Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

From a friend:
I am feeling a bit on the agnostic side these days. I love the idea of God and his grace and all that, but I feel as if, despite the lovely memories, the warm comfort of a life of faith, I must finally make it official that Santa Claus really does not exist. There is no harm in continuing celebrating Christmas, and even cheerfully hanging the stocking over the fireplace, but the truth is that I now know that the gift placed under my tree does not come from an immortal father ridding a sleigh in the sky. It comes from my wishing him to be. All that sense of self and confidence in my life has come from this sense of him being there at all times. But he isn't there without my hard work. And I am tired. I don't want to make up God, I want him to be. Why, for a change, can't I be surprised? Why must I work so hard, always, to come up with a mere match to my tired, narrow self needs?

I am really sorry that you are having these particular doubts. I will admit that it is a bit of a hiccup on the road to felicity. Personally, since I have been in India I have felt nothing but my faith increase. I think that whatever happens to me now I am prepared because I see everything in terms of God's will. And if I have to go back to Canada, or stay here, I can take it in my stride. I can live with anything that gets thrown at me, from destitution and infamy to wealth and fame.

Faith is not necessarily something that can be communicated by words, but this Santa Claus thing is just a total misunderstanding. It comes from that very kanishtha or even pre-kanishtha stage where you are stilling seeing God as a, well, Santa Claus. God really has nothing to do with that. It is not hoping for something and that God will fulfill it; it is seeing how God is the only explanation for what is, and how living in a way oriented to God is the only response to that understanding.

Recently, a letter from Einstein has been discovered in which he says that belief in God is childish. And, by crikey, belief in God has indeed shown itself to be childish over the centuries, I do admit it. But just as St. Paul says, in one of the most potent passages in the entire Bible, that when you cease being a child, you put away the things of a child, and that includes the faith of a child. So this means looking beyond the pie-in-the-sky fantasy world aspect of Krishna lila and start looking at it from a different perspective. St. Paul goes on to talk about faith, hope and charity, by which he means love. And he is certainly on the right track there.

As a matter of fact, faith, hope and charity might be seen as categories corresponding to sat, chit and ananda in the way that I have been explaining them. Faith means simply accepting the fact of existence. Existence itself is the minimum definition of God. Can you explain existence? Does the Big Bang theory help anyone understand how existence came to be? Of course, it just is. But that is the minimum definition of God. He just is. The people who say that God cannot exist because there is no proof are simply using a definition that is too narrow. Existence itself is God. Now what was your problem with faith? Let us proceed on from there.

From there you go to hope, the sign of consciousness. Hope is the result of awareness of relationship to the cosmos, your place in it and the signs that you, despite your apparent temporality, are eternal like it. The miraculous awareness of the miraculous fact of existence would not only enrich one’s faith, but one’s sense of hope, also, “that I am a child of eternity, I am meant for so much more than this.”

This is why I often talk about the symbolism of the Divine Couple and its relation to the love of this world. We know that the loves of this world are fleeting and temporary, however intense and tempestuous, overwhelming loving being in love. But then it is more than that. It is about entering His world and seeing everything in the light of that. That requires sadhana. You cannot do it without sadhana. And sadhana is a constant, relentless effort, success or failure. Because there is no greater commitment in life than that of understanding and loving God, in view of the fact that God is what encompasses everything. That is why you cannot say there is no God.

You may say that the Absolute Truth takes a different form from Krishna, but there is some underlying logic and purpose to the totality of things and our place within it. And that purpose is RELATIONAL; it is our relation to that underlying essence that animates us and everything else.

Radha and Krishna are a myth. OK. That does not mean anything. They are an expression of something universal. This is exactly what I was saying to someone the other day. Radha and Krishna are in every atom, and if you can't see them there, well too bad for you. You can not only see them, but you can feel them, and love them, and interact with them. It is not another physical universe where they exist, but in your own private universe.

You may try to populate your private universe by facsimiles of what exist around you--family, friends, service to the poor and oppressed, political action, there are endless possibilities, each with their own satisfactions. But what makes Radha and Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead is their fundamental, essential character. They personify the love that is what we are all seeking to receive and want to give. They take us out of our individual limitations, birth, old age, disease and death, and lift us to transcendence. They take us out of our mundane pettiness and take us into the realm of the numinous, the sacred.

This is where we really want to be. Everyone likes wonder, chamatkarita, rasa. We all like to be amazed by wonderful achievements of men and women. Here is the endless source of wonder, the fountainhead of love that is at the basis of all creation. From love it was produced, out of love it survives, and into love it will merge in the end. And if you are imbued with that love, through good fortune, you become an agent of this world's survival, in whatever your particular calling happens to be.

