Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Mirrors

 

In my most recent blog, The Esoteric Teachings of Rumi, I quoted from the Masnavi;

 

“An old friend came to pay his respects to Joseph, and, after some remarks upon the bad behavior of his brethren, Joseph asked him what present he had brought to show his respect. The friend replied that he had long considered what gift would be most suitable to offer, and at last had fixed upon a mirror, which he accordingly produced from his pocket and presented to Joseph, at the same time begging him to admire his own beauteous face in it.


“He drew forth a mirror from his side;
A mirror is what Beauty busies itself with.

“But since Not-being is the mirror of Being,
If you are wise, choose Not-being—self-effacement—
For Being may be displayed in that Not-being.

“Wealthy men shower their liberality on the poor,
But he who is hungered is the clear mirror of bread—
The tinder is the mirror of the flint and steel.

“Not-being and Defect, wherever they occur,
Are the mirrors of the Beauty of all beings—
Because Not-being is a clear filtered essence,
In which all beings are infused.” 
Masnavi of Rumi, trans. Whinfield

 

 

It is an amazing quotation, so much said with words so few; so deep, so profound!


At the time I wanted to say more about it, but because there was so much more to say, I decided to wait and come back to it at another time…


Mirrors have found their way into the writings of mystics and Masters down through the ages—

 

“The tale of love must be heard from love itself, for like the mirror, it is both mute and expressive.”— Rumi

 

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” – Corinthians 3:18

 

A mirror seems to have the capacity to reveal truth; but what is the truth it actually reveals? Consider the fact that you’ve never seen your face, only its reflection in a mirror; but this reflection is only a two dimensional reflection of a three dimensional form.  Notice also that standing at arm’s length from the mirror, the size of the reflection of your head, from hair to chin, is no more than five inches in height, yet your head is actually twice that size—measure both and see.

 

Also, your reflection in the mirror is reversed left and right—put your finger on your right cheek and look at your reflection from behind—your finger appears to be on the opposite cheek—on the left one. So, the mirror seems to answer, at least at some level, the question; “Who am I?” but, in fact, the answer is really a distorted illusion. We never really see our own faces, but others do—or do they?

 

Imagine that you have never seen your face reflected in a mirror and therefore you have no idea what it looks like—but you can get an idea  of how you look by standing in front of a different kind of mirror—the mirror of  an-other. You stand in front of an-other and you see her looking at your face. Perhaps she laughs, or recoils, or appears to be impressed. “Oh,” you think, “I am funny looking,” or “I am ugly,” or “I am quite attractive,” your conclusion being based on the reaction of an-other.

 

But can we trust the reflection others see? Do others actually see us and do we actually see them? Is what we see only a reflection of our own impressions—what Meher Baba calls sanskaras? Sanskaras are the impressions that veil the consciousness we have gathered over millions of reincarnations during our journeys through sub-human and human forms. Sanskaras are, so to speak, the dust of the journey that covers the mirror of consciousness. In other words, is what we see when we see an-other more accurately a reflection of ourselves? But maybe not, because these impressions—these sanskaras—are not us either—are not the ultimate truth of what we are—and in fact, are the veil between ourselves and our Self.

 

In Creation, everything sees and everything is seen, but the Masters are always reminding us that all this seeing and being seen is an illusion—a false reflection—until we look into the mirror of Reality—the mirror of Truth.

 

Upasani Maharaj, a Perfect Master, while being worshipped as God in human form by a group of his followers and devotees, said:

 

Being in the state of ‘only’ if you desire to take me to be God or a Satpurusha, well, it is your affair; how could I say what I am? I cannot say if I am ‘this’ or ‘that’.* As I am just ‘only’, what can you see in me, or rather, how can you see me? When you look at me, it is not that you see me, but you only see what you are—your qualities, good or bad, are reflected in this ‘only’ and you are able to see them; and seeing that, due to your ignorance, you think you are seeing me with such and such qualities, when actually you are only seeing your own self—your qualities and not me, because I am in the state of ‘only’ and so virtually in the state of nothing.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, pages 135-136

