Saturday, March 26, 2016
“Owing to their exalted states of consciousness, some of the advanced aspirants are adorable; but they are, in no way, comparable to the God-realized persons, either in respect of the spiritual beauty and perfection of the inward state of consciousness, or in respect of their powers.
"All aspirants, right up to the sixth plane, are limited by finite consciousness; and they are all in the domain of duality and illusion.
"The aspirants are mostly happy: it is derived from their contact and communion with God. For some, the joy of inward companionship of the Divine Beloved is so great that they are unbalanced in their behavior, with the result that they might, in their un-subdued state of God-intoxication, abuse people, throw stones at them and behave exactly like ghosts.
"Their state is often described as that of the Unmatta. Owing to the exuberance of the uncontrolled joy of inward contact with the Divine Beloved, they are utterly regardless of the worldly standards or values: and owing to the utter fearlessness, which comes to them through complete detachment, they often allow themselves such self-expression as would be easily mistaken for untoward idiosyncrasies and immoderate unruliness.
"It is only when the soul attains God-realization on the seventh plane, that the soul gets full control over its joy: the unlimited happiness, which is eternally his, does not, in any way, unbalance him because he is now permanently established in the poise of non-duality. No longer for him is the extravagance of newly found love and joy: the occasional unsettlement owing to the on-flow of increasing joy at the closer proximity of God is also over because he is now inseparably united with Him. He is lost in the Divine Beloved and merged into Him, so that he becomes one with God: he becomes the infinite ocean of unbounded happiness.” – DISCOURSES BY MEHER BABA 1941 – 42; 2ND Edition: Pp 3 – 4, Copyright AMBPPCT
I came across this beautiful and inspiring quotation from Meher Baba the other day. There is so much in it, but the first thing that caught my attention was the line; “The aspirants are mostly happy: it is derived from their contact and communion with God.”
In creation—in life—there is the duality of pleasure and pain, but I don’t think that Meher Baba meant pleasure when He said happy. What’s the difference? My immediate response is that pleasure and pain are experiences of the mind connected to the realm of the senses. What is happiness? It is an experience derived from contact and communion with God—it is the experience of the heart connected to the Divine—the Eternal—Sat-Chit-Ananda—and the personifications of this state in the human form of the Avatar and the Perfect Masters.
What is the heart? As with the mind, we are not talking about a physical organ; the heart and the mind exists somewhere else—in a dimension beyond time and space. Like wind is invisible and is only sensed by its actions, the mind is only sensed by the average person through its actions in the domain of thought and feeling, while the heart is invisible for the average person except through the experiences of love and longing for the Beloved in all His many shapes and forms.
I’m using this term, ‘average person’, to denote a human being who is conscious only of the Gross World consisting of gross forms. Meher Baba tells us that there are actually three worlds, the other two being the Subtle World of energy and the Mental World of thought and feeling. Meher Baba tells us that souls can achieve consciousness of these two higher worlds and become conscious of themselves as energy and their world as energy, or become conscious of themselves as mind and their world as mind.
It is these subtle and mental conscious individuals that Meher Baba is referring to when He said, “Owing to their exalted states of consciousness, some of the advanced aspirants are adorable; but they are, in no way, comparable to the God-realized persons, either in respect of the spiritual beauty and perfection of the inward state of consciousness, or in respect of their powers.”
For as awesome as are the powers and experiences of these advanced souls, they still are creatures of illusion because they do not yet experience themselves as God. The sixth plane is the highest plane of illusion and the individual who is experiencing the highest part of that plane experiences his world—
“through complete consciousness of feelings and thus has no thoughts at all, but actually feels that he is conscious of the feeling of seeing God face to face continuously in everything and everywhere. He ‘sees’ God continuously but cannot see himself in God as God. Therefore he cannot reconcile his feeling-of-sight of God with his own identity with God; and thus he longs for, feels for, has pangs for union with God Whom he sees face to face.
“This identification with the second state of Mind—feeling—is the predominant aspect of divine love which ultimately leads to union with God.” – Meher Baba, God Speaks (2nd Edition), page 52.
Which brings us to the subject of love; but as Rumi once said;
“And when the topic turned to the subject of love, the pen broke and the paper tore.”
