Friday, November 16, 2018

When Knowledge Becomes Bliss

Meher Baba often returned to the subject of the theme of creation and its purpose. His teachings have helped many of us in the quest to appease the convulsions of the mind. But He also continued to remind us that the Goal was something much more than teachings and explanations. In the conclusion of His book, God Speaks, Meher Baba states;

Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God to appease the convulsions of the mind of man, still lacks many more words and further explanations because the TRUTH is that the Reality must be realized and the divinity of God must be attained and lived.”

Yet Meher Baba did offer many explanations and teachings, because a mind free of convulsions is a happy mind and a happy mind is a great thing.

Meher Baba used a number of different metaphors, similes, and analogies to help us understand the truth of our situation. In a series of explanations derived from the Intelligence Notebooks, He revealed that God is synonymous with Infinite Intelligence. Intelligence is the capacity to know. Infinite Intelligence is the capacity to know infinitely. Knowing is achieved through thinking and mind is necessary for thinking. Thinking and consciousness are one and the same. To Infinitely Know there must be Infinite Thought and for Infinite Thought there must be Infinite Mind…

Upasani Maharaj was one of the five Perfect Masters who precipitated the Advent of the Avatar of Vishnu in the most recent form of Meher Baba. Each of those five Perfect Masters performed a different role in the process and Meher Baba told us that Upasani Maharaj was the Perfect Master who unveiled in Him the attribute of Infinite Knowledge.

In 1924, Upasani Maharaj began speaking to His close followers about knowledge. As is often the case with the Perfect Ones, the talk begins in a simple way, but soon begins to go deeper and deeper into the subject at hand. He began with a question;

What is better—to know or not to know? Of course there will be two replies to this question; some will say that to know is better; some others will say that not to know is better. But to find out what is really better, we must know what is meant by to know and not to know. Whether coarse sugar is good or fine sugar is good can be known only by seeing and tasting both of them. Again it depends on ourselves to say which is the better of the two…

“Without tasting both, one cannot differentiate between them; one must have both before him to differentiate. It is commonly understood that to know means knowledge and not to know means ignorance. Let us think over both of them to find out which is better.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 299.

He goes on to explore the question by suggesting; “When a person is in deep sleep, if a serpent crawls across his body, he does not know it, and naturally he is not frightened of it. On waking up, if he sees the serpent, or if somebody who has seen the serpent crawling across his body tells him about it, he feels frightened…

So long as he was in the state of ‘Not knowing’, in spite of the danger, he was happy. The moment he came to the state of ’Knowing’, he was frightened—even when there was no longer any danger. Tell me now, which is better, to know or not to know?– Ibid, pages 229 -230.
In His talk, Upasani Maharaj gives a number of examples that lead to the conclusion that the state of not-knowing is better than the state of knowing—in other words, the commonly expressed viewpoint that ignorance is bliss. Of course, He also gives voice to the opposite, the worldly point of view, that knowledge is essential for living in the world. Further on in the talk He says that the state of not-knowing leads to the state of real Knowing. But, how do these different states fit with each other, or do they fit with each other at all?

In the book of Meher Baba’s teachings called, In God’s Hand, Meher Baba draws a diagram that looks something like this:

Natural Light
natural darkness
unnatural darkness
unnatural light i.e.
The whole Universe
i.e. The whole

He then goes on to say that Natural Light equals God—Self—aloof from the three worlds;
Natural Darkness equals Spirit—the Existence of Light—Nothingness;
unnatural darkness equals the mind;
and unnatural light equals the body and the universe.

He explains that “Natural Darkness sees Natural Light every second, and unnatural darkness sees unnatural light every second. (I.e. the Spirit sees the Self and the mind sees the body and the universe).

In other words, the seeing of the mind is the knowing of the mind and this knowing is of the body and the universe which is the unnatural light.

