Hell is the Other

The man of today is drowning in the ocean of subjectivity, in phenomena, falling for his own shadow, falling a second fall. By continuous feeding of our little desires we have made a mistress out of them; mental and physical needs become more subtle, and we have developed a consciousness for them; we have become too conscious of every disturbance, and we struggle to suppress it one way or another, like a madman trying to calm the waters by pressing down upon waves. But this growth of desire has no end, a shoreless ocean it is; it opens up indefinitely like a fractal.

We are so mesmerized with the dance of forms that we can’t remember our exalted station. Man is a frail and fragile creature, a transient phenomenon; but what is within him, or what animates him, is immortal and indestructible. It is the androgynous perceiver of all the states of reality. It perceives all points of view at once; It sees through all eyes: It is the beholder of every now and then, of every here and there. It is what it is; “I am that I am.”

This universe is a one-man universe. There is no one else in it but you; there is no “other.” It is like when we reenact a situation or lost opportunity in our head, playing all sides and conversations by ourselves! This world, this diversity of subjects and objects, it is one of those situations in the mind of the Solitary One. And you are that One, the One without a second, the only One; and there is nothing like it.

If you see the success of others, why jealousy! In them, in their hearts, it is you; their gaze is your gaze. So their achievements should make you better and happier; their success is yours and their failure too is yours. Who else is in this world!? When you judge you judge only your own perceptions. If you are true to yourself, if you are objective at all, you must realize that you see nothing but your own perceptions. So, if the world is hell for you it is the hell of your own perceptions; and if it is heaven, it is the heaven of your own perceptions.

The otherness of the other is just another perception. The other is a manufactured reality, a notion, an alien interpretation read into the Current of Forms. I am all alone; I am the only reality. The diversity of subjects and objects, giving rise to the illusion of multiplicity, has its cause in a greater and higher intelligence beyond the mind. Being one and alone, It perceives within itself an apparent diversity, much like when a single mind can perceive such diversity in a dream state. As it is in the nature of light to shine, it is in the nature of consciousness to project, to make an image of its ideas. So the reality of the image is not to be found in the image itself but in the consciousness that projects it. All we perceive is light; world, diversity, is an interpretation: “The face of Truth is concealed by a golden vessel.” (Isha Upanishad)

In this world there is no such thing as equality. There are greater men as there are lesser men. What shines in them is the same; the difference is only in what they reflect of that Intelligible Light. The difference is in the degree to which they reflect in the outside world what is reflected within them. It is the matter of concentration and utilization. The psycho-physical constitution of a man, and indeed of this modern people, is such that the intelligence shining in him is mostly dissipated by mundane curiosities and irrelevant information; the attention is leaking out every which way.

As sun shines equally on everything, pure intelligence too shines equally in every being and animates it; but the receptivity of the spirit to this light always depends on our spiritual/intellectual orientation. If your mind-body complex is consuming most of your intelligence, then you are moving toward intellectual dullness and stupidity. Here lies the difference between literacy and knowledge, between mere information and true wisdom: Literacy doesn’t make noble men; it doesn’t impart virtue. Books don’t make men; it is men who make books. We see more crookedness, arrogance, and awkwardness in the merely literate than the illiterate. While literacy concerns itself with the letter, or the most superficial reading of it, knowledge is concerned with the spirit behind the letter, i.e. the transcendent and immutable meaning of things.

The imperative has always been the same: Know thyself. Know, first, that by knowing which everything else is known.

We produce informed but not wise men. We produce readers but not seers. We produce sterile beings. It is by the admission of our scientists and philosophers that “the more we know we realized how little we know.” That this knowledge, this outward curiosity, adds not to knowledge but to our ignorance. Then, how can it be called knowledge when by possessing it we feel less knowledgeable. Simple is the answer: This cannot be knowledge in the true sense of the word if it does not remove ignorance and instead multiplies it. That is why the more we fill ourselves with this world-knowledge, the more empty and arrogant we become. This is the difference between knowledge and literacy; in the latter we accumulate letters, a pile of names and forms, something even a tiny flash-drive can do; while in knowledge we accumulate nothing; we only peel off the many layers of ignorance; we add no more conceptions but stand behind all conceptions. By reaching the ground of Being we stand under everything; then and only then can we say we truly understand.

In true knowledge we add nothing but subtract everything until the true Self shines, until its beams emerge from underneath a pile of forms and letters. Literacy makes a man heavier, less flexible, less immortal; but knowledge, i.e. knowledge of universal principles, makes a man light, more flexible, and closer to immortality. At the summit, when the last veil, i.e. your human cover, drops and His face, your true Self, is beheld, then immortality is realized. And it is the immortal man who hovers over the surface of the waters, the waters in which the literate man of today is drowning to his demise.

Some make their own truths, and some let themselves be made by the truth: To be made is to be hammered.