*I omitted this sentence here; “I can say and prove that you yourself are God or a Satpurusha,” because though it makes sense in and of itself, and is a very powerful and important assertion, in the context of the talk it seems to be misplaced or misworded. – Ayushya

 

 So when you call me God, it is your own reflection that you see, and due to your ignorance you charge me with your qualities and call me God. But if you are a wicked man, I look a rascal to you. My form only shows you what you are.” The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 136


Made up of endless mirrors within mirrors, the mirror we call life, like a funhouse mirror, always renders distorted reflections. Taking their reflections to be truth is what Upasani Maharaj is calling ignorance. But when one’s consciousness is divested of all of the impressions—the sanskaras—the dust that has accumulated on the surface of the mirror during the soul’s journey to acquire consciousness, then, and only then, can the mirror be said to be Perfect and in that Perfection can the truth of illusion and the Truth of Reality be seen by those  who are able to look into that mirror.

 

“…you are only seeing your own self—your qualities and not me, because I am in the state of ‘only’ and so virtually in the state of nothing.”

 

The state Upasani Maharaj calls the state of nothing and the state of Not-being alluded to by Rumi are virtually the same. Nothing and Not-being are one type of mirror and what the soul sees in that mirror is the real Truth of being.

 

 “Not-being and Defect, wherever they occur,
Are the mirrors of the Beauty of all beings—
Because Not-being is a clear filtered essence,
In which all beings are infused.” 
Masnavi of Rumi, trans. Whinfield

 

Defect, on the other hand, reflects a false truth, which thereby, indirectly, asserts the Real Truth.

 

“Wealthy men shower their liberality on the poor,
But he who is hungered is the clear mirror of bread—
The tinder is the mirror of the flint and steel.”
—Ibid.

 

Between the two states of God—the deep-sleep dreamless state and the fully awake dreamless state—is the intermediate dream state. This state is the Jiv-atma state. Jiv means embodied and atma mean soul. In the Jiv-atma state the soul imagines—dreams—itself to have three bodies. The average person is only conscious of the third body, the gross or physical body, which is the product of the union of the two higher bodies, the subtle and the mental bodies. Consciousness of these two higher bodies is not the goal; consciousness of the soul—of the Self—beyond these three bodies is the Goal. One who achieves this state is called Shiv-atma.

The Shiv-atma state is the state of fully awake God in which the soul consciously experiences Itself as being and always having been Eternal God without doubt. It is the experience of Jiv-atma looking into the mirror of Shiv-atma that this blog is about—that Upasani Maharaj is speaking about.

 

 My form only shows you what you are. The state of ‘only’ is like a hollow—like the sky. The sky or hollow contains nothing; if you go inside it with whatever you have, you will only see what you have and nothing else. The state of ‘only’ is like a mirror. When you look in the mirror you see yourself and nothing else. The mirror represents the state of ‘only’ in this world.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 136

 

 

Who among us sees himself in everyone and everything? Who among us looks at another and realizes that he is looking at none other than himself? And therein lies the difference between compassion and pity. To see others as another and feel for them is pity, but to see others as oneself is to feel compassion.

 

Gurdjieff used to say that to advance in the Way one must become a conscious egotist. The statement disturbed some people because they believed that the Way should be free of egotism, but I think that they weren’t understanding what Gurdjieff was saying; they didn’t understand the difference between ordinary and conscious egotism. Conscious egotism sees oneself everywhere and in everything, and in that seeing is the loss of self, because in that seeing all distinctions between oneself and others disappears. When the sense of oneself is lost, real Self manifests.

 

All of creation consists of mirrors within mirrors. If you see something you don’t like reflected in a mirror, do you attack the reflection? Yet, that is exactly what happens in the state of delusion—in the world as we see it—we attack our own reflections in the mirror. That is why we fight, and argue, and judge, and go to war…

 

“Not-being and Defect, wherever they occur,
Are the mirrors of the Beauty of all beings—
Because Not-being is a clear filtered essence,
In which all beings are infused.” 
Masnavi of Rumi, trans. Whinfield

 

And so, if there a way out of this funhouse of mirrors what is the way? A fair enough question, and the answer is to find the right mirror—the mirror that reveals beauty as Perfection instead of Defect. In other words, the mirror that reflects the atma and not the jiv—the holy and not the ghost—and that mirror is the mirror of Not-Being, the state Upasani Maharaj calls ‘only.’

