A Commentary on the
Sri Aurobindo modified the structure of The Karmayogin: A Commentary on the Isha Upanishad while he was working on it He began with a two-tier division: "Chapters" and sections Later he introduced a superior division, the "Part", and began calling the lowest-level divisions "Chapters" The intermediate divisions, earlier called "Chapters", became known as "Books" The numbering of these divisions is neither consistent nor complete The table on the opposite page shows the structure as marked by Sri Aurobindo in the manuscript and printed in the text and, italicised and within square brackets, how it would be if the final three-tier division were applied consistently throughout.
In the right margin are indicated the places where the discussions of the first six verses begin The other twelve verses were not discussed.
[Part I] [No title]
[Book I ] Chapter I The Law of Renunciation
[Chapter] I God All and God Everywhere [Start verse 1]
[Chapter] II Isha, the Lord
[Chapter] III Isha and His Universe
[Chapter] IV God in Man and in all Creatures
[Chapter] V Selflessness, the Basic Rule of Karma-Yoga
[Chapter] VI The Philosophical Justification of Altruism
[Chapter] VII The Meaning of Renunciation [Book II ] Chapter II Salvation through Works
[Chapter] I [No title] [Start verse 2]
[Chapter] II Vairagya
[Chapter] III One Road and not Three
[Chapter] IV The denial of salvation by works
[Chapter] V Mukti and the Jivanmukta
[Chapter] VI Suicide and the other World [Start verse 3]
[Chapter] VII Retrospect
Part II Karmayoga; the Ideal
[Book III ] Chapter IV The Eternal in His Universe
I Eternal Truth the Basis of Ethics / I / The Root of Ethical Ideals
Chapter I Brahman [Start verse 4]
Chapter II Spiritual Evolution in Brahman
Chapter III Psychical evolution—downward to matter
Chapter IV Psychical Evolution—Upward to Self
[No Chapters V or VI ]
[Chapter] VII Elemental Evolution
[Chapter] VIII Matariswan and the Waters
[Chapter] IX Spirit and Matter
[Chapter] X [No title]
[Chapter] XI [No title]
[Chapter] XII [No title] [Start verse 5]
Book [IV ] III [No title]
Chapter I [No title] [Start verse 6]
[Chapter] II Ethics in primitive society
Chapter III Social Evolution
Chapter IV The place of Religion in ethics.
The Law of Renunciation
I. God All and God Everywhere
Salutation to the Eternal who is without place, time, cause or limit Salutation to Him who rules the Universe, the Lord of the Illusion, the Master of manifold life Salutation to the Self in me, who is the Self in all creatures Brahman, Isha, Atman, under whatever aspect He manifests Himself or manifests not, to Him the One and Only Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, salutation
The Upanishad begins;—
"With the Lord all this must be clothed (as with a garment), even all that is world in this moving universe; abandon the world that thou mayest enjoy it, neither covet any man's possessions "
The Upanishad first sets forth the universality of the Supreme Being; whatever we see, hear or are in any way sensible of, we must feel the presence of the Lord surrounding it This tree that I am sitting under, I must not consider as only so many leaves, bark, pith, sap and roots encased in earth and air; I must realise that it is a manifestation in the Supreme who is the only reality This voice that I am uttering, vibrates in the atmosphere of the Divine Reality; only because it vibrates there, is it capable of sound, articulation and meaning No action I do or watch others do, but the Lord is there surrounding and upholding it; otherwise it could not be done Whatever I see, I am seeing God; whatever I hear, I am hearing God; whatever I do, it is the Energy of God which is governing my actions This is the first thing the Karmayogin has to realise and until he has set his mind on the realisation, Karmayoga is impossible The Lord is everywhere; the Lord surrounds everything with His presence; the Lord is all.
वासुदेवः सर्वमिति |
This Karma that I do, I do it in the Lord; this subjective I who act, exist only in
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the Lord; this objective he, she, it to whom the action is done, exists only in the Lord It is the omnipresent universality of the Supreme, that has first to be realized When the Yogin has had spiritual experience of this universality, then only is he fit for Karmayoga; for not till then can he sink the constant feeling of I and thou and he in a single higher and wider Existence; not till then can he escape from apparent self to true Self, and without such escape Karmayoga cannot really begin To clothe all things with the Supreme, to be conscious of Him in all you say, do, think, feel or are sensible of,—this experience is the beginning of Karmayoga The transformation of this experience into the habitual condition of the soul, is the consummation of Karmayoga; for it leads straight to the knowledge of Brahman and the ecstasy of union with Him, Karma melting into and becoming one with Jnana and Bhakti Karma, Bhakti, Jnana,—Action, Love, Knowledge, are the three paths which lead out of phenomenal existence to the eternal reality, and where the three meet & become one, is the end of the great journey, that highest home of Vishnu towards which it is the one object of the Upanishad to turn and guide us The Isha Upanishad is the Scripture of the Karmayogin; of the three paths it teaches the way of Action, and therefore begins with this first indispensable condition of all Godward action, to see all things, creatures, causes, effects, changes & evolutions as so many transitory phenomena enveloped with the presence of the Supreme Being and existing in Him and by Him only Not I but He, for He is my real self and what I call I is only so much covering and semblance,—this is Vedanta; the first feeling of this truth is the beginning of Jnana, the beginning of Bhakti, the beginning of Karma.
सोऽहं . He is the true & only I.
II. Isha, the Lord
Let us now look closely into the language of the Scripture, for in the Upanishad every word is of infinite importance and is chosen in preference to others for some profound and significant reason Isha is the first word of the Upanishad; it is with the Lord that
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we must clothe all things in this Universe, it is the Lord whose presence, will, energy we must realize in whatever we see, feel, do or think It is in other words the Supreme Being not in His aspect as the actionless, unknowable Parabrahman, transcendental and beyond realization by senses, mind or speech; it is not even Sacchidananda, that absolute self-centred Existence, Consciousness, Bliss with whom the Jnanayogin seeks to unite himself in Samadhi; it is the Eternal in His aspect as Ruler of the Universe, He who keeps the wheel of phenomena turning and guides its motions as the mechanician controls his machine The Karmamargin aims at living disillusionized, but yet using the illusions of Maya as the materials of his Yoga; he seeks to free himself from phenomena while yet living among phenomena; it is therefore Isha, Maheshwara, the Lord of the Illusion, the Master of multiple phenomenal life whom he must seek and in whom he must lose his lower self Since he works through actions, it is the Master of actions whom he must worship with the flowers and incense of a selfless life.
Is there then a difference between Parabrahman and Isha? Are there two Supreme Beings and not one? No difference, really; the distinction is one of appearance, of semblance Parabrahman, the absolute, transcendental, eternal reality is unknowable to human reason; That which is above reason in man can reach Parabrahman and experience Parabrahman, because It is Parabrahman, but this is in the state of Samadhi and from the state of Samadhi the human understanding can bring back no record intelligible to the reason or explicable in terms of speech Parabrahman in His Essence is therefore realizable but not intelligible; He can be experienced, He cannot be explained or understood Still Parabrahman presents to the understanding two semblances or aspects by which He can be relatively though not absolutely known These two aspects correspond to the two powers inherent in Parabrahman as the Knower of Himself, the powers of Vidya and Avidya, the power to know and the power not to know, the faculty of Knowledge and the faculty of Illusion Parabrahman can know Himself as He really is; this is Vidya He can also imagine
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Himself as He is not; this is Avidya In the first aspect He is Sacchidananda, absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss; He exists to Himself alone, because there is no other existence but Himself; He is conscious of His own existence only, because there is no other existence to be conscious of; He is the bliss of His own self-conscious existence, because there is nothing outside or other than Him to give Him external bliss That is the eternal reality, that is His aspect to Vidya or true Knowledge But there is also the eternal unreality, His aspect to Avidya or False Knowledge Then He is a great Will, Shakti or Force pouring itself out in a million forms and names and keeping for ever in motion the eternal wheel of phenomenal Evolution, which He guides and governs He is then Isha, the Lord or Ruler To use a human parallel, Shakespeare pouring himself out in a hundred names and forms, Desdemona, Othello, Iago, Viola, Rosalind, Macbeth, Hamlet, Lear, Cymbeline is using his power of Avidya to become the lord and ruler of a wonderful imaginary world Shakespeare putting aside his works and returning to his own single & sufficient existence is using his power of Vidya to recover his own constant single reality But there is one Shakespeare and not two Now the Karmamargin has to deal with this great multifold phenomenal universe and when he seeks to feel the presence of the Eternal round every single thing it contains, it must necessarily be not in His unconditioned, unphenomenal aspect of Sacchidananda but in His conditioned, phenomenal aspect as Isha, Lord of the Universe As Isha the Karmayogin may worship Him in various sub-aspects Isha is a double being as Purusha-Prakriti; Purusha, the great male ocean of spiritual force which sets Prakriti to produce and watches her workings, and Prakriti, the mighty female energy which produces and works unweariedly for the pleasure of Purusha He is the triple Being, Prajna, Hiranyagarbha, Virat; Prajna, Lord of Sleep-Life, the intelligent force which lives and wakes in what would otherwise seem inert and inanimate existence or the mere blind play of mechanical forces; Hiranyagarbha, the Lord of Dream-Life who takes from this ocean of subconsciously intelligent spiritual being those conscious psychic forces which
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He materializes or encases in various forms of gross living matter; and Virat, Lord of Waking-Life, who governs, preserves and maintains the sensible creation which Hiranyagarbha has shaped He is triple again as Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu; Shiva, the destroyer, the Yogin, the Lord of brute or inert life; the Master of Samadhi, the Refuge of the outcast & of those who have no refuge; Brahma, the Creator, who puts forth life and stays not his hand for a moment; Vishnu, the Preserver & Saviour, the Master of Power & Love and Life and Light and Sweetness With all these aspects of Isha, the Lord, Hindu worship has associated names & forms and in these names and forms He shows Himself to His worshippers The Jnanayogin loves to worship Him as Shiva, the Master of utter Samadhi; to the Bhakta He appears in whatever form appeals most to the spiritual emotions of His devotee But the Karmayogin should devote himself to those forms of the Supreme Lord in which His mighty Shakti, His Will to live and create has expressed itself in its highest, purest and most inspiring and energetic virility; for Karma is merely Shakti in motion and the Karmayogin must be a pure conductor of divine energy, a selfless hero and creator in the world Isha Himself in His Avatars, Buddha, Rama, Srikrishna, has given us the highest types of this selfless divine energy and it is therefore to these mighty spirits, God-in-man, that the Karmayogin may well direct his worship Or he may worship Isha in His Shakti, in the form of Durga-Kali, the most powerful realisation of His cosmic energy which the human mind has yet envisaged If he is able to dispense with forms, he may worship the idea of Isha Himself, the Almighty Lord, whom the Hindu adores as Hari, the Christian as God, the Mahomedan as Allah Even the atheist, if he recognizes a mighty Power at work in all life and existence and yields up his self and actions to the will and ends of that Power, or if he recognizes in men the godhead he refuses to recognize in the Universe and devotes himself to the selfless service of his kind, has set his foot on the path of Karmayoga and cannot fail to reach the Lord whom he denies It is of no importance that the Karmayogin should recognize a particular name or form as the greater Self to win whom he must lose his
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smaller self; but it is of importance & essential that he should recognize the existence of a Power inside and outside himself to the law of whose Will and Workings he can sacrifice the self-will and self-worship of the natural man Whatever name he gives to this Power or whether he gives it a name or not, it is Isha, the Lord, whose presence he must feel around every object and movement in the Universe
III. Isha and His Universe
Next let us take note of the word वास्य.
All this Universe must be clothed with Isha; we must draw the feeling of His presence round every object in the Universe and envelop it with Isha, as a robe is drawn round and envelops the wearer For the Lord is greater than His universe This tree is not the Lord, it is in the Lord We must avoid the materialistic Pantheism which identifies the visible Universe with the Supreme Being It is true that He is both the final and material Cause of the universe, and in one sense He is His Universe and His Universe is He, just as Shakespeare's creations are really Shakespeare himself, woven by him out of his own store of psychic material; and yet it would be obviously a mistake to identify, say, Iago with Shakespeare This tree is evolved out of original ether, ether pervades it and surrounds it, but the tree cannot be described as ether, nor ether as the tree; so, going deeper down, we find it is evolved out of the existence of the Lord who pervades it and surrounds it with His presence; but the tree is not the Lord, nor the Lord the tree The Hindu is no idolater; he does not worship stocks or stones, the tree as tree or the stone as stone or the idol as a material thing, but he worships the presence of the Lord which fills & surrounds the tree, stone or idol, and of which the tree, stone or idol is merely a manifestation or seeming receptacle We say for the convenience of language and mental realization that God is in His creature, but really it is the creature who is in God,
न त्वहं तेषु ते मयि "I am not in them, they are in Me "
We find European scholars when they are confronted with the metaphors of the Sruti, always stumbling into a blunder
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which we must carefully avoid if we wish to understand our Scriptures Their reason, hard, logical and inflexible, insists on fixing the metaphor to its literal sense and having thus done violence to the spirit of the Upanishad, they triumphantly point to the resultant incoherence and inconsistency of our revealed writings and cry out, "These are the guesses, sometimes sublime, generally infantile, of humanity in its childhood " But the metaphors of the Sruti are merely helps to a clearer understanding; you are intended to take their spirit and not insist on the letter They are conveniences for the hand in climbing, not supports on which you are to hang your whole weight Here is a metaphor वास्य, clothe, as with a garment But the garment is different from the wearer, & limited in the space it occupies: is the Lord then different from His creation and limited in His being? That would be the letter; the spirit is different The presence of the Lord who is infinite, must be thought of as surrounding each object and not confined to the limits of the object,—this and no more is the force of
When we see the tree, we do not say, "This is the Lord", but we say "Here is the Lord" The tree exists only in Him & by Him; He is in it and around it, even as the ether is
All this, says the Sruti, is to be thought of as surrounded by the presence of the Lord,
सर्वमिदं, all this that is present to our senses, all in fact that we call the Universe But to avoid misunderstanding the Upanishad goes on to point out that it is not only the Universe as a whole, but each thing that is in the Universe which we must feel to be encompassed with the divine Presence,
यत्किचं जगत्यां जगत् everything and anything that is moving thing in Her who moves Jagati, she that moves, in the ancient Sanscrit, was a word applied to the whole Universe; afterwards it meant rather this moving earth,1 that part of the cosmos with which we human beings are mainly concerned and the neuter jagat, that which moves, came to be the ordinary expression for world or universe But why is the universe called
1 The ancient Rishis knew that the earth moves, चला पृथ्वी
स्थिरा भाति, "The earth moves, but seems to be still"
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"she that moves"? Because it is the result of the working of Prakriti, the visible form of Prakriti, the great female material energy of the Lord, and the essence of Prakriti is motion; for by motion she creates this material world Indeed all object matter is only a form, that is to say a visible, audible or in some way sensible result of motion Every material object is what it is here called, jagat, a world of infinite motion; even the stone, even the clod Our senses tell us that the material world is the only reality, the only steadfast thing of whose rule and order we can be sure and by which we can abide; but our senses are in error and the Upanishad warns us against their false evidence The material world is a transitory and changing whirl of motion on the surface of Brahman, the great ocean of spiritual existence, who alone is, in His depths, eternal, real and steadfast It is He who as the Lord gives order, rule and abidingness to the infinite motion we call the Universe; and if we wish to be in touch with reality, we must train our souls to become aware of His presence sustaining, pervading and surrounding this moving Prakriti and every objective form to which her varying rates of vibration have given rise Thus placed in constant touch with reality, the Karmayogin will escape from the false shows and illusions of Prakriti; Karma or action which also is merely her motion, energy at work, will not master him and drive him as a storm drives a ship, but he will rather be the master of action, both his own and that of others For it is only by understanding practically the reality of a thing and its law of working that one can become its master and make use of it for his own purposes
IV. God in Man and in all Creatures.
But when the Karmayogin has seen the Lord surrounding all things with His presence and all things existing only as transitory manifestations, idols or images in this divine Reality, what follows? It follows that just as this tree or that mountain exists only as an image or manifestation in the divine Reality, so also all creatures, men included, are merely images or manifestations in the same divine Reality In other words what is real, living,
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eternal in you and me, is not our body, nor our vitality & its desires, nor our mind, nor our reason and understanding, but just the divine presence which pervades me and you as much as it pervades the tree and the mountain And it is not the body, vitality, mind, reason or understanding which constitutes the presence of the Lord within us; for my body differs from yours, my vitality differs from yours, my mind differs from yours, my reason and understanding differ from yours; they differ even from themselves according to time and circumstances; but the Lord is one and unchanging There must therefore be something deeper hidden within us than any of these things, something which is alone real, living and eternal This something is called in the Vedanta the Self; it is Brahman or the Lord within each of his creatures The Self is in the microcosm what Sacchidananda is in the macrocosm; it is the great pure luminous existence,
self-conscious and self-blissful, which acts not, neither desires, but watches the infinite play of Prakriti in the life of the creature It informs And just as by the power of Avidya Sacchidananda takes the semblance of a mighty Will or Force, Isha, creating endless multiplicity and governing, guiding and rejoicing in the interplay of worlds, so by the same power this Self or Witness in Man takes the semblance of a sublime Will creating for itself action and inaction, pleasure & pain, joy & sorrow, victory & defeat, guiding, governing & rejoicing in the activity of the apparent creature it informs, but unaffected and unbound by his works This Will, which the Vedanta calls Ananda or Bliss and not will, must not be confused with mere volition or desire, for volition belongs to the outer & apparent man and not to the inner and real This Self is in me, it is also in you and every other being and in all it is the same Self, only the Will or Shakti manifests in different degrees, with a different intensity and manner of working and so with different qualities & actions in each separate creature Hence the appearance of diversity and divisibility in what is really One and indivisible
This divisibility of the Indivisible is one of those profound paradoxes of Vedantic thought which increasing Knowledge will show to be deep and far-reaching truths It used to be implicitly
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believed that human personality was a single and indivisible thing; yet recently a school of psychologists has grown up who consider man as a bundle of various personalities rather than a single, homogeneous and indivisible consciousness For it has been found that a single man can divide himself or be divided into several personalities, each living its own life and unconscious of the other, while yet again another personality may emerge in him which is conscious of the others and yet separate from all of them This is true; nevertheless, the man all through remains one and the same, not only in body but in his psychical existence; for there is a deeper substratum in him which underlies all these divided personalities and is wider than all of them put together The truth is that the waking personality is only the apparent man, not the real Personality is the creation of memory, for memory is its basis and pedestal If the pedestal, then, be divided and put apart, the superstructure also must be in the same act divided and put apart But the waking memory is only a part, a selection of a wider latent memory which has faithfully recorded all that happens not in the man's present life only, but in all his past The personality which corresponds with this latent unerring memory is the true personality of the man; it is his soul, one infinite and indivisible, and its apparent divisions are merely the result of Avidya, false knowledge, due to defective action of the waking memory So the apparent division of the divine Self into many human selves, of the indivisible Paramatman into many Jivatmans, is simply the result of Avidya due to the action of the Maya or self-imposed illusion of Isha, the great Force who has willed that the One by this force of Maya should become phenomenally manifold In reality, there is no division and the Self in me is the same as the Self in you and the same as the Self up yonder in the Sun The unity of spiritual existence is the basis of all true religion and true morality We know indeed that as God is not contained in His universe, but the universe is in Him, so also God is not contained within a man When the Sruti says elsewhere that the Purusha lies hidden in the heart of our being and is no larger than the size of a man's thumb, it simply means that to the mind of man under the dominion of Avidya
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his body, vitality, mind, reason bulk so largely, the Spirit seems a small and indistinguishable thing indeed inside so many and bulky sheaths and coverings But in reality, it is body, vitality, mind & reason forming the apparent man that are small and trifling and it is the Spirit or real man that is large, grandiose & mighty The apparent man exists in & by the real, not the real in the apparent; the body is in the soul, not the soul in the body Yet for the convenience of language and our finite understanding we are compelled to say that the soul is in the body and that God is within the man; for that is how it naturally presents itself to us who use the mental standpoint and the language of a finite intelligence The Lord, from our standpoint, is within all His creatures and He is the real self of all His creatures My self and yourself are not really two but one This is the second truth proceeding logically from the first, on which the Karmayogin has to lay fast hold.
V. Selflessness, the Basic Rule of Karma-Yoga
From the fundamental truth of one divine Reality pervading and surrounding all phenomenal objects and from its implied corollary, the identity of my Self with your Self, the Upanishad deduces a principle of action which holds good for all Karmayogins "Abandon the world that thou mayst enjoy it, neither covet any man's possession " He that would save his soul, must first lose it He who would enjoy the world, must first abandon it Thus from an intellectual paradox the Upanishad proceeds to a moral paradox, and yet both are profound and accurate statements of fact At first the reason revolts against an assertion so self-contradictory If I put my food away from me, how can I enjoy it? If I throw away the sovereign in my hand, another may have the joy of it but how can I? I, Devadatta, am told to enjoy the world, yes, all that is in the world; yet I find that I have little enough to enjoy while my neighbour Harischandra has untold wealth If I am to enjoy the world, how shall I proceed to my object? Not surely by abandoning the little I have, but by keeping fast hold on it and adding to
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it the much that Harischandra has So would argue the natural man, rationally enough from his point of view, but so would not argue the Karmayogin He will covet no man's possession, because he knows such terms as possession, mine, thine, to be false and illusory in the light of the secret tremendous truth he has got hold of, that there is nothing in this world real, desirable and worth calling by the name of bliss except Brahman, the eternal reality of things Self-gratification and the possession of wealth and its enjoyments are transitory, illusory and attended with inevitable trouble and pain, but the enjoyment of one's identity with Brahman and the possession of Brahman are pure and undisturbed bliss The more I possess of Him, the wider and nearer perfection will be my enjoyment Brahman then is the only wealth the Karmayogin will covet But how can we possess Brahman? By surrounding all things in the world with Him, by realizing Him in all things If I am wealthy, the Lord is there in my wealth, but if I am poor, the Lord is there too in my poverty; because of His presence I can enjoy my poverty as much as I did my wealth For it is not the wealth and the poverty which matter or are real, but only the feeling of the presence of the Lord in all things That is one way in which I can enjoy the world by abandoning it; for the world is Brahman, the world is the Lord, and to him who has experience of it, all things are bliss, all things are enjoyment What ground then is there left for coveting another man's possessions? Harischandra possesses merely so much gold, estates, houses, Government paper; but I, Devadatta, in my cottage, possess the Lord of the Universe and am the master & enjoyer of the whole world It is I who am rich and not Harischandra That is the fulfilment of his discipline for the Karmayogin.
