Wholes & Parts

The whole is always infinitely greater than the sum total of its parts. Thus, the content of the whole, God, becomes both immanent and transcendent with regard to the manifested content.

One such example is the real line in mathematics. We know from Real Analysis that the interval between numbers 0 and 1 has the same size as the interval between 0 and 1000 or the interval between 0 and infinity! For our purpose we can pick the interval from 0 to 1. Every number between 0 and 1 is a finite number; in fact they are all smaller than 1. But as the length of the interval is infinite, any amount of addition among the numbers within the interval is always infinitely smaller than the length of the interval. Still fascinating is that despite the essential inadequacy of the parts in reconstructing the whole, the size of the interval between any two numbers within a larger interval is always the same size as the larger interval itself. For instance, there are the same amount of numbers existing between 0 and 0.00001 as there are between 1 and 10000.

In number theory we see that the distance between any two infinitely close numbers is always infinitely large, no matter how close the numbers become to one another. Number being itself something finite can never fill the gap between itself and another number. In light of this, every atom is essentially infinitely big as every universe is infinitely small. In terms of size, an atom and the universe are of the same size. Yes then, size matters; but it is either zero or infinite. But we also know that zero and infinity are the two sides of the same coin; one doesn’t exist without the other. Nothingness is God’s back. The choice is ours: Live in His face or die behind His back.

The Grace to Embrace

We must remind ourselves, those of us practicing religion as a means of salvation rather than welfare, that the spiritual life, the life of God, is about God and not us. That we complain so often of our imperfections and the subsequent suffering is a misunderstanding of religion. Perhaps we think that spiritual life is about having a good time, that a good spiritual life is a life of mental and emotional security and perfect devotion. In the face of the slightest suffering we blame ourselves of spiritual failure as if perfection, spiritual or otherwise, was a human possibility!
It is a bad habit of our times, more so in the western hemisphere, that we should think everything is about us and how we feel, that anything that disturbs the emotions has an evil origin unless one sees the visible hand of God. We have a hard time accepting, let alone trusting, that whether we are in suffering or not God is working within and without. We feel that we must know his every move or else we lose faith and find ourselves in despair, as if He owes us an explanation on top of the possibility of salvation offered by grace, as if God has a “Buy one get one for free” business!
We cannot trust in the invisible, thanks to our faulty culture and education; so instead of raising ourselves to God we bring Him down to our own mundane level which is no more Him but a projection of our own desires in one form or another. Our complaint over lack of spiritual perfection is the most destructive of all spiritual imperfections, for it indicates that we pursue the path so to feel good about ourselves; above all it indicates our lack of faith and trust in Him.
The best violins in the world were at once a seemingly useless pieces of wood. That wood has become the masterpiece that it is because it gave itself totally to the hands of a master who chopped and hammered it for thousands of hours. The best architect chooses the material that shows the highest degree of conformity to both the means and the final end of perfection.
Whenever we come to such moments of suffering, the dark nights of the soul, we must think ourselves, if we seek God rather than the self, as deformed souls under the hammer of God who is cutting away our imperfections. And by no means should we think or expect that we are on the way of becoming perfect beings in the face of God, for our perfection is in our non-being before Him: Our salvation is nothing but our annihilation in God.
We must ask of God nothing for ourselves except more consciousness of Himself. And we must remember that each blow of His hammer is a chance of becoming more conscious of Him. God’s hammer is the grace to embrace.

The Cloak of Religious Zeal

Many a times I thought how can one explain to the critics of religion that what lies at the heart of religion, the inward truth of which religion is only an outward expression, has nothing to do with the heinous acts done under a cloak of religious zeal, that such acts are of men oblivious to the principle and not of the principle itself. Never I found a response better than one offered by William Law:

“Would you know whence it is that so many false spirits have appeared in the world, who have deceived themselves and others with false fire and false light, laying claim to information, illumination, and openings of the divine Life, particularly to do wonders under extraordinary calls from God? It is this: They have turned to God without turning from themselves; would be alive to God before they are dead to their own nature. Now religion in the hands of self, or corrupt nature, serves only to discover vices of a worse kind than in nature left to itself. Hence are all the disorderly passions of religious men, which burn in a worse flame than passions only employed about worldly matters; pride, self-exaltation, hatred and persecution, under a cloak of religious zeal, will sanctify actions which nature, left to itself, would be ashamed to own.”

William Law 

Faith: The Quintessence of The Path

One must first seduce the world into that notorious journey. One must have already offered the world all that one has and all that one is, to have treated the world like one’s own child, with unconditional love, for the idea of the journey doesn’t even cross the mind of the one who cannot love without being himself loved. The path is infinitely short but the journey takes forever; after all, thorn is the mark of the path and faith is its light.

Journey ends at the hills of the holy mountain where the holy sword awaits the coming of the brave hearted. It is here, at the crossing between hell and heaven, the place of unbearable fear and trembling, that one must sacrifice the world in order to see the Face.

The world must go if It is to come.

Pursuit of Our Dreams

There is nothing that cannot be achieved through concentration.

In all esoteric traditions in which the aspirant is initiated into the way for the attainment of truth the most important requirement is the intense longing for the goal. It and it alone if held with consistency brings about the result.

