Friday, May 14, 2010

From ‘Sadhus. Going beyond the Dreadlocks’ by Patrick Levy - Part 1

“My King, I am tall and fat and rather ugly and I am a brahmin, but tell me, who am I really? And you, who are you? What can you be called? Are you your body? Are you your birth? And why are you a king? Where does this palanquin come from, do you know? Which kind of wood is it made of? Was the tree already a palanquin in the forest? And was the cotton flower already this robe you are wearing? The air is everywhere, and yet when one blows a little of it in a flute, as it passes through the holes, it produces a ‘la’, a ‘so’ or a ‘re’ and finally a melody. In just the same way, there is neither a ‘me’ nor a ‘you’, but only one existence in the endless flow of life.”

Having heard this, the king felt the power of truth in his heart, beating faster and harder, and was instantaneously freed from birth and the belief in an existence.

The instant of a flash of lightning is all it takes to awaken the truth. Then, all we have to do is go there, where there is neither identity nor the possibility of losing it, neither existing nor the memory of existence, neither birth nor the fatality of death, as if one is endlessly awakening from having passed out and incessantly asking oneself: where am I?

‘The king, who believes he lacks something, suffers the pangs of poverty just like a beggar. In the same way, the man who believes he is his body, is dominated by birth, sickness and death. But if he frees himself from the belief, he finds joy. Under the influence of maya, that which is perfect thinks it is not.’

In Hindu philosophy, maya, often translated as illusion or ignorance, is the name of the projection power of the mind, which transforms that which is perceived into the belief that that which is perceived is real. Thus a fundamental and parallel mistake is created: the belief that we exist as a separate entity.

……….a stanza of Kabir: ‘Ride the mount of silence to find your guru.

Hindus love to love. Adoration is the attitude by which the ego takes pleasure in diminishing. When admiring with the heart, one receives as much love as is offered. Adoration contains nirvana.

‘You are bound to act,’ says Krishna addressing Man in the Bhagavad Gita. But the sadhu replies, ‘No, I am not anymore. I will not do anything.’ If the essence of Man is action, then not to act is to be freed from the human condition. Akarma is tapas, our discipline.

Thus, it is not aimed as compassion and altruism – to work for the benefit of others in the name of God or that of a higher principle. We follow the way of samnyasa, ‘Renunciation does not mean “I” refuse objects,’ taught Ananda Baba, ‘because this I does not exist. Vairagya is a metaphysical rejection signifying the dissolution of me and my and of maya, the world.’

The use of cannabis is a tapas, an ascetic discipline and a gateway to the sacred. The chillum-baba finds in it a connection with God, a more intense surge of devotion, a vision of the world less numbed by conditioning and his own habits, or an access to the fourth state of consciousness, which is that of the witness. It is a means to an end. Would it be more authentic to attain this through abstaining? Babas do not attempt to make judgements or hold an opinion concerning the purity of their practice. They have given up judging and classifying althogether. For them purity is being authentic. And Reality is what they live in the now of consciousness. Going beyond conventions, taking short cuts and casual intrepidness are the marks of this spiritual path, which is also an adventure.

Cannabis does not produce hallucinations in the way that the mind creates objects and situations within itself, as for example during dreams. On the contrary, it reveals things as they are, stripping our apprehension of reality from its usual utilitarian, materialistic or ordinary representations. This is why it is thought of as a tapas. It transforms the hypnosis of the world. Through this process, the awareness that sees this hypnosis remains alert. And in this awakening, what we consider to be real is shaken. Our habits and things we take for granted are hypnoses whilst surprise is divine.

Baudelaire spoke of it as an initiation to a new reality, which makes it possible to gain insight into the shape of things beyond their presence. It produces an effect of displacement, which unmasks the identification that we have either of ourselves, or with the constructs of a reality that allows the mundane to dominate. It stimulates astonishment: the function which awakens.

‘The universe is only one being,’ he said. ‘It is called Brahman, the Immutable One. There is nothing one can say about it, but to give at least an indication, one says that it is Sat (being-existence-reality), Cit (consciousness-knowledge) and Ananda (bliss)’

Unconcerned with his own dignity, he does not distinguish
Between what has value and has none,
Including everything in one, he enjoys bowing
before all things. [Jnaneshvari]

‘One can see the Atman in the interval between two vrittis (mental modifications), or when they are absent as in deep sleep. Also, on the cusp of the three states of consciousness (the moment between sleep and waking up; when falling asleep; and between dreaming and deep sleep). Also at the time of the sun reaching its zenith and at the passing from night to day and day to night.’