But let us go down many steps lower I have not yet ascended the ladder, but am still climbing I have not yet acquired the habitual consciousness of the presence of the Lord surrounding all things as the only reality for whose sake alone transitory phenomena are precious or desirable How in this imperfect stage of development can the Karmayogin escape from covetousness and the desire for other men's possessions? By realising more &
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more the supreme bliss of a selfless habit of mind and selfless work This is the way to his goal; this is his ladder Unselfishness is usually imagined as the abnegation of self, a painful duty, a "mortification", something negative, irksome and arduous That is a Western attitude, not Hindu; the European temperament is dominated by the body and the vital impulses; it undertakes altruism as a duty, a law imposed from outside, a standard of conduct and discipline; it is, in this light, something contrary to man's nature, something against which the whole man is disposed to rebel That is not the right way to look at it Unselfishness is not something outside the nature, but in the nature, not negative but positive, not a self-mortification and abnegation but a self-enlargement and self-fulfilment; not a law of duty but a law of self-development, not painful, but pleasurable It is in the nature, only latent, and has to be evolved from inside, not tacked on from outside The lion's whelp in the fable who was brought up among sheep, shrank from flesh when it was placed before him, but once he had eaten of it, the lion's instincts awoke and the habits of the sheep had no more delight for him So it is with man Selflessness is his true nature, but the gratification of the body and the vital impulses has become his habit, his second or false nature, because he has been accustomed to identify his body & vital impulses with himself He, a lion, has been brought up to think himself a sheep; he, a god, has been trained to be an animal But let him once get the taste of his true food, and the divinity in him awakes; the habits of the animal can please him no longer and he hungers after selflessness and selfless work as a lion hungers after his natural food Only the feeling has to be evolved as a fulfilment of his nature, not painfully worked up to as a contravention of his nature The man who regards selflessness as a duty, has not yet learned the alphabet of true altruism; it is the man who feels it as a delight and a natural craving, who has taken the right way to learn The Hindu outlook here is the true outlook The Hindu does not call the man who has risen above the gratification of desire a selfless man; he calls him
आत्मवान् , the selfful man; that man is
अनात्मवान् , that man has not found himself who still clings to the gratification of his
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body & vital impulses Read that great drama of self-sacrifice, the Nagananda, and you will feel how different is the Hindu outlook from the Western; there self-sacrifice is not a painful and terrible struggle but a glorious outpouring of the nature, a passionate delight "It is only human nature," we say indulgently of any act of selfishness But that is an error and thrice an error It is not human nature, but animal nature; human nature is divine & selfless and the average selfish man is selfish not because of his humanity, but because his humanity is as yet undeveloped & imperfect Christ, Buddha, these are the perfect men; Tom, Dick & Harry are merely animals slowly shaping into men.
VI. The Philosophical Justification of Altruism
The philosophical justification for this outlook is provided for in the fundamental position of Vedanta
सोऽहं, I am He; Thou too art He; there is therefore no I and Thou, but only He Brahman, Isha is my true self, the real Devadatta; Brahman, Isha is the true self of my neighbour, the real Harischandra There is therefore really no Devadatta, no Harischandra, but my Self in the mental and bodily case called Devadatta and my Self in the mental and bodily case called Harischandra If therefore Harischandra enjoys untold riches, it is I who am enjoying them; for Harischandra is my Self,—not my body in which I am imprisoned or my desires by which my body is made miserable, but my true self, the Purusha or real Man within me, who is the witness and enjoyer of all this sweet, bitter, tender, grand, beautiful, terrible, pleasant, horrible and wholly wonderful and enjoyable drama of the world which Prakriti enacts for his delectation Once I experience this truth, I can take as much pleasure in the riches of Harischandra as if I myself were enjoying them; for I can thenceforth go out of my own self and so enter into the self of Harischandra, that his pleasure becomes my own To do that I have simply to break down the illusory barrier of associations which confines my sense of self to my own body, mind & vitality That this can be done, is a common experience of humanity, to which the name of love is given Human evolution rises through
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love and towards love This truth is instinctively recognised by all the great religions, even when they cannot provide any philosophical justification for a tenet to which they nevertheless attach the highest importance The one law of Christianity which replaces all the commandments is to love one's neighbour as oneself, the moral ideal of Buddhism is selfless benevolence & beneficence to others; the moral ideal of Hinduism is the perfect sage whose delight and occupation is the good of all creatures (सर्वभूतहितरतः) It is always the same great ideal expressed with varying emphasis But love in the sense which religion attaches to the word, depends on the realization of oneself in others If, as Sankhya and Christian theology say, there are millions of different Purushas, if the real man in me is different and separate from the real man in another, one in kind but not in essence, there can be no feeling of identity; there can only be mental or material contact From material contact nothing but animal feelings of passion & hatred can arise; from mental contact repulsion is as likely to arise as attraction A separate individual Self will live its own life, pursue its own gratification or its own salvation; it can have no ground, no impulse to love another as itself, because it cannot feel that the other is itself The Vedanta provides in the realisation of a single Self and the illusory character of all division the only real explanation of this higher or spiritual love Altruism in the light of this one profound revealing truth becomes natural, right and inevitable It is natural because I am not really preferring another to myself, but my wider truer self to my narrower false self, God who is in all to my single mind and body, myself in Devadatta and Harischandra to myself in Devadatta alone It is right because by embracing in my range of feelings the enjoyment of Harischandra in addition to my own I shall make my knowledge of the universality of Brahman an experience, and not merely an intellectual conception or assent; for experience and not intellectual conception is true knowledge It is inevitable because that is my way of evolution As I have risen from the animal to the man, so must I rise from the man to the God; but the basis of godhead is the realisation of oneself in all things The true aim and end of evolution is the wider and
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wider realisation of the universal Brahman Towards that goal we progress, with whatever tardiness, with whatever lapses, yet inevitably, from the falsehood of matter to the truth of spirit We leave behind, first, the low animal stage of indolence, brutishness, ignorance, wrath, lust, greed and beast violence, or as we call it in our philosophy the
tamasic condition and rise to various human activity and energy, the rajasic condition; from that again we must rise to the
sattwic condition of divine equipoise, clarity of mind, purity of soul, high selflessness, pity, love for all creatures, truth, candour, tranquillity Even this divine height is not the highest; we must leave it behind and climb up to the peak of all things where sits the bright and passionless Lord of all, lighting up with a single ray of His splendour a million universes On that breathless summit we shall experience the identity of our Self not only with the Self of others, but with the All-Self who is the Lord and who is Brahman In Brahman our evolution finds its vast end and repose
VII. The Meaning of Renunciation
The Karmayogin therefore will abandon the world that he may enjoy; he will not seek, as Alexander did, to possess the whole world with a material lordship, but, as Gods do, to possess it in his soul He will lose himself in his own limited being, that he may find himself illimitably in the being of others The abandonment of the world means nothing less than this, that we give up our own petty personal joy and pleasure to bathe up to the eyes in the joy of others; and the joys of one man may be as great as you please, the united joys of a hundred must needs be greater By renouncing enjoyment you can increase your enjoyment a hundredfold That was ever the privilege of the true lover If you are [a] true lover of a woman, it is her joys far more than your own that make your happiness; if you are a true lover of your friends, their prosperity and radiant faces will give you a delight which you could never have found in your own small and bounded pleasures; if you are a true lover of your nation, the joy, glory and wealth of all its millions will be yours; if you
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are a true lover of mankind, all the joys of the countless millions of the earth will flow like an ocean of nectar through your soul You will say that their sorrows too will be yours But is not the privilege of sharing the sorrows of those you love a more precious thing than your own happiness? Count too the other happinesses which that partnership in sorrow can bring to you If you have power,—and Yoga always brings some power with it,—you may have the unsurpassable joy of solacing or turning into bliss the sorrow of your friend or lover, or the sufferings and degradation of the nation for which you sacrifice yourself or the woes of the humanity in whom you are trying to realize God Even the mere continuous patient resolute effort to do this is a joy unspeakable; even defeat in such a cause is a stern pleasure that strengthens you for new and invincible endeavour And if you have not the power to relieve or the means to carry on the struggle, there is still left you the joy of suffering or dying for others "Greater love than this has no man, that he should die for his friend " Yes, but that greatest love of all means also the greatest joy of all "It is a sweet and noble thing to die for one's country " How many a patriot in his last moments has felt that this was no empty poetical moralising, but the feeble understatement of a wonderful and inexpressible reality They say that Christ suffered on the cross! The body suffered, doubtless, but did Christ suffer or did he not rather feel the joy of godhead in his soul? The agony of Gethsemane was not the agony of the coming crucifixion, the cup which he prayed might be taken from his lips, was not the cup of physical suffering, but the bitter cup of the sins of mankind which he had been sent to drink If it were not so, we should have to say that this Jesus was not the Christ, not the Son of God, not the avatar who dared to say "I and my Father are one", but a poor weak human being who under the illusion of Maya mistook his body for himself Always remember that it is not the weak in spirit to whom the Eternal gives himself wholly; it is the strong heroic soul that reaches God Others can only touch his shadow from afar.
The abandonment of the world which is demanded of the
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Karmayogin is not necessarily a physical abandonment You are not asked to give up your house and wealth, your wife, your children, your friends What you have to give up is your selfish desire for them and your habit of regarding them as your possessions and chattels who are yours merely in order to give you pleasure You are not asked to throw away the objects of your desire, but to give them up in your heart It is the desire you have to part with and not the objects of the desire The abandonment demanded of you is therefore a spiritual abandonment; the power to enjoy your material possessions in such spirit of detachment that you will not be overjoyed by gain, nor cast down by loss, is the test of its reality,—not the mere flight from their presence, which is simply a flight from temptation The Karmayogin has to remain in the world & conquer it; he is not allowed to flee from the scene of conflict and shun the battle His part in life is the part of the hero,—the one quality he must possess, is the lionlike courage that will dare to meet its spiritual enemies in their own country and citadel and tread them down under its heel A spiritual abandonment then,—for the body only matters as the case of the spirit; it is the spirit on which the Karmayogin must concentrate his effort To purify the body is well, only because it makes it easier to purify the spirit; in itself it is of no importance; but if the soul is pure, the body cannot be touched by uncleanness If the spirit itself is not stained by desire, the material enjoyment of the objects of desire cannot stain it For if my spirit does not lust after new wealth or cling to the wealth I have, then my use of riches must necessarily be selfless and without blame; and having parted with them in spirit and given them into the treasury of God, I can then truly enjoy their possession That enjoyment is clear, deep and calm; fate cannot break it, robbers cannot take it away, enemies cannot overwhelm it All other joy of possession is chequered and broken with fear, sorrow, trouble and passion,—the passion for its increase, the trouble of keeping it unimpaired, the sorrow for its diminution, the fear of its utter loss Passionless enjoyment alone is pure & unmixed delight If indeed you choose to abandon riches physically as well as in spirit, that too is well, provided you
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take care that you are not cherishing the thought of them in your mind There is another curious law of which many who follow the path of spiritual renunciation, have had experience It is this that such renunciation is often followed by a singular tendency for wealth to seek him who has ceased to seek wealth A strong capable will bent on money-making, will doubtless win its desire, but at least as often wealth, fame and success flee from the man who longs after them and come to him who has conquered his longing Their lover perishes without winning them or reaches them through deep mire of sin or a hell of difficulty or over mountains of toil, while the man who has turned his back on them, finds them crowding to lay themselves at his feet He may then either enjoy or reject them The latter is a great path and has been the chosen way of innumerable saintly sages But the Karmayogin may enjoy them, not for his personal pleasure certainly, not for his false self, since that sort of enjoyment he has abandoned in his heart, but God in them and them for God As a king merely touching the nazzerana passes it on to the public treasury, so shall the Karmayogin, merely touching the wealth that comes to him, pour it out for those around him, for the poor, for the worker, for his country, for humanity because he sees Brahman in all these Glory, if it comes to him, he will veil in many folds of quiet and unobtrusive humility and use the influence it gives not for his own purposes but to help men more effectively in their needs or to lead them upward to the divine Such a man will quickly rise above joy and sorrow, success and failure, victory and defeat; for in sorrow as in joy he will feel himself to be near God That nearness will deepen into continual companionship and by companionship he will grow ever liker God in his spiritual image until he reaches the last summit of complete identity when man, the God who has forgotten his godhead, remembers utterly and becomes the Eternal Selflessness then is the real & only law of renunciation; in the love of one's wider self in others, it has its rise; by the feeling of the divine presence in all earthly objects, it becomes rooted & unshakeable; the realization of the Brahman is its completion and goal
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Salvation through Works
The law of spiritual abandonment in preference to mere physical abandonment, is the solution enounced by Srikrishna, the greatest of all teachers, for a deep and vexed problem which has troubled the Hindu consciousness from ancient times There are, as we know, three means of salvation; salvation by knowledge, the central position in Buddhism; salvation by faith & love, the central position in Christianity; salvation by faith & works, the central position in Mahomedanism In Hinduism, the Sanatandharma, all these three paths are equally accepted But in all three the peculiar and central religious experience of Hinduism,—the reality & eternity of the Self, the transience & unreality of all else,—is insisted upon as the guiding principle & indispensable idea This is the bridge which carries you over to immortality; this is the gate of salvation The Jnanamargin envisages only one reality, the Brahman, and by turning away from all that is phenomenal and seeking the One reality in himself, enters into the being of the Eternal The Bhakta envisages only two realities, God & himself, and by the ecstatic union of himself with God through love and adoration, enters into the pure and unmixed presence of the Eternal The Karmamargin envisages three realities which are one; the Eternal in Itself, pure and without a second, the Eternal as a transcendent Will or Force manifesting Himself phenomenally but not really in cosmic work & the Eternal in the Jivatman, manifesting Himself similarly in individual work in a finite body; and he too, by abandoning desire and laying his works upon God, attains likeness to the Eternal and through that gate enters into identity with the Eternal In one thing all these agree, the transience & unreality of phenomenal existence But if phenomenal existence is unreal, of what use is it to remain in the world? Let us abandon
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house and wealth and wife and friends and children; let us flee from them to the solitude of mountain & forest and escape as soon as possible by knowledge & meditation from the world of phenomena Such was the cry that arose in India before and after the days of Buddha, when the power of the Jnanamarga was the strongest on the Hindu consciousness The language of the Bhakta is not very different; "Let us leave the things of the world," he cries, "let us forget all else and think and speak only of the name of Hari " Both have insisted that works and the world are a snare & a bondage from which it is best to flee The Karmayogin alone has set himself against the current and tried to stand in the midmost of the cosmic stir, in the very surge and flux of phenomena without being washed away in the tide Few, he has said, who remain in the world, can be above the world and live in communion with the Eternal; but few also who flee to the mountains, really attain Him, and few of those who spend their days in crying Lord, Lord, are accepted by Him to whom they cry It is always the many who are called, the few who are chosen And if Janak could remain in the world and be ever with God in the full luxury, power & splendour of the life of a great king, if Rama & Srikrishna lived in the world and did the works of the world, yet were God, who shall say that salvation cannot be attained in the midst of actions, nay, even through the instrumentality of actions? To this dispute the answer of Srikrishna is the one solution To abandon desire in the spirit is the one thing needful; if one fail to do this, it is vain for him to practise Yoga in mountain or forest solitude, it is vain to sing the name of Hari and cry Lord, Lord, from morn to night, it is vain to hope for safety by "doing one's duty in the world" The man unpurified of desire, whatever way he follows, will not find salvation But if he can purify his spirit of desire, then whether on solitary mountain and in tiger-haunted forest, or in Brindavun the beautiful, or in the king's court, the trader's shop or the hut of the peasant, salvation is already in his grasp For the condition of salvation is to leave the lower unreal self and turn to the real Self; and the stain & brand of the lower self is desire Get rid of desire and the doors of the
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Eternal stand wide open for your soul to enter in The way of the Sannyasin who leaves the world and devotes all himself to Jnana or Bhakti, is a good way, and there is none better; but the way of the Tyagin who lives among sense-objects and in the whirl of action without cherishing the first or yielding to the rush of the second, is the right way for the Karmayogin This is what the Upanishad with great emphasis proceeds to establish as the second rule of conduct for the Karmamargin
"Do, verily, thy deeds in this world and wish to live thy hundred years, for thus to thee and there is no other way than this, action cleaveth not to a man "
A hundred years is the full span of a man's natural life when he observes all the laws of his nature and keeps his body and mind pure by the use of pure food, by pure ways of living, by purity of thought and by self-restraint in the satisfaction of his desires The term is ordinarily diminished by heedlessness, sin, contamination or the effects of our past action in other lives; it may, on the other hand, be increased to hundreds of years by Yoga But the Karmayogin will neither desire to increase his term of life nor to diminish it To increase his term of life would show a desire for and clinging to phenomenal existence quite inconsistent with that abandonment of desire which we have seen to be the fundamental law of Karmayoga A few great Yogis have prolonged their lives without personal desire merely to help the world by their presence or example These are exceptional cases which the ordinary Karmamargin need not keep in view On the other hand we must not turn our backs on life; we must not fling it from us untimely or even long for an early release from our body, but willingly fill out our term and even be most ready to prolong it to the full period of man's ordinary existence so that we may go on doing our deeds in this world Mark the emphasis laid on the word
कुर्वन् "doing" by adding to it the particle एव, the force of which is to exclude any other action, state, person or thing than the one expressed by the word to which it is attached Verily we must do our deeds in this world and not avoid doing them There is no need to flee to the mountains in order to find God He is not a hill-man or a serpent
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that we should seek for Him only in cave & on summit; nor a deer or tiger that the forest only can harbour Him He is here, in you and around you; He is in these men and women whom you see daily, with whom you talk & pass your life In the roar of the city you can find Him and in the quiet of the village, He is there You may go to the mountains for a while, if the din of life deafens you & you wish to seek solitude to meditate; for to the Karmayogin also Jnana is necessary and solitude is the nurse of knowledge You may sit by the Ganges or the Narmada near some quiet temple or in some sacred asram to adore the Lord; for to the Karmayogin also bhakti is necessary, and places like these which are saturated with the
bhakti of great saints and impassioned God-lovers best feed and strengthen the impulse of adoration in the soul But if Karmayoga be your path, you must come back and live again in the stir of the world In no case flee to solitude and inaction as a coward and weakling,—not in the hope of finding God, but because you think you can by this means escape from the miseries and misfortunes of your life which you are too weak to face It is not the weak and the coward who can climb up to God, but the strong and brave alone Every individual Jivatman must become the perfect Kshatriya before he can become the Brahmin For there is a caste of the soul which is truer and deeper than that of the body Through four soul-stages a man must pass before he can be perfect; first, as a Sudra, by service and obedience to tame the brute in his being; then, as a Vaishya to satisfy within the law of morality the lower man in him and evolve the higher man by getting the first taste of delight in well-doing to others than himself and his; then, as the Kshatriya, to be trained in those first qualities without which the pursuit of the Eternal is impossible, courage, strength, unconquerable tenacity and self-devotion to a great task; last, as the Brahmin, so to purify body & mind and nature that he may see the Eternal reflected in himself as in an unsoiled mirror Having once seen God, man can have no farther object in life than to reach and possess Him Now the Karmayogin is a soul that is already firmly established in the Kshatriya stage and is rising from it through an easily-attained
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Brahminhood straight & swift to God If he loses hold of his courage & heroism, he loses his footing on the very
standing-ground from which he is to heighten himself in his spiritual stature until his hand can reach up to and touch the Eternal Let his footing be lost, & what can he do but fall?
Disgust with the world, the shrinking from the phenomenal life and the desire to escape from it to the Eternal, is called, in our terminology, vairagya
. Vairagya is the turning of the soul to its salvation; but we must be on our guard against the false shows and imitations of it to which our minds are subject "I am continually battered with the siege of sorrows & miseries; I cannot cope with the world; let me therefore get away from the world, put on the saffron robe and be at peace from anxiety and grief"; that is not the language of real vairagya Just as you recognize a genuine article from the imitation by its trademark, so there is a mark by which you recognize the true Sannyasin Not weariness of the phenomenal world by itself, but this
world-weariness accompanied by a thirst for the Eternal, that is the real vairagya The thirst for the Eternal is the trademark; look for it always and see that it is the real trademark, not an imperfect & fraudulent reproduction The saffron robe nowadays covers a great deal of selfishness, a great deal of idleness, a great deal of hypocrisy It is not the robe which is the trademark, but the longing for the Eternal Nor is it the talk and the outward action which is the trademark, for that may be a mere imitation Look in the eyes, watch the slighter, less observed habits, wait for a light on the face; then you will find the trademark Apply the same test to yourself When you think you have vairagya, ask yourself, "Is this mere weariness & disgust, a weak fainting of the soul, or can I detect in it even in a slight degree an awakening of the Self and a desire for that which is not transient but eternal, not bound to sin and chequered with sorrow, but pure and free?" If after severe self-examination, you can detect this desire in yourself, know that your salvation has begun
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There are many kinds of vairagya, some true, some false There is one vairagya, deep, intense & energetic, when the strong man having tasted the sweets of the world finds that there is in them no permanent and abiding sweetness; they are not the true and immortal joy which his true and immortal self demands, so he turns from them to something in his being which is deeper and holier, the joy of the inexhaustible and imperishable spirit within Then there is the vairagya, false or transient, of the hypocrite or weakling, who has lusted and panted and thirsted for the world's sweets, but has been pushed and hustled from the board by Fate or by stronger men than himself, and seeks in the outward life of the Sannyasin a slothful and thornless road to honour and ease and the satisfaction of greed, or else would use Yoga and Sannyas as the drunkard uses his bottle or the slave of opium his pill or his daily draught Not for such ignoble purpose were these great things meant by the Rishis who disclosed them to the world Beware of such weakness.
क्लैव्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते
| Truly is such base weakness unworthy of one who is no other than Brahman, the Eternal, the Creator, Protector and Destroyer of worlds But on the other hand there is a true vairagya of sorrow and disappointment; sometimes men have tried in their ignorance for ignoble things and failed, not from weakness but because these things were not in their nature, were unfit for them and below their true greatness and high destiny The sorrow and disappointment were necessary to open their eyes to their true selves; then they seek solitude, meditation & Samadhi, not as a dram to drown their sorrow and yet unsated longing, but because their yearning is no longer for unworthy things but for the love of God or the knowledge of the Eternal Sometimes great spirits enter the way of the Sannyasin, because in the solitude alone with the Eternal they can best develop their divine strength (Brahmatej) to use it for divine purposes Once attained they pour it in a stream of divine knowledge or divine love over the world; such were Shankaracharya and Ramakrishna Sometimes it is the sorrows & miseries of the world that find them in ease & felicity and drive them out, as Buddha & Christ were driven out, to seek light for the ignorant
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and help for sufferers in the depths of their own being True Sannyasins are the greatest of all workers, because they have the most unalloyed & inexhaustible strength and are the mightiest in God to do the works of God.
Whatever be the precise nature of the vairagya or its immediate & exciting cause, if the thirst for the Eternal mingle in it, know that it is real vairagya and the necessary impulse towards your salvation You must pass through this stage if you are to reach the Eternal at all For if you do not get weary of the phenomenal, your mind cannot turn to the Eternal; the attraction of the phenomenal, keeps your eyes turned downward & not upward, outward & not inward Welcome therefore the first inrush of vairagya into your life, but remember it is a first stage on the road, not the goal Swami Bhaskarananda was driven into Sannyas by a keen & overmastering disgust of life in the world, but when he had attained
mukti, the state of his mind so changed that if his wife had been living, he would have lived with her in the world as one in the world; an idea shocking to priestly & learned orthodoxy, but natural to the Jivanmukta Sri Ramakrishna, when he had attained identity with the Lord, could not indeed return to the world as a householder or bear the touch of worldly things,—for he was the incarnation of utter Bhakti,—but he took as much delight in the Eternal manifested in phenomena & especially in man as in the pure actionless Brahman with whom he became one in Samadhi The Karmamargin must pass through the condition of Vairagya, but he will not abide in it Or to speak more accurately he will retain the spiritual element in it and reject the physical The spiritual element of
vairagya is the turning away from the selfish desire for phenomenal objects and actions; the physical element is the fear of and shrinking from the objects & actions themselves The retention of the spiritual element is necessary to all Yogins; the retention of the physical element, though often a sign of great physical purity and saintliness, is not essential to salvation.