Applying this perspective to Upasani Maharaj’s question, “What is better—to know or not to know?” helps us understand that both the states of knowing and the not-knowing, with regard to the body and the universe, is not the real Knowing of the Spirit—the  seeing of the Natural Light which is God—Self—by the Natural Darkness.

The state of knowing thus, if appreciated and hankered after, leads to suffering and pain; the same state of course can turn into the state of Sat (Real knowledge) and lead to Infinite Bliss.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 234

But how is this possible? How to wean the mind away from its habituation to the body and the universe and turn it towards the Spirit which can know the Self when the consciousness of the mind is rooted in the gross physical world? Would it not be like being in the ocean and trying not to get wet? And in fact that is exactly what the Masters tell us; “When you are thrown in the ocean, do not get wet!” If we are honest about are situation, most would agree that when confronted with being in the ocean our concern is not with not getting wet, but with not drowning! Upasani Maharaj offers these suggestions…

One should first of all understand and experience that he himself is all this world—all creation—and is playing himself all the various parts simultaneously. Then, he should think that since all of creation is born out of himself, that since it depends on the various duals (dualities), and that since all the duals are false—not true—he himself, similarly, must be untrue. He will, or rather he has then, to understand that both the true and the untrue states are within him. As this gets fixed in his mind, he begins to feel, or rather gets ready to experience, that he is independent of both these states, and that he has to find out and experience his own original state upon which his existence is based.
“He has to study, to realize, that at the bottom of those two states lie the pure state of ‘knowing’—that that pure state is the same as Sat-Chit-Ananda (Knowledge-Power-Bliss). If one trains his mind to think in this way, eventually he experiences the state of Sat-Chit-Ananda within himself.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 251.

In summary, there are three eternal states of God; God asleep—without consciousness (knowing) or unconsciousness(not knowing), God dreaming—consciousness (knowing)  of creation and the body, and God awake—consciousness (Knowing)  of the Self—the I am God state. As the dream state is necessary for the average human being to pass from the deep-sleep state to the awake state, so is consciousness of the state of creation and the body necessary for God to achieve the fully awake I am God state. Upasani Maharaj puts it this way:

After all, the whole world is the transformation of the state of knowing. The illusory Prakriti (the phenomenal universe and the primary substance that makes it up) is useful in attaining that Infinite Bliss; it means the illusory Prakriti is useful ‘to know’ the Infinite Bliss. The state of knowing in its true state is the original state, the state of Infinite Bliss; that is what one comes to on accurate thinking; however, the state of knowing as is experienced in and of the world becomes harmful and useless, since it leads to suffering and pain.” –Ibid. page 234-235.

In other words, the purpose of creation and the body is only to acquire the consciousness necessary to know the Self—God. This consciousness is achieved upon attainment of the human form, and at this point, Upasani Maharaj states, that the creation and the body and all their experiences becomes harmful and useless.

But this association and identification of God with the state of creation consciousness is not so easy to break because it has been going on for 8,400,000 pre-human forms and a similar number of incarnations in the human form! 

Meher Baba has told us that with every gain in consciousness comes impressions—sanskaras. If consciousness is like a mirror, then sanskaras are like the dust of the journey that covers the surface of that mirror. That is why, though consciousness is full and complete in the human form, it still is unable to reflect—to reveal—the I am God State to the embodied soul. Therefore, what needs to be done is to remove the dust from the face of the mirror without breaking the mirror.

The first step in the process is to loosen the dust so that it can be removed. This loosening is accomplished during the process of reincarnation. Technically it is about spending the sanskaras. Meher Baba uses the term to suggest a process of exchange of sanskaras—exchanging more gross sanskaras for less gross sanskaras—making the dust lighter and less sticky. Though the overall number of sanskaras during the process of reincarnation stays roughly the same, there is some thinning out, but the actual removal of the sanskaras takes place during the process of involution. During involution, sanskaras are gradually transformed from gross sanskaras, to subtle sanskaras, to mental sanskaras, and the overall number of sanskaras also gradually diminished until, in the end, they are all eliminated—all of the dust is removed from the mirror’s face.

