Saturday, December 06, 2008

Infatuation, Mature Love and Sahajiyaism

Radha and Krishna's loves do not appear like mature love in the modern psychological sense to which they would appear more like "infatuation." If that is the case, then how can they be "ideal"? Are they ideal in the sense that they are supposed to be exemplary to couples who want to develop a mature relationship between them? What does Sahajiyaism have to say here?

To begin with, I am not against mature relations between the sexes. And, hopefully, the purpose of everything that I am saying will help lead to mature spirituality in which other, objectively higher realms of agape and caritas are practically realized in behavior.

So I not only honor the idea of maturity in love, but hope that all Sahajiya practitioners work to cultivate mature relationships in the modern sense. The ideas of Christian love and so on that are often refered to as superior to erotic love should be familiar territory to anyone who tries to advance in spiritual life.

But that is not exactly the primary territory of Sahajiyaism. I am operating in a totally different sphere of reality, where mature relationships are only an element of the sattva-guṇa, primarily as a prerequisite to spiritual practice and experience. In other words, that is external.

What I object to is that most people preoccupied with this vague idea of relational maturity are actually looking at things in terms of a rather unstructured world view, or at least one that is entirely materialistic in foundation. Or, should I say, one that has no foundation. Sure, maturity in relationships is a necessary element in finding happiness, but is it everything? What we are really looking for is transcendence.

What I am getting at basically is that there is something primal that lies both beneath and beyond the development of psychological maturity. We have to see the basic sexual urge as existing on a continuum from the basest to the highest planes of consciousness, whether or not actual physical sex ultimately continues at higher stages of consciousness.

Radha and Krishna symbolize the very essence of that attraction in its purest form. Call it infatuation if you like. In the beginnings it may well be immature, "teenybopper love." But for most healthy individuals, there is an instinctual faith in the essential purity or holiness of love. It is not the external manifestations of the love that count so much, at this stage, but its sheer power, the essential quality and purity of the emotion itself.

I can sympathize with those who wish to psychologize Krishna, but as far as I am concerned that is missing the forest for the trees.

First of all, there are two different kinds of stories about Krishna. Though the two are linked, some are theistic parables, some are archetypal stories about, as some would have it, infatuation. In these, Krishna is the dhīra-lalita nāyaka. Hardly your exemplar of mature adult perfection. But don’t think that this was not consciously understood by Rupa Goswami. There are plenty of other exemplars he could have chosen if he was only interested in teaching about psychological maturity (at least according to the standards of Hindu society of the time). But that was not his purpose. The teachings about Vaishnava standards of mature human behavior (the 26 qualities of a Vaishnava) are a separate business. They stand in relation to the culture of mystical experience as the yamas and niyamas of aṣṭāṅga-yoga stand in relation to dhyāna, dhāranā and samādhi.

Try to understand what the two different kinds of stories mean. On the one hand we are talking about a mystical process of union with God. In a sense, it is only incidentally that this has anything to do with human love which, as world-weariness tells us, is ultimately a failed endeavor.
The Supreme Lord cannot be attained by mere study of the Vedas, nor through the intellect, nor by hearing. Only one who is blessed by the Lord can attain Him, and only to such a person does the Lord reveal His form. (KathaU 1.2.23)
Here is the upshot. Sahajiyaism does have a psychological relation to the mechanics of fantasy. In that respect, it may seem to have more to do with pornography and entertainment than with these psychologies of mature interrelationships. But in fact, these are two entirely different realms. The first is about rasa, i.e., religious experience; the other is about the external framework in which that experience is cultivated. The latter without the former is, for the transcendentalist, completely pointless. The latter may be helpful for the former, it may come as a consequence of the former, but it is not independently meaningful.

Sahaja-sādhanā is about two people learning to communicate on the spiritual level through correlation of the "divine fantasy," both outside and inside the self. The archetype of the Divine Couple is the marrow of the self, primordial, primeval. The external dance between two human individuals is the delicate operation that makes it possible for them to experience the Divine Couple.

For most, maturity means, at least in part, giving up the romantic fantasy of two becoming as one flesh or the four-legged beast finding its separated half, etc. But that is only one aspect of the sādhanā, the external part. The Sahajiya couple recognize they are both sādhakas who have been brought together by the bond of erotic attraction, and that attraction is the raw material that they have been given to cultivate the ideal of human perfectibility. Sādhanā is sacrifice in the crucible of love.

The sheer impossibility of that oneness in external terms has to be kept intellectually. A clear distinction between the ideal and the human limitations of the imperfect sādhaka couple and their indispensable need for sādhanā has to borne in mind at all times. It is not that love is something that just happens. It may just "start to happen," but that external archetypal experience is just the raw material for the practice. A pointer, a hint, if you wish.

Its culmination is in the ultimate vanishing point, which is Radha and Krishna. But Radha and Krishna are real, otherwise everything I have been saying makes no sense. They are the all-pervading sac-cid-ānanda form of Mahā-bhāva and Rasa-rāja. They are experienced in the union of lovers, and experienced most perfectly when the lovers are both yogis and pure devotees. All other kinds of love are the byproducts and side-effects of Radha and Krishna's love. That is the meaning of this verse:

rādhāyā bhavataś ca citta-jatunī svedair vilāpya kramāt
yuñjann adri-nikuñja-kuñjara-pate nirdhūta-bheda-bhramam |
citrāya svayam anvarañjayad iha brahmāṇḍa-harmyodare
bhūyobhir nava-rāga-hiṅgula-bharaiḥ śṛṅgāra-kāruḥ kṛtī ||

The God of Love is a great craftsman:
he has taken the lac of Radha's soul and yours,
and melted them together with his perspiring heat.
O king of the elephants in the groves of Govardhan!
He has joined your souls together and washed away
any sense you had of difference between you.
Then, in order to paint the inner chambers
of the universal mansion, he added
yet more vermilion to the mix. (UN 14.155)

The "universal mansion" is meant to explain the words yāvad-āśraya-vṛtti that is found in the definition of mahā-bhāva.

In order to understand the mechanics and psychology of this sādhanā, you really have to get a grasp on rasa theory. That is how you make all this business about fantasy, etc., that goes on in the conscious and unconscious minds become a part of your spiritual practice. And if your practice does not impact the deeper recesses of your psyche, then what is the purpose?

Without this sādhanā, mature love is just a theory. Devotion to the Divine Couple softens the heart so perfectly, so absolutely, that it makes all other kinds of love possible.


Jagat said...

I have been thinking about the fantasy-pornography comments that are in this post. I still think that this is correct, though it must be understood properly. Nevertheless, this is far from being the highest stage and at a certain point is left behind.

vishnupriya said...

"Radha and Krishna symbolize the very essence of that attraction in its purest form. Call it infatuation if you like. In the beginnings it may well be immature, "teenybopper love." But for most healthy individuals, there is an instinctual faith in the essential purity or holiness of love. It is not the external manifestations of the love that count so much, at this stage, but its sheer power, the essential quality and purity of the emotion itself".
Very true as I experienced. Attraction in purest form I experienced.When this happened whole my being was in a pleasant shock unable to believe whether it is true....! You know all through the experience there was a stanza of music behind which I never knew before"Paathathi Kesam Paramam Pavithram" I ended up in your blog when I searched for Krishna flower(images). I read only a very few posts.Balanced analysis very true to heart!