There are quicker ways or even instantaneous means of freeing oneself from all of this, through realization, a sudden and definitive grounding in knowledge, understanding, awakening – freedom, the exit from maya – the delusion of considering objects and thoughts as being true or real, and consequently this theory as well. Maintaining one’s mind in this paradox is a state of realization.

‘Non-action means not expecting anything…if you hope for something, you create the one who hopes, and you have already started making action,’ explained Ananda Baba. ‘Without expectation, without any thought of success or failure, without desire of reward, who acts? The act is accomplished. Bass!

‘The ignorance of the Self in the dream state stops naturally when we wake up. How can one awaken from the hypnosis of the waking state?..........’

I practiced the dharana meditation: concentrating attention on only one sense organ, a method Ananda Baba had taught me………..

The ascetic turned towards me and looked at me. A gaze from the heart without pretence, that was neither cheerful nor severe. A quiet gaze that had been present in the now for a long time. One that pierces personality without reading it, that gently nullifies it; showing ego that, all things considered, what it thinks it is, is nothing but a puerile idea because it is the only one that believes in it. In such darshans nothing remains; just the reflection of Being.

‘When you look at your image in a mirror, although you identify with the image, you do not take the image to be yourself. In the same way, Brahman is that in which ‘I’ is the reflection. The mind thus lightened, contemplates Brahman through what existence presents itself with, and performs like an actor in a role.’

He does not feel any desire for the world’s dissolution
nor aversion for its maintenance. He has eternity before
him and is happy to keep quiet. [Astavakra Samhita 17 7]

‘It is from the point of view of stillness that one understands motion,’ commented my guru. ‘Sit down. Observe the impulse to move in yourself, but don’t move. This impulse is related to the source of life. Stillness gives you its knowledge. Go beyond, you will discover consciousness that has consciousness for an object.’

‘Keep silence within you when you take a darshan,’ Ananda Baba reminded me. ‘Don’t think. Let it be. Offer your gaze’

As a model of the superhuman the Greeks came up with the athlete; the Americans created a flying superhero dispensing justice and the Indians chose the ascetic. If stillness was an Olympic discipline, they would win all medals, I thought.

‘Light puts an end to darkness; knowledge puts an end to ignorance. The attachment of the mind to the object is cause of bondage, freedom from attachment leads to liberation in the same way as fire dies out when there is no more fuel for it. The one whose awareness does not know restlessness and sorrow dwells in bliss. This is the teaching of the rishis.

‘First, limit your world to that which you perceive. In other words, pull yourself away from speculations and establish yourself in the here and now.’
‘And then?’
‘Then you will be able to examine this reality. How is it? What does it tell you? What is your relationship with it? What emotions, what feelings does it produce? Examine all this. Examine the reality of this.’
‘What am I supposed to find?’
‘You want answers? Babaji does not give any answers. Be the witness. It does not require any effort.’

The true bliss of this supreme idleness is reserved to those for
Whom blinking the eyes becomes exhausting – not for others.

‘Agree not to seek anything for a moment,’ recommended Ananda Baba. ‘Establish yourself in a state of disinterest. Then, direct your attention to your senses and then towards the interior, to the mind impressions caused by the senses. This is Pratyahara – gathering….’

‘Second phase: Dharana, concentrate thought on one point only, only one sense, one object, one subject or one thought. That gives you a simple experience of Oneness.’

I concentrated on sounds, the lapping of water, multiple voices overlapping and reverberating against the walls, the cries of budgies bickering in flight, and the remote cawing….to which I was attributing words. And then there were the sounds themselves and… Hearing.

‘Third stage: Dhyana. Focus your attention on a single point uninterruptedly. Only one precise object.’

I concentrated on the lapping.

‘Once that is established,’ Ananda Baba continued, ‘let go of the method, the aim. Let go of the one who thinks. Give up the object and the subject. This is unity, samadhi, the “gathering”. You are not in the centre anymore, nor anywhere else in reality. You are reality.’

We cannot separate a subject from a universe, nor the observer from the observed, observed quantum physics, nor really know the phenomenon we are trying to study because observing them alters them. The observer influences and modifies the object he perceives, and it is probable he also makes it up! Our apprehension of reality is immediately polluted by thoughts, judgements, and a whole backlog of knowledge, mental systems and classifications with the purpose of recognizing more than knowing. And reality becomes invisible, warns the Hindu philosopher.

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