This though first appearing as a mystery turns out to be a universal structure of consciousness. Intense longing does not actually create a result; the result, the goal, is always there in the universe but only potentially. Intense longing is rather a ritual on the part of seeker to show the extent to which it gives itself to the goal, a ritual for winning her heart; and the extent to which we give ourselves to the goal the goal gives itself to us.

Intense longing is no mere curiosity, no hobby, no entertainment. I should long for the goal to the extent that I can no more imagine myself being separate from it. Thus, intense longing is a demand on our part, or more precisely the display of our demand, from the universe of pure potentiality. The goal is always already inside the aspirant in the seed form; to desire this goal is to feed it, to take care of it, to watch it 24/7, and to become the protective fence around it. The seed cannot but grow, for it is its nature to grow wherever there is fertile soil. To attain a dream we should become the fertile soil for it.

The pursuit of a dream is our spiritual response to a calling. Although it appears that we choose and seek the dream, it is in fact the dream that seeks us; it is pure potentiality that wants to be actualized in and through us, thus it calls upon us. Being pure potentiality the dream always appears in the form of an idea. Idea wants to be realized and it chooses you for this realization. Dream, thus, is a call from the ideal universe upon us so we take the ideal and make it into the real. The key behind this process is intense longing.

There is always a world against us and the pursuit of our dream; but this is precisely where the longing comes in; this is itself a test to see if we are worthy of a dream and its realization. The goal has to see if we choose the world or it. To attain to the goal we must always choose the goal no matter what the other options are. This is a filtering process through which the dream picks only those who would give everything for it. The choice of the world is the force of inertia in us; we are naturally inclined to accept the choice of the mass or at least shake in the face of it. But the mass never really makes a choice. Mass is made of individuals; each one of them chooses based on the choice of the others, but the others too choose based on the choice of some others, etc. Thus, the others that make the choice are really anonymous. It is this anonymity that is used by the corporate power who makes the choice of the mass without them even knowing it; it appears to people that they make their choices but the very criteria based on which choices are made are always anonymous and simply accepted. The average man is in fact anonymous; he is no one, for its individuality is not his own, though it is made to appear so. He doesn’t live the life of any body, though the illusion is give to him that he is someone, perhaps even a celebrity worst of all. The celebrity is he/she who is chosen by the mass of fans; but the fans’ choice is determined by the anonymous others mentioned above. Therefore, there is no life and no individuality except in the case of a dreamer who constantly chooses the dream over everything else, even with the price of being a nobody within the context of the accepted world.

Dreaming is always scorned by the many; we hear a lot from them, “be real.” Ironically their reality is a one defined and chosen by other dreamers! Your dreaming is a threat to the mundane lives of the anonymous men and women of the mass. But whenever there is someone around us, and there always is, who is threatened by our dreams he/she is the someone that should not be in our life. This itself, the choosing of our dream over the ones who belittle it, is another display of our desire for the attainment of them goal, and hence a necessary step toward the end. It doesn’t matter whether those who undermine the dignity of our dreams are relatives, family members, wives or husbands or children or parents; they have to go if the dream matters at all.

To choose a dream is not just the entertainment of an idea; to choose a dream is to choose everything that is harmonious with it and choose to leave behind everything that is against it. Relationships are conventional; dreams are universal.

Truth became man so that man may become the truth.

The Jnana Path of Knowledge

Jnana Yoga is the esoteric path toward the attainment of truth and liberation. It is esoteric since it moves inwardly through knowledge rather than outwardly through love and devotion which pertains to the exoteric way of the Bhakta.

Jnana Yoga is designed for the intellectually-oriented aspirant whose temperament is that of detachment and intellection. The aspirant who cannot submit to names and forms must delve directly into the heart of truth by way of knowledge and by means of the intellect. The Bhakta who cannot but be emotionally invested in the path is bound to worship a personal god which is the relative absolute. The Jnanin, on the other hand, aims at the impersonal absolute, for he seeks the truth for the sake of truth and not for any spiritual reward.

Naked truth is veiled since it is unbearable and dangerous for the emotionally invested Bhakta. The Jnanin, however, is prepared to stand the fatal radiation of truth, for he has renounced himself and become the truth. In the face of truth the Jnanin is not surprised at all, for what he sees is not new knowledge; it is only remembrance: He realizes that he has been identical with the truth all along. It is more like an Aha moment for him in which he remains unmoved, though it would be the most shocking, unbearable, and frightening sight for the unprepared.

The Jnana path of knowledge follows the 4 principal attitudes:

1. Intellectual discernment between the real and the unreal.

2. Renunciation of the unreal and concentration on the real.

3. The six virtues of control over the mind, control over the senses, detachment from worldliness, indifference to pain and pleasure, faith and trust, mastery in concentration.

4. Longing for knowledge and the attainment of liberation.

The path of knowledge is of course not a choice for an aspirant; the aspirant must be born into this path, for the path of knowledge is not a hobby or an appendix to one’s life; disinterested pursuit of truth must be the one and the only life of the aspirant; thus he must be born with an intrinsic and irresistible love of truth and wisdom. The Jnanin is the man who must know.