Deliverance from Bondage

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


DELIVERANCE FROM BONDAGE


Perhaps the most widespread and universal among the symbols in the old astronomical systems, which have passed down the stream of time to our century...are the Cross and the Fire – the latter, the emblem of the Sun, The ancient Aryans had them both as the symbols of Agni. Whenever the ancient Hindu devotee desired to worship Agni...he arranged two pieces of wood in the form of a cross, and, by a peculiar whirling and friction obtained fire for his sacrifice. As a symbol, it is called Swastica, and, as an instrument manufactured out of a sacred tree and in possession of every Brahmin, it is known as Arani.

The Theosophist  H. P. BLAVATSKY

 Throughout the immense pilgrimage of humanity, Avatars, Initiates and Adepts have recorded and also incarnated the spiritual meanings and initiatory potentials of sacred symbols and glyphs. Each evolutionary advance of the human race depends upon a timely recovery and fresh realization of the insights hidden within archaic records of arcane wisdom. Not only do symbols enshrine matrices of forces in visible and invisible nature, pointing to the complex interpenetration of planes of substance and consciousness, but they also reach to the indestructible core of spiritual wisdom within every human being. Therein lies the pristine seed of immortality, waiting to be quickened to life by the blazing fires of purification and illumination. Every new turning of the Wheel of Law offers appropriate avenues for growth for all soul-atoms nestled in the cosmic vestures of the Logos. Under the watchful eye of Krishna-Buddha-Christos, each human soul has the golden opportunity to insert itself into the forward movement of human evolution. Through the power of spiritual reminiscence, through minor and major awakenings, each may find its place in the awesome Guruparampara chain that binds together all human souls. So vast has been the variegated diffusion of sacred symbols through space and time that every human being has myriad sources from which to sift and select, with reverence and devotion, in seeking an authentic reminiscence of the sacred purpose of human existence. There are few human beings on earth, for example, who are not familiar with the figure of the Buddha. There are millions of copies of statues of the Buddha, ranging from the massive Kamakura Buddha to small reproductions readily available to the humblest devotee. Whether one is privileged to see a majestic and monumental representation of the Buddha in the ancient centres of Buddhist culture in Asia, or one cherishes a modest image of the Buddha in one's own home, anyone can make it a focus of concentration and compassion. The vital question is, even if one makes this a daily practice, how may one evoke through it a summons to self-enlightenment?

 In order to awaken true reminiscence through the aid of a symbol, it would be helpful to associate a powerful idea with a pleasing image. For instance, if one were to associate the Kwan Yin Pledge with one's contemplation of the statue of the Buddha, and at the same time deepen and concentrate all one's feelings of gratitude for everything that one has received in life, this would begin to give life to the symbol. By linking the idea of renunciation with a potent and sublime image – whether it be of the Buddha, of Christ or of Krishna – one may gradually gain the ability to see one's life not merely in terms of past, present and future, but sub specie aeternitatis. When one comes to live consciously within the rays of compassionate light and ideation streaming forth from the enlightened Teachers of Humanity, one can augment the power to alter the patterns of association of one's ideas and images. Just as the seven colours of the rainbow give way to many subtle hues in nature and on the painter's palette, so too the compassion of the Bodhisattvas unveils varied modes of attunement accessible to human souls. Like the visible sun, which provides light and nourishment to innumerable leaves extending over an enormous range of greenish tints, the Spiritual Sun radiates a continuous stream of spiritual sustenance capable of sustaining human beings in every circumstance. The chief barriers to receiving benediction from this constant illumination are lack of meditation upon the light, ingratitude for its warmth, and fear-ridden selfishness originating from a life lived in the darkness. By associating the ideas of Buddhi Yoga, thanksgiving and renunciation, with the sacred image of the Buddha, even though one may know little about the life of Gautama, one could begin to see through the shadows of limited and imperfect associations which bind the soul. By taking a symbolic image as the constant focus and repository of one's calm reflections, one can build fresh constellations of ideas capable of serving as a salutary guide to action in daily life. One may even restore the multi-dimensional quality of the mind, ready to contemplate universal themes and to translate them into apt applications. Gradually, one will overcome the propensity of the mind to be distracted, to move towards dichotomous thinking, towards proliferating foci of personal concern, and steadily reorient it towards wisdom.