 

The Bliss of Detachment

Happiness is in acting without acting. There is neither happiness nor salvation in inaction. If the Principle became inactive for a moment the whole universe would collapse instantaneously. Acting without acting is acting without attachment to the fruits of the action. So one must be as detached from the world as a theater screen is from the images displayed on it.

In the plane of multiplicity, to which human action belongs, this disinterested action amounts to the effective coordination of the faculties in response to one’s duties, i.e. harmony within and without the microcosm, or what Plato has rightly called “Justice.”

But justice within microcosm cannot be attained without detachment. A sentimental person, and a sentimental society much like we have in the west, cannot possibly approach justice, let alone realize it, for sentimentality is precisely the glue by which we are attached to things, to names and forms.

You must learn to see with the same eye a mound of earth and a heap of gold, a cow and a sage, a dog and a man who eats the dog. There is another intelligence beyond the mind.” Krishna says to Arjuna in Mahabharata

Names and forms veil the nature of things; and justice is in the nature of things. Illumination is an unveiling of the Real, a negative act. Manifestation is “finding the Real in ecstasy,”* a positive act. The latter projects the experience-of the universe; the former shuts its down, or more precisely it shuts down experience as such altogether. While the positive acts is the production of experience, the negative act is the cessation of experience, or what in various traditions is called Nirvana, Fanaa, Brahmanubhava, Sakina, Godhead, etc.

A man is happy when he is closer to that supreme state, when he has become all-inclusive and universal by transcending his individuality. And this man cannot help but be just and act justly.

So the attainment of justice, which is in the nature of man, is the negative process of purification, of peeling away the many layers of narratives until the Truth shines by itself, until justice becomes one’s permanent station, and only then true bliss ensues. This is the path of maximum action and minimum resistance, keeping in mind that contemplation is the most exalted form of action.

*Ibn Arabi

Summary of Vedantic Metaphysics

The student: What is the cause of this world?

The master: Ignorance.

The student: What is ignorance?

The master: It is confusing the seer with the seen.

The student: What is the seen?

The master: Everything.

The student: What is the seer?

The master: You are the seer.

The student: Who is confused?

The master: No one.

The student: Then, why is there ignorance?

The master: There is no ignorance.

The student: So how come there is a world?

The master: There is no world. What from afar appears to be the world from near is realized to be the Truth. “The face of Truth is concealed by a golden vessel.”*

The student: But I can see and hear the world!

The master: That Truth is that very seeing and hearing in which you find yourself  wrapped in a world. The seen and the heard are naught; they are like the waves in the ocean, just water like the rest of it. Only water is real; wave is mere name and form, i.e. conditioned emptiness.

The student: Who am I then?

The master: You are the unconditioned Reality, the Knower of that emptiness. You are the answer to your own question. Don’t seek; see!**

The student: Whatever.

The master: Exactly. At once drop all notions and be happy; you are already perfect: You are unconditioned Reality. Notion is condition.

*Isha Upanishad

**Swami Vivekananda

Indifference, Station of Wisdom

“One may be indifferent to the enjoyments of this world only in expectation of better enjoyments in the next. This kind of indifference is tainted with desires which bar the door to Knowledge. But the indifference that results from a due deliberation on the evanescent nature of this world as well as the world to come, is alone pure, and productive of the higher good.”

Adi Shankara, 8th century CE Hindu philosopher

The Overman

Much has been said of the coming of the Overman. The Overman doesn’t evolve; the Overman descends. It was not Nietzsche that spoke of the coming of the Overman; it was the Overman that spoke through Nietzsche of his own coming.

In Overman the real has become the ideal and the ideal the real since in him the ideal is fully realized. It is at the transcendent summit that idealism and realism stand united, while in the manifest order they appear to be distinct and standing against one another.

But when comes to man, this little worn out image, whose fragmented world is a reflection of his own fragmented soul, the Overman must blow in him again. We are all born and live on a life support machine. What is then the life of man?

The life of man is the journey of a shadow; he rises from nothingness and falls back into nothingness. But the Real Man, the Transcendent Man, i.e. the Overman, that which casts the shadow, remains unmoved throughout this journey, for He is the perfect image of the Unmoved Mover.

The Overman is not an individual; he is no historical figure. The Overman is not in the world; it is the world that is a thought in the Overman. He may take up the mask of Krishna, Christ, or Muhammad and become a bridge; or He may tease us through Nietzsche without giving him a taste of His face, leaving him in the madness and confusion that precedes eternal sobriety; but He can’t be understood in terms only of one or another individual. The person of a saint is nothing more than a passing appearance in which we can see the reflection of Truth, our own real Face shining in eternity. So there is in reality only one saint projecting many images of itself on Nature. The various religions and traditions are the petals of one and the same flower.

The Truth cannot fit in a theory, image, or idea; yet every theory, image, and idea is an expression of one of Its intelligible aspects. Art, religion/philosophy, and science/technique, constitute various neighborhoods in the city of Truth. We cannot oppose these to one another because they are united in their principle, the spirit; they are, so to speak, various sense organs by which man confronts reality in the form of a world. They address the different needs of a man. As the eyes cannot touch and the hands cannot see, religion sees but doesn’t build while science builds but doesn’t see. And we all know that the best and the most majestic of architectural masterpieces belonged to periods in which makers were both builders and seers, where wisdom and action were still united.