Do not be shaken by the high authority of many who say that to leave the world is necessary to the seeker after Brahman and that salvation cannot come by works For we have
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a greater authority than any to set against them, the teaching of Srikrishna himself He tells Sanjay in the Mahabharata that as between the gospel of action and the gospel of inaction, it is the former that is to his mind and the latter strikes him as the idle talk of a weakling So too, in the Gita, while laying stress on Jnana & Bhakti, he will by no means banish Karma nor relegate it to an inferior place; the most significant portion of the Gita is its eulogy of Karmayoga and inspired exposition of its nature & principles Jnana, of course, is indispensable; Jnana is first & best Works without knowledge will not save a man but only plunge him deeper & deeper into bondage The Upanishad, before it speaks of the necessity of works, takes care first to insist that you must realise the presence of the Lord enveloping this universe & each object that it contains When you have got this Jnana that all is the One Brahman and your actions are but the dramatic illusions unrolled by Prakriti for the delight of the Purusha, you will then be able to do works without desire or illusion, abandoning the world that you may enjoy it, as the Upanishad tells you, or as Sri Krishna advises, giving up all hankering for the fruits of your work You will devote all your actions to the Lord; not to the lower false self, which feels pleasure & pain in the results of your actions, but to the Brahman in you which works
lok लोकसंग्रहार्थ, for the keeping together of the peoples, so that instead of the uninstructed multitudes being bewildered and led astray by your inactivity, the world may be rather helped, strengthened and maintained by the godlike character of your works And your works must be godlike if they are done without desire or attachment to their fruits For this is how God works The world is His lila, His play & sport, not a purposeful stir and struggle out of which He is to gain something and be benefited The great empire in which you glory & think it is to be eternal, is to Him no more than the house of sand which a child has built in his play He has made it and He will break it, and, one day, it will be as if it had never been The very Sun and its glorious wheeling planets are but momentary toys in His hands Once they were not, now they are, a day will come & they will no longer be Yet while
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He works on these things, He works like the boy when he is building his castle of sand, as if the work were to be permanent and for all time
"And yet these actions bind Me not, Dhanunjoy, for I sit as one unconcerned and I have no attachment to these My works " Actions performed after renunciation, actions devoted to God, these only do not cling to a man nor bind him in their invisible chains, but rather fall from him as water from the wings of a swan They cannot bind him because he is free from the woven net of causality Cause and effect exist only in the idea of duality which has its root in Avidya; the Yogin when he has renounced desire and experienced unity, rises above Avidya & her children, and bondage has no farther meaning for him This is the goal of the Karmayogin as of all Yoga, but the path for him is through spiritual Vairagya, the renunciation of desire, not through physical separation from the objects of desire This the Upanishad emphasizes in the second line of the verse "Thus to thee; and there is no other way than this, action clingeth not to a man "
This is conclusive and beyond appeal.
III. One Road and not Three
"There is no other way than this " By this expression it is not intended that Karmayoga is the only path of salvation for all men, but that the renunciation of desire is essential to salvation; every Yogin, be he Jnani, Bhakta, or Karmi, must devote whatever work he may be doing to the Eternal To the Karmayogin indeed this path is the only possible way; for it is the
swabhava or nature of a man which decides the way he shall take If a born Jnani becomes the disciple of a great Bhakta, however submissively he may accept his Master's teachings, however largely he may infuse his Jnana with Bhakti, yet eventually it is the way of Jnana he must take and no other For that is his swabhava or nature, his
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dharma or the law of his being If the Brahmin predominates in him, he will be drawn into Jnana; if the Kshatriya, into works; if the Sudra or Vaisya, the child or woman, to Bhakti If he is born saint or avatar, he will harmonize all three, but still with one predominant over the others and striking the main note of his life and teaching It is always the predominance of one or other, not its unmixed control, which decides the path; for as with the Karmayogin, the devotion of works to God brings inevitably the love of God, and love gives knowledge, so it is with the Bhakta; the love of God will of itself direct all his works to God and bring him straight to knowledge So it is even with the Jnani; the knowledge of the Brahman means delight in Him, and that is Bhakti; and this love & knowledge cannot let him live to himself but will make him live to Brahman, and that is divine Karma The three paths are really one, but the Jnani takes the right hand, the Bhakta the left hand and the Karmayogin walks in the middle; while on the way each prefers his own choice as best and thinks the others inferior, but when they reach the goal, they find that none was inferior or superior, but it was one road they were following which only seemed to be three
The Jnani & Bhakta shrink from the idea of Karma as a means of salvation Unillumined Karma is such a stumbling block in the path of the seeker that they can hardly regard even illumined & desireless Karma as anything but a subordinate discipline whose only value is to prepare a man for Bhakti or Jnan They will not easily concede that
karma can be by itself a direct and sufficient road to Brahman So Shankaracharya disparages karma, and Shankaracharya's is an authority which no man can dare to belittle Nevertheless even the greatest are conditioned by their nature, by the times they work in and by the kind of work they have come to do In the age that Shankara lived in, it was right that Jnana should be exalted at the expense of works The great living force with which he had to deal, was not the heresies of later Buddhism, Buddhism decayed and senescent, but the triumphant Karmakanda which made the faithful performance of Vedic ceremonies the one path and heaven the highest goal In his continual anxiety to prove that these ceremonies could not be the
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path, he bent the bow as far as he could in the other direction and left the impression that works could not be the path to salvation at all Had he laid stress on Karma as one of the ways to salvation, the people would not have understood him; they would have thought that they had one more authority for their belief in rites and ceremonies as all-sufficient for salvation These things must be remembered when we find Shankara and Ramanuja and Madhwa differing so widely from each other in their interpretation of the Upanishad It was necessary that the Scripture should be interpreted by Shankara wholly in the light of Adwaita, the Monistic conception of the Eternal, so that the Monistic idea might receive its definite and consummate philosophical expression; for a similar reason it was necessary that Madhwa should interpret them wholly in the light of the Dwaita or dualistic conception and that Ramanuja should find a reconciliation in Visishtadwaita, a modified Monism All these conceptions of the Eternal have their own truth and their own usefulness to the soul in its effort to reach Him But the Upanishad is not concerned only with the ultimate reality of the Brahman to Himself, but also with His reality in His universe and His reality to the Jivatman or individual self It is therefore sometimes Adwaitic, sometimes Dwaitic, sometimes Visishtadwaitic, and we should have the courage now to leave the paths which the mighty dead have trod out for us, discharge from our mind all preconceived philosophies and ask only, "What does the Upanishad actually say?" Never mind whether the interpretation arrived at seems to be self-contradictory to the logician or incoherent to the metaphysical reasoner; it will be enough if it is true in the experience of the seeker after God For the Eternal is infinite and cannot be cabined within the narrow limits of a logical formula.
IV. The denial of salvation by works
What is it, after all, to which the denial of salvation by works amounts, when looked at not from the standpoint of logic only but of actual spiritual experience? Some people when they talk of Karma or works, think only of rites and ceremonies, Vedic,
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Puranic or Tantric That kind of works, certainly, do not bring us to salvation They may give success & great joy, power and splendour in this world Or they may lead to enjoyment after death in Paradise; but Paradise is not salvation; it is a temporary joyous condition of the soul, the pleasure of which ceases when the cause is exhausted Or these rites may lead to the conscious possession and use of occult powers, latent in ordinary men, by which you may help or harm others; but the possession of occult powers cannot be an assistance, it is indeed often a hindrance to salvation Or rites and ceremonies may purify and prepare the mind and fit it for starting on one of the paths to salvation This indeed is their only helpfulness for the true aim of our existence They are no more than an infant or preparatory class in the school of Brahmavidya.
It is evident again that works done with desire, works done without knowledge and not devoted to God, cannot lead to salvation, but only to continued bondage Works prompted by desire, lead only to the fulfilment of desire; nor do they disappear in that consummation For all work that we do, has, besides its effect on ourselves, infinite effects on others and on the general course of phenomena; these in their turn become causes and produce fresh effects; so the ripple continues widening till we lose sight of it in the distance of futurity For all the effects of our action we are responsible and by each new thing we do, we are entering into so many debts which we must discharge before we can be released from the obligation of phenomenal existence
. Existence in phenomena may be imaged as a debtor's prison in which the soul is detained by a million creditors not one of whom will forgive one farthing of his claims But those claims we can never discharge; each sum we get to pay off our old creditors, we can only procure by entering into fresh debts which put us at the mercy of new and equally implacable claimants Nature, the great judge and gaoler, is ever giving fresh decrees against us, for her law is inexorable and will not admit of remission or indulgence We can obtain our release only by escaping from her jurisdiction into the divine sanctuary where the slave of Nature, by his very entry, becomes free and her master
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But the works of the Karmayogin are works done with knowledge and without desire These certainly cannot prevent release or lead to fresh debt and fresh bondage For bondage is the result of desire and ignorance and disappears with desire and ignorance Desire & ignorance are indeed the boundaries of Nature's jurisdiction and once we have left them behind, we have passed out of her kingdom; we have taken sanctuary from her pursuit and are freemen released from the action of her laws To deny the innocence of works without desire would be to deny reason, to deny Sruti, to deny facts For Janaka and others did works, Srikrishna did works, but none will say that either the avatar or the
jivanmukta were bound by his works; for their karma was done with knowledge and without desire Works without desire, then, cannot prevent salvation or lead to fresh bondage.
It may be argued, however, that if they do not prevent salvation, neither do they help towards salvation The works of the Bhakta or Jnani do not bind him because he has attained the Eternal and by the strength of that attainment becomes free from desire and ignorance; but works done before attainment can be nothing but means of bondage; only the pursuit of
God-knowledge and the worship & adoration of God, to which the name of works does not properly apply, are free from responsibility But this reasoning too is not consistent with divine teaching, with experience or with reason For divine teaching distinctly tells us that works done after abandonment of the world and devoted to God only, do lead to salvation We know also that a single action done without desire and devoted to the Lord, gives us strength for fresh actions of the same kind, and the persistent repetition of such works must form the habit of desirelessness & self-devotion to Him, which then become our nature and atmosphere We have already seen that desirelessness necessarily takes us outside the jurisdiction of Nature, and when we are outside the jurisdiction of Nature, where can we be if not in the presence of the Eternal? Nor can self-devotion to the Lord be reasonably said not to lead to the Lord; for where else can it lead? It is clear therefore that works without desire not only do
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not prevent salvation but are a mighty help towards salvation.
It may still be argued that works without desire help only because they lead to devotion and knowledge and there their function ceases; they bring the soul to a certain stage but do not carry it direct to God It is therefore devotion and knowledge, bhakti and jnana, which alone bring us to God As soon as either of these takes him by the hand, karma must leave him, just as rites & ceremonies must leave him, and its function is therefore not essentially higher than that of rites & ceremonies But if this were good reasoning, the Karmayogin might equally well say that Bhakti leads to knowledge and the devotion of one's works to the Lord; therefore knowledge and works without desire bring a man to the Eternal and
bhakti is only a preliminary means; or that jnana leads to adoration of the Eternal and devotion of all one does to him, therefore
bhakti and works without desire alone bring the soul direct to God and jnana is only a preliminary means Or if it is said that works must cease at a certain stage while Bhakti and Jnana do not cease, this too is inconsistent with experience For Janaka and others did works after they attained the Eternal and while they were in the body, did not cease from works It cannot even be said that works though they need not necessarily cease after the attainment of the Eternal, yet need not continue Particular works need not continue; rites & ceremonies need not continue; the life of the householder need not continue But work continues so long as the body gross or subtle continues; for both the gross body and the subtle body, both the physical case & the soul-case are always part of Prakriti, and whatever is Prakriti, must do work The Gita says this plainly
"For no man verily remaineth even for a moment without doing works, for all are helplessly made to do work by the moods to which Nature has given birth " And again
सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेर्ज्ञानवानपि
"Even the Jnani moveth & doeth after the semblance of his own nature; for created things follow after their
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nature and what can forcing it do?" A man works according to his nature and cannot help doing work; but he can choose to what he shall direct his works, whether to his lower self or his higher, whether to desire or to God The man who leaves the world behind him and sits on a mountaintop or in an asram, has not therefore got rid of works If nothing else he has to maintain his body, to eat, to walk, to move his limbs, to sit in asan and meditate; all this is work And not only his body works; his mind is far more active than his body If he is not released from desire, his work will bind him and bear fruit in relation to himself and others Even if he is released from desire, his body & mind are not free from Karma until he is able to get rid of them finally, and that will not be till his
prarabdha karma has worked itself out and the debts he has written against his name are wiped off Even the greatest Yogi by his mere bodily presence in the world, is pouring out a stream of spiritual force on all sides; this action does not bind him, it is true, yet it is work and work which exercises a stupendous influence on others He is
सर्वभूतहितरतः , busy doing good to all creatures by his very nature, even though he does not lift a finger or move a step He too with regard to his body, gross & subtle, is
अवशः, he must let the gunas, the moods of Nature, work He may control that work, for he is no longer the slave of Prakriti, but he cannot stop it except by finally leaving his body & mind through Yoga with the Eternal Work therefore does not cease any more than Bhakti or Jnana.
Shankara indeed says that when we have got Jnana, we necessarily cease to do works, for Jnana makes us one with the Eternal who is actionless
अकर्ता Yet Janaka knew the Eternal and did works; Sri Krishna was the Eternal and did works For Brahman the Eternal, is both
अकर्ता; He works and He does not work As Sacchidananda, He is above works, but He is also above knowledge and above devotion When the Jivatman becomes Sacchidananda, devotion is lost in Ananda or absolute bliss, knowledge is lost in Chit or absolute Consciousness, works are lost in Sat or absolute Existence But as Isha or Shakti, He does works by which He is not bound and the Jivatman also
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when he is made one with Isha or Shakti continues to do works without being bound.
Works therefore do not cease in the body, nor do they cease after we have left the body except by union with the actionless Sacchidananda or
laya in the Unknowable Brahman, where Jnana and Bhakti also are swallowed up in unfathomable being Even of the Unknowable Parabrahman too it cannot be said that. It is actionless; It is neither
अकर्ता. It is néti, néti, not this, not that, unexplicable and inexpressible in terms of speech and mind We need not therefore fear that works without desire will not lead us straight to the Eternal; we need not think that we must give up works in order that we may develop the love of God or attain the knowledge of God
V. Mukti and the Jivanmukta
The ideal of the Karmayogin is the Jivanmukta, the self who has attained salvation but instead of immediately passing out of phenomenal existence, remains in it, free from its bondage There are three kinds of salvation which are relative & partial; salokya
or constant companionship with the Lord, sadrishya, or permanent resemblance to Him in one's nature & actions, and sayujya or constant union of the individual self with the Eternal It is supposed by some schools that entire salvation consists in laya or absorption into the Eternal, in other words entire
self-removal from phenomena and entrance into the utter being of the unconditioned and unknowable Parabrahman Such
laya is not possible in the body, but can only begin, adehanipatat, as soon as the Self throws away all its bodies and reenters into its absolute existence It is not indeed the mere mechanical change of death that brings about this result, but the will of the Self to throw aside all its bodies and never returning to them pass rather out of that state of consciousness in the Eternal in which He looks upon Himself as a Will or Force This, however, is an extreme attitude Complete self-identification with the Eternal, such as we find in the Jivanmukta, is complete mukti; for the Jivanmukta can at will withdraw himself in Samadhi into the
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being of Sacchidananda, who is actionless and turned away from phenomena; and can at will look again towards phenomena, dealing with them as their Lord who puts them to work without being touched by their stir and motion For the Jivanmukta laya, absorption into the Unknowable, can be accomplished at his will; but he does not will it.
The reason for his not willing this utter departure brings us to the very essence of Mukti Why do men hanker after complete absorption into the unphenomenal? why do they flee from Karma and dread lest it should interfere with their salvation? Because they feel that phenomenal life and works are a bondage and they desire to be free and not bound This state of mind can only last so long as the seeker is the mumukshu, the self desirous of freedom, but when he is actually
mukta, the free self, the terror of Maya and her works cannot abide with him Mukti, which we have to render in English by salvation, means really release But release from what bondage, salvation from what tyranny? From the bondage of Maya, from the tyranny of Avidya which will have us believe that we are finite, mortal and bound, who are not finite, but infinite, not mortal, but deathless & immutable, not bound, but always free The moment you have realised that Avidya is illusion and there is nothing but the Eternal, and never was anything but the Eternal and never will be anything but the Eternal, the moment you have not merely intellectually grasped the idea but come to have habitual experience of the fact, from that moment you will know that you are not bound, never were bound and never will be bound Avidya consists precisely in this that the Jivatman thinks there is something else than the Eternal which can throw him into bondage and that he himself is something else than the Eternal and can be bound When the Jivatman shakes off these illusory impressions of Avidya, he realises that there is nothing but Brahman the Eternal who is in His very nature nityamukta, from ever and forever free He can therefore have no fear of Karma nor shrink from it lest it should bind him, for he knows that the feeling of bondage is itself an illusion He will be ready not only to do his deeds in this world and live out his hundred years, but to be reborn as Srikrishna
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himself has promised to be reborn again and again and as other avatars have promised to be reborn For however often he may enter into phenomenal life, he has no farther terror of Maya and her bondage Once free, always free.
Even if he does not will to be reborn, he will be careful not to leave the world of phenomena until his prarabdha karma is worked out There are certain debts standing against his name in the ledger of Nature and these he will first absolve Of course the Jivanmukta is not legally bound by his debts to Nature, for all the promissory notes he has executed in her name have been burned up in the fire of Mukti He is now free and lord, the master of Prakriti, not its slave But the Prakriti attached to this Jivatman has created, while in the illusion of bondage, causes which must be allowed to work out their effects; otherwise the chain of causation is snapped and a disturbance is brought about in the economy of Nature.
उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोकाः. In order therefore to maintain the law of the world unimpaired, the Jivanmukta remains amid works like a prisoner on parole, not bound by the fetters of Prakriti, but detained by his own will until the time appointed for his captivity shall have elapsed.
The Jivanmukta is the ideal of the Karmayogin and though he may not reach his ideal in this life or the next, still he must always strive to model himself upon it Do therefore your deeds in this world and wish to live your hundred years You should be willing to live your allotted term of life not for the sake of long living, but because the real you in the body is Brahman who by the force of His own Shakti is playing for Himself and by Himself this dramatic
lila of creation, preservation and destruction He is Isha, the Lord, Creator, Preserver and Destroyer; and you also in the field of your own Prakriti are the lord, creator, preserver and destroyer You are He; only for your own amusement you have imagined yourself limited to a particular body for the purposes of the play, just as an actor imagines himself to be Dushyanta, Rama or Ravana The actor has lost himself in the play and for a moment thinks that he is what he is acting; he has forgotten that he is really not Dushyanta or Rama, but Devadatta who has played & will yet play a hundred parts besides When he shakes
off this illusion and remembers that he is Devadatta, he does not therefore walk off the stage and by refusing to act, break up the play, but goes on playing his best till the proper time comes for him to leave the stage The object of this phenomenal world is creation and it is our business, while we are in the body, to create Only, so long as we forget our true Self, we create like servants under the compulsion of Prakriti and are slaves and bound by her actions which we falsely imagine to be our own But when we know and experience our true Self, then we are masters of Prakriti and not bound by her creations Our Self becomes the Sakshi, the silent spectator of the actions of our Nature which she models in the way she thinks would best please it So are we at once spectator and actor; and yet because we know the whole to be merely an illusion of apparent actions, because we know that Rama is not really killing Ravana, nor Ravana being killed, for Ravana lives as much after the supposed death as before, so are we neither spectator nor actor, but the Self only and all we see nothing but visions of the Self The Karmamargin therefore will not try or wish to abandon actions while he is in this world, but only the desire for their fruits; neither will he try or wish to leave his life in this world before its appointed end The man who violently breaks the thread of his life before it is spun out, will obtain a result the very opposite to what he desires The Karmamargin aims at being a Jivanmukta, he will not cherish within himself the spirit of the suicide
VI. Suicide and the other World
In the early days of spiritualism in America, there were many who were so charmed by the glowing description of the other world published by spiritualists that they committed suicide in order to reach it
. It would almost seem as if in the old days when the pursuit of the Eternal dominated the mind of the race and disgust of the transitory was common, there were many who rather than live out their hundred years preferred a self-willed exit from the world of phenomena To these the Upanishad addresses a solemn warning "Godless verily are those
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worlds and with blind gloom enveloped, thither they depart when they have passed away, whatso folk are slayers of self " One has to be peculiarly careful in rendering the exact words of the Upanishad, because Shankara gives a quite unexpected and out-of-the-way interpretation of the verse He does not accept
आत्महनो, self-slayers, in the sense of suicides, the natural and ordinary meaning, but understands it to signify slayers of the eternal Self within them Since this is a startlingly unnatural & paradoxical sense, for the Self neither slays nor is slain, he farther interprets his interpretation in a figurative sense To kill the Self means merely to cast the Self under the delusion of ignorance which leads to birth and rebirth; the Self is in a way killed because it is made to disappear into the darkness of Maya. Farther
लोकाः has always the sense of worlds as in
गोलोक ब्रह्मलोक द्युलोक but Shankara forces it to mean births, for example birth as a man, birth as a beast, birth as a God Then there is a third and equally violent departure from the common & understood use of words;
आसुरा would mean ordinarily Asuric of the Daityas in opposition to Daivic of the Devas; Shankara takes
आसुरा as Rajasic and applicable to birth in the form of men, beasts and even of gods in opposition to
देव which is pure Sattwic and applicable only to Parabrahman He thus gets the verse to mean, "Rajasic verily are those births and enveloped with blind darkness to which those depart when they pass away, whoso are slayers of the Self " All those who put themselves under the yoke of Ignorance, lose hold of their true Self and are born as men, beasts or gods, instead of returning to the pure existence of Parabrahman.
The objections to this interpretation are many and fatal The rendering of
substitutes a strained and unparalleled interpretation for the common and straightforward sense of the word. The word
लोकः cannot mean a particular kind of birth but either a world or the people in the world; and in these senses it is always used both in the Sruti and elsewhere We say
इहलोक, परलोक ; we do not say कीटलोक, पशुलोक,
पक्षिलोक. We say indeed
मनुष्यलोक, but it means the world of men & never birth as a man The word
असुर्या may very well mean
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Rajasic but not in the way Shankara applies to it; for असूर्या
लोका cannot signify the births of beasts, men, gods as opposed to the divine birth of Parabrahman, who is above birth and above condition Moreover, Daivic and Asuric are always opposed terms referring to the gods and Titans, precisely as Titanic and Olympian are opposed terms in English For instance in the Gita.