 

You have a face, but who can see their own face without a mirror? I am exactly like that—a mirror—and due to my state of ‘only’—the state of a mirror—you can only see your own qualities in me.

 So, when you call me God, it is your own reflection as God that you see in me, and because you do not call the mirror your face, therefore, in  the same way, you cannot call me God—or if you do, you should be aware that you are taking me to be that which you are.”The Talks of Sadguru Upasani-Baba Maharaja, Volume I, Part A, page 136

 

If you paint a picture of Vishnu on the mirror, you can no more see your face in it; when now you approach the mirror; you will see the picture of Vishnu. By painting the mirror this way, you have removed the quality of reflection from it. Unless you wipe out the picture from the mirror—unless you bring the mirror into its original state of ‘only’ you cannot see your reflection in it.”Ibid; Volume I, Part A, page 137

 

I began this post by discussing the qualities of mirrors—how they reflect what is put before them, how they distort the objects they are reflecting, and how the mirror of a Perfect One is different than the countless mirrors that make up the great mirror of creation. In a general way, I believe that the subject is easily understandable, but when one goes a little deeper, things become more subtle and slippery.

 

“But since Not-being is the mirror of Being,
If you are wise, choose Not-being—self-effacement—
For Being may be displayed in that Not-being.

“Wealthy men shower their liberality on the poor,
But he who is hungered is the clear mirror of bread—
The tinder is the mirror of the flint and steel.

“Not-being and Defect, wherever they occur,
Are the mirrors of the Beauty of all beings—
Because Not-being is a clear filtered essence,
In which all beings are infused.” 
Masnavi of Rumi, trans. Whinfield

 

 

I made a connection between the states of Not-being—self-effacement—and the state Upasani Maharaj experienced that he called ‘only.’ Now Upasani introduces a further subtlety when he talks about the face of Vishnu being painted on the mirror.

 

 

If you paint a picture of Vishnu on the mirror, you can no more see your face in it; when now you approach the mirror, you will see the picture of Vishnu…” – Ibid

 

 

I believe that when Upasani Maharaj used the example of Vishnu’s face being painted on the mirror He specifically choose that one face over all other ones. So, who, or what, is Vishnu? Vishnu, also called Parvardigar, is one of the three aspects of God responsible for the creation, the preservation, and the dissolution of and within creation. Brahma creates, Vishnu preserves, and Shiva, also called Mahesh, dissolves. These three aspects of God are not people, or gods, but states of God, yet it is possible for those states or aspects of God to take on a human form for a limited period of time.

 

 

With regard to Vishnu, Meher Baba tells us that this taking on of a human form occurs every 750 to 1400 years and this incarnation of God in human form is variously called the Avatar, the Christ, the Buddha, the Messiah—there are many names, but the state is always the same. God in any and all of His names and forms is always the same.

 

 

There have been many Incarnations—many forms—that of Krishna and Ram and Gautama and Zoroaster and Mohamed and Meher Baba—but in all these forms, in all these Incarnations, is same One God. Understanding this, helps us to understand what Jesus Christ meant when Jesus said,

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

 

 

For Jesus Christ could speak as Jesus and He could speak as the Christ and, in this instance, it He was speaking as the Christ, not as Jesus the man, for both the Father state and the Son state (the state of Christ) are Eternal, but forms, even the beloved forms of Ram, Krishna, Gautama, Zoroaster, Jesus, and Meher Baba, are finite, passing, and subject to the same laws that govern all of creation.

 

 

Meher Baba tells us that the Individuality who embodies these passing forms of the Avatar is the First Soul who realized God through the processes of creation called evolution, reincarnation, and involution of consciousness—the One called the Ancient One—and when that One takes on a human form, He is called the God-Man and expresses through His very being the direct descent of God into His creation.

