Saturday, January 13, 2018

Shudra (Part 3.)

This is the third post in the series titled Shudra. If you haven’t read the first two posts, please do—I tried to supply a new context to the often controversial subject of the Indian caste system. Post two ended with this quote:

“I have told times out of numbers that names are given in accordance with the qualities presented by the subject. It is on this principle that the epithet Shudra was chosen to name the primary human form. I will now tell you what is the real—the subtle—meaning of the word Shudra.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, pages 32-33

We continue from there:

The word Shudra consists of three letters—Shu, plus ut, plus ra; Shu means Shuddha—pure—without any admixture; ut means high—higher status; ra means luminous, full of knowledge, Satchitananda (knowledge, power, and bliss) Brahma (Creator). Thus the primary state of the human form is Brahma itself; or it could be said that primary evolutional human stage of Brahma has been named Shudra.” – Ibid, page 33

Much of the meaning of this statement hinges on the terms primary state of the human form and primary evolutional human stage. In God Speaks Meher Baba distinguishes the first human form from the birth of a human being:

This (most first) human form is no other than the consolidated mold or cast of the impressions of the most-last species of animal-form.”God Speaks, 2nd edition, page 28

Unlike Darwin’s Theory of Evolution which is concerned with the evolution of forms, Meher Baba uses the term evolution in the context of the evolution of consciousness. In God Speaks, Meher Baba details the evolution of consciousness through all of the gross forms of creation from stone to vegetable to fish, bird, and animal—all the forms that lead up to the first human form. This first human form stands on the line of demarcation between the last animal form and the first birth of a human being. 

With the first birth of a human being begins the process that Meher Baba calls reincarnation:

Through the first-most human-form the consciousness of the souls experiences and exhausts the impressions of the most-last species of animal-form.

“When all the impressions of the most-last species of animal-form are experienced and exhausted by the consciousness of the soul, then the soul dissociates itself from the most-first human form and the conscious soul automatically drops or sheds the body association. This is called the death of the most-first human form.”—Ibid.

In the next paragraph Meher Baba explains that when the soul identifies with the next human form it is called “the birth of a human being.” —Ibid. page 29

One question I have is whether Upasani Maharaj’s use of the term Shudra is synonymous with the first-human form or the form called the first human being? I tend to favor the former over the latter but, as is said, would not bet the ranch on it!

In His talk Upasani goes on to describe the qualities of the primary state of the human form:

Now look at the qualities presented the Shudra. He does not generally play any part in the good or bad affairs of the world. He just works for the bare necessities of life. He has not much impression of pleasure and pain. Except for self-protection he has hardly any desires. He hardly evinces any egoistic attitude. He has a tendency to behave in accordance with the formula, ‘Be as it may.’ Desires and anger hardly affect him. He has no particular form of conduct or any thought.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, page 33

It is important to keep in mind that Shudra does not here signify a person as much as it signifies a state of consciousness. This state of consciousness is a rung on the ladder of the soul’s ascent to Self-realization. All souls passing from the stage of evolution to the stage of reincarnation pass through the Shudra state—whether it is identified as Shudra or not. The Shudra state is not limited to the Indian caste system, but in that system it is given the name Shudra.

To the worldly intoxicated, Upasani’s description of the Shudra state may not seem appealing, but looking deeper at the qualities, there is much to be appreciated. “Desires and anger hardly affect him.” If one is honest with oneself does not one agree that both desire and anger are painful states of restlessness?

He does not generally play any part in the good or bad affairs of the world.” Again, do not the good and bad affairs of the world just go on and on? One has to decide for oneself if deeper and deeper involvement with these affairs actually leads to any real and sustained happiness for oneself or anyone else?

Then too, there is Upasani’s statement; “He has a tendency to behave in accordance with the formula, ‘Be as it may.’”  To those familiar with Upasani’s talks, this formula, Be as it may, represents the highest state that one can achieve in the world. To identify someone as being in the state of Be as it may is the very highest of praises.

As has been stated; Karma is the hand one is dealt; Dharma is the way one plays that hand. There is no choice in Karma, but there is some choice in exercising one’s Dharma. Choice in Dharma is guided by what one takes the object of the game to be. One plays the game according to what one takes as the highest directive of one’s conscience and consciousness.

On the Karmic pendulum, the beggar and the king continue to exchange their roles until the pendulum stops moving—and it will stop moving, eventually. The question becomes; are there actions that one can perform that can inhibit or expedite the stopping of the pendulum?

