Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Ayushya - Period of Life

I remember an early episode of the television program called, The Big Bang Theory, in which Penny, realizing that she knew practically nothing about the work of Leonard, her on again off again, scientist - boyfriend, decides to visit him at his laboratory. Of course Leonard is more than happy that Penny is interested in his work, and begins to explain to her some of the various theories regarding the nature of the universe. He shows her a machine that projects a three dimensional holographic image of the Earth and suggests that we, and the universe we experience, possibly exist also as some kind of a grand holographic image projected from somewhere else.

I suppose that anyone can say anything, but there are some things that only a Perfect One can say that have real meaning. Others can say the same or similar things, repeating them with real conviction, but, in the end, their statements lack the authority that consciousness bestows and end up being received by others as merely interesting ideas, helpful reminders, and sometimes even utter absurdity. But the words uttered by a Perfect One have power—power to transform—power to change.

Ayushya is a Sanskrit word that means span or period of life. On June 6, 1924, Upasani Maharaj began His talk to a small gathering at His ashram in this way:

“One has always to bear the fruits of whatever good or bad actions one does during one’s life. The span of life has been called Ayushya in Sanskrita. I will explain this word to you.

“The word refers to a restricted period of time between (the states of) birth and death in which one enjoys or suffers certain amounts of pleasure and pain, but really speaking, there is nothing like Ayushya as such in existence; it is obviously not something having an independent existence.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B

It was this last assertion, “It is obviously not something having an independent existence,” that caught me—that resonated in me in a special way. First was the word obviously. What was it about the previous assertion regarding the span of life that made it obvious that Ayushya, the span of life, has no independent existence? And perhaps even the more basic question was; what constitutes independent existence?

You are imperceptible and independent…” is a statement from the Parvardigar Prayer of Meher Baba, a prayer that asserts without doubt the inclusion of Everything and Nothing in the Absolute, Eternal, Oneness of God.

And maybe that is what Upasani Maharaja means when he is says that life is not independent of God, that it does not exist by itself, and that even its appearance of existence is totally dependent on the support of God?

But there was something more for me in His assertion; it was sense of the vastness of Eternity in relationship to mereness of Ayushya. I took a grain of rice and placed it on the middle of a large rug in my living room. I then imagined the rug in the vastness my house. I then imagined my house in the vastness of my neighborhood, and then the vastness of my city, and then the vastness of my, state, my country, the world, the solar system, the universe, and everything that might exist beyond the universe.

The grain of rice was my Ayushya—my span of life. Everything else was God. But then I realized that what I was calling my Ayushya was only my present span of life—the life I am leading now—which was only one of the eight million four hundred thousand lifetimes in the human form that it takes for the average soul to experience God—and that was only after experiencing eight million four hundred pre-human forms. My present span of life—my present Ayushya—was just shy of only one seventeen millionth of that single grain of rice.

We seek the breath of the eternal, this time, through words that transcend themselves.
Read slowly—like sipping a special wine.
Take time between each sip.
Savoir the silence as much as the sound, nay, even more than the sound.
Look for the Self—the Self within, the Self beyond.
Breathe—breathe the breath of the eternal.

“Filled with God are the things we see,
Filled with god are the things we see not,
From out of God flows all that is:
From God all—yet does He remain the same.

“The Self is one. Unmoving, it moves swifter than thought.
The senses do not overtake it, for always it goes before.
Remaining still, it outstrips all that run.

“The Self is everywhere. Bright is he, bodiless, without scar or imperfection, without bone, without flesh, pure, untouched. The Seer, the Thinker, the One who is above all, the Self-Existent—he it is who has established perfect order among objects and beings from beginningless time.”Upanishads, translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester

It was the whim, the lahar, of God that stirred the Original Deep Sleep State of God and made Him dream. His dream state is what we call Creation. Dreams precede awakening—in this case, the Fully Awake State of God. God, as soul, awakens to know Himself as God. This is the state of Conscious God.

Meher Baba used the Hindi word lahar to explain how anything can arise within the Original Deep Sleep State of God where there is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, neither cause nor effect. He said that the English word whim is closest in meaning to lahar. Baba asked, how can one explain a whim? After all, a whim just happens; it is just a whim.

Really speaking, only the Original Deep Sleep State of God and the Fully Awake State of God exists, and exists eternally, while for the awakening soul the Dream State of God has a beginning and an end. It may seem like an interminably long time to us—the 8,400,000 pre-human forms and the 8,400,000 human incarnations, but when viewed against the backdrop of Eternal Infinite God, it is not even a drop in the ocean.

So, what do we do during this period, this Grand Ayushya experienced as creation consciousness? The Masters are clear on this point, they say, “Enjoy it, worry not, be happy, and avoid avoidable problems.

“Whatever actions one does in a particular lifetime, one has to bear, some time, the fruits thereof. When the fruits of these actions become mature, i.e. assume a state that can be experienced, one has to take a gross physical body—a form suitable to experience those ripe fruits—because without the gross physical body they cannot be experienced.

“The appearance of the gross physical body to bear those fruits is called the birth. Since the body has been taken to experience the mature fruits of the previous karma—previous lifetime—one has to begin to experience these fruits right from the time of birth.