 

 

Along with the God-man is also the state of the Man-God. The Man-God is not called the Avatar; he, or she, is called a Perfect Master, a Satpurusha. A Satpurusha is one who has achieved the state of Perfection through the same processes of evolution, reincarnation, and evolution that the Avatar originally passed through in the beginningless beginning of time. The Avatar was the first God-Realized soul and when He takes a human form as the Avatar He no longer needs to pass through evolution, reincarnation, and involution. His is called the direct-descent of God into a human form.

 

 

The Avatar comes again and again out of love for His creation—out of love for Himself in all of the forms of creation, but the Perfect Masters—and Baba tells us that there always five of them present on the planet of involution—our planet, that when a Perfect Master drops his or her human form, he or she does not take another body, does not reincarnate again, but remains in the Eternal and Infinite State of God beyond creation.

 

 

All of this is the background for trying to understand the distinction that Upasani Maharaj is making between His state of ‘only’ and the state of Vishnu, the distinction between the mirror of ‘only’ and the mirror that is covered by Vishnu’s face—between a Satpurusha and what He calls “an original Satpurusha.”

 

 

Take a mango tree; right from the beginning it is a mango tree. Does anybody call a mango tree a babhula tree?  It is not that some call it a mango tree and some call it a babhula tree. The fact that I am called virtuous by some and vicious by others should convince you that I am not an ‘original’ Satpurusha; otherwise everybody would have called me the same, as in the case of the mango tree.

 

“Since different qualities are seen in me by different people, it means that I am in the state of a mirror, in the state of ‘only’ in which anybody can see his own reflection.” Ibid; Volume I, Part A, page 137

 

Whatever one sees in the mirror of ‘only’ is a reflection of oneself. Since that self, that Jivatma, is both illusion and reality, both man and God, the mirror of ‘only’ reflects both. Why the mirror reflects illusion for one person and reality for another is because of the impressions—sanskaras—that covers one’s consciousness like dust on the surface of a mirror.

 

That mirror is the very same consciousness of oneself that gets externalized in the forms of creation, the expression of God in the forms of Perfect Masters, and the glittering succession of forms taken by the Avatar. For in truth, there never was, or is, or will be any Truth to the external at all, because the external of our waking state is merely the projection of the dream state that is experienced between the Deep Sleep State of God and the Fully Awake State of God—the two states of Reality that borders the illusory dream state we call creation.

 

In short, any distinction made between the internal and the external supports the illusion of duality, but ‘only’, by its very nature, excludes duality, excludes the reality of others. It then follows that to experience the Ultimate Reality, both the external and the internal must go, and when they go what remains is the state of ‘only’—the state beyond all mirrors.

 

“Both your face, as well as the mirror, have a form. That mirror, however, serves the purpose of ‘onlyness’, but only if you make use of it for that purpose and not use it as a mirror. This means that you should not make use of the mirror as such, but only for its quality of ‘onlyness’.” Ibid. Volume I, Part B, page 367

 

Upasani Maharaj then goes on to say is that ‘onlyness’ must stand before the mirror to see its own reflection. What a great theme upon which to meditate and contemplate—what does ‘only’ see when it sees ‘only’ reflected in the mirror? How sublime is that?

 

Upasani Maharaj uses the term Satpurusha to characterize the state of one who is in the state of ‘only’. He goes on to say,

 

The state of a Satpurusha within you is not your external visible form, but what can be said is that your external form helps you to become conscious of your internal state of a Satpurusha. Of course, that internal Satpurusha state of yours cannot be exhibited in an ordinary mirror that can only show you your external appearance.” – Ibid

 

Upasani Maharaj goes on to talk about the other kind of mirror—the mirror of a Satpurusha—the mirror we look into when we are in the presence of a Perfect Master—the mirror of ‘only’ that can reflect our own internal state of God.

