Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Reflected and the Real Happiness

A shopkeeper dealing with mirrors has hundreds of mirrors in his shop; he actually sells them and lives on the profits thereof; he never uses any to see his face.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

Years ago when I was the president of the Chicago Meher Baba Center, I was walking the short distance between my apartment and the Center when a voice stirred inside of me. I immediately identified the voice as Meher Baba’s, though, as the Sufis often say, “God alone knows.”

The voice was friendly, somewhat matter of fact, yet had an air of authority too. The conversation went something like this:

“Do you remember when as Jesus I told my closest disciples that they were the salt of the earth?”

 “I have read that.”

“Do you remember that I further explained that if the salt loses it saltness it becomes worthless?”

“Yes Baba.”

Now as this conversation is unfolding I am asking myself as to why Baba is bringing up the teachings of Jesus. I am not a Christian, nor a follower of any religion that has sprung-up around any of the Incarnations of the One God. But I kept my thoughts to myself—as if I really could hide anything from Baba.

“So Michael, what is the significance of this teaching?”

“I really don’t know Baba.”

“I will tell you. Salt flavors and preserves life, yet nothing grows in salt. As Jesus I was telling my disciples that due to their relationship to me, the Preserver and Protector of all, they, in their own way, preserve and bring a certain flavor—a certain sweetness—to the lives of others—but only when they themselves do not get lost in life—do not allow new impressions, sparked by worldly desires, to take root within them. I was telling them that they should be in the world, but not of the world. To be of the world means to lose their saltness and if their saltness is lost they would become quite useless to both the world and to Me.”

It is my understanding that Meher Baba wants His followers to participate in life without getting attached to life; to be in the ocean and yet not get wet. How is this possible? Only with our own efforts and His grace.

It is also my understanding that all so-called spiritual teachings are not directly about gaining the Goal, but about how to deal with life so as not to make His Work more difficult. The highest spiritual teachings, the teachings of the Avatar and the Perfect Masters, are not about gaining anything, but about losing everything—everything that is false, illusory, transitory, zero.

I love this quote of Mani S. Irani, Meher Baba’s sister:

Even while we are thinking that we are going through so much, that we are striving, and suffering, Baba tells us not to worry because He knows we are safe and sound at His feet.  He doesn't tell us not to worry in the sense that a doctor would tell a patient.  It is not advice. When Baba said a thing it was with authority of supreme knowledge, knowing everything.  So when He says be happy, don't worry, He knows there is no reason to worry.

“For instance, when I read a book to Baba (and Baba being all-knowing would appear unknowing, because He would play the game supremely) – when I was reading a book usually He would have me stop at a very critical juncture – where Pauline was hanging over a cliff or something, and we didn't know if the train would be going over her or not – and we were told not to look to see what happened—not to look further to find out.  Baba would then ask me, ‘Do you think there will be a happy ending?’  I would say, ‘Well, Baba, we can't look, so we will know tomorrow.’

“But then Baba would always like a happy ending.  That is because His story, the story of His creation, has a happy ending.  We are simply going through chapters.  But somebody who has read the book and who knows the end, can very authoritatively say, ‘Don't worry, don't worry’ while you are in the midst of a chapter which is terrible.

“So whenever we go through something that seems so difficult, so disagreeable, don't worry, remember it is only a chapter... the next chapter might be different.  When the end of the story comes, the story is finished.  So, we might as well enjoy the story while we are in it too.” The Divine Humanity of Meher Baba, Editor; Bill Le Page Vol. 2, Pp 183 – 184.Copyright 1999 AMBPPCT
Even at the doors of God you have to suffer. The sufferings you undergo at home are temporal and give you worldly comfort—worldly pleasures—of course proportionate to your suffering. In the same way, the sufferings sustained at the door of God—in the cause of God—are bound to fructify into pleasures and happiness, but these pleasures are not only temporal, but spiritual also.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

Why would one even be interested in approaching the ‘door of God’? Why do we go to anyone’s door anyway? Because we have some connection to the one inside. It could be business; it could be personal. Maybe the one inside has something that we want. If the one inside wants something that we have, he would probably come to our door. You may ask, “What if the one inside the door is our beloved?” To this I would answer, “Yes that is true, but who among us wants nothing from the beloved? Who among us only seeks the pleasure of the beloved?”