 Since all spiritual discernment is necessarily connected with ethical practice, the true test of learning is the ability to strengthen and mature one's concern for the welfare of others. There are in the world today innumerable individuals with intuitive powers, and one must become a silent member of their hallowed ranks, quietly labouring to alleviate the misery of mankind. As one's meditation upon the sacred symbols of the Gupta Vidya deepens, one will begin to discern, amidst the cacophony of worldly events, fruitful opportunities for effective service to others. What is wisdom in Shamballa is seldom seen as wisdom on earth, and though the potent seeds of the New Cycle are burgeoning in the soil everywhere, this will not be evident to those who are entrapped in anxious self-concern. With the good earth groaning under the burden of personal greed, what may seem like oppressive karma to the personality is, in fact, from the standpoint of the soul, beneficent karma. The acute sense of alienation from life caused by this gap in consciousness can be overcome only by turning the mind around and redirecting it away from the constricting circle of the separative personality towards the luminous sphere of the immortal soul. It is essential to reach in consciousness to the core of the idea of renunciation, and this is impossible without eliminating every trace of greed from one's nature. Even the minutest residue of greed is incompatible with the pristine spirit of gratitude exemplified by the galaxy of Bodhisattvas. One must learn to test oneself daily, to scrutinize the quality of one's desires and dreams. Unfortunately, the capacity for constructive self-examination has been attenuated through neglect. The primal power of desire itself has been diffused and dispersed, leaving individuals incapable of true philosophic contemplation, a deep love of ideas. They find themselves subject to random and mindless associations of ideas, a desperate reaching out to delusive alternatives that are false solutions to the basic needs of their lives. Through this fragmentation the fires of mind and motivation have gradually waned, and the electric current of ideation has ebbed. Rather than vainly seeking what seem to be pleasing solutions to problems, one must make a strong effort to rekindle the fire of self-consciousness within oneself. Although no one can do this for another, each must do it for the sake of all, and every person has the enormous resources of nature and the sacred Teachings to aid the attempt.

 The restoration of the vital connection between the embodied self and the higher mind, and true communion between mind and spirit, requires soul-reminiscence. The right use of memory is aided by the pervasive compassion of Nature, which refrains from burdening any soul with those memories of errors and mistakes in past lives which might prevent it from doing what it needs to do in this incarnation. Nature mercifully veils the unneeded details of the past. It is, therefore, an utter waste of time to daydream or speculate about past lives. Proper understanding of the deeds and misdeeds of previous incarnations can come with the exactitude of the mathematics of the soul, but this precision can never be gleaned from external sources. It must be sought from within, and the first step is to take full responsibility for one's moral nature. One must learn to draw from memory and from one's abilities only that which one can truly use for the good of all. One must discover and enrich those activities which one can do right. A proper beginning must be made upon the path of the six virtues, the steep path of the paramitas, which culminates in that sublime condition wherein one is constitutionally incapable of deviating from the right way. One can discern within oneself the enduring basis of that harmony which ultimately makes one stand without variableness or shadow of turning. To learn to stand like a steady flame burning on holy ground, one must emulate the regulated motion of the sun and the planets. One must become one-pointed through the power of vows repeatedly taken and constantly observed over lifetimes. The concentrated moral effort to enact the ethics taught by Krishna, Buddha and Christ is the meaningful attempt to mirror the metaphysical harmony at the root of invisible Nature.

 The Central Point, or the great central sun of the Kosmos, as the Kabalists call it, is the Deity. It is the point of intersection between the two great conflicting powers – the centripetal and centrifugal forces, which drive the planets into their elliptical orbits, that make them trace a cross in their paths through the Zodiac. These two terrible, though as yet hypothetical and imaginary powers, preserve harmony and keep the Universe in steady, unceasing motion; and the four bent points of the Swastica typify the revolution of the Earth upon its axis.