 

The inner finer form within your external form that contains the qualities of a Satpurusha was reflected by that state of ‘onlyness’ in me. Thus the qualities of a Satpurusha you charge me with are actually yours.” – Ibid

 

He says that though those qualities are actually ours and not his, we do not experience them as ours because we are habituated to experience the external gross form only; he says; “your consciousness is not sharp enough to reach that inner finer state of yours.”

 

The answer, he tells us, is to go on charging our qualities on him. Charging here means to externalize our internal state on to him through the acts of worship, meditation, contemplation, and contemplation—to project that Reality which is ours onto him. It is like loaning something of value we cannot make use now to another to keep for us until we can.

 

And then he reveals something quite surprising, another way to reach the Supreme Reality can be accomplished by charging those qualities of a Satpurusha onto oneself.  

 

“On the other hand, being convinced that what you see in me is nothing else but your own self—your own qualities—you try to remember them—stick to them—with all determination irrespective of all the difficulties that are or may come your way, then eventually you will be able to experience your own real state which is expressed in that one small sentence, Aham Brahmasmi, meaning I am the Brahma.” – Ibid

 

Though he adds; “This process, of course, is a very difficult one. The easier way is to charge somebody else with those qualities of yours to eventually experience your real state. Accomplished in this way, not only you as an individual experience that state, but many others are able to do so along with you—in a way, thus this method is very beneficial.” – Ibid

 

But why is this other method so difficult and what does it actually entail?  It means to deny in every moment—in every breath—continually and without break—the ‘reality’ that illusory consciousness causes us experience while, at the same time, continually and without break affirming the true Reality that we do not experience; To believe, without doubt, that we are eternal and infinite while experiencing ourselves and others as finite and subject to disease and death; To believe without doubt or interruption that we are God and that all else is a dream—the dreams of being woman and man, black and white, rich and poor, sane and insane…

 

The alternative? The simpler method? To stick to a Perfect One with all faith and confidence. To live a normal life—a life normal to the circumstances we find ourselves in; continuing to try to be helpful to others—thinking more and more about the happiness of others rather than our own; to try to remain in the state that Meher Baba describes as, “Don’t worry, be happy!”

 

  “It always brings me such joy to see you my dear—how are you and how is your dear grandfather?”

 

“Thank you! I am happy and well in Beloved Baba’s love as is grandfather. And how are you these days Ayushya?”

 

“Yes, quite well as well—continuing to tread the path of Baba’s ‘Don’t worry—be happy!’ So, my dear, please take some tea and tell me what it is that has brought you to my home this day.”

 

“Of course, I have been following your inspiring posts on the subject of mirrors and, as usual, they have evoked in me questions that resonate in the higher frequencies of my mind and heart.”

 

“Ah yes, questions; Questions are mirrors that can reflect both reality and illusion—both finitude and eternity. Questions bring energy; they are more important than answers; answers kill questions. I see you have brought with you a volume of Upasani Maharaj’s talks?”

 

“Yes Ayushya; while reading your posts on mirrors I began to think of the qualities of mirrors and the qualities of their reflections and this stirred in me a memory of a specific talk by Upasani Maharaj about what he called, ‘the moving temple.’”

 

“I remember that talk well. He says that the moving temple consists of three halls one within the other. He says that these three halls are the gross, the subtle, and the mental bodies. He says that God sits in the third hall and on certain days, with the correct preparation, one can enter that third hall and experience God.”

 

“Yes, and he also said that normally the three halls are arranged in such a way that they are opposite to each other—may I read you a passage?”

 

“I would be delighted!

 

“So, speaking about the ‘moving temple’, he says; ‘This temple is peculiar in that it consists of halls within halls, which are moving in opposite directions, the doors of which are located in opposite directions, and whose domes are also situated opposed to each other. So, if the outer hall’s door is facing east, it is moving in a clockwise manner, and has its dome positioned up in the normal way, then the next hall within it has its door facing west, moves in a clockwise motion, and its dome is positioned upside down. Meanwhile, the third hall is opposite to the second hall in every way and God sits in this innermost hall of the temple.’”

 

“And these three halls represent the gross, subtle, and mental bodies?”