I was speaking to a self-proclaimed atheist the other day. He was very sincere and had a wonderful sense of humor. I liked him very much. There is a saying, “God loves an idiot but hates a fool.” What is an idiot? Someone who does not take things seriously. What is a fool? Someone who takes everything seriously. Anyway, the atheist was explaining how silly he thought the average follower of religion to be. Over and over he used the word belief, saying things like “he believes this and how can he believe that…”

I pointed out to the atheist that he had used the words believe and beliefs so many times. I suggested that until there is direct experience everything just a matter of belief, so why get so excited about it? The religious person and the atheist have different beliefs, but they are only beliefs until there is direct experience.

Who has direct experience of the reality or the unreality—the existence or the non-existence—of God? At some point, beliefs are not enough for either the atheist or the believer and then, ironically, both have to approach the door of God to experience the existence of God, or to learn for certain that no one lives in the house.

What is it that drives both the believer and the non-believer to approach the door of God? Wanting the experience, wanting to know, is only half of the motivation—is only half of the equation; the other half is the growing awareness that, as Meher Baba once said, “The world never was, or is, or will be anyone’s beloved.”—that all of the pleasures and happiness of the world are temporal and passing. This temporal and passing happiness is what the Upasani Maharaj calls the reflected happiness, and that sooner or later, this lifetime or the next, one realizes that this happiness is always mixed with pain—the pain of ultimate disappointment of the temporal.

Commonly people are interested in the reflected happiness; for this, however, they have to accept the screen of pain; this means, while remaining in the screen of pain they are able to experience the happiness reflected by it. When you want to see yourself reflected in the mirror, you have to accept the mirror as well; in the same way, you have to accept the screen of pain and then alone you will have the reflected happiness.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

Only when one tires of the reflection does he seek out the source of the reflection and approach the door of God. But approaching God’s door is one thing, waiting at God’s door is another, and being given access to what is behind the door is still another.

I will wait for an eternity if that is what I must, but not one iota of a second longer than is necessary.” – Yogic saying

For one to experience reflected happiness a mirror is necessary. But if a mirror is not used, is not looked into, does not reflect, is it still a mirror?

That screen is transparent like glass. If we are within the screen we shall see happiness everywhere. If, however, we interfere with the transparency of the screen, if we turn it into a mirror, then it at once begins to reflect.

As it is, the transparent screen is meant to give the experience of eternal happiness, but if it is interfered with, then it exhibits the state of pain. If it is not interfered with, then its transparency remains untouched and it is able to give the experience of eternal happiness. This transparent screen is called Prakriti.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

And what is Prakriti?

“Prakriti is the material cause of all beings.”
– Swami Shivananda

"Whatever forms are produced, O Arjuna, in any womb whatsoever, Prakriti is their womb and I am the seed giving father.”
Krishna, Bhagavad-Gita, Ch.14, Verse 4

“Yet Prakriti lacks altogether the principle of intelligence. Thus it is purely instrumental, serving as the medium by which Purush—the Soul, Self, Supreme Being, Intelligence—can come to Self-knowledge.” Infinite Intelligence, Meher Baba, footnote p.432

And so, if the screen is Prakriti—the womb of all creation impregnated by the divine seed—then what does it mean to interfere or not interfere with the screen?

To look to the world—creation—in order to know oneself, is to transform the screen into a mirror—a mirror which can only distort the truth. To look into the mirror with the question, “Who am I?” will own yield false answers to the question, “I am a man.”  “I am a woman.”  “I am rich.”  “I am poor.”  “I am good.” “I am bad.”  “I die.”

Indeed, to ask anything of Prakriti, even “Why?” is to transform it into a mirror that can only reflect a false answer.

“Take the glass—the screen—to be the state of knowledge. If the glass remains transparent it will only see light all-around. The transparent glass is like the original Prakriti. How does the glass experience its existence?