Knowledge of the world, as Upasani Maharaj suggests, is tantamount to consciousness of the world, and consciousness of the world, because it is acquired by experiencing the world, creates dust. That is why He said, “the state of knowing as is experienced in and of the world becomes harmful and useless, since it leads to suffering and pain.”

All of the various yogas, spiritual teachings, and techniques are for the purpose of minimizing the accrual of new sanskaras while the embodied soul is conscious of the world and also to facilitate the spending up of those sanskaras so that the time spent in the process of reincarnation is kept to a minimum.

“You know how to eat and drink, you know mischief, you know how to procreate, you know what is bad and good for others, you know the ways and affairs of the world, you know how to do business, you know many an object in the world, and if you don’t know some, you open the schools to know about them. Virtually you already have that state of ‘knowing’—that knowledge about all that is around you. You are experiencing it, but this knowledge and experience is seen to lead only to suffering and pain, and that is what you are having—enjoying—experiencing—knowing. So what more know remains for you to know? If you are tired of this knowing, which you are having in plenty, then try and begin to appreciate the state of ‘Not-knowing’, and demand it of your Sadguru.” –Ibid. page 236.  

The discussion, I think, sheds new light on a story I heard many years ago from Sufi Idries Shah:

Nuri Bey was a reflective and respected Albanian who had married a wife much younger than himself. One evening when he had returned home earlier than usual, a faithful servant came to him and said, ‘Your wife is acting suspiciously. She is in her apartments with a huge chest, large enough to hide a man. It should contain only a few old embroideries, but I believe there may be much more in it now—she will not allow me, your oldest retainer, to look inside.’
“Nuri went to his wife’s room and found her sitting disconsolately beside the massive wooden box. ‘Will you show me what is in the chest?’ he asked.
‘Because of the suspicions of a servant, or because you do not trust me?’ she replied.
‘Would it not be easier to open it, without thinking about the undertones?’ asked Nuri
‘I do not think that is possible.’ She said.
‘Is it locked?’
‘Where is the key?’
She held it up and said, ‘Dismiss the servant and I will give it to you.’
The servant was dismissed. The woman handed over the key and left the room, obviously troubled in mind. Nuri Bey thought for a long time. Then he called four gardeners from his estate. Together they carried the unopened chest by night to a distant part of the grounds and buried it.
The matter was never referred to again.

No doubt, this story can be taken in many different ways, but regarding knowing and not knowing, I wonder if it is an example of the exercise of intelligence without the need for knowing?

Using the example of sleep and wakefulness to explain why the state of not knowing is superior to the state of knowing, Upasani Maharaj states;

By going to sleep the person enters into the state of not knowing. When he gets up a few hours later, his brain is calm and cool, and he feels pleased and calm himself. This means that he felt pleased and happy after having gone into the state of not knowing during his sleep.” – Ibid, page 237.

But as His talk continues, it becomes clear that the example of sleep and wakefulness is not just an example; Upasani Maharaj is also revealing a special yogic technique that can be used to gain control over and within one’s life.

To avoid all knowing, one sleeps off. However the sleep that you go in for to avoid knowing is not within your hands. Full control of sleep state—when one can sleep whenever one wants—is ideal. If you want to get up at a certain time, you must be able to do it spontaneously, by yourself; in the same way you should be able to sleep whenever you want to do so.
If you decide to not sleep for a few days, you must be able to remain without sleep, without the least exhaustion, without any of the after-effects of not having any sleep for days.
If one can control himself in this way, he can work for a few months at a stretch and then sleep continuously for a month or so at a stretch, and get up again on a certain day. People who study in this way can even remain awake for a year at a stretch.” – Ibid. page 238.

Clearly, Upasani Maharaj is indicating a state of being beyond the ability of an average human-being. As Gurdjieff often reminded us; with respect to consciousness, the average human being lives in the dark dank basement of a most beautiful house with many rooms on many stories. These rooms, representing states of consciousness and awareness, contain powers and blissful experiences and knowledge beyond one’s wildest dreams and imaginations.

