is Everything, has Everything, and needs nothing.

So, examining this story, A Great Story, we begin with the Avatar Rama. We are asked to believe that there is a God and that God can and does take a human birth in order to give a spiritual push to humanity and all of creation. And we are told that in the incarnation of Rama, the Avatar had a wife (Sita) who is stolen away by a powerful king (Ravana) and that in her time of captivity she is attended to by Ravana’s wife (Trajita) who became totally devoted to Sita and Rama.

After Sita is liberated from Ravana by an army of powerful monkeys led by Hanuman, the legendary monkey-warrior, Trajita begins a period of hard penance, practices, and austerities with the aim of attaining union with God. Trajita’s love for Rama is real, but is tainted by her own human desires for physical union with her Beloved. Rama, who knows everything, allows her to have union with Him through the form of a mischievous monkey that is transformed into the form of Rama.

We learn later that this union resulted in a progeny who eventually incarnated as the British, and that Trajita herself, in order to expend the punya (blessing) she acquired as the result of her practices, incarnated as Queen Victoria.

Many years ago I began this blog called Embedded with the Kali Yuga in order to offer news that was not offered by the usual sources. What is news? News is the stories we tell ourselves about who and what we are. But, the news we get from all the usual sources is the news as understood by limited mind and is thus false. Who has the real news?

Who knows the real stories? The answer is the Unlimited Mind. And who is the possessor of this Unlimited Mind? The Avatars and the Perfect Masters.
And so, God Willing, great stories will continue to be posted on this blog to offer the fantastic and amazing alternatives to the usual news of the day.

Meher Baba once said, and this is only a paraphrase, that there is a great irony in the fact that God, who is the only Truth, the only Reality, appears to be most unreal, while life in creation and creation itself, which is most unreal and illusory, appears to be so real.

Perhaps it is up to each one of us to hear all the stories and to live all the stories — perhaps over lifetimes and lifetimes — and to ultimately decide who and what we choose to believe, for ultimately what you believe becomes your story and your story becomes what you are.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,