“When it finds that there is nothing all-around, it knows that it alone exists and experiences its existence. In other words, the glass sees itself alone, and as such sees nothing else but light all-round.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

Please take a moment to savoir this point. The light that Upasani Maharaja is speaking about is not the light we experience from our sun—nor is it the light of any sun. The light of even the brightest sun in all of the universe is little more than total darkness compared to the sun of which Upasani speaks—this light is the effulgent light of the soul—of your soul—of my soul. To experience that light is to experience infinite eternal bliss.

Great yogis contemplate that light; meditate on that light, but to experience that light is something else again, something that is not easily gained, something that is not easily won.

But once it is, once that light is experienced, the soul becomes eternally blind to the light of creation—no longer sees it—no longer experiences it, though if it is the destiny of that soul to remain for a while in its gross body, wholly or in part conscious of creation, then that soul becomes a Perfect Master, or a Jivanmukta, or a Paramhansa, and lives the life of conscious God in creation. And to serve such a one; to be near such a one; brings more spiritual benefit than hundreds of lifetimes of penance, meditation, or good works. One should be so lucky!

And when God comes as man—the God Man—the Avatar—the Christ—the Messiah—He tells the world to look to God as the Light Eternal; and to those closer He tells them that He is the Light that has taken a human form out of compassion and mercy for them; but to those who are closest—those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, He tell them that they are the Light that they see reflected in Him and that He is light that is in them.

Like the glass, the Prakriti is an independent state. If we begin to interfere with its natural painful qualities we interfere with its transparency and, as such, it at once begins to reflect. And you people are lured by this reflection. It is thus desirable that the glass—the Prakriti—is never interfered with, because, to interfere with the original Prakriti is to create another; and that is exactly what happens. The second Prakriti tries to do away with the original one, and that causes reflection and you get lured and engrossed in that reflection.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

I believe that anyone who rightfully understands what Upasani Maharaj is saying here realizes how impossibly difficult this is to do—to not interfere with that which causes pain. It even sounds wrong, but to quote Hafez, “About what you here from the Master never say it is wrong, because, my dear, the fault lies in your own incapacity to understand Him.”

And what is not understood? The fact that the pain never was, or is, or ever will be real—that it is all just a dream. In my dream I experience pleasure and pain. I run towards the first and away from the second. And if I am unable to stop running?

The strongest state is the state of ‘be as it may.’” – Upasani Maharaj

If I am unable to stop running, then perhaps, at some point, my option is to choose to run to the door of God.

If you suffer at God’s portals—in the cause of God—that suffering of yours will not be wasted; be sure of that. I have always been telling you that this is not a place of enjoyment; this is a place to suffer. Here I have turned pain into pleasure. Extreme suffering makes a man laugh; and when you laugh that way, tears come into your eyes; and that is my state here.” – Ibid.

Meher Baba used to say that there are two kinds of tears, warm tears and cool tears. Warm tears are shed over unsatisfied desires—tears shed over the reflections in the mirror. Cool tears are shed for God—they stream from the heart’s longing for oneness with the Beloved—they are tears of love.

As a matter of fact, there is no state of pain in the world; everything is pleasure—it is all happiness everywhere. The bliss is eternal; howsoever you enjoy it is never terminated. On the other hand, as you suffer pain, sometime or other the pain is terminated. The pain has to end; the happiness has no end.” – Ibid

I always wondered about the phrase, “the body, typifying happiness,” that Meher Baba uses in His book God Speaks.

In man, the mind is the seat of desires and thoughts, energy is the seat of force and vigor, and the body, typifying happiness, is the seat of happiness and misery. Hence these desires and thoughts, force and vigor, happiness and misery are respectively the finite aspect of the limited mind, energy and body of man.” – Meher Baba, God Speaks, pages  90 – 91

I wondered about the use of the word typifying and assumed that it was being used in its meaning to represent or symbolize. But it also has another meaning, to characterize. In light of Upasani Maharaj’s statement I think Meher Baba may have intended the second meaning i.e. to characterize. Bliss is all around, in this world and the next; it is eternal. Even in the world it can be experienced continually if, if we don’t ask for it—if the screen remains a screen and does not become a mirror.