There is a relationship that exists between happiness and love; but I find that it is not such a simple thing to understand; for if all the various forms of pleasure—and pain—are often mistaken for real happiness, even more so the many expressions of desire are often mistaken for love. It’s not that love is not present in those expressions, it is no doubt there in all of them, hidden in all of them, like the force of gravity is invisible except through the affect it has upon all physical acts and actions performed on our planet, but the love of the average person is often so conditioned and obscured by qualities like lust, greed, and selfishness that the real love, the unconditioned love, is all but invisible and imperceptible to the one whose love is conditioned.
And what about the various objects of love—do they shape or limit the type of love and the quality of love depending on their attributes? There is an interesting story about the Realization of the 14th Century Persian Master named Hafez (Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī).
The story goes that when Hafez was a young man, before he was God-Realized, he saw a beautiful princess and fell in love with her. But being physically unattractive and also poor, his chances of winning her love were, as they say, “zero to none.” But Hafez knew of a certain penance which if successfully accomplished would give him great powers that would assure his success of winning the love of the princess.
The penance is called Chilla-nashini and consists of drawing a circle around oneself on the ground and then remaining in that circle for forty days and forty nights. While in the circle one does not eat—some say not even drink water—and tries to remain awake while practicing meditation and prayers.
After forty days an angel of God came to Hafez and asked him what he wanted. Overcome by the divine beauty of the angel, he totally forgot about the princess thinking, if an angel of God can be so beautiful, how beautiful must be God Himself! “I want to see God!” replied Hafez and the angel arranged for Hafez to meet a Perfect Master who, after a period of time in the presence of the Master, bestowed upon Hafez God-Realization and the sight of God.
“It is only when the soul attains God-realization on the seventh plane, that the soul gets full control over its joy: the unlimited happiness, which is eternally his, does not, in any way, unbalance him because he is now permanently established in the poise of non-duality. No longer for him is the extravagance of newly found love and joy: the occasional unsettlement owing to the on-flow of increasing joy at the closer proximity of God is also over because he is now inseparably united with Him. He is lost in the Divine Beloved and merged into Him, so that he becomes one with God: he becomes the infinite ocean of unbounded happiness.” – DISCOURSES BY MEHER BABA 1941 – 42; 2ND Edition: Pp 3 – 4, Copyright AMBPPCT
Love is a kind of meditation and in meditation one brings an object—a form—to mind and dwells on it. The form can be physical or mental; it could be an idea or an idol—a person or a possibility. Whatever the object or form, the mind being very impressionable begins to take on the attributes and qualities of the object or form upon which it dwells.
Dwelling on the beautiful princess would entrap Hafez in the realm of the physical—that which passes—that which evokes sensations of pleasure and pain. There is no real happiness there.
Dwelling on the angel of God would lead Hafez to subtle consciousness—the third plane—where incredible powers and happiness abound. Compared to the most enjoyable experiences offered by gross consciousness, the experiences of the third plane are so superior that no real comparison can even be made. Even so, these experiences are still in the realm of illusion and are mere reflections of the infinite knowledge, power, and bliss of God.
To be the knower of God’s infinite knowledge, power, and bliss, one must know God, but in order to know God one must become God. Of course, the irony of the whole thing is that one already is God, but just doesn’t experience oneself as God and the double irony of the whole thing is that to go from no experience of oneself as God to the real experience of oneself as God, one must first journey into and through the state of experiencing oneself as something other than God—as stone and vegetable and animal and man.
And so the Self and the self are inextricably bound together on the journey. That is why the one who journeys has been called the Holy Ghost – God as man—Divine as ghost—God dreaming Himself as man.
“A hundred times I felt that I held your garment firmly in my hands;
“When I opened my eyes I was amazed to discover it was my own garment I was holding!” – Ashgar
“Grandfather, I have been thinking about happiness.”
“Ah, you have been reading Ayushya’s blog on the subject?”
“Yes, his blogs always make me think.”
“Yes, they always inspire me.”
“And so in his most recent post he quoted Ashgar.”
“‘A hundred times I felt that I held your garment firmly in my hands;
“When I opened my eyes I was amazed to discover it was my own garment I was holding!’”
Yes, grandfather, that is it; I have read it before…”
“Yes, it is quoted in Meher Baba’s book Godspeaks.”
“Yes, but in the context of Ayushya’s blog it has taken on a new meaning.”