The Theosophist  H. P. BLAVATSKY

 As participants in a world marked by social decay and disorder, individuals must learn to accept universal responsibility for the general state of malaise, which is the result of past actions in previous lives. They must meditate upon what it is to be worthy of living in a human temple. The ethical integrity of the cosmos requires individuals to accept the consequences of their former deeds as made manifest in existing conditions. They must be willing to engage in the painful process of sifting the good from the bad, the wheat from the chaff, in all that they have brought from the past, and be prepared to embrace the fiery heat of tapas emanating from the central point in the swastika. It is through the expiatory power of Agni, the focus of life and light and heat in that central point, that individuals may remove the obscuring mass of illusions and delusions which beset humanity, crucified upon the cross of matter. Once the cleansing and purifying fire has accomplished the work of purgation, the crystalline ray of Spirit may vivify and fructify the matrix of matter, bringing with it the restoration of a true sense of purpose for human existence. Then the fiery light, acting as Lucifer, the Son of the Morning Star, will be felt as the illuminating power within the heart of every responsive individual. That which cannot be brought through the fires but must be cast off will, through the compassion of Nature, be used and refined by the lower kingdoms.

 For the individual, the process of awakening soul-memories is similar to the sifting processes of Nature. The wise being is concerned only to remember that which can be used in the present and the future, because it has its roots beyond all time. Unwisdom consists in fancying something and mistaking it for knowledge or in confusing the lower psychic fantasy, containing mere shadows of forgotten truths, with authentic deliverances of Buddhic imagination. There is a sad tendency amongst those who have not properly meditated during life to drift into daydream as they approach the moment of death. If they have heard, at some level, of the doctrines of karma and reincarnation and of the existence of spiritual Teachers, they may be taken over by highly personalized fantasies regarding supposed relationships with those Teachers in past lives. Such delusions have nothing to do with soul-memory, but are ineffectual compensations for failures in the present life to approach the true Teachers through the inward path of meditation. Mistaking intellectual involvement with words and psychic involvement with images for the establishment of lasting connections in their inner natures, they cut off the possibility of spiritual contact with the Buddhas in future lives. Actual contact with spiritual realities can never be the result of passive association of ideas, however originated psychologically, but is the natural consequence of selfless motivation maintained consciously. Yet, on the other hand, there is hardly a human being alive today who has not in past lives received the potent seed of the Teachings. In moments of despair and despondency over the inevitable collapse of worldly delusions, and in times of distress at one's inability to aid the suffering of another, each has received gentle words of encouragement from the Servants of the Bodhisattvas. "Do not feel guilty. Do not seek to blame others. Life is full of pain but there is no need to be afraid. Each may seek right livelihood in the world and search for the Path." When in similar moments in the present life such memories stir in the soul, then one may begin to associate the idea of renunciation and purification with the vibration of the Teachers. This alchemical fusion is the beginning of spiritual maturation in the present life. It does not matter whether this takes place at the age of ten, thirty or sixty, for once one begins to put the Teachings to good use, then it becomes possible to discover better uses. Such is the Law. "The books say well, my brothers. Each man his prison makes", taught Gautama Buddha, and each may also unmake his prison. The primary need is for deep reflection upon the root ideas of renunciation and bondage. Since the world will not teach one how this is to be done, the spiritual Teachings are brought again and again to orphan humanity through the compassion of Bodhisattvas.

 Whether one understands it in terms of the image of the Ashwattha tree depicted in the Bhagavad Gita or in terms of the image of the deadly upas tree, the world binds the soul with coils upon coils of ignorance. Krishna taught that this tree must be cut asunder at the root with the sword of spiritual knowledge sharpened by devotion. Whilst one cannot hope to do this fully at one stroke in this life, for that would imply that one had done so many times in previous lives, it is still possible to make a sufficient dent in the world tree that one may find space and time in the rush of life for deep thought and meditation. Anyone with a modicum of courage, as the sword of wisdom cannot be wielded by those with fear, may set aside every rationalization, at least for a few moments, and engage in earnest thought upon universal ideas. From such efforts one will find the strength to be able to help others, whether it be to render aid to an old person who is dying or to give gentle words of encouragement to a small child that is crying, and from these sacrificial acts one can gain further strength to engage in meditation.

