Sunday, December 10, 2017

Shudra (Part 1.)

Shudra, the lowest rung of the Indian caste system, is a word that is a flashpoint for ideological, religious, political, moral, and ethical discussions—and arguments.

Brahmana class did not come independently into existence. Just as the human being is the highest form in evolution, the Brahmana is the highest stage in human evolution. The original stage of the human form was Shudra, who with the help of Brahmakriya, ascended to the stage of Brahmana.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 31

I have been reading The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja for over thirty years. These talks contain spiritual treasures that cannot be found anywhere else and I have been inspired to share them with others—but there are some difficulties…

First, there is the question of language. The talks were given primarily in Marathi, written down, and then translated into English by Indian speakers, and so the talks do not read in a way that is familiar to most Western readers.

Second, the majority of Upasani Maharaj’s followers were Hindus and thus, though the subject matter of his talks is universal, he often uses language and terminologies that demand a measure of familiarity with Vedic philosophy, Hindu customs, traditions, and practices, and the various forms of yoga practiced by serious seekers of Truth also.  

Third, these talks are the talks of a God-Realized Master and so reflect his Infinite knowledge and direct experience of states of consciousness that lie beyond the experience of the average person. Of course, as Kabir said, “Until you experience it, it is not true.” And so, when there are claims that one is a Perfect Master—a God Realized Soul—whose knowledge is infinite and unquestionable, then where one stands in relationship to the personage and authority of such a being becomes a real question.

And there is a forth problem also, that is revealed in this statement by Avatar Meher Baba; “In the spiritual game, the loser rejoices and the winner feels ashamed!” How at odds do the spiritual game and the game of life appear to be—and how often are the differences misinterpreted!

But, first, what is the game of life?  The elements that make up the game of life are inherited from our previous animal forms and consist of:

1.      Eating
2.      Sleeping
3.      Keeping from being eaten
4.      Procreating

These four domains of activity consume 100% of the animal form’s attention and it is the same for the human form throughout most of the process of reincarnation. Only after a sufficient number of incarnations does consciousness begin free itself from these four domains of activity and to edge closer to the process of involution—the path to God— the path to infinite and eternal Self.

There is no real freedom in the stages of evolution, reincarnation, and involution, but, as consciousness begins to work its way free of the four domains, it does begin to experience what can be called the shadow of freedom in such forms of leisure such as the arts, sports, and various intellectual, religious and spiritual interests. Of course, these activities are not free of the concerns of the four domains, but in their purest forms consciousness can begin to experience through these forms a sense of the real freedom which finds its absolute and ultimate expression in the consciousness of God.

As Meher Baba put it, it is all a dream until one awakens. Evolution, reincarnation, and involution are all dreams within dreams within a dream, but there is a distinction between the dream of life and the divine dream of becoming God, or, it can be said, between the game of life and the spiritual game.
Karma is the cards that one holds, and dharma is the way that one plays those cards. In evolution and most of reincarnation there is no real dharma because the cards, as it were, play themselves. 

Especially in evolution, the cards play themselves and play themselves perfectly—unless the cards have been tainted by proximity to unnatural impressions acquired through contact with the human form when it is tainted with unnatural impressions. This is especially true during the cycle of time called Kali Yuga—the yuga we still find ourselves in these days.

Choice begins to emerge toward the end of the stage of reincarnation. This choice is by no means absolute. Meher Baba once asked a follower to pick up one leg when he was standing. The follower did so. Then Meher Baba asked him to pick up his second leg…

The limited choice that can be exercised in the game of life and the spiritual game is called dharma. Dharma, as said before, is the way one chooses to play the karmic cards ones has been dealt,  but these games  are very subtle games, because their aims and rules appear to change with the consciousness of the game player and his or her position in the stages of reincarnation or involution. 

Also too, at a certain point, both the game of life and the spiritual game are realized to be only different aspects of the same one game—the game of God’s awakening.

The Glass Bead Game

We re-enact with reverent attention
The universal chord, the master’s harmony,
Evoking in unsullied communion
Minds and times of highest sanctity.

We draw upon the iconography
Whose mystery is able to contain
The boundlessness, the storm of all existence,
Give chaos form, and hold our lives in rein.

The pattern sings like crystal constellations,
And when we tell our beads, we serve the whole,
And cannot be dislodged or misdirected,
Held in the orbit of the Cosmic Soul.
The Glass Bead Game, a novel by Hermann Hesse

(To be continued.)


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