But the point in bhakti is that we are neither looking for sense gratification or liberation. We are looking for service, however Krishna may engage us. And sometimes that requires us taking the initiative and acting without waiting for drops of blood dripping from a statue of the Virgin Mary or some other sign. It means taking that famous leap of faith and acting because the fact of God's existence makes doing otherwise impossible. This is the difference between immature and mature religion. Don't worry about the hard work. In this endeavor, there is no loss or diminution.

11 comments:

Don said...

"Radha and Krishna are in every atom, and if you can't see them there, well too bad for you. You can not only see them, but you can feel them, and love them, and interact with them. It is not another physical universe where they exist, but in your own private universe."

And from some other theological quarter someone is saying that, "Shiva and Shakti are in every atom, and if you can't see them there, well too bad for you"

This goes on and on with all the religions, each claiming there's to be the topmost of the topper most.

I think Virginia has come to some maturity frankly and has grown weary of the constant arduous task of constantly seeking the truth outside ourselves in some distant God found in lofty scriptures who plays hide and seek with humanity..

My feeling having undergone similar dissatisfaction in God based religions as Virginia is that we should focus our attention on the discovery of our own 'Godliness' i.e. our very own being here now within ourselves.

It is said when Bodhidharma became enlightened that he laughed continuously for seven days straight, seeing him do so his contemporaries thought he had gone mad, however he explained that what so funny was that he had spent so many years, lifetimes even, searching for the truth outside himself and when he gave up that search and turned his attention within, his enlightenment suddenly came burst forth, realizing that the seeker himself was in fact what he had always sought...

And it made him laugh his ass off!

namaskar,

jijaji

Jagat said...

You say "working on oneself" is more important than God. Of course sadhana is about personal work, but what is personal work without a perspective against which to place it? What is a journey without a destination? Our destination is the personal God in the form of Radha and Krishna.

I am wary of anyone who does not have a personal conception of God and frankly I don't care who thinks otherwise, Bodhidharma, Osho or whoever else is there.

However, I am not promoting some kind of primitive sectarian concept of theism. I have been trying for ages to make that clear, and especially so in my recent responses to Swami Prema Anand, but you do not seem to be able to remember what I say from one post to the next.

For enlightened transcendental elevated purified persons like yourself, please know that I am using Radha and Krishna as a NAME for the Absolute. And if you don't like that name, by all means use another. But don't give me a hard time when I use that name with other people who are accustomed to using it also. Would you condemn an English person for not using "H2O" when talking to another English person about "water," and accuse him of wanting to create strife with the French or Chinese?

My advice to devotees is to continue to make their own theistic conception more sophisticated in the spirit of achintya-bhedabheda, and not to take the easy via negativa way out, the way that so many seem to do. That only sticks you right back into this world, where the goal is what? Related to the body, either through sense gratification or through the negating process of vairagya. If you are enjoying sense gratification, even while making a pretense of detachment, that is still just karma and will get used up in this life or the next. If it is just nirvana or so-called enlightenment, well, I am with the Bhagavata on this, aruhya kricchrena param padam tatah patanty adho'nadrita-yushmad-anghrayah. And with Srila Prabhupada. This so-called "being here now" is a false enlightenment because it does not take into account your eternal constitutional relationship of service with the personal God. There, is that sectarian enough for you?

"Absolute is sentient thou has proved,
Impersonal calamity thou hast moved."

The kanistha has a sthula (gross) understanding of God, and even though they may have some intellectual grasp of the concept of prema, they are really dealing with a kind of demigod worship, which we can call a sthula Bhagavan conception. We could call this a kind of karma stage, a preoccupation with external activities and the predominance of one's own atma as the goal, instead of one's true eternal relationship with the Paramatma. (Of course, there are many levels here, from interested work, to non-interested work, to work with fruits dedicated to God, to sadhana-bhakti with desires, etc., which are hierarchical, but all of which are to some degree or another based on the dehatma-buddhi or body/atma concept.)

On the madhyama stage they get to the Paramatma (the stage of yoga), and in the first part of Uttama, they assimilate Brahman realization to their spirituality (the stage of jnana). Only when all three come together is the parama realization of Bhagavan possible. This is the meaning of Gita 18.55, one attains the highest bhakti after assimilating the understanding of Brahman into one's theistic conception.

Jai Sri Radhe!

zen moksha said...

"I am wary of anyone who does not have a personal conception of God and frankly I don't care who thinks otherwise, Bodhidharma, Osho or whoever else is there."

What about Swami Veda that you have promoted here in such a praiseworthy manner? And why are you staying at that Mayavad ashram?

LOL

Anonymous said...

"This is the meaning of Gita 18.55, one attains the highest bhakti after assimilating the understanding of Brahman into one's theistic conception."