 When one finds within oneself the power to help others, one simultaneously discovers the power to help oneself to grow spiritually. Thus the wheel of the Great Law is turned and the endless stream of learning moves towards the universal ocean of wisdom. Through silent obedience and humble obeisance to the voice of conscience, one gradually builds a bridge in consciousness linking the experience of the outward nature with the wisdom of the soul within. In a small way one can come to mirror the Mahatmas, the paradigmatic exemplars of learning who are eternally and effortlessly obedient to the Maha Guru and ceaselessly engaged in exploration for the sake of implementing the modes of the future races. As the Light of the Logos is ubiquitous throughout the universe and present in each soul, the fundamental requirements of learning and the essential opportunities for growth are universally the same for all beings. Krishna-Buddha-Christos is present everywhere and eternally available to all who turn inward towards the light. No soul enters or leaves this world without the aid of the Logos. The modes of instruction of the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas have nothing to do with the superficial and obsolete methods of mass modern education; they reach into the hearts of human beings and give them that which will come back to them in times of need. Every soul is whispered into at the moment of birth and whenever one is in real difficulty one is helped. Once one begins to realize this, and is ready to see the universality of the impulse towards spiritual enlightenment, then one is naturally much less entranced by the delusions of the world tree. Through thought and meditation, through contemplation of sacred glyphs and symbols, one becomes oneself a glyph – the glyph of man thinking. This inward transformation and restoration of one's true estate as a son of the Manasas is the real meaning and holy purpose of the presence of Gupta Vidya in the world of woe.

 For the sake of recollection, the glyph of man thinking may be represented diagrammatically by the figure of a cross surrounded by an aureole of lambent flames, with a bridge forming a connection to a base below, the whole like a glowing lamp upon a secure stand. The object of thought may be represented by the glyph of three triangles surrounding the points of a central triangle, which together form the figure of a hexagon in the centre. The two glyphs – of the thinker and of thought – must be associated and made concentric, even though their geometric representation in space requires that they be distinct. Contemplation will reveal that the stand of the lamp is not essential to the process of thinking, any more than the clothes of the body are essential to its biological functioning. Just so, the physical human body is not the thinking self. In order to appreciate man thinking, one must dwell upon the nature of the cross, the fire and its rays, the triad, and their mutual relations to each other. Concern with the lampstand, whether through positive or negative forms of attachment, only serves as a distraction from deep reflection upon the essential meaning of the glyph. Unfortunately, many people rarely rise above or even reach the level of the bridge linking the lampstand to the golden light. Through mental and moral laziness, fear and inertia, they fall prey to delusions and fantasies preyed upon by those purveyors of pseudo-occult theories who masquerade under the name of hypnotists, depth psychologists and the like. These pedlars and their victims constitute a matrix of pollution stemming from misuse of the sacred. From the one side, practising a nefarious craft through the corruption of words, and from the other side, seeking to gain spiritual value through payment with worldly goods, the two may seem karmically to deserve each other. Here as in every case of pollution, one must not succumb to judgementalism. Certainly in the compassion of Agni, the fiery divine dragon of wisdom, there is a precise knowledge of the virtually infinite mathematical complexity involved in the karmic curves of purgation of individual souls, but this may not be judged from outside. In a time of universal purification and renewal, nothing is wasted, and even as the sweeping fires burn away the excrescences of the past, there are always soul-lessons to mitigate the agony of those who have made themselves the victims of self-hatred. Even the burning of the dross releases resources for the lower kingdoms.

 The mystery of man thinking has been obscured in the modern world by its crude conceptions of progress. The cosmos has always been a macro-electronic universe, and for the past eighteen million years mankind has been living in a macro-electronic age. Recent expansions of human capabilities and innovations of thought are only seemingly new. They are, in fact, rather superficial applications of fundamental principles long known and taught by the Adepts. The sense of collective scientific advance and discovery in the modern age is a permissible illusion, particularly amongst people who without such encouragement would be drawn back into the violent and self-destructive tendencies of medievalism. Yet although this idea of progress offers some hope for human advancement, its danger is that it could eclipse the underlying reality of universal humanity and the logic of human evolution, which has nothing to do with external tokens. Anyone who has stopped to think about the nature of material progress soon realizes that the true amelioration of the human condition does not depend upon external inventions but rather upon an internal transformation in man. The Great Work, as it was called by the Renaissance alchemists, is far more demanding than any of its materialized representations in so-called exact science. The inward symbolic synthesis, the alchemical process of becoming a true glyph, moves through precise phases and stages, represented as dissolution, sublimation, condensation and coagulation. This is true not only for the individual but also for the entire human race.