“How so, my dear?”
“So, every morning, I repeat the three prayers that Meher Baba gave us. And, as you know, the first prayer is called the ‘Parvardigar Prayer.’”
“And, to me, it is a reminder of what lies beyond the world of my own mind and it has the effect of lifting me out of myself.”
“How so, my dear?”
“Grandfather, when I observe the working of mind through my usual thoughts and feelings, I see that it is always involved in creating happiness, but not real happiness, but worldly happiness. It is always concerned with the state of my body, and is always attempting to devise ways and means of achieving pleasurable experiences—physical or even mental. It is always engaged in solving problems—working things out.”
“Yes, that is so for me as well.”
“But the ‘Parvardigar Prayer’ reminds me of what lies beyond my concerns—reminds me that there is a Reality, a happiness, an eternal, infinite, state beyond this world— beyond this cathedral of birth and death, and that, in fact, the only real purpose of this body and mind, which so consumes so much of my attention, my time, and my energy, is to unburden my consciousness so that I can finally experience that eternal reality.”
“Indeed, my dear, and so the new meaning you have found in Ashgar’s couplet?”
“Yes grandfather, through re-reading this couplet in the context of Ayushya’s blog on happiness, I see that it is the mind itself, my mind, that is holding on to itself—even when it pursues the ‘happiness’ it believes to be the real happiness that Meher Baba tells us is not only possible, but, in the end, is inevitable.”
“So the mind holds onto the garment, but the garment is also the mind, and so the mind holds onto itself believing that it is holding on to God?”
“Yes Grandfather, that is it.”
“So the mind is the veil between oneself and one’s Self?”
“Yes Grandfather, it is as Rumi says; ‘The mind is a great and a wondrous thing,
That can bring you to the door of the King;
But then, like shoes before entering a holy place, it is removed and left at the door.’”
“It is such a relief—such an unburdening—when in meditation I am present in my body, and bring my mind to the Name and Image of my Beloved Baba, to know that in that moment there is no more work for the mind to do, no more problems for it to solve, and nothing more for it to accomplish.”
“Yes my dear, to bring your mind to Meher Baba’s Name and Image, is to come to the door of the King. All that is then necessary is to wait at the door until He, Himself, comes to the door and removes your shoes and brings you into His eternal abode.”
“And that is the grand finale; the shoes—the mind—goes, but consciousness remains. He alone can do it; without Him, the final step of the journey, cannot be taken.”
“Grandfather, Auntie brought back some tea from Pune, would you care for some?”
“Indeed my dear, indeed.”
“Ayushya, it is always such a joy to see you—would you like to join Grandfather and me in a cup of tea?”
“Likewise for me, I so enjoy the companionship and our conversations. And yes, I would love to take some tea with you here in your lovely garden.”
“Grandfather and I were just talking about your most recent blog on happiness and I would like to ask you a question.”
“So, we were discussing how meditating on Baba’s Name and Form brings us to, as it were, ‘the door of the King,’ where we wait in joyful anticipation of the pleasure of His eternal company.”
“Yes, well put, that joyful anticipation is real happiness, only exceeded by the joy of union with Him.”
“Indeed! And so my question for you is; in light of the theme of your current blog, what do you suggest is right relationship to action—to life in the illusory world that we find ourselves in?”
“Ah yes Mera, that is always the question; ‘How to be in the world but not of the world?’”
“I have a few thoughts on the subject that I am happy to share with you, but first I must preference them by saying that there is no formula for how to live in the world, because life is like a dance with a partner whose steps you can never anticipate—one just has to be in the moment of the dance and respond to its changing rhythms. Of course, we bring our knowledge and experience to the dance—this knowledge and experience having been acquired over lifetimes of learning, as Baba tells us, ‘to dance to His tune.’
“Years ago, before coming to Baba I was, as you know, in what was called, The Gurdjieff Work. Occasionally there was a ‘work day’ and we were all given tasks, primarily physical tasks, to perform. There was also an internal task to do perform in conjunction with the physical task.