Isn't this a synthesis of the 'so called being here now' enlightenment and the 'eternal constitutional relationship of service with the personal God' ?

Most being here now writers are eventually impersonalists only because they are disgusted with sectarian religion and because they do not distinguish between ego and false ego. They fight an all out war against ego. Yet somehow their lessons of attentiveness, acceptance and awareness of the now are powerful tools (or a key) to be used in yoga.

Like it or not... it works. And it doesn't have to be false. It just isn't the end of the road. Their is more to discover.... like personhood and play without an ego creating 'separate interest'.... in other words.... acintya..

Being here now without the background of a unifying relation is a half truth, but religions creating 'separate interests' is humanity's biggest disaster.

We have to (re)define where we stand. Jagat, your efforts are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

It seems all the work is left to be done only by one party. Too much to ask for in a relationship, don't you think? I think that's what Virginia was talking about. Does this God have the decency to say "Thank You"?

Jagat said...

Dear Zen Moksha,

Strange isn't it, that when one has a strong opinion, one is automatically held for a bigot. Why can I not appreciate Swami Veda Bharati's vast knowledge of his field, his personal charm and obvious spiritual acument without being true to my own beliefs? Rather strange that one is damned if one does and damned if one does not.

By wary, I mean just that, careful. As indeed I expect everyone to be.

Jagat said...

Indeed, Anonymous (1), you seem to have a grasp on what I am getting at. I was just reading in Satya Narayan's Bhagavat-sandarbha where he says, "There is no question of God-realization with realizing one's identity with Brahman. This is the meaning of the Upanishadic statements like tat tvam asi."

Jagat said...

Anonymous (2): I love you. Thank you for everything you have done. No good deed will go unrewarded. Be patient. Try to see things from the point of view of eternity.

Jai Radhe.

Anonymous said...

Judging from your response, I can understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately all the smart talk leaves me dejected. There is no "chamatkara", if I may borrow the word, in such philosophy. I don't want Brahman realization, i don't care.

-Anon 2

jijaji said...

To Jagat”:
"You say "working on oneself" is more important than God."

I did? Can you please show me where I said this?

"Of course sadhana is about personal work, but what is personal work without a perspective against which to place it? What is a journey without a destination?"

To think that non-theistic based religions or spirituality is without any destination is an inaccurate assumption on your part and completely wrong. Ramana Maharishi would consider realization of the self or atman as Brahman as the supreme destination, the Buddha would consider annihilation of the self the same, both are right and essentially the same, but approached from extreme opposite ends of the spectrum.

"Our destination is the personal God in the form of Radha and Krishna"

Perhaps for you and the followers of GV, but certainly not for all of humanity and your theology makes up a very small percentage of what the world considers as a spiritual path I have to point out.
Generally speaking there are two kinds of religions in the world, those of prayer and those of meditation, the Religions of Prayer accept a personal God, those of Meditation generally do not, and of course there are those in between that accept a little of both Advaitins who worship Sri Krishna as a manifestation of Brahman, Tibetan Buddhists who accept various God and Goddesses etc. Ramakrishna Paramhansa accepted God as being both with form and formlessness, your Sridhar Swami was also one of these, although most GV's would never accept that, even though he was the head of the Shankarite Govardhana Math in Puri. And of course Sri Chaitanya himself was an initiate into the Bharati order of Shankara which has been downplayed and twisted by the GV community for centuries as it does not fit within their doctrine.

"I am wary of anyone who does not have a personal conception of God and frankly I don't care who thinks otherwise, Bodhidharma, Osho or whoever else is there"

This is without question theistic bigotry..seeing non-theistic based religions and those who follow them as less than yourself and the path you follow.

"However, I am not promoting some kind of primitive sectarian concept of theism. I have been trying for ages to make that clear and especially so in my recent responses to Swami Prema Anand, but you do not seem to be able to remember what I say from one post to the next"

I do think you promote a sectarian concept of God, you can say otherwise, but it is obvious to anyone really. And please don't flatter yourself thinking that I read all of your long winded postings, I don't.

"For enlightened transcendental elevated purified persons like yourself, please know that I am using Radha and Krishna as a NAME for the Absolute"

How condescending, now your intolerance is showing.

"And if you don't like that name, by all means use another. But don't give me a hard time when I use that name with other people who are accustomed to using it also. Would you condemn an English person for not using "H2O" when talking to another English person about "water," and accuse him of wanting to create strife with the French or Chinese?"

Jagat, come on you do not use the names of Radha and Krishna to indicate the absolute and you know it, you consider them AS the absolute itself, Ramakrishna may have thought like this but I don’t accept that you do, your not talking to a new comer here..