 An important aspect of this universal work of transformation is the drawing together and synthesizing of all the lines of good karma from the ancient sacred orders and the manifold symbol systems of antiquity. The self-conscious synthesis into the threefold path of the Philosophy of Perfection, the Religion of Responsibility, and the Science of Spirituality is a central task in the present cycle. Particular systems of glyphs and symbols, each of which has its own period of effectiveness, are being drawn together to provide the basis for soul-recollection for the maximum possible number of human beings. Heralding the progress of this restoration of the inheritance of humanity unto itself, H.P. Blavatsky spoke in the last century of the work of diligent students of the Mysteries:

...these students, though none of them has yet mastered all the "seven keys" that open the great problem, have discovered enough to be able to say: There was a universal mystery-language, in which all the World Scriptures were written, from Vedas to "Revelation", from the "Book of the Dead" to the Acts. One of the keys, at any rate – the numerical and geometrical key to the Mystery Speech is now rescued; an ancient language, truly, which up to this time remained hidden, but the evidences of which abundantly exist, as may be proven by undeniable mathematical demonstrations.

Lucifer  H. P. BLAVATSKY

In the present period the further recovery of the mystery language depends upon the willingness of individuals to engage in selfless and lifelong learning. Anyone who is willing to ponder calmly, with an immense feeling of gratitude to the Teachers, upon the heavens and the omnipresent Logos, can contribute to the restoration of the sacred glyph of man thinking. Those who are wise will pursue this solitary work with no thought of selfish reward or recognition. Nor will they allow themselves to be captivated by the spectacle of the collapsing old order based upon blood covenants and vengeance. They will not be caught in the doomsday extrapolation of the record of disasters precipitated by those caught in self-contempt engendered by their desecration of the sacred. Rather, like children, they will seek to discern hieroglyphs in the sky and in the human heart, and treasuring their vision in silence they will look for means to connect the good in themselves and others with the innumerable rays of good flooding in on all sides.

 The time has come for a self-conscious restoration of awareness of the original programme of human evolution. That programme and its meaning for the future are intimated in the symbol of the bird of everlasting life mentioned in The Voice of the Silence. The future of human evolution is bound up with the guardian race of Hamsa, the qualification for which is ahimsa – total non-violence in thought, word, feeling and will – the absence of any trace of self-assertion or egotism. This is the sacred tribe of Bodhisattvas surrounding the pavilion of the Logos, ceaselessly engaged in learning the teaching of Hamsa through the power of reverence and devotion. They are the exemplars par excellence of the truth taught by the Buddha that uttermost self-surrender and reverence are the only means to deliverance from bondage. Ceaselessly engaged in learning, they are the true recorders of the enactment of divine truth by the Logos in the cosmos. As the custodians of the archives of spiritual humanity, they recorded the original esoteric texts from which the entire plethora of exoteric religions are derived. Having realized within their own inner natures the rich meaning of the signature of the Logos in nature, they have given out from time to time, in veiled allegory and parable, glyphs and symbols which may serve as a bridge and ladder in consciousness for those vigilant souls ready to tread the path leading towards initiation. The deepest secrets of initiation have not been and indeed cannot be transmitted, but must be discovered by the disciple within the sanctuary of the soul. The timeless truths of divine nature are eternally enacted in the heart of the Ever-Living Human Banyan that is the core of humanity, and this enactment is intimated in the hoary tradition of the Puranas. Therein one finds the allegorical story of Vishvakarman, the Omnificent, the Vedic god who is the architect of the world and who sacrifices himself to himself, having offered up all the worlds in a sarvamedha or universal sacrifice.

...his daughter Yoga-siddha "Spiritual consciousness", the wife of Surya, the Sun, complains to him of the too great effulgence of her husband; and Viswakarma, in his character of Takshaka, "wood cutter and carpenter", placing the Sun upon his lathe cuts away a part of his brightness. Surya looks, after this, crowned with dark thorns instead of rays, and becomes Vikarttana ("shorn of his rays"). All these names are terms which were used by the candidates when going through the trials of Initiation. The Hierophant-Initiator personated Viswakarman; the father, and the general artificer of the gods (the adepts on earth), and the candidate – Surya, the Sun, who had to kill all his fiery passions and wear the crown of thorns while crucifying his body before he could rise and be re-born into a new life as the glorified "Light of the World" – Christos.