Come, come, come; whoever you are; wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving; ours is not a caravan of despair. Though you may have broken your vow a thousand times; come, come yet again; come!– Shams e Tabriz (Rumi’s Master)

The sky has no color, if you don’t believe me ask a very young child. If the child has not been coached, she will not say that the sky is blue, she will not affix any color to it, even though if you ask her about the grass, she will say it is green and that the water is blue.

Little children remember, but only a few, and down they forgot as up they grew.– e. e. cummings

Is the sky a representation of Prakriti? When it is seen as colorless, is it like clear glass? When it is seen as blue, is that a representation of the mirror? And what happens when clouds fill the sky? Do the clouds represent pain, the blue sky reflected happiness, and the clear sky, without color, seen only by the child and those who have become as little children also; does that represent the real happiness?

The bliss is eternal; howsoever you enjoy, it is never terminated. On the other hand, as you suffer pain, sometime or other the pain is terminated. The pain has an end; the happiness has no end.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

Take away the clouds and the sky is blue—blue before and blue after the clouds. Blue is the reflected happiness. Take away the blue, and the sky—the glass—is clear. Clear is the Real happiness—Ananda—Bliss eternal.

Even if you do not make any use of the Prakriti, she gives you all happiness, since her nature is to make you happy; in fact, she is meant only for that purpose.”—ibid

How absolutely incredible is that statement! “… since her nature is to make you happy; in fact, she is meant only for that purpose.”

Don’t worry, be happy!” – Meher Baba

The body, typifying happiness.” – ibid

It is said that after giving up the wealth and comforts of his parent’s home, Siddhartha joined a band of wandering ascetics and began practicing serious austerities. This life continued until one day while sitting on a river bank he noticed a boat traveling upon the river carrying a musician and his student. The simple words of the teacher awakened some deep understanding within Siddhartha; the teacher said, “If the string is tightened too much it will break; if it is left too slack it will not produce any sound.” – heard in the movie, Little Buddha

After hearing this teaching, Siddhartha left his ascetic life and began to practice what was later to be called the Middle Path—the path to enlightenment—the path that leads one from the nearly endless rounds of births and deaths—the path that leads to the real happiness.

Meher Baba was once asked by a follower how he should live in the world with regard to diet and dress. Meher Baba replied, “Don’t eat too much and don’t eat too little. Don’t dress like a beggar and don’t dress like a dandy.” – I believe the follower was Herbert Davy and that the conversation took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.?
What is too much and what is too little? It may be different for each individual. The middle may not be the same middle for everyone. Only a real Master knows each individual’s unique way.

The Middle Path goes through life and that is why it is essential to the achievement of Enlightenment. The Middle Path is the embodiment of the teaching, in the world, but not of the world. False teachings suggest ways to avoid life, to overpower life, but all attempts to do the same ultimately lead to failure. Not only is life not to be avoided, it is to be embraced and lived—but without expectations and without demands. Life lived in this way keeps the glass clear, keeps it from becoming a mirror of false reflections.

Your trying to do away with her not only does not destroy her but actually leads to the formation of many a form, with the result that instead of getting any real happiness, you begin to reflected happiness, and with that you are presented with the painful nature of that Prakriti that leads you to experience pain.The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

As a young musician I sincerely wanted to improve and practiced very diligently. Sometimes I felt I was really on to something, was really getting somewhere, only to notice after days, or weeks, that I was still in the same place I began. What did Gurdjieff call it? “The terror of the situation.” And so I sought out a teacher and the teacher was very helpful, but still it was up to me to learn how to make use of his teachings—how to practice them.

The feeling of thinking I was going somewhere only to realize that I was still in the very same place that I began, is much the same feeling as this trying of one thing and then another, thinking that the newest next thing will be the way to enlightenment. Does not the realization come at some time for each and every embodied soul that he or she must approach the teacher—must approach God’s portals—for the way to  …discard—overlook—the reflected happiness and utilize the transparent glass-like original Prakriti without disturbing it to attain the original infinite Bliss—the original Ananda?