Commonly the knower makes use of the state of knowing for understanding gross objects with the help of the gross body. But indeed, what the knower has to do is to stick to the consciousness that he has—that he experiences at the time of knowing any gross object—instead of trying to know it. That consciousness (awareness) must not be mixed with the knowing of the gross object. That is, the state of knowing as it is, is to be made an object to be known and try to know it with the help of the state of knowing. This means, to know the consciousness of one’s own existence beyond the gross body is to be taken as to be known, and to become one’s self the knower; in other words, one has to experience—to know—the state of knowing.” – Ibid. page239

In other words, to know the consciousness of one’s own existence beyond the gross body, one must turn that consciousness, that awareness, that thinking, away from the gross world and the gross body. When it is thus turned away, then in regard to the gross body and the gross world, it is in the state on not-knowing—the state that leads to the knowing of the the Self.

How much of the body and the world does one really need to know? Meher Baba once said, “With regard to those souls who attain God-realization subsequently, the two requirements stand, namely, inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe.” Beams From Meher Baba, page 29

There was a period of about ten years in my life, beginning sometime around the mid-1970’s, when I completely stopped watching television, listening to news programs, or reading newspapers, periodicals, etc. I did not stay abreast on any contemporary trends in music, art, or literature. I continued to work as a musician and teacher of guitar and the only read the works of the Masters and spiritually advanced beings. Really, I had no idea about anything going on in the world—wars, catastrophes, even who was president of the United States…

To this day I am convinced that in that period of ten years I missed out on nothing of any importance at all. Indeed, when I eventually picked up a newspaper, I was struck by the fact that it was the same news I heard ten years before—only the names and places were changed—the blanks were filled in differently, but the stories were the same.

A thousand times I have looked, and a thousand times I have ascertained, that the world and all its affairs are truly nothing into nothing.” – Hafez

Life is a dream!  Creation is an illusion!  It is all just the play of Maya!” These statements are often heard from spiritual teachers and students in various spiritual circles, but what exactly do they mean and who actually experience their truth?

Kabir, a Perfect Master, said; “If you have not experienced it, it is not true!”

Yet the Masters and the God-Realized continue to remind us that the reality experienced by the average person is a dream—an illusion—a play of Maya.

Meher Baba explains in Godspeaks and the Intelligence Notebooks that all and everything is God—that nothing exists other than God—and that what appears to the contrary is merely different states of illusory consciousness and the experiences that these states create.

Fundamentally, there are three states of God; God deep asleep—without consciousness or unconsciousness; God dreaming in the dream state; and God in the fully awake I am God state. All of these states exist simultaneously and eternally in the Infinite. Creation—the dream state of God—is the mechanism by which God acquires the Infinite consciousness required to experience the third state of God—the I am God state. The I am God state knows the Infinite as it’s Self and knows it’s Self as the Infinite.

Meher Baba conveys this message and the details of its process in various ways, using various metaphors, analogies, and comparisons. In the Intelligence Notebooks He explains that the Infinite can be known, but to know the Infinite, knowing must itself be infinite and that infinite knowing requires Infinite Intelligence—Intelligence being the capacity to know.

Infinite knowledge is that which can be known and this knowing is thinking and this thinking is consciousness. Meher Baba explains that consciousness and thinking cannot exist without the other.

But in order to think, mind is required. In order to think infinitely, an infinite mind is required. When infinite mind thinks infinitely, Infinite Intelligence gains knowledge of itself—consciousness of Itself—and attains the experience and the state of I am God.