A science opposed to religion is a like a headless man. Religion by nature cannot possibly oppose science, for religion is about man and reality in an entirely different sense than that used in science. If fans of popular religion and even some religious authorities see an opposition, and sometimes even a competition, between scientific facts and religious doctrines, it is only because they have misunderstood religion altogether; their fundamental mistake is in confusing form with essence: The subject matter of science is form while the subject matter of religion and true philosophy is essence. As the subject matter of each is different, their methods of inquiry are as well different. We cannot apply the methods of one expecting to reject the claims of the other or confirm those of our own. Metaphysics, in its true sense, is the root of both science and religion, and also of art, and is a field of knowledge far from speculative. Metaphysics is the field of self-evident realities and also the source of all evidence in any rational inquiry. We can only say this, that compared to the truth and self-evidence belonging to metaphysics, the degree of evidence in pure mathematics is but a pale reflection. The essential content of art, religion, and science, is always metaphysical.

In Metaphysics we step into a new domain, the oldest reality, where world and man have no place, where the abstract becomes the living and the living the abstract. Sartre mistakenly thought that in man existence precedes essence; but it is known that in man existence is the essence.

Metaphysics is the universal and immutable form of the Real. Thus, metaphysics, the highest form of knowledge, is still a superposition on the surface of the Real. There is a higher stateless state, the Real Itself, in which there is no more metaphysics nor anything else. There is where nothing can creep in, no expression and no man, except total death and annihilation. Even God must die in order to return to the Godhead.

From Present to Presence

The moment is always free due to its nature, like a balloon that tends to fly away. It is the ego who apparently ties it down to a particular situation/narrative, i.e. a complex of name and form. The now is the vessel of total reality; we have broken it into pieces and call them past and future. We were once gathered in Adam, but he fell into subconscious and shattered into existence, into us. Each is seeking the paradise for him/herself; we have forgotten that we are the very pieces of paradise. We are the petals of one and the same flower.

We fell from His presence to His presents, from essence to attributes, from Adam to the world.

This man falls for the fruit again and again. For the boldest and thirstiest of all men, the saint, who renounces all presents for a glimpse of His presence, this market does not have what he seeks. Here they sell only images; here everything and everyone is an image. The saint, though he appears to be, he is not.

The body seeks the stench of the world while the soul follows the scent of Truth . Oh, there is a rose garden in the heart. This world is a distraction; this marriage is an affair. The soul is His eternal bride.

Everyone is saying the same thing and everything is singing the same song; they are just putting it differently.

He gave us a choice, as to our fundamental orientation, whether we want to see His face or His back!

I seek solitude not because I enjoy isolation; I seek it because I hate isolation.

All separation is from Him.

All experience is spiritual experience.

In this courtyard I may be one among the many, but on the throne and with my Lord I am the one in the many.

Ignorance, the primordial vice, is the support of existence.

Spiritual realization does not consist in escaping the world but in seeing it as it is.

Of the metaphysical transparency of phenomena we can say this: Every phenomenon has a metaphysical root whose universal form is reflected in the phenomenon itself, so that the outward form is only an image or reflection of the inward meaning or essence. The manifest part of a tree, i.e. its trunk and branches, has the same form as the unmanifest part of the tree, its root. Thus, the soil, or that which separates earth from heaven, is really the plane of reflection through which the unmanifest essence projects itself into the manifest form. This portrays the universal architectonic of Reality which regenerates itself, much like a fractal, beginning from the Godhead and repeating itself all the way up to the most mundane aspect of any phenomenon. This universal form, i.e. the polarity of principle and projection, is the origin of all dualities: Essence and form, mind and matter, subject and object, ego and world, lord and the servant, heaven and the earth, creator and creature, up and down, north and south, wave and particle, the I and the other, happiness and misery, profit and loss, friend and enemy, union and separation, good and evil, with and without, inward and outward, light and darkness, life and death, mortality and immortality, here and there, now and then, right and left, me and you, etc. Now you get to make only two moves, either toward your root and principle, i.e. your first cause, or away from it, to become whole or remain a hole. To perceive in all these pairs the presence of one and the same principle, one and the same meaning; this is the metaphysical transparency of phenomena, that is, to see the painter in the painting.

 

The Last Illusion

At the closing of Mahabharata, seeing his enemies in heaven and his own family in hell Yudhishthira starts shouting at the gods and condemning their justice. This was the last waystation before he entered Sakina, the Great Peace at the heart of the Godhead. So the keeper of the last dwelling said to Yudhishthira:

“Stop shouting! You have known neither paradise nor hell. Here there is no happiness, no punishment, no family, no enemies. Rise in tranquility. Here words end, like thought. This was your last illusion.”