 

“Yes, and on the next page he says; ‘Now the moving temple is this body. The halls arranged in opposite directions are the Sthula, Suhshma, and Karana bodies (the gross, the subtle, and the causal). The Vaikuntha is the Brahmanda situated in the head.’ Earlier on he said that Vaikuntha is the abode of Vishnu meaning the Infinite Bliss.”

 

“Indeed, this is all most most interesting, so tell me what questions and thoughts are evoked in you by these teachings?”

 

“Well first, I wonder if, as he says, the third hall is opposite to the second all in every way and that the second hall is opposite to the first in every way, we can assume that the first and the third halls—the gross and the mental bodies—are in alignment in every way?”

 

“Yes that is quite an interesting question; what do you think?”

 

“Well, it does come down to the expression ‘every way’, because ‘every way’ does not leave any room for any other way, and so if the third and second halls are aligned differently in every way, as are the second and first hall aligned differently in every way, then, I think, that the first and third halls must be aligned the same in every way.”

 

“Somewhat beyond my personal realm of experience.”

 

“And mine as well, although on a few occasions, at the very moment of awakening from a nap, I have experienced for a brief moment that my body was lying in the opposite direction to what it actually was—that my head was where my feet should be and my feet were where my head should be.”

 

“Yes, I have had that very experience myself.”

 

“The other thought I have connected to your posts on mirrors is this; because the reflection seen in a mirror is always opposite to whatever is being reflected in it—what is left becomes right and what is right becomes left—can we assume that the reflection seen in the mirror is somehow a reflection of the gross world in the subtle world?”

 

“Interesting, although we are only talking about left and right, and not up and down—”

 

“Yes, very true, and perhaps this is because the mirror is only reflecting the gross appearance of a three dimensional person or object as a two dimensional representation, while, of course, the cosmos consists of more than three dimensions then the three we see due to the limitation of gross consciousness.”

 

“Unlike a Perfect Master who sees all of the dimensions, all of the planes, and all of the three worlds…”

 

“Yes, sees all of the illusion perfectly and totally in all of its dimensions, planes, and worlds.”

 

“And your thoughts, my dear, gives me a new insight into the distinction Upasani Maharaj’s makes between the mirror being in the state of ‘only’ as opposed to the mirror upon which the face of Vishnu has been painted.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Well, I have always felt that the mental world was more understandable to me than the subtle world. If, as you suggest, the mental world and the gross world are aligned in every way, then it would make sense that it is easier for me to relate to the mental word where God reposes than to the subtle world that is in every way opposite to the gross world.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

“Ayushya, do you have handy your first post on the subject of mirrors?”

 

“I do, would you like me to read you something from it?”

 

“Yes, I feel that after reading all of your posts on the subject of mirrors and having this delightful conversation with you today I now better understand those quotations with which you began the topic. Would you please read them to me now?”

 

“Of course, my dear, it would be my pleasure.”

 

“An old friend came to pay his respects to Joseph, and, after some remarks upon the bad behavior of his brethren, Joseph asked him what present he had brought to show his respect. The friend replied that he had long considered what gift would be most suitable to offer, and at last had fixed upon a mirror, which he accordingly produced from his pocket and presented to Joseph, at the same time begging him to admire his own beauteous face in it.


“He drew forth a mirror from his side;
A mirror is what Beauty busies itself with.

“But since Not-being is the mirror of Being,
If you are wise, choose Not-being—self-effacement—
For Being may be displayed in that Not-being.

“Wealthy men shower their liberality on the poor,
But he who is hungered is the clear mirror of bread—
The tinder is the mirror of the flint and steel.

“Not-being and Defect, wherever they occur,
Are the mirrors of the Beauty of all beings—
Because Not-being is a clear filtered essence,
In which all beings are infused.”
Masnavi of Rumi, trans. Whinfield

 

“Indeed.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

“The tale of love must be heard from love itself, for like the mirror, it is both mute and expressive.”— Rumi

 

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” – Corinthians 3:18

 

                                                                                      © copyright Michael Kovitz 2016

 

 

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Poise - What is it and why do we need it?