All of life turns towards happiness like sprouts turn towards the sun. This is the manifestation of intelligence. If you position the sprouts in front of a window and position a mirror behind it, so that the mirror reflects the sun, the sprouts will always turn towards the sun and not the reflection of the sun in the mirror.

Upasani Maharaja says that the two kinds of Prakritis, the one that gives real happiness and the one that gives reflected happiness, also give a corresponding two kinds of suffering. Regarding reflected happiness this linkage of pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, is generally understood and passively accepted. But regarding real happiness, which most people know practically nothing about, any suggestion of entwinement with real suffering draws choruses of indignant disagreement.

In the realm of reflected happiness and suffering a child is born—the result of its parent’s attraction to the reflected happiness. The birth of the child is always accompanied by some kind of suffering for all concerned. As the child lives and grows more and more suffering entwines itself with the child’s and the parent’s ongoing quests for reflected happiness. If there is birth, then there must follow death at some point also. Death is always accompanied by sufferings for all concerned.

In the realm of reflected happiness, suffering is inevitable, because in the realm of reflected happiness all things end—there is no eternity in the realm of reflected happiness—and with the passing of objects of enjoyment there is always suffering in proportion to the degree of attachment to those objects.

The drama of reflected happiness and suffering plays out for a very long time—sometimes over many lifetimes. Meher Baba has fixed the outside number to be eight million four hundred thousand lifetimes in the human form. A very long time indeed, but the realm of reflected happiness and suffering does have an end, because it and everything within it is created and all things that are created inevitably must pass.

Eternity stands in opposition to life’s currents of birth, life, and death; Oneness stands in opposition to duality; and real happiness stands in opposition to pleasure and pain. Where do these ideas come from? Not from the realm of reflected happiness, because real happiness stands beyond reflected happiness and therefore cannot even be fully imagined or conceived in the mirror of reflected happiness.

If everyone exists in the realm of reflected happiness then how is it that we can even know about the possibility of real happiness? Looking back in time as far as we can, we see that there have always been some individuals who have claimed to have passed from the realm of reflected happiness into the realm of real happiness, and it is they who remind us that there is something more, something beyond, something other than what we experience. These individuals, we call them Perfect Masters, Incarnations of the  Avatar, the Prophets and Saints, are all remarkably consistent in their assertions that real happiness is the birthright and inevitable destiny of all souls lost within the dream of creation—in the mirror of Prakriti.

Like dropping a trail of breadcrumbs  for the little birds to follow, these liberated ones  drop hints in the form of words and examples that inspire the hungry—but one must be hungry to even notice, yet  alone value, what is being dropped for them.

When what one sees has no reality, the inevitable must occur: the consciousness looks within and begins the inner journey and the Jiv-atma again dreams—but this time the dream is divine… ‘I will become God. I will know Him and thereby become Him…” The Nothing and the Everything, Bhau  Kalchuri, page 58

Jiv-atma—“that pure celestial soul identified with the projections of the mind.”—Upasani Maharaj

The divine dream leads to the door of God and it is there that real suffering begins.

Until you experience it, it is not true.” – Kabir

Gurdjieff spoke about it as well. In his unique language, he used the expression, Being Parkdolg Duty, and defined it as the ability to labor consciously and suffer intentionally in order to help bear the Suffering of our Common Father Creator.

One who feels tired or disinterested in reflected pleasures, or due to beneficial advice, begins to think about the state of Sat (Knowledge—Consciousness) and feels tired of the first Prakriti created by him, now creates another Prakriti to suffer in the cause of God or a Perfect Master and follows her.
“The Godly happiness is available only through the second Prakriti that is full of suffering; this self-chosen suffering alone leads one to eternal happiness.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B
Once one experience this suffering, neither the reflected happiness nor the reflected suffering can match it. This suffering is itself blissful.
Burn in that flame; is not the candle He?” – Rumi

Meher Baba was very clear and consistent on this point: all souls are God, the only distinction among souls is the consciousness of souls and thereby the experience of souls. The Incarnations of God as Avatar, Messiah, Buddha, and Christ, and the Perfect Masters, Paramhansa, and Jivanmuktas, experience themselves as God. To approach these souls is to approach the door of God. To serve and worship these souls is to suffer for God. Suffering for God is not ordinary suffering; suffering for God has its own special bliss.