Lucifer  H. P. BLAVATSKY

 None but Mahatmas, perfect embodiments of the truth, are really capable of understanding the full meaning of the divine enactment of the Mysteries or the mysterious avataric descent of the Logos into the world. They alone are permitted to record the archives of the Teachings of Hamsa, and will permit no pseudo-esoteric packagings of the truth to persist. Every sincere and devoted individual who is willing to become an apprentice in the arduous art of transcendent concentration and selfless meditation upon universal good is invited to enter the orbit of the Mahatmas. If one reads the Bhagavad Gita carefully, one will discover that Krishna always is surrounded by Mahatmas. It is only the consciousness corrupted by materialization and externalization which would mistake the allegorical scenes of the Mahabharata War for events constrained by the limits of physical space. The true locus of events is a matrix of divine Logoic ideation surrounded by the fathomless waters of invisible space, wherein Mahatmas, in their vamanas or aerial cars of inconceivably refined subtle substance, surround the Logos. They alone can see the invisible form of Krishna, and therefore they alone can tell the tale. The geographical space and colourful scene surrounding Krishna on earth is a form of maya hiding the "invisible garment of God". Within the invisible form of the Avatar there resides a galaxy of Mahatmas. Seated in ceaseless meditation and constant adoration within the matrix of the body of the Logos, they constitute the constellations, indeed the entire universe of enlightenment. Nothing of this can be known by going from without within, but something of it may be gathered by the intuition through contemplating Buddhist tankas showing myriads of Bodhisattvas surrounding a central figure of the Buddha like an aura of wisdom-light.

 Once this central fact of human evolution is widely grasped, it marks the end of recorded history with all its pretentious pseudo-esoteric and secular accounts of the meaning of human existence. When the glyph of man thinking is realized within to be identical with the matrix of the Logos surrounded by the galaxies of Bodhisattvas, it is no more possible to be taken in by the trumped up stories and packaged accounts of spiritual life promoted by the failures in human evolution. Stripped of illusions, nothing remains but to insert oneself by the power of one's own mystic meditation into the universal vision of Shamballa. This is the vision of the One Flame and its innumerable rays streaming forth, each of which is like a jewel in the Logoic form of Shiva-Krishna or Nataraja-Narayana. Every diamond-souled Mahatma is an eternal witness to this sacred truth, and no concession can be made to any lesser vision. It has long been known in Shamballa that the time would come when there could be no further accommodation either to the ill-intentioned or to the passive which would obstruct the inward spiritual growth of humanity. It has always been inevitable that at some point the fiery divine dragon of wisdom – the living Word of Truth – should burn away the obscuring dross of past error. This is a necessary preparation for the entry of the good gardeners of nature, who will prepare the soil for the future Garden of Eden. Those who are so fortunate to earn under karma, through decades of striving, the golden privilege of thinking the right thoughts at the moment of death, may also be so fortunate as to reincarnate again in a human form at some point in time when they may hear of the actual presence on earth of a new humanity. To be worthy of the rare good karma of returning to the earth at this distant time, one must begin now to nurture the seed of the Buddha-nature through Buddhi Yoga, through gratitude and renunciation. Then one may hope to experience the immense thrill of being alive in those far-flung aeons when Men of Meditation, masters of the mathematics of service to humanity, will walk the earth openly and all human beings alike understand that the only purpose for being in a human form is to be a true servant to humanity.

 Through understanding the real purpose of meditation upon sacred glyphs and symbols, which has to do with the inward invocation of the fires of self-purification and illumination through self-transcendence, one may come to appreciate the truth of what Hegel once said about history, that the dialectic must have its joke. In a sense, at this point in history the joke of the divine dialectic is the only significant fact in history. The dialectic is smiling the smile of the Buddha. It is playing the flute of Krishna. It is also seated in divine meditation like Shankara. The dialectic, at the same time, is accelerating the disintegration of the thought-forms and entities of the past for whom the hour has struck. There is an increasingly widespread recognition that the old order is nearing its end, and that the Aquarian task of self-regeneration has begun.

 Lodging the purified inner powers in the Self, the witness, who is pure illumination, gaining steadfastness step by step, let him fix his vision on the fullness of the Eternal.

SHRI SHANKARACHARYA

Hermes, October 1981
by Raghavan Iyer