In this passage Asuric and Rakshasic nature are rajasic nature as of the Titans and tamasic nature as of the Rakshasa; daivic nature implies sattwic nature as of the Gods Such is always the sense wherever the terms are opposed in Sanscrit literature It may be urged, in addition, that the expression
ये के loses its strong limiting force if it is applied to all beings but the very few who have found salvation There are other flaws besides the straining of word-senses The verse as rendered by Shankara does not logically develop from what went before and the fault of incoherence is imported into the Upanishad which, if taken in its straightforward sense, we rather find to be strictly logical in its structure and very orderly in the development of its thought On the other hand, the plain rendering of the words of the Upanishad in their received and ordinary sense gives a simple and clear meaning which is both highly appropriate in itself and develops naturally from what has gone before Shankara's rendering involves so many and considerable faults, that even his authority cannot oblige us to accept it We will therefore take the verse in its plain sense: it is a warning to those who imagine that by the self-willed shortening of their days upon earth they can escape from the obligation of phenomenal existence
The Asuric or godless worlds to which the suicide is condemned, are the worlds of deep darkness & suffering at the other pole from the worlds of the gods, the world of light and joy which is the reward of virtuous deeds Patala under the earth, Hell under Patala, these are Asuric worlds: Swarga on
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the mountaintops of existence in the bright sunshine is a world of the gods All this is of course mythology and metaphor, but the Asuric worlds are a reality; they are the worlds of gloom and suffering in the nether depths of our own being A world is not a place with hills, trees and stones, but a condition of the Jivatman, all the rest being only circumstances and details of a dream The Sruti speaks of the spirit's
loka in the next world, अमुष्मिन् लोके
लोकः, where the word is used in its essential meaning of the spirit's state or condition and again in its figurative meaning of the world corresponding to its condition The apparent surroundings, the sum of sensible images & appearances into which the spirit under the influence of Illusion materializes its mental state, makes the world in which it lives
Martyaloka is not essentially this Earth we men live in, for there may be other abodes of mortal beings, but the condition of mortality in the gross body; Swargaloka is the condition of bliss in the subtle body; Narak, Hell, the condition of misery in the subtle body; Brahmalok the condition of abiding with God in the causal body Just as the Jivatman like a dreamer sees the Earth and all it contains when it is in the condition of mortality and regards itself as in a particular region with hills, trees, rivers, plains, so when it is in a condition of complete tamas in the subtle body, it believes itself to be in a place surrounded by thick darkness, a place of misery unspeakable This world of darkness is imaged as under the earth on the side turned away from the sun; because earth is our mortal condition and this world is a state lower than our mortal condition; it is a world of thick darkness because the light created by the splendour of the Eternal in the consciousness of the Jivatman is entirely eclipsed with the extreme thickening of the veil of Maya which intercepts from us the full glory of His lustre Hell, Patal, Earth, Paradise, the Lunar & Solar Worlds, Golok, Brahmalok,—these are all imagery and dreams, since they are all in the Jivatman itself and exist outside it only as pictures & figures: still while we are dreamers, let us speak in the language and think the thoughts of dream.
This then is the Asuric world When a man dies in great pain or in great grief or in fierce agitation of mind and his last
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thoughts are full of fear, rage, pain or horror, then the Jivatman in the Sukshmasharir is unable to shake off these impressions from his mind for years, perhaps for centuries So it is with the suicide; he sinks into this condition because of the feelings of disgust, impatience and pain or rage & fear which govern his last moments; for suicide is not the passionless & divine departure at his appointed time of the Yogin centred in samadhi, but a passionate and disgustful departure; and where there is disturbance or bitterness of the soul in its departure, there can be no tranquillity & sweetness in the state to which it departs This is the law of death; death is a moment of intense concentration when the departing spirit gathers up the impressions of its mortal life as a host gathers provender for its journey, and whatever impressions are dominant at the moment, govern its condition afterwards
"Or indeed whatever (collective) impressions of mind one remembering leaveth his body at the last, to that state and no other it goeth, O son of Kunti, and is continually under the impress of those impressions " Hence the importance, even apart from Mukti, of living a clean and noble life and dying a calm and strong death For if the ideas and impressions then uppermost are such as to associate the self with this gross body and the vital functions or the base, vile & low desires of the mind, then the soul remains long in a tamasic condition of darkness and suffering which we call Patala or in its acute forms Hell If the ideas and impressions uppermost are such as to associate the self with the higher desires of the mind, then the soul passes quickly to a rajasic condition of light & pleasure which we call Swarga, Behesta or Paradise and from which it will return to the state of mortality in the body If the ideas and impressions uppermost are such as to associate the self with the higher understanding and bliss of the Self, the soul passes quickly to a condition of highest bliss which we call variously Kailas, Vaikuntha, Goloka or Brahmaloka, from which it does not return in this aeon of the
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universe But if we have learned to identify for ever the self with the Self, then before death we become the Eternal and after death we shall not be other There are three states of Maya, tamasic illusion, rajasic illusion, sattwic illusion, and each in succession we must surmount before we reach utterly that which is no illusion but the one eternal truth and, leaving our body in the state of Samadhi, rise into the unrevealed & imperishable bliss of which the Lord has said, "That is my highest seat of all "
The Isha Upanishad logically falls into four portions, the first of which is comprised in the three verses we have already explained It lays down for us those first principles of Karmayoga which must govern the mental state and actions of the Karmamargin in his upward progress to his ideal In the next five verses we shall find the Upanishad enunciating the final goal of the Karmamargin and the ideal state of his mind and emotional part when his Yoga is perfected and he becomes a Yogin in very truth, the Siddha or perfected man and no longer the Sadhak or seeker after perfection.
While he is still a seeker, his mind must be governed by the idea of the Eternal as the mighty Lord and Ruler who pervades and encompasses the Universe He must see him in all and around all, informing each object and encompassing it On all that he sees, he must throw the halo of that presence; around all creatures and things, he must perceive the nimbus and the light.
His mind being thus governed by the idea of the divine omnipresence, he must not and cannot covet or desire, for possessing the Lord, what is it that he does not possess? what is it he needs to covet or desire? He cannot wish to injure or deprive others of their wealth, for who are others? are they other than himself? The Karmamargin must strive to abandon desire and make selflessness the law of his life and action Seeing God in others, he will naturally love them and seek to serve them By abnegation of desire he will find the sublime satisfaction the divinity in him demands and by the abandonment of the world
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in spirit, he will enjoy the whole world as his kingdom with a deep untroubled delight instead of embracing a few limited possessions with a chequered and transient pleasure.
Whatever others may do, the Karmamargin must not remove himself from the field of action and give up work in the world; he is not called upon to abandon the objects of enjoyment, but to possess them with a heart purified of longing and passion In this spirit he must do his work in this world and not flee from the struggle Neither must he shrink from life as a bondage He must realise that there is no bondage to him who is full of God, for God is free and not bound He must therefore be ready to live out his life and work out his work calmly and without desire, seeking only through his life and actions to get nearer to Him who is the Lord of life and Master of all actions.
Least of all will he allow disgust of life and work so to master him as to make him seek release by shortening his days upon earth For the suicide does not escape from phenomenal being in this world but passes into a far darker & more terrible prison of Maya than any that earthly existence can devise for the soul.
If his nature can expand to the greatness of this discipline, if his eyes can avail never to lose sight of God, if he can envisage the godhead in his fellowmen, if he can empty his soul of its lust & longing, if he can feel all the glory & joy & beauty of the world passionlessly & disinterestedly as his own, if he can do his works in the world however humble or however mighty not for himself but for God in man and God in the world, if he can slay the sense of egoism in his works and feel them to be not his own but the Lord's, if he can put from him alike the coward's shrinking from death and the coward's longing for death, suffering neither the lust of long life nor impatience of its vanities & vexations, but live out his full term bravely, modestly, selflessly and greatly, then indeed he becomes the Karmayogin who lives ever close to the eternal & almighty Presence, moving freely in the courts of God, admitted hourly to His presence and growing always liker & liker in his spiritual image to the purity, majesty, might and beauty of the Lord To love God in His world
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and approach God in himself is the discipline of the Karmayogin; to embrace all created things in his heart and divinely become God in his spirit, is his goal and ideal.
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Karmayoga; the Ideal
The Eternal in His Universe
I. ETERNAL TRUTH THE BASIS OF ETHICS
"There is the One and It moveth not, yet is It swifter than thought, the Gods could not overtake It as It moved in front While It standeth still, It outstrippeth others as they run In It Matariswan ordereth the waters "
The Root of Ethical Ideals
Everything that has phenomenal existence, takes its stand on the Eternal and has reality only as a reflection in the pure mirror of His infinite existence This is no less true of the affections of mind and heart and the formations of thought than of the affections of matter and the formations of the physical ether-stuff out of which this material Universe is made Every ethical ideal and every religious ideal must therefore depend for its truth and permanence on its philosophical foundation; in other words, on the closeness of its fundamental idea to the ultimate truth of the Eternal If the ideal implies a reading of the Eternal which is only distantly true and confuses Him with
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His physical or psychical manifestations in this world, then it is a relatively false and impermanent ideal Of all the ancient nations the Hindus, for this reason only, attained to the highest idea and noblest practice of morality The Greeks confused the Eternal with His physical manifestations and realised Him in them on the side of beauty; beauty therefore was the only law of morality which governed their civilization Ethics in their eyes was a matter of taste, balance and proportion; it hinged on the avoidance of excess in any direction, of excessive virtue no less than of excessive vice The fine development of personality under the inspiration of music and through the graceful play of intellect was the essential characteristic of their education; justice, in the sense of a fine balance between one's obligations to oneself and one's obligations to others, the ideal of their polity; decorum, the basis of their public morality; the sense of proportion the one law of restraint in their private ethics Their idea of deity was confined to the beautiful and brilliant rabble of their Olympus Hence the charm and versatility of Greek civilisation; hence also its impermanence as a separate culture The Romans also confused the Eternal with His manifestations in physical Nature, but they read Him on the side not of beauty but of force governed by law; the stern and orderly restraint which governs the Universe, was the feature in Nature's economy which ruled their thought Jupiter was to them the Governor & great Legislator whose decrees were binding on all; the very meaning of the word religion which they have left to the European world was "binding back" and indicated as the essence of religion restraint and tying down to things fixed and decreed Their ethics were full of a lofty strength & sternness Discipline stood as the keystone of their system; discipline of the actions created an inelastic faithfulness to domestic & public duties; discipline of the animal impulses an orderly courage and a cold, hard purity; discipline of the mind a conservative practical type of intellect very favourable to the creation of a powerful and well ordered State but not to the development of a manysided civilization Their type too, though more long lived than the Greek, could not last, because of the imperfection of the ideal
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on which it was based 1 The Chinese seem to have envisaged the Eternal in a higher aspect than these Mediterranean races; they found Him not in the manifested physical Universe itself, but in its origination and arrangement out of the primal material from which it arose Heaven, Akasha or the Eternal in the element of Ether, creates in the womb of Earth or formal Matter which is the final element developed out of Ether, this arranged and orderly Universe,—He is therefore the Father, Originator, Disposer and Arranger Veneration for parents and those who stand in the place of parents became the governing idea of their ethics; orderly disposition, the nice care of ceremony, manners, duties the law of their daily life; origination and organization the main characteristics of their intellectual activity The permanence and unconquerable vitality of their civilization is due to their having seized on an interpretation of the Eternal which, though not His ultimate truth to humanity, is at least close to that truth and a large aspect of it
. It is really Himself in his relation to the Universe, but not the whole of Himself But the ancient Aryans of India raised the veil completely and saw Him as the Universal Transcendent Self of all things who is at the same time the particular present Self in each They reached His singleness aloof from phenomena, they saw Him in every one of His million manifestations in phenomena God in Himself, God in man, God in Nature were the "ideas" which their life expressed Their civilisation was therefore more manysided and complete and their ethical and intellectual ideals more perfect and permanent than those of any other nation They had in
1 The following passage was written in the top margin of the manuscript page Its place of insertion was not marked:
Beauty is not the ultimate truth of the Eternal but only a partial manifestation of Him in phenomena which is externalised for our enjoyment and possession but not set before us as our standard or aim, and the soul which makes beauty its only end is soon cloyed & sated and fails for want of nourishment and of the growth which is impossible without an ever widening & progressive activity Power & Law are not the ultimate truth of the Eternal, but manifestations of Himself in phenomena which are set within us to develop and around us to condition our works, but this also is not set before us as our standard or aim The soul which follows Power as its whole end must in the long run lose measure and perish from hardness and egoism and that which sees nothing but Law wither for dryness or fossilise from the cessation of individual expansion
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full measure the sense of filial duty, the careful regulation of ceremony, manners and duties, the characteristics of origination and organization which distinguished the Chinese They had in full measure the Roman discipline, courage, purity, faithfulness to duty, careful conservatism; but these elements of character & culture which in the Roman were hard, cold, narrow and without any touch of the spirit in man or the sense of his divine individuality, the Hindus warmed & softened with emotional & spiritual meaning and made broad and elastic by accepting the supreme importance of the soul's individual life as overriding and governing the firm organization of morals and society They were not purely devoted to the worship and culture of beauty like the Greeks and their art was not perfect, yet they had the sense of beauty & art in a greater degree than any other ancient people; unlike the Greeks they had a perfect sense of spiritual beauty and were therefore able to realise the delight & glory of Nature hundreds of years before the sense of it developed in Europe On the ethical side they had a finer justice than the Greeks, a more noble public decorum, a keener sense of ethical & social balance, but they would not limit the infinite capacities of the soul; they gave play therefore to personal individuality but restrained and ordered its merely lawless ebullitions by the law of the type (caste) In addition to these various elements which they shared with one civilization or another they possessed a higher spiritual ideal which governed & overrode the mere ethics (mores or customary morality) which the other nations had developed Humanity, pity, chivalry, unselfishness, philanthropy, love of and self-sacrifice for all living things, the sense of the divinity in man, the Christian virtues, the modern virtues were fully developed in India at a time when in all the rest of the world they were either non-existent or existent only in the most feeble beginnings And they were developed, because the Aryan Rishis had been able to discover the truth of the Eternal and give to the nation the vision of the Eternal in all things and the feeling of His presence in themselves and in all around them They had discovered the truth that morality is not for its own sake, nor for the sake of society, but a preparation and purification of the soul
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by which the limited human self must become fit to raise itself out of the dark pit of bodily, mental and emotional selfishness into the clear heaven of universal love and benevolence and enlarge itself until it came into conscious contact, entered into and became one with the Supreme and Sempiternal Self Some hold the aim of morality to be a placing of oneself in harmony with the eternal laws that govern the Universe, others hold it to be the fulfilment under self-rule and guidance of man's nature, others a natural evolution of man in the direction of his highest faculties The Hindus perceived that it was all these at once but they discovered that the law with which the soul must put itself in relation was the law of the Eternal Self, that man's nature must seek its fulfilment in that which is permanent & eternal in the Universe and that it is to which his evolution moves They discovered that his higher self was the Self of his Universe and that by a certain manner of action, by a certain spirit in action, man escaped from his limitations and realised his higher Self This way of Works is Karmayoga and Karmayoga therefore depends on the Hindu conception of Brahman, the Transcendent Self and its relations to the Universe From this all Hindu ethics proceeds
Chapter I. Brahman
The first four verses of the Upanishad have given the general principle of Karmayoga; the next four provide its philosophical justification and of these four the first two express in a few phrases the Vedantic philosophy of God and Cosmos as a necessary preliminary to the formation of a true and permanent ethical ideal.
The close dependence of ethical ideals on the fundamental philosophy of the Eternal and Real to which they go back, is a law which the ancient Yogins had well understood Therefore the Upanishad when it has to set forth an ethical rule or ethical
2 The last six sentences of this paragraph, beginning "They had discovered the truth",
were written separately They seem to have been intended for insertion here—Ed
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ideal or intellectual attitude towards life, takes care to preface it with that aspect of the Eternal Reality on which its value and truth depend The first principles of Karmayoga arise from the realization of the Eternal as a great and divine Presence which pervades and surrounds all things, so that it is impossible to direct one's thought, speech or actions to thing or person without directing them to Him With the declaration of the Eternal as the Universal and Omnipresent Lord the Upanishad must, therefore, begin Now it is about to take a step farther & set forth the ideal of the Karmayogin and the consummation of his yoga It preludes the new train of thought by identifying Isha the Lord with Parabrahman the Eternal and Transcendent Reality Not only does He surround and sustain as the supreme Will by which and in which alone all things exist, but He is really the immutable and secret Self in all things which is ultimately Parabrahman This Isha whose Energy vibrates through the worlds, is really the motionless and ineffable Tranquillity towards which the Yogins & the sages strive.
"There is One and It unmoving is swifter than thought; the gods could not reach It moving in front; standing still It passes others as they run; 'tis in This that Matariswan setteth the waters It moves, It moveth not; It is far, the same It is near; It is within everyone, the same It is also outside everyone "
There is only One existence, one Reality in apparent multiplicity The unimaginable Presence which is manifest in the infinite variety of the Universe, is alone and alone Is The variety of things is in fact merely the variety of forms which the play or energy of the Will only seems, by its rapidity of motion, to create; so when the blades of an electric fan go whirling with full velocity, round & round, there seem to be not four blades or two, but a whole score; so, also, when Shiva in His mood begins His wild dance and tosses His arms abroad, He seems to have not two arms but a million It is the motion of the play of Will, it is the velocity of His Energy vibrating on the surface of His own existence which seems to create multiplicity All creation is motion, all activity is motion All this apparently stable universe is really in a state of multifold motion; everything is whirling with
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inconceivable rapidity in its own orbit, and even thought which is the swiftest thing we know, cannot keep pace with the velocity of the cosmic stir And all this motion, all this ever evolving cosmos and universe is Brahman the Eternal The Gods in their swiftest movements, the lords of the mind & senses cannot reach Him, for He rushes far in front The eye, the ear, the mind, nothing material can reach or conceive the inconceivable creative activity of this Will which is Brahman We try to follow Him pouring as light through the solar system and lo! while you are striving He is whirling universes into being far beyond reach of eye or telescope, far beyond the farthest flights of thought itself.
तन्मनसो जवीयो | Material senses quail before the thought of the wondrous stir and stupendous unimaginable activity that the existence of the Universe implies And yet all the time He does not really move All the time He who outstrips all others, is not running but standing It is the others, the forms and things His Energy has evolved, who are running and because He outstrips them, they think that He too moves While we are toiling after Him, He is all the time here, at our side, before us, behind us, with us, in us, His presence pervading us like the ether, clothing us like a garment "Standing still, He outstrips others as they run " It is our mind & senses that are running and this universal motion is the result of the Avidya to which they are subject; for Avidya by persuading us to imagine ourselves limited, creates the conditions of Time, Space & Causality and confines us in them as in a prisoning wall beyond which our thoughts cannot escape Brahman in all His creative activity is really standing still in His own being outside and inside Time & Space He is at the same time in the Sun and here, because neither here nor the Sun are outside Himself; He has not therefore to move any more than a man has to move in order to pass from one thought to another But we in order to realise His creative activity have to follow Him from the Sun to the Earth and from the Earth to the Sun; and this motion of our limited consciousness, this sensitory impression of a space covered and a time spent, we cannot dissociate from Brahman and must needs attribute the limitations of our own thought to Him; just as a man in a railway-train has a sensitory impression
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that everything is rushing past him and the train is still The stir of the Cosmos is really the stir of our own minds, and yet even that is a mere phenomenon What we call mind is simply one play of the Will sporting with the idea of multiplicity which is, in form, the idea of motion The Purusha, the Real Man in us and in the world, is really unmoving; He is the motionless and silent spectator of a drama of which He himself is the stage, the theatre, the scenery, the actors and the acting He is the poet Shakespeare watching Desdemona and Othello, Hamlet and the murderous Uncle, Rosalind and Jacques and Viola, and all the other hundred multiplicities of himself acting and talking and rejoicing and suffering, all himself and yet not himself, who sits there a silent witness, their Creator who has no part in their actions, and yet without Him not one of them could exist This is the mystery of the world and its paradox and yet its plain and easy truth.
But what really is this Will which as Purusha watches the motion and the drama and as Prakriti is the motion and the drama? It is the One motionless, unconditioned, inexpressible Parabrahman of whom, being beyond mark and feature, the Upanishad speaks always as It, while of Isha, the Lord, it speaks as He; for Isha as Purusha is the male or spiritual presence which generates forms in Prakriti the female or material Energy The spiritual entity does not work, but merely is and has a result; it is the material Energy, the manifestation of Spirit, which works or ceases from work Eventually however Spirit and Matter are merely aspects of each other & of something which is behind both; that something is the motionless, actionless It This which without moving is swifter than thought, is It; this which mind & senses cannot reach, for it moves far in front, is It; this which stands still & yet outstrips others as they run is It Will, Energy, Isha, the play of Prakriti for Purusha, are all merely the manifestation of that unmanifested It What we envisage as the manifested Brahman is, in His reality to Himself, the unmanifest Parabrahman It is only in His reality to us that He is the manifested Brahman And according as a man comes nearer to the truth of Him or loses himself in Him, so will be his spiritual condition While we think of Him as Isha, the one
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in innumerable aspects, the idea of difference remains though it can be subordinated to the idea of Oneness; that is the beginning of Yoga When we realize Isha as one with Parabrahman, the idea of Oneness has sway & rules; that is the culmination of Yoga When we realize Parabrahman Itself, that is the cessation of Yoga; for we depart utterly from Oneness & difference and no longer envisage the world of phenomena at all; that is Nirvana.
Chapter II Spiritual Evolution in Brahman
It is in this infinitely motionless, yet infinitely moving Brahman that Matariswan or Prana, the great Breath of things, the mighty principle of Life, disposes forms and solidities rescuing them out of the undifferentiated state from which the world arose To understand these two verses it is necessary to grasp clearly the ideas of creation & evolution which the Upanishads seek to formulate What in Europe is called creation, the Aryan sages preferred to call
srishti, projection of a part from the whole, the selection, liberation and development of something that is latent and potentially exists Creation means the bringing into existence of something which does not already exist; srishti the manifestation of something which is hidden and unmanifest The action of Prakriti proceeds upon the principle of selection leading naturally to development; she selects the limited out of the unlimited, the particular out of the general, the small portion out of the larger stock This limited, particular & fractional having by the very nature of limitation a swabhav, an
own-being or as it is called in English a nature, which differentiates it from others of its kind, develops under the law of its nature; that is its
swadharma, its own law & religion of being, and every separate & particular existence, whether inanimate thing or animal or man or community or nation must follow & develop itself under the law of its nature and act according to its own dharma It cannot follow a nature or accept a
dharma alien to itself except on peril of deterioration, decay and death This nature is determined by the balance in its composition of the three gunas or essential qualities of Prakriti, passivity, activity
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and equipoise, which reveal themselves under different shapes in the animate as well as the inanimate, in the mind as well as in the body In matter they appear as passive reception, reaction and retention, in human soul as the brutal animal, the active, creative man and the calm, clear-souled god It must always be remembered that Prakriti is no other than Avidya, the great Illusion She is that impalpable indeterminable source of subtle and gross matter, Matter in the abstract, the idea of difference and duality, the impression of Time, Space and Causality The limited is limited not in reality, but by walls of Avidya which shut it in and give it an impression of existence separate from that of the illimitable, just as a room is shut off from the rest of the house by walls and has its separate existence and its separate nature small or large, close or airy, coloured white or coloured blue Break down the walls and the separate existence and separate nature disappear; the very idea of a room is lost and there is nothing left but the house The sense of limitation and the consequent impulse towards development & self-enlargement immediately create desire which takes the form of hunger and so of a reaching after other existences for the satisfaction of hunger; and from desire & the contact with other existences there arise the two opposite forces of attraction and repulsion which on the moral plane are called liking and dislike, love and hatred Thus [the] necessity of absorbing mental and aesthetic food for the material of one's works; this too is hunger The instinct of self-enlargement shows itself in the physical craving for the absorption of other existences to strengthen oneself, in the emotional yearning to other beings, in the intellectual eagerness to absorb the minds of others and the aesthetic desire to possess or enjoy the beauty of things & persons, in the spiritual passion of love & beneficence, and all other activity which means the drawing of the self of others into one's own self and pouring out of oneself on others Desire is thus the first principle of things Under the force of attraction and repulsion hunger begins to differentiate itself & develop the various senses in order the better to master its food and to feel & know the other existences which repel or attract it So out of the primal consciousness of Will dealing with matter
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is developed form and organism, vitality, receptive mind, discriminating mind, Egoism Out of this one method of Prakriti, selection, liberation and development, the whole evolution of the phenomenal world arises Creation therefore is not a making of something where nothing existed, but a selection and new formation out of existing material; not a sudden increase, but a continual rearrangement and substitution; not an arbitrary manufacture, but an orderly development.