Meher Baba explains that once consciousness achieves the human form, mind is infinite and has the capacity to know the Infinite, but because of sanskaras—impressions—it thinks not of the Infinite, but thinks of the finite—the world—creation—and identifies itself with that. This identification is synonymous with what is called awareness, or what is called chaitanya, and in the state of creation consciousness chaitanya, awareness, and ego are all inextricably bound together. This goes to the meaning and import of Upasani Maharaj’s statement;

When ‘knowing’ transforms itself into the knower and the to be known in the form of a gross object, then the knower and the to be known become responsible for the apparent pleasure and pain. Since the pure state of ‘knowing’ does not concern itself with anything gross to be known, it is automatically referred to as the state of ‘not knowing. It is this referred to state of ‘not knowing’ that transformed itself into the ‘to be known’ gross objects in and of the world. Thus, the pure state of ‘knowing’ is the state of ‘not knowing’ anything in and of the world; in other words, ‘knowing’ and ‘not knowing’ become one and the same. Of course, this looks like a puzzle, but the world itself is a puzzle and we are here to solve it, and here is the way to do it.The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, page 239.

That which is to be known is the Self and consciousness is necessary to know the Self. Mind is needed to achieve consciousness and forms are necessary for consciousness to evolve and involve. Mind creates the forms and mind experiences the forms—takes the sensual enjoyment derived from associating and identifying with those forms. With every gain in consciousness through the process of knowing there is a parallel tendency for the Self to identify with that which the mind experiences. Identification causes the Self, through the mind, to identify with that which it knows, but the Goal is to identify with the knowing rather than that which is known. Upasani Maharaj referred to the situation as a puzzle and then went on to offer a solution.

The knower has to stop—disregard—discard the knowing of the gross objects, and has only to look to the ‘knowing’ part of it, i.e. the consciousness of the state of ‘knowing’; then, that very state of ‘knowing’ gives the experience not only of ‘not-knowing’ anything in and of the world, but also ‘the state of knowing’ of one’s self without any knowledge of anything gross. What is there then to interrupt the Bliss? This is the state of all Silence.” – Ibid. page 239.   

In the beginning, God has no knowledge of Self, or anything else. In the end, God has knowledge of Self which is Everything. In between, God has knowledge of the nothing of the Nothing, i.e. knowledge of the world and the body. This in-between state becomes the ‘reality’ that Self, through the mind, experiences and identifies with for what seems to be an almost endless chain of forms and lifetimes—though Meher Baba reminds us that though it appears to the contrary while in the state of this false reality consciousness, in the end, when the Goal is reached, the time that has been spent in creation consciousness is recognized for what it truly is,  literally the briefest of moments—less than a blip on the radar screen—less than nothing itself.

All of the four yogas—Karma Yoga, Dynan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raj Yoga—are designed to assist the Self in the state of creation consciousness to become not-knowing of that state and thereby knowing of the Knowledge, Power, and Bliss of the one Eternal Reality of the Self.

At the very end of his talk, Upasani Maharaj states;

I have talked a good deal and you have listened. Even if you read this talk again and again without having any experience for a while, in the course of time it shall lead you to experience that state.
“Of course, this is a difficult and subtle subject. It can be fully understood only when one reaches the highest state. But those who have read books on Vedanta, or who feel much interested in this subject will begin to grasp it on constant reading and thought. Constant reading, even without understanding, will ultimately lead one to experience it.
“Reading, thinking, and putting into practice constantly whatever is laid down in these talks is the simplest means for those who desire to escape the cycle of births and deaths they are caught up in—with all their accompanying types of suffering and pain—and  of attaining all temporal and spiritual happiness—that Infinite Bliss.” –Ibid. pages 246-247.

Gurdjieff used to say that one who is really serious cannot take everything so seriously. Is not this state of really serious the prerequisite for those who desire to escape the cycle of births and deaths they are caught up in? And for those of us still experiencing creation consciousness, how much knowledge is enough and how much knowledge is too much? Somewhere there is a sweet spot and, no doubt, that sweet spot is different for each soul in creation.

A dog can only run half way into the woods before it is running out of the woods.

Two martinis are enough; three martinis are too much; four martinis are not enough…

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