 

With regard to those souls who attain God-realization subsequently, the two requirements stand, viz. inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe.” Beams From Meher Baba, page 29

 

I can’t remember when I first read these words from Meher Baba, but they have stuck with me ever since. The requirements for God-realization—that alone is an extraordinary statement—that there are actually requirements. Equally as extraordinary to me is the term adequate adjustment—specifically the word adequate. One doesn’t have to become perfectly adjusted to everything in the universe—just adequately adjusted. That takes a lot of pressure off oneself.

 

So, what exactly is poise, and how exactly does one acquire it? Simply put, poise means balance and equilibrium; it implies a graceful, elegant baring—qualities that seem to be all too often lacking in me. I’ll give you an example, a small example, because I have observed that poise, or lack thereof, is revealed most clearly in small things.

 

I received an email a few days ago from my cell phone provider informing me that my account ID was temporarily locked and I had to reset my password. Annoying, but very minor right? I immediately thought, “Poise, this is all about poise; it is an opportunity” So I called the provider and got asked a bunch of questioned by a machine with a voice. I was then put on hold—my waiting time would be about five minutes. While waiting, I went online, figured out how to reset my password, and reset my password. So, by the time I was finally was able to speak to a customer service representative all I really wanted to know why my ID had been suspended in the first place. It took awhile for her to understand my question and in the end, I never did get an answer.

 

While all this was going on, I was very aware that the fragile hem of my poise was beginning to slip from my grasp. I could hear it in my voice, my body felt kind of twitchy—I was definitely annoyed. Afterwards, it took some time and the repetition of Baba’s Name to calm down.

 

So, poise, what is it? I know less what it is and more what it isn’t because I experience the latter much more than the former, for example, there cannot be poise if I am taking things too seriously, if I am identified. To be identified is to be in a state in which I feel myself as something other than myself—but what is myself? Meher Baba makes clear the distinction between the Self, which is real, and the endless parade of illusory false-selves.

 

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to witness an important Tibetan Buddhist ceremony called the Black Crown Ceremony. It was be led by a man with the title of Karmapa. Simply put, through the ceremony, the Karmapa transmits the attribute of Divine Compassion to the world. The Karmapa is a very high, consciously incarnate, lama. Traditionally, the Karmapa is the only person on the planet with the authority to conduct the Black Crown Ceremony.

 

Throughout the ceremony I was mainly focused on the Karmapa. He was sitting on a raised platform in the middle of the hall and singularly directed the many monks doing various tasks connected to candles, scrolls, prayers, and incense. The Karmapa appeared to be attentive to what was going on around him—totally focused, but also, totally natural. He did not appear to be in any way identified or attached to his status or his role in the ceremony. This struck me as being exceptional.

 

Speaking from personal experience, attachment and focused were always linked. When I was attached or identified with something, I would also be focused on it; when I wasn’t attached or identified, I would be inattentive and sloppy. I realized that the Karmapa was, by example, showing me how I needed to live my life, i.e. attentive, but not attached. The question was how?

 

Poise exists, or doesn’t exist, as a state of mind. Mind is necessary for the acquisition of consciousness. Mind acting through mental, subtle, and gross bodies is the process by which consciousness is acquired. The by-product of this process is what Meher Baba calls sanskaras. Sanskaras are impressions created in the mind—impressions in the sense that a hand pushed into soft clay creates an impression in that clay. Mental, subtle, and gross actions create mental, subtle, and gross impressions (sanskaras) on the soft clay of the mind. These impressions are retained by the mind and motivate further mental, subtle, and gross actions.

 

Ego, or the sense of I, which is the principle attribute of the human condition, attempts to organize and reconcile the various, and often contradictory, sanskaras of the human mind. This I, or this ego, is the fundamental difference between the human form and all the previous sub-human forms from stone, to mineral, to vegetable, and animal forms. This distinction is profound, but not easily understood. Meher Baba, in his discourse called, The Nature of the Ego and its Termination – Part 1, explains,

 

In the pre-human stage, consciousness has experiences, but these experiences are not explicitly brought into relationship with a central ‘I.’ The dog is angry, but he does not continue to feel, ‘I am angry.’”