“Once one begins to experience those fruits from birth, it takes a certain amount of time to experience all those fruits which have become mature, for which the body has been taken. This period of time required to experience all the mature fruits, both good and bad, is called ayushya—a restricted period of time required to experience certain ripe fruits of some of the actions performed in a previous life or previous lifetimes.

“The moment those particular mature fruits are experienced in full, the lifetime—ayushya—terminates, the function of the body for which it was taken is over, and the body dies—the ayushya thus comes to an end.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B

No doubt, many have heard of Karma. It is a word that has worked its way into everyday life, into all sorts of spiritual teachings, even pop-culture. Its basis is easy to understand—one gets as one gives—it is the principle of cause and effect. But here, in Upasani’s talk, Karma is presented in the context of ayushya; a context that Upasani says does not, “as such exist…and has no independent existence.”  For me, this context frames the explanation in a very different light—gives it a whole new perspective—allows me to breathe the Breath of the Eternal—to, as Gurdjieff used to say, “Be serious, don’t take things too seriously.”

“The saint is bound by a gold chain, the sinner by a spiked one, but the Goal is to be free of all chains.” – Meher Baba

To become free of all chains is a matter of the highest importance—is the only importance that matters.

I am the slave of the master who has released me from ignorance; whatever the Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned.” – Hafez, translation by Meher Baba

Meher Baba says that when the consciousness of the embodied soul is full and complete spiritual evolution through all of the 8,400,000 pre-human forms comes to an end and the soul begins the process of reincarnation by associating with and discarding a like number of human forms.

Meher Baba uses the term spending sanskaras to characterize the action of the process of reincarnation; spending sanskaras is exchanging sanskaras—exchanging impressions—sanskaras being, as it were, the ‘dust’ that has been kicked-up during the soul’s journey through evolution and that coat the surface of the mirror of acquired consciousness. Once the sanskaras are sufficiently loosened—worn thin—by spending, the process of reincarnation comes to an end and the process of involution of consciousness begins.

It is during involution that all remaining sanskaras are gradually removed in sequence from gross to fine. Gross sanskaras, fade into subtle sanskaras—it is here that the soul experiences the first three higher planes of consciousness—then subtle sanskaras fade into mental sanskaras in the fourth plane and the consciousness of the soul begins to identify with and experience the two mental planes of consciousness before ultimately merging into the seventh plane—the plane-less plane of God-Realization—Conscious God—the third of the three states of God.

Evolution, reincarnation, and involution, constitute the second of the three states of God. It is the dream state of God between God’s deep sleep state, and God’s fully awake state and it is this second state to which Upasani Maharaj’s statement can be applied:

“it is obviously not something having an independent existence.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B

Grandfather, I have been reading these posts on Ayushya by your friend Michael—what is it that he calls himself?”

Baba’s talking parrot.”

“Yes, that’s it, I like that—Baba’s talking parrot. Perhaps he should name the parrot Ayushya—Ayushya, Baba’s talking parrot?”


Anyway, dear grandfather, these last posts have given rise in me of a new and strange feeling; may I try to explain it to you?”

Of course, proceed.”

A child is never independent of her parents, in that her physical existence is literally made up of their physical existence—it is permeated by it—it is in her—it is her.”

Go on my dear.”

And so, is it not also the situation with God’s second state that it is made-up of—is permeated by—is in God—and ,in fact, is nothing other than God?”

Based on my understanding, yes that is also true.

So, grandfather, what I have been experiencing is the smallest hint, or feeling, of the ever presence of God in the consciousness of my life. It is by no means continuous, and it is only just a sense, but there is something new and different about it.”

Can you give me an example?”

So, it has been my habit, that when I repeat Baba’s prayers in the morning I look at His picture. But as it sometimes happens, while looking at Baba’s picture, my gaze is sometimes distracted, or attracted, by something else—perhaps the flowers in the vase near Baba’s picture, or even the lamp on the table, or whatever…

“Now previously, when I would recognize that my gaze had slipped, I would experience that I was thinking about something other than Baba. There was Baba and there was something other than Baba. But lately when it slips I have this sense—I experience—that it has not really gone to anything other than Baba—because those flowers, or lamp, or whatever, is Baba—is permeated by Baba—is made up of Baba.”

He is everywhere and He is in everything.”


So grand-daughter, what do you do?”

I do what I always do. I shift my gaze back to Baba, but the difference is that in my experience, Baba was never not there—believing He was not was just a trick of my clouded consciousness.”

“Indeed, what was it that Hafez said, ‘There is no barrier between the lover and the Beloved; Hafez, lift yourself aside, you are yourself the covering over Self.’”

Yes, that is it, even now when my eyes are closed and I am repeating Baba’s name and I become aware that my mind has slipped into thoughts of past and future, this and that, I have this feeling that I am sitting there dreaming—like for a moment I actually see myself dreaming—but this dreaming is not something other than Baba.”

You are experiencing that your dreaming has no independent existence.”

Yes, that is the strange new feeling I have been experiencing.”

Does it make you feel closer to Baba?”


All this means that ayushya is a relative term denoting a period of time which is likely to vary sometimes; it has thus no independent significance or existence of its own; it only means that period of time required to experience particular ripe fruits of some of the actions that have matured at that particular period of Time.

“When no more fruits of any actions are left, and if no new actions have been done, and the life terminates; then that person automatically attains liberation.” – Ibid.

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