“So on one occasion I was told to paint the outside frames of second story windows. To accomplish the task I was given long ladders, paint and brushes, buckets, drop cloths, rags, etc. My inner task was to do my outer task in such a way that if at any moment I was called away, I could immediately finish what I was doing and leave my space clean. To me, this inner task was a lesson, a microcosm, of how I needed to live my life. I needed to act in life, but I also needed to act in such a way that whenever I was called away, either by death, or some other Master, I could leave my work—my life—cleanly without a lot of ‘things’ left undone.”
“That is very interesting Ayushya; could you tell us how remembering your inner task affected the way you did your outer task of painting the window frames?”
“Yes, remembering the inner task caused me to work more thoughtfully and productively. I didn’t use three brushes when two would do; I tried to paint in such a way that I didn’t start different sections of the window frame at the same time—I would complete one section of frame before moving on to another; I tried to work in such a way as to avoid unnecessary accidents like dripping paint on brick or the street—things like that. I worked more purposely, with less identification, always maintaining one little part of my mind—my attention—on the inner task.”
To the question of remembering God, a Perfect Master once observed to his followers, “See those women carrying vessels of water on their heads from the river. As they walk, they laugh and talk, but all the while they keep some attention back so that they neither drop nor spill the water they carry. That is how to remember God in the midst of life.”
“More tea, Ayushya?”
“And please continue describing the lessons that have helped to guide you to a happy life.”
“Yes my dear Friend. I will continue. Another important lesson for me occurred many years ago when I attended a Tibetan Buddhist ceremony called, ‘The Black Hat Ceremony.’ It took place in a large room filled with many monks doing many things. In the middle of it all, on a raised platform, sat a man called the Karmapa. Karmapa is a title that indicates one’s state of consciousness and ones’ authority in the lineage. In fact, the Karmapa was the only man on the planet who had the authority to conduct ‘The Black Hat Ceremony.’
“The purpose of this ceremony was to transmit the Buddha’s divine attribute of Compassion to the participants. It was a very important ceremony and the Karmapa directed all the activity going on around him without appearing to be attached to either his own importance or the importance of what he was doing. He always looked relaxed, completely natural, and attentive.
“And that was the lesson for me. I realized that in my usual state when I was not attached to my actions, my actions were sloppy, but when I was attached to the results of my actions—when the results seemed important to me—was I more attentive. The lesson for me was that I needed to learn how to remain unattached to my actions and their results and yet still remain attentive to them.”
“And were you able to accomplish this? And did it make you happy?”
“Well Mera, when I could remember to try, then yes, there was a kind of happiness—a kind of freedom— but it was only when I met my Master, Meher Baba, that my life really began to change. Grandfather, what is it that Kabir said?”
“Because you have forgotten the Friend; that is why in everything thing you do there is a sense of strange failure.”
“Yes, that has been my experience, and conversely, I have discovered that in those precious moments when I am able to remember the Friend, regardless of whether my actions lead to worldly success or failure, I do experience a beautiful happiness, unlike any other I have ever experienced in life.”
“Yes my dear.”
“I have noticed that you have not said much today. Can you share something of your august experience on the subject of happiness?”
“Look over there where the light passes through the leaves of the tree and falls on the rose. All of the happiness of this Gross World is merely an iota of the happiness that passes through the veils that separate the Gross World from the Subtle World. Likewise, all of the happiness of the Subtle World is merely an iota of the happiness that passes through the veils that separate the Subtle World from the Mental World. Beyond the Mental World is the real happiness, the Eternal Bliss of God. The difference between this Bliss and all other happiness is the difference between illusion and reality. It is this Bliss of God that all of the three worlds seek and ultimately experience. Ayushya, will you please read the last paragraph of the quote Meher Baba’s that you began this series of posts on happiness?”
“Of course, my dear friend; Meher Baba said, ‘It is only when the soul attains God-realization on the seventh plane, that the soul gets full control over its joy: the unlimited happiness, which is eternally his, does not, in any way, unbalance him because he is now permanently established in the poise of non-duality. No longer for him is the extravagance of newly found love and joy: the occasional unsettlement owing to the on-flow of increasing joy at the closer proximity of God is also over because he is now inseparably united with Him. He is lost in the Divine Beloved and merged into Him, so that he becomes one with God: he becomes the infinite ocean of unbounded happiness.’” – DISCOURSES BY MEHER BABA 1941 – 42; 2ND Edition: Pp 3 – 4, Copyright AMBPPCT
(c) copyright Michael Kovitz 2016