 

In other words, in the case of the pre-human condition, there is not a fully developed sense of ‘I’ which attempt to make sense, and there-by reconcile, the diverse and contradictory impressions of the mind. As Meher Baba says;

 

“If mind is to be freed from the conflict it must always make the right choice and must unfailingly prefer the truly important to the unimportant. The choice has to be both intelligent and firm in all cases of conflict—important as well as unimportant. It has to be intelligent, because only through the pursuit of true and permanent values is it possible to attain a poise which is not detrimental to the dynamic and creative flow of mental life.” Discourses of Meher Baba, The Nature of the Ego and its Termination, p. 60 – 61.

 

So if mind is to be freed of conflict and achieve equilibrium, i.e. poise, it must begin to function at another level which is intelligent and based upon true and permanent values, in other words, it must undergo a transformation—a metamorphous—to another level of functioning. The Gospels call this transformation metanoia. Metanoia, the word translated into English as repentance, has two parts, meta and noia. Meta means change, but not just change, not just turning around in a circle, but change to another level of functioning, i.e., a spiral rather than a circle, and noia mean mind.

 

I find comfort in this, because it doesn’t mean that I have to work at stopping my mind, or even controlling it in the usual sense; with the change, with the transformation, with the metanoia, comes the intelligence and the true and permanent values—because intelligence and Truth are the natural state of the mind itself; they are inherent in the mind itself and don’t need to be acquired, only freed of impressions—sanskaras. But still, the question remains; what, if anything, can one do to achieve it?

 

The integration of the opposites of experience is a condition of emancipating consciousness from the thralldom of diverse compulsions and repulsions which tend to dominate consciousness irrespective of valuation. The early attempts to secure such integration are made through the formation of the ego as its base and centre.” Discourses of Meher Baba, The Nature of the Ego and its Termination, p. 57.

 

But Meher Baba then goes on to say that it is in the very nature of the ego to promotes the illusion of separation, and hence duality, which is opposed to the indivisible oneness of Reality.

 

It creates and recognizes the ‘thine’ in order to feel what is distinctly ‘mine’.”Discourses of Meher Baba, The Nature of the Ego and its Termination, p. 75.

 

It makes sense that any poise which is secured by balancing on a point which is itself an illusion can amount to nothing more than an illusory poise. So, what is the way out?

 

There seems to be two options depending on whether one is directly connected to a God-realized Master or whether one is attempting to follow the inner path on one’s own or with the help of a teacher who is not God-realized.

 

With regards to the latter, G.I. Gurdjieff often said that man is a plurality—a house inhabited by many I’s. Though he may look in the mirror and always see the same image, behind that singular image lurks various and often opposing I’s, all of which vie for supremacy of the whole. This is why it is difficult to always follow up on one’s plans and promises—one I makes the promise, another I has to keep it, and, in most cases, the different I’s don’t know, or respect, each other.

 

So, for one to make progress in the odyssey of consciousness, among the various I’s, an I, or a group of I’s, must be appointed and given authority over all the other I’s. Gurdjieff calls this I, or this group of I’s, the deputy steward. It is the job of the deputy steward to prepare the house, as it were, for the arrival of the Master—the Real owner of the house.

 

But with regards to the former, an individual who has had the good fortune to enter in the orbit of a God-realized Perfect Master, it is the Master himself who gradually, and often in hidden and mysterious ways, replaces the disciple’s limited and false ego as the guiding principle of its odyssey to Truth-consciousness with Himself by becoming the singular focal point of the disciple’s own limited consciousness. In other words, one become less and less concerned with his own perceived desires and demands, and more and more concerned with how to please the Master and act according to His wish and will. The journey continues by stages until one has totally arrived at the state of self-forgetfulness which unfailingly leads to Self-remembering, real poise, and real adjustment to everything and nothing—Reality and illusion.

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