"My advice to devotees is to continue to make their own theistic conception more sophisticated in the spirit of achintya-bhedabheda, and not to take the easy via negativa way out, the way that so many seem to do. That only sticks you right back into this world, where the goal is what? Related to the body, either through sense gratification or through the negating process of vairagya. If you are enjoying sense gratification, even while making a pretense of detachment, that is still just karma and will get used up in this life or the next. If it is just nirvana or so-called enlightenment, well, I am with the Bhagavata on this, aruhya kricchrena param padam tatah patanty adho'nadrita-yushmad-anghrayah. And with Srila Prabhupada."

I think your understanding of what you term “ Nirvana or so-called Enlightenment” is narrow minded and based on a bigoted GV way of thinking, and as far as ACBS is concerned I am 150% positive he would not condone your way of following GV for sure…who you kidding?

"This so-called "being here now" is a false enlightenment because it does not take into account your eternal constitutional relationship of service with the personal God. There, is that sectarian enough for you?"

Yes, very sectarian indeed, narrow-minded, and prejudiced toward non-theistic based religions. You almost sound like some fanatical Radha Damodhar devotee who uses the term 'Bogi Yogi' regularly.

"Be Here Now" simply means focusing on the present with mindfulness and mostly using vipassana which was the meditation the Buddha himself used and advocated for attaining enlightenment and trying to stop the mind from being pulled into the past (which is non-existent) or the future (which is also non-existent" , how is that wrong? Yet you say it with some sour puss contempt..geez!

"Absolute is sentient thou has proved, Impersonal calamity thou hast moved."

Oi! Gevalt!

"The kanistha has a sthula (gross) understanding of God, and even though they may have some intellectual grasp of the concept of prema, they are really dealing with a kind of demigod worship, which we can call a sthula Bhagavan conception"

We..? I don't know of ANY Gv's who use that concept, perhaps you have been hanging out in mayavadi ashrams too long and are confusing things..

"We could call this a kind of karma stage, a preoccupation with external activities and the predominance of one's own atma as the goal, instead of one's true eternal relationship with the Paramatma. (Of course, there are many levels here, from interested work, to non-interested work, to work with fruits dedicated to God, to sadhana-bhakti with desires, etc., which are hierarchical, but all of which are to some degree or another based on the dehatma-buddhi or body/atma concept.)"

NA

"On the madhyama stage they get to the Paramatma (the stage of yoga), and in the first part of Uttama, they assimilate Brahman realization to their spirituality (the stage of jnana). Only when all three come together is the parama realization of Bhagavan possible. This is the meaning of Gita 18.55, one attains the highest bhakti after assimilating the understanding of Brahman into one's theistic conception."

This is the conclusion of your schools siddhanta and certainly not all exclusive to the followers of Sanatan Dharma or Vedanta and certainly not to non-vedantic paths such as Buddhism, western esoteric etc.

"Jai Sri Radhe!"

Ayam Atma Brahma
Or
Metta

P.S. You said to Swami Prem Ananda (osho sannyasin) and me you were going to read up a bit on Osho, have you given up on that ?

I leave you with this tidbit:

~By Following Nobody Knows~

A tradition has to be understood, and if you can understand many traditions, of course it will enrich you. It will not make you enlightened, but it will help you towards the goal, it will push you towards the goal. Don't be a follower of any tradition - don't be a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan. But it will be unfortunate if you remain unaware of the beautiful words of Jesus, it will be a sheer misfortune if you don't know the great poetry of the Upanishads.
It will be as if a person has not heard any great music - Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Wagner. If one has not heard, something will be missing in him. It will be a misfortune if you have not read Shakespeare, Milton, Dostoevsky, Kalidas, Bharbhuti, Rabindranath, Kahlil Gibran. If you have not been acquainted with Tolstoy, Chekhov, Maxim Gorky, something in you will remain missing. The same is true if you have not read Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu, Gautam Buddha, Bodhidharma, Baso, Lin Chi, Socrates, Pythagoras, Heraclitus. These are very different, unique perspectives, but they will all help you to become wider.
So I will not say that traditions are useless; I will say they become dangerous if you follow them blindly. Try to understand, imbibe the spirit. Forget the letter, just drink of the spirit. It is certainly dangerous to belong to a religion because that means you are encaged, imprisoned into a certain creed, dogma. You lose your freedom, you lose your inquiry, your exploration.
It is dangerous to live surrounded by a small philosophy. You will be a frog in the well; you will not know about the ocean. But to understand is a totally different phenomenon. The very effort to understand all the religions of the world will make you free of creeds and dogmas.

Osho - I Am That #3

Jagat said...

I just noticed that in one above comment, I quoted Satya Narayan, "There is no question of God-realization with realizing one's identity with Brahman. This is the meaning of the Upanishadic statements like tat tvam asi."

That should of course read "WITHOUT realizing one's identity with Brahman."