It is not that these souls want you to suffer and in fact do nothing to make you suffer at all, but they do allow your suffering, both kinds of suffering, because they know that it is necessary in order to attain the real happiness—necessary in the sense of the unnecessary necessity

The train is going somewhere, you are not driving the train, but you are on the train. In truth, you have nothing to do except to enjoy the ride. You don’t have to make your enjoyment, it is there for the taking; you don’t have to find it, it comes to you automatically—if you don’t chase after it. Nor do you have to make yourself worthy of it because the sun of happiness shines on sinner and saint equally. You don’t have to do anything to experience the sun; just don’t put up an umbrella to cover your head.

The train is traveling to its destination, but it does make stops along the way to pick up passengers. The stops are for others do get on the train, not for you to get off the train. But sometimes you see something when the train stops that attracts you and you want to get off. While on the train, getting off the train is unnecessary, but only until you get off. Once off the train the getting off can be seen to be necessary— an unnecessary necessity.

Meher Baba’s Omniscience allows you to get off the train and in His Unbounded Mercy allows you to get back on the train with the realization realize that you never needed to get off the train in the first place.

Prakriti is the clear screen which when interfered with becomes a mirror. This mirror is like a mirror in the fun house, it distorts everything that is held before it. A Perfect Master is a mirror also, but this mirror reflects accurately the truth and the bindings of the soul. Some see the Master as something bad, or angry, or loving, but this is due not to the nature of the Master but to the binding that one holds before Him. Some see the Master as God; this is true seeing for the soul is really seeing Itself in the divinity of the Master.

This series of posts began with a talk given by Upasani Maharaj to His followers who had come to His place in Sakori, India to celebrate His birthday.

You have assembled to celebrate my birth anniversary. But I feel that today is not my birthday, but yours. If you think that I have reached perfection and if you believe that I am really dead even though my body is alive, then how can I be born?

“You have come to me because I have reached perfection and am fully dead and cannot be born again. I can have no more birth or death.

“A person who is not fully dead, is born again. I can have no more birth or death. To die is to be destroyed—that is the common understanding. An inanimate thing when crushed is said to be destroyed; but an animate thing, like the body, when crushed is destroyed as dead.

“So I feel that you have come here for your birth-anniversary. You may ask, ‘Should we remain chained to the cycle of births and deaths?’

“Anyway, if it is understood that I am not born, then this celebration must be about your birth. My birth thus becomes yours. Just as one has to experience death while remaining alive, in the same way, one has to experience the real state of being alive when one is alive.

“The experience you are having of being alive is not the correct one: you are experiencing and employing methods for an incomplete, or rather, an unreal death.

“If I am not born and you have come to observe my birth anniversary, then you have come here for attaining a birth devoid of death…

“One should die in such a way that there will be no more birth again; one should have such a birth which will be without death.

“If you observe birth anniversaries of Incarnations and similar other persons, for a particular period, you will be able to experience being eternal.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Vol. I, Part B

Those who went to Upasani’s ashram that day to celebrate His birthday were to some degree tired of the reflected happiness and had begun to be attracted to the real happiness. What other reason could there be for making the efforts to travel and to be there? Not everyone’s motives are absolutely pure; many visit the abodes of Masters to get some worldly gain—some reflected happiness. And some do, but even this gained reflected happiness inevitably ends in disappointment—inevitably becomes understood to be no more than another unnecessary necessity.

And what of those who have read the talk He gave that day, or even read about the talk in the seven posts that make up this blog?  Would anyone take the time to read it who has not also begun to experience the disappointment of reflected happiness and have some feeling, or wish, or hope, or longing, that there is something more—something beyond the reflected happiness?

“Come, come, come,
Whoever you are—
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Though you may have broken your vow a thousand times,
Come, come, yet, again—COME!” – Shams I Tabriz

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