If we have to come back, we cannot stop it. We are in a train, the train is going somewhere. All we can do is to pass the time the time in the train differently—do something useful or spend it quite uselessly.”The Fourth Way, by P.D. Ouspensky, final sentence, page 437

(To be continued.)


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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Shudra (Part 2.)

From the Truth perspective of the God Realized masters, all life and all creation has but one objective and one purpose and that is to evolve and involve consciousness so that the eternal infinite soul can realize its eternal infinite reality. The process is not as difficult to understand as many have made it out be. Consciousness evolves through numerous forms from gaseous to stone, stone to vegetable, insects to reptiles, etc. until it reaches the final form, the human form.

Creation is characterized by duality, every light has its shadow, every knowing has its unknowing, every pain has its pleasure, every face has two eyes, every left has its right.  By experiencing an almost endless array of opposites the dust that covers the mirror of consciousness, what Meher Baba calls sanskaras, is loosened and ultimately removed.

Attainment of the human form marks the achievement of full consciousness, but that consciousness needs to be wiped clean of the dust of its journey through evolution. Numerous lifetimes in the human form—the process of reincarnation—loosens the dust from the mirror sufficiently to allow the process of involution to then remove that dust so that the eternal and infinite soul can see and then merge with its own eternal infinite reality.

If we have to come back, we cannot stop it. We are in a train, the train is going somewhere. All we can do is to pass the time in the train diferently…”The Fourth Way, by P.D. Ouspensky, final sentence, page 437
Meher Baba tells us that the end—union with God—union with Self—is assured for each and every soul in creation. But if we are not driving the train, is there a best and most expedient way to pass our time while on the train?

Meher Baba was very clear on this point, He said, “Don’t worry, be happy!” The Lord wants us, each and every one of us, to be happy, but this happiness is something other than the endless pendulums of pleasure and pain we experience in life.

Time revolves in endless cycles of yugas. There are four yugas. We are not experiencing the end of the fourth yuga in the cycle. Like the seasons, yugas do not change all at once—a day in late summer that feels like fall—eventually those days come more often, summer wains and eventually gives way to the new season.

We are now in that transitional period between the end of Kali Yuga and Satya Yuga. Satya is a golden age; souls born in Satya are totally oriented to the light; spirituality is natural and there is no need for austerities, penances, or yogic practices.

But as the cycle of yugas continues, more shadows appear and techniques and teachings become more necessary. The Indian caste system can be traced back to the transition between the third and fourth yugas of the cycle—Dwapara and Kali—though it may have existed before then… 

References to the Indian caste system can be found in the Bhagavad Gita—the source of the teachings of Krishna who lived in the transitional time between Dwapara and Kali. Kali is generally understood to have begun around 3102 BC. So, the Indian caste system’s origin is at least 5,000 years ago. Using Ouspensky’s analogy of the train, the purpose of the Indian caste system is to assist embodied souls to best use their time on the train.

It is my understanding that the choice of actions while on the train has more affect on the ‘happiness index’ of the individual than on the overall time of the individual’s journey—in the sense that the journey can be slowed but not sped up. To speed up the journey requires the grace of the Avatar or a Perfect Master.

The following series of posts are on a talk collected under the common title of The Glory of Faith The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A. They focus on, what for many readers may find a very uncomfortable subject, the Vedic class system and the lowest rung of that system, the class called Shudra…

In the opening statement of His talk, Upasani Maharaj tell us that human form represents the crowning creation of evolutionary consciousness that began with stone form and evolved through the mineral, vegetable, worm, fish, bird, reptile, and animal forms. He then goes on to say that of the human form represented by the Brahman class represents the highest stage in human evolution and the Shudra class represents the lowest, or the first, stage in human evolution.

It is the human form alone that is capable of understanding—knowing—attaining—enjoying the Original state—the Brahma; that is the reason for the creation of the human form.

“Since the visible human form is the natural outcome of the formless invisible Brahma, the first stage of that form is bound to be of the highest importance; this primary—original—human state has to be given some name for the purpose of identification, and hence the name explaining the natural state of Brahma was chosen for it, and that epithet is Shudra.

“I have told times out of numbers that names are given in accordance with the qualities presented by the subject. It is on this principle that the epithet Shudra was chosen to name the primary human form. I will now tell you what is the real—the subtle—meaning of the word Shudra.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Maharaja, Volume 1, Part A, pages 32-33

(To be continued.)

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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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