The idea of creation as a selection and development from preexisting material which is common to the Upanishads & the Sankhya philosophy, is also the fundamental idea of the modern theory of Evolution The theory of Evolution is foreshadowed in the Veda, but nowhere clearly formulated In the Aitareya Upanishad we find a luminous hint of the evolution of various animal forms until in the course of differentiation by selection the body of man was developed as a perfect temple for the gods and a satisfactory instrument for sensational, intellectual and spiritual evolution When the Swetaswatara sums up the process of creation in the pregnant formula "One seed developed into many forms", it is simply crystallizing the one general idea on which the whole of Indian thought takes its stand and to which the whole tendency of modern science returns The opening of the Brihadaranyakopanishad powerfully foreshadows the theory that hunger & the struggle for life (ashanaya mrityu) are the principle agents in life-development But it was not in this aspect of the law of creation that the old Hindu thought interested itself Modern Science has made it its business to investigate and master the forces and laws of working of the physical world; it has sought to know how man as a reasoning animal developed into what he is, how he is affected in detail by the laws of external nature and what is the rule of his thought and action in things physical & psycho-physical whether as an individual or in masses Outside the limits of this inquiry it has been sceptical or indifferent Hindu thought, on the contrary, has made it its business to investigate the possibilities of man's escape from the animal and physical condition, from his subjection to the laws of external nature and from his apparent limitations as a mere
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creature of surroundings & sensational impact from outside Its province has been the psychical and spiritual world It has not concerned itself minutely with man's physical sheath, but rather with what is vital & elemental in the matter of which he is made, the law of the workings of the breath and the elemental forces within him, the relation of the various parts of his psychical anatomy to each other, and the law of his thought and action as a spiritual being having one side of itself turned to phenomena and this transient life in society and the world, the other to the single and eternal verity of things.
Speculating and experimenting on these psychical and spiritual relations, the ancient Rishis arrived at what they believed to be the fundamental laws respectively of spiritual, psychical and elemental evolution Spiritually, the beginning of all things is the Turiya Atman, spirit in its fourth or transcendental state, intellectually unknowable and indefinable, infinite, indivisible, immutable and supra-conscious This Turiya Atman may be imaged as the infinite ocean of spirit which evolves in itself spiritual manifestations and workings by that process of limitation or selection on which all creation or manifestation depends By this Turiya Atman there is conceived or there is selected out of its infinite capacity a state of spirit less unknowable and therefore less indefinable, in which the conceptions of finity and division preexist in a potential state and in which consciousness is
self-gathered and as yet inoperative This state of Spirit is called variously Avyakta, the unmanifestation, or the seed-condition or the condition of absolute Sleep, because as yet phenomena and activity are not manifest but preexist gathered-together and undeveloped, just as all the infinite potentialities of organic life upon earth preexist gathered-together and undeveloped in the protoplasm; just as leaf and twig, trunk and branches, sap and pith and bark, root and flower and fruit preexist,
gathered-together and undeveloped in the seed The State of Sleep may be envisaged as Eternal Will and Wisdom on the brink of creation, with the predestined evolution of a million universes, the development of sun & star and nebula and the shining constellations and the wheeling orbits of satellite and planet, the formation of
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metals and the life of trees, the motions and actions of fish and bird and beast and the infinite spiritual, mental and physical stir & activities of man already pre-ordained, pre-arranged and
pre-existent, before Time was or Space existed or Causality began Spirit in this state of Sleep is called Prajna, the Wise One or He who knows and orders things beforehand The next state of Spirit, evolved out of Prajna, is the pure psychical or Dream State in which Spirit is in a condition of ceaseless psychical activity imagining, willing, selecting out of the matter which Prajna provides, and creating thought-forms to clothe the abundant variety of its multitudinous imaginations The Dream-State is the psychical condition of Spirit and operates in a world of subtle matter finer and more elastic than gross physical matter and therefore not subject to the heavy restrictions and slow processes with which the latter is burdened For this reason while physical workings are fixed, slow and confined by walls within walls, thought, psychical manifestation and other operations in subtle matter are in comparison volatile, rapid and free, reacting more elastically against the pressure of Time, Condition and Space This State of Dream may be envisaged as Eternal Will and Energy in the process of creation with the whole activity of the Universe teeming and fructuating within it; it is that psychical matrix out of which physical form and life are evolved and to which in sleep it partially returns so that it may recuperate and drink in a fresh store of psychical energy to support the heavy strain of physical processes in gross matter Spirit in the middle or
Dream-State is called Taijasa or Hiranyagarbha, the Shining Embryon It is Taijasa, Energy of Light, and Hiranya the Shining because in psychical matter luminous energy is the chief characteristic, colour and light predominating over fluid or solid form It is Garbha, Embryon, because out of psychical matter physical life and form are selected and evolved into the final or Waking State in which Spirit manifests itself as physically visible, audible & sensible form and life, and arrives at last at an appearance of firm stability & solidity in gross matter Spirit in the Waking State is called Vaisvanor, the Universal Male, He who informs and supports all forms of energy in this physical universe; for
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it is a root idea of Hindu philosophy that Spirit is the Male which casts its seed into Matter and Matter the female Energy which receives the seed and with it creates and operates Spirit and Matter are not different entities, but simply the positive and negative poles in the creative operation of the All-Self or Universal which evolves in Itself and out of Itself the endless procession of things.
All things in the Universe are of one texture & substance and subject to a single law; existence is a fundamental unity under a superficial diversity Each part of the Universe is therefore a little Universe in itself repeating under different conditions and in different forms the nature and operations of the wider Cosmos Every individual man must be in little what the Cosmos is in large Like the Cosmos therefore each individual man has been created by the evolution of Spirit from its pure essence through the three states of Sleep, Dream and Waking But this evolution has been a downward evolution; he has descended spiritually from pure Spirit into physical matter, from self-existent,
self-knowing, self-delighting God into the reasoning animal In other words each new condition of Spirit, as it evolved, has overlaid and obscured its predecessor In the physical condition, which is the ultimate term of the downward evolution, man realizes himself as a body moving among and affected by other bodies and he readily understands, masters and employs physical organs, physical processes and physical forces, but he finds it difficult to understand, master or employ psychical organs, psychical processes and psychical forces,—so difficult that he has come to be sceptical of the existence of the psychical and doubt whether he is a soul at all, whether he is not merely an animal body with an exceptional brain-evolution In his present state any evolution of the psychical force within is attended with extraordinary disturbances of the physical instruments; such as the development of delusions, hallucinations, eccentricities, mania and disease side by side with the development of genius or exceptional mental & spiritual powers in family or individual Man has not yet discovered his soul; his main energies have been directed towards realizing and mastering the physical world in which he moves
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It is indeed, as some are beginning dimly to perceive, the soul within him which has all along been using the body for its own ends on the physical plane, but the soul has been working from behind the veil, unrealized and unseen The Waking-State has overlaid and obscured the Dream-State When he has mastered, as in the course of his evolution he must master, the psychical world within him, man will find that there is another & deeper self which is overlaid and obscured by the psychical,—the
Sleep-world within or as it is called, the causal self At present, even when he admits the existence of the soul, he sees nothing beyond his psychical self and speaks of soul and spirit as if they were identical In reality, there are three spirit-states, spirit, soul and body, the sleep-state, the dream-state and the waking-state Body has overlaid and obscured soul, soul overlays & obscures spirit, spirit in its turn obscures & overlays the pure self from which & towards which the circle of evolution moves.
Creation, then, has been a downward evolution which has for its object to create a body fit for an upward evolution into the region of pure spirit It is in this direction that the future of human evolution lies When man has mastered the physical world and its forces, when the earth is his and the fullness thereof, he must turn his efforts towards mastering the world within himself Instead of allowing the soul to use the body for its own ends, he must learn to master both soul and body and use them consciously for the purposes of the spirit, that Eternal Will & Wisdom which at present operates in secrecy, veiled with darkness within darkness and seeming even to be blind and hidden from itself In the end he will be master of spirit, soul and body, a Jivanmukta using them at will for cosmic purposes or transcending them to feel his identity with the Self who is pure and absolute existence, consciousness and bliss.
Chapter III. Psychical evolution—downward to matter
In their enquiry into the spiritual nature of man the ancient thinkers and Yogins discovered that he has not only three spiritual states but three bodies or cases of matter corresponding
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to the spiritual states This was in accordance with the nature of phenomenal existence as determined by their inquiries Spirit and matter, the inner inspiring presence and outward acting substance-energy, are the two necessary terms of this existence When phenomena are transcended we come to a Self independent of Spirit or Matter; but the moment Self descends into phenomenal existence, it must necessarily create for itself a form or body and a medium in which it manifests and through which it acts Directly, therefore, the pure transcendent Self evolves one aspect of itself as a definable spiritual condition, it must in the nature of things evolve also a form or body and a medium through and in which Spirit in that condition can manifest itself Matter, in other words, evolves coevally and coincidently with Spirit As soon as the Sleep-State appears, Spirit surrounds itself with matter in that most refined & least palpable condition, to which the name of causal matter may be given,—the material seed state, single and elemental in its nature, from which the material universe is evolved With the evolution of the Dream-State matter also evolves from the causal into the subtle, a condition compound, divisible and capable of definite form but too fine to be perceived by ordinary physical senses It is only when the Waking-State is evolved that matter concentrates into that gross physical condition which is all that Science has hitherto been able to analyse and investigate.
In man also as in the larger Cosmos each spiritual State lives in and uses its corresponding medium of matter and out of that matter shapes for itself its own body or material case He has therefore a causal body for his Sleep-State or causal self, a subtle body for his Dream-State or psychical self and a gross body for his Waking-State or physical self When he dies, what happens is simply the disintegration of the physical body and the return of the Waking into the Dream-State from which it was originally projected Death, in the ordinary view, is a delivery from matter; body is destroyed and only spirit or soul remains: but this view is rejected by Hindu philosophy as an error resulting from confused and inadequate knowledge of man's psychical nature The Waking-State having disappeared
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into the Dream-State and no longer existing, the physical body must necessarily disintegrate since it has no longer a soul to support it and keep naturally together the gross material atoms out of which it is constructed But because the physical body is destroyed or dropped off, it does not follow that no body is left Man goes on existing after death in his Dream-State and moves & acts with his subtle body; it is this dream-state in the subtle body to which the name soul or spirit is popularly given Even the disintegration of the subtle body and the return of the Dream-State into the Sleep-State from which it was projected, would not imply a release from all restrictions of matter; for the causal body would still remain It is only when the Sleep-State is also transcended, that phenomenal existence with its necessary duality of Spirit-Matter is left behind and transcended Then spirit & body are both dissolved into pure and transcendent self-existence.
In examining and analysing these spiritual conditions in their respective bodies the Rishis arrived at a theory of psychical evolution contained within and dependent on the spiritual evolution already described The basis of psychical as of spiritual existence is the pure Self called the Paramatman or Supreme Self when it manifests in the Cosmos and the Jivatman or individual Self when it manifests in man The Self first manifests as Will or as the Rishis preferred to call it Ananda, Bliss, Delight Ananda is the pure delight of existence and activity and may be identified in one of its aspects with the European Will-to-live, but it has a double tendency, the Will to be phenomenally and the Will to be transcendentally, the Will to live and the Will to cease from phenomenal life It is also the Will to know and the Will to enjoy and in each aspect the double tendency is repeated The Will to know eternal reality is balanced by the Will to know phenomenal diversity; the Will to absolute delight by the Will to phenomenal delight Will must be clearly distinguished from volition which is only one of the operations of Will acting in phenomena The impacts from external things upon the mind result in sensations and the reactions of the Will upon these sensations when conveyed to it, take the form of desires Volition is
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simply the impulse of the Will operating through the intelligence to satisfy or curb the desires created in the medium between itself and the mind But the Will itself is antecedent to mind and intelligence and all the operations of body, mind and intelligence are ultimately operations of material energy ordained by the Will Self manifesting as Will or Bliss is, spiritually, the Sleep-State and operates absolutely & directly in the Causal body as the creative force behind Nature, but indirectly & under limitations in the subtle & gross bodies as the cause of all thought, action and feeling.
The next evolutionary form of Will, put forth by itself from itself as an instrument or operative force in the creation of the worlds, is Buddhi or Supra-intelligence, an energy which is above mind and reason and acts independently of any cerebral organ It is Will acting through the Supra-intelligence that guides the growth of the tree and the formation of the animal and gives to all things in the Universe the appearance of careful and abundant workmanship and orderly arrangement from which the idea of an Almighty Artificer full of fecund and infinite imaginations has naturally grown up in the human mind; but from the point of view of the Vedanta Will and Supra-Intelligence are not attributes of an anthropomorphic Deity endowed with a colossal brain but aspects of a spiritual presence manifesting itself cosmically in phenomenal existence Will, through Buddhi, creating and operating on phenomena in subtle matter evolves Mind, which by reception of external impacts & impressions evolves sensation; by reaction to impressions received, evolves desire and activity; by retention of impressions with their reactions, evolves memory; by coordination of impressions & reactions memorized, evolves the sense of individuality; by individual arrangement of impressions and reactions with the aid of memory evolves understanding; and by the action of supra-intelligence on developed mind evolves reason Mind & Supra-intelligence with reason as an intermediate link are, spiritually, the
Dream-State and operate absolutely and directly in the subtle body but indirectly, under limitations and as a governing and directing force in the gross body
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So far spirit and soul only have been evolved; the evolution of the Will has not manifested itself in physical forms But in Mind Will has evolved a grand primal sense by which it is able to put itself into conscious relations with external objects; before the development of mind it has been operating by methods of self-contained consciousness through the
supra-intelligence Mind is in a way the one true and real sense; it is Mind that sees, Mind that hears, Mind that smells, Mind that feels, Mind that acts; but for the purposes of varied experience Mind evolves from itself ten potencies, five potencies of knowledge, sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste by which the Will receives impressions of external objects and five potencies of action, grasp, locomotion, utterance, emission and ecstasy, by which it reacts on what it receives; and for each of these potencies it evolves an instrument of potency or sense-organ, making up the ten indriyas
with the Mind, which is alone self-acting and introspective, as the eleventh So far however the Mind acts with rapidity and directness under the comparatively light restrictions of subtle matter in the Dream State; it is a psychical sense, an instrument of the soul for knowing and dealing with life in the psychical world of subtle matter Only in the physical evolution of gross matter do the sense-organs receive their consummate development and become of supreme importance; for Will in the Waking State acts mainly through them and not directly through the Mind Soul-evolution precedes physical evolution This theory directly contradicts those conclusions of modern Science which make soul an evolution of physical life and activities, not an all-important and enduring evolution, but merely their temporary efflorescence and dependent on them for its existence Arguing from the facts of physical evolution which alone it has studied and excluding all possibilities outside this limit, Science is justified in coming to this conclusion, and, as a logical corollary, it is justified in denying the immortality of the soul For if psychical activities are merely a later and temporary operation of physical life and dependent on the physical for their own continuance, it follows that when physical life ceases with the arrest of bodily operations by the mysterious agency
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of death, human personality which is a psychical activity must also come to an end When the body dies, the soul dies also; it can no more outlast the body than the flower can outlast the plant on which it grows or a house survive the destruction of its foundations Body is the stem, soul the flower; body the foundation, soul a light and temporary superstructure To all this Hindu thought gives a direct denial It claims to have discovered means of investigating psychical life as thoroughly as Science can investigate physical nature and in the light of its investigations it declares that soul exists before body and outlasts it
. It is physical life that is an evolution from psychical, and no more than a later and temporary operation of psychical activities Body is the flower, soul the stem; soul is the foundation, body the fragile and transient superstructure.
For the purposes of physical evolution Will evolves a new aspect of itself which is called Prana or vital energy Prana exists in the physical state also, but there it is simple, undifferentiated, gathered up in mind and not acting as a separate agent Prana in gross matter is an all-pervading energy which subsists wherever there is physical existence and is the principle agent in maintaining existence and furthering its activities It is present in what seems inert and inanimate no less than in what is manifestly endowed with life It lives concealed in the metal and the sod, it begins to emerge in the plant, it reveals itself in the animal Prana is the agent of Will in all physical evolution It is the mainspring of every hunger-impulse and presides over every process of alimentation It creates life, it fills it with vital needs, desires, longings; it spurs it to the satisfaction of its needs & desires; and it evolves the means and superintends and conducts the processes of that satisfaction In the course of evolution it reveals itself with an ever-rounding fulness, vibrates with an ever swifter and more complex energy, differentiates and enriches its activity with a more splendid opulence until the crescendo reaches its highest note in man In this, the noblest type of physical evolution, Prana manifests itself in five distinct vital powers, to which the names, Prana, Samana, Vyana, Apana and Udana have been given by the ancient writers Prana, the
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vital force par excellence has its seat in the upper part of the body and conducts all mental operations, the indrawing and the outdrawing of the breath and the induction of food Samana, seated centrally in the body, balances, equalizes and harmonizes the vital operations and is the agent for the assimilation of food Vyana pervades the whole body; on it depends the circulation of the blood and the distribution of the essential part of the food eaten and digested throughout the body Apana, situated in the lower part of the trunk, presides over the lower functions, especially over the emission of such parts of the food as are rejected by the body and over procreation, it is intimately connected with the processes of decay and death Udana is the vital power which connects bodily life with the spiritual element in man As in the purely vital operations, so also in the motional and volitional Prana is still the great agent of Will, and conducts such operations of Mind also as depend on the sense-organs for their instruments Prana is the regent of the body, ministering to the Mind and through that great intermediary executing the behests of the concealed sovereign of existence, the Will
As Prana is the first term in the physical evolution of the Self, so Anna, Food or gross visible matter is the second term "I am food that devours the eater of food" says the Taittiriya Upanishad, and no formula could express more pregnantly and tersely the fundamental law of all phenomenal activity especially on the physical plane The fundamental principle of vitality is hunger and all gross matter forms the food with which Prana satisfies this, its root-impulse Hence the universality of the struggle for life This hungry Prana first needs to build up a body in which it can subsist and in order to do so, it devours external substances so as to provide itself with the requisite material This body once found it is continually eating up by the ceaselessness of its vital activity and has to repair its own ravages by continually drawing in external substances to form fresh material for an ever-wasting and ever-renewing frame Unable to preserve its body for ever under the exhausting stress of its own activity, it has to procreate fresh forms which will continue vital activity and for the purpose concentrates itself in a part of its material which it throws out of
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itself to lead a similar but independent life even after the parent form decays To satisfy its hunger it is ever evolving fresh means and new potencies for mastery & seizure of its food Dissatisfied with the poor sustenance a stationary existence can supply, it develops the power & evolves various means of locomotion To perceive its food more & more thoroughly & rapidly it develops the five senses and evolves the organs of perception through which they can act To deal successfully with the food perceived, it develops the five potencies of action and evolves the active organs which enable them to work As a centre of all this sensational and actional activity it evolves the central mind-organ in the brain and as channels of communication between the central & the outer organs it develops a great nerve-system centred in seven plexuses, through which it moves with a ceaseless stir and activity, satisfying hunger, satisfying lust, satisfying desire At the base of all is the impulse of Life to survive, to prolong itself for the purposes of the Will-to-live of which it is the creature and the servant Prana & Anna, Vitality and physical form are, spiritually, the Waking-State and operate entirely in gross matter,—the last term of that downward evolution which is the descent of Spirit from the original purity of absolute existence into the impurity and multiplicity of matter
Chapter IV. Psychical Evolution—Upward to Self
In this downward psychical evolution, as in the downward spiritual evolution, each succeeding and newly-evolved state of the original Self obscures and overlays that which preceded it, until the last state of the Self appears to be an inert brute and inanimate condition of gross physical matter devoid of life, mental consciousness or spiritual possibilities From this state of inert and lifeless matter the upward evolution starts and, as in our spiritual evolution the course set down for us is to recover from a firm footing in the Waking State mastery over the obscured and latent Dream and Sleep States and so return into the presence of that pure and unimaginable Self from whom the process of our evolution began, so in our psychical evolution we have to recover
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out of the inertia of gross physical materiality Life, Mind,
Supra-Intelligence, Will until we know our infinite and eternal Self who is one with the Supreme Self of the Universe.
With inanimate matter the world began, says evolutionary Science; but in inanimate matter there is no evidence of life or mind or spirit, no apparent possibility of the evolution of animate conscious existence Into this inanimate world at some unknown period, by some unknown means, perhaps from some unknown source, a mysterious thing called Life entered or began to stir and all this mighty evolution we have discovered became in a moment possible Grant one infinitesimal seed of life and everything else becomes possible, but life itself we cannot explain nor can we discover as yet how it came originally into being We can only suppose that life is some chemical process or develops from some chemical process we shall ultimately discover Even what life is, has not been satisfactorily settled The term is sometimes rigidly confined to animal life,—surely a crude and unscientific limitation, since the peculiarities of animal life,—consciousness and organic growth—-, exist quite as evidently in the highest forms of plant-life as in the animalcule or the jelly-fish Or if we confine life to organic growth, we do so arbitrarily, for recent discoveries have shown the beginning of one element of vital activity, the one which forms the very basis of consciousness, viz reception of & reaction to outward impressions and the phenomena of vigour and exhaustion, in a substance so apparently inanimate as metal So obscure is the whole subject that many are inclined to regard life as a divine mystery, breathed by God into the world or introduced, as if it were a sort of psychical meteoric dust, from some other planet Upanishadic philosophy accounts for the appearance of Life in a more calm and rational manner Life, it would say, is in a sense a divine mystery but no more and no less so than the existence of inanimate matter God did not breathe it from outside into an inert and created body, neither did it drift hither from some mystic and superior planet Nor did it come into sudden being by some fortuitous chemical process which marked off suddenly all existences into two rigidly distinct classes, animate
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and inanimate, organic and inorganic All such ideas are, when carefully examined, irrational and inconsistent with the unity and harmonious development of the world under fixed and invariable laws Life is evolved naturally and not mysteriously out of matter itself, because it is already latent and preexistent in matter Prana is involved in anna,
matter cannot exist without latent life, and the first step in evolution is
the liberation of the latent life out of the heavy obscuration of matter in
its grossest and densest forms This evolution is effected by the three gunas, the triple principle of reception, retention and reaction to outward impacts; as fresh forms of matter are evolved in which the power of retaining impacts received in the shape of impressions becomes more and more declared, consciousness slowly and laboriously develops; as the power of reacting on external objects becomes more pronounced and varied, organic life-growth begins its marvellous career; and the two, helping and enriching each other, evolve complete, well-organized and richly-endowed Life.
Prana receives its perfect development in animal life and when man, the highest term of animal life, has been reached, there is no farther need for its development The true evolution of Man therefore lies not in the farther development of vitality, but in the complete & triumphant liberation of mind out of the overlaying obscuration of the vital energies Just as Prana is involved in Anna and has to be evolved out of it, so Mind is involved in Prana and has to be evolved out of it The moment Life begins to liberate itself from the obscuration of gross matter, the first step has been taken towards the evolution of Mind We see the gradual development of Mind in animal evolution; the highest animal forms below man seem to possess not only memory and individuality, but a considerable degree of understanding and even the rudiments of reason In man the development is much more rapid and triumphant, but it is by no means, as yet, complete or perfect Prana still to an immense extent obscures Mind, the gross body dominates the subtle Mind is dominated by the instruments which Prana has created for it; the body, the nerve-system, the sense-organs, the
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brain hamper and hinder its operations even more than they help them; for the Mind is bound within the narrow circle of their activity and limited by their deficiencies The continual stir of the vital energies in the brain and throughout the whole system, disturb the Mind, the continual siege of external impressions distract it, the insistent urgency of the senses towards the external world impede the turning of the energies inward; calm and purity, concentration and introspection are rendered so difficult that the majority of men do not attempt them or only compass them spasmodically and imperfectly Any powerful and unusual development of mind, in its intellectual and spiritual tendencies, is apt to be resented by the vital part of man and to impair or seriously disturb his vital energies and physical health Along with the intellectual development of the race, there has been a marked deterioration of vital vigour & soundness and of the bodily organs Moral and spiritual development is continually at war with the needs of our physical life, our hungers, desires, lusts, longings and the insistent urgency of the instincts of
self-preservation and self-gratification It is therefore towards the conquest and control of Prana and the free development of Mind that the energies of Man ought in future to be directed He must arrive at some arrangement of his social and individual life which, while satisfying the legitimate demands of his body and his vital impulses, will admit of the extreme and unhampered perfection of his intellectual, moral and spiritual being He must discover and practise some method of maintaining the harmony and soundness of the vital and bodily instruments and processes without for a moment allowing the care for them to restrict the widest possible range, the most bold and powerful exercise and the most intense and fiery energisms of which the higher principle in his being is capable He must learn how to transcend the limitations and errors of the physical senses and train his mind to act even in the physical body with the rapidity, directness and unlimited range proper to a psychical organ whose function is to operate in subtle as well as in gross matter To see where the physical eye is blind, to hear where the physical ear is deaf, to feel where the physical sense is callous, to understand thoughts
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unexpressed, are legitimate functions of the mind; but they must be exercised, not as a rare power or in moments of supreme excitation, but as a regular and consciously willed operation, the processes of which have been mastered and known Reason, at present fallible, imperfect and enslaved to desire and prejudice, must be trained into its highest possibilities of clarity, sanity and calm energy The Mind must be tranquillised and purified by control of the senses and the five Pranas, and trained to turn itself wholly inward, excluding at will all outward impressions, so that Man may become master of the inner world no less than of the outer, a conscious soul using the body and no longer a body governed by a self-concealing and self-guiding psychical entity We think we have done wonders in the way of mental evolution; in reality we have made no more than a feeble beginning The infinite possibilities of that evolution still lie unexplored in front.
As Mind is involved in Prana, so is Supra-Intelligence involved and latent in all the operations of Mind With the evolution
of the Mind, some rudimentary beginnings have been unconsciously made
towards the liberation of this higher & far grander force As the mental
development foreshadowed above proceeds to its goal, man will begin to
evolve and realize himself as a mighty and infinite Intelligence, not limited by sense-perception or the laborious and clumsy processes of the reason, but capable of intuitive and infinite perception And when the evolution of Mind is complete and the evolution of Supra-Intelligence proceeds, the liberation of the Will involved in its operations will lead man to the highest evolution of all when he realizes himself as a potent and scient Will, master of creation and not its slave, whose infinite delight in its own existence is lifted far beyond the thraldom of pain and pleasure and uses them with as unalloyed a pleasure as the poet when he weaves joy and sorrow, delight and pain and love and fear and horror into one perfect and pleasurable masterpiece or the painter when he mixes his colours and blends light and shade to create a wedded harmony of form and hue This state of unfettered Will and infinite Delight once realized, he cannot fail to know his real Self, absolute and calm, omnipotent and pure,
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the eternal Brahman in whom this evolution has its root and resting-place.
VII. Elemental Evolution.
The evolution of the cosmos has not only spiritual and psychical aspects; it has also from the moment of its inception a material element Spirit exists from the beginning and was before any beginning, infinite and sempiternal; but Matter also is an eternal entity In the Parabrahman, the absolute inconceivable Self, Spirit and Matter are one and undifferentiated, but the moment evolution begins Spirit and Matter manifest equally and coevally We have seen that the first spiritual evolution from the pure
self-existent Atman is Prajna of the Sleep-State, Eternal Wisdom, a supporting spiritual presence which contains in itself the whole course of cosmic evolution even as a single seed contains in itself the complete banyan-tree with all its gigantic progeny We have seen that corresponding to this Eternal Wisdom, there is a first psychic evolution, Ananda or Will, an inspiring psychical force in man & the cosmos which makes all the workings of Nature possible Spirit however, even when operating as Will, is not a working force in the sense that it itself carries on the operations of Nature; it is an inspiring, impelling force, whose function is to set in motion a powerful material energy of the Self; and it is this material energy which under the inspiration of Will and at the bidding of Prajna sets about the evolution of the Cosmos Self in its dealings with the Cosmos is a dual entity, underlying spiritual presence and superficially active material energy, or as they are called in the terminology of the Sankhya philosophy, Purusha and Prakriti;—Purusha, that which lies concealed in the Vast of universal existence, Prakriti, active or operative energy thrown forward from the concealed spiritual source The whole of Evolution spiritual, psychical, material, is the result of Purusha and Prakriti acting upon each other; the three evolutions are really one, coincident and coeval, because throughout it is one Reality that is manifesting and not three It is Self manifesting as spirit, Self manifesting as soul, Self manifesting as matter or body The
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three manifestations are coincident in Time and Space and each condition of phenomena is a triple state with Spirit and Matter for its extreme terms and Soul for its middle In the evolution of the spirit-states Purusha determines itself so as to inform and support the progressive manifestations of Self as soul and body; in the evolution of the psychic states Prakriti worked on by Purusha creates for the manifestations of Self as spirit psychic sheaths or coverings which will at the same time inform and support the manifestations of Self as matter; in the evolution of the causal, subtle and gross bodies Prakriti shapes itself so as to create the material out of which the psychical coverings of Self as spirit may be made and the medium in which the Self as soul may operate The three evolutions are dependent on each other, and that it is really one entity and not three which is evolving, is shown by the fact that while in the first stage of the downward evolution and the last of the upward Matter seems so refined as to appear identical with Spirit, in the last of the downward and first of the upward Spirit seems so densified as to appear identical with Matter This possibility of evolution from and involution into each other would not be conceivable if they were not in essence one entity; and we may legitimately deduce from the oneness of such diverse phenomena that they are no more than phenomena, merely apparent changes in one unchanging reality
In the first stage of evolution Matter appears as an aspect or shadow of Spirit, and like Spirit it is infinite, unanalysable, undifferentiated Just as Spirit then has only three positive attributes, infinite and undefinable existence, consciousness and bliss, so original Matter has only three positive attributes, infinite and undefinable Time, Space and Causality—or, as Hindu thought phrases it, Condition For the essence of Condition being change from one state to another, and each change standing in the relation of cause or origin to the one that follows it, Condition and Causality become convertible terms From this indefinable noumenal condition of Prakriti the Self forms for its uses matter in its most refined and simple form, undifferentiated and undeveloped, but pregnant with the whole of material evolution The
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causal state is called by the Sankhyas Pradhana, the first state or arrangement of matter and its essential principle The relation of Spirit and Matter in this causal or seed-state is admirably expressed in the Puranic image of Vishnu, the eternal Purusha, asleep on the waveless causal ocean with the endless coils of the snake Ananta, the Infinite, for his couch The sea of causal matter is then motionless and it is only when Vishnu awakes, the snake Ananta stirs and the first ever widening ripples are created on the surface of the waters that the actual evolution of matter has begun The first ripple or vibration in causal matter creates a new & exceedingly fine and pervasive condition of matter called akasha or ether; more complex motion evolves out of ether a somewhat intenser condition which is called Vayu, Air; and so by ever more complex motion with increasing intensity of condition for result, yet three other matter-states are successively developed, Agni or Fire, Apah or Water and Prithivi or Earth These are the five tanmatras or subtle elements of Sankhya philosophy by the combination of which subtle forms in subtle matter are built.
Here it is necessary to enter a caution against possible misunderstandings to which the peculiar nomenclature used by the Rishis & the common rendering of
tanmatra & bhuta by the English word elements may very easily give rise When we speak of elements in English in a scientific sense, we always imply elemental substances, those substances which when analysed by chemical processes, cannot be resolved into substances simpler than themselves But when Hindu philosophy speaks of the five elements, it is not dealing with substances at all but with elemental states or conditions of matter, which are not perceptible or analysable by chemical inquiry but underlie substances and forms as basic principles of material formation The old thinkers accepted the atomic theory of the formation of objects and substances but they did not care to carry the theory farther and inquire by what particular combinations of atoms this or that substance came into being or by what variations and developments in detail bodies animate or inanimate came to be what they are This did not seem to them to be an inquiry
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of the first importance; they were content with laying down some main principles of material evolution and there they left the matter But they were anxious to resolve not substances into their original atoms but matter into its original condition and so discover its ultimate relations to the psychical and spiritual life of man They saw that perpetual motion involving perpetual change was the fundamental characteristic of matter and that each new motion was attended by a new condition which stood to the immediately preceding condition in the relation of effect to cause or at least of a new birth to the matrix in which it had been enembryoed Behind the solid condition of matter, they found a condition less dense which was at the basis of all fluid forms; behind the fluid condition, another still less dense which was at the basis of all igneous or luminous forms; behind the igneous, yet another and finer which was at the basis of all aerial or gaseous forms; and last of all one finest and most pervasive condition of all which they called Akash or Ether
. Ether was, they found, the primary substance out of which all this visible Universe is evolved and beyond ether they were unable to go without matter losing all the characteristics associated with it in the physical world and lapsing into a quite different substance of which the forms and motions were much more vague, subtle, elastic and volatile than any of which the physical world is aware This new world of matter they called subtle matter and analysed the subtle as they had analysed the gross until by a similar procession from denser to subtler they came to a finest condition of all which they described as subtle ether Out of this subtle ether a whole world of subtle forms and energies are evolved which constitute psychical existence Beyond subtle ether matter lost its subtle characteristics and lapsed into a new kind which they could not analyse but which seemed to be the matrix out of which all material evolution proceeded This they termed causal matter.
In the course of this analysis they could not help perceiving that consciousness in each world of matter assumed a different form and acted in a different way corresponding to the characteristics of the matter in which it moved In its operations in
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gross matter the forms it assumed were more firm, solid and durable but at the same time more slow, difficult and hampered, just as are the motions and acts of a man in his waking state as compared with what he does in his dreams In its operations in subtle matter the forms consciousness assumed were freer and more rapid, but more volatile, elastic & swiftly mutable, as are the motions and acts of a man in a dreaming state compared to the activities of his waking condition To consciousness acting on gross matter they gave therefore the name of the Waking State, to consciousness acting on subtle matter the name of the Dream State In causal matter they found that consciousness took the shape merely of the pure sense of blissful existence; they could discover no other distinguishing sensation This therefore they called the Sleep State They farther discovered that the various faculties and functions of man belonged properly some to one, some to another of the three states of consciousness and its corresponding state of matter His vital and physical functions operated only in gross matter, and they determined accordingly that his physical life was the result of consciousness working in the Waking State on gross matter His mental and intuitional processes were found to operate freely and perfectly in subtle matter, but in gross matter with a hampered and imperfect activity; they considered therefore that man's mental life belonged properly to the Dream State and only worked indirectly and under serious limitations in the Waking State They determined accordingly that mental life must be the result of Consciousness working in the Dream State on subtle matter There remained the fundamental
energy of consciousness, Will-to-be or shaping Delight of existence: this,
they perceived, was free and pure in causal matter, but worked if consciously, yet through a medium and under limitations in subtle matter, in hampered & half effectual fashion when the subtle self acted through the gross and sub-consciously only in gross matter They considered therefore that man's causal faculty or spiritual life belonged properly to the Sleep State and worked indirectly and through less & less easy mediums in the Dream and Waking States; and accordingly determined that it must be the result of Consciousness working in the Sleep State
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on causal matter The whole of creation amounted therefore to a natural outcome from the mutual relations of Spirit and Matter; these two they regarded as two terms—call them forces, energies, substances, or what you will,—of phenomenal existence; and psychical life only as one result of their interaction They refused however to accept any dualism in their cosmogony and, as has been pointed out, regarded Spirit and Matter as essentially one and their difference as no more than an apparent duality in one real entity This one entity is not analysable or intellectually knowable, yet it is alone the real, immutable and sempiternal Self of things.
It will be clear even from this brief and condensed statement of the Vedic analysis of existence that the elements of the Upanishad are not the elementary substances of modern chemistry but five general states of matter to which all its actual or substantial manifestations belong It will also be clear that the names of the five elements have a conventional, not a literal value, but it may be as well to indicate why these particular names have been chosen The first and original state of subtle matter is the pure ethereal of which the main characteristics are extreme tenuity and pervasiveness and the one sensible property, sound
. Sound, according to the Vedic inquirers, is the first evolved property of material substance; it precedes form and has the power both to create it and to destroy it Looking around them in the physical universe for a substance with these characteristics they found it in Akash or Vyom (sky), implying not our terrestrial atmosphere but that which is both beyond it and pervades it,—the fine pervasive connecting substance in which, as it were, the whole universe floats They therefore gave this name, Akash, to the ethereal condition of matter.
The next matter-condition evolved from Ether and moving in it, was the pure aerial or gaseous Here to pervasiveness was added a new potency of sensible and varied motion bringing with it, as increased complexity of motion necessarily must do, increased differentiation and complexity of substance All the variety and evolutions of gaseous matter with their peculiar activities, functions and combinations have this second state or
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power of matter as their substratum; it is the basis also of that universal Prana or vital energy, starting from action, retention and reaction and culminating in organized consciousness, which we have seen to be so all-important an agent in the Vedic theory of the Cosmos In this second power of matter a new property of material substance is evolved, touch or contact, which was not fully developed in pure ether owing to its extreme tenuity and primary simplicity of substance Seeking for a physical substance gaseous in nature, sensible by sound and contact, but without form and characterized chiefly by varied motion and an imperfect pervasiveness, the Rishis found it in Vayu, Wind or Air Vayu, therefore, is the conventional term for the second condition of matter.
Evolved out of the pure gaseous state and moving in it is the third or pure igneous condition of matter, which is also called Tejah, light and heat energy In the igneous stage pervasiveness becomes still less subtle, sensible motion no longer the paramount characteristic, but energy, especially formative energy, attains full development and creation and destruction, formation and new-formation are at last in readiness In addition to sound and contact matter has now evolved a third property, form, which could not be developed in pure Air owing to its insufficient density and the elusive vagueness and volatility of gaseous manifestations The third power of matter is at the basis of all phenomena of light and heat and Prana by its aid so develops that birth and growth now become possible; for light and heat are the necessary condition of animate life-development and in their absence we have the phenomenon of death or inert and inanimate existence: when the energy of light and heat departs from a man, says the Upanishad, then it is that Prana, the vital energy, retires into mind, his subtle or psychical part, and withdraws from the physical frame The physical substance which seemed to the Rishis to typify the igneous state was fire; for it is sensible by sound, contact and form and, less pervasive than air, is distinguished by the utmost energy of light and heat Fire therefore is the conventional or symbolic name of the third power of matter
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Next upon the igneous state follows the liquid or fluid, less pervasive, less freely motional or energetic, and distinguishingly marked by a kind of compromise between fixity and volatility In this state matter evolves a fourth property, taste The liquid state is the substratum of all fluid forms and activities, and in its comparative fixity life-development finds its first possibility of a sufficiently stable medium All life is gathered out of "the waters" and depends on the fluid principle within it for its very sustenance Water as the most typical fluid, half-volatile,
half-fixed, perceptible by sound, contact, form and taste, has given a symbolical name to the fourth condition of matter.
The solid state is the last to develop in this progression from tenuity
to density, for in this state pervasiveness reaches its lowest expression and fixity predominates It is the substratum of all solid forms and bodies and the last necessity for the development of life; for it provides life with a fixed form or body in which it can endure and work itself out and which it can develop into organism The last new property of matter evolved in the solid state is odour; and since earth is the typical solid substance, containing all the five properties sound, contact, form, taste and smell, Earth is the conventional name selected for the fifth and final power of matter.
These five elemental states are only to be found in their purity and with their characteristic qualities distinct and unblended in the world of subtle matter The five elemental states of gross matter are impure; they are formed out of subtle matter by the combination of the five subtle elements in certain fixed proportions, that one being given the characteristic name of ether, air, fire, water or earth in which the subtle ethereal, gaseous, igneous, fluid or solid element prevails overwhelmingly over the others Even the last and subtlest condition to which gross matter can be reduced is not a final term; when realised into its constituents, the last term of gross matter disintegrates and matter reaches a stage at which many of the most urgent and inexorable laws of physics no longer operate It is at this point where chemical analysis and reasoning can no longer follow Nature into her recesses that the Hindu system of Yoga by getting behind the five Pranas or
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Karmayoga; the Ideal
gross vital breaths through which Life manifests in gross physical matter, is able to take up the pursuit and investigate the secrets of psychic existence in a subtler and freer world.
VIII. Matariswan and the Waters
We are now in a position to consider what may [be] the precise meaning of the Upanishad when it says that in It Matariswan ordereth the waters Shankara takes apah in a somewhat unusual and peculiar sense and interprets, "Air orders or arranges actions"; in other words, all the activity in the Cosmos is dependent upon the aerial or gaseous element in matter which enters into and supports all objects and, as Prana, differentiates and determines their proper functions Prana, as we have seen, is the great vital energy breathing and circulating through all existence whose activity is the principal instrument of Will in the evolution of the Universe and whose mediation is necessary for all the operations of mind and body in gross matter In psychic life also Prana is inherent in mind and supports those activities of subtle matter which are necessary for psychic existence The intimate connection between Prana and vital activity may be best illustrated in its most obvious and fundamental function in the living organism, the regulation of breathing So important is this function that Breath and Prana are generally identified; the usual signification of the word Prana is, indeed, breath and the five differentiated vital energies supporting the human frame are called the five breaths So important is it, that even the searching analysis of modern science has not been able to get behind it, and it is held as an incontrovertible fact that the maintenance of respiration is necessary to the maintenance of life In reality, this is not so Ordinarily, of course, the regular inhalation of oxygen into the system and exhalation of corrupted breath out of it, is so necessary to the body that an abrupt interruption of the process, if continued for two minutes will result in death by suffocation But this is merely due to a persistent vital habit of the body It needs only a careful training in the regulation of the breath to master this habit and make respiration subservient to the will
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Anyone who has for a long time practised this art of
breath-regulation or Pranayam can suspend inhalation and exhalation for many minutes and some not only for minutes but for hours together without injury to the system or the suspension of bodily life; for internal respiration and the continuance of the vital activities within the body still maintain the functions necessary to life Even the internal respiration may be stopped and the vital activities entirely suspended without subjecting the body to the process of death and disintegration The body may be kept intact for days, months and years while all the functions of breath and vitality are suspended, until the Will in its psychical sheaths chooses to resume its interrupted communications with the world of gross matter and recommence physical life at the precise point at which it was discontinued And this is possible because Prana, the vital energy, instead of being allowed to circulate through the system under the necessary conditions of organic physical activity, can be gathered up into the mind-organ and from there in its simple undifferentiated form support and hold together the physical case.
But if respiration is not necessary to the maintenance of life, it certainly is necessary to the maintenance of activity The first condition of Pranayam is the suspension of conscious physical activity and the perfect stillness of the body, which is the primary object of the various
asans or rigidly set positions of the body assumed by the Yogin as a necessary preliminary in the practice of his science In the first stages of Yoga the sub-conscious activity of the body due to the life of the cells, continues; in the later stages when internal respiration and vital activities are suspended, even this ceases, and the life of the body becomes like that of the stone or any other inert object It is held together and exists by the presence of Prana in its primary state, the only connection of Will with the physical frame being the will to subsist physically This is the first outstanding fact of Yoga which proves that Prana is the basis of all physical activity; the partial or complete quiescence of Prana brings with it the partial or complete quiescence of physical activity, the resumption of its functions by Prana is inevitably attended by
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the resumption of physical activity The second outstanding fact is the peculiar effect of Pranayam and Yoga on mental activity The first condition of Yogic exercises is, as has been said, the stillness of the body, which implies the suspension of the five indriyas or potencies of action, grasp, locomotion, utterance, emission and physical ecstasy It is a significant fact that the habit of suspending these indriyas is attended by an extraordinary activity of the five
indriyas of knowledge, sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, and an
immense heightening of mental power and energy In its higher stages this
increase of power intensifies into clairvoyance, clairaudience, the power of
reading other minds and knowing actions distant in space and time, conscious
telepathy and other psychical powers The reason for this development is to
be found in the habit of gathering Prana or vitality into the mind-organ
Ordinarily the psychical life is overlaid and hampered by the physical life,
the activity of Prana in the physical body As soon as this activity becomes
even partially quiescent, the gross physical obstruction of Anna and Prana
is rarefied and mind becomes more self-luminous, shining out through the
clouds that concealed it; vital energy is not only placed mainly at the
service of the mind as in the concentration of the poet and the thinker, but
is so much subtilised by the effect of Pranayam that the mind can operate
far more vigorously and rapidly than in ordinary conditions For mind
operates freely and naturally in subtle matter only and the subtler the
matter, the freer the workings of the mind At an intenser stage of Yogic
exercise all the vital functions are stilled and Prana entirely withdrawn
from bodily functions into mind which can then retire into the subtle world
and operate with perfect freedom and detachment from physical matter Here again we see that just as Prana, differentiated and working physically, was the basis of all physical activity, so Prana, intermediate and working psycho-physically, is at the basis of all mental activity, and Prana, pure and working psychically is at the basis of all psychical activity.
The third outstanding fact of Yoga is that while in its earlier processes it stimulates mental activity, in its later stages it
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overpasses mental activity At first the mind drawn inward from active reactions to external impacts, is able to perfect its passive reactions or powers of reception and its internal reactions or powers of retention and combination Next it is drawn inward from external phenomena altogether and becomes aware of the internal processes and finally succeeds in concentrating entirely within itself This is followed by the entire quieting of the subtle or psychical
indriyas or sense-potencies followed by the entire quiescence of the mind itself The reception of psychical impacts and the vibrations of subtle thought-matter are suspended; mind concentrates on a single thought and finally thought itself is surmounted and the Supra-Intelligence is potent, free and active It is at this stage that Yoga develops powers which are so unlimited as to appear like omnipotence The true Yogin, however, does not linger in this stage which is still within the confines of psychical existence, but withdraws the Will beyond
Supra-Intelligence entirely into itself The moment the Will passes out of subtle matter, activity ceases Will has then three courses open to it; either to realize itself as the eternal Sakshi or witness and behold the vision of the Universe as a phenomenon within itself which it sees but does not enact; or to disappear into the Sunya Brahman, Supreme Nothingness, the great Void of unconscious mere-existence with which the Parabrahman is veiled; or to return into the Self and, liberated from even the vision of phenomena, exist in its own infinity of pure consciousness and supreme bliss If we follow Prana through this process of Yogic liberation, we shall find that Prana ends where activity ceases For Prana is a material entity arising out of the aerial state of subtle matter and as soon as that state is overpassed, Prana is impossible Throughout there is this close identification of Prana with activity It may well be said, therefore, that Matariswan is that which arranges actions.
Matariswan is the philosophical expression for Vayu, the aerial principle It means that which moves in the mother or matrix and the word implies the three main characteristics of the aerial element It is evolved directly out of ether, the common matrix, which is therefore its own mother and ultimately the
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mother of all elements, forces, substances, objects; its predominant
characteristic is motion, and this characteristic of motion operates in the
matrix, ether Moving in ether, developing, combining, it creates the substances out of which sun and nebula and planet are made; it evolves fire and water and atmosphere, earth, stone and metal, plant, fish, bird and beast Moving in ether, acting and functioning through its energy Prana, it determines the nature, motions, powers, activities of all those infinite forms which it has created By the combinations & operations of this aerial element the sun is built up, fire is struck forth, clouds are formed, a molten globe cools and solidifies into earth By the energy of the aerial element the sun gives light and heat, fire burns, clouds give rain, earth revolves Not only all animate, but all inanimate existence owes its life and various activity to Matariswan and its energy Prana.
But it owes not only its life and activity, but the very materials out of which it is made Here lies the insufficiency of Shankara's interpretation The word
apah naturally and usually signifies "waters", and it is a law of interpretation not lightly to be set aside that when the natural and usual meaning of a word gives a satisfactory or even a possible and not unsuitable sense, it should be preferred to an artificial and unusual meaning In this case "waters" may have two meanings one of which gives a sense possible and not unsuitable, the other a sense even more satisfactory than Shankara's interpretation By waters may be indicated the various fluid forms which are evolved by the fluid element, and, involved in the solid, sustain organic life; for the word apah
is commonly used to indicate the fourth element of matter Prana, the vital energy, may be said so to dispose these "waters" as to originate, sustain and develop all solidities and all forms of organic life But this would be a narrow interpretation out of harmony with the vast sweep and significance of this verse which sums up the Supreme Entity in its aspects as the stable substratum of cosmic existence, the mighty sum of cosmic motion and energy and the infinite continent of cosmic energy It is better therefore to take
apah in the sense of the original ocean of cosmic matter, a figure which is so common as to have become a
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commonplace of Hindu thought In It, in Brahman, Matariswan, the aerial element took and disposed the infinite supply of causal matter so as to provide the substance, evolve the forms and coordinate the activities of this vast and complex Universe.
IX. Spirit and Matter
But Matariswan does not conduct these numberless cosmic operations vast and minute by virtue of its own intrinsic and unborrowed power Otherwise we might well ask, If there is a material substance which provides all the wherewithal necessary for the evolution of this Universe and a material energy by whose existence all the operations implied in its evolution can be explained, then the whole Universe can be understood as a development out of eternal Matter with its two properties substance and energy, and no second term of existence other than Matter need be brought in to account for the evolution of Consciousness But the Upanishad emphatically negatives the material origination of things by stating that it is in Brahman, the Supreme Entity, that Matariswan orders the waters By this, as Shankara points out, it is meant that only so long as the Supreme Self is there, can the activity of Matariswan be conceived as possible As ether, the matrix, is the continent and condition of Matariswan and his works, so is Brahman the continent and condition of ether and its evolution Matariswan is born out of ether and works in ether, but ether is itself only an intermediate evolution; in reality, Matariswan is born out of Brahman the Self and works in Brahman the Self.
The materialistic theory of cosmic origins has a great superficial plausibility of its own and it is popular with scientists because analytical Science knows thoroughly the evolutions of matter and does not know thoroughly the evolutions of soul and spirit; it is therefore inevitably led to explain what it knows imperfectly or not at all by what it does know and understand The materialistic tendency is immensely assisted by the universal interdependence of Spirit, Soul and Matter Every spiritual and psychical activity involves a material operation and this Science
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has clearly seen It is natural therefore for the Scientist to argue that the material operation is the cause of the spiritual and psychical activity, nay, that the material operation is the activity and spirit and soul do not exist, but are essentially matter It is equally true that every material operation involves a spiritual and psychical activity, but this Science has not yet seen When therefore idealistic philosophies argue in precisely the opposite sense and urge that the spiritual activity is the cause of the material operation, nay that the activity is the material operation and matter does not exist but is essentially spirit, it is natural for Science to brush aside the argument as metaphysical, mystical and irrational I argue from the firm basis of well-tested certainties, thinks the Scientist, my opponent from mere ideas the truth of which cannot be demonstrated by definite evidence or actual experiment.
All Hindu philosophies, however, not only the Vedantic, but Sankhya and Buddhism agree in rejecting the materialistic reading of the Universe and oppose to the well-tested certainties of Science certainties as well-tested of their own Hindu thought has its own analysis of the Universe arrived at by processes and experiments in which its faith is as assured and unshakeable as the confidence of the Scientist in his modern methods of analysis and observation To a certain extent Hindu philosophy goes hand in hand with the materialistic Prakriti or Nature, an original energy manifesting in substance is the origin, the material and the agent of evolution This original energy is not Prana, the vital energy, for Prana is not original but a later evolution, arising out of the aerial condition of matter and subsequent in time to the ethereal; there must therefore have been a previous energy which evolved ether out of causal matter To this original Matter Sankhya gives the name of Prakriti, while Vedanta & Buddhism, admitting the term Prakriti, prefer to call it Maya But Prakriti is not in itself sufficient to explain the origin of the universe; another force is required which will account for the activity of Prakriti in Pradhana or original substance This force is Purusha or Spirit It is the presence of Purusha and Prakriti together, says Sankhya, that can alone account for cosmic evolution
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Vedanta agrees and emphasizes what Sankhya briefly assumes,—that Purusha & Prakriti are themselves merely aspects, obverse and reverse sides, of a single Supreme entity or Self of Things Buddhism, still more trenchant, does away with the reality of Purusha and Prakriti altogether and regards Cosmic Evolution as a cosmic illusion.
The necessity for positing another force than Prakriti arises from the very nature of Prakriti and its operations The fundamental characteristic of Prakriti as soon as it manifests is eternal motion,—motion without beginning, without end, without limit, without cessation or respite Its cosmic stir is like an eternally troubled ocean, a ceaseless rush, foam and clamour
of perpetual restlessness, infinite activity And the rapidity, the
variability, the unimaginably complex coincidence and simultaneousness of
different rates and forms of motion in the same material, in the same limits of space and time, are such as to baffle realization We can only realize it in sections by picking the web of Nature to pieces and regarding as separable and self-sufficient what are really simultaneous and coincident motions The first result of this infinite complexity of motion is an infinite mutability Wherever we turn our eyes, there is something evolving and developing, something decaying and disintegrating Nothing at this moment is precisely what it was the moment before; every ripple in the sea of Time means a disturbance however small in the coincident sea of Space, a change however infinitesimal in the condition of the largest or most apparently stable parts of Nature as well as of the minutest or most volatile Causality, infinite and without beginning or end, cannot cease from its perpetuity of persistent action, its infinite progression of effects which are the causes of other effects, causes which are the effects of other causes; it is an endless chain, moving through Space & Time, working in Substance, forged by an eternal and indefinable Energy And this eternal motion and mutability means inevitably an infinite multiplicity Every inch of Space is thronged with an infinite variety of animate and inanimate existences, countless in number, multitudinous in kind, myriadly various in motion and action An infinite multiplicity of motions make up the world
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creating endless variety of substance, form, function; an infinite multiplicity of change is the condition of its activity Remove this eternal motion, eternal mutability, eternal multiplicity from the idea of Prakriti and we arrive at something we cannot recognize, an inactive energy, an immaterial substance Without motion, Time, Space, Causality, as things in themselves, cease to be We are face to face with blank void and nothingness—or else, since this is unimaginable and impossible, we must suppose something which cannot cease to be, an absolute Infinity undivided by Space or Time, an absolute Immutability unconditioned by cause and effect, an absolute Stillness unaffected by the illusive mobilities of Energy, an absolute Spirit ultimately real behind the phenomenon of substance.
If we do not accept this transcendental reality, we must suppose that an eternal Prakriti with eternal motion, mutability, multiplicity as its characteristics is the Alpha & Omega of existence But a consideration of the Universe does not justify our resting secure in that hypothesis In this eternal motion there is something perpetually stable, in this eternal mutability a sum and reality which is immutable; in this eternal multiplicity an initial, persistent and final Unity Eternal motion in itself would lead to nothing but eternal chaos and confusion We know that the Cosmos is made up of an infinite number of motions simultaneously occupying the same Space and simultaneously existent in the same substance; but the result is not clash or confusion, but harmony In other words, the condition of this unending motion is an eternal stability Everywhere we see variety of motion resulting in a harmonious balance, in the orbits of the revolving planets round the moving sun woven into one solar system we have a striking instance out of myriads of this law which governs every object and every organism There is therefore not only the mobile Prakriti, but something else which is eternally stable.
Eternal mutability, likewise, can lead to nothing but eternal unrest and disorder What is it that imposes an unchanging law of persistence and orderly development on this mass of infinitely shifting, unquiet and impermanent parts and combines into one harmony this confused strife of changing and interchanging
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phenomena? In its details the universe is restlessly mutable, momentarily changing, in its broad masses it is more fixed and permanent, in its sum it is immutable The class is less mutable and impermanent than the man, the community than the class, the race than the community, mankind than the race; and so it is with all existences The parts change, the whole persists And it is well known that while matter goes through infinite changes of form, its sum never changes; unincreasing it develops, undiminishing it disintegrates But not only is the sum of things immutable, the laws of their development are immutable; phenomena vary but the law governing them remains the same, and for this reason that the nature of things is immutable Whatever the variety of forms, the thing in itself preserves its characteristics and remains unchanged Electricity works in various shapes and in many activities, but it is always electricity preserving its true characteristics whatever work it may do or whatever body it may wear and always working and changing under the fixed laws of its being which cannot change Electricity again is only one form and function of the igneous element which takes many forms, but in all of them preserves its true characteristics and its own law of work We see therefore that the parts are impermanent, the whole permanent; forms of things change, the reality is immutable The condition of this unending mutability and impermanence is an eternal immutability and permanence There is therefore not only this mutable Prakriti, but something else which is eternally immutable.
The apparent multiplicity of the Universe is equally deceptive For the very condition of this infinite multiplicity, is a persistent Unity which precedes it and towards which it moves There are many substances, but they are all evolutions from one substance; one seed disposes itself in many forms There are many laws governing the workings of that substance in its evolution but they resolve themselves into one law to which all existence is subject As substances and forms develop, there seem to be many things with many natures, but they go back into one thing with one nature There are many forms of electricity, but all resolve themselves into the one substance electricity; there
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are many forms of the igneous element, of which electricity is one, but they all resolve themselves into one igneous element; there are many elements besides the igneous, but they all resolve themselves into one causal and universal substance This is the bottom fact of the universe; all complexities and varieties resolve themselves into a precedent simplicity, and all simplicities into an original Unity There is therefore not only this
ever-multiplying Prakriti, but something else which is eternally One In this mobile, mutable, multitudinous Prakriti, there is then a persistent element which is stable, immutable and one We have arrived again at that One infinitely Immutable, Immobile Sum and Reality of Things which is Parabrahman.
Materialistic Analysis insists however that the eternal unity, immutability and immobility supporting and making possible the eternal multiplicity, mutability and motion are themselves characteristics of Eternal Matter They are the two opposing lines of force whose action and reaction preserve the equibalance of cosmic existence, but the eternal reality in which they act is not spiritual but material For material energy working in material substance is quite enough to explain all the evolutions of Nature and these in themselves make Eternal Matter Hindu thought, however, has always been unable to accept this conclusion because its analysis of cosmic existence has convinced it that substance and energy are not things in themselves, but merely phenomena Substance increases with density until it reaches its highest expression in solid physical matter; but as it is analysed and resolved nearer and nearer to its origin, its density becomes less and less, its tenuity increases, it becomes more and more unsubstantial, until, on the farther brink of causal matter, it disappears into something which is not substance Moreover, when examined it appears that substance is really another term for energy; the conditions of density and tenuity which constitute material substance, correspond with the conditions of motional intensity and vagueness which constitute material energy As, therefore, matter is resolved nearer and nearer to its origins, energy like substance becomes less and less intense, its vagueness increases until it comes to a standstill or rather dissipates in
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something which is not energy The conclusion is irresistible that substance
and energy are merely a single phenomenon with a double aspect, and that in
the origin of things this phenomenon, to which we may give the name of
Matter, does not exist The question remains, into what do substance and
energy disappear? out of what were they born? We are confronted again with
the necessity of choosing between the unimaginable impossibility of blank
void and nothingness, for which we have no warrant in reason or experience,
or the One, Immutable, Immobile, Infinite and Eternal Reality which is
Parabrahman This Supreme Entity is not matter, we have seen But it may be
argued that it cannot be certainly called Spirit, since it is so absolute an
entity as to be indefinable except by negatives Vedanta concedes this
caution, asserting only that Parabrahman is not a negative entity, but an
eternal and positive Reality, defined by negatives simply because it is not
expressible to the finite intellect, and containing in itself the unity of
Spirit and Matter, which is neither material nor spiritual.
remains open to material Analysis Granted Parabrahman as the reality of
things, yet phenomenal existence itself is purely material and there is no
need to call in the assistance of any other and different entity For material energy in material substance is sufficient to explain all phenomena Hindu thought holds however that it is not sufficient to explain the ultimate phenomena of Consciousness At the beginning of material evolution matter is in itself inanimate, consciousness, to all appearance, non-existent How and whence, then, did it appear? By the interaction of the three
gunas inherent in Prakriti, reception, reaction, retention But the interaction of the three gunas
did not create Consciousness, they only liberated it from the dense obscuration of gross matter For if consciousness were not involved in Matter, it could never be evolved from it For if it be evolved from matter as an entirely new birth, it must be either some already existent material substance in a new form—say, some kind of gas or electricity, or it must be a new substance formed by the union of two or more substances, just as water is formed out of hydrogen and oxygen No such
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gas or electricity has been discovered, no such new substance exists Indeed the evolution of a mighty, reasoning, aspiring, conquering, irrepressible Consciousness, capable of something like omnipotence and omniscience, out of mere material gases and chemical substance is a paradox so hardy, so colossally and impossibly audacious that mankind has rightly refused to accept it even when advanced with the prestige of Science and her triumphant analysis and the almost irresistible authority of her ablest exponents to support the absurdity Christian theology was inconsistent enough when it degraded man to the dust as a worm and clod, yet declared him capable of divinity by the easy process of belief in an irrational dogma; but the materialistic paradox, which lodges no hidden angel in the flesh, is even more startling, more naked, more inexorably irrational Man, says materialistic Science, is an utterly insignificant unit in the universe; the infinitesimal creature of a day, he lives his short span of life and is then decomposed into the gases out of which he was made He derives his mind, body and moral nature from his brother the chimpanzee and his father the gorilla In his organism he is merely a mass of animalculae which belong individually to the lowest stage of animal life; but by combining into a republic with the cells of the brain as a sort of despotic senate or council, these undeveloped forms of life have been able to master the world What has not this republic of animalculae, this Rome of protoplasms, been able to effect? It has analysed the elements; it has weighed the suns and measured the orbits of the stars; it has written the dramas of Shakespeare, the epics of Valmekie and Homer and Vyasa, the philosophies of Kant and Shankara; it has harnessed the forces of Nature to do its bidding; it has understood existence and grasped the conception of infinity There is something fascinatingly romantic and interesting in the conception and it is not surprising that the human intellect should have been captured for a while by its cheerful audacity But how long can unreason prevail? Even if we regard man as a limited being and take what the race has done for the utmost measure of what the individual can do, the disproportion between the results achieved and the means supplied by this theory
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is too great to be overlooked It was inevitable that the religions formerly crushed down and almost smothered by the discoveries of Science,—even those creeds most philosophically insufficient and crude,—should be raising their heads and showing an unexpected vitality Science prevailed for a time over religion by exposing the irrationalities and prejudices which had overgrown and incrusted spiritual truth But when it sought to replace them by a more astounding irrationality than any religion had been guilty of and began to contract its own hard crust of dogmas and prejudices, it exposed itself to an inevitable reaction Mankind for a time believed because it was incredible at the bidding of theologians who ruled reason out of court; the experiment is not likely to be repeated for long on the authority of scientists who profess to make reason their judge.
If it be still contended that, however paradoxical, consciousness is the result of impressions and vibrations in the brain, or that consciousness is merely a material energy manifested at a particular intensity of ethereal vibration, like light or sound, the answer is that consciousness operates more powerfully when the brain is quiescent and unimpressed from without and survives cellular decomposition, and that when energy is quiescent and ether dissolved into its origin, consciousness abides To the Hindu mind this is an insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of the material origin of consciousness From its long acquaintance with Yoga and the results of Yoga, it has learned that conscious Will in the human body can not only override the laws of gross physical matter and come appreciably nearer, within its sphere, to omnipotence and omniscience, but that this conscious Will can impose absolute quietude on and detach itself from the animalcule republic which is erroneously supposed to originate and contain it and that it does, as a habitual law of Nature, survive the disintegration of the body These two facts are fatal to the materialistic theory and, so long as the practice of Yoga subsists in India, the Hindu mind will never accept materialism For they show that, although undeniably consciousness is evolved out of gross matter, it can only be because it was involved into gross matter by a previous downward evolution; it is not being
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created, it is being merely liberated from its prison Neither can consciousness be taken as a function of subtle matter; for just as it can exist apart from and survives the disintegration of its gross body, so also it can exist apart from and survives the disintegration of its subtle body Before subtle matter evolves, consciousness preexists in causal matter; and after subtle matter dissolves, consciousness survives in causal matter And since matter at the stage of causality neither functions, nor evolves, consciousness is not a function or evolution of causal matter, but other and different from it
. It is clear therefore that from the first appearance of matter, consciousness operates coevally with it, but is not dependent on it for its origin.
Original consciousness, as distinct from Matter, is termed Spirit
. Spirit must never be confused with the apparent manifestations of it, which are merely the action and reaction of Matter and Spirit on each other The characteristics of true Spirit can be determined by distinguishing what is essential, characteristic and permanent in consciousness throughout all its stages from what is merely condition, form or function of consciousness affected by the medium in which it is working There are three such characteristics which appear rudimentarily the moment consciousness itself appears and seem more and more pronounced as liberated Spirit develops to its highest self-expression The first of the trio is the impulse of existence, the will to preserve self, to survive and be, not merely temporarily but unendingly Showing itself at first physically in the instinct of self-preservation and the instinct of self-reproduction, it develops psychically in the desire to outlast death and become "immortal" by whatever way, by a book, a song, a picture, a statue, a discovery, an invention, an immortal act or remembered career no less than by psychical persistence of personality after the death of the body, and it culminates spiritually in the Will to surmount both death and life and persist eternally and transcendentally The second characteristic of consciousness is the capacity of knowledge or
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awareness, the Will to know Showing itself at first physically in sensation and response to external objects, it develops psychically in personality with memory, its basis, and understanding, reason and intuition, its superstructure, and culminates spiritually in self-knowledge and the awareness of one's own eternal and unabridged reality The third characteristic of consciousness is the emotion of pleasure in existence, primarily in one's own, sympathetically in all existence, the Will to enjoy This is the most powerful and fundamental of emotions,—so powerful as to persistently outlast all the pain and struggle which the hampered existence of Spirit in Matter brings to the personality Showing itself physically at first in mere sense-pleasure and the clinging to life, it develops psychically in the emotions of love and joy, and culminates spiritually in the delight of our psychical personality in contact with or entering into the impersonal existence of our real and infinite Self These three characteristics constitute the conception of Spirit, which by throwing its
will-to-be, its power of awareness and its delight in existence into the medium of Matter sets evolution going This is what Sankhya philosophy means when it says that Purusha imparts activity to Prakriti by its mere presence or propinquity without thereby becoming itself active Spirit remains what it essentially is, pure existence, consciousness and delight; it is Prakriti that vibrating to the touch of this conscious delight in existence, begins to act, to move, change and evolve The limitations of consciousness, the phenomena of consciousness are merely phenomenal results of the vibrations of Prakriti in Consciousness and not changes in Spirit itself Purusha is the eternally immutable, immobile and singly real condition of Universal Evolution; Prakriti in action is its eternal motion, mutability, multiplicity.
Sankhya does not go beyond this conclusion which it finds sufficient for its purposes; it considers Purusha and Prakriti to be both ultimate eternal entities in the Supreme Reality and their propinquity a satisfactory explanation of the Universe Vedic philosophy, going deeper, was driven both by philosophical reasoning and the ultimate experience of Yoga to the conception of the one Supreme Entity transcending the distinction between
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Spirit and Matter, Purusha and Prakriti, which are merely its noumenal
self-expressions Nor could Vedanta be satisfied with mere propinquity as a
sufficient explanation of the manner in which immutability, stability and
unity continually interpenetrate, surround and govern the infinite motion,
mutability and multiplicity of Matter, still less of the manner in which
Purusha identifies itself with the merely phenomenal changes of consciousness But if Spirit informs, conditions and governs Matter, just as energy informs, conditions and governs substance, it would be possible for it to impress its own nature on the motions of Prakriti at every point of its evolutions without itself moving and acting And if Spirit and Matter are not entirely different and separate entities but various expressions of a single supreme Ens, Matter a noumenon
of apparent self phenomenally evolving as substance and energy, Spirit, a
sense of Its real self supporting and therefore pervading and conditioning phenomena, it is then not only possible but inevitable that Spirit should be so constantly and closely aware of the perpetual activity of Matter as to attribute that activity to itself In this interpretation of the Universe Vedanta consummated its analysis.
Time, Space, Condition reposing in the sense of actual Infinity and Immutability,—this is Prakriti, Origin-of-Matter working in Spirit; and all philosophic analysis of existence must inevitably culminate in this noumenon; for without it the Universe as it is, cannot be conceived; it is the very condition of thought and knowledge; it is the ultimate fact of cosmic existence The triune noumenon of Time, Space, Condition or, in one word, Prakriti, immediately generates the noumenon of motion characterized by change and relation of parts and we have at once motion, mutability, multiplicity operating in the Infinite and Immutable The triune noumenon of motion, mutability, multiplicity or, in one word, Energy generates the noumenon of substance moving, changing, relatively shifting in the Infinity and Immutability of Spirit The noumenon of energy-substance constitutes Pradhana, original matter, and nothing farther is needed for the evolution of the cosmos Prakriti with its evolution Pradhana is the material cause of the Universe; the presence
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of Spirit containing, supporting and pervading Prakriti and its evolutions is the efficient cause of the Universe.
Noumenon leads naturally to phenomenon Consciousness and Existence in the Eternal Self being one, every noumenon of Consciousness must translate itself into an Existence of which the Consciousness is aware The conception of Time, Space, Condition creates the appearance of Time, Space, Condition by that fundamental power of Consciousness which shows itself physically as formation, psychically as imagination and spiritually as Avidya, the power of conceiving what is Not-Self The conception of motion creates the appearance of energy at work The conception of motion-intensity as substance creates the appearance of matter worked upon All Matter is phenomenal; all evolution the result of Avidya Spirit is not phenomenal, but owing to its continual immanency in matter, attributes phenomenal existence to itself, so creating the phenomenon of soul or spirit working in matter Thus Cosmos originates.
It will be seen that in this explanation of the Universe Spirit is taken as nearer to the Supreme Reality of things than Matter; it is not absolutely the real Self of things, but it is the noumenon or sense of the real Self persisting throughout all the obscurations of Avidya This view is triply necessitated by the truths of elemental, psychical & spiritual evolution When we consider the relations of Spirit to elemental matter, we see that as the obscuration of Matter thickens, Spirit becomes more and more concealed until, in gross inanimate matter, it is utterly covered in; but as the obscuration of Matter lessens, Spirit is more and more liberated until in the origin of things Matter seems a mere appearance in the reality of Spirit It is therefore through Spirit and not through Matter that we are likely to get nearest to the Supreme Reality So too, when we study our psychical evolution and follow Consciousness in its progressive liberation until it becomes Will in causal matter, we find it characterized in this last stage by the Will to be, the Will to know, the Will to enjoy; and when we get behind will and matter to our pure unconditioned Self, we still envisage Consciousness as pure existence, awareness and bliss But our pure unconditioned Self is, we have seen, the
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Reality of Things unaffected by Prakriti or its phenomena We may therefore safely conclude that so far as the Supreme Reality can be positively envisaged by us in its purity, it is envisaged as existence, awareness, bliss,—in terms of Spirit and not of Matter Lastly, when we analyse the evolution of Purusha in its three States, we find that it consists in the reflection of Prakriti as if by the Spirit
. Spirit follows Prakriti through her three stages of material evolution, informing and sustaining them and mirrors their changes in itself as the changes of the sky may be mirrored in a clear and motionless pool; but the changes of the sky are not changes in the water Purusha is immutable, immobile and One, just as the Supreme Reality is immutable, immobile and One Purusha or Spirit is therefore the noumenon of the true Self, Prakriti the noumenon of not-Self or apparent Self It is in this true Self of Parabrahman that the evolutions of apparent Self take place In It Matariswan ordereth the waters.
Long and difficult to follow as has been this account of the Nature of Things according to Vedic philosophy, it was necessary so that we might understand minutely and comprehensively the meaning of these two verses, which in the second chapter of this book we could only adumbrate The verses describe Parabrahman in Its truth with respect to the Cosmos, not in the absolute reality which is Its truth in Itself, but at the same time they indicate that it is the absolute and real Self of things which manifests in the Cosmos and not any Other, for there is no Other It is anejad Ekam, the One who moveth not The root ejri, as Shankara points out, means to shake or vibrate, and the reference is obviously to those vibrations of Prakriti on the tranquil surface of Self which are the beginning and cause of matter and its evolutions But the Self does not vibrate and is not affected by the vibrations of Prakriti, even when It is supporting the cosmos and seems to be moving in it Throughout it remains the One and is not broken up into multiplicity; even when by its immanence in many forms it seems to be many These opening
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words of the first verse identify the One Immutable Immobile Infinity called Self or Spirit in the Cosmos with the Supreme Entity, Parabrahman.
This Supreme Entity which, as Self or Spirit, is immobile and one, is yet, without moving, swifter than thought Swiftness implies motion; but the motion of Spirit in Cosmos is the illusory motion we see in the landscape as it whirls swiftly past the quiet watcher in the railway-carriage The individual Self in Man is the watcher in the train, the train is Prakriti, the landscape the Universal Self in the Cosmos The watcher is not moving, the landscape is not moving; it is the train which is moving and carries the sitter with it In this second phrase of the verse the Parabrahman is identified with the Supreme Will in the Cosmos which without lifting a finger or stirring a foot creates and encompasses the Universe This Supreme Will is simply Self or Spirit envisaging itself as the immanent Cause and Director of cosmical evolution in matter The Will does not move but causes and conditions the infinitely complex cosmic motions; the Will does not act, but causes and determines actions; the Will does not divide or multiply itself, but plays with the multiplicity of cosmic forms and energies and impresses or mirrors itself in each Being essentially the Self, it is, like the Self, One and Immobile, but as seen in the moving Cosmos, pervading, informing and governing it, It is, even in its motionlessness, swifter than thought.
The Gods could not reach It going in front In the terminology
of the Upanishads the Gods are the Potencies of the Universe which govern
the Mind and the Senses in the microcosm Man and the Elements and their manifestations in the macrocosm Universe Brahman, the One, precedes all these multiple potencies It existed before they came into being and is therefore beyond their grasp The rapid and stupendous effects of Will, omnipotent and omniscient, are such that the Mind, Sight, Hearing, all the senses together cannot comprehend their origination; limited and finite, they cannot grasp that which transcends limit To the finite intelligence reasoning within prescribed limits it appears that there is no Will in action; all that happens and becomes is the inevitable working of material cause
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and effect, or of the Elements combining and working on each other But Will is the cause of Causation and the disposer of Effect; Will preceded and dictated the workings of the Elements and arranged their combinations beforehand This is He that from years sempiternal hath ordered perfectly all things But the mind and senses cannot come near to and apprehend the nature of the Will or realize the how of its workings, because the mind and the senses can only understand what is done through their instrumentality or within the elemental medium to which they are limited and confined They can analyse the physical forces of Nature and formulate the laws under which they work; they can dissect thought and sentiment and classify the mental functions and the laws of reasoning But Brahman, the Will, they cannot reach and analyse; for He does not work through them, nor does He act in phenomena He has arranged the motions of Prakriti beforehand, from years sempiternal; He has mapped out the law of those motions before ever they began to stir; and He now abides concealed in them, not acting but simply by His presence necessitating that the Law shall be observed and His dispositions followed Will creates effects, outside Time, Space and Condition in a way the Mind cannot comprehend, by Iccha or Wish, in other words, by Itself Will by Will necessitates phenomena in Itself, atmanyatmana But when Prakriti translates Will into phenomena in the terms of Time, Space, Causality, she does it under limitations and by limited instruments The preordainment was immediate, unhindered and perfect, but the carrying out seems to be slow, imperfect and the result of ceaseless effort and struggle, a web of failures, incomplete realizations and transient successes, a maze of forces acting and reacting on each other, helping, hindering and repulsing and always with a partial and mechanical or only half-intelligent action Somehow a result is worked out, progress is made, but nowhere is there any finality or completeness, nowhere the repose of consummation This incompleteness is an illusion created by the nature of finite Consciousness The Mind and the Senses, through whom we become aware of the workings of the Universe, are themselves limited and imperfect; functioning only under limits and with
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effort they cannot envisage the work accomplished except in parts and with a
restricted, disturbed and broken vision To see life steadily and see it
whole is only permitted to a Perfect and Infinite Consciousness standing
outside Time, Space and Conditions To such a divine Vision the working out
of preordainment may present itself as a perfect, immediate and unhindered
consummation God said, "Let there be Light" and, straightway, there was
Light; and when the Light came into being, God saw that it was good But to
the imperfect finite consciousness, Light seems in its inception to have
come into being by a slow material evolution completed by a fortuitous shock
of forces; in its operation to be lavished with a prodigal wastefulness since only a small part is used for the purposes of life; in its presentation to be conveyed to a blinking and limited vision, hampered by obstacles and chequered with darkness Limitation, imperfection, progression
and retrogression are inseparable from phenomenal work, phenomenal
intelligence, phenomenal pleasure and satisfaction To Brahman the Will who
measures all Time in a moment, covers all Space with one stride, embraces
the whole chain of causation in one glance, there is no limitation,
imperfection, progression or retrogression He looks upon his work as a
whole and sees that it is good But the Gods cannot reach to His
completeness, even though they toil after it; for ever He outruns their
pursuit, moving far in front.
Brahman, standing still, overtakes and passes
the others as they run While the Mind and Senses pressing onward through
Time, look before and after and see sections of the past and dim apparitions
of the future from the standpoint of their moment in the present, the Will
from its position beyond the beginning of the past speeds beyond them into
the future and to the end of things It has in that moment apprehended,
decided and accomplished in Itself all that is to be and leaves the mind and senses to toil after It and work out the preordained ideas and forms left impressed on the mould of that future which to It already exists It does this standing still, because to the Will Past, Present and Future are but one moment and It lives in all of them simultaneously; they do not contain Brahman but are
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contained in Him The Mind and senses hasten through Space, measuring the distance between star and star; but the Will passes them, traverses Space from one end to the other, knows it as a Whole and creates in Itself all its forms present, past and future; it leaves the Mind and senses to gather slowly, toilfully and by parts the single comprehensive knowledge It acquired without any process and to experience under the law of Time the immediately complete Universe It has perfected without any labour It does this also standing still, for to Brahman here and there do not exist; all is here, since He is not in Space, but Space is in Him While the Mind and senses run in the winding & twisted line of causation, the Will from the beginning of the chain passes them and has in a moment formed and surveyed it to its very end; It leaves them to count out the chain link by link by the imperfect aid of reason, piecing what is past to what is to come, and to trace out by the slow and endless process of work generating work and life generating life the complete and single Evolution which is already a predestined and therefore an accomplished fact This too It does standing still; for to Brahman there is no succession of cause and effect, since cause and effect exist simultaneously in the Will; cause does not precede Him nor effect follow, but are both embraced in the single and mere existence of Himself as Will.
In It Matariswan ordereth the waters We have here Brahman in a third relation to Cosmos Brahman is the stable and immutable Unity which is immanent in the Cosmos as its real self of existence, awareness and bliss and which supports all phenomenal objects and forces as their omnipresent substratum of reality Secondly, Brahman, this immobile Unity, is also, as Will, that which stands still and is yet swifter than mind and the potencies of mind; for Will, the Ordainer, Disposer and Cause, traverses all Time, Space and Causation, without motion, by the mere fact of being Lastly, Brahman, this Self and Omnipresent Lord of things, is also that which contains all evolution and determines every object and force evolved by Prana out of original matter Brahman is Vaisvanor, the Waking Self, in whom is contained and by whom exists all this evolution of physical
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world; Brahman is Taijasa, the Dream Self, in whom is contained and by whom exists all the psychical evolution from which the physical draws its material; Brahman is Prajna, the Sleep Self, in whom all evolution psychical & physical is for ever self-existent and preordained; Brahman is the Turiya Atman in whom and by whom Prajna-Taijasa-Vaisvanor are He pervades the Cosmos and contains the Cosmos, as ether pervades the earth and contains the earth, and not only the Cosmos as a whole but every particular object and force in the Cosmos This tree is pervaded and surrounded by the Divine Presence,—not, be it clearly understood, by a part of It but by Brahman one and indivisible The presence of God is as complete in one small flower as in the whole measureless Universe So also the Spirit in man is not a fragment of Deity, but the Eternal Himself in His imminuable majesty The Self in me is not merely a brother to the Self in you or of one kind with it but is completely and utterly yourself; for there is no you or I, but One Eternal Immutable in many names and forms, One Reality in many transient and perishable frames.
It moves, It moveth not; It is far, the same It is near; It is within all this, the same It is outside all.
This second verse only brings out more emphatically what is implied in the first or presents the same truth from a slightly different standpoint Brahman moves or vibrates, and Brahman does not move or vibrate As the One Immutable and Immobile, He does not move, but He moves as mobile and multiple Prakriti When it is said that Brahman is One and Unmoving, it is not meant that the mobile and multiple element in the Universe is other than Brahman; the Gods who cannot reach Brahman, whom He precedes and outstrips, are yet appearances of Himself; Matariswan and the Waters, whom He contains, are also of His substance Purusha alone is not Brahman, Prakriti also is Brahman; for He is not only the efficient cause of His Cosmos, but its material Cause as well It is true that the motion
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and multiplicity of Prakriti are phenomenal and superficial, the stability and immutability of Purusha fundamental and real; but the phenomenal has a truth and existence of its own and is not utterly unreal To take the suggestive human parallel, Shakespeare in himself is one and immutable, in his creations he is mutable and many; the personages of his dramas and their words and actions are not Shakespeare in the ultimate truth of himself, yet they are not other than Shakespeare; for they live in him, by him and are of his substance It is easy to say they are unreal, but they have a reality of their own; they are true psychical images and live as phenomena in the consciousness of Shakespeare though not as separate and independent entities So also the multiple Cosmos has a true phenomenal existence and reality in the Brahman, though no separate existence as independent entities The tree and the river are not real as tree and river, but they are real as images, eidolons of the Brahman In Himself He is calm, quiescent and unmoved, in them He moves and energises.
It is far and It is at the same time near Physically near and far; the Sun and the distant constellations and Orion and Aldebaran and Lyra and whatever utmost star glitters on the outermost mesh of this network of suns and systems, all that is Brahman; and equally this earth which is our dwelling-place, and this country which is our mother and nurse, and this village or city in which we live and do business, and this house which shelters us, and these trees and tanks which were part of our childhood, and the faces we familiarly know and the voices we daily hear, all in which we habitually live and move, all this is Brahman Emotionally & mentally near and far; for our love and our hatred, and what we love and hate, things forgotten and things remembered, things we cherish until death and things we put from us with loathing, friend and enemy, injurer and injured, our work and the daily web of our fears and hopes and longings, this is Brahman; and that which is so far from us that it cannot stir a single emotion or create a ripple of sensation in the mind, whether because it is remote in the distance of Time or hidden in the distance of Space or lost to the blindness of
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indifference, that too is Brahman Intellectually near and far; for the unknown and the little known, that which is too vast or too small for us to perceive, or which our most powerful instruments cannot bring near to us or our keenest reasonings analyse or our widest comprehension embrace, that is Brahman; all we daily perceive and note, the myriad forms that Science analyses, the delight of the eye and ear and taste and smell and touch, this is Brahman; and the subjective world in ourselves which is nearest to us of all, thought and memory and sensation and feeling, volitions and aspirations and desires, these too are Brahman Spiritually near and far; for the Omniscient and Omnipotent Cause and Ruler who creates universes with the indrawing of its breath and destroys universes with its
out-throwing, beside whom we feel ourselves to be too vile and weak and feeble to partake even infinitesimally of His divine nature, that is Brahman; the ineffable and unimaginable Spirit whom our senses cannot perceive, nor our minds comprehend, nor our reason touch, that is Brahman; and our own Self who eternally enthroned in the cavern-heart of our being, smiles at our pleasures and pains, mighty in our strength, as mighty in our weakness, pure in our virtues, unstained by our sins, no less omniscient and omnipotent than Isha, no less calm, immutable and ineffable than the Supreme Being,—this our Self too is Brahman The Karmayogin who has realised it, must hold all existence divine, all life a sacrament, all thought and action a self-dedication to the Eternal.
It is within all this, It too is without all Brahman is within the whole Universe; every object however inanimate, every form of life however vile, is brim-full with the presence of God The heathen who worships stocks and stones has come nearer to the truth of things, than the enlightened professor of "rational" religion, who declares God to be omnipresent and yet in the next breath pronounces the objects in which He is present to be void of anything that can command religious reverence There is no error in "idolatry"; the error is in the mind of the idolater who worships the stone as stone and the stock as stock, thinking that is God, and forgets or does not realise that it is the Divine
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Presence in them which is alone worship-worthy The stock or the stone is not God, for it is only an eidolon, a symbol of His presence; but the worship of it as a symbol is not superstitious or degrading; it is true and ennobling Every ceremony which reminds us of the presence of the Eternal in the transient, is, if performed with a religious mind, a spiritual help and assists in the purification of consciousness from the obscuration of the senses To the ordinary intelligence, however, the idea of Brahman's omnipresence, if pushed home, becomes a
stumbling-block How can that which is inert, senseless and helpless be full of that which is divine and almighty? Is it not a sacrilege to see Him in what is vile and repulsive? Is it not a blasphemy to envisage Him in the vicious and the criminal? Hence the popular Manicheanism which pervades every religion; hence the persistent idea of a twofold creative power, God and devil, Ormuzd and Ahriman, Allah and Iblis, the one responsible for all that is good, the other for all that is evil This kind of spiritual and intellectual weakness loves to see God in everything good and pleasant and beautiful, but ignores Him in what is evil, ugly or displeasing But it is an imperfect religion which thus yields to the domination of the mind and senses and allows them to determine what is or is not God Good is a mask and evil is a mask; both are eidola, valid for the purposes of life in phenomena, but when we seek that which is beyond phenomena, we must resolutely remove the mask and see only the face of God behind it To the Karmayogin there should be nothing common or unclean There is nothing from which he has the right to shrink; there is none whom he can dare to loathe For God is within us all; as the Self pure, calm and eternal, and as the Antaryamin or Watcher within, the Knower with all thought, action and existence for His field of observation, the Will behind every movement, every emotion, every deed, the Enjoyer whose presence makes the pain and pleasure of the world Mind, Life and all our subjective consciousness and the elements of our personal existence and activity, depend on His presence for the motive-force of their existence And He is not only within us, but within all that is What we value within ourselves, we must not belittle in others;
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what we cherish within ourselves, we must not hurt in others; what we love
in ourselves, we must not hate in others For that which is within us, is
the Divine Presence, and that which is in others, is the same Divine
Presence To remember this is worth all the moral teachings and ethical
doctrines in the world Vedanta has been declared by those who have not
chosen to understand it, a non-moral or even immoral philosophy But the
central truth of Vedanta enfolds in a single phrase all the highest ethics
of the world Courage, magnanimity, purity, justice, charity, mercy,
beneficence, loving kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, all the highest
demands that the most exalted ethical teacher can make on humanity are
contained in that single doctrine; and find in it their one adequate
philosophical justification and sole natural basis.
That is not only within
all this, It is also outside all We have already seen that Brahman is
outside all in the sense of containing the Universe and not only pervading
but surrounding every object with His presence He is also outside in the
sense that He is apart from it and other than it He is not confined in
Time, Space and Condition, but is quite above and outside Time, Space and
Condition: Cosmos is within Him only as the shadow of a cloud is in the
water; He is in Cosmos only as the water is in the shadow and causes and
contains the shadow; but He is not the Cosmos in His nature or in His
substance any more than the water is in nature or substance the shadow The
Cosmos exists in Him phenomenally and as a transient appearance, just as the
shadow exists phenomenally in the water and after a time passes away But
there is this difference that the appearance in the water is the shadow of
something else cast from outside, but the Cosmos is a shadow or eidolon of
Himself created by Brahman in His own being The materialistic Pantheism so natural to the sense-dominated intelligence of the West, is not Vedanta God is not in nature or substance His Universe; but the Universe is He phenomenally and as a manifestation Spirit-Matter is Brahman, but Brahman is not Spirit-Matter This distinction must be carefully kept in mind or the doctrine of entire identity between Brahman and the Self
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of Things, may lead to disastrously false conclusions The truth that Brahman is in all this, must be carefully balanced by the truth that Brahman is outside it all.
Yet to the Karmayogin the negative side of this dual truth is only necessary as a safeguard against error and confusion; it is the positive side which must be his inspiration In its light the whole world becomes a holy place and all cause of fear or grief or hatred disappear, all reason for selfishness, grasping, greed and lust are eliminated, all excuses for ignoble desire or ignoble action are taken away In their stead he receives the mightiest stimulus to self-purification and self-knowledge, which will lead him to the liberation of the divine in himself, to that subdual of the bodily and vital impulses which disciplines the body into the triune strength of purity, abstemiousness and quietude; to courage, magnanimity, justice, truth, the four elements of strength; and mercy, charity, love, beneficence, the four elements of sweetness, making that harmony of perfect sweetness & strength which is perfect character, to a mind, pure of passion and disturbance and prepared against the delusions of sense and the limitations of intellect, such a mind as is alone capable of self-knowledge In this disciplined body, a perfect heart and a pure mind he will have erected a fitting temple for the Eternal within him in which he can offer the worship of works to the Lord and of selflessness to the Self For by that worship he will become himself the Lord and find release from phenomenal life into the undisturbed tranquillity of the Spirit The dictum, Theos ouk estin alla gignetai, God is not but is becoming, has been used to express the imperfect evolution of the cosmos but is better applied to the present spiritual progress of humanity In the race the progress is still rudimentary, but each man has that within him which is empowered to fulfil his evolution and even in this life become no longer an animal, or a mind, a heart, an intellect, but the supreme and highest of all things—Himself.
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"But he who sees all creatures in his very Self and the Self in all creatures, thereafter shrinketh not away in loathing He who discerneth, in whom all creatures have become Himself, how shall he be deluded, whence shall he have sorrow in whose eyes all are one?"
In these two stanzas the Upanishad formulates the ethical ideal of the Karmayogin It has set forth as its interpretation of life the universality of the Brahman as the sole reality and true self of things; all things exist only in Him and He abides in all as the Self Every creature is His eidolon or manifestation and every body His temple and dwelling-place From Him all things began, in Him they develop and mature themselves, to Him they must in their nature strive to return The mutual relations of all beings to each other may be summed up in the single phrase, "One Self in all creatures, all creatures in one Self"; for He is both within all and contains all But this Self exists in each creature not partially or fragmentarily but in Its indivisible completeness Therefore the Self in one creature is precisely the same as the Self in another, not merely kin by origin as in the Christian theology, not merely of the same kind and nature as in the Sankhya teaching, but absolutely identical The sense of personal separation in space and substance and difference in nature has been illusorily brought about by the play of Prakriti, the noumenon of false self, on the one eternal Reality, creating an illusion of multiplicity and mutability Self identifies itself with the phenomena of the evolved universe; habitually feeling the play of the three gunas, the principles of material reception, reaction and retention, on the body, the vital impulses, the mind, the intellect, the supra-intelligence it mistakes the continuity of conscious impressions for the real self, forgetting that these are merely aspects of consciousness in relation to matter and not the true and eternal